Since my last post Spring has continued its advance, although today it might have paused as there is a sprinkling of snow on the hills on the Northern perimeter of Scapa Flow and a raw North-Easterly wind to go with it. The bird bath was also frozen this morning.
Over the last couple of weeks I have seen upto four pairs of Skylarks displaying and defending territory and each day it is great to hear them singing away. Another sign of Spring is the flowering of the first Daffodils in the garden. There is also signs of various shoots appearing in the bank along the track leading to our cottage.
This is our first Spring in this cottage so we are waiting with anticipation as to what will appear. The neighbours have told us that past occupants were great gardeners and that there were all sorts of things that used to flower. The garden was neglected by the last occupant so we now have our work cut out to get it back under control.
We also plan to make it more attractive to the birds so that hopefully we will have a lot of visitors to the garden.One of the garden projects is the pond. Work on restoring the overgrown pond has commenced, with the large mass of matted grass being removed along with the ripped liner. We are now working on a
larger pond which will be more wildlife friendly.
Numbers and species of birds visiting the garden is still low but we do seem to have a pair of resident Blackbirds and at least a pair of Greenfinch that are in the garden every day. The number of Starlings fluctuates quite wildly, some days there are only single numbers and on others, flocks of over 50 turn the lawn black.
I've not been able to get out round the patch since the last post but I have been keeping an eye on part of it when I have been heading to Kirkwall. The main road to town takes me past Echna Loch and Bay. On the 19 Feb I saw my first Mute Swan on the Loch this year. Usually there is a pair of swans that breed on the Loch but they seem to disappear over the winter so it was good to see one back on territory. A couple of days later and it seemed to have disappeared again and I had no further sightings until yesterday when I passed the loch and spotted two swans feeding. Hopefully this is the resident pair and they are now back and preparing to raise another family.
Apart from the swans the loch was fairly quiet with a few Mallard, Tufted duck and Wigeon.
On the otherside of the road is Echna Bay and with a receding tide there were 30 Oystercatchers, three Redshank and six Lapwing along the water's edge. Out on the water were three Great Black-backed Gulls and six Long Tailed Ducks. There were lots of Fulmars flying over the bay and along the small cliff face on the North side of the Bay.
The forecast is for light snow showers and strong winds for the next couple of days then after that hopefully Spring will be allowed to continue.