Arctic Terns on North Ronaldsay

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:

North Ronaldsay - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

We did the excursion last year and had a wonderful time:

Special Sunday Excursion to a living island

I’m excited to see the Arctic Terns:

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s not possible to avoid them:

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

If you visit the Island you are likely to be mobbed by them:

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

This year I finally see why, when I notice one on a nest on the rocky beach:

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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:

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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:

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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:

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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:

North Ronaldsay - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Previous Post
Black Guillemot - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

An afternoon with the Black Guillemots

Black Guillemots are stunning birds in their summer breeding plumage. Here on Westray they nest on the cliffs and crags, with eggs and ... Read more

Next Post
Razorbill meets Puffin - The Hall of Einar

Razorbill and Puffin meet

https://youtu.be/e2Gbh2zBM3E I'm sitting on the cliffs of Westray on a beautiful day. I'm wearing full camouflage. I've been taking photographs of birds as ... Read more

Feel free to leave a Reply :)