A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘fulmars’

Do Chickens have Twins?

You learn something most days at the Inn, usually something completely useless or innocuous. And tonight’s random question from the kitchen was “Do chickens have twins?” This has an origin in the fact that there are large numbers of eggs being delivered just now with double yolks.

Yesterday was a 450 haul and all went well although the fishing remains fairly poor. Quiet day weather wise and not much activity on the sea, occasional yachts motoring by with no wind in their sails but lots and lots of jelly fish.


Am slightly obsessed with them as they are both painful and beautiful and always like opposites in nature.


Faithful fulmars alongside most of the day. They do not give the impression they are the sharpest on the water and hardly ever get to the bait first, and give the impression they get really hacked off and scurry about after everything that moves. They come in really close to the boat and show little fear.


Community Council Meeting last night and as Janet is leaving town I did the minutes and Barry Chaired. Lots on the go and some tricky issues that have to be dealt with and hopefully not too many casualties but suspect there will be. Signs, minibus, GP, good news on that front is that we have a salaried appointment that covers our practice and next door, so progress,the contentious issue of bracken spraying, and finally Kishorn. Lots to do and no time to do it. It will be done though as it tends to be embarrassing if you do not get round to doing it. Had a good bee chat with Audrey after he meeting and she has got her one hive up to two again by creating an artificial swarm. Used to think thstles were a pest until I realised they are good bee food.IMG_4654

Beauly, Loch Ness Inn and Inverness took place today. Went out to the Varuna for langoustine for the Inn and another couple of boxes for The Loch Ness Inn, calling in to Beauly to drop Jenny and Eilidh off with Alison and Dougal. Sure that Ted groaned when he saw even more visitors, especially more of Dougal’s family. Lovely view across to the Beauly Firth from his holiday cottage and watching the circling red kites was very peaceful.


They were far better at catching rabbits than Dougal turned out to be., although he ended up taking road kill home. Anyway they headed off down to Rosemarkie while I rattled round buying stuff in Inverness. Did not quite plan it but ordered 150 creels from Gaelforce along with rope costing around£3,500. So that keeps me fishing for the next month or so. Constantly need to buy replacements or the standard of your gear goes down and you catch less prawns and it becomes a spiral. My favourite shop is Highland Wholefoods



and it is really handy as Dougal’s favourite is just across the road. Although they do not know it Dougal and Co have a great day planned for them on Cuaig Beach with treats and pig ears thrown in Jill and Kenny heading there on their day off.


Back home in time for a quick shower and on to the floor. A strange night as it threatened to be silly busy with 2x 6s,a 9 and a 14 booked along with all the residents but it was a bit of a stroll, slotting people onto tables with only a couple of tables waiting a little too long for our comfort. The sort of shift that you get through but when guys shake your hand on the way out you must have done something right.

And yes but it is very rare for chickens to have twins, Steve. If there are two fertilised yokes as they grow a chicken heads for the air cell at the round end. But if there are two they will fight and usually both die. There have however been cesarean twins produced.

Games Day without the Games.

Least said about Friday as it was a migraine day, three in about seven weeks is not good but in terms of pain and nausea it could have been worse. Lasted twelve hours and did not have too many after effects as I managed to haul 400 creels and six and a half hour shift at the Inn yesterday. Early start to try to get the prawns in before the evening rush. Unfortunately the evening rush started about 3.30pm and did not stop till after 9pm. Also when landing the prawns had a wee look at the Inn rota and seems I was working there since 12 pm. So it was home for a rapid shower and straight into the organised mayhem. It actually was not too bad although very, very busy. People coming down from the Games field wanting fed. Last night the kitchen were brilliant. 10s,11s,18s,6s and all the rest were going through at the same time and the food kept coming out. You knew how much every one enjoyed it by the compliments that came your way over the evening. I go on about the contrast in Applecross all the time and despite all these people in “town” I was in the middle of a mist bank for most of the day, on my own with the skuas,gulls and fulmars, I suppose they were getting fed as well come to think about it.


The morning mist came and went most of the early part of the day.





This has been the first time in 30 years that I have never made it to any part of the Applecross Games, but I do have a couple of excuses. Sounds like there were a lot of people there so the efforts of the organisers would have been well rewarded. As with all events they do not just happen.

Good shift today and not too many hangovers evident, possibly went home as opposed to putting it off for another day. Spent quite a bit of time with a farming family who had steamed over from Plockton and chatted about community work.


It is always so positive when I talk to outside people and they are very interested/impressed with the amount of work that goes on. It seems different when you see the practical problems on the ground and you know the reasons why events do not run as smooth as they could. With the Filling Station, the ongoing software crashes tend not to affect me so much as I can always access fuel and the constant callouts are merely irritating at worst. Annie, our software guru, is going to try to address the problem, assuming Gilbarco will let us deal with it ourselves. We have tried MD level with little progress and are, after today, going down the political route. It is not through lack of trying and we will solve it and most people will forget the initial teething problems. Always the problem of being a pioneer. It is the same with the broadband installation. On one level it is going ok but the BT lines are causing us issues. We have three lines up and running and for some reason unknown to us two of the lines keep dropping from 6 to 2 mgbs and when that is sorted out they drop them back down 10 days later. This coupled with CBS not being as quick as we expected in releasing monies so we could set up the relay from Portree. One week has evolved into six and everything is in place apart from the finance.Unfortunately the customer is not interested in all these “reasons” for a system not working, they just want fuel and faster internet connections. One of the keys to the problems seems to be Gilbarco, Datacash,CBS do not live in the community where there are stresses and strains put on the community company when it tries to provide a service but find outside influences adversely affect the service. In a positive light these are teething problems and while they are happening you have to take the long view and keep going. Although the devil is in the detail you keep positive when you talk to visitors who are interested in the work of the community and without fail they are really encouraging and want you to succeed. Leaving the Inn pretty exhausted after 26 hours solid work and little food in the last two days, stopped to take a couple of photos of the now rampant meadow sweet and the tranquil scene south across Ardban.



