After 24 hours of gales, by Sunday afternoon I needed to be out of doors. Seems like I wasn't the only one, as nine folk turned up for an Orkney Field Club walk in Orphir. This was the fourth, and final, nature jaunt in a series of 'Through the Seasons' outings, and this was my only opportunity to attend one. Must try harder in 2019!
We met at the Orkneyinga Saga Centre, by the Round Church and the ruins of a Viking earl's Bu (a large hall), before a bracing walk along the low cliffs at the north end of Scapa Flow, then heading inland to the wood at Gyre, before returning along a track to the bu.
Out in the Flow, there were a few Red-throated and Great Northern Divers, Slavonian Grebes and Long-tailed Ducks, as well as the more usual Eiders, Red-breasted Mergansers, Black Guillemots (in their white and grey Winter plumage) and Shags. Fulmars were back patrolling the clifftops, as were a large family group of Ravens and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls. We found what looked like Otter spraint, by a likely-looking trail through the grass, so I'm guessing low cliffs are not a barrier to this charismatic mammal.
It was still quite bracing!
Once in the woodland (yes, really!), it was much calmer and peaceable. Wrens and Blackbirds called, we looked at tree buds and tried to identify the leaves of next year's wild flowers. There were even a few clumps of Snowdrops just sprouting above ground.
Walking between hedges, we startled a Woodcock, the first I've seen in many a year, and there were several Hares out in the fields, making the most of the last rays of the day's sunshine.
Many thanks to the eagle-eyed M for organising the walk and the weather.
With my fresh air fix satiated, I returned to a cosy Tense Towers and a hot beverage.