Well, what a difference a month makes! March came in like a lamb and went out like a lamb, but the lion did roar with the Equinox gales which very quickly destroyed my tubs of Spring bulbs, full of colour!

It has been nice to see the sun and to feel a bit of warmth from it too. On some days, it has been warm enough to sit in the morning sun with a coffee and my sandals on, and it has encouraged us to do a spot of gardening.

New Walk Recces

I did two recces at the beginning of March for my new Stromness Saunters  – wildlife walks in and around the town of Stromness. The first we did in the morning, around Stromness Harbour, and then the second, after a very enjoyable lunch at Julia‚Äôs Shed, was out to Point of Ness and the West Shore. Check out my website for Stromness Saunters 1 and Stromness Saunters 2.

Wildlife in March

I certainly noticed a difference in March, with the soundscape changing – Skylarks singing, Curlews bubbling, both Lapwings and Redshanks displaying and the sounds of skeins of Pink-feets flying overhead as they migrate back north to their breeding grounds.

The landscape is becoming more green in some areas as the grass and vegetation grows, farmers have been ploughing their fields and our “hare” field at the back of the house is now completely ploughed. It was interesting watching all the gulls following the tractor.

Brown Hare

We have been exploring more of our local patch, with a couple of short walks down to the old mill where there is a lovely burn.

Here, we have found lots and lots of yellow! Mainly wildflowers like Lesser Celandine, Dandelions, Marsh Marigolds and Primroses.

The Coltsfoot, we were delighted to find right next to our garage, after wondering where in Stromness we might be able to see them. It’s always lovely when things turn up on your doorstep and you’re not expecting it, like this Grey Wagtail which we saw in the mill burn:

Grey Wagtail

Hoy

We had a lovely trip to Hoy at the end of March, organised by the Orkney Field Club. They organise a variety of different outdoor events and indoor talks throughout the year. Every year in February/March, they do a trip to Hoy to see the Mountain Hares. This year, we were blessed with the most beautiful, warm sunny day, so warm, that I was wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt (in March) for most of the walk! Here are some photos from our day on Hoy, look at that blue sky!

We saw lots of birds including Mistle Thrushes (quite rare for here), Hen harriers, Buzzard, Red-throated divers, Gannets, Stonechats and of course lots of Meadow Pipits displaying which is such a wonderful sight and sound. Typically none of the birds were easy to photograph, unlike the caterpillar – an early instar Northern Eggar moth. I’ve not seen them at this stage before, I’m more used to seeing them in their final instar when they are much bigger.

It was also lovely to see Bearberry and carpets of Reindeer Moss in amongst the heather, while the red flowers of the Crowberry look amazing close up.

Crowberry Flowers

The purpose of our day though, was to see Mountain Hares and we did manage to see a few before our picnic lunch up at the Old Man of Hoy. Here’s one that was posing nicely:

You can see it’s face it is starting to change from it’s winter plumage to summer, with the brown face. I learned a few years ago on this trip that it’s the change in daylight hours which triggers the hares to change coats – they are brown in the summer but turn white for the winter.

I will leave you with this view of the Old Man of Hoy, a slightly different angle from what we are used to seeing.