We began at the bay of Sand Wick, where a flock of Oystercatchers were enjoying the sun, sea and sand. A single Sandwich Tern flew by, and Ringed Plovers were scurrying about the beach. A grassy path wound its way up from the shore onto the low cliffs and we headed south through habitats which alternated between coastal heath and verdant pasture, depending upon how much improvement had been carried out to the neighbouring fields.
Where run-off was providing over-nutrification, the grass was long and lush, with plenty of thistles. Where run-off was minimal, crowberry and heather held sway. In one small geo, the lush vegetation ran downhill all the way to the beach. These orchids were just above the high tide line.
However, the plant we were looking for was to be found in the wilder areas of heath, and in Orkney the flower is mainly located on this stretch of coast and the island of Eday. Whilst our target was quite similar to Devil's-bit Scabious, we weren't going to have the wool pulled over our eyes, we were on the hunt for Sheep's-bit.
|With some Catsear|
And in the sheltered gullies, flitting amongst the trefoils and vetches, were many Common Blue butterflies. They were tricky to approach or photograph.
Whilst in pursuit of the Blues, I spotted a potter wasp, a five-banded one, which was busy robbing nectar from some Tufted Vetch.
Our luck with the weather didn't quite hold out, as we were caught in a shower during the return trip, but we didn't let that dampen our spirits after a wonderful day's wildlife watching.