Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2021

Spring song

I may have been watching too much Death in Paradise on catch-up to have had the means, motive or opportunity to murder the English language with another blogpost. Then again, it could have been due to the wintry weather, or just a lack of muse. Not to worry, here's a quick round-up of the past two weeks... A trip to Shetland (key worker/same Covid tier) saw me catch the 11.45pm ferry from Kirkwall, arriving in Lerwick at 7.30am the following morning. All was eerily quiet as I pondered when it would be polite to phone the customer to announce my presence on the island. I reckoned 9am was probably ok, so meantime set off in search of some breakfast. Leaving my vehicle in an almost empty car above Fort Charlotte, I strolled through the chill air and deserted streets of Lerwick to a take away cafe and bought an egg roll and a cup of tea. Unbeknownst to me, my return journey to the car was being monitored from a rampart of the fort, for no sooner had I closed the vehicle door, than a l

Scorradale in the snow

Monday evening and early Tuesday morning brought plenty of snow showers to Orkney, such that buses were cancelled, schools were closed and driving anywhere was not for the faint-hearted. I didn't fancy risking life and limb indoors with office admin or outdoors with ladders, so called a 'snow day' and went for a walk instead. Ward Hill and Cuilags over on the island of Hoy were very photogenic, and the only time I stopped photographing them was when they were out of sight due to the terrain or the weather. The avenue of trees at the entrance to this property was only enhanced by the addition of a dusting of snow. In the fields, geese were gathered in large flocks, mostly Greylags, but with a few Pink-footed Geese in amongst them.  At the foot of the hill up to Scorradale, some small brown birds were flitting about on the ground in the shelter of some bushes. Habitat and movement suggested Dunnock, but when I looked closer, I realised that they were actually Lesser Redpolls.

Nature Notes #2

It was dark. Outside, a strong easterly wind was gusting in the thirties and the windchill was reportedly -5 degrees C. It was also 06.49 and I wasn't inclined to leave the snugness of bed. However, a passing sound made me smile, as several birds were calling in flight as they went by the open window. A piping sort of sound, one that had been absent for... [counts out the time since August]... six months. Yup, it's the beginning of February and the Oystercatchers are returning. In truth, a few of these charismatic waders remain in Orkney all year, but the bulk of their number head south for Winter, gathering on estuaries and shores around the UK mainland. But now those birds are beginning to return for the breeding season, bringing their joyous piping with them. Here's a link to a page which includes some audio of the call of the Oystercatcher . I must admit, I do not know of any music tracks which include this sound, despite listening to all manner of pipe music, so I am g

More weekend wildlife

The Peregrine sighting wasn't the only pleasing moment during last weekend's Gyre walk. The original intention had been to amble to Orphir Bay and bide a while on the shore listening to the waves, waders and ducks. However, en route, it became obvious (by dint of the clanging, scraping and revving sounds) that a local farmer was mechanically shovelling up seaweed from the high tide line of the bay, presumably to be used as fertiliser on his fields. This didn't seem such a mindful activity, so the Gyre wood detour was taken instead. Fortuitously so, bearing in mind the Peregrine encounter. Despite the ice and snow, i n the shelter afforded by the hedges and ditches, a few splashed of colour were emerging, an early promise of the hope of Spring. Pink Purslane Elderberry bud Elderberry bud Yellow Brain Fungus In the wood, some feathers were found beneath a branch, evidence of another raptor kill. A few of the feathers were collected for later identification, but our initial th