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Westray Natural History

the natural history of Westray

The One Minute Puffin Cure

The One Minute Puffin Cure #5

Puffins are hunted by Great Skuas (known in Orkney as Bonxies). The Bonxies patrol the coast and appear, low and fast, unseen …

The One Minute Puffin Cure

The One Minute Puffin Cure #4

Alfred Schnabel, the incredible digging Puffin, almost throws himself off the cliffs in his Herculean efforts to dig grass roots out of …

The One Minute Puffin Cure

The One Minute Puffin Cure #3

Puffins are delightful to watch. The more you watch, the more you notice. The more you notice the less you understand. We …

The One Minute Puffin Cure

The One Minute Puffin Cure #2

It takes an extraordinary amount of time to keep in tip-top waterproof condition when you spend your time in the salty ocean. …

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

Sunday’s Puffin

And the Puffin that hatches on the Sabbath dayIs bonny and blithe and good and gay.

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

Hedgehogs are to blame

There was a Hedgehog in my garden in Orkney. We all ran outside to see it and it curled up in a …

Common Seal - 1970s Nature Notebooks - (c) David Bailey (not the)

Common Seal in the 1970s

Leafing through my childhood scrapbooks I come across a drawing of a Common Seal. It has all the characteristics of a Common …

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

The Bird by Edwin Muir

Here’s another of my favourite poems by Orcadian poet Edwin Muir. The Bird Adventurous bird walking upon the air,Like a schoolboy running …

Swift - Westray - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Swift by name

I’m used to seeing Swifts in Devon, high in blue skies, screaming. I spotted some recently in Reading, flying to and from …

Helophilus pendulus - Hoverfly - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Hoverflies on the cliffs

There are over 200 species of Hoverfly in the UK. I don’t know any of them and have to rely on support …

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

Nursery

There’s a beautiful nursery down below on these precarious cliffs: Adult Gannets are tending to their chicks and grooming themselves and each …

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

Pickieternos v Bonxies

Orkney has its own names for its birds. Many of these are from the Old Norse language and came with the Vikings …

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

Puffin with Sandeels

I’ve only had fleeting glances of Puffins with Sandeels as they whizz past at 30 miles per hour. I’m delighted to see …