Click on pictures to see them enlarged in a photo stream. Comments: word verification on to allow anyone to comment but try and deter excessive amounts of spam! I LOVE getting comments!

Saturday 5 February 2011

It was a dark and stormy night....

... that's how the best ghost stories start isn't it? Well no ghosts but Thursday was a VERY dark and stormy night.  Wind speeds of 122mph were recorded at Hill of Hammars in Evie on the Orkney Mainland. I have no idea what the wind speed was on Graemsay but the noise was tremendous.  I hugged Button for comfort - not that she appreciated it!

As you can see in the photo above the house had some damage. Two ridge tiles came off in the wind. Fortunately there is a waterproof covering below which will keep the room beneath dry (I hope!) but I shall have to visit a local builder's yard this week to find replacements. And no it won't be me climbing up to replace them!  The lead covering of one of the chimneys also came off in the wind - glad I wasn't around when any of this debris was flying about, particularly having seen the dents in the ground they made on impact!

I was considering sending Button up to inspect the damage as she loves sitting on the ridge but unfortunately for some reason she didn't want to leave the comfort of her bed. (I'm always amazed at how cats can traverse roof tops without a second thought about gravity....).

But the damage could have been worse, and compared to the awful weather conditions in Queensland, Australia, this is just minor stuff. 

But just before the worst force of the wind hit I witnessed an amazing sight.  OK the blurry overexposed blob in the photo is indecipherable but it was a bird of prey having dinner just below my study window! I was gazing out the window at the stormy seas (I love watching storms as long as I'm safe indoors) and I saw a bundle of feathers struggling in the wind and do a rather undignified landing. I thought at first it was one of the island pheasants, but it's movement and behaviour indicated otherwise.  Dusk had fallen and I had to get binoculars to see what was happening, but it seems that this large bird of prey had dinner in it's claws and proceeded to eat it. Sadly it was one of my blackbirds that had moved into the garden. I'm hoping the bird was a female hen harrier (they are frequently seen on the island) as I'd like to think that one of my beloved blackbirds was dinner for this beautiful rare bird.  However whatever it was it needed dinner and I watched  for quite a few minutes as it sheltered in the clumps of dead grass near the fence.  Once it had fed it sat and thought for a minute before taking off, tacking across into the wind - amazing!


  1. I was thinking of you in the stormy weather of the past couple of days - it was pretty hairy here for a while so I knew it would be a great deal worse in the islands. Glad you survived without too much damage! Let's hope that there are no more serious storms this season. We had snow last week but it has gone now, leaving snowdrops in its place - hurray! - so I am just prepared to let myself start thinking that spring might eventually arrive.

  2. Louise from Seattle5 February 2011 at 16:48

    We in the US Pacific Northwest are in awe of the weather crossing the globe - across the US, Europe, Australia and more. Our puny rain seems, well, puny in comparison. Stay warm and safe, Sian and Button! When I first saw the bird picture you posted, I thought it must be Button!

  3. I know you don't have large over-mature trees around your island home - here I have far too many of those far too close to the house, but so far I'm lucky. To answer your question about our winter here in Nova Scotua - yes indeed we had no snowfall until after New Years but we now have quite made it up - 18 inches in the last one!!! That is anamazing picture of Buttons up on the roof!

  4. I'm not sure cats actually think things through. They just leap and pounce.