Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Talking to a family member yesterday about our trip to the Hebrides, she commented that it must be beautiful at the time we go, because all the spring flowers will be out. Well, yes and no, actually. The harsher weather conditions that the Islands get means that everything happens a bit later - Our daffodils at home are pretty much finished now, where as the ones on Uist will only just be coming out around now, I expect. We are hopeful though that the mild winter we've had this year might mean that everything will be a little ahead of where it would normally be at this time of year.
The shot above was taken in 2012 - another year with a relatively mild winter, although not so much as this time around. As you can see, the machair was already looking good and colourful - it just gets better and better from that point through into the summer. That year we were also just in time to see the first of the Iris coming out - gorgeous bright yellow spikes at the roadsides - we saw our first one open the day before we left to come home if I remember rightly. Waterlilies too - many of the small lochs are covered in lily pads from early spring, but the flowers need just a bit of warmer weather to appear...
By the time we arrives the shorelines should be edged with pretty pink thrift, a plant that absolutely thrives up there, and the first of the orchids will be appearing too, Hebridean spotted Orchids, Early Marsh Orchids and Heath Spotted Orchids. Bees are plentiful there too - including many different varieties to those that we see at home. We're hoping to spend some time with a friend this year learning about identifying some of the rarer varieties too.
Each and every year when we return we see different things, and learn more about everything the Islands have to offer. It's nice to start to feel that we're "in on the secret" - we know what the plants and birds are called, and where we can expect to find certain species. There's usually something a bit special too - last year it was a displaying Ruff (Helpfully situated at the RSPB reserve at Balranald!) and we've regularly seen the Snowy Owl up there. Having said that though - rarities entirely depend where you are - on Uist, they get excited about seeing a Dunnock - common as you like down here!