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Westray

Notes on a very small island

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 …

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

Mr Punch

It’s Mr Punch on the rocks on Westray.

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

The magic of a Merlin

At the very north of Westray the coast is exposed. In the far distance I can see a falcon. It’s so far …

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

Twite

There are small brown birds on the lichen-covered rocks on the coast of Westray. It takes me a while to identify them. …

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

Redshanks

Redshanks must be one of the most annoying birds for British birdwatchers. They are beautiful, active, entertaining to watch and have great …

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

Puffins on the rocks

It’s good to enjoy the Puffins while we can. They are critically endangered. They are ‘red listed’ which means they are at …

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

Compass Jellyfish

I’ve been very lucky with jellyfish this summer on Westray. The jellyfish haven’t been quite so lucky. This looks like a Compass …

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

The Fulmar Triathlon

Fulmars are one of my favourite birds. All animals have some sort of compromise in their bodies because of the range of …

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

Sea Rocket

Sea Rocket covers the top of many beaches on Westray. Cakile maritima has either white or a pinky-lilac shade of flowers. Here’s …

Orkney Door Handle - the Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Orkney door handle

In Orkney wood rots and metal rusts. Door handles fall off. A piece of twine through a hole though? A piece of …

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

Sand Martins

The Sand Martins are teetering on the edge of leaving Westray now. Their chicks must be fully grown and there are only …

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

Gertrude Tanglewing

It’s been a very blustery day, it’s nearly dark and I’m just settling down for the evening when there’s an urgent message …

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

A pot boiler

Imagine you have no technology other than fire, stone, wood and bone. How would you cook food, other than directly by roasting …

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

Tangled roots

Grass looks so unremarkable and is so ever-present in Orkney that it takes something special to shock me into considering it from …