Signs of the Times…….Painting on Stone…..Orion over Brodgar….

by Bernie Bell - 11:04 on 06 August 2022


There’s a family of Greenfinches in one of our sycamore trees – so we presume that they were nesting near there.  We always like to see evidence of  creatures making their home in the garden.  A  Wren started to scold us every time we walked by the honeysuckle on the garage wall – so we walked round a different way.  When we trim the honeysuckle in the winter – what’s the chances that we find a little Wren’s nest there?

The appetite of the young Sparrers and Starlings means that we need to re-fill the bird feeder every second day – my but they quarrel!  Two young Thrushes on the terrace – broken snail shells on the stones.

The Black-knapweed is flowering – a sure sign of Autumn on the way – and when that seeds it’ll attract Goldfinches which we love to see – they’re so bright as they flash across the garden.  Jackie Morris & Robert MacFarlane like Goldfinches too…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-XY7ibb990

Berries are appearing on the trees and bushes – one Swedish Whitebeam has great clusters of them – not ripe yet - a Blackcurrant bush in the hedge has berries which are already softening and won’t last long once the blackbirds notice them.

Now that the weather is warmer our neighbours Peacocks are coming  outside and we hear them calling – a weird sound in the Orkney countryside.  I’m hoping for a feather…….

There’s a Vole run by the front of our house, where they come out from under the concrete path and dash across into the long grass of the meadow – we’ve seen them doing so a few times – and now they’re leaving their mark! 

We used to have a lot of Orkney Voles in the meadow – then the Stoats arrived and the numbers dropped dramatically.   We haven’t seen Voles in the meadow for the last couple of years.  There is now a Stoat eradication programme and it looks like it’s been effective as this year - the Voles are back!

‘Eradication’ may seem like a harsh approach but……well….I’ve been into and through this subject before, so I’ll just post this…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/01/28/be-ware-of-stoats/

The return of the Voles meant the return of the Hen Harriers and the Short-eared Owl – who we weren’t seeing as regularly as we used to.  There’s a new addition to the birds of prey - a Sparrow-hawk – but I think he’s after the sparrers – fat little peanut-fed beasts that they are!

The garden, and the year, moves on……


Painting on Stone….

Pics by Jeanne Bouza-Rose

I mentioned that Jeanne would be experimenting with painting on stone at the Ness of Brodgar Open Day  …..  http://www.spanglefish.com/berniesblog/blog.asp?blogid=15837.  Her aim was to work with how the Neolithic folk might have applied pigments – we know they made them and used them - Jeanne wondered exactly how they applied pigment to stone so Jeanne, Kim ( volunteer digger at the Ness) and many interested visitors did so using sticks, spatulate tools, feathers,  moss, seed-heads (notice the ‘flower power’ shape you can make with the end of a poppy seed-head – groooovy!) – maybe fingers………


Jeanne sent some more photos - which are most excellent – very colourful – or  is that a very obvious thing to say?


There were even some colourful spirals…….


It’s good to see the young ones getting involved, and it wasn’t all about the actual act of painting - there were discussions about evidence which has been found that pigments were mixed with animal and dairy fats to produce a suitable consistency – so they were learning, while having fun.  Maybe they’ll go home and continue to experiment…


While on the subject of Brodgar – but this time the Ring of…. I came across this….. https://frontiersmagazine.org/on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven-was-orion-linked-to-orkneys-neolithic-heartland/

Well…well….well….worth thinking about in relation to September’s Brodgar walk with the OISF…. https://oisf.org/fest-event/outing-the-ring-of-brodgar/

When I left home in early October 1974, my friend and I agreed to look up to Orion and….connect.  Yorkshire - Wales - Orion shines above both.

That’s set me off singing ‘The Arms of Orion’ by Prince – this blog is nothing if not varied!


And here’s one I made earlier…… https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/01/06/the-wylie-risotto-a-hand-written-recipe/



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