I had a busy start to the month with a few walk bookings coming in. My Hidden Gem walks are proving to be popular, and in particular the Orphir Bay walk which is a really lovely circular walk taking in a variety of habitats and wildlife. It can also be extended to a longer walk which includes Swanbister Bay.

People looking at view
Clients admiring the view, Orphir Bay

I had a lovely group of 3 people at Yesnaby for a walk. Despite the good forecast, we did have a heavy rain shower at the start of the walk, followed by a stunning rainbow, then glorious sunshine. This bit of coastline is just stunning, whatever the weather and can be done all year round. It’s certainly a good walk to blow the cobwebs away in the winter months! https://wildorkneywalks.co.uk/walks/a-walk-on-the-wild-side/

Rainbow at Yesnaby
Pointing out wildflowers, Yesnaby (Photo Carol Ann Crawford)

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I have started prepping for my Seal Pup walks which will be starting on Thursday 8th October once the weather allows me to do the recce and risk assessment. This walk was very popular last autumn and who could resist these cute seal pups!

Grey Seal Pup
Grey Seal Pup

Walks/Outings

I enjoyed a day trip to Sanday with a friend who was doing a bit of work there. I had a lovely walk down to Stove where I got really close views of waders including Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers and Turnstones. After this, we did a mix of walking and driving and clocked up a respectable 50 species of birds over the course of the day. We also had a lovely close up view of a Merlin perched on a bale, no doubt waiting for its next meal to fly in.

Whitemill Bay, Sanday
Dunlin

Other walks this month have been on my local patch with regular walks up Houton Head and Orphir Bay, but I also managed a couple of walks a bit further afield at Waulkmill Bay and Hoxa Head.

Waulkmill Bay
Waulkmill Bay, Orphir

Wildlife News

White Winged Black Tern
White Winged Black Tern (Photo Graeme Walker)

September started off with a local twitch down to Burray to see a White Winged Black Tern. There have been some other rare birds around this month – a Wilson’s Phalarope which I was unable to go and see, and a Ring-necked Duck which I have tried to see twice and dipped both times.

On my local patch, I saw a Lapland Bunting on an evening walk – what a surprise and treat that was! A patch tick and a new one for the year list, so I was well chuffed!

Lapland Buntin
Lapland Bunting, Houton (Photo Graeme Walker)

Another nice patch tick was a Basking Shark in Houton Bay. It was reported via the Orkney Cetaceans page on Facebook, so we took a wander down to see it. It was quite close in and we got amazing views on a very still, calm Sunday morning.

I’m very lucky to live where I do, and my garden birds are a bit different to what you might get if you live further south. In addition to the spuggies (House Sparrows) and Starlings, there’s been a family of Stonechats around the garden, perching in the willows or on the washing line poles. There are still Swallows around and the Pied Wagtails have been busy feeding, they will both disappear from my garden soon.

There have been skeins of Pink Footed Geese flying high overhead making their high pitched “wink wink” sound.

I enjoyed a lovely walk at the Bay of Skaill last week and found a group of waders busy feeding on the tideline and amongst the seaweed.

Up at Houton Head on a recent walk, we found a few Ruby Tiger Moth caterpillars busy munching on Ragwort. It was great to see the caterpillars as earlier this year in June I was lucky enough to spot an adult moth. Photos of both below.

Ruby Tiger Moth Caterpillar
Ruby Tiger Moth Caterpillar feeding on Ragwort, Houton Head (Photo Graeme Walker)
Ruby Tiger Moth
Ruby Tiger Moth, Houton Head