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Westray Natural History

the natural history of Westray

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

Curlew

It’s a warm evening, bathed in orange light. I hear the call first. Then it’s the flypast. It’s a Curlew. There’s been …

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

Wrens

There is a family of Wrens flitting along the field boundary in front of us. They’re working the margins for insects and …

Westray - The Hall of Einar

The pool

There’s a rock pool fed with fresh water fram a tiny waterfall on the west coast of Westray. I love how green …

Great Skuas and Kittiwake - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Escape?

After seeing a couple of successful attacks by Great Skuas against juvenile Kittiwakes I feared the worst when this one strayed over …

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

Great Northern Diver

I had such a wonderful time last winter going to see Great Northern Divers in Brixham in Devon. I was able to …

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

A lone Swift at Noup Head

There’s a Swift at Noup Head on Westray. Swifts are called that for a reason. Can you see the fly it’s about …

I Dream of Puffins 75 x 50cm - The Hall of Einar

I Dream of Puffins

I dream of Puffins. I dream of being out on the soft, grassy cliffs and being surrounded by quirky birds cocking their …

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

Sunset and the whale

When you can see the horizon, on days when you can spin and see the sea and the clouds surrounding you, there’s …

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

Light and shade

I’m walking the wild west coast of Westray again. It’s magnificent. For a few months each year it’s inhabited by Arctic Skuas, …

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

If ever I could fly

Of all the birds of the sea, the greatest fliers are the Fulmars: There is no bird so alive to the shifting …

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

Peregrination

We’re walking the coast of Westray when I see it perched there. “There!” I say to the Puffin Whisperer, as I crouch …

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

Noticing

Noticing. It’s a newly fashionable word. I used to say observing. It’s something I do all the time. Noticing. The act by …

The Gift - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

The Gift

I spent many days with the Puffins on the coast of Westray this summer. All were a joy. Some days were too …

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

A Comedy of Puffins

These Puffins have quite a lot to say to one another. They’re surprisingly social birds, with calls, displays and occasional disputes with …

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

Sedge Warblers

I’ve had great views of Sedge Warblers in Somerset. They manage to fly non-stop from sub-Saharan Africa to the exact spot they …

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 …