nature diaries

Note: All photographs credit to the author and already published on Instagram & FB.

Drinking from the sea…

Some swans from my neck of the water world drink from the sea from either side of the island.

Whereas mute swans favour lochs – such as Spiggie, or Strand at Gott to name but a few – to live by and feed from, they appear to have developed a taste for sea water.

https://goodmorninggloucester.com/2016/01/30/do-swans-drink-saltwater/amp/

And the exotic visitor in early March…

Jet streams, storms and other follies from the wind being a myriad of birds to the island…

An annual or so occurrence, Spiggie Loch homes great white egrets. This one arrived in early March, and had to share the NW corner with a grey heron (wir haigrie) for a few weeks.

Such birds are both majestic but they compete for food.

Both species usually do not mix as I have observed them in Camargue… Here, the grey heron feels on home ground, and displayed it a few times to the exotic visitor…

Canadian among greylags…

The joy when patience is rewarded: their backs so similar in any field, when foraging…

And yet what separates the two species becomes obvious when they lift their heads in the open air!

A joy to see!

First meeting of 2022 with a N. Wheatear

They, together with skylarks and meadow pipits announce the return of better days, da Voar, spring and longer sunnier days

A renaissance and hope for life, as they return to their ancestral breeding grounds.

Every spring migration seems more and more precious and precocious, for our summer breeders appear to respond to the urge to fare chicks earlier and earlier every year… Mother Nature has her own ways.

Eye catchers

And from the sea…

My second sighting of a deep diver – a sperm whale that seemed to be stranded in some bay on the Atlantic side of the island.

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free

Shetland Wren, spring 2022

Too long have I awaited this joyous month of April, free from March – this month of miracles & tears – even if gales and remnants of winter are clutching at straw…

The island is slowly emerging from its great seasonal slumber to start and display more vibrant colours as daylight is overriding black.

Too long have I looked at my homeworld from behind glass overlooking an empty loch. Even though I love the view, my eyes belong to the younglings facing me during term time.

Vista fae North Loch Drive.

Watched snow come and go, return since our passage through the Vernal Equinox – morning and dusk in many tones, yet always with the same magic, as our sun rise and glow over Mousa Isle, to colour this Western sky in the kerb just before Quarff.

Only one road fae S to N – also known as da meal road by many islanders whose ancestors in the 19th century, at a time of tattie famine, were (like in the rest of the British Isles, and most notoriously reported from Ireland) rewarded with a meagre meal to build roads… Attempting to survive dire times in the history of the isles. The cheapest labour anyone with gold could find…

Two other side roads in the South Mainland linking da tuns (or human settlements) were added to the great North-South road. Those remain my favourites. Teeming with life, mostly wild, they turn magical in spring.

Da Clumlie Road

This is where freedom begins.

For seasonal cycles on end, the magic remains intact. The return of life, skylarks (wir laverick) arriving with meadow pipits & oystercatchers (wir shalders) depending on the year, though after shelducks (our traditional earliest migrants) . Northern wheatears (wir steinshaakers) also land back in our fields and meadows by April.

The elegance of loons, red-throated divers follow suite.

Tis when our land and sky turn cacophonous on a boannie day i’da voar (a sunny spring day).

April is when our gardens begin to share flowers and buds against all odds. Haily puckles and thin snowflakes might still rage at this time of year, all seem to resist so far…

I love their resilience.

A return to my old belfry – Sumburgh Head where I worked 20 years ago this month as an ambassador for nature (RSPB Nature Reserve) – proved wonderful with a friend on Monday. We lunched in style overlooking the magnificent panorama. Strangely enough, Martin Heubeck roamed my mind as I was watching empty cliffs. Yes, it was barely early April on a day of hellery (adverse weather). Yet kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills are coming back every year in fewer numbers.

Tis no secret.

Our great marine birds signal the return of better days from April onwards. By the time you discover the headland around da Simmer Dim (the summer solstice) you are welcomed by bird calls from every directions, as well as constant gannets fly-pasts on their way to more and more distant fishing grounds. They are striving as a species around our coastline.

Yet barely weeks to Beltane and the galloping to the solstice. Tis when the island really turns cacophonous.

Meanwhile, we make do with chilling conditions, and brace ourselves for days battered by gales and hail that keep you alive (!)

Tis a world bathed by a sea and an ocean, geographically so far away from it all, sheltered, somehow from any torpor…

And yet, listening to the whole world.

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awake (living planet)

This afternoon’s wild walk by my gale-swept Nordic shores prompted a blog post in my mind.

However, as wild waves – rollers, breakers – crashed at my feet, my heart reeled back to last weekend, as disaster struck over an antipodean archipelago.

News of the cataclysm in the Pacific prompted a piece in response, written in the wake of it last Monday.

Living Planet


400,000 lightning bolts.


That sonic boom heard in Fiji, New Zealand, even
Alaska.
Hunga-Tonga-Hunga Ha’pai blown into
sky;
billowing cloud,
giant mushroom on satellite,
it has been felt around
the globe.

Little Earth shook -
ocean rippled so far away,
Peru, Japan…
It has been felt around
us all.

