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Westray Natural History

the natural history of Westray

Groatie Buckies - The Hall of Einar

Groatie Buckies

On the table in the Groatie Buckies cafe on Westray, run by Stewart and Marian Groat, is a jar of Groatie Buckies. …

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

Seal haul

In Pierowall on Westray in Orkney, the seals haul themselves up onto the rocks in the Bay. They lie scattered like the …

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 …

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 …

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 …