Early July started with a wonderful visit to Westray and its puffins & gannetry on 3/7, where we also saw a swift overhead. Star of the day though was the “Westray Wifie” or the “Westray Venus”, a 4,800 year-old human figurine, the oldest ever to be found in Scotland, a piece of neolithic rarity on display in the Westray Heritage Centre.
Our annual trip to Shetland went well, with sightings of orca (pod of 4 moving through Yell Sound on 15/7); otters and the usual close up views of gannets at Hermaness and puffins at Hermaness and Sumburgh.
Meanwhile back in Orkney, we’re seeing whimbrel & sparrowhawk almost daily in late July, meaning the late Summer passage has begun.
A basking shark off Burwick on 27/7; and several sightings of harbour porpoises, including at least 10 off Rerwick Head on 30/7, was a fine way to see out the month.
The 1st week of July gave a superb adult yellow (white)-billed diver, just down the road in Water Sound from 2/7 onwards.
Other unusual sightings included a cuckoo (1/7) and lesser redpolls (4/7).
Excellent sea conditions on 3/7 produced a minke whale and 3 harbour porpoises from Cantick Head on Hoy.
In Shetland 7 – 21/7 with 2 one-week tours, wildlife highlights being a solitary bull orca on 14/7 in Yell Sound, and lots of close-up views of puffins and otters.
Back home a harbour porpoise and 11 puffins off Hoxa on 28/7, and a solitary swift at Deerness on 31/7.
The whimbrel passage may have started early with birds at Gerraquoy on 4/7 and nearby at Eastside on 5/7.
Glorious colonies of oysterplant flowering on local beaches in early July, along with sea rocket and sea kale.
A very young common seal pup hauled itself ashore just yards away from us at a local beach on 7/7 and promptly fell asleep!
We saw an otter cross the road by # 1 Barrier late at night on 11/7.
On 13/7 we saw our 1st Minke whale of the season off Grimness Head along with two harbour porpoises.
Indications that the breeding season is over for another year included hen harrier and short-eared owl at Gerraquoy on 19/7 – we will see these birds regularly at home for the next few weeks.
Two guests went off to Rackwick Bay on Hoy and had great views of a basking shark on 26/7.
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.