Birdwatching in Orkney

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  • Close up shot of Arctic Terns in North Ronaldsay
    Arctic Terns, North Ronaldsay
  • Looking across the cliffs to the Kitchener Memorial at the Marwick Head RSPB Reserve, Orkney
    Marwick Head RSPB Reserve
  • Two puffins standing on a rock at Papay, Orkney
    Puffins
  • Birdwatching at Yesnaby, West Mainland
    Birdwatching at Yesnaby, West Mainland

Birdwatching in Orkney offers innumerable opportunities to spot some of Scotland’s most important and interesting species.

From hides and trails of Orkney’s many reserves to the deck of a chartered wildlife operator, spot the many migratory and seabirds that settle in the Orkney archipelago. Although birdwatching can be enjoyed throughout the year, April to July is one of the best times to experience it. The sandstone ledges of the sea-cliff reserves are colonised in early summer by tens of thousands of bird species who settle on the islands to breed, such as fulmars, guillemots, kittiwakes and razorbills.

In autumn and winter Orkney becomes home to 50,000 waders who feed on the islands' shorelines while whooper swans and graylag geese graze in fields inland. Some even more rare migrants can appear almost anywhere during the spring and autumn months, including a sandhill crane and a red-eyed vireo, both from North America. North Ronaldsay, with its bird observatory, is a particular migrant hotspot and well a great place to spot birds at migration time.

The islands are also home to 13 RSPB reserves and 36 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, which include breeding areas for Arctic terns and skuas.

If you're a keen birder - visiting or local - why not post your sightings online at the Orkneybirding forum? This will help others birdwatchers and also add to our conservation knowledge.

Browse our list of providers to plan your birdwatching trip in Orkney today.

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33 results, currently showing 1 to 10
  1. Gradings

    Orkney

    Take the ‘Wilderness Walking - The Orkney Isles’ tour with Wilderness Scotland.

  2. Great Orkney Tours

    Type

    Tour Guides

    Gradings

    Tankerness

    You want to see Orkney but don’t want to be lost in a crowd of other tourists: then a personal tour is just what you’re looking for

  3. Birsay Moors Nature Reserve - RSPB

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Birsay

    In the summer, hen harriers, short-eared owls and Arctic skuas nest on the moorland of this RSPB nature reserve.

  4. Gradings

    South Ronaldsay

    Why not join one of our daily boat trips when you visit Orkney? Leaving from Burwick Harbour, South Ronaldsay, the trip will incorporate a tour around some of the islands.

  5. Gradings

    Birsay

    Welcome to The Loons & Loch of Banks (Mainland) Nature Reserve.

  6. Orkney Attractions

    Type

    Tour Guides

    Gradings

    Stromness

    As well as offering Peatfire Tales evenings, which offer an insight into Orkney Folklore, John and Lynn and now proud to offer Guided Walks through Stromness. Stromness is a waterfront town with a rich history.

  7. About Orkney

    Type

    Tour Guides

    Gradings

    Stenness

    Welcome to About Orkney.

  8. Cottascarth & Rendall Moss Nature Reserve

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Rendall

    Welcome to Cottascarth & Rendall Moss Nature Reserve.

  9. Trumland Nature Reserve

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Rousay

    Welcome to Trumland Nature Reserve.

  10. Orkney Tailor-Made Tours

    Type

    Tour Operators

    Gradings

    Kirkwall

    Welcome to Orkney Tailor-Made Tours

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