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Showing posts from October, 2020

Still Autumn day

After bigging up the very short Autumns in these parts, I have been astounded this year just how long it has gone on. I don't mind being wrong in those circumstances. The light! The leaves! The weirdly-shaped fungi! What is not to love? A female Stonechat on a building site Who is this? Lurking amongst the branches at the edge of a wood. A female Sparrowhawk A blissful Beech hedge This tiny wasp was found clambering over lichen on the sunny side of a tree.

A Sunday without sun

A few weekends back, there was a report of a Kingfisher being seen briefly in a garden in Stromness. We don't see many Kingfishers in Orkney, so it seemed like a good idea to go and have a wander around the harbour, in case the bird was lingering to feed. It was rather a cold, overcast and damp day, and no Kingfishers were found, but there was a possible Black Redstart, again seen briefly, too briefly for a photo, atop the mast of a boat in dry dock. Stromness marina A Redshank That afternoon, with a particularly low tide predicted, the small island of the Holm of Houton was accessible to foot traffic. Here it is nestled between Scapa Flow, Bring Deeps and Houton Bay. I had not previously visited the island, so the opportunity was seized. Whilst not fully dry underfoot, the causeway was wellington-able for a few hours. These Limpets were wearing fascinators! Once on the Holm, it was slightly surprising to find a fair few flowers, what with all the wind and salt and grazing sheep (w


On a showery Sunday afternoon sandwiched between a dreich Saturday and a wet Monday, that briefest of phenomena, an Orcadian Autumn, put in a surprise appearance midst some watery sunshine. It wasn't New England in the fall, it wasn't a vast swathe of colour across a broad landscape, it wasn't even knee deep in leaf litter, but it was magical in its way. The Rosa rugosa was swinging its hips in a dashing red and cerise number... Elder bushes were flaunting greens and purples... There were still a few Buddleia blooms on display... And Rowans were laden with ripe red berries which, on another part of the walk, were being much appreciated by migrating thrushes: Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds. I have no idea what this is, other than gorgeously pink. One particular Rosa rugosa was in a fiendish mood, showing an impressive set of snarling,  sharp teeth. There were a few insects about, not many, but the fading light did add a splash of colour to this fly's wings. Lichen w

Self sealing

If it's October, it must be the beginning of Grey Seal pupping season, so a trip to Burwick at the bottom end of South Ronaldsay was called for. The morning's bright sunshine soon gave way to cloud and then rain but, no matter, the short walk offered up some lovely moments. A solitary Thrift flower... A pair of Grey Herons... Plenty of Yarrow... Some quite fresh Otter spraint... A Redwing... And then to the rocky coves for some pups!

Westray wanderings

Another island trip for work, but the two tasks were separated by several hours to fit in with customer schedules. So what does a wildlife watcher do with 4 hours to kill on Westray? As the early morning ferry sailed by the island of Shapinsay, I was left to ponder the meaning of 'coastal defences'. I don't think this qualifies on either count. Mind you, the skyscapes at dawn were very nearly worth getting up for.  Passing the small islands of Faray and Holm of Faray, it was good to see populations of Grey and Harbour Seal. The first of these two photos also contains a Grey Seal pup in all its fluffy whiteness. When replacing a satellite dish, I invariably (though hopefully, temporarily) make a spider homeless. This day was no exception. There were still some migrants about and a Water Rail was heard in the reed bed by the Bay of Tuquoy and a flock of eight Pintail was seen flying over the Bay of Skaill. But here's a conveniently-posing Wheatear. In Pierowall village, g