Sunday 10 July 2016

Frogless blogness

Today's adventure involved driving to Deerness and wandering towards Mull Head, in a vain attempt to find a Frog Orchid. Not to worry, we saw lots of other things instead.

The Grass of Parnassus is in flower. A more exquisite plant, I cannot imagine. It is simply gorgeous.

A Short-eared Owl hunted along the unimproved grassland of the clifftops, searching for Orkney Voles. The tussocks of grass are full of the hidden runs of these rodents.

There were plenty of Common Blue butterflies, wrestling with the wind in their searches for Bird's Foot Trefoil blooms.

On one cliff ledge was a Black Guillemot (Tystie) chick and an egg. None of us could recall ever seeing a Tystie chick before. Until they fledge, they're normally tucked away out of sight in crevices between rocks.

Frog Orchid-less, we finally admitted defeat and sat down on the clifftop by the Brough of Deerness, to watch the to-ing and fro-ing of countless sea birds as they foraged for food.

Around our feet, the sward was full of a small plant with delicate pink flowers. None of us could remember what it was called, though we were pretty sure it wasn't a Frog Orchid.

Back home, the ID guides were perused until we solved the mystery...

Sea Milkwort, Glaux maritima (featured before in these pages, so I really had no excuse for not knowing).

Our Lass had suggested that perhaps it was a Pimpernel? I could see where she was coming from, the flower is reminiscent of Scarlet Pimpernel. But I knew it wasn't any of the British members of this family (Scarlet, Yellow or Bog). I shouldn't have been so scathing, as when we finally tracked down the ID, we discovered that both Sea Milkwort and the Pimpernels are in the same family, Primulaceae.

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