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. Nature Watch Orkney

    Type

    Tour Guides

    Gradings

    Kirkwall

    Nature Watch Orkney - Personalised tours, walks, strolls or simply observing with Tim Dean, author of the Orkney Book of Birds and The Orkney Book of Wildflowers.

  2. 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.

  3. Dawn Star Boat Trips

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Kirkwall

    Boat Trips allowing you to experience the World Famous Natural Harbour of Scapa Flow while learning about its History and Observing the wide range of Wildlife.

  4. Hoy Nature Reserve

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Hoy

    Welcome to Hoy Nature Reserve.

  5. 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

  6. Gradings

    Orkney

    Orkney Aspects' tours are different to those offered by many other companies, as each tour is planned around what you wish to experience in Orkney.

  7. Ness Battery

    Type

    Tour Guides

    Gradings

    Stromness

    Now open for guided tours, Ness Battery is a remarkable relic of Orkney's wartime past. The tour includes the the mess hall, featuring the famous painted mural. This is a brand new attraction for Orkney, and one not to be missed!

  8. Hobbister (Mainland) Nature Reserve

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Orphir

    Welcome to Hobbister (Mainland) Nature Reserve.

  9. Brodgar Nature Reserve - RSPB

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Harray

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

  10. Orcadian Wildlife

    Type

    Tour Guides

    Gradings

    South Ronaldsay

    Orcadian Wildlife offers tailor-made wildlife and archaeology tours to small groups of people up to a maximum of eight guests.

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