My musings from Orkney are long overdue: I spent ten days on the islands in June, around the summer solstice. In the long-enduring daylight I caught glimpses of so many birds I have never known before, watched common seals basking on the beach with their pups, gazed across thriving heathland at majestic green hills, and photographed delicate Orcadian flora. So much space, light and tranquility. If you love wildlife and wild places, go there!
One day I walked around the coastline of North Ronaldsay, among the sheep grazing seaweed on the beach. There were dozens of common seals hauled out on the rocks, many with young pups. As thick mist descended, they disappeared from view but I could still hear them singing: a haunting, eery sound. It's easy to understand how myths developed about mermaids, and here in Orkney, selkies - shape shifters who could change between human and seal form.
On parts of the shore I was dive-bombed by arctic terns defending their nests on the shingle and accompanied by the squabbling cries of fulmars tucked into nooks and crannies on shallow sandy cliffs. Meanwhile little ringed plovers, turnstones and the (on Orkney ubiquitous) oyster catchers scurried around at the edge of the waves.
More on the birds, flora and a beautiful beetle in future blogs...