Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sunday 4th October 2015

It's been a grand day.

Orkney awoke to gentle sunshine and not a breath of wind, so after a late breakfast, Our Lass and I pottered down to the coast to make the most of the weather before everything changes (i.e. tomorrow).

The tide was out in Holm Sound and a varied selection of waders loafed about on the exposed rocks. An occasional distant splashing puzzled us for a while, until we spotted a fish leaping out of the water. Whether this was to catch flies or to escape the jaws of some unseen predator, we couldn't fathom.

We sat on the sea wall by St Nicholas' Kirk, soaking up the warmth from an Autumnal sun. The only sound to be heard was the 'clacking' of stones on the beach, as they were industriously turned over by er... Turnstones.

Out of the corner of our eyes, we noticed a sudden movement to our right. It appeared to be a short white stick standing vertically by the side of the road. Eh? A second glance resolved the vision into a Stoat, stood up to check us out and revealing its white underside.

Reckoning that we were either not a threat or, more likely, it didn't care, the Stoat then crossed the road and began searching through the rocks at the top of the beach. A few waders and pipits took the opportunity to move a little further away, but the Stoat seemed to ignore them and worked its way along the beach towards us.

The following photos were shot with my phone, despite not being able to see the screen properly due to the glare from the sun.

Sorry it's a bit "Where's Wally?", but the Stoat kept disappearing and appearing between the rocks, as it cautiously approached us, ending up about three feet from me.

As mentioned before in these pages, Stoats are not native to Orkney, as shown in this recently-commissioned report for SNH. Entertaining and furry, they may be, but there's a great many species native to Orkney that are not evolved to cope with their arrival.

With the changing seasons, there's flocks of birds everywhere. The most ephemeral are the Pink-footed Geese heading south from Iceland and Greenland. Their calls have me searching left and right, looking for the source of the sound. Invariably, they're directly overhead and the last place I look.

The local Starlings are easier to locate...

Following a pleasant afternoon of garden chores, the evening saw the sunset bring a wonderful day to a close.


Unknown said...

Spot the stoat now! I like this series :) what's next? x

Imperfect and Tense said...

It was rather comical, popping up from behind closer and closer rocks. Sadly, without a larger predator to control their numbers, Stoats are going to be amazingly successful on Orkney, until there's nowt left.

biobabbler said...

How thrilling to see a stoat (ignoring their impacts, just for the moment). And the lighting at that church yard is STUNNING, wow.

Imperfect and Tense said...

It's difficult to pass the churchyard without stopping to take photos!