The team here at Pure Orkney have the privilege of being able to immerse ourselves in the wonderful world that is birding in Orkney on a daily basis. We would like to take you along with us to show you the spectacle of the seabird colonies perched on the precipitous cliffs and the abundant waders which breed in our islands. Our tours are all about maximising your experience of birding on our islands.
Orkney has long played a critical role in the migration strategies of many species who use our islands as a stopover, rest and replenish point during their long journeys to and from their respective breeding grounds. .Others see these islands as the destination point of their migration. These include some real long distance travellers such as the Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaea) which return each year from the oceans surrounding Antarctica where they over winter on the abundant food supplies the southern oceans provide.
During the spring the sea birds such as the Puffins (Fratercula), Razorbills (Alca torda) and Guillemots (Uria aalge) to name but a few start to come back closer to land and onto the colonies which surround the coast of Orkney on most of the larger cliff areas. These mixed colonies can range from small ones of a hundred or two birds to vast colonies such as Noup Head on Westray or Marwick head in Birsay where several thousands of birds gather for the annual breeding season. These breeding colonies are in the main dispersed by the end of July with only Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) left to occupy the ledges.
Waders such as the Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) and Curlew (Numenius) also breed on the archipelago during the summer making use of the abundant supply of invertebrates to rear their young. Orkneys areas of low agricultural usage such as wet meadows are ideal habitat for them and also have the advantage of a generally fairly soft soil structure to aid in feeding. Waders of all types are very cautious breeders, keeping a very low profile in the landscape with their nests. During the spring and the early summer months the air is filled with the calls of waders and the drumming of Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) drumming. Next to the visual excitement of sea bird colonies this chorus of waders must be the second most memorable thing of a summer trip to see the birds of Orkney.
Due to Orkneys position during the migration periods of spring and autumn almost anything can appear on these islands, blown in on winds from the west can be American birds such as Vereo (Vereonidae) making the journey across the Atlantic ocean driven by low pressure systems or indeed Siberian Ruby-throat (Luscinia calliope) making the long journey from the depths of Asia. These it has to be said are specialities which only occur once in a lifetime. However, as the autumn migration gets underway the millions upon millions of birds which have been breeding, along with their progeny of the season take the first steps on the long journey to the wintering grounds. Should this coincide with easterly winds the islands can wake up and be flooded with all kinds of passerines ranging from Goldcrests (Regulus regulus) to Wood warblers ( Phylloscopus sibilatrix) and many others in between.
So let us here at Pure Orkney take the strain and provide you with the birding memories of your holiday here in Orkney. We will provide you with the ability to extract as much as possible from your visit to the northern isles of Scotland by careful itinerary planning and on the ground local knowledge of what is happening. Don't delay contact us now for availability and booking for season 2016 by clicking here.