Currently browsing category

Westray Natural History

the natural history of Westray

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, …

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

Pipit, pipit

Meadow Pipits have a rather serious, stoic look. There are hundreds of families of Meadow Pipits on Westray, and, as I stood …

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

Life and death on the waves

Strange things happen in the natural world. Here’s a photograph from a sequence that I’m still mentally processing. From left to right: …

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

Arctic Terns and Lumpsuckers

Watching Arctic Terns pull Lumpsuckers out of the water is a thrill. I love the spray of water around this one and …

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

About turn

I love the way that Hen Harriers can turn so quickly. The combination of strong wings and a long tail mean they …

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

Whoopers

I’ve not seen a Whooper Swan before so it’s a thrill to spot a couple on the Loch of Swartmill. They’re handsome …

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

Harrying

My favourite sight is a Hen Harrier harrying.

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

Diving Arctic Tern

Something I enjoyed this summer was taking multiple exposures of some of the bird species on Westray and creating composite images from …

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

Flatfish

What’s actually happening isn’t what appears to be happening. It’s laughing at the other one’s fish flapping in the wind, isn’t it? …

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

Swallow shuteye

When the sun shines in Orkney, it’s best to make good use of it. This Swallow agreed.

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

Aerial ballet

I’ve been enjoying reviewing some of my images from Orkney Mainland taken this summer and this one, from a sequence I took …

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

Dunlin

I love to see Dunlin on the tideline.

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

Merlin

Every time I see a Merlin it’s a fleeting glance. It’s either only resting for a second before heading off to hunt …

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

Singing in the bath

I’m driving along the car-bottom-scraping track to Noup Head. It’s first gear all the way unless I want to have my exhaust …

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

Golden Plover

I’ve never had the chance to see Golden Plover close up before. Whenever I’ve driven past a field of them on Westray …

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

The Raven and the Rabbit’s head

Ravens are so difficult to get close to. Their eyesight is exceptional and they recognise any threat from a great distance. They’re …

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

Claws

The hind claws of Meadow Pipits really are something special. Just look at them: The long hind claw is probably an adaptation …