Today may well have been Summer. It was rather lush.
Before breakfast, we wandered down to the shore, through pastures which were strangely quiet. Many of the waders have begun to leave on migration, so the air was not pierced by the calls of Oystercatcher, Redshank and Curlew.
In fact, I was just remarking upon this to Our Lass, when I looked over the fence into the adjacent field and spotted a Brown Hare, motionless and as hunkered down as possible. I stopped in my tracks and had to call Our Lass back to see it.
After breakfast, we headed down to St Mary's village, parked by the Loch of the Ayre and wandered off in the direction of the Bay of Sandber. Our first surprise was a Green Sandpiper, which flew up from the stream that flows from the loch to the sea. Then we found a Dunlin amongst the waders on the shore. We followed the path around until we were facing Scapa Flow, then sat down to enjoy the scenery and sunny weather.
After a while, the sound of something running across the beach pebbles made us sit up. There was no-one else in sight, no dogs or feral cats, not even a suddenly-hoped-for Otter. What and where was the source of the sound? Then I spotted a Stoat, scampering across the beach and disappearing amongst some seaweed-strewn rocks.
Stoats are an introduced problem on Orkney. They are not native to these isles and the ground-nesting birds and native Orkney Vole are not evolved to cope with such a voracious predator. There is little evidence of action from Scottish Natural Heritage (there may indeed be action, but little concrete evidence of it), which is strange as they have carried out successful relocation/eradication projects of other species where necessary, for instance in the the Western Isles.
A local Facebook group helps to document the scale of the problem, providing data on Stoat sightings and behaviour.
The walk back to the car also produced several Gannets and a lone Sand Martin.
After lunch, a spot of gardening (specifically, mowing the lawn) flushed out a few leafhoppers onto the path. I think these are Evacanthus interruptus, which are quite strikingly-marked.
Following that excitement, we went for a potter along the beach between Barriers 2 and 3, searching for shells and sea glass, and serendipitously encountering a small flock of Sanderling, possibly the cutest wader known to Man. No pictures, I'm afraid, it's been a 'no camera' day.