On the 10th May 2010 I had the good fortune of being on the Isle of Sanday. One of the Northern Isles of the Orkneys. While my main reason for visiting was to see friends and to chill out and relax I did try and get a feel for some of the island spirit.
One such event was a "west side wander" to view flora and fauna down by the rocky beach on the west side near Girni Geo.
After parking at the end of the wrong lane, I waited a few mins for Ranger Rod to appear which he did, on time. OK he parked at the correct place and I had to move but "hey ho"! that's the fun of life I guess.
I did think he was going to call it off as I was the only taker for the stroll but he is made of sterner stuff than that and we marched briskly towards the beach and head first into a rather sudden and very cold hail storm.
Well there was nothing to lose now, we were wet and cold so things could only get better and apart from the relentless bitter North wind we did get some sun and when in the lee of the wind some warmth.
We set up (OK Rod set up a tripod and telescope) on the beach and, mainly with a set of borrowed binoculars, I was able to see and have described to me various birds. Some I knew from some distant memory but joining images and names of oyster catcher, Cormorants and shags, black back gulls and a pair of ravens with (bloody huge) chicks in the nest was most enjoyable.
Rod's knowledge didn't stop at birds though as he also pointed out several lichens including the foliose lichen that grows abundantly at these latitudes as the aptly named "reindeer lichen" which sustains Santa's herd of deer through the year. (OK Rod didn't say that but we all know it).
After what seemed to be 10 mins, but was in fact over an hour, we headed back to our cars and off home. We, well at least I, had had such fun that the packed lunch was forgotten and was consumed later when I got back to my friend's home.

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p5100017 Down on the beach the wind whipped up the sea into some quite hypnotising waves.
p5100018 I would guess these waves were about 10-12 feet high. OK not huge but very nice to watch.
p5100019 In the far distance you can see a slight overhanging ledge on the cliff. This is where a Shag sat and waited. A little further to the right were dozens of cormorant and oyster catcher. Sadly my camera isn't able to get pics from so far away. Something to do with the lack of skill of the user.
p5100020 I did, however, manage to get a couple of decent shots of these raven chicks sitting in the nest waiting for mum and dad to return.
p5100024 The view of the beach from the cliff top as we headed back.
pic-0031 Not a very good photo I admit but the view I spent so much time admiring. This is the view from Beth's living room window looking down her garden and onto the bay. Every time I looked it was different as the sun moved across the sky and the tide ebbed and flowed. So relaxing it just made you want to sit and watch forever.

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