Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Still surprising and it's December

2nd December - a sunny chilly day with a light breeze from the north. An ideal day to wander the cliffs of South Ronaldsay and take in the spectacle of Orkney's Grey Seal pupping season. And there was plenty of action. We witnessed suckling pups and wallowing pups, moulting pups and mewing pups. Some adults were relaxed, some were anything but and there were moments of high action involving possessive and territorial males intent on maintaining their gene pool. Doting mothers weren’t afraid to bare their teeth as they protected their offspring.

Our walk which took in both the east and west sides of South Ronaldsay also gave us the opportunity to see which of the county's plants were still in flower. We didn't have our noses to the ground most of the time and no doubt we missed a few, but there were a few surprises none more so than on the southwest facing cliffs south of Sandwick.

I make no apologies for including another picture of Sheep's-bit - there it was looking slightly less glamorous than a month ago, but very definitely still in flower.

While we were watching the Scarfies and Fulmars on the cliffs, the telescope also picked out the brown and dead flower-heads of Thrift, but in among them and looking quite vibrant were heads that were as pink as in the summer.

The 'pinks' are there if you peer hard enough!

but nothing like this - taken at the Shapinsay slip 'at the proper time of year'

We also saw Wild Angelica at Windwick, Common Catsear all over the coastal heath, Ragwort and Devil's-bit Scabious at Olad Brae, Meadow Buttercup in many places and Bell Heather at Halcro Head.

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