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Westray Natural History, Page 19

the natural history of Westray



There are beautiful pink flowers in the garden at Einar. They look like Bistort in which case I wish I had more …


Spider in the bath

  It’s time for a bath and that means yet another spider to wash down the plug hole.

A prickly subject

A prickly subject

The thistle is Scotland’s national symbol. Scottish independence is as prickly as one.

Yellow Flag Bog Iris

A Greek rainbow

The Yellow Flag Bog Irises have withstood the winter weather and the first ones are coming into full flower in Rapness. Iris …

On Westray I pray for a still day and then the midges appear and I give thanks for the blustery ones.

→ 14 June, 2015

Water Horsetail

Water Horsetails at Roadmire

Roadmire is a great name for the boggy area leading to Letto Sands. These Palaeozoic horsetails flourish there undisturbed.

May in June - Hawthorn

Welcome to May in June

The Hawthorn is in flower at Einar. It’s also known at the May-tree because it flowers in May. In Orkney it should …


Purple orchid

Cycling past the sign for the Cleaton House Hotel I see a beautiful purple orchid with spotted leaves. I lie flat on …

Huffing and Puffin

Huffing and Puffin

This afternoon I cycled down to the Castle o’ Burrian. The wind was against me. The wind is always against me. I …

Sea Pinks - Thrift on the Mill


Thrift or Sea Pinks grow all over the coast here and their pink lollipops of flowers are beautiful at this time of year.

I’m listening to a Corncrake calling at the Bay of Tuquoy. It sounds like wood creaking. If only I could see it! → 10 June, 2015


Horsetails from the Palaeozoic

There are Horsetails on the verge at Einar. They’re hard and scour my hands with their brittle covering of silica. They’re so …



If only I had a Guinea Pig. They would be in Guinea Pig heaven. These dandelions have roots as big as turnips. 


This year’s dead animal is…

There’s always a dead animal somewhere in Einar. Sometimes it’s a mummified starling. This time it’s a rabbit. Before it died it chewed through the electricity cable to my boiler. Then something ripped it to pieces and scattered it over the floor. There’s an isolated rabbit’s foot lying there. It wasn’t lucky for the rabbit.



Curlews are called Whaups in Orkney and there are thousands of them here all year round. They’re our biggest wading bird and …



On Fitty Hill I’m surprised to find a wonderful collection of Waxcaps. These fungi are classic inhabitants of poor, unimproved grassland and …

Pulling A Pollock

Pulling a Pollock

It’s a misty morning so our fishing trip gets delayed from its planned 7am start. By mid morning, though, it’s beautifully bright …

Mermaid's Purse

A Mermaid’s Purse

A stroll down the beach this morning and we find a Mermaid’s Purse; the egg capsule of a Dogfish. The tendrils are …


Waiting impatiently

This morning the young Swallows are huddling on the toilet window ledge. This time I try photographing them with a Nikon D300 …