Saturday 9 May 2020

Seashore see 'n' saw

Our Lass was supposed to be visiting family south this last week, and then we were to host a visit from First Born. Sadly, both trips were postponed due to lockdown. However, Our Lass still took the week as holiday and we have pottered in the garden and gone for a few local wanders.

On Thursday, Our Lass fancied a change of route (and not just clockwise, instead of anti-clockwise), so we headed down through the fields directly to the shore. The path brought us out at a small cove, where we spent a bit of time looking at wild flowers and the panorama.

This is a view across Holm Sound, with the island of Burray on the far left (with the wind turbine), then the nearer island is Lamb Holm (with the Italian Chapel, the Orkney Winery and Pirate Gow Rum), followed by Churchill Barrier 1 (with the Hoy hills behind it) and finally, on the right, the village of St Mary's in the East Mainland of Orkney. 

Some Bluebells, possibly non-native, on the cliff edge, where they've likely grown from bulbs thrown out with garden waste. Thankfully, there's less and less of this 'out of sight, out of mind' waste disposal technique still being used, but the evidence of past transgressions are everywhere.

Looking out into the North Sea, with Rose Ness on the left and Burray on the right.

A nearby rock stack, which local maps declare to be The Tower of Clett.

This tiny inlet looked as though it will have swimming potential if either of us ever deign to arrive at the water's edge in bathing gear.

There were a few patches of Sea Campion in bloom, and easily accessible at the base of a low cliff, so I spent a bit of time taking close ups of the individual flowers.

Next door to the campion was a plantain, which I half-recognised from the leaf shape, but couldn't recall its name. I knew that I had seen the leaf rosettes in Winter on the coastal path of Rose Ness. Back home, I discovered that it was a biennial plant (hence the rosetttes) and called Buck's-Horn Plantain.

Everywhere on the coast are clumps of Thrift. This patch was quite widespread, perhaps social distancing, which allowed me to pick out individual flowers.

Here's another view of the Tower of Clett and Holm Sound. The small concrete structure must be associated with the military defences of the early 20th Century, but it wasn't immediately obvious what it could be.

As we continued along the clifftop path, we were shepherded on our way by a pair of vocal Ravens, keen that we didn't linger too long in the vicinity of their nest.

There were a few small patches of Dog Violet too. This was the most photogenic example, but it's difficult to concentrate on photography with a large irate corvid shouting in your ear.

As we walked along Graemeshall Road, we spotted a Great Northern Diver close to the shore. It caught a small flatfish and then spent over five minutes trying to swallow it. Eventually, I was intrigued enough to film the palaver, so here's the latter part of that footage.

We returned to Tense Towers along the road, which took us up a hill in the shelter of a banked verge. The habitat here was wall-to-wall Dandelions, and as it was sheltered from a cool breeze and in full sun, there were plenty of insects in attendance. The star of the show was this Red Admiral butterfly, who accompanied us the length of the bank.

The settled weather has now come to an end, with some much needed rain and a cold northerly wind. However, the warm Spring was very pleasant whilst it lasted.


Mark said...

Agh man, loved the GND. It's been a gorgeous Spring. At our end the Marsh Fritillaries and Dingy Skippers are out at 'Little Scrubs Meadows', love that name.

Imperfect and Tense said...

The Great Northerns have come into their breeding plumage, but not headed north yet. Their hauntingly-lovely calls can be heard from the bay when the air is still. Well jel of your flutters, sounds great. Old field names are a fascinating subject!