Considering we have embraced the paleness of northern winter, waking to (even pale) blue warms everyone’s heart. Over the course of this weekend, my island and I have been graced by such wish and beauty. I usually tweet every morning with a hashtag “presseslugtowindow” , then started off by a friend in Scalloway a few months ago, sharing my dawn chorus with the language from the earth (including, obviously, birds!). However, I must confess this morning was so calm, I just opened the back door from my kitchen and marvelled at the golden light.
On the day before, more Scandinavian invaders tore more rose hips all around us. Whereas a single individual popped its pinkish crest on top of my tree skyline, eight more appeared in the course of the afternoon (as photographed on the right by D Hall). All in all, some 300 waxwings were reported in Shetland and, when you add to that 200 from Caithness, well, the image begins to shape up about the sudden irruption of such species. These are linked with the berry crop failure in Scandinavia. Ultimately, the weather determines life and death. They really delighted everyone over the past few days!
On Sunday morning, I walked around my neck of the heather – or should I say, my neck of the torn away rose hips! – so clement morning was. I first inspected my local community garden, just a few hundred meters (yards) away from home. Starlings and blackbirds distracted my eyes around lawns and willows. I wanted to see for myself the extent and impact of waxwings’ hunger. I still remember a message via Twitter, encouraging the giving of fruit in every possible garden… Well, many rose hips did not resist their need for replenishing their energy levels!
My walk then took me back to much more familiar, and equally dazzling, birds – starlings. You find them everywhere: around gardens & buildings – perched on stone walls, fenceposts or on sheep (as personal fleece keepers – just like ox peckers in Africa with giraffes – or cattle egrets with bulls in Camargue!) They are truly beautiful birds, especially in such honey light. Walking around my neck of the township can stretch quite like a rubberband, since it comprises quite a few scattered groups of settlements… However, I decided to walk to the sea.
Every burn (local word for “stream”) leads to the mighty great North Sea (or Atlantic). In my case, it is the former, since I live on the eastern side of the (main) island. I first followed the single track stretch of tarmac and then, that burn. On my way, I met with Kate, who came to the shore to collect flat pebbles she would then decorate in time for Yule. We both marvelled at the quality of light, and she also confessed she could not really believe how kind the sky was to this first weekend of November. She knew I would not need a lift, since I had my lens in hand. I said I would meet her at the edge of the water. I went cross-country through the brae and joined her back among boulders and pebbles. Joy, as a wren welcomed me by rotting kelp. To our avian dwellers, kelp’s just an open-air restaurant! All join in: starlings, wrens and sparrows.
As Kate harvested her bagful of small flat pebbles (the very best for skimming on the surface of water!), we reconvened and begged each other a good day. She would drive home to her part of the township, whilst I would carry on with my morning stravaig (wandering)… As I walked past Eileen’s pampas and waved at Rosemary, a robin led me to the narrow lanes of Hoswick, for it was happily hopping in front of me. I lost my sense of time in between weathered doors and stunning windows. The chicken coop looked s a stunner too & I fell nose to nose with a peat stack! I love Hoswick – so charming and so picturesque… It is a haven in all seasons!
As I turned right once more, I chatted with Alison, joined in a few minutes later by Jim, and Lee, who popped out from his inn with his kit – “half an hour of freedom by this light is not to be missed indeed,” he smiled. We still have a blackcap and a crestie (goldcrest) playing around the old sycamores! In November, those peerie guys are the very last remnants of some autumnal migration. Yet their size and knack for a solid game of hide n’ seek kept us on a look out for a while… I trust Lee eventually caught them through his gigantic lens! As afternoon overrode morning, I wandered back to the burn, where a detour would take me towards Swinister (the place where pigs were once kept…) – well, still do!
Wonderful morning light dazzling my entire world! It brings folk to their surroundings, keep them smiling and share a slice (or two) of life. November began with honey… Let’s hope we won’t have to re-pay with too many icicles too soon… I don’t want to turn a waxwing!
Have a great week, everyone 🙂