Orchids At Cottascarth

By Bernie Bell

Pics by B&M Bell

I’ve previously written of visiting Cottascarth RSPB Reserve…  https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/07/05/bernie-bell-orkney-walks-with-stories-cottisgarth-2/

It was a sunny, though windy and showery, June day and we thought the timing should be right to see the Heath Spotted Orchids in the fields by the track – and we were right!

As we turned into the car park we encountered Mrs. Harrier, swooping low across the fields – a good welcome.  Walking up the track towards the hide, after a few fields of grass and buttercups on our left, there was a small field just full of Heath Spotted Orchids…..

……coloured from deep pink to nearly white…..

Mix some poo…with some straw…and what do you get?

Arriving at the hide enclosure there are Northern Marsh Orchids in the grass in what was the garden of the house…

Central to this garden is a magnificent sycamore tree…

Inside the ruined cottage, down in the grass, we noticed vole holes – and were very pleased to see them.  The arrival of Stoats in Orkney has challenged the Vole population, and we don’t want to lose our unique Voles!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USBELxaB_Lw

By the side, of the hide, there’s a ‘bug hotel’ – the RSPB not only thinking of birds….

We weren’t sure about going into the hide as I am still avoiding indoor places where there might be unknown people – which goes right against my nature but ….what’s the alternative?  The alternative is what’s happening all around us – Covid figures rising and rising in Orkney.

But there was no-one about, and the RSPB are being very Covid Conscious with a hand sanitizer by the door before you go in, then in the hide there are usually bird identification books and other useful bits & pieces on the windowsills, but these have all been removed to reduce the risk of contact infection. 

Also, the Raven in the mural reminds us to ……..


I’d never noticed before but as the roof of the hide has grass growing on it, inside the hide, the grass can be seen around the sky-light windows……

I likes it!

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