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Westray Natural History

the natural history of Westray

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

Linnet at West Kirbest

A trip to West Kirbest results in a beautiful view of this male Linnet in full breeding plumage: It’s a farmland bird. …

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

Bridled Guillemot

Visiting Noup Head on Westray is always exhilarating. It’s even more exhilarating the closer you get to the edge of the cliffs. …

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

Lichen on cobbles

I’ve been inspired by seeing how limpets have colonised a crack in a rock from year to year. I think I might …

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

Sunset Puffins

It’s a distinctive silhouette which has graced the shores of the UK for thousands of years. But now, due to marine pollution …

One Minute Puffin Cure #8

The One Minute Puffin Cure #8

Comical Puffins in golden sunlight on Westray: Recorded using a tiny remote control camera at the Castle o’ Burrian on Westray in …

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

Blackbird on Westray

The light is beautiful on this Blackbird. Aren’t they perky birds? I first drew them in 1977: My drawings may not have …

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

House Sparrow

This House Sparrow on Westray is part of a sizeable flock. It’s just as much a pleasure to see one now as …

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

Kittee-wa-aaake

The Kittiwakes at Noup Head are mesmerising. This one is a juvenile, flying freely, far above the sparkling sea below: I love …

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

Seals and Salmon

It’s siesta time for the Common Seals at Broughton on Westray. It’s a time to let their food go down, let their …

One Minute Puffin Cure #7

The One Minute Puffin Cure #7

Comical Puffins in golden sunlight on Westray: Recorded using a tiny remote control camera at the Castle o’ Burrian on Westray in …

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

Collapsed burrows

The headlands and inlets of Westray are covered in spongy tufts of damp grass. Beneath them lie normally invisible tunnels. They are …

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

Fulmars

The Fulmars look beautiful in this light. They look odd on land because they sit low down on their feet rather than …

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

The Fulmars of Backarass

We’re walking down past Backarass on Westray. It’s a special landscape of shattered rocks and still pools: The weather is fabulous and …

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

Pottering Puffins

I’m pottering and decide to have a look at this summer’s Puffin portraits. There are a few I haven’t developed yet. I …

One Minute Puffin Cure #6

The One Minute Puffin Cure #6

It’s time for another One Minute Puffin Cure. Recorded using a tiny remote control camera at the Castle o’ Burrian on Westray …

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

Puffincoming!

Looking back at some of this summer’s Puffin photographs I find a sequence I really enjoy which I haven’t developed. How entertaining …

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

Grass of Parnassus

Scattered across the rough grass behind Rack Wick bay are delicate limpid flowers. They are Grass of Parnassus. It’s a plant of …

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

Parasiticus

Animal behaviour is happening all around us; curious acts, of ancient origin, repeated in ever-changing patterns. Living things are incredibly complex, but …

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

Scootie Allan

On our walk around Papa Westray we are excited to see Arctic Skuas. At least we are until they attack us. There’s …

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

“I’m shy!”

Not everyone wants their photograph taken. Especially when you’re just getting ready to go out.

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

A floating circus

I’ve heard of a travelling circus. I’ve heard of a flying circus. But a floating circus? That’s a new one on me. …

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

Biting Stonecrop

There’s a tiny patch of Biting Stonecrop on the stone wall outside my window. I wonder if it was planted there? It’s …

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

The Kray Twins

There’s a young Great Skua ahead. That spells danger. There must be an adult or two around somewhere and I feel my …

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

Skua Patrol

Great Skuas eat fish, carrion or other birds. I’ve seen them pluck another bird clean out of the air and head down …

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

Dull Dunlin day

It’s a dull day today. There’s a sea haar which is muting every colour to an Orkney pallet and reducing shadows to …

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

Island of contrasts

Walking to the north coast of Westray I’m struck by how diverse the views are. Here are Curlews on the bay with …

Great Black Backed Gull - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Great Black Backed Gull

Great Black Backed Gulls are properly massive. And I mean massive. And their beaks? Massive too. Seeing one call overhead on Westray …