Monday 14 November 2011


On a calm, warm morning like this there is nothing better in the world than to sit on the deck by the caravan at the shore and watch the loch. The season for living there is over, but we miss it, Fortunately it's just a stroll away. We put Kelly kettle in the bag, gathering some dry heather on the way down, then settle in for tea and wait to see who's about.

A curious face bobs up, then glides towards us. Snub nosed, soft eyed and alert, there's no doubt it is coming right in to give us its full attention. It feels like a greeting. It's a common seal. It reaches its body out of the water to scrutinise us. We gaze right back.

The seal sinks below the surface. Circles of ripples radiate out, glistening with sunshine. Its sleek body emerges out of the water with a porpoise's curve, then slices back in. Under the surface it must be powering along. It leaps again, another arc, right out of the water this time, before plunging back under. Then again, with another tremendous surge, as if trying to take flight. By now it's right across the loch beside the skerry. Surfacing, it splooshes into the seaweed. Playing now - a splashing backflip. Then a cruise (panting, surely), head up looking in our direction.

We clap and call 'bravo!' It sets off again, throwing itself up in virtuoso bounds back towards the shore. Its final lunge takes it up onto the bow, cushioned by bladderwrack, where it squiggles up onto the top. There it lies, back-bending into a banana-shape, scratching, flicking its flippers and twisting its tail.

It's a perfect morning for basking, but this young seal is too restless to slouch today. Perhaps it is waiting for another seal to play with, or to squabble about who will get the perfect rock spot for a low-tide snooze.

I've spent endless hours enthralled by these animals, and inevitably a few poems about them have emerged. Here is a tiny one, the first of four of my mini poems which Bill has set to film.

seals from Bill Ritchie on Vimeo.

I'll post the others up here in due course.

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