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Westray Natural History

the natural history of Westray

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

Not every Puffin makes it

Puffins face constant threats. There are Great Skuas overhead every day on the lookout for the weak, the old, the unwary, or …

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

Flocking heaven

Getting a photograph of a Puffin flock is tricky. They’re fast and fly with seemingly random twists and turns. Too few birds …

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

Rock Pipits close up

It’s taken me four years but I can now safely call myself a nature photographer. That’s worrying. The first time I was …

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

Puffin blow-dry

Some Puffins are just so… pristine. This one has definitely just had a cut and blow-dry. Don’t you love that feeling? When …

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

Razor totin’ Bill

I can’t hear the name Razorbill without hearing Howlin’ Wolf sing Wang Dang Doodle. Tell automatic slimTell razor totin’ jimTell butcher knife …

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

Ravens and rocks

The west coast of Westray has some of the best walking in the islands. There are fossilised remains of ripples on the …

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

Last call of the Curlew

Every time I mention that Curlews are threatened, that their populations are collapsing, that several of the species worldwide are threatened or …

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

Solan Goose

There’s time for a quick trip to Noup Head. Dramatic cliffs, tens of thousands of seabirds, breathtaking views over the Ocean. What’s …

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

Flying Aaks

There’s a low flying Guillemot coming past the bottom of the cliffs. It’s a great aerodynamic shape, although perhaps I should say …

Arctic Skua hunting Guillemot for fish - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Arctic Skua hunting sequence

Here’s a Guillemot flying past me on the west Westray coast. It’s a grey day, but the rain has cleared and there’s …

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

Arctic Skua

I’m walking the west coast of Westray again. It’s wild and wonderful. There are processions of Guillemots coming past fast and low. …

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

Bonxie ballet

Great Skuas are large birds. They’re the size of a gull. They are powerful and barrel-chested. Bonxie is their local name, originally …

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

A rare case of Kittiwake triplets

Kittiwakes are beautiful, elegant gulls. Yes, those words really do go together. The UK has 8% of the world’s population. It’s one …

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

The Three Ravens

Ravens are large and impressive birds. I’m at Noup Head, the lighthouse on Westray, when I see three of them arrive. “They …

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

i-Ronny

How much do we have the freedom to do whatever we please and how much are we blind robots carrying out biological …