Currently browsing category

Westray

Notes on a very small island

Grey Seal - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Have you seen a male Grey Seal?

The Grey Seals around Orkney are a classic combination of curious and wary. They are alternately fascinated by me and worried by …

Wheatear - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Wheatear

I’m flushing Wheaters with every walk and drive on Westray. There isn’t a path or a road which doesn’t have a wary …

Sanderling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Sanderling #4

The Sanderlings of summer on Westray were a joy to get close to. Lying on the beach, keeping still, and watching them …

Sunset Westray - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Sunset over the waves

It’s sunset on Westray and I’ve abandoned the car on the grass and marched off to the sea. It’s magnificent in this …

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Attacked by Arctic Terns

I’m off for a walk on the Westray coast. Today I’m heading from Mae Sands to the Knowe o’ Skea. It’s not …

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

Feeding the family

Being a baby bird means knowing when to keep your mouth open. Many have exaggerated gapes, decorated in bright colours to encourage …

Starlings - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Star Starling

When a Starling flies by I always take notice. They are spectacular birds, either on their own or in flocks of thousands …

Grey Seal - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Why the long face?

I’d like to know why Grey Seals have a long sloping head. What’s the evolutionary advantage? What’s the adaptation for? What does …

Horsetails at Roadmire - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Horsetails at Roadmire

The Horsetails at Roadmire are beautiful. Their stalks and leaves are covered in harsh mineral silica. They’re a bit scratchy and hard …

Wren - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Something’s moving

There’s something moving in the field next to Einar. I can see flower stalks trembling. It’s moving along behind the wall. All …

Sea Rocket - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Sea Rocket

There’s Sea Rocket, Cakile maritima, on the beach at the Bay of Swartmill. It’s a member of the mustard family. This is …

Telephone box - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

When technology meets Westray

Westray; where technology goes to die. On Westray things that you don’t expect to rust, to rot and to weather, do. Just …

Starlings - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Neighbours

Not everyone can get on. Conflict is inevitable. When we are all packed in too close to one another then tempers are …

Spray - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Splash!

The seas are magical here. There are exhilarating waves at the Knowe o’ Skea. Out on the skerries, the wary Shags gather, …

Common Gull - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Uncommon Common Gulls

There’s a young Common Gull, Larus canus, flying past. They are very elegant fliers: Just as we have done for much of …

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

Patterns

The Starlings at Einar make incredible abstract patterns on the wires.

Sanderling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Sanderling #3

Westray has a certain palette of colours. It’s a world of muted blues, greens and purples; of greys and more greys. The …

Potboiler in the midden - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Pot boiler in the midden

Westray has more archaeology than archaeologists. That means we are losing the most incredible evidence of previous civilisations with every tide and …

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

Dock

Stumbling across the thick grass behind the bay I see these tall flower spikes. I’m struck by their contrasting colours. And, as …

Sanderling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Sanderling #1

There are Sanderling on Mae Sands. They are energetic beyond imagination. They work the tideline as if their lives depend upon it, …

Turnstone - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Ruddy Turnstone

There’s a Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres on the beach at Mae Sands. It’s just turned this stone over. They are very smart in …

Ringed Plover - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Small, dumpy and short-legged

The RSPB says, “The ringed plover is a small, dumpy, short-legged wading bird.” Read more. That’s not very complimentary, is it? I …

Rope - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Coiled rope

It would be tempting to think that this coiled rope on Westray is a metaphor. It’s a call-back to the very first …

Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

A life of contrasts

In late summer I checked the outbuildings at Einar for Swallows. Many of the nests were empty. This one wasn’t. It must …

Grey Seal - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Hook-nosed Seapigs

The scientific name of the Grey Seal is Halichoerus grypus. It means Hook-nosed Seapig. Everyone needs a rest after eating. I was …

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

Peering Puffins

If Puffins can’t find an earth burrow, or if they live in a place with predators like rats and stoats, they will …