Proof, if it were needed, that living in Orkney is a great deal different from holidaying in Orkney, is provided by my lack of Hen Harrier photographs during the last nine months. Binoculars and camera are on permanent standby at home, but even that is not a sufficient state of readiness when one of these gorgeous raptors glides across the neighbouring field.
Several visitors, obviously in full-on holiday mode, have snapped amazing shots from the front doorstep, or beside the garden wall, but I'm just not in the game. Now that I think about it, I don't recall actually capturing a decent harrier image when we were holidaying either, but that was probably due to a combination of factors: insufficient lens power (2006-2007); injured (2008); on an island with lack of suitable harrier habitat (2009, 2011, 2013).
So here I am, able to see Hen Harriers all year round, through Winter roosting, Spring and Autumn migration and Summer breeding. And whilst we don't live near prime moorland habitat, there's plenty of Orkney Voles on tap, so the occasional bird of prey graces the environs of OTT with a flypast. It's just not happened when I've had camera in hand.
I shouldn't whinge. Plenty of folk would give their eye teeth to have the enthralling encounters that we have been able to experience. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, the species is seriously threatened in England and parts of Scotland due to illegal persecution. Therefore, if I seem churlish at my 'misfortune', please forgive me this small selfishness.
Mind you, it isn't helped when I return home from work, as I did this afternoon, to be greeted by Our Lass, with a small compact camera in hand, brandishing an image to make my hair stand on end.
Not just a Hen Harrier photo...
Not just a Hen Harrier photo, taken from the lounge window...
Not just a Hen Harrier photo, taken from the lounge window, showing a bird sat on a fence post across the road...
But a Hen Harrier photo, taken from the lounge window, showing a bird sat on a fence post across the road, with another harrier sat on another fence post a little further still down the road.
Our Lass informed me that they both had ringtails, so would be either female or juvenile. I must admit, I don't know whether two adult birds of the same sex would tolerate each other to this extent, or if it is more likely that they are siblings who have fledged this year.
If only she'd had time to pick up Very Wrong Len before a car drove past and frightened them away. No-o-o-o-o-o-o!