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. Copinsay Nature Reserve - RSPB

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Orkney

    The RSPB nature reserve of Copinsay has a vast seabird colony that includes guillemots, kittiwakes, puffins and razorbills.

  2. Tour Orkney

    Type

    Tour Guides

    Gradings

    Kirkwall

    Welcome to Tour Orkney

  3. RSPB Scotland Birsay Moors nature reserve

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Birsay

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

  4. 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

  5. Gradings

    Birsay

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

  6. Odin Tours of Orkney

    Type

    Tour Operators

    Gradings

    Stromness

    Welcome to Odin Tours of Orkney. We specialise in private guided tours of Orkney. Every tour is unique and tailored to your interests and is at your pace.

  7. Onziebust Nature Reserve

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Orkney

    Welcome to Onziebust Nature Reserve.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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