Autumn is here!

Well, we never had a summer, but autumn is now definitely here.  The mornings are darker – very soon I will have to put a light on when the alarm goes off – and I am shutting the curtains earlier and earlier.  And what ever the day temperature, it gets cold at night.

As the weather has been bad all summer, it wasn’t a change in that which became noticeable.  The first thing I noticed was a change in the sounds while on the daily dog walks.  The constant singing of the seals had stopped.  The constant screaming of gulls and oyster catchers had stopped.   And the constant song of a hundred and one other birds had died to a mutter.

There are fewer birds about.  Most of the swallows that left for Africa, the terns for Antarctica and the gulls (and puffins) for the sea.  And as yet the winter migrants haven’t arrived.  We have various species of geese which are now staying about all summer, but the hundreds of thousands which come down from Greenland and Iceland are not yet here.

Perhaps it is because the numbers of the migrants are low that the other residents are more noticeable.  Three times and three days I have seen hawks – a pair of unidentified hawks (probably kestrels from their silhouettes) were hunting on the fields down to the beach; the next day a hen harrier over the moor land; and a female hen harrier trying to see off another hawk the next.  I nearly went off the road over this – fortunately there wasn’t another car about so I stopped in the middle of the single tracked road to watch.  Quite what the other was I don’t know, but it was a similar bird (though not the usual markings of the juvenile or male hen harrier).  I had only popped up to get my drugs from the surgery and hadn’t worn my coat so didn’t have a camera with me unfortunately….  They swooped and dived within feet of me, finally going out of site behind the church.

Unfortunately the gales we had at the end of August have decimated the heather (and my fuchsia bushes!).  Instead of acres of purple there are bits of purple amongst the brown wind-scorched stalks.  Only the tiny flowers survived the winds, and the eyebright is very white dotted between the brown.


7 thoughts on “Autumn is here!

  1. It’s no consolation but, just a few miles away over here on Sanday, we have had a fabulous summer. It has seemed at times as though the sun was never-ending and I welcomed the relief of the odd dull day. It has also been quite still and much spinning has been done out of doors this year. It was quite a shock to the system to have to don a fleece on Friday for a trip to Kirkwall!

    Also, our winter geese have been arriving for a week now – there was a real cacophony as I was showering this morning and a vast flight passed overhead. The swans are with us in force too. I love this time of year – it feels more like home once the geese arrive.

    1. As ever different islands have different weather! Lucky you – I should have made that trip in July…!!

      We don’t get the swans passing through – they tend to stop off in Holm on the lochan there. But ‘our’ geese must come from a different place to yours. They aren’t usually here for a few weeks yet.


  2. I commented last week that it feels like fall here. The very wet spring did allow for much more growth than normal and now the dried grasses and sagebrush are ripe for fires. We have had some small fires already and I imagine that yesterday’s thunderstorm started a few more. I am grateful for small shawls early in the mornings.

  3. After no spring & little summer on the Wet Coast(Vancouver, Canada)- we’ve been calling it Junuary or Auctober, summer finally arrived at the end of August! It’s been several weeks of hot, dry weather with more to come. The nights are very cool & you want a shawl or light sweater after sundown for sure. My Christmas Cactus is outside under the table on the patio BLOOMING it’s little heart out & the Easter Cactus is out there setting buds.

  4. As I can find no way to reach you but through these comments, I take the chance of that route! A couple of days ago you mentioned a trip you had taken and commented: Good food, good crack…good yarn. As one who has been following blogs and poking around wistfully contemplating a trip to Scotland and the Islands…does this represent the visitor’s experience? Or was it said more tongue in check?!

    1. It is pretty normal – except the yarn bit. There are not many good yarn shops about. There are highly specialised ones – like J&S in Shetland selling Shetland wool and those in Orkney selling North Ronaldsay wool – but very few good yarn shops. But the food and the people are almost always first class.


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