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Big cat diary, Orkney-style

In Orkney, we tend only to have about 10 species of breeding butterflies, and one of these, the Dark Green Fritillary, hasn't been seen for some years, likely due to loss of its preferred habitat. Orkney does, however, have lots of moths. The problem there is that I don't particularly like late nights or early mornings, so rarely see the flying adults unless they're a daytime species. All that said, the caterpillars of both butterflies and moths are frequently encountered whilst ambling about the footpaths of these isles, so it made sense to prioritise a caterpillar ID book rather than a butterfly/moth one, so I could at least know what would be flying around if I was awake. Well, it made sense in my head. The enthusiastic mothy folk in Orkney often post photographs on the local online insect group, including amazing images of some really spectacular hawk-moths. These are all large and distinctively marked or coloured, the sort of insect which could make your day! When loo
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A weekend break across Scapa Flow on the islands of Hoy and South Walls had a very damp start, with a day of non-stop rain. It was needed, mind, to replenish reservoirs, ponds and the water table. However, it wasn't ideal circumstances for nature watching. The only bright side was that it was vertical weather rather then the more usual horizontal sort we're used to. The plan was to look for Harbour Porpoises in the stretch of sea between Flotta and Hoy, and although we did see some at a distance, the precipitation didn't help the cause. The Martello Tower at Crockness, with the one at Hackness visible to the left A Fox Moth caterpillar Drookit bumblebees sheltering on thistles Drookit humans sheltering in a car Despite the wet weather, and against all expectations, we encountered four species of raptor out hunting in the rain. I really didn't think they did this. Below is a photo of a Sparrowhawk, taken just after a failed attempt to catch a Meadow Pipit. In addition, w

Near and far away

Time for the mooted catch up before I disappear beneath a deluge of unsorted photographs. Several weeks ago, a leisurely ascent of a local hill which I hadn't climbed in months brought some pleasant surprises. Simply visiting a place at a different time of year can be very enlightening. Bog Pimpernel A white form of Devil's-bit Scabious A wasp mimic, the hoverfly Sericomyia silentis An Emperor Moth caterpillar Whilst on the topic of caterpillars, an outbuilding wall at home suddenly sprouted this (I have no idea what it is, or when the adult insect will emerge). During the Orkney International Science Festival, I was very fortunate to go along on a promotional film shoot for one of the local live events. were the producers, and I was genuinely surprised how quickly the necessary footage was gathered. Although the below image (a sneaky shot over the cameraman's shoulder) looks like a scene from BBC detective drama Shetland , the actual promo film can be seen here

And... Action!

I'm way behind in my blogging, so may need to resort to drastic measures to catch up. However, before I go all 'random images from random days' in an effort to drag myself back to the topical and current time, here's a post which should've aired several weeks ago. The mission was a recce for a walk which my partner is guiding for the non-online, unvirtual part of the Orkney International Science Festival (OISF). The festival began last Thursday and runs until next Wednesday, with most of the events happening through the medium of the internet. However, there are daily walks in Orkney, courtesy of Wild Orkney Walks . So, the island of Flotta... currently the home of an oil terminal which probably explains all the photos of tankers, rigs, platforms and ocean-going tugs which appeared on... ahem... another blog.  Likely due to all of the fossil fuel paraphernalia (pipes, storage tanks, more pipes, flare etc), Flotta isn't the most visited island in the Orkney archi