The recent spell of warm and dry weather has been gracious enough to loiter around until this weekend. Saturday morning dawned bright and a little breezy, so we headed out into a glorious morning of warm sunshine.
Our plan was a short wander around the cliffs and bays of Rose Ness, a small peninsula visible from our kitchen window. Parking the car in a layby between the farms of Upper and Lower Cornquoy, we made our way to the cliff edge. This is a panorama shot of the Bay of Semolie, with the island of Copinsay on the horizon.
It was lovely to be out in the fresh air, listening to birdsong, gazing at the scenery and feeling those gentle warming rays of sunshine.
As we explored the rocky cliffs, we occasionally found shelter from the sea breeze, and these little areas of micro-climate were so hot, it almost felt like we were on another island. Maybe in the Carabiner?
At the tip of Rose Ness, the small automatic lighthouse stands apart from its beacon predecessor.
The male Eider ducks were busy trying to impress the ladies with their characteristic 'oo-OO-oo' display calls, which rang out around the bay.
The air was also full of Skylark song, but the singers were much easier to photograph on the ground.
Perched on a rocky ledge, in a small, shadowy geo, a pair of Black Guillemots were calling. Their thin and gentle notes are possibly the highest frequency sound I am able to detect.
As we walked around the headland, there were Pied Wagtails everywhere. I'm guessing this was more than the local population and was probably made up of birds migrating North.
When we reached the Bay of Cornquoy, some Grey Seals were hauled up making the most of the warm sunshine.
Here, in the more sheltered bay, plenty of waders were gathered. This is an Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover combo.
The piles of seaweed at the top of the beach were providing good foraging sites for hungry and recently-arrived Wheatears as they searched for tasty morsels.
Further down the shore, a small group of Dunlin, slowly coming into breeding plumage, were busy probing the mud for invertebrates.
Another Wheatear, this time a female, warily watched us pass, as she fed amongst the rocks at the side of a track.
Way out at the water's edge, a distant wader was evidently not a Curlew, it's slightly upturned bill probably identifying it as a Bar-tailed Godwit.
I must apologise to Curlews everywhere, as Saturday was World Curlew Day, and I omitted to take a photograph of these distinctive and charismatic birds. Their numbers are in freefall, mainly due to loss of breeding habitat, and although they do reasonably well in Orkney, sadly the same cannot be said about the rest of their range. It would indeed be a sad day if the world was to lose the plangent sound of their being. For more info, see here.