Migration?...More archaeology...More from Timothy the Tortoise...

by Bernie Bell - 11:57 on 25 July 2022


In recent years many creatures have been moving North – climate change/global warming means that their present habitat doesn’t suit them any longer. Sometimes it doesn’t suit the creatures or plants that they eat so they move North, followed by the next creature up in the food chain. 

Birds and insects have been seen in the North of Britain which were never recorded before or, when seen, it was due to the poor things getting lost or blown off course.  Even in the far North, Orkney we’re seeing things which haven’t previously been recorded and which not only arrive but stay to become ‘natives’.

After the recent extreme heat ‘South’ I was saying to a neighbour that I think a lot of people are going to want to move North.  There was a flurry of folk buying houses ‘North’ to get away from Covid – possibly bringing it with them?  Next, they’ll want to get away from the heat. 

The BBC actually presented Orkney as the ‘coolest’ place to be in the heat-wave......  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-62223023

Humans appear to be a naturally migratory species - moving as conditions dictate due to changes in the place they inhabit, places getting over crowded, need to establish centres for trade and exchange with other peoples…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2022/05/17/chalkhill-blues/ 

Or – due to wars and civil unrest…… https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/11/25/no-one-would-leave-home-unless-home-chased-you-to-the-shore/

If more people in Britain want to move North, at least that might mean that houses are bought to be lived in, not just as holiday accommodation – a trend which has started to have a very negative impact on the Highlands and Islands.  https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/06/18/when-is-a-home-not-a-home/

The problem then would be that the prices will rise – even more than they have done - pricing out local working people who need to find a place to live.

The whole world is shifting.  As it has done before. 


There’s a lot of archaeological excavation going on at the moment in Orkney, with digs taking place at the Ness of Brodgar and at Swandro, Rousay.  The dig at The Cairns, South Ronaldsay was all set to begin when it had to be cancelled.   As it’s not happening, I thought I’d present a reminder of the place and how significant it is for Iron Age archaeology…..  https://theorkneynews.scot/2022/06/13/if-youd-like-to-support-the-dig-at-the-cairns-even-though-it-isnt-happening-for-now/


The Cairns – Sleeps


Our Dancing Floor is covered

The Well of Wishes – sealed.

Our place, so long neglected

Is starting to be Healed.

We’ll sleep - in Dreamtime

The winter weather through.

Next year – Sometime -

They will return.


And then, we’ll wake

Our place will wake

To youth and light.

Red hair, dark hair

Gleam of light on bronze,

Beads, and benediction of burnished bowl.

We’ll dance again

Weave new life

For the land.


They are Us

And We are They.


And the site will awake again – here’s hoping for next year.


More about Timothy….

I’m still reading ‘Timothy’s Book’ – it’s one of those books that I don’t want to finish, so I’m reading it even more slowly than usual – bit by bit.

There’s a section where Timothy’s observations highlight the difference in attitudes to wildlife between then and now – particularly re. birds.

“Out comes the firearm now to protect the garden.  To keep house-sparrows out of the house-martins’ nests.  Greenfinches from the blossoms. Blackbirds and thrushes from plundering the fruit.  And he fires at birds – or causes them to be fired at – to answer his insatiable curiosity.  To know what he sees.”

Remember, this was before the RSPB existed.


“Mr. Gilbert White finds the ring ousel, when dressed for the table, ‘well-tasted, & juicy, & in high condition for plumpness.’  Bittern shot in a shrub-wood tastes like teal, though not so delicate.  Intestines covered with fat.  Bird that goes ‘crex, crex’ in wet meadows and bean fields – a land rail – turns out fat and tender. Flavoured like the flesh of a woodcock, with a large and delicate liver.”

This description of the birds that folk used to eat which would be frowned on now reminds me of this piece…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/11/26/first-catch-your-blackbird-thrush-or-corncrake/

And, from Timothy, an observation on the ‘value’ of a boy from the ‘lower classes’…

“Daniel Wheeler’s boy comes into the garden.  He sizes me up, thinks avoirdupois and shillings and scarcity.  I weigh six pounds thirteen ounces and am extremely rare.  Original price half a crown, more than fifty years ago.  Undervalued even then.

But Daniel Wheeler’s boy has no market for me.  I live in the asparagus of his only buyer.  I size him up too.  Shanks like hop-poles.  Malevolent squint.  No market for him either.  No if England is at peace.”

Well observed Timothy.


Just before going to bed…..stood in the doorway….listening to the rain ….smelling the honeysuckle…..LIFE.


Here’s one I made earlier…… https://theorkneynews.scot/2017/11/13/how-i-see-the-whole-life-lovelightgodreiki-etc-etc-thing/


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