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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Around West Mainland (and Stromness) ....

I was out and about the other weekend and thought I'd share a few random pictures!  Above is the small island of Eynhallow, in front of the slightly higher island of Rousay.

And the other end of Eynhallow!

And this is up on the moors above Dounby looking back towards Eynhallow Sound (I think!).

There are quite a few wind turbines popping up around Orkney.  Some are small domestic turbines for individual homes.  These in the pictures below are medium sized turbines providing money for commercial companies, and feeding into the national grid.  There are also plans for much larger wind turbine "farms" which are proving very controversial in Orkney which is a hub for renewable technology.  Controversy is over not only the scale of the wind turbines in relation to the landscape, but also the additional infrastructure, pylons, cables, and sub stations that are needed.  Mostly it is commercial businesses making money.  Although many of the larger islands have a community wind turbine which at least provides income for the island.  A high proportion of the Orkney population is in fuel poverty and I think there would be some mitigation if the increase in wind turbines addressed this.  But at the moment that doesn't look as though that is part of the (many) plans, unfortunately.

And here is the gorgeously rounded shape of the wee island of Gairsay rising out of the sea.

Earlier the same day I was in Stromness and it was much cloudier.  I went searching in vain for damselflies at a burn (stream) up above Stromness.  Nice views though!

Bog cottan was very prolific and in the middle here somewhere is the pool that is thought to be the breeding ground for large red damselflies.  Behind Stromness homes and the Hoy hills in the distance.

Bog cotton galore!

The thistles were artfully draped in the cotton!

The cotton grass has an ephemeral beauty .....

And looking back towards Graemsay and Hoy over the rooftops of Stromness

This blog post is in reverse order as I wanted to start with the sunshine photos first! Coming into Stromness Harbour.....

The wee town nestled in the bowl of the hills.....

But the sail over to Stromness from Graemsay was lovely and calm.

Hoy High lighthouse

Hoy High and Sandside....

Garson & Quoys.....

Hoy Low Lighthouse....

Hope you enjoyed your trip out!

Sunday, 15 July 2018


Copyright Graham Campbell

Orcas (often referred to as "killer whales") frequent the Orkney waters in the summer.  There are at least two pods that regularly come through Scapa Flow and past my house.  However actually seeing them is more of a challenge!  I follow a site on Facebook (Orkney Cetacean sightings) which gives alerts of their presence and direction. However this year even on the occasions I KNEW they were coming past the house, sea mist or choppy seas prevented me seeing them.  But this week - whoooo hooo we got the best view I've had in years!  So here are just a couple of picture showing them going past Sandside. The pictures were taken by Graham Campbell on a small boat - he followed them (at a respectful distance) for 6 hours as they moved up the flow.  He kindly let me share them here.

Copyright Graham Campbell

In both the pictures above you can see a small crowd to the right of the sandy beach.  That's me and some neighbours standing on the old lighthouse pier watching the show.  It was wonderful.  We spotted at least five.  Though I heard later there were two bull orcas further out and four or five females with calves nearer the shore hunting for seals and young seabirds.

And other pictures he took during the day....

Copyright Graham Campbell

Copyright Graham Campbell

Copyright Graham Campbell
Copyright Graham Campbell

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Midsummer sunsets.....

July is galloping along and I'm trying to keep up amid work on the house (decorating etc), work, visitors and other fun distractions.  The Summer in Orkney keeps on giving warm bright days with no rain (though today is misty).  Of course farmers are concerned about lack of water for crops etc and even my garden grass is turning brown! It was formerly a field so is pretty hardy but struggling in this dry spell.

Anyway back to the long summer days.  The photo below shows how the sun travels (well OK it's the planet but still) across the sky from mid-winter to mid-summer.  The sun on the left (not to scale!) is where the sun sets in mid-winter, the one in the middle is where it sets in mid-summer, and the one to the far right is where it rises in mid-summer. Well it rises a bit further right but roughly there.  And where does it rise in Winter?  Behind me!

So day length in mid-summer is 18 hours 29 minutes and 49 seconds (sunrise 03:58, sunset 22:28) and in mid-winter is 6 hours, 11 minutes and 3 seconds (sunrise 09:04 and sunset 15:15).  Now you know why I love the summer days!! (Click to zoom in!)

And a couple more gratuitous sunset photos....

And one from the other night...