So much unknown under water or
where folk live like
castaways;
potential hell, dust,
acid rain over
it all.


NH, 17 Jan 2022.

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grateful

So little left of 2021, and yet so much achieved and shared!

I am grateful to your support throughout another challenging year driven by the imperative of a terrifying bug that keeps animating the human world…

Grateful to those who have given the poet’s work an extraordinary platform that has reached far further afield than expected – they know who they are, and let it be some of the those magic stepping stones to greater things.

Grateful to our planet for homing the woman in such extraordinary surroundings, as survival has remained de rigueur.

Grateful to my angels, whether on Earth or in the sky.

As our homeworld rotates with grace towards the dawn of a new year, I, like you, live in hope. Hope we can eventually free ourselves from this new form of biological terrorism; hope we can come to our senses (as a species) and start to look at ourselves as a wiser community coming to terms with our own paradox and allow both ourselves and our future generations to continue striving on Earth in a less demanding manner, and with so much more respect towards Mother Nature.

I am grateful to each sunrise glowing into my eyes – each turn of tide, seasonal return of our migrating avifauna and marine fauna.

I am grateful to be alive and walk the shore – marvel at the abundance and beauty of life. I am a mere visitor as the rest of the animal and vegetal kingdom. And yet, with so much joy I celebrate it all with either a pen or pixels…

Today, I once roamed the southern part of the island, and stopped to watch and wish – wish for a brighter chapter ahead.

Captured time capsules of the wild in my “little black box” and pray the island continues to home this sanctuary of life.

Strangely, some of our mudflats are currently homing species that should winter so far away from us… A sign of deregulation, change from our natural world. An unknown omen.

I can only hope for harmony to continue in the great cycle of life, and I wish for human wisdom to override that current state of selfishness.

I want to believe we can achieve this and more.

We owe it to the balance of life – that of the vegetal and animal kingdom to which we belong.

I am grateful to each and everyone involved in protecting our homeworld. If we too are adding our own stones to this great edifice, and are prepared to accept changes in our lifestyles, our efforts and resilience will pay off.

As I am striving to start assembling a new collection of poetry during Yuletide and ritual of passage to a New Year, let me wish each and everyone the very best for 2022 – good health (first) light & love, daily joys and happiness.

Life is short, precious and unique for each one of us. I, like you, am deeply grateful for it.

Let’s see what the New Year brings .

Namaste fae 60N 🌿✨

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Wheeled to Life

Hours away.

So far away from its power, and yet mighty for just hours, as night reigns as an empress. We are reaching the longest night as Yule prevails.

Yesterday’s walk around da voe, this inlet of water where birds and selkies venture for survival looked so magic at the golden hour.

Tis like a dream.

As long as light warms rocks and kelp uprooted by the latest storm, starlings and shore birds feast like kings.

Tis just magic.

They all fly in. Our homeworld feels so generous in such harsh times.

Within hours, gold turns purple as our star vanishes so fast.

Tis now the time for da haigrie to fish at dusk.

I watched it wade and stand solemn like a statue; a sudden flick of eyes and neck as it scanned all around its world in search of prey…

Then went the catch.

Night creeps too fast. Just around 4, p.m. that is… I had to rekindle head beams to trek back home.

Another day just gone to rust… Wheeled inside life and realm of death, Yule celebrates every lost soul. Time to reconvene with spirits, night, candle light so precious feels life of us all.

Tonight, my heart back in each voe where life is tied to ebbing tides; where selkies find respite out on boulders…

Tomorrow we cross the solstice, as mid-winter settles at last.

I hear the return of the snow, the longest night and the sweet smell of cinnamon inside my home.

Tis that moment when I reconvene with angels; freedom to wander through my world, in my own time and place.

Happy Yuletide to each and all!

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Hame

This place on Earth and in my heart where I belong, because my senses say it so, has recovered seasonal white, or even bluish icicles now we stand so far from the sun.

And yet shorter days can shine.

This morning, I’m waking up to a hot bowl of porridge whilst the cabin heats up a bit. If my duck down quilt kept human and cat warm whilst the temperature plummeted below what can be read on room thermometers, that polar wind from Arctic Tromsø is still blasting…  Tis the realm of Yule encroaching on my Nordic world.

Yule, the festive time as we come to a halt – light candles on window sills or on chimney mantlepieces… Share a table free from the pressure of time, tokens of love and marvel at the starry sky from the back steps of our own home.

My bowl of porridge cooled too fast.

This little light we cling onto as darkness vanishes juist a few hours to let our star hover below 10 degrees of elevation either in a shameless crystalline sky (or sometimes in a halo that fills a light metallic sky) feels so precious. Tis the moment to wander through mires an braes (mossy areas of fields or meadows and hillsides) and reconvene with our own bays bathing in light.

How I love walking to the sea.

It fills my heart with happiness, this inner peace that has no price. Tis this moment when we reconnect with the higher self, the child within eager to reach edge of the most magical world.

Because it really is magical!

The blue of sky and horizon so inviting, the playful selkie (seal) inside kelp – the gentleness of water flirting with pebbles as tide retreats at a slow pace… Our Earth’s rhythm allows it all.

