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We hope this section will carry brief reports of formal and informal Club outings and activities. Please feel free to add comments and information.

Summertime Blues

by Anne - 18:01 on 07 July 2014

We couldn’t have chosen a better day to explore the Western coastline of South Ronaldsay from Burwick to Sandwick; the sun was shining and there was a light breeze – enough to keep the midgies away, but not too windy for other insects to remain grounded.

Our target species for this walk shared a theme: hues of blue! Within a minutes of leaving the cars we saw several Common Blue butterflies, and Sydney Gauld recorded at least 108 individuals. We also saw Painted lady, many Meadow Browns Green-veined White and a huge Garden Tiger moth.

Birds did not disappoint either; and for our visitors a good opportunity to see Puffins, Tysties, Shags and Arctic Skua at close quarters.

We encountered a lot of recently-predated Fulmar eggs, which Brian thought the handiwork of Ravens. We also examined a Raven pellet (yes, corvids also regurgitate inedible food matter like owls do!) and it consisted mainly of Crowberry seeds.

The 5 mile cliff-top route passed through differing habitat, so we saw a wide variety of wildflowers. Scots Lovage was prominent at first, followed by the starry Slender St John’s Wort, vetches/legumes of all colours and the first flush of Heather. We all prostrated ourselves to verify that yes, we had found a colony of Fragrant Orchids.  

However, the highlight (or should I say ‘bluelight’?) was towards the end of the walk where Sheep’s-bit plants were in full flower. Their blue is perhaps akin to that of the Cornflower – deep, rich and very blue – and no photograph seems to truly capture it. It is the blue of the sky and the blue of the sea reflected back in soft, tufty flowers.  Lovely!

We had with us visitors from South (it was nice to show these folk just how bonny Orkney is!) and a very keen young explorer (with tireless energy!) as well as at least 3 County Recorders, so ready identification of species was not a problem. We also enjoyed watching marine traffic in the Pentland Firth and spectacular views of nearly the whole of the North coast of Scotland – from Duncansby Head to distant Ben Loyal and Ben Hope in Sutherland.

And we finished up with a squeaky walk on the musical sands of Sandwick beach.


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