It has been a lousy day, weather-wise, with constant rain hammering on our windows, driven hard by a westerly gale. Fresh air and exercise were sorely needed, but not in these conditions. We will wait for tomorrow, when it should be drier, though the wind is set to remain strong.
As the afternoon wore on, Our Lass and I exhibited the early signs of cabin fever, but there was one bright note to accompany the monotonous drumming of rain upon glass.
Shortly after 5pm, I noticed a movement out in the garden (though 'garden' is too grand a term for it as, with this latest deluge, it has returned to mud and puddles). Whilst it was difficult to focus my binoculars on the action, due to the rivers of water cascading down the windows, I initially thought that a small group of Linnets were sheltering in the lee of the dry stone wall. Grabbing my camera and moving to a different viewpoint, I revised that identification to Twite*, four of them, thoroughly bedraggled but obviously glad of the respite afforded by our wall. It looked as though they were finding seeds, probably from the host of dockans that had colonised this plot of land, before the builder had placed a veneer of topsoil over them.
At least one of the flock was sporting an ID ring on its left leg, but it was impossible to read the number on it.
When planning what to do with this area of the garden, I think we will remember these plucky visitors and plant or landscape accordingly.
* Post blog edit... later that same day... After posting a few of these pics on Orkney Wildlife's Facebook site, Martin Gray pointed out that this small flock are in fact Linnets (so much for going with my instincts!). Martin's comments were "They're not an easy pair to separate and even the 4 birds pic shows different degrees of streakiness. The single bird image above has a rosy breast, grey head and dark grey bill; twite would have a yellowish bill, no colour on the breast at this time of year and lack that grey 'hood'. There's also a bit too much white in the wing of all for Twite. Both species have done well in Orkney in recent years, especially with sacrificial bird crops becoming more popular."
Apologies to one and all.