Day 8 of 30 Days Wild and already one whole week under our belts. Time flies when you are having fun and that is exactly what happened last evening when Nell and I went out to play at low tide.
Mondays are busy days for me and my wild time will be limited today. It is good that I work in a little planned breathing space each week before the work starts.
One of my first tasks every Monday morning is to put out my rubbish bags by the front gate. At the beginning of the year I began a photo project, which I call “Monday Outlook”. I take a photograph of the view from the gateway at about the same time every week and plan to do so for a year at least. In this way I hope to capture the bay in all its many moods.
I am enjoying the project, not least because of the time that I take out to look around, to listen and to feel what is going on in my corner of my Wild Island. It varies from a few moments in the worst of weathers to twenty minutes or half an hour on a pleasant morning. Today offered one of the more pleasant mornings so far, so I stopped out for a while and took a few photographs after snugging my rubbish bags under their covering sheet.
The sheet is essential. If I don’t cover my black bags up they will be torn apart in moments by the Ravens that lurk in waiting. Sometimes a few seabirds will join in the fray, then the rats will make the most of it, as will the feral cat population (which is large here). I, of course, have to clear up the mess – so I make sure that the bags are well covered until such time as Jeff comes along in his wee truck to pick them up. He normally arrives around 10:30am at this time of year but the rubbish goes out at 9am, just in case he’s early. I should not like to miss the collection, given the challenges that we have.
Last week, I noticed that we had a Campion plant in the verge between the road and the sea. We have been here nine years and this is the first time that I have seen Campion out there. This morning I took some photographs. It is neither Red Campion, nor White Campion but pale pink so is probably hybridised. The blooms were more pinkish last week and seem to have paled as they age.
- Monday Outlook: bright but showery, brisk breeze, warm sun. Larks on the wing.
Fresh air and Fulmars
Household maintenance having got in the way of yesterday’s planned outing I was pleased to see, when I finally raised my head from my desk at 20:30 hrs, that the tide was out. I donned my new purple wellies, called the dog, and set off for a little puddling.
Kettletoft Bay is very shallow, the ebb tide can go out a long way at times and the bay remains wet with shallow pools in places. Nell has a great time out there, usually selecting a favourite pebble to play with. She doesn’t mind the wet but does seem to find my behaviour in wading through the deeper pools to be a little suspicious.
There is no shortage of light at this time of year and so Nell and I dawdled and lingered and just enjoyed being out in the fresh air by the water and under the vast Orkney sky. I took photographs of rocks and seaweed and shellfish, none of which we have room for here today.
There was a fantastic Turner-esque sky last evening, with the sun hiding behind some amazing cloud forms. A few Fulmars are still nesting along the margins of the bay, though nowhere near as many as there were in the early season. Just three birds were on patrol, keeping a close eye on Nell and I. I love the Fulmars. They always put me in mind of Spitfire planes, with their aerodynamic shape and their effortless flight.
Fulmars are members of the Albatross family, evidenced by their tube noses. They have a fascinating history – they originated in a couple of small breeding sites – in Iceland and on the small Scots island of St Kilda, where they formed an important food source.
Fulmars only spread into Orkney, where they are called variously mallimack, malli or molly mock, around a hundred years ago with the first breeding pair recorded in 1901 but we now have over 91,000 breeding pairs. There are over half a million breeding pairs in the UK now and the species can also now be found in Canada and NW Europe. An amazing success story, though there are now concerns regarding declining populations.
There are certainly fewer breeding pairs to be seen in our bay this year than I have observed previously. I hope that the trend is reversed because I should miss these gorgeous birds if they were to disappear.
Here is one that I did earlier this year.