Hides and reserves in Orkney

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  • A couple take in the view towards the cliffs of Hoy from Yesnaby, Orkney.
    A couple take in the view towards the cliffs of Hoy from Yesnaby, Orkney
  • Looking across the cliffs to the Kitchener Memorial at the Marwick Head RSPB Reserve, Orkney
    Marwick Head RSPB Reserve
  • The hide at Mill Dam RSPB Nature Reserve, Shapinsay, Orkney
    The hide at Mill Dam RSPB Nature Reserve, Shapinsay, Orkney
  • Old Man of Hoy
    Old Man of Hoy

From the many hides, reserves and visitor centres in Orkney, you’ll discover the natural beauty and the wildlife that calls the archipelago home.

Each season brings new activity to Orkney's 13 nature reserves. Spring is full of birdsong as Orkney's birdlife competes for territory and attracts a mate. In summer, newborns take to flight for the first time and explore their surroundings.  In autumn, large flocks of migrating birds fleeing the harsh Arctic winters take shelter in the milder climbs of Orkney and take to the air in large flocks in winter to feed and keep warm.

From seabirds that nest in the towering cliffs of Noup Head to the hides and trails beside the Neolithic Ring of Brodgar, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the islands' animal life first-hand. The Burgar Hill hide at Birsay Moors RSPB reserve is an excellent place to observe the red-throated divers nest on the hill lochans. There is also a good chance of spotting the hen-harrier and the short-eared owl which breed on Orkney and can be seen on wild moorland and in meadows.

As well as ample opportunities to spot seabirds in cliff colonies at Marwick Head RSPB Reserve, look out to sea from this great vantage point for a fine chance of spotting a wide range of marine life. The warm waters off the coast of Orkney attract many different species including porpoises and dolphins looking for a feed.

Orkney’s diverse range of habitats are good for plants as well as wildlife, and a wide range of wild flowers bloom each year in the islands. The region's most northerly reserve at North Hill on Papa Westray is an ideal place to find a unique variety of flora, such as the extremely rare plant; the Scottish primrose. Its low-lying cliffs are also a nationally important breeding ground for Arctic terns and skuas.

Through binoculars at the hide around the Mill Dam reserve's natural marshes, spy large numbers of wildfowl, including Britain's rarest breeding duck the pintail, that make their nests on Shapinsay in the summer and migrating whooper swans that arrive in winter.

Browse the listings to plan your trip to the hides, reserves and visitor centres in Orkney today.

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14 results, currently showing 11 to 14
  1. Brodgar Nature Reserve - RSPB


    Nature Centres & Reserves



    This RSPB nature reserve beside the iconic Ring of Brodgar draws curlews, lapwings, redshanks, oystercatchers and various other birdlife.

  2. Gradings


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

  3. RSPB Scotland Marwick Head nature reserve


    Nature Centres & Reserves



    RSPB Scotland Marwick Head nature reserve is home to the largest cliff nesting seabird colony on the Orkney mainland.

  4. Mill Dam Nature Reserve


    Nature Centres & Reserves



    Welcome to Mill Dam Nature Reserve.


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