Thursday 10th November light E to SW by evening
Two heavy showers first thing. Then sunshine and sunny intervals. Rainbows late afternoon and a star-filled sky in the night.
An early morning seawatch again for Samuel Perfect and I in the hide at the north end of North Ronaldsay. Soaked on the way there by a shrp and heavy shower, the hide has large wet patches as it is in need of some TLC, tender loving care. Mind you of the three bird hides on North Ronladsay this one is in the best condition.
Conditions are reasonable. Red-throated and great northern divers are the best birds we see in our two hour seawatch. A report comes in that Papa Westray, fifteen miles or so to the west has six white-billed divers offshore. I was happy with the one we saw a few days ago.
Fulmars are steadily going past as usual yet all other seabirds seem to be going in all directions. Gannets, fulmars, kittiwakes and the very occasional auk species may be going north or south. We count for an hour.
Leaving the hide we search for gulls but don't find any white wingers among the common, herring and great black-backed gulls on view.
A female merlin puts a few waders up as she passes by.
Back to the Bird Observatory, Samuel stops to search the garden at Holland and texts me to say he has found a long-eared owl and a waxwing.
I find the owl easily enough. It flies over my head and stares at me.
After lunch I go down to Gretchen. The shoreline here is being pounded by high, twenty foot waves. Strange to see because otherwise the sea is very flat. the waves just grow as they approach the land. The crash of them on nearby rocks is exhilarating and a couple of times I nearly get soaked.
There's a seal in among the foam. It watches me for awhile before riding the surf like a leaping dolphin.
After a visit to the hide at Gretchen, a large nearby pool, a shower approaches that makes a huge, high rainbow over the scene.
Returning to the low cliff, I sit and watch as the Sun sinks towards the horizon over distant hills on Rousay. The colours change and the surge of the surf changes with them. The noise is tremendous and the thrill of the outdoors is complete. Watch this on a TV or sit and have the noise and spray hit you?
A Gibbous Moon and a clear starry night shows me my way back to the hostel late evening. My last night here, I will be leaving for Orkney Mainland tomorrow.