All around us, what looks barren and just dormant under snowflakes will wake again in a few months. Yet, for now, my whole world shines in blue and white. As as snow melts on higher grounds, wir local burn swells and runs down to the sea. Cycle of water, source of life.

Late.

Our first snow came late this autumn, not till the end of November. Mother Earth has her own agenda. Unusually warm, Hairst (autumn) felt a long Indian summer… Only to vanish inside flying gales the island knows at this time of year. We brace ourselves for the season of bleaker times.

First snow feels a welcoming sign winter with its palette of own colours has its own grip on us.

First snow invites us to get out and reconnect with Mother Earth, Nature and life we can take so much for granted… Blessed with the place that holds so many treasures, the call of the wild is strong.

First snow has come and gone, yet each return of icicles draw us so closer to the magic of Yule. My heart rejoices at each furtive appearance from our boreal sun. Today, it is shining in a glacial NE wind, and as the cabin warms slowly, I will make my trek out, refill my heart and let da bairn inside to reconnect with the natural world. It feels my shield against the artificial world – that manmade realm shackled to the material, where gold prevails above sand grains, shells and pebbles.

My island is my treasure chest.

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celebrating… Life on Earth

Tis September, and autumn marks time for harvest…

Harvesting fruits out of projects – to the poet, tis the moment to celebrate words ripe enough to shine and echo through folk’s hearts…

Months turned in weeks, as Mother Earth waltzes in grace amid the void and songs from stars, light from our Sun reminds of life – from the vegetal to birdsong, September shines and celebrates.

Fleurs de saison, like seeds of life from a planet en route to changes of her own… Let’s reel seasons, as the island sings and flowers – where life as free as flocks of birds comes to da loch to drink or bathe.

Tis that moment I celebrate.

Clumlie Loch shared at WordPlay 2021.

Tis the same that has journeyed from hills and burn (stream) down to the sea to settle among other greats and less known voices in two towns, Lerwick and Edinburgh, through the summer.

Clumlie Loch celebrates wild life – tis where we witness wilderness as important as rainforests or melting ice at either poles… Because it homes essence of life.

Clumlie Loch at the Virtual Exhibition by the the WWF Scotland’s Great Scottish Canvas Initiative, 18-26 Sep ’21 during Climate Fringe.

Today, The Great Scottish Canvas has begun to display it in a virtual exhibition. Such an honour to map Shetland to the greatest of Earth Summits.

It will feature in November among others and other art forms – 45 in total , from 45 Scottish voices, poets, writers, visual artists and sculptors… 45 voices to trigger a beam of hope for life on Earth… Our survival as a species and for our homeworld, natural.

Teeming life at Clumlie Loch, 2021.

Nature, so inspiring, our garden of Eden, we ought to protect at all costs.

Let’s hope and pray, our words and works speak to all world leaders in Glasgow. Like Jackie Kay, Scottish icon as a poet & former Makar – she, the insatiable optimist – I believe in wisdom and future in which children will bloom and grow in a rich world where animals and plant can live.

I feel humbled, honoured and chuffed for Clumlie Loch to feature among Jackie’s and others’ works, blown up on walls to they eyes and hearts of all COP26 participants.

Let’s enjoy Hairst and life on Earth, where our hearts beat.

Ian’s world at Troswick, Sep 2021.

Thank you for life. 🙂

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Announcement 3

Thrilled, humbled and honoured to join in a trio of fine Shetland writers (prose & poetry) to an evening of the spoken word & stories bound by the centenary of George McKay Brown at WordPlay, Scotland’s most northerly book festival.

The writing of the great Stromness man of letters has fashioned and influenced island writing as it has influenced the way we speak and celebrate our Northern Isles and beyond.

Each one of us nestled our work among the celebration of the word through the announcement of winners from the 2021 Young Writers of the Year Awards, the very cradle of Shetland’s future writers.

Writers’ Night is announced as a very special celebration https://tickets.shetlandarts.org/sales/categories/festivals/wordplay-2021/wp21-writers-night

I am very much looking forward to add my humble stone to the edifice .

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Announcement (2)

When one’s love of a great author nestles admiration, her creative spirit and verve on paper to a fabulous collective and ends up in a major literary body of work.

I, the poet, feel humbled by such accolade & participation to the great edifice – brainchild from friend and fellow poet, Makar at our Federation Writers (Scotland) and compagnon d’écriture, Jim Mackintosh, through time.

Together, we celebrate George Mackay Brown’s centenary through a wonderful anthology titled very aptly Beyond the Swelkie now ready to pre-order.

Happy poet and lover of literature!

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Announcement (1)

In such extraordinary and industrious comes a first fruit, which has ripened well.

Now official :

I am very honoured and privileged to map Shetland at COP26 Glasgow through The Great Scottish Canvas this September with the publication for the great event later this autumn, and live reading of my selected poem to our Scottish MSPs as part of Climate Fringe, which will go live in due time.

I am very humbled this poem, very close to my heart, is journeying in so many directions so far. Shortlisting it at such level was so unexpected. Tis also voice recorded for the purpose of the exhibition. Happy poet. 🙂

More to come!

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