Above , St Margaret's Hope Bay with Water sound & the Island of Burray in the background.


All of these pictures on these pages have the Latin names included where possible. Some images are sent to the appropriate Facebook Group, for identification , these include .Orkney Flowers and there habitat, Orkney Fungi & Lichen, Orkney Insect open Forum, UK Hoverfly Group, plus a few more. Date & Location ,including 10 figure UK Grid reference, are given for most post’s.

The nights are closing in now, the weather is changing, Insects & flowers are getting scarce, the focus is changing to autumn colours ,seed heads, fungi & lichen & crisp sunny days.

Changing colour.

The Splendour of Autumn

 During spring and summer, chlorophyll helps plants with the process of photosynthesis. This turns carbon dioxide, water and the light from the sun into sugars that feed a tree. The green from chlorophyll masks other colours throughout the sunnier months. Then, as nights start to grow longer and less sunlight is available, this signals to trees that autumn is on the way. The production of chlorophyll slows and then stops completely. This is when the golden hues we love start to appear.

Newly emerging fungi

Fungi & lichens

With the decrease in abundance of wild flowers as we head into November, and the increase in humidity we should see the numbers of fungi increase and the lichens will start to take on moisture changing from pale and dried out to soft and colourful again.

A bright sunny day.

Windwick Bay, South Ronaldsay.

Picturesque rocky cove situated in the dip between the cliffs near Hesta Head. The bay is a great spot for wildlife with regular visits from seals and a variety of migratory sea birds. Windwick Bay was also the site of a naval tragedy during World War I. On the night of 12 January 1918, the destroyers HMS Opal and HMS Narborough both struck the rocks of Hesta Head in a snowstorm, with only one survivor.

Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus , Seed’s ( Keys)

More than just changing colour

Apart from just the leaves changing colour, there is a lot more going on around the county, the flowering plants are producing seeds, some like the Sycamore has given there seeds a kind of sail to help them take advantage of the wind and float farther from the parent tree, other plants like roses produce hips with the seeds inside a red or orange fruit like casing which gives them some protection from birds and small mammals, Flies and bees love the fruit like casing.

Flys feeding on Rose Hip.

A touch of yellow with a hint of blue.

A touch of red

Bracken Pteridium aquilinum

Bracken Pteridium aquilinum. Leaf length: 30 - 180 cm (occasionally up to 400 cm). Bracken is a well-known deciduous. This fern is found in moorland, hill pasture and a variety of other habitats with acidic soils. It particularly thrives on deep loams and sands but is rare on alkaline soil. Deciduous - shoots appear in May and die back in autumn leaving stands of dead brown fronds. This species reproduces by means of spores, which are released from the brown spore-cases on the undersides of the fronds. It can also spread by vegetative reproduction, from a subterranean creeping storage organ known as a rhizome.


A few more images below, showing the changes that autumn brings

Rosa rugosa

Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

Rosa rugosa

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Bramble (Rubus fruticosus

Monday,05/10/2020, ND 44647 93558, From the Hope.

We have only a small garden/ yard with two borders for flowers which Jill look's after, I have a small patch at the base of a tree which is for rotting logs, mosses, lichens and a few ferns.

Found this interesting insect under one of the rotting log.

Posted picture of it on Orkney Insects open Forum.

Eyed Flat-backed Millipede - Nanogona polydesmoides

Reply from Lee Johnson , Orkney Insects Open Forum

Lee Johnson I think it is a False Flat-back Millipede, Nanogona polydesmoides. Flat-backs (Polydesmus) don’t have eyes and this one does. Also has too many body segments for a Polydesmus (20 segs). A common species over most of Britain.

Feeding Frenzy,

Over the last few weeks there have been large numbers of Gulls, with as many as forty plus Razorbill’s & Guillemots with smaller numbers of Mergansers & Shags feeding on very large shoals of small fry in the bay here at the Hope , it’s usual to see a few for a day or two but the very large numbers of small fry seems to be never ending. Must have been a very good breeding season.

Razorbill Alca torda.

Common Guillemot Uria aalge


The UK’s coasts have many stretches of sheer cliffs where seabirds breed and the guillemot is one of the most numerous birds in the great ‘seabird cities’. It comes to land only to nest, spending the rest of its life at sea, where it is vulnerable to oil spills. Dark brown and white, not as black as the similar razorbill, it has a ‘bridled’ form with a white ring round the eye and stripe behind it.

Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator

Red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator

The streamlined red-breasted merganser is a handsome bird and a great fisher - its long, serrated bill helps it to catch and hold its slippery fish prey. It is most commonly spotted around the coast in winter. These birds spend the winter around the coast of Orkney.

Yellow Brain fungus, & the Smiddybanks Track

 Yellow Brain fungus,. It has several other names including Witches Butter and Golden Jelly but its Latin name Tremella mesenterica references its "intestine-like" appearance. This was found on Gorse Ulex europaeus.

Yellow Brain fungus Tremella mesenterica on gorse.

The Smiddybank walk,

The crisp, moist and unpolluted air in Orkney provides an ideal environment for Lichens & Fungi, an interesting walk today was the track beside Smiddybank cottage leading up over the hill. Drystone walls at first and then the track cut into the side of the hill is bordered by a grass bank & Gorse and the downward slope of the hill has a wire fence and gorse edging the fields. The drystone walls great for Lichens and Moss,

Lichen Cladonia sp

Lichens colour the landscape,

Lichens colour the landscape, especially where the air is 'pure as wine', but look closely at bark, wood and rock and you will see just how beautiful their intricate structures can be. Their fruit bodies, through which reproductive spores are produced, differ on the various species, some being like miniature jam tarts, others tiny volcanoes .

The start of Smiddybanks track, ( Green Lane)

Top of the Track, Scapa Flow in the distance.

Lichen on Drystone Wall.

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