Wednesday, 11 February 2015


A simple title for this post, but a great week was had on a very cold and windy Orkney. We stayed in a fabulous barn conversion not from St Margarets Hope on South Ronaldsay only 10 minutes from the ferry.

We toured the whole of Mainland Orkney, South Ronaldsay and the small islands in between, with a day out on Hoy as well. I won't go into all the places we visited, there were too many! But from a birding point of view it was a great success not to mention the absolutely stunning scenery.

We managed a total of 61 species with some great highlights and a new species for us as well, a Glaucous Gull:
We had great sightings of Hen Harrier too, with one flying past the lounge window of our Barn on a couple of occasions, but we got the closest though from the RSPB hide at the Loons:
We did see a male as well but we were driving at the time and he quickly moved out of range of the camera. One of our target species was Long-tailed Duck, these are Tina's absolute favourite and we saw them regularly especially from the Churchill Barriers, but not close enough for good photos, but for the record:
We had hoped to see all three Divers, but no matter how we searched we only found the Great Northern:

The only down side that we found on Orkney was getting close to the birds and two of the RSPB sites being closed, anyway what else did we see.....
St Mary's Harbour on the mainland was a favourite spot as me passed through it most mornings and evenings, in addition to the above Diver, it gave us;

Ringed Plover:
Slavonian Grebe:
At the Geo Slipway at Deerness we added Purple Sandpiper:
and a Rock Pipit in the snow:
Whooper Swans were on a number of the Lochs:
and flocks of Lapwing were to be found most places:
Curlew were abundant as well:
Every where that we went on the Lochs and Coast were Wigeon, as much as I love Wigeon, it got to the point that we would stop and look and go, "oh, its just Wigeon again!"
Later in the week after the gale force winds had subsided we started seeing a fair number of Black Guillemot about:
On the Thursday we went over to Hoy for the day, this I recommend to anyone visiting Orkney, it is easy to get around and it is stunning. We didn't walk to the Old Man as we wanted to explore the island and doing the walk wouldn't have left us enough time, so that's planned in for our next visit in 2016 or 17!

A couple of real highlights on Hoy were a flotilla of circa 200 Long-tailed Ducks, viewed from the road down in a bay, but there was no way down to get close for a photo. We then saw our only Buzzard of the trip followed by some Winter Coated Mountain Hare:
We also came across a gaggle of Barnacle Geese which was brilliant:

Finally on the last day we came across another Glaucous Gull:
So a brilliant trip, we are already looking forward to going back some time


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