June is just a beautiful month, not least because the sea pinks and squill adorn the cliffs.
Interesting birds have included a Manx shearwater in Scapa Flow (2/6); a summering whooper swan at the Brodgar Pools on 7/6; 2 common sandpipers at Graemeshall Loch on 8/6; and 2 crossbills at Rackwick on Hoy on 10/6.
We have also had stunning close up views of hen harrier, short-eared owl, merlin & peregrine early in the month.
We also opened our cetacean account with a pod of Risso’s dolphins in Birsay Bay on 7/6, and saw 4 harbour porpoises off The Ool on Switha on 10/6.
Rarest sighting of the month was of 2 beetles, too rare to have an English name, Chrysolina intermedia, lovely ladybird-sized beetles with deep red stripes along their lower backs.
Later in the month we saw a pintail with a brood of 5 ducklings (16/6); peregrines with well grown young; and a quail at Marwick on 17/6.
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!
We saw day-old lapwing chicks being brooded by their mother, and a 2nd year immature glaucous gull (12/6), just to remind guests how close we are to the Arctic.
Meanwhile the sea pinks and squill were in full bloom on the cliffs and the orchids in the rough.
On 16/6 we watched a pod of 7 orcas – yes, killer whales – for over half an hour from the conservatory!
Another amazing experience on 28/6: first, sightings of harbour porpoise, but followed by gymnastics from a pod of 5 Risso’s dolphins. The dolphins entered Scapa Flow from our vantage point at Hoxa Head and as we watched them for an hour or more they lazed on the surface, “spy-hopped” and breached before our very eyes.
How could you follow that? Answer – only 50 metres away, a fresh common seal pup, all dewy eyed and appealing….
Then we saw the month out in fine style on 30/6 with wonderful views of a rare American migrant – a Laughing gull adult – on the nearby island of Burray.