The range of suitable habitats, readily available sustenance, a lack of predators and a relatively mild climate allow numerous birds to flourish on Orkney, especially seabirds. Keep an eye out and you may well catch sight of short-eared owls, kestrels, oystercatchers, hen harriers, puffins or one of the many other bird species that have settled in Orkney.
The best time of year to travel to Orkney for birdwatching is from April to July, when thousands of birds settle on the islands to breed. However, there are still plenty of birds to see in the winter, as while some birds fly south, other birds from the north migrate to the islands between August and March.
With so many bird species, conservation is very important on Orkney. There are 13 RSPB reserves and 36 Sites of Special Scientific Interest
across the islands which you can visit, and these include breeding areas for birds such as Arctic terns and skuas.
The Noup Cliffs reserve in Westray, home to the largest bird colony in Orkney, is an unforgettable site. Bird hides and an observatory on North Ronaldsay allow you to watch the birds without disturbing them. On the Mainland, Marwick Head and Mull Head are great places to start looking for local birds. You can also keep up to date with special wildlife events on the Orkney Community Environment Awareness Network website.
With such a wide range of fascinating birds, the Orkney Isles really are a birdwatcher’s paradise.