An armada of shags

Just finished designing our Christmas card. Now I'm doing my best to stop looking out of the window. Difficult. Not a whisper of wind, not one single cloud in a sky of ice blue melding into apricot / light gold low down. The sun has all but dropped below the jagged rim of the hilly ampitheatre in which we live. All above is reflected, upside down, one shade darker, in the still waters of Loch Ewe. No complaints, folks.

Yesterday was almost as good. We walked Firemore beach. The tide was very low. We climbed up on to the grassy, hard stone spur  that reaches out into the sea, sitting down with our drinks and sandwiches at its rocky tip. Just a glimpse of a distant walker and after a while a couple throwing sticks into the water for their dog to retrieve. Otherwise not a soul in sight nor a sound other than occasionally that of a seabird. Made me want to get out my beach casting rod ... stay there all afternoon. In the old days that trusty old weapon would have been in constant use but now - well, you can't do - or you can't have- everything. (Anyway, never on a Sunday).

The day before that we had walked down to the ruined watermill at Second Coast. We were sitting quietly with our usual 'picnic' when around the headland, close in, came swimming a veritable armada of shags. Thirty five of them I counted. Even closer in a diver was hard at work, dipping and diving undersea for up to three minutes at a time. (Red throated or black throated or great northern? Not sure now they all have their dulled down winter plumage.) He took no notice of the invaders as they swam past him and, seemingly without haste, far out towards Gruinard Island. Wonder what they're talking about, without sound?

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