I celebrated World Wetlands Day on 2nd February with a walk around the South East. It was a beautiful, sunny, calm day (feels like forever since we had one of those!). I came across a lot of sheep along the way and watched as they passed on the shore, they come quite close if you're quiet. Some fulmars were posing nicely on Bridesness Loch, swapping bobbing up and down on the sea for the still waters on the loch. A shag with its head tucked under its wing was sleeping so soundly next to the dyke I was basically on top of it before it woke up! I broke the walk up to repair a bit of dyke near the Point of Stromness. Built into the bank and with wire fencing laid over the top meant it was still sheep proof - no escapees to contend with!
Snowdrops are a welcome sign that spring is on it's way, and the snowdrops on North Ronaldsay are emerging and starting to flower. The daffodils - some of which we planted in November - are springing up with gusto along the road sides. I hope they survive all the stormy weather blowing through!
The Northern Isles Landscapes Partnership has some funding to improve the access on the island - from gates to maps and interpreation boards. Olly and I have been walking some of the routes which go from the island, through the dyke, onto the shore and back on the island to assess what is needed to make it more walker-friendly and hopefully develop some sight-seeing trails! Along the way we spotted some long-tailed ducks in Linklet Bay and got caught out by the tide!
My Great Grandmother's cuckoo clock travelled with me to North Ronaldsay, though it hasn't been working for some time. After hanging it on the wall it didn't take me long to become determined to get it up and running again. After a few youtube videos, many articles and some troubleshooting it was finally tick-tocking and cuckoo-ing again! It is such a joy to have that familiar sound running through the house, reminding me of time spent with my great grandmother. Pulling the chains and setting the time everyday (it's running a little slow!) is like having another pet to take care of!
After stocking up on seeds and gardening supplies in town ready to start our vegetable garden we visited Orphir Beach and the Earl's Bu. Avoiding downpours on the way, it was beautiful as we sat on the shore, watching a seal hauled out on a rock and the weather moving across the bay. In the graveyard before going down to the beach are remains of the Orphir Round Kirk. The Orkneyinga Saga, dating to about 1136AD, tells of a great Yule feast given by Earl Paul at his bu, or residence, in Orphir. It describes a ‘large drinking hall’ next to a ‘magnificent church’. The church, dedicated to St Nicholas, has the distinction of being one of only two round medieval churches in Scotland. Beside it lie the remains of a large building, which may well have been the ‘drinking hall’. I really liked how the gravel outline showed the extent of how big the round kirk would have been.