Castles: Sinclair Girnigoe

Autumn, Photography, places, Structures

Once thought to be two separate castles because the building sits on sea stacks separated from the mainland, Sinclair Girnigoe Castle is really one building albeit remote and now a ruin.

The original building is ancient, possibly dating from the 1300’s. In its heyday it may well have been a formidable stronghold or a safe retreat given the harsh unpredictability of winters in Scotland’s far north.


Though it stands without a roof and is tumbledown in places, this castle is still very impressive. In Spring Fulmars nest among the tower keep while in Autum, Jackdaws, Hooded Crows and Ravens are all nearby. 

Previous generations of Corvidae perhaps bore witness to the castle’s occupation and likely destruction by Cromwell’s troops.

Clan Sinclair Trust is now restoring Sinclair Girnigoe castle so future generations can be inspired and awed by its unique setting and rugged architecture. Even in its current state it doesn’t disappoint.

Eye-catching Oystercatcher

Art, birds, Flora and Fauna, Landscape, Nature, Photography
Oyster Catcher at rest

Oystercatcher at rest

I love these birds. Their distinctive black and white plumage coupled with an orange-red bill, red eyelids and orange-pink legs make them easy to distinguish among the rock pools and shingle banks. They also have a unique call which is quite unlike other wading or water birds; sometimes you can hear them a while before you see them. Sometimes you hear them without seeing them at all.

This Oystercatcher was resting on Keiss beach, perfectly framed by assorted rocks of gneiss, marble and sandstones. The sea was a near perfect shade of cerulean frost and the crashing waves sent brilliant white spray shooting up in the background like a hundred pearls set free from an expensive necklace. The Oystercatcher knew I was there, camera in hand, edging close enough to capture the contrasts between its smooth feathers, the unyielding rocks and the ever changing sea. The only question was which of us would lose our nerve first. Thankfully neither of us did, the Oystercatcher remained still while I moved slowly and very quietly across the beach.  This photo is the result :-)

Grace in the garden

Flora and Fauna, Nature, Photography, summer

These butterflies, or rather their caterpillars, are commonly regarded as pests. The offspring chomp their way through cruciferous vegetables and nasturtiums like there’s no tomorrow. The caterpillars that make it past angry gardeners and hungry birds go on to become summer snowflakes – a pretty name for the ┬álarge white butterfly.

“Large White Butterfly”

Here the butterflies are drinking nectar from a rosebay willow herb. The flowers were full of butterflies so the circle of life (and the holes in my cabbage leaves) will begin again. What the caterpillar sees as the end of the world a butterfly sees as just the start…

Large White Butterfly on Rosebay Willowherb

Large White Butterfly on Rosebay Willowherb

Pop goes the Weasel

Flora and Fauna, Nature, Photography, Spring, Wildlife

It was a beautifully sunny day in Caithness and I was exploring the coast path on route to the Old Man of Wick, a tower and castle ruins dating back to c.1100.

On top the cliffs were many Skylarks and a Shrike. Down below on the ledges were Cormorants, Fulmars and numerous species of Gull.

While trying to photograph the Shrike I glanced rapid movement in the grass not far from my feet. I paused very still and was rewarded with the attention of an extremely curious weasel. It popped out from under a rock…

Wick & Caithness 2015-05-09 215Sniffed the air…

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

Stood up and looked right at me…

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

It was a very inquisitive and I’m not sure which of us was the most curious…

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

I could easily have stayed watching this precocious little creature all day!