My vague plan for another day's dragon hunting was derailed, shortly after breakfast on Sunday, when Our Lass noticed an item in the local paper. A small advertisement nestled in the 'Out and About' page of The Orcadian was promoting cream teas at Woodwick House, in Evie. Coupled with a walk through woodland and alongside waterfalls, this was too much of a sensory delight for the occasional dragonfly to compete with. To be fair, I suspect that your average odonatologist is no stranger to full fat carbohydrates and sugary preserves. Let's be honest here, I'm below average and I was totally convinced!
And so, after sandwiches, scones, cream, jam, sponge cake and multiple cups of tea, we pottered out into the grounds, Our Lass looking for planting ideas, me gazing around in the vain hope of a stray dragon.
At the bottom of the garden is Wood Wick, a bit of shoreline that looks out into Gairsay Sound. Amongst the rocks at the top of the beach, we found this lovely little flower. As I was still recovering from the aforementioned sugar rush, I totally forgot to measure the ratio of petal length to sepal length. Silly me, what was I thinking? As this is the only way of reliably distinguishing Lesser Sea-spurrey from Greater Sea-spurrey, to a greater or lesser extent, this is just Sea-spurrey.
Also contained within the grounds is an old doocot (dovecot), which is rectangular rather than circular in shape and has a lean-to roof. From the carved stone over the door, it dates from 1648.
Upon leaving Woodwick, we took the scenic route towards Gorseness which, by pure coincidence, brought us to the sign for the Rendall Doocot, a more traditionally-shaped beehive style of dovecot. This also dates from the 17th Century.
Most surprisingly, and totally against the odds, it was full of pigeon shit.
Somewhat in need of a change of scene, we drove into Finstown to visit Firth Park, the community garden, tucked away off Heddle Road. It didn't disappoint, with plenty of flowers and insects to peruse.
I think this is a Marsh Hoverfly Helophilus pendulus.
Proof, if it were at all needed, that it is possible to grow a ball of wool without the need for a sheep.