After yesterday's exertions, I had a day of relative rest; there were pictures I wanted of the village. It started off with a young lady (who is quickly becoming my very good friend) enquiring about infrared photography, so I showed her my IR camera and set up with a quick introduction to the theory. She seemed quite enthralled. We were standing in the doorway to the men's dorm and I noticed that this view up the line of the cottages was interesting and, as I was eyeing up the shot, one of the wardens walked past and also expressed an interest. Having had a practice run, I was able to present my spiel with a little more polish. I did email a copy of the picture to him, as requested but, either he's still out there and without internet access or, there is an error in the address I'm using. There is a third possibility, but I don't think he's like that.
In the extras are one of the restored cottages numbers 5 and 6, the derelict cottage – number 10, the name plate (slate) outside number 4 (the men's dorm) – presumably, Margaret Robertson was a widow who lived here from 1893 until the evacuation in 1930. I'm rather jumping to conclusions here, but I imagine that a widow had a long life expectancy as she avoided the perils of both childbirth and climbing down the cliffs. It was a very hard life.
In the evening, when hardier souls were off on a camping trip to the far end of Hirta, I sat down outside the cottages armed with a macro lens and some breadcrumbs watching the mice. Originally, there were two species unique to Hirta: the field mouse and the house mouse. The former is actually a subspecies of wood mouse believed to have been brought here by the Vikings a thousand years ago; it is about twice the weight of its continental cousins (though it seemed much bigger than that) and is omnivorous, feeding off everything from the visitors sandwiches to dead sheep; its only predators are the skuas and, while we were there, an itinerant snowy owl. Those near the cottages are very tame to the extent that, if we kept still, they were likely to run over our feet. I'm quite sure that every cliet on both Hirta and Dun has its own colony of mice.
The house mouse didn't survive the evacuation of the human population by more than a couple years as it was, apparently, lacking the initiative to find a dead sheep.
- Olympus E-PL1