Sunday 23 October 2016

Contemplative morning

A slow start to our day, the lack of a breeze outside reflected in a lazy Sunday morning inside. We sit by the lounge window, drinking in the liquid light that ebbs and flows across the view. Despite the covering of cloud, a few gaps hint at blue sky beyond, allowing occasional patches of distant hillside to glow in warm tones. Here a field on Hoy on our western horizon, then an area of heather to the north in Orphir, followed by intricate patterns of light and shade as the sun's rays pick out the concrete blocks of Churchill Barrier 1.

In the field over the road, we spot a single Redwing perched on a fence. It preens in the golden beams, the deep red of its underwing contrasting beautifully with its cream eyestripe, which make this, to my mind, the most glam-rock of thrushes. Odd that there's only one, though, as we are so used to seeing Redwings in large flocks, or hearing them flying overhead in the darkness, with their short, sharp, high-pitched contact calls.

Another Autumn passage visitor swoops across the garden. A Swallow bound for Africa, which reminds us that we saw one yesterday too, down by the farm, hawking for insects over some grazing cattle. In a few weeks, they will be repeating this behaviour with a completely different group of large herbivores, thousands of miles away from a wintry Orkney.

A movement on the dry stone wall catches our eyes, as a Robin puts in an appearance. Again, this is a bird we don't see very often, just on migration really, so all the more welcome for that. He or she spends a few minutes hopping up and down the wall and across the lawn, before disappearing towards the farm and, likely, a better chance of a tasty morsel.

The local flocks of House Sparrows, Starlings and feral pigeons, all fairly dependent on the immediate area around our neighbouring farm, go about their business seemingly immune to the changing of the seasons. From a different window, I spot a Starling having a bath in a puddle formed in a slight depression of the black plastic sheet which I'm using to suppress weeds in a proto-veg patch. As I have not yet created a pond, the birds use all means at their disposal to eke out bathing opportunities, the ground hereabouts being rather free-draining.

A small flock of Skylarks fly to and fro across a stubble field, their bouncing flight accompanied by snippets of bubbling calls. Yesterday saw plenty of tractors driving past our window, all fitted with ploughs, so the larks had better make the most of the stubble before the ground is tilled and sown. There's very little Spring sowing these days, great for food production, less so for overwintering birds.

Well, the day's a-wasting, I had better get a move on. Today's big task is to empty a bedroom of furniture, in preparation for the laying of a new carpet. Hopefully, by this time next weekend, the concrete floors of guest bedroom, study and corridor will be hidden once more under a cosy covering.


Martin said...

Lovely nature notes. It gives a real sense of the transient and passing nature of the October scene. I wonder how many around the UK actually take the time to stop and watch for a few minutes from a vantage point. For some wildlife wouldn't interest them, but everyone could get something from taking the time to stop and watch.

Imperfect and Tense said...

It's almost as if you know I spend way too much time staring out of the window...