The above was taken from the hill outside the Hope, looking across Scapa Flow to Flotta ( the long low Island ) and the hills of Hoy 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 Wild Flowers and their 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 posts. Some locations just say The Hope; this is St Margaret's Hope, on South Ronaldsay, My Home. Where there are Comments; these are from experts, from the various groups.


Sunday 01/11/2020, ND 44534 93267. From the Hope today,

Pictures posted on FB, Orkney Fungi & Lichen Group.

The last day of October and the first two days of this month have been dominated by south-westerly gale force winds & heavy showers interspersed with sunny spells, these sunny spells gave me the opportunity to investigate the areas of tree plantings around the golf course, these trees are only around twenty feet high at most but planted close together giving enough cover for the possibility of fungi.  Checked two of the larger areas before the rain came, managed half a dozen fungi while making my hasty retreat I spotted some dark lumps looked like pieces of a black rubbish bag in the leaf litter, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a grey fungus, something I have never seen before, excited I took plenty of pictures before I headed back to the house to check out my new find the result  Elfins Saddle Helvella lacunosa, A great find.

Elfins Saddle Helvella lacunosa

Note's, Elfins Saddle Helvella lacunosa, Typically 2 to 4 cm across the cap, Elfin Saddle fungi have a total height 4 to 10 cm and are rather drab in its appearance, with both the stem and the cap in shades of leaden grey. The caps are usually distorted and the stems fluted or ridged. Habitat, On the ground among leaf litter in all kinds of woodland. Often found on burnt ground in woodland clearings. It is well camouflaged against the burnt ground with its grey appearance. Summer and autumn.


, Anne Gascoigne, That's a good one. Got all excited about finding one on Flotta several years ago with Julian Branscombe.

Mike, Anne, Must admit I was chuffed, must have been around forty or more in the long grass.

Anne Gascoigne On your doorstep Lee Johnson,

Lee Johnson, That is a cracking find,

Alastair Forsyth, Nice one Mike Hoy,

Julian Branscombe, Fantastic.

A great start to the month, A very scarce fungus in Orkney.

Candlesnuff Fungus, Xylaria hypoxylon

Notes: Candlesnuff Fungus, Xylaria hypoxylon,  Common in Orkney and A very common species in the rest of Britain and Ireland, Xylaria hypoxylon is found also throughout mainland Europe and in many parts of North America. Picture Taken beside the burn at the Doctors surgery.

05/11/2020, From St Margaret's Hope. Posted to Orkney Fungi & Lichen,

 A short walk (owing to the weather) along the lane to Smiddybanks House, then back along the Pier road. Produced a few Lichens, one posted here.

rim lichens


Anne Gascoigne, commented Nice mix of crustose ones there: species of both Lecanora and Lecidella competing for space and their differing genetics making black 'war zones' between them.


Lecanora is a genus of lichen commonly called rim lichens. Lichens in the genus Squamarina are also called rim lichens. Members of the genus have roughly circular fruiting discs (apothecia) with rims that have photosynthetic tissue similar to that of the non-fruiting part of the lichen body (thallus).

Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, seeds

Notes: Sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus, seeds A common tree in Orkney (introduced), a hardy tree it stands up well to the high winds and salt air environment, Owing to the scarcity of trees in Orkney, the majority are procted.

Monday 7 November 2020, Around the Hope.

 At this time of the year common seals Common Seal Phoca vitulina move closer inshore, for a few months we will have around ten or twelve seals adults and Juvenile’s in the bay, at first they haul out along the shore below Pier road as the tide drops, then after a few of months, they will spend more time on the slipway by the house. When spring comes they move out of the bay and start preparing for the breeding season,

Common Seal Phoca vitulina

Common seal, Notes:

When not at sea, common seals are found around sheltered shores and estuaries, where they haul out on sandbanks and beaches. When out of the water, they sometimes hold their body in a curved banana position, with their head and tail both in the air at the same time. Like grey seals, they feed on fish, but also eat squid whelks, crabs and mussels. Common seal pups are born during the summer and can swim when they are only a few hours old!

Common Alder, Seeds, Alnus glutinosa.

Common Alder, 

Note's: British native (Alnus glutinosa) common alder tree species that are known to directly support over 90 different organisms. Thrives in wet soils, prevents erosion on river banks. Male and female catkins grow on the same tree ripening in spring. The rough bark can sprout young shoots. Although not native to Orkney, in sheltered positions they tend to make small shrubby type trees growing along the sides of the burns and around habitation so long as the ground stays boggy.

