All creatures

Yesterday we walked again along the shoreline from our new home. Tons of mostly feathered wildlife. All the usual suspects plus - and here we stood stock still because the object of our fascination has great hearing but poor eyesight for inanimate objects - an otter! For ten minutes we watched him - or more likely her to judge by the animal's size. She was working her way along at low tide, not more than ten metres out. You could often see her twists and underwater turns as she hunted through the weed looking for small fish or crabs. Eventually her head emerged once more, this time triumphant with a large shore crab clamped firmly in her jaws and waving desperate legs and claws all around her face. At that she came ashore to enjoy her meal, right there on the weedy stones in front of us.

A red deer stag (to judge by the tracks, not a hind) continues to visit our garden in the small hours. Not every night, but often enough to clear the veggies so carefully cut up and put out by a wildlife warden called Delia.

That reminds me: twice this week we've needed to make the one hour car journey to Ullapool. Once for a half hour radio interview re Going with Gabriel and once for shopping ahead of the gathering of the Wester-Ross Burns Club meeting that takes place here in our home next Tuesday. The way lies over the high hills locally known as The Fain. This is Gaelic for 'Barren Place' and you'd know why if you saw it. Barren, yes, in terms at least of any provender for Man. But indescribably beautiful, especially when the snow lies pure and deep and carved by the wind into a wonderful abstraction. We saw plenty of deer and I'm happy to report that they all looked perfectly well-fed and normal - I mean heart-stoppingly lovely as part of their own domain. Lords and Ladies of the Glen indeed - or in this instance of the Hill.

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