All seems ok again and its all worth it.

Meeting my first St Kildan.

Mainly from a comment from Neil King saying that St Kilda was evacuated in 1930 and not 1936, I think I got the 36 from the number of evacuees, Alison checked up a few things and it turns out I was indeed speaking to Dougie Munro, the son of Dugald Munro, teacher and missionary, on the island. I had left it that he was indeed the last child conceived on the island and was not doubting his word but this confirmation sort of makes it more real. He was born only a few weeks after the evacuation, lived in Kyleakin, went to Portee school and then headed off to London at 17. All this he had told me yesterday. A little coincidence in that  I am reading a novel of St Kilda life in the 1830s.

This was a happier coincidence than when I was speaking to a couple from a village not far from Applecross. I mentioned some one I knew there and it immediately got  a laugh as he was a partner with that person for quite a few years. Went off to serve some one and came back to the conversation where I mentioned another name and another extra ordinary connection when I said that it was sad the guy I knew, the last time I saw him he was home for his brother’s funeral, where the lady said yes it was a bad time as her sister was killed in the same car!!!. Questions and conversations take you where you least expect sometimes.

Glass calm day’s fishing and although the catch pretty poor, it was still enjoyable, being sunny and warm. Nothing much to report apart from the full range of sea birds, from disappearing razorbills


to cheeky fulmars.


Surrounded by Seabirds

Yesterday began with a bumpy ride out to the Varuna to keep the Inn’s prawn supply going and this was followed up by a full day’s work there.


Weather was a major topic of conversation with wind sweeping down from the north and frequent hail showers. Felt so sorry for the young plants and the trees with their blossoms being stripped off. The sycamores out side took a bit of a pasting.


Unfortunately had a progressively bad headache all day and that took the edge of enjoying the shift. Despite a kip on my break could not shake it of. Vaguely heard Bertie explaining away why we are not catching any prawns, lobster and crab, saying they are there but the cod are eating them. It sounded a bit confused but I was dozing at the time so may have missed the gist of his explanation of why the shellfish fishery is going tits up.

Very late start as felt hung over from yesterday’s head. managed to get out by eleven and hauled 350 pots so not too bad a day. Dougal, being out for the first two hours of the day decided that he wanted to stay out and hid behind his favourite tree.


Knew that half pints and squats were sold out so had to try to get some for the kitchen. prawn tails take the pressure off as there is little preparation for this starter dish. On the way round to the pier the gorse was showing particularly well, good early bee food.


Gorse has it’s detractors in Applecross but I think it has its place and the war waged against it is very misplaced. Effective in the grand scheme of things and wonderful colouring as well. Was told once by an elderly crofter that it is compared to love as it blossoms on every month of the year. Passed other water users on the way out of the moorings.


Although there was still a northerly breeze and hard work hauling I found myself surrounded by ten skuas and for the first time a couple of gannets were alongside.


Another first was a skua taking a fish from my hand, tried it with the gannets but not quite. Fulmar and some tern were about as well. Had a wonderful time and takes your mind of everything. Gannets are probably my favourite seabird.


They are beautiful, sleek arrows, very mobile and are etchings of the sea. There have been gannets working in Applecross Bay for three or four weeks now.


Managed to get the catch to Robert just before six and as there was a lull front of house the pans went straight on the cooker. Fried off a few prawn tails for tea this evening with some sea salt and wild garlic leaves from the garden. Bit frustrated with the broadband this evening having difficulty uploading but in the grand scheme of things ….fairly insignificant.

Just Me and the Skuas.

Although waking early this morning did not feel a great desire to go to sea but a wee look at the forecast persuaded me that it would be a good move. But not before finishing the last of the Peter May trilogy, The Chessmen. This took me to after nine before I left the moorings but all I needed to do was to phone the kitchen at the Inn to let them know I would be a little later in landing the prawns and squats. The breeze dropped off to flat calm in the afternoon and I managed to haul 400 creels. Although the fishing is very poor at the moment, there was enough squats and prawns aboard at the end of the day to pay a few bills.

Had twelve skuas round the boat on one day last year, having six today has been the most this year and so got the camera out and they were very obliging.




A couple of fulmars turned up and they do not seem at phased by the bonxies, I have heard stories of them ganging up on golden eagles and covering them with oil that they quirt from ducts on their beaks. The oil laden eagles cannot then fly.


On the way in passed Mike with a number of kayakers in tow, it is the sort of thing I would do if I did not live here!!


Landed the tails and prawns at the Inn and although they had a fairly quiet day there seemed to be a lot of people milling about, busy evening in prospect but not on till tomorrow evening and possibly all day thursday. Certainly going by the northerlies forecast I will not be fishing. On the way into the house the two sycamores are now buzzing. Spring is definitely here…..it is almost June so one would hope so.


Yesterday was a day ashore and was filled with a bit of variety, walking the dogs and stopping at the Filling Station to reboot yet again, three days in a row, shifting some left over booze to the Walled Garden, some wood home and a bit of cutting and chopping in the evening. Days off are few and far between.

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