By Bernie Bell
Pics by B&M Bell
When we first visited Orkney, 20 years ago, we stayed in a place above Evie Village, by the Birsay Moors. From the house, we walked up the road, turned left onto a track for quite a way, then across the heather to a lochan named Looma Shun. Our little dog, Ben, was still with us, then, and, as we walked along the track, a Bonxie https://app.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob5690.htm was swooping, back and forth, over us, eyeing up Ben, and Ben was eyeing up the Bonxie. He was a Jack-Russell Cross – he had attitude. And I was shaking my fist at the Bonxie, and telling it to…clear of – or words to that effect.
When we got to Looma Shun, we saw Red–throated Divers there, and made up a limerick in their honour….
“There once was a Red-throated Loon,
Who lifted his bill to the moon.
He gave a strange cry,
A Skua swooped by,
And the night was over, too soon.”
Another name for a Red-throated Diver – is a Loon!
We hadn’t been to these Moors for years – we took bird-watching friends there a few years ago, in the hope that they’d see Harriers, and maybe a Short-eared Owl – thank goodness, they did, and were very pleased. The said that Orkney was the best part to their holiday!
Last Sunday, we thought to just go along the track again – across the heather to Looma Shun being more than I can manage, these days. We drove up the hill above Evie, parked up in the car park, and had a look about us. The view down to Evie and the sea is something else.
You can see Aikerness Beach, and just about make out the Broch of Gurness http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/brochs/gurness/index.html
And, in the opposite direction – Hoy Hills, overlooking all…
From the car park, we walked left, down the road a little bit, and turned right, crossing a cattle-grid – not used very often, by the looks of it…….
…….and walked along the track, which is very soggy in places – the Sphagnum Moss bears witness to how wet it is.
At one point, we diverted from the main track, onto a track on the left, to investigate a small pool…
…..then back to the main track, which turned into a pool, too!
We had to divert, again, into the heather at the sides. We were finally defeated, as we were wearing boots, not wellies, and it got very, very wet indeed.
And so, we returned the way we had come, seeing a vista to our left, which included the Hoy Hills, and Dounby, nestled in the dale. The camera couldn’t cope with that one!
The soggy conditions meant that we saw some interesting plants – Marsh Lousewort –
The intense blue of Milkwort…
Sundew – looks sweet, but eats flesh!
“They seek him here, they seek him there….” Bog Pimpernel..
And, Bog Cotton. I have a particular liking for Bog Cotton, with its associations with myths and legends…. https://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/yeats/fip/fip71.htm
We sat in the conveniently placed sit-oootery to eat our sandwiches and look about us. You do a lot of looking about you, up there – as there is a lot to …look about at.
It’s grand, up there – just GRAND!!!