Photo showing new seeds

Arum italicum, fruit,

Notes: Arum italicum, two nice clumps of this to the side of the steps leading from Pier road to Smiddybanks House. The GB native Arum, Arum maculatum (though not native in Orkney) does not have white veins nor even young leaves in autumn. So this is an introduced species.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

Thursday, 12 November 2020, in and around the Hope

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, 1st winter, The grey wagtail is a member of the wagtail family, Motacillidae, measuring around 18–19 cm overall length. The species looks somewhat similar to the yellow wagtail but has the yellow on its underside restricted to the throat and vent. Breeding males have a black throat.

The picture was taken at the exit of the burn into the Hope bay.

Pied wagtail Motacilla alba

The Pied wagtail Motacilla alba

The Pied wagtail Motacilla alba is a small passerine bird in the family Motacillidae, which also includes pipits and longclaws. The species breeds in much of Europe and the Asian Palearctic and parts of North Africa. It has a toehold in Alaska as a scarce breeder.


Note's: Pied & Grey Wagtails status in Orkney Pied wagtails, fairly common breeding species and passage visitor, rare in winter. Grey Wagtail, Rare breeding species, uncommon on passage and rare in winter

Wednesday & Thursday 18/19/11/2020,

 Gale force winds overnight, with a 3.5-metre tide at midnight, waited until after midnight before going to bed just in case of flooding, all ok just very noisy with plenty of spray.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

I had a brief stroll along the pier road before 8 am, still very blustery after the storm with a few wintery showers and white caps in Water sound. Six or seven Common Seals close to shore in the bay, Highlight of my brief walk was an even briefer view of a Long-eared Owl on the Pier road as it disappeared up over the bank into the trees. To wet and windy to try for an Owl picture, better luck tomorrow.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Just as windy and wet, bitter cold the same as Thursday, but this time I took the camera. managed some excellent shots, Think I will check this out again when the weather improves.

Long-Eared Owl,

Wednesday, 23 November 2020 Burwick, South Ronaldsay.

Today I went with Damien for a short drive down to Burwick at the far end of the island, the weather was showery with strong Southwesterly wind's, not many birds braving the weather apart  from the gulls and a few Wigeon while walking back to the car along the path behind the kirk, Damien said as he pointed down onto the shore " there's a dead Seal pup there" I turned and looked in the direction he pointed, as the seal pup lifted his head and I said " well it's not dead now" and we both started laughing, young seal pups stay on shore for a while when first born, this one was about a week or two old,

Grey seal Pup, (Halichoerus grypus) around a week or two old.

Saturday 28 November 2020

Not a particularly good day, overcast with the threat of a shower at any time, but decided to walk up over the hill out of the Hope and check out the dry-stone walls that abound around here in Orkney, great places for lichens and mosses, good possibilities for some nice images.

Parmelia sulcata in a particularly fruitful phase

A good selection of Lichen & Moss where walls have fallen down.

Another picture of the Long-eared Owl, Asio otus,

The pictures of the Owl were taken on a Canon 1D Mark 111 with Canon 100-400 lens with 1.2x converter, this allows me to get good pictures without disturbing the bird, unfortunately, a few days later the bird was disturbed by people apparently getting within fifteen feet trying to get pictures, these people show no concern for the bird as long as they get their pictures. The Bird has now moved to a more secure roost.

Common Seal Phoca vitulina. Showing variations in colouring

Common Seal Phoca vitulina.

Monday 30 November 2020.

Spotlight on The European shag.

The European shag or common shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis This is a medium-large black bird, 68 to 78 cm (27 to 31 in) long and with a 95-to-110-centimetre (37 to 43 in) wingspan. It has a longish tail and yellow throat-patch. Adults have a small crest in the breeding season. It is distinguished from the great cormorant by its smaller size, lighter build, thinner bill, Note's The European shag is one of the deepest divers among the cormorant family. Diving to at least 45 m (148 ft), they find their prey on the sea bottom. They will eat a wide range of fish but their commonest prey is the sand eel. Shags will travel many kilometres from their roosting sites to feed. It breeds around Orkney, nesting on rocky ledges or in crevices or small caves. The nests are untidy heaps of rotting seaweed or twigs cemented together by the bird's own guano. The nesting season is long, beginning in late February but some nests are not started until May or even later. Three eggs are laid. Their chicks hatch without down and so they rely totally on their parents for warmth, often for a period of two months before they can fly. Fledging may occur at any time from early June to late August, exceptionally to mid-October.

The European shag or common shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

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