Saturday 20 June 2020

War and peace

Catchy title for a book, maybe? Can't think why no-one has used it before?

As we venture slightly further afield for our lockdown ambles, one day we journeyed to Hoxa Head in South Ronaldsay for our daily de-stress and detox. Although cloud had covered the sky, on the leeward side of the hill it was still quite warm. No damselflies to be seen in the bog pools, mind, a fact which may not be unrelated to the proliferation of Moorhen nests in these water bodies. There were two in the pool where we mainly see odes. Hmmm, all those beaks are going to take their toll on dragons and damsels.

Hoxa Head is peppered with 20th Century military archaeology, a result of the requirement to keep Scapa Flow as a safe anchorage for the Home Fleet. Mostly, these buildings are slowly falling into minimalist decrepitude, either due to decades of Orcadian weather or the alleged intervention of a farmer's JCB.

Here, at the Balfour Battery, is one of two observation posts and gun emplacements, looking out across Hoxa Sound to defend the southern entrance to Scapa Flow.

On the surrounding cliffs, many ledges are occupied by nesting Fulmars, but we could also hear the high-pitched piping of Tysties (Black Guillemots) and eventually found a pair in a geo, where their calls were echoing off the sheer rock walls.

Back at the car, I discovered a small ladybird on the inside of the rear windscreen. Now, we don't see many ladybirds in this neck of the woods, and this one wasn't instantly recognisable as a species I knew. Usually this means it is a non-native Harlequin Ladybird which comes in a variety of forms, but this individual was too small, under 5mm, to be one of those. Thankfully, the local gurus came up with 10 spot Ladybird as its likely ID, another species which is highly variable in colour scheme.

The following day, I had a broadband installation to carry out, so was up early to catch a ferry to Stronsay. From the pier in Whitehall Village, I was then taken in a tiny boat to the island of Papa Stronsay, where as well as being a new island for me, I was shown around the monastery.

During a short lunch break, I sat on the sea wall, looking out across the bay and marvelling at the seemingly delicate flowers which survived right on the coast. This is Lesser Sea-spurrey, which was thriving in this exposed location.

By the time I arrived home, in the early evening, it was calm, hot and sunny. Easily the warmest few hours Orkney has seen in 2020.


Mark said...

That's a cracking Ladybird shot. I dont think enough research has been done on these little beauties. FYI if you'e ever down this neck of the woods, 'Snakeholme Pit' is Odanata paradise, I've got an mind blowing photo of a Demoiselle,i'll pop it on my next poem blog.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Thanks, Mark, and thank you also for the site recommendation!