Well, July has turned out to be a busy month for me, which is great! I had many changes to make in preparation for restarting my walks on the 18th July. Some were easy, but others took a bit of time, research and decision making.

I have reviewed the walks on offer, some have been removed for this season, but I intend to offer them again next year, all being well. It was a difficult decision to make, deciding which ones to keep, but I tried to think of social distancing, plenty parking and ones where there would still be plenty to see at this time of year/throughout the year. Unfortunately, I have made the decision not to do any island trips this year, purely due to the issues of social distancing with a group on the ferries but I really hope that I can offer them again next season.

I have added in some new walks – Hidden Gems – all of these I did regularly while we were in lockdown and they are all on my patch, so you have the benefit of my local knowledge. There are a variety of different walks and I have split them into short walks (2-3 hours) and long walks (4-6 hours).

Hidden Gem, Orphir

The more fun part of my preparation for re-opening, was the walk recces which I absolutely love doing! Thankfully, I have an enthusiastic group of friends who are keen to come out on recces with me, so it is more realistic in terms of timings, but also really good fun! After I have done the recces, I then type up the risk assessment, update the website, and create the walk folder.

Walk recce, Yesnaby (Photo Graeme Walker)

Wildlife News

I have enjoyed some really lovely walks this month, especially as we are now able to travel further. I have explored some new bits of coastline in South Ronaldsay, and one walk in particular we went to find the beautiful Sheepsbit, which only grows in 2 locations in Orkney.

Sheepsbit, South Ronaldsay

This month has been fantastic for butterflies and moths – lots of Common Blues, Meadow Browns and Magpie Moths seen on most of my walks.

Magpie Moth
Common Blue butterflies on Valerian

It has been lovely getting back out to the cliffs, especially the Yesnaby coastline where I’ve been lucky to do 2 different walk recces there with friends. It’s a fabulous bit of coastline at any time of year with dramatic cliffs and seas, but the wildlife at the moment is just amazing, and who could resist stopping to soak up this view.

Admiring the view (Photo Graeme Walker)

There are lots of seabirds around, it is so lovely to see and hear them again, and of course the “fluffballs” (Fulmar chicks) have appeared this month – they are so cute!

Fulmar Chick

The biggest news/excitement, is that I have finally managed a trip to Hoy, in fact, I have managed 2 trips within a week! The last time I had been to Hoy was 6th March, and in a “normal” year, I would be over at least once a week as part of the RSPB Eaglewatch team, but often more if I had bookings for my Hoy walks. It was a momentous occasion, and I was very excited – my friends will vouch for that! While I was desperate to see the White-Tailed Eagles before the young fledged, my friend was desperate to see a dragonfly, as it had been 11 months to the day since his last dragon. It was a fabulous day with sightings of the young eagles still at the nest, plus 5 species of dragons/damsels so a successful day all round!

Large Red Damselfly, Hoy
Hoy

This last week of July has been a mixed bag of weather, some nice days and some wet & windy. But on the good days, I have been out and about, both with friends, and also with customers on my walks. It is so amazing to have the opportunity to share our fabulous wildlife and scenery with visitors again – I get a real buzz after being out with folk, it makes me so happy!