Thursday 19 December 2013

A tide in the affairs of me...

There I was, stood at the kitchen sink this morning, washing the breakfast things and absent-mindedly gazing at the loch and the bay, when a thought struck me.

"The tide's in."

Now we've been living in this cottage for over a week, so it's fair to assume that the tide has been in and out quite a few times during that period, in its cyclical Hokey Kokey way. But today was the first occasion when I actively registered the fact.

Picking up my bins, I scanned as much of the bay shore as was visible from my vantage point, to confirm that the view went directly from waves to grass. No rocks, no seaweed, no flotsam, no doubt that this was a very high tide.

Sorry, but I don't think I will become bored with this view...
Waders were visible in the field below the cottage, quite a large mixed flock of Curlew and Lapwing, plus the odd Redshank appearing now and again out over the bay. In a sheltered corner of the loch, out of the strong wind, a couple of Little Grebe were busy feeding. Suddenly, lots of gulls flew up from the the bit of shore hidden from view by the ayre. Scanning through this flock, one bird seemed much greyer than the others. In fact, it wasn't a gull, but it was probably the reason that all the gulls were in the air. It was a male Hen Harrier. As sea birds flew right, left and centre, it gracefully glided towards the cottage, impervious to the calls of the gulls and the fierce Orkney blast. I watched, mesmerised, as it drifted passed the window and out of sight.

Once I had emerged from the reverie, another thought struck me. Hmmm, I need to be in Kirkwall soon, to post the last of the Christmas parcels before it's too late. And if it's a very high tide, that might be interesting.

Fortunately, the Churchill Barriers between Burray, Glimps Holm, Lamb Holm and Mainland were open to traffic and not too wave-lashed. So I relaxed a bit when I reached Mainland, and was promptly deluged by spray as I drove into St Marys. Half the main road was under water, as was the pier, a salient reminder that wind direction also has a part to play in tidal forces.

Fortuitously, there wasn't a queue in the post office, so Operation Santa went very smoothly and quickly into Operation Tea-and-cake at the internet cafe. That's my kind of mission. I texted Our Lass to see if she wanted to meet up for lunch, but she was otherwise engaged in some Christmas festivities with her work colleagues. So I decided to lapse into tourist mode and drove over to Stenness to visit the Ring of Brodgar.

Part of me thinks that it looks better at midwinter than it does at midsummer, though it was bloomin' freezing trying to hold my phone still in the howling gale, whilst I took the shot. Though it's not as if I'm exactly having to suffer for my art.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

What a great view! It's so wide open. You know it took us doing grunion greeting before we got any real sense of tidal patterns. The full moon was the 17th, and probably the couple days since moved the nighttime highest tide late enough for you to catch it while doing breakfast dishes. Maybe you've been too busy to catch the daytime high tide? Out of curiosity, are lochs freshwater or brackish? Interesting to learn about Ring of Brodgar, I never heard of it before. Sorry to say, living by the ocean myself, you'd better get used to the wind. This is really fun to read about your new adventures. I'm glad you're keeping your blog name.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Katie, it is a bit special, eh? We're making the most of it, as we're only likely to be in the cottage for a few months. Echnaloch is a freshwater lake, I'll blog about it soon. There is at least one brackish loch, Stenness, which is adjacent to the the Ring of Brodgar. Probably more of that in future too. There is a great deal of archaeology on Orkney, from the Neolithic through Pictish to Viking times. Plus quite a bit of military stuff from two World Wars. I may mention the odd lump or bump and standing stone in the coming weeks and months!

Re the blog name, I have actually set up a totally new blog, but I haven't got the heart to de-activate I&T, so it will remain. There may be the odd tweak here or there, and possibly a gradual assimilation of old and new, but nothing definite and certainly not in a hurry. Your preference is noted, lady! That's me told :o)

biobabbler said...

I presume you'll be telling us about your new blog (& how one can access it) here at the I&T?

Imperfect and Tense said...

If I can ever tear myself away from I&T (doubtful, at this point), there would be a link between the two, so I wouldn't worry. Now that I think on it, there is a wee bit of the newbie on I&T already, see the sentence under "In case I forget who I am..." And, of course, I've accidentally nested them, so might not be able to extricate one from the other anyway. Yay, go me!