Sunday 22 March 2020

Love is a social disease

Unexpectedly finding myself in the category of 'key worker', through a contract with a national company, was one of the more surprising developments of this past week. I guess that with 'everyone' self-isolating, having access to tv and broadband is seen as essential.

So, it was fortuitous that there were also plenty of wildlife moments to take my mind off things. Let's begin with an area of rough ground in an industrial estate in Kirkwall, which is becoming well known as a good vole hunting spot for Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls. As an aside to a fellow blogger, does this release me from my pledge, CT?

All the above shots were taken from a vehicle (and the resulting photos subsequently cropped). The following afternoon, I had a few hours spare, and the light was much better, so I returned to the spot to try and capture flight shots of the owl. I also had to get my lazy arse out of the car!

This Pied Wagtail was NOT happy

Later in the week, Eagle-eyed M suggested a walk at Brodgar, with the hope of some quality otter time. As we skirted around the perimeter of the Ring, the air was filled with the sound of birdsong. Skylarks were 'ascending', trilling their flurry of notes from on high like some avian stream of consciousness. Meadow Pipits were fluttering skyward before parachuting back to earth in an audio visual display of territoriality. In the distance, on some shallow pools, wildfowl were gathered to feed and loaf: Shelduck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon and... my 100th species for the year... Pintail.

As we neared the shore of Stenness Loch, I spotted a dog Otter on a spit of land. He soon moved into a small bay to hunt, so we quietly crept around the lochside path to get a better view. He was finding plenty of eels (I think) and although we weren't close to him, the lack of a breeze meant that we could hear all his splashings as he constantly dived and resurfaced.

Early yesterday morning, as has become the custom of late, the first birdsong we heard was a Skylark. Sometimes the wee guy is airborne, but occasionally he takes the easy option and sings from atop a fence post.

Later that afternoon, Our Lass and I took a walk at Mull Head in Deerness. There was a stiff southerly breeze which felt colder than it ought, but it was good to be out in the fresh air and we were careful to socially distance ourselves from the only other two people we met.

Seabirds are returning to the cliffs for the breeding season, so we sat and watched the Guillemots for a while.

One ledge in particular attracted our attention, as there was an obvious space in the serried ranks of auks, and even as new arrivals alighted on the cliff, this gap was maintained. Zooming in with my little camera, I realised that there was a Fulmar at the back of the ledge, who was intent on claiming the ledge for albatross-dom. Perhaps with current affairs in mind, I couldn't help but think of this scene as a failed attempt at giving a lecture on the merits of social distancing. You know you've lost your audience when they start having sex.

As we wandered back to the car, there was another reminder that Spring is in the air, and that there's only one species on Earth which is particularly preoccupied with pandemic. Way, way in the distance, a couple of Brown Hares were chasing and boxing, in a possible prelude to procreation.

Now, after all that smut and shenanigans, go and wash your hands.


Coastal Ripples said...

Thank you for that. A little bit of sanity and beauty in a mad old world. Glad to here of your essential status. Keep posting your brilliant photos. B

Imperfect and Tense said...

Thank you, Barbara. It is indeed a mad old world, even if we had started from a null point of calm, rather than 3 years of Brexit malarkey. For those of us who weren't around for the World Wars, or who experienced the early years of the Cold War, we are unlikely to experience anything quite as gut-wrenching as a global pandemic. It certainly puts 1970s home decor into perspective, which I had blithely assumed would be the greatest tragedy to befall the world in my lifetime.