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Westray

Notes on a very small island

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

Swallows and streamers

Scientists have placed Swallows into wind tunnels and studied the aerodynamics of their flight. Their long tail streamers appear to help their …

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

Hearts and Sea Pinks

The Sea Pinks are at their quivering best and this tight group in a cosy crevice has a heart-shaped stone for company. …

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

A world turned upside down

Ravens are wary birds. They recognise humans from a huge distance and fly away, because all of those who didn’t have been …

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

Like pebbles on a beach

Every beach on Westray has a different character. There are pure white shell sand beaches which wouldn’t be out of place in …

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

A pied landscape

Out past the beach and the relative calm of the Bay of Swartmill is a shattered and splintered landscape of monochrome rocks …

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

Industrious Linnets

I love to see Linnets, with their bouncing flight, and constant twittering. They are nesting in my garden again.

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

A splash of Sanderling

It’s a dull day but I’m forcing myself to go out. If you only ever went out on sunny days in Orkney, …

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

An egg on the edge

I’ve abandoned the car and I’m exploring some of the abandoned buildings of Westray. This building has what must be a piece …

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

Scolder

As soon as I walk anywhere on the coast of Westray, there’s a noisy complaint. The Shaalders, or Scolders, are out, and …

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

The Flower of the Vine returns

Wheatears are back on Westray. They’ve made their way from Africa to Westray to raise their families in hollows, rabbit burrows and …

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

Otherworld

I’m fascinated by the senses and consciousness of other species. They inhabit such strange ‘other’ worlds. Judging by how fascinated this Grey …

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

Eider Down

I’m walking in the far north of Westray. I’ve been scrambling up cliffs, walking across rocky beaches and yomping across grassy fields. …

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

Sandwich Tern dive

I’d like to know if there’s some research about the angle of dive which different tern species use. Is the angle they …

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

Orkney: a choice of islands

It would be easy to think, as an outsider, that Orkney is a single place. It isn’t. It’s a whole series of …

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

Oystercatcher in sunshine

Sometimes Oystercatchers call out in alarm as I approach. Sometimes they fly and harass me. Sometimes they just sit and watch. This …

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

Skylark on a stab

Walking, cycling or driving around Westray is accompanied by Skylarks tinkling and fluttering in the air. They’re either buried deep in cover, …

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

Terns in tandem

At this time of year there’s much interaction between Common Terns on Westray. They call, fly together, have mock-beak-battles and chase one …

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

Sanderling incoming

It’s a dull day when the Sanderling arrive. It’s soon bright and beautiful on the white shell sand beach as they pick …

Short Eared Owl - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Cattie-face

There’s been a Cattie-face (a Short-Eared Owl) hunting in Skelwick for months now. I see it often when I travel to the …

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

Sedge Warbler at Roadmire

It’s reassuring that the Sedge Warblers are back at Roadmire. Their song is an itch you just can’t scratch.

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

Feeding time

It’s important to time having your chicks at the time of maximum food abundance. The Starlings of Westray seem to have mastered …

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

A trip to the Arctics

I’m going on a trip to the Arctics. No, not the North Pole, I’m going on a trip to see the Arctic …

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

Scurrying Sanderling

Sanderling are one of my favourite wading birds. Actually, they’re one of the few species of waders I can identify reliably. I …

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

Honey Buzzard

Our friend Tina sends a message on the local wildlife WhatsApp Group. It’s a photograph of the back of her camera showing …

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

Eider

I’ve never had a close view of a male Eider drake before. And now I have. They’re sailing the coasts of Orkney …

Red-Backed Shrike - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Red-Backed Shrike

There’s been an influx of Red-Backed Shrikes throughout Orkney and Westray has had its fair share. I’ve seen one before, in Italy, …