Our festive period was a bit of a blur. Christmas Day itself was spent with friends, sharing a brisk coastal walk, followed by a convivial meal and pleasant company.
Boxing Day was a much chillier affair, with the features of the distant Hoy hills picked out by flurries of snow. Our Lass and I went for a walk on the beach at Barrier 4, but neither of us felt like hanging around to take photos. However, we did have good views of a Great Northern Diver and a pair of Long-tailed Ducks, all quite close in to the shore.
Then we were back at work for a few days, before a trip south to visit relatives in Fife. It was very icy as we set off pre-dawn to catch the ferry. After negotiating some snowy roads around Thurso, the drive down the A9 went without a hitch. Some grand snowy scenery, mind, but the roads were ok.
In fact, emboldened by the fact that the roads were so clear, we detoured to Loch Garten (just like we would in the Summer, only now there would be no Ospreys or dragonflies and damselflies). However, this diversion was to be just as exciting. A friend in Orkney had mentioned that Winter was a good time to visit the Osprey hide, as there would be lots of Coal Tits and some Crested Tits around, the former coming to the hand to feed and the latter a specialist of Caledonian pine forest and not on either Our Lass's or my life list.
Continuing our journey south, we began to notice that the registration plates of the vehicles heading north were covered in snow. By the time we reached Fife, the last few miles to our destination were the wrong side of 'interesting'.
The following day, we managed a short walk near the village of Carnock, feeling quite giddy at the sight of so many hedges. We were able to see such exotic (for us) species as Blue and Great Tits, Bullfinches and Yellowhammers. Oh, be still my beating heart!
New Year's Eve was dreich. I went to bed at 11pm and slept through the raucous celebrations.