Friday 25 December 2015

A very Victorian Christmas

Our Christmas amble this year was a widdershins wander around the small island of Glimps Holm, a gentle jaunt of less than two miles.

Parking at the southern end of Churchill Barrier Two, our first festive nature present was a stunning male Long-tailed Duck, feeding in the quiet waters in the lee of the eastern side of the barrier. Shame I hadn't brought a proper camera.

Never mind, the views across Holm Sound to Rose Ness were splendid.

We crossed the main road and headed off around the island in an anti-clockwise direction, keeping to the grassy path above the rocks and low cliffs. A solitary young Gannet glided past and the occasional Great Black-backed Gull performed a flyby, but there was little birdlife until we reached Echnaloch Bay on the southern side of Glimps Holm.

Eiders, more Long-tailed Ducks, Great Northen Divers and a few Slavonian Grebes were feeding close in to the wrecks of the blockships on the western side of Churchill Barrier Three. The diver called once as we walked by, a sound that I had not heard before (I'm not counting the background effects on the Due South soundtrack cd). This particular Christmas Day walk just kept on giving.

Now we re-crossed the main road and descended the wooden steps to the sandy beach on the eastern side of the island. A young couple with a toddler and a babe in arms were also out for some festive fresh air, exploring the tide line and the fishing paraphernalia stored by the barrier. Here, we were sheltered from the northerly breeze, the waters of Weddell Sound as still and calm as a Summer's day (possibly more still than that!).

A sound snapped me from my reverie, and we spotted two small birds flitting along the strand line. I'm afraid phone cameras don't cut the mustard on occasions like this, but we had snow on Christmas Day!

OK, not actual snow, but a pair of Snow Buntings. They're both in the top shot (if you enlarge the photo) and the second shot is a zoom in on a single bird.

Before we returned to the car, Our Lass was rather taken by some exposed grass roots that recent storms had uncovered. Apparently it was reminiscent of Miss Havisham's wedding dress, a cultural reference of which I was blithely unaware. Still, one wouldn't have great expectations of me knowing much about Dickens.

So, if you will pardon the religious connotations, Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one.

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