June 2012

Harbour porpoises featured on 5 & 20/6 off Shapinsay & Hoxa Head respectively.

Interesting birds early in June included cuckoo (8/6) and siskins (10/6).  Perhaps the bird of the month, however, was a female surf scoter at Echnaloch, present from the 10/6 for a few days, in the company of some common scoters and a female long-tailed duck.

Mid-month interest was provided by a calling quail on 14/6; a turtle dove (14/6); and a great yellow bumblebee at Barth Head.  A visit to Eday on 15/6 enabled a count of the Calf cormorant colony at 300+birds.

April 2007

Cold, fresh weather, but memorable sightings to open our 2007 season…thousands of golden plover locally and the 1st summer visitors: wheatear, chiffchaff and whimbrel (15/4); followed by swallow on 16/4.

Stunning views of a displaying – skydancing – hen harrier on Hoy on 17/4, along with mountain hares and peregrine.

Winter birds such as slavonian grebe, long-tailed duck and great-northern diver all resplendent in summer plumage.

Lapwing, curlew and redshank are all displaying in the field immediately in front of the conservatory giving great views.

The first cetaceans of the season were seen off Hoxa Head – 3 harbour porpoises – on 29/4; and a splendid male whinchat obligingly perched right outside our conservatory for us on 30/4.

September and October 2006

We’ve been island hopping with our guests this month and have been to Eday, Rousay and Shapinsay in quick succession.

We pride ourselves in using gorgeous picnic spots – imagine rushing tides, red-throated divers sailing close past and fresh otter tracks…

Harbour porpoises have been much in evidence with lots of sightings.

The grey seals are noisy and are gathering in readiness for pupping.

The first purple sandpiper of the year back from the Arctic was spotted on Shapinsay on 13/9.

A stroll out to nearby Rose Ness on 15/9 produced a solitary sooty shearwater, heading northwards.

During the 1st week of October we held a photographic course and had at least 3 days of wonderful light – the resulting pics have been placed on the website under the Photo Holidays section.

We also saw the first long-tailed ducks back for the winter, buzzards (an Orkney rarity!), and brent geese.

Three days of stunning weather in mid October brought great sightings of slavonian grebes, scaup, grey seal pups and harbour porpoises.

May Highlights 2006

Migrants continue to pass through, with chiffchaff and lesser whitethroat seen at Gerraquoy on 6/5, and a female whinchat on 11/5.

In a glorious spell of weather a day tour on 9/5 produced allsorts, from Risso’s dolphins offshore, seabirds back on the crags, great-northern divers and long-tailed duck resplendent in breeding plumage, and two ringtail harriers at breathtakingly close range.

Scottish primroses were resplendent in flower mid month, and the sea pinks and squill adding hues to the cliffs by the month end.

Great views of all seabirds, including puffins at close range.

Weather amazing – bright and dry for much of the month, with a north-westerly wind to keep us moving.

On 29/5 some guests from London were amused by a lengthy and noisy squabble outside the conservatory between our local pair of Arctic Skuas, a family of oystercatchers and curlews, and some gulls!