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Environment / Fine weather helps to make purple heather more visible

Angela Irvine's recent picture of the heather in Whalsay.

ACROSS Shetland this summer people have been noticing just how vibrant the heather is looking – with some hills swathed in lively purple and pink.

The above photo, from Angela Irvine, shows the colours out in force recently at the Wast Loch of Skaw in Whalsay.

We asked Scottish Natural Heritage’s operations officer in Shetland Jonathan Swale if the heather was more purple this summer than usual.

It appears the fine weather has encouraged more heather flowers – the source of the purple and pink colours – to grow this year.

“The heather is putting on a good show this year – the warm, dry summer has persuaded it to produce more flowers than it normally does in Shetland,” Swale said.

“The flowers are tiny and dark pink so aren’t visible at a distance. The purple colour is a sort of pointillist effect – a result of tiny pink specks seen against a background of dark green foliage.

“In a normal Shetland summer the heather will produce flowers but not enough to change the overall colour much so they aren’t noticeable.”

Heather in the westside pictured last weekend.