Sunday 15 October 2017


Since returning from holiday at the end of September, I've not had much chance to be out in the garden. Mostly, this has been due to inclement weather, either strong winds or heavy rain, often both, as well as too little time to fit in a spot of gardening after work (the double whammy of a busy schedule and shortening daylight).

Today, for instance, I had plenty to do to prepare for the week ahead, so much so that I hadn't even started on the list of work things I was supposed to be doing. However, the weather was better than forecast, and it seemed like an ideal opportunity to mow the lawn, especially seeing as how it had been neglected for over a month!

Migration-wise, our little corner of Orkney doesn't make the headlines or even the local 'bird alert' text service, but we're still seeing the occasional Swallow and, this morning, a couple of Redwings flew over, as if to highlight the changing seasons.

This week's main excitement was caused by the Aurora Borealis, with a good showing of the Merry Dancers on Friday night. For once, even aurora lightweights like us were able to view the Northern Lights, as the 'show' started as soon as it was properly dark, which was before 9pm. It was a blustery evening, so I didn't bother taking my camera outside but, fortunately, plenty of other folk did.

The local Orkney Aurora Group on Facebook is a useful resource for alerts, updates, technical info and some fantastic photography.

Friday night was no exception, as 'Steve' put in an appearance. Let me explain. There is an aurora phenomenon that doesn't, as yet, have a scientific name. It had previously been thought that it was a sky feature known as a proton arc, but apparently not, and so an aurora group in Alberta christened it Steve.

To the naked eye, the colours are never quite as vibrant as those seen by a camera as, on a long exposure, the camera is able to pull in more light than our eyes. So, for Our Lass and I, Steve was more of a grey colour, a weird, long, thin cloud emanating overhead and trailing off to the east (we're usually just looking north for the Lights). 

However, one of the local aurora hunters, Amanda Ruddick, captured this amazing image of Steve (see here).

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