… comes from the loveliest sources. This week, it’s come from a small group of snow buntings, stopping over for a while on their way south from the Arctic breeding grounds. A quick flash of white here and there on the croft, catching the all-too-occasional sun. (We’ve seen a good few buntings here; earlier in the year we had a brief visit from a rare Lapland Bunting, unusual on the west coast). Can you believe that these tiny creatures can fly so far? We have an irritating tendency in this country to see birds – especially the smaller ones – as cute little fluffy things hugely dependent on our bird tables and hanging feeders, delicate and easily damaged, in need of our protection. And of course they are, and can be – but the tiny rapidly beating heart and delicate wings of this beautiful creature can take it all the way to the Arctic and back in a single year. Which is a greater feat than most of us can imagine, self-appointed masters of the universe that we are, cowering indoors all winter in front of our fires planning our next round of world domination while the rest of nature is out there, strong and hardy in the real world, achieving more magical things than we can even begin to dream of.
It’s been a great year for unusual birds passing through; our ground cover willows, rugosas and other shrubbery have thrived since David built the wind-breaks; we hope that any flying creature travelling over Breanish is going to see the ground-cover here (and we have seeds and bugs and rose-hips too – come and see!) and stop over for a while. Last week we had the first of the winter swans – a small group of eight whoopers hanging out on the loch for a little while. Which reminded me of the invasion of whoopers in late March this year, and the sick swan that was left behind when the rest of the group flew north. All except for its mate, of course, which stayed behind too until it was ready to move on.
We can learn a lot from birds.
And talking about birds … if you love them too, take a look at the latest book published by our publishing company, Two Ravens Press – an anthology of uncanny stories about birds, called Murmurations. All contributor and editor royalties are to be donated to the Royal Society for Protection of Birds. You can find out more and order your copy, P&P-free in the UK, here.