Friday 17 July 2020

Less blue, more pink

Another coastal walk? Why not. This one was from the clifftops at Yesnaby, northwards towards Skaill. It was another blustery day, but it thankfully remained dry as Our Lass had forgotten her waterproof jacket. The route north was sunnier than the return journey, but it was enough of a day out to feel like a holiday trip.

We explored the maritime heath for flowering plants, finding Grass of Parnassus and Scottish Primrose without too much trouble. However, try as we might, we couldn't locate a Frog Orchid. Whilst Our Lass was photographing graffiti on a door lintel of the Broch of Borwick, I had a very brief view of a Ruby-tailed Wasp

Broch of Borwick
The clifftop path was, by turns, grassy then rocky. In some places it was difficult to understand how plants could possibly grow in such inhospitable locations.

Spot the Sea Milkwort

Here it is!
I am trying to learn how to separate the umpteen species and the permutations of hybrids of Eyebright. In Orkney, there are 14 distinct species and subspecies, with a further 18 hybridisations. But the one I stopped to photograph had an unexpected surprise for me. As I focussed on the Eyebright, something moved, and I realised that there was the rear end (I think) of a grub or larva tucked under a rosette of Buck's-horn Plantain. Quite why its arse looks like a fox's face, I do not know.

Later, the County Flora Recorder saw the photo and informed me that this was Marshall's Eyebright, an endemic species to Scotland.

We stopped for lunch beside a long geo, and watched Fulmars cavorting on the strong breeze, Arctic Skuas upsetting Herring Gulls and Tysties sitting about making thin, shrill piping sounds. When I had finished my sandwiches, I went to photograph a pair of Tysties and suffered another photo-bombing.

Then there was more Eyebright research, but I have not ID'd this one yet (or been told what it is, which is more likelier).

We lingered awhile by a small colony of Guillemots, watching the adults going to and fro between the sea and the cliff ledges. It is not every seabird colony where the action takes place at eye level (not a musical reference, but no-one is going to believe me).

On the return journey, we found a swathe of Ragged Robin in a wet flush. Here's Our Lass  showing some solidarity with their pinkness. 

And no trip to Yesnaby at this time of year would be complete without a gratuitous Scottish Primrose photograph.


Caroline Gill said...

A fine set... And I had not heard of a Scottish Primrose. I always enjoy the chance to watch Tysties.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Hello Caroline, and Welcome! The Scottish Primrose is a diminutive wee thing, mainly limited to maritime heath habitats in the north of Scotland. It can be exceedingly difficult to spot! Yes, Tysties are a joy to watch, especially with their'dancing' displays in Spring.