Monday 21 May 2018

Source to sea

The first report of damselflies on the wing in Orkney came through to me this week. So, the 2018 flight season is underway with a Large Red Damselfly seen in the north of West Mainland. This prompted me to make a couple of visits to a site nearer to home which has often been good for early damsels.

The Wideford Burn trickles off a low un-named hill and within 2.5 kilometres it meets the sea at Inganess Bay. On its short journey, it passes through rough pasture, thickets of gorse and sparse woodland, before flowing under the main road to Kirkwall Airport. As the burn skirts the northern edge of the airport and the water flow slows down, it crosses a stretch of marsh, then tumbless across a rocky shore and into Inganess Bay.

For the purposes of dragon hunting, I tend to visit the sparse woodland, just west of the main road, where the bushes and low trees afford some shelter, allowing insects to bask in any sunshine on offer.


Here we are, on the boardwalk alongside the burn, as it flows through the woodland and under the main road.

Many insects were busy feeding on the abundant wild flowers. You could almost hear the contented slurping! From top: Green-veined White butterfly on a Dandelion; Silver Y moth on a Primrose; and a Common Carder Bumblebee on Water Avens.

Other wildlife was keen to be feeding...

These are Hooded Crow chicks, whose parents were seen hunting for tasty morsels in the surrounding fields.

Within the shelter of the woodland, we also found lots of Pink Purslane and a Nettle with the beginnings of a cluster cup rust.

Wandering downstream, we reached the marshy area, where all manner of wildlife was going about the business of living and creating more life.

From top: Green Dock Beetles; Crane Fly; a new Fern frond unfurling; Brown Hare; and a singing Sedge Warbler.

As we neared the airport boundary, our attention turned to flying things:

From top: Ready for take-off; Hooded Crow; Britten Norman Islander; and a Shoveler duck.

Standing on a wooden bridge over the burn, looking downstream, we can now see the sea.

In times past, the shallow bay was seen as a possible invasion route so, dotted about in the fields, there are still visible remains of coastal defences.

As the end of the walk approached, we watched several families of Mallard ducks on a small lochan. Here too were our first Sand Martins of the year, swooping down low over the water to catch flies or to have a drink.

Lady's Smock, or Cuckooflower, is now in full bloom, as the colour palette of our Spring begins to turn from yellow to pink.

At the burn mouth, a pair of Mute Swans were feeding in the gentle flow where the fresh water met the sea.

And here's the bay, with another relic of coastal defences, a blockship, slowly rusting away but providing a safe nesting habitat for terns. No doubt there's countless marine creatures below the water surface too!

You will have noticed there weren't any damsels or dragons... maybe next time.


Spadger said...

Despite the lack of Ode there was certainly enough to sea on your little walk and you don't seem to have got too board.

Imperfect and Tense said...

JD, you're not one to shy away from a bad pun, are you? :o)