Wildlife in Orkney

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Watch this video and see some of Scotland's remarkable wildlife, from timourous red squirrels to playful dolphins.
Great Scottish wildlife

See some of Scotland's remarkable wildlife, from timourous red squirrels to playful dolphins.

Orkney 2014 guide
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Download an e-brochure of your free Orkney Visitor Guide

Orkney is home to an amazing range of wildlife and is particularly well known for its many species of seabird. Admire the huge colonies of local birds as they nest on the islands' cliffs or swoop by the sandy beaches, best seen from the deck of any of the wildlife cruises that sail the coastal waters. You'll also discover seals resting on the beach, or possibly spot otters, dolphins, porpoises and whales.

When the seasons change, so does the wildlife. Thousands of geese, waterfowl, whooper swans, and many other migratory birds settle in the isles during winter, while in spring and early summer large numbers of puffin, guillemot, razorbill, kittiwake, gannet, shag, and fulmar populate the islands' cliffs, creating vast bird cities.

With 13 RSPB Nature Reserves, wildflower meadows, beaches and rock pools, there are plenty opportunities to spot wildlife everywhere in Orkney.

Spot dolphins and porpoises in the coastal waters in summer or witness thousands of breeding seabirds on the vertical cliffs on a boat trip. Or take to one of the many hides and reserves to spot beautiful birds or see rare flora.

Take part in the Orkney Nature Festival in May, a nine day celebration of local wildlife with boat trips to uninhabited islands, seabird cruises and heritage walks.

  • Seals on North Ronaldsay
    Seals on North Ronaldsay
  • Exterior shot of the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory and Guest House
    North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory and Guest House
  • 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
  • Close up shot of Arctic Terns in North Ronaldsay
    Arctic Terns, North Ronaldsay
  • Birdwatchers on a Scapa Flow Boat trip, Orkney
    Birdwatchers on a Scapa Flow Boat trip, Orkney
A footpath sign to view seals and otters, Rousay, Orkney

Finding wildlife

Catch sight of thousands of seabirds and mammals in their natural surroundings as you discover Orkney's amazing wildlife.

Close up shot of puffins on the Pentland Skerries

Birdwatching trips

Spot an impressive range of bird species in the natural surroundings of Orkney.

Looking at the Hoy cliffs from the ferry, Orkney

Boat charters and wildlife cruises

Discover wildlife on Orkney’s stunning islands on a boat charter or wildlife cruise.

Yesnaby cliffs

Wildlife attractions

Discover the range of wildlife attractions in Orkney, such as the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory where you’ll see thousands of migratory birds.

A couple take in the view towards the cliffs of Hoy from Yesnaby, Orkney

Hides and reserves

Discover Scottish wildlife in the stunning landscapes of Orkney by paying a visit to the region’s many hides, reserves and visitor centres.