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  large 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!

58 Degrees North

Landscape, Nature, Photography, places, Spring, Structures

At 58 degrees North, Dunnet Head is the most northerly point on the UK mainland. From here it’s possible to view the Orkney Islands, the distant highland mountains of Ben Hope and Ben Loyal, and south towards Flow country.  The sea stacks around the coast are home to thousands of birds – Fulmars, Pufins, Kittiwakes and more – while the coarse grass and heather atop the cliffs provide shelter for Skylarks whose melodic songs may still be heard despite a fifty percent decline in their population over the last 25 years.

The lighthouse at Dunnet Head looks north towards the Orkney Islands. In the distance is Hoy, the site of the never ending battle between Hedin and Högni in Norse mythology.