Back on Orkney, the fog was still making its presence felt when we woke up this morning.
Our Lass opened the curtains onto another dull day, slightly brightened by the sight of an Oystercatcher just outside the window. There's a pair of these striking waders which have taken up residence in the small field between our house and the big farm. I think that they were using the cover of the fog and a quiet Sunday morning to explore the neighbourhood.
Before lunch, we drove down to Burray, as Our Lass wanted to buy some plants for the garden. We purchased 50 or so tiny lumps of green shoots that may or may not survive to turn into vigorous, healthy, Orcadian weather-proof flowers.
Then we had an amble along the beach at Barrier 4, to check out some new defences that are being constructed at the southern end, before spotting a pale phase Arctic Skua heading north.
After lunch, we journeyed to St Margaret's Hope for another horticultural retail opportunity, becoming the proud owners of 3 Hebe and 3 Escallonia shrubs and 1 (and here I quote my garden expert wife) "fuzzy-leaved daisy thing".
The remainder of the afternoon was spent sieving compost, potting up, planting and watering.
Towards evening, as the sun had put in an appearance, I suggested a walk for a bit of relaxation. We have been meaning to explore more of our local area, so drove down to St Nicholas Kirk, where we would normally walk to, but parked there so that we could wander further along the peninsula towards Rose Ness.
The route took us past the Old Manse and down to the Bay of Cornquoy. The tide was a long way out, so we explored the beach, watching a small group of waders feeding on the mudflats and a party of Grey Seals lolling on the rocks at the water's edge.
Returning by the same route, we hit one of those sweet spots that occur from time to time in nature watching. As the track veered away from the beach, a male Redstart was flitting from a wooden post to a pile of seaweed. A few hundred yards further on, there was a flock of small birds in the hedge alongside the drive to the Old Manse. Most were Linnets, but one was a Whitethroat. Back on the tarmac road, we passed field after field with numerous Hares, one particular group of five still intent on 'box and chase'. A flurry of activity in the sky resolved itself into a male Hen Harrier carrying a kill, but being mobbed by a pair of wagtails and a gull. At a farm turning, a smart male Wheatear flew from a stone wall, his white rump showing well before he disappeared from view. A pair of Shelducks flew overhead and a Swallow zipped past our noses.
It was a bit of a mad half hour!
On reaching home, as we parked the car at the front of the house, we interrupted the Oystercatchers in a moment of ungainly wader intimacy. Hmmm, pornithology virtually on our doorstep, it looks like the neighbouring field and possibly our garden will be hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet in a month or so. Not to mention lots of loud and agitated parental piping from their mum and dad. Pass the ear defenders, please.