And as long as those clothes include waterproofs and wind-buffetting gear then you'll be fine ... !!
It had to happen eventually ... we knew it wasn't going to last ... the weather broke, and quite spectacularly at that! Severe weather warnings were issued for the island, ferries cancelled and anything not tethered down or heavy enough to withstand the approaching gale force winds taken indoors! We were in for some brutal conditions but thankfully, the rain proved not to be a constant companion to the wind and we've been spending our time investigating the many cliff-tops and beaches of Lewis ... sometimes at an angle of less than 90 degrees as we battled the invisible force that kept trying to knock us off our feet!
Although the conditions at sea (big swell, white-caps as far as the eye could see, huge breakers on the shore) made it virtually impossible to see too much out in the deep blue, the avian life-forms that ruled the skies were adept at keeping us entertained. The usual suspects were out in force including gannets, shags, fulmars, guillemots and various species of gull. (Noteworthy is the annual hunt for fledgling gannets, called 'Guga', that has recently begun on an island (technically a large rock) 40 miles north of Lewis called Sulasgeir, one of the most important breeding grounds for gannets, with some 9000 breeding pairs. In the autumn of each year, villagers from Ness in the north-west of Lewis set sail for the rock to kill around 2,000 young gannets (or guga) to bring home to feast upon. Special dispensation written into the 1954 Wild Birds Protection Act by a Statutory Order allows this practice to continue today - guess we won't be seeing many fledgling gannets then!)
There were also the less frequently seen species like the skuas (who were honing their piracy skills to the detriment of the other birds), the Arctic and common terns (who were rather vocal), a white-tailed sea-eagle or two and a rather lost looking greylag goose who tried to befriend us on the beach! We also spied shearwaters and the teeny weeny storm petrels - how they manage to make their way this far north from the Antarctic is a mystery. We were also lucky enough to meet two of the islands visitors, 'Mr and Mrs Hooper Swan'. Having made one of the many inland lochs their summer home, their long necks and striking colouration of their beaks made them impossible to mistake for the more regularly seen, mute swan!
Thankfully the storms soon blew themselves out and we were able to get back out and look for creatures of the flippered variety ... !! Although offshore, the sea still looked a little bit angry, the inshore seas were calm and with the turquoise green waters laid out beneath our cliff, we were able to watch a few porpoises (including a mother and calf) both above and below the water. Some of the sea-birds however (the fulmars in particular) took an aversion to us being there and were flying low over our heads, warning us not to get to close to their nests - not much chance of that as if we had, we'd have likely been in the process of falling off the cliff!
On the north-east coast of Lewis the road stops shortly after the "bridge to nowhere" but the hardy (possibly fool-hardy as it is a 'bog-walk' and like walking through treacle most of the time) can coastal walk all the way round to the Butt of Lewis on the north-east coast. We set off to investigate the first few miles of the walk but soon got distracted by more porpoises only metres from the shore, making the most of the calm conditions. We were also lucky enough to witness another amazing display by a "courting" basking shark as it launched itself clear out the water 3 times in a row - quite a spectacle! We are however considering other possible options for this behaviour as for courting to happen surely there needs to be someone (or someshark) to court? Each time we've seen this "breaching" behaviour there have been only the breaching individual in the vicinity! Perhaps they're just full of the joys of life ... island life seems to do that to you!