Sunday, 15 August 2010

Joke of a July

Wet and wild...that pretty much sums up July on Mousa. So much for it being summer. And, everyone keeps telling me how wonderful last summer in Shetland was. Funnily, that doesn’t make me feel any better. While this has not necessarily affected data collection, it has made work pretty miserable at times. Very few additional nests were added to the study sample since the end of June; when you rely on sound to find nests, relentless wind and rain is somewhat of a impediment.

North-easterly winds and relentless rain pound the east coast of Mousa 

Unsurprisingly, much of July was spent holed up our small stone bothy – the only means of shelter on the island. And, what else is there to do but much on crisps, chocolate and cheese (the foods of choice on Mousa) and warm the red wine on the stove (it’s far from ideal drinking temperature otherwise).
Another consequence of the atrocious weather has also been long stints on the island without a break and days on end without seeing another soul. It’s a good thing the stormie “team” (this term used loosely since it’s just the two of us) get on so well and share the same tastes in food, drink and music. Tom, the ferry operator, might expect to lose a couple of days here and there due to weather in July; in the first 17 days of the month, however, he only made it over on 7 of those days. Things picked up a little bit in the latter half of July, but there were still many days where the weather prevented him from making the journey over.

Making the most of it...huddling in the relative warmth and comfort of the bothy, with a beer in hand, 
while gazing out into the fog

When we finally made it off for just a day and a night, it was such a rush to get back that we managed to forget bread, butter and wine! Then stranded again, we feared we may have to call in the coastguard to do an emergency drop. Though, I’m not quite sure any of those items would quite constitute an emergency in their eyes.

Dark skies gather over the mainland
The tents were abandoned long ago for fear of being blown to Norway and instead we sought refuge in the bothy and have not ventured to erect tents again since. At least in here, we have shelter from the howling wind and the lashing rain. Or so we thought, until one morning I woke up in a pool of water! Perhaps someone would be so kind to come and fit some new doors to the bothy, which don’t have several inches between the bottom of the door and the ground? And, another mattress would be nice too...wink wink.

Julie wrings out the rather soggy cushions that constituted my bed!