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Orkney Birding & Wildlife Tour, Scotland

5based on 1 review
Scotland 7 Days
Starting From GBP 1,750 / per person
These birds are everyone’s favourite, and they’re easy to see in Orkney as they nest in well-known colonies. We always spend some time admiring them at the Castle o’Burrian on Westray, where they’re usually very approachable and obliging. There are smaller colonies elsewhere, and we wouldn’t dream of sending you home without watching puffins!
Hen Harrier
Orkney has around 20% of the UK’s breeding birds, and Orkney must be the best place to see them! With almost 100 pairs we should see several, and we usually spend some time at an upland hide to focus on these totemic birds. Depending on the time of year we enjoy displaying (‘sky-dancing’) birds or food passes between the male and female.
Orkney is a special place for seals, and we have two common species here – Grey or North Atlantic seals which are larger than the other, less common species, the Harbour (or Common) Seal. Both species are easy to see, and relatively easy to tell apart with a bit of practice. We should get good close up views of both species.
Great Skua or Bonxie
Nobody but nobody in Orkney calls these great bruisers of birds anything other than Bonxie, which derives from an old Norse word aptly meaning ‘stocky’. We’ll see them at their breeding colonies, and also watch them chasing down Gannets and other birds for their fish, as they go about their piratical ways. Real birds of the far North!
Everyone wants to see a Killer Whale, and Orkney is an excellent place to see them but they’re hard to pin down. Our approach is flexibility, and if we hear of pods around (there can sometimes be several) we ‘down tools’ and go and look for them. If we have a day with an exceptional sea-state we sometimes prioritise looking for Orca
Arctic Tern
We call these birds ‘Tirricks’ in Orkney after their call, and they’re one of our most endearing birds with their balletic flight and noisy social antics. They see more daylight than any other living creature, and in Orkney in Summer they’ve got virtually 24-hour daylight to raise their chicks. You’ll love them!
Seabirds are one of Orkney’s wildlife treasures, and you’ll see the full range of seabirds from auks, like these Razorbills, to Gannets, Skuas and Terns. You’ll watch seabirds every day, sometimes in their huge breeding colonies – the seabird canyons for which Orkney is renowned. You’ll get close enough to see the custard-yellow gape of these Razorbills who only leave their Atlantic home to breed.
Also known as the ‘Linnet of the North’ twites are reasonably common breeding birds in Orkney, frequenting the maritime heath and upland muirs. They form large flocks in the Winter, sometimes with Linnets, but in the touring season you’re likely to see singing males or family groups as they disperse after breeding. They’re one of our totemic species and delightful little birds!
We love Gannets, and so will you! Gannets breed on Westray at Noup Head, and we visit its gannetry so that you may marvel at these large birds mastering the air. The stronger the wind, the more they delight! You’ll enjoy their interactions with Bonxies, and their fishing method of plunging into the sea from a great height. Always one of the highlights.
Scottish Primrose
The diminutive Scottish Primrose is one of Scotland’s rarest plants, and only found in the far North on weather-battered maritime heath. There are good colonies to view, and the jewel studs of the lilac primroses in the heath will take your breath away. It’s an Orkney speciality and treasure.

Orcadian Wildlife participates in annual Orca Watch Programmes operated by Seawatch, and has planted 3,500 native broadleaved trees in order to reduce its carbon footprint.

For a fuller description of our Climate Emergency actions see: Climate Emergency Actions – Orcadian Wildlife

  • Great Birding in Orkney with Steve
    Orkney Birding & Wildlife Tour, Scotland
    Phil Blatcher9 May 2012
    Much obliged to you again for the effective Orkney bird watching visit you coordinated for the SE Herts RSPB Group. With your extensive local knowledge we saw a greater number of birds than we expected to. You gave us a phenomenal insight to Orkney, the untamed scenerary as well as destinations of interest including Skara Brae were exceptional. We are thankful for all that you did to make it so charming and to guarantee we had an awesome birding trip in Orkney. You 'exceeded everyone's expectations' and I would surely recommend Orcadian Wildlife to anybody needing to visit these unique islands.
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