Sunday, October 26, 2014

Visiting Scotland-- a bit of wild Shetland

Last May I visited the Shetlands on a tour with Academic Arrangements Abroad and the Met. The northmost part of Scotland, they are beautiful!

Shetland, Scotland

First I looked out at the stunning view above, then down at the grass. Here you see plantains, Plantago lanceolata, flowering in the grass (blog on plantains).

Plantago lanceolata on the Shetlands
narrow-leafed plantain, Plantago lanceolata, in the grass

Everywhere you go along the North Atlantic in Europe in May, you see marsh marigolds, Caltha pallustris. They are pretty. They are also not eaten by the equally universal sheep.
Catha pallustris, Shetland, Shetland
marsh marigold, Caltha pallustis
sheep on Shetland
sheep on Shetland
We had beautiful weather for part of the day. Here is a panoramic view. And, on the sandy beach below, seals.

There was mist on the coast of course:

Shetland Islands

sheep in the mist, Shetland
sheep in the mist
Hanging from the cliffs were lovely spring wildflowers. Below, the pink flowers on the cliff edge are thrifts (or sea thrifts and sea pinks, Armeria maritima in the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae).

pink thrifts hang from the cliff
pink thrifts (Armeria maritima) on the cliff edge
We continued to Sumburgh Head to look at the shore birds nesting there. Below, center, is a puffin. (And more in the background). Many seabirds nested on the cliffs, each with their preferred elevation above the sea.

puffin, Shetland

The lichens on the rocks were a source of amazement to me. I had read of Scots dyeing with lichens and couldn't imagine how they could gather enough to dye much of anything. But the lichens were thick on rockwork that was relatively new, so apparently some grow rapidly.

lichens, Shetland
tall lichens (1 cm to 1 inch tall)
Or course we wanted to see "Shetland ponies." Alas, I didn't get anything other than the daisies into the picture for scale, so it is hard to see they are petit. (The daisies are the common daisy, lawndaisy, English daisy, Bellis perennis, sunflower family, Asteraceae, the short one found growing in lawns, not what I called "daisy" as a child, the ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare).

horses, Shetland

There were more wildflowers than I could photograph, but here are a few:

Shetland Islands
a cinquefoil, Potentilla
Shetland, Scotland

Shetland, Scotland
a violet
or reach

I saw only part of two of the islands that make up the Shetland group. There is a lot there to explore!

Comments and corrections welome.

Kathy Keeler

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