Bird and Dine visits the Orkneys
In early September, Bird and Dine took a trip to Orkney, staying for a week in a cosy bungalow on the Western Mainland. We took a trip on the Catamaran from Gills Bay near John O’ Groats to St. Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay. Despite strong winds, the ferry was pretty stable and we arrived unscathed and pleased that we had seen Black Guillemots and Common and Velvet Scoters during the trip, as well as Manx Shearwaters, Gannets and Fulmars.
During our week in the Orkneys, we spent three days being guided by Steve Sankey of Orcadian Wildlife – an excellent birder with extensive local knowledge and a great deal of archaeological know-how. Thanks to Steve, we saw a wide range of birds including Hen Harrier (nearly every day!), Merlin, Peregrine, Curlew Sandpiper, Great Skua, Short-eared Owl and Red-throated Diver, as well as a large school of Harbour Porpoises and many Grey and Common Seals.
We also visited many superb Neolithic sites, including Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar, and visited the beautiful islands of Rousay (part of the Orkney Islands), which boasts a huge collection of historical sites, and Hoy, which has magnificent scenery, superb military history and the amazing Dwarfie Stane. Hoy is also where White-tailed Eagles nested (albeit unsuccessfully) earlier this year. All those keen on Birding and Dining will be pleased to know that, with Steve Sankey’s help, we found four more candidates for Bird and Dine. On our return journey, we saw all the birds we had seen on our outward trip, as well as Sooty Shearwater (a first for some of us). So, if you haven’t been to Orkney before, we thoroughly recommend it. If you want to find out the details of where we were in Orkney, follow our news link to BirdandDine in the Orkneys!