I am absolutely delighted to say that May has been a very busy month for walks. I have several bookings now for June and July, and I have a very busy period where I am almost fully booked from the 3rd to 16th June inclusive. I do have some spaces on mixed group walks in this period though, so please do get in touch or check out the Walk Availability page.
There has been a nice mixture of mixed group walks, wildlife tours and bespoke walks, and in true Orkney style there has been a variety of weather conditions from warm sunshine to wind, rain and fog. But it takes more than a bit of wind and rain to stop me from going out!
My walks during May have been at a variety of locations including Mull Head, Flotta, Orphir and Burwick. It has also been nice to fit in some Evening Walks towards the end of the month. Below are a selection of photos and some quotes from the lovely reviews that I have received.
“My wife and I had a very enjoyable walk around Mull Head with Megan last week. Megan is an expert in her field and even though I have been watching wildlife for over 50 years I still learned from her. My wife isn’t as experienced as myself but she thoroughly enjoyed Megan’s help with identifying birds and animals .“
“Lovely walk around Mull headland on Orkney with a highly knowledgeable guide, Megan. We saw a excellent range of sea birds including Skuas and Divers. So good that walks are limited to small numbers which allows greater chance of seeing birds etc and chance to learn from Megan. Thoroughly recommended.“
“We very much enjoyed our 4 hour walk with Megan. Lovely company and a relaxed and knowledgeable guide. It was one of the highlights of our holiday – and there were quite a few of those! We have been inspired to learn more. I can’t recommend more highly.“
2 Bays Walk
“We had an Absolutely brilliant wildlife walk with Megan! She is so knowledgeable and the walk was so informative. She is just so enthusiastic and interesting! Excellent day out!“
“We enjoyed a really interesting walk with Megan around the coast of Orkney today. Megan is very knowledgeable regarding birds and flowers and we came away having learned a lot! It was a bit windy but we were informed that it was no more than an Orkney “breeze”, which was funny. We thoroughly enjoyed Megan’s relaxed and genuine company.“
“Thank you Megan for the lovely walk to Marwick Head with my daughter Suzie. I was a bit concerned being on crutches but you found a lovely way for me to see the sea birds. I hope you have a wonderful season.“
Evening Wildlife Walks
“Really enjoyed my evening wildlife walk at Yesnaby. Megan was very knowledgeable and her enthusiasm was infectious, I wish I’d had time to sign up for more walks! I will definitely book again on my next trip to Orkney.“
“Great 2 hour nature walk near the Ring of Brodgar. Megan did an excellent job of pointing out flowers and birds. I am visiting from the US and appreciated the fun and relaxed introduction to Orkney wildlife. Also, the area itself is beautiful in the evening light. Thank you Megan!“
I managed to fit in a day trip to Westray with my partner, in early May, just before I started to get really busy. We enjoyed some nice walks, a picnic on the beach and managed to fit in a visit to the Castle o’Burrian to see the puffins, before catching the ferry home.
This year I am offering a day trip to Flotta and I was delighted to receive a booking for it from 2 American clients who also booked me for a day of wildlife guiding on Hoy. Although the weather wasn’t on our side, we did still see some lovely birds and wildflowers.
For Flotta, I offer 2 different circular walks, both of which are approx. 5-6 miles in length. During May, and then again later in August and September, I will walk around the west side of Flotta to Kirk Bay where we are walking a track through heather moorland. During June, July and early August, I follow the road round to Kirk Bay, then we go along the coastal path to Stanger Head. Both walks are very beautiful and offer a fantastic variety of wildlife.
My next trip to Flotta will be on Monday 13th June and there are still a few spaces on this trip.
For my client’s day on Hoy, I had created an itinerary for them based on what they were interested in trying to see. As we had been on Flotta the day before walking, I did a mixture of shorter walks and wildlife watching. I also booked us lunch at one of the local cafes. We enjoyed nice views of Red-throated divers and watched an adult White-tailed eagle, but the highlight for my American clients was watching 3-4 Reed Buntings down at Rackwick. The Reed Bunting was a lifer for the birder in the couple, so it was really special to share that moment with her.
There’s a nice variety of wildflowers to see just now, although the season did seem to be a bit late starting due to the cold Spring.
Unfortunately our Bonxies (aka Great Skuas) have been hit by bird flu. It has been very sad to see dead birds while out walking, along with some behaving strangely. I saw one bird in particular that was very unsteady on it’s feet, struggling to fly and these are symptoms of Avian flu. The photos below show how Bonxies should look, and a dead one. If you do come across any dead birds, especially skuas, gannets, geese, ducks or swans, please report them to DEFRA (03459 335577).
Not everyone is a fan of the Bonxie but Orkney and Shetland are really important in terms of their global numbers. A recent post on Facebook from RSPB Shetland quoted “Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) of the Highly Pathogenic H5N8 strain was detected in Scottish populations of bonxies last summer. This predatory seabird species has a small and restricted global breeding range, with a world population of around 16,000 breeding pairs. At the last census in the year 2000, 60% of the world breeding population was found in Scotland, with over three-quarters of Scottish birds nesting in Shetland and Orkney.” This makes it even more depressing when you see them dead along the coast, and I have definitely noticed less birds around this summer. Here’s hoping the population will recover quickly.
On a brighter note, it is nice to see the seabirds back on the cliffs.
Below are some of the other birds that I have seen while out and about during May.