Tuesday 25 October 2011

Free Birds

sea eagle off skye
Sea Eagle off Skye, courtesy of Wikipedia
We're having some odd weather for late October: a warm but gusty southeasterly wind and daytime temperatures of around 16 degrees. The humidity alternates between torrential downpour and tenuously blow-dried.

I dunked myself in a choppy sea yesterday. I reckoned the sea temperature of around 12 degrees wouldn't be too painful. I've certainly felt worse but I wouldn't call it pleasant. The water was murky with stirred-up sediment and dark waves pushed me back towards the shore.

The balmy autumn weather and stiff breeze seem to have struck a chord with the birds. As I drove along the road yesterday I saw them everywhere, singly and in groups, just hanging on the wind, subtly adjusting their wings and feathers moment by moment to remain stable. A lone buzzard hovered at car-roof level; a group of crows floated high above the house (would be great if they would do that again for Hallowe'en); seagulls maintained station above the white-capped waves in the bay.

Talking of birds, we saw a Sea Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla from the Armadale ferry a couple of weeks ago. It seemed to have been following a fishing boat along with a gaggle of other birds. It peeled away and swooped in close to the window of the ferry. They are huge, with a wingspan of up to eight feet, and have a distinctive white tail. The woman across from us insisted at volume that it was an Osprey.

Filtered sunlight has just broken through the clouds lending the autumn grass a pale-gold sheen. The sun is a wan yellow smudge, low in the sky.