Early Autumn

I have spent much of the past few months going to and fro between Flotta and South Ronaldsay. And in both places, the signs of autumn are apparent.  Steve’s cats are in more..

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Wardhill, where Steve, Ben and Nigel live, is the old farmhouse, with the farm of Wardhill between the house and the road. This means that machinery and animals pass the windows regularly.

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On small farms like this one, the cows know their owners, so when moving them from field to field you need one at the front to lead them the right way and one at the back to keep the stragglers moving.

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To the other side of the house is a stream, with a variety of willows and fruit bushes. In autumn these become the haunt of hundreds of starlings, a bird which was once common, but whose numbers have declined alarmingly recently. Here you can see some of this year’s young in their first moult – those are the ones with the brown heads.

starlings in moult

Another sign of autumn is glorious sunsets in the evenings (as opposed to midnight!). This one was my last night on South Ronaldsay.

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The next night I was home, and had this view from my kitchen window:

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The harvest moon was huge and full…

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Scottie was pleased to be back to his old walks.

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He had a lot of sniffing to do…

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… and grass to explore.

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That same day I stopped at an abandoned farm called Balaklava, where a black rabbit moved a few paces ahead of me. Look for his ears.

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Here he’s circled, and his ears are pointed out!

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The late summer flowers are all out, including this one, eyebright, a tiny white flower found between the heather.

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The seas are changing too. The seals are moving from their summer haul outs to their pupping grounds. This one is an Atlantic Grey, probably a male from his size. I am pretty sure he is the same one I have seen before – he doesn’t disappear when I talk to him, but comes closer and plays for the camera!

Atlantic Grey seal

And to finish a pic of the hills of Hoy. They are different colours every day.

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