December Moon

It has been a very quiet time business wise with the uncertainty of Covid-19, the news of a new strain is very worrying, however there is hope now with 2 vaccines becoming available. As I type this at the beginning of January, mainland Scotland has just gone into a full lockdown similar to March 2020. The islands have been moved from Level 1 to Level 3, so tighter restrictions on travel, but not a full lockdown for us yet.

I enjoyed a break in the run up to the festive period, however the weather in December wasn’t the best for walks/wildlife, although I did get out when I could, and I managed to fit in a trip to Rousay to see friends.

Gorse in flower
Gorse in flower, Orkney

During a garage clear out, we found this beautiful Angle Shades Moth (see photo below).

Angle Shades Moth
Angle Shades Moth

Part of the preparations for Christmas included straining my homemade Bramble gin, made with foraged Brambles from my autumn walks.

Foraged Brambles
Foraged Brambles

The brambles that had been strained were then used in the Christmas trifle – success all round, and needless to say the Bramble gin didn’t last long!

Bramble Gin
Bramble Gin

Wildlife & Walks

Walks were few and far between in December, partly due to the weather, but there was also lots to do in the run up to Christmas which included clearing some outbuildings.

There were a couple of calm and frosty days with a dusting of snow on the Hoy hills.

Frosty grass
Frosty Grass, Orphir
Snow on Hoy
Snow on Hoy hills, Houton

One of my favourite winter birds that we get here are the Long Tailed Ducks. This fine male was on the Peedie Sea in Kirkwall, which is a great place to see and hear them up close. They make quite a distinctive sound which always makes me smile.

Male Long Tailed Duck
Male Long Tailed Duck

You can find out more about them and hear their call by clicking on this link.

I enjoyed a lovely walk around Orphir Bay on a calm day, this features as one of my Hidden Gem Short Walks and it’s a walk that I love to do throughout the year as there is always something different to see. I had the privilege of standing in the woods listening to Goldcrests. Hopefully you can hear them over the sound of the burn in the video clip below.

Orphir Bay

Orphir Bay at high tide

I delayed my WeBS count by a couple of days due to the forecast and had a lovely calm day for  it. Highlights from this month’s count included Long Tailed Ducks, Slavonian Grebes and a flock of approx. 20 Turnstones.

Houton Bay
WeBS count, Houton Bay

On Christmas Day, 2 Song Thrushes decided to do some foraging in my garden, this is quite unusual for my garden and I was thrilled to watch them rooting around in the veg patch, hopefully eating plenty of slugs and snails.

Song Thrush
Song Thrush

I will leave you with this beautiful sunset photo taken from my garden.

Orkney Sunset
Winter Sunset, Orkney