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Westray

Notes on a very small island

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

Windows

I love the windows of the old buildings on Westray in Orkney. The stonework is wonderful, the walls are so deep and …

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

Tentative

Arriving at Einar, the cattle are always keen to see what’s happening. They approach me with tentative noses:

Westray - The Bay of Skaill - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The Bay of Skaill

On a glorious day on Westray this boat on the Ouse on the Bay of Skaill makes a beautiful scene:

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

Curious wet nose

Westray is a farming and fishing island, with wildlife largely confined to the edges and margins. It is a very productive island …

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

Green-haired Limpet

I suspect this Limpet has been experimenting with a new hairstyle. That green hair must be quite high maintenance, because the waves …

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

Razorbills

Looking back at my photographs from 2017 I come across some which I haven’t posted. They are Razorbills. They nest along the …

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

Bridled Guillemot

Looking back at my photographs from Westray in 2017 I’m struck by this beautiful Bridled Guillemot. It’s a Guillemot, Uria aalge, but …

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

Cud

The sheep on Westray are hardy beasts. Here’s one with a white face doing what a sheep does best; chew:

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

Driftwood

There are precious few trees on Westray. Wood for buildings was a scarce material and driftwood was always salvaged by Islanders and …

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

Too much for dinner

The seals on Westray always look in such good condition when I see them: I’m hoping that’s because the seas are clean …

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

Plastic ocean

The coast of Westray is beautiful. Beautiful, but blighted. It’s the recipient of plastic rubbish from across the ocean. There are more …

Lichen on the rocks - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Trouble With Lichen

There’s lichen everywhere on Westray. It shows how clean the air is here, how salt-tolerant lichen is and also how difficult it …

Green Shore Crab - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Green Shore Crab

Have you ever noticed that crabs have their head inside their body? That can feel a little weird if you think about …

Raven's Nest - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The linguistic displacement of Ravens

There’s a Raven’s nest in this ruinous building on Westray: Ravens are special because, just like humans, they display linguistic displacement; they …

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

Vanessa through the ages

This summer I saw a Red Admiral butterfly in high winds feeding on Westray in Orkney: The scientific name of the Red …

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

The last call of the wilderness

Curlews are a familiar site on Westray. Their distinctive ‘Whaup whaup’ can seem very eerie when it echoes around the Island. The …

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

Sniff my fingers

Grey seals are very distinctive. This one was hauled out at Broughton in Pierowall. They have that famous Roman nose: I first …

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

Domestic

Puffins live so close together that there are frequent small territorial acknowledgements and disputes. They also pair for life so there are …

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

House proud

This Puffin was sitting outside its burrow in the soil at the top of the cliff last summer. Its mate was inside …

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

Puffin portraits

Puffins have a wide variety of poses which humans find appealing. We can easily imagine them as having human characteristics, or anthropomorphise …

Risso's Dolphin - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

When language is lacking

I’m on the deck of the Northlink ferry from mainland Scotland to Mainland Orkney when I see a black fin in the …