The season at St Kilda seems to go by in a flash. Already signs of approaching summer's end are with us. Some would say we have hardly had a summer yet and it does seem a bit unlikely now. After a day of sunshine, comes a day or two of driving rain thanks to El Nino this year. Temperatures have been lower than last season and rougher seas have meant fewer day trip boats, but on a good day they arrive en masse and our waterlogged village Main Street is not taking the pressure from both rising ground water and intensive footfall.
At less designated NTS properties we would have a team of volunteers set to drain this localised quagmire in a day but due to our Scheduled Monument status it would be illegal to do so. All we can do is lay improvised duckboards. Like our visitors, I have to grin and bear slopping along the Street and hope no one comes a cropper, especially me - a classic access versus conservation conundrum.
Some visitors are more than amenable in inviting us on board their ships and boats. We have been invited to board both big and small vessels, cruise liners to private yachts. The Wylde Swan, a Dutch tall ship has put in three appearances recently.
It is always nice to go out for a continental nibble and after personal contact our souvenir shop always seems well supported. Social interaction with the visitors certainly pays dividends and makes the job even more enjoyable than it already is. One unexpected adventure came when a Faeroese Life Boat roared into Village Bay - no they hadn't got lost but were making a public relations visit.
A great crew who took those who wanted on board for a 'burn up' once outside the Bay. A visiting artist came back with a grin on her face that had to be seen to be believed!
The wildlife shows signs of the approaching change. Soay Sheep are moulting, naturally shedding last year's fleece to look spic and span for the coming breeding season. This male won't win over many svelte females looking like the Last of the Mohicans!
Basking Sharks have been seen in Village Bay, the long hours of northern daylight have produced a rich soup of plankton on which these gentle giants can be seen feeding.
It is not only these big fish that benefit from the plankton soup. Smaller fish such as Sandeels which feed our seabirds swarm into the bay following nature's bounty at this time. Complex patterns of sea current and climatic factors influence the availablity of small fish to feed our fledglings.
There is a lot of Puffin activity at the moment with adult birds flying back and forth to feed their young. On warm afternoons the adults get together loafing on the water or social grouping in Puffin Parliaments. Like Swallows gathering on wires, it's a sure sign that summer is ending.