If you’re on Westray in Orkney you have a once a year chance to get a ferry direct to the neighbouring island, North Ronaldsay as part of Orkney Ferries’ Summer Excursions. It’s worth the journey:
We did the excursion last year and had a wonderful time:
I’m excited to see the Arctic Terns:
It’s not possible to avoid them:
If you visit the Island you are likely to be mobbed by them:
This year I finally see why, when I notice one on a nest on the rocky beach:
It seems very late in the season to be sitting on eggs. Maybe this pair have already raised a successful brood and are having a second? I didn’t think Arctic Terns did that. Maybe they were unsuccessful first time round and are having another go? Is there enough of the summer left, I wonder? Maybe I’ve just got my timing all wrong and it’s normal breeding time for them.
The adult flies and I see two beautiful eggs where she was a moment before:
There are hundreds of sea swallows in the skies as we walk along the track:
In Orkney they are known as Pickieternos. It’s not the most poetic of names.
Their beaks are such crisp perfection:
I love how they tuck their legs in so tightly to maintain their aerodynamic shape. Any wind drag would be a serious impediment in their migration of tens of thousands of miles a year, as they experience two summers a year. They cover one and a half million miles in their lifetime, so being aerodynamic has a high priority:
Then it’s time to amble down to the ferry for our trip home. It’s been magnificent. Here’s a view of North Ronaldsay. On a day like today it’s one of the Caribbean islands of Orkney: