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Orkney Birding & Wildlife Tour, Scotland - 7 Days

Orkney Birding & Wildlife Tour, Scotland

Orkney Islands Birdwatching Tour in Scotland

This 7-day Orkney Birding & Wildlife Tour is a relaxed tour of the archipelago available as a set departure. You can expect to see up to 100 species of bird, including seabirds such as Puffins and raptors such as Hen Harriers. Out at sea we’ll be looking for seals and if we’re lucky, cetaceans such as Harbour Porpoise or even Orca. Orkney’s special 5,000 year-old Neolithic and more recent Viking past forms a backdrop to our wildlife enjoyment.

This Orkney Birdwatching Tour represents good value-for-money for a small group tour, and is all-inclusive of the high quality 3* accommodation, meals, transport within Orkney, and most important of all, the years of experience of your guide.  A small group size means that you are guaranteed more personal attention in our zero-emission electric tour vehicle. All you have to do is to get here, and we will do the rest!

During this Orkney Birding & Wildlife Tour, you will visit 3 islands in the archipelago (Hoy, Westray and South Ronaldsay) and spend two full days touring the Mainland of Orkney. Many RSPB reserves will be visited, along with the major 5,000-year-old archaeological sites of the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, and the Tomb of the Eagles. We wouldn't dream of letting you leave Orkney without showing you a puffin and a hen harrier, and lots of other magical birds, flowers, and sea mammals.

Orkney Birding & Wildlife Tour highlights include:

  • Orkney Wildlife in June
  • Seabirds: Gannet, Shag, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Great Skua (Bonxie), Arctic Skua,Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot (Tystie), and Puffin
  • Raptors: Hen Harrier, White-tailed Eagle, Peregrine and Short-eared Owl
  • Waders: Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe
  • Cetaceans: Possibility of Orca, Risso’s Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise

Note that exact accommodation will depend on availability and that a single supplement will apply on booking if applicable.

Alternative Tour Name: Orkney Wildlife & Culture Tour
Day 1
Day 1 - Arrival on the Shores of Water Sound, Scapa Flow

Arrival at your hotel after being collected by your guide Steve to relax in its surroundings on the shores of WaterSound, an arm of the world-famous Scapa Flow, where a variety of waterfowl and other wildlife are viweable closeby.

Steve will also give a briefing on the week ahead in the late afternoon. Perhaps if you’re an early bird, go and havea look at the Little tern colony a short walk away.

Day 2
Day 2 - North to Westray, the Queen of the Isles

A ferry ride through sheltered waters out to Westray, the Queen of the Isles. Expect to see auks and skuas en route, and a scenic journey through Orkney’s northern archipelago with islands either side of our passage. On Westray we’ll visit the Castle o’Burrian for puffins, followed by a look at the RSPB reserve of Noup Head for auks and gannets.

If we’re lucky we may see some cetaceans. We’ll visit the 16th century Noltland Castle, and one of Orkney’s finest beaches, haunt of a large colony of Arctic terns. Westray is a great opening gambit!

Day 3
Day 3 - Back Nearly 6,000 Years in Time

A round of West Mainland, closer to your hotel, for a look at some incredible 5,000 year-old stone monuments – the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae. The monuments themselves are breath-taking, and some of the finest Neolithic sites in NW Europe, but they’re also great birding spots and so we’ll see Orkney’s wildfowl and waders, and superb coastal scenery.

For a change of scene we’ll also head into the hills and look for hen harriers from the comfort of a hide – if we’re lucky we may see a food pass.

Day 4
Day 4 - South Ronaldsay via the Italian Chapel

Southbound today to see South Ronaldsay, calling at the Italian Chapel later. Both these sites are ‘must sees’ for any visit to Orkney, and we’ll complement these sites by a walk around Hoxa Head to look across the Pentland Firth and Scapa Flow for seabirds and cetaceans. If we’re lucky we may encounter Orca.

If there’s time we’ll visit a local nature reserve in East Mainland at Mull Head, home to breeding Arctic Skuas and bonxies.

Day 5
Day 5 - Your Time

A ‘day off’ today, to do your own thing. Relax and walk by the hotel, or else go into Orkney’s capital of Kirkwall to look at the St. Magnus cathedral, museum and shops. Steve will explain your options and facilitate your day.

Day 6
Day 6 - West Mainland Seabirds and Wildfowl

An alternative circuit of West Mainland, this time focussing on wildflowers, seabirds, and wetland birds. We’ll look out for breeding waders at The Loons RSPB reserve, and visit the scenic Marwick Head for Orkney’s largest seabird colony.

Day 7
Day 7 - Across Scapa Flow to the Hills of Hoy and its Old Man

Another ferry ride, this time across Scapa Flow to Hoy, where we’ll hope to see hen harrier and possibly golden and white-tailed eagles, and walk out to the Old Man of Hoy, our famous 450’ sea-stack. Hoy is an upland island, quite different to the rest of Orkney, and the scenery is stunning.

Day 8
Day 8 - Departure

Departure after breakfast to either Kirkwall airport or ferry port for your journey home.

Wildlife in Orkney in June with hardly any darkness revolves around seabirds, birds of prey and breeding waders. The cliff-top and wetland flowers are colourful and a coastal delight. We will always have one eye out to sea to look for seals which are common, and whales and dolphins, which are more prone to chance and a good sea-state. I’d encourage everyone to rise early before breakfast to check the lochshore for otters, red-throated divers, and other wildfowl. Here’s a summary of what we may encounter during the week – expect to see around 100 species of birds:

Seabirds: Gannet, Shag, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Great Skua (Bonxie), Arctic Skua,Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot (Tystie), and Puffin.

Raptors: Hen Harrier, Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Peregrine and Short-eared Owl.

Waders: Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe.

Cetaceans: Possibility of Orca, Risso’s Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise.

What is included?

  • 5 days guiding with experienced Orcadian Wildlife Guide Steve Sankey
  • Pick-up and drop-off at Kirkwall airport or ferry port of choice
  • All internal ferry fares and site entrance fees
  • All accommodation and meals including packed lunch and drinking water in the vehicle
  • An emission-free electric tour vehicle shared with a small group of just five
  • Guaranteed window seat

What is not included?

  • Travel to and from Orkney
  • Items of a personal nature such as souvenirs, phone calls
  • Soft drinks and alcohol with meals except for drinking water
  • Anything that is not inlcuded in "What is include"
Wildlife Reviews
5 stars
- based on 1  reviews
  1. Great Birding in Orkney with Steve
    Phil Blatcher09 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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Why book with Orcadian Wildlife?

Orcadian Wildlife has been offering Orkney Wildlife Tours since 2004, led by Steve Sankey. We pride ourselves on the attention given to you, our guests, in blending Orkney’s wildlife and culture. We're unique in that we live here and know that you will witness memorable lifetime sightings in our beautiful archipelago with its nearly 6,000-year-old monuments. The weather will be fresh, the days long and the sights and sounds of our Simmer Dim will remain with you forever.

What Sort of Accommodation do you Offer?

We stay in an extremely comfortable 4* hotel on the island of Burray, The Sands Hotel, where you can be sure of a very warm welcome. All rooms are ensuite. The hotel used to be a herring packing station and is situated on the waterfront where feeding and passing seabirds are easily seen and enjoyed. Special dietary requirements are catered for, please just let us know in advance. See www.thesandshotel.co.uk

What are your Group Sizes?

Orcadian Wildlife has been decreasing its group sizes over the years so that more attention can be given to individual clients. We have now settled on a group size of five only, which is unusual. We pride ourselves on the high level of repeat bookings, driven in part we're sure by our small group size which is part of our long-term approach to customer satisfaction.

Do you Arrange Airport or Ferry Pick ups and Drop offs?

In short, yes, at Kirkwall airport or a ferry port of your choice. Tours start and end on Saturdays, and no formal activities are done on these days other than a pre-tour briefing in the late afternoon. Your arrival and departure times may easily be accommodated to suit your particular needs, and all five arrival and departure points are used regularly (Kirkwall airport; and ferry ports at Kirkwall (Northlink car ferry from Aberdeen); St. Margaret's Hope (Pentland Ferries car ferry from Gill's Bay, Caithness); Stromness (Northlink car ferry from Scrabster, Caithness); and Burwick (passenger summer only ferry from John o'Groats, Caithness).

Do you Offer a Single Supplement Option?

Yes. The hotel charges us a single supplement and we simply pass this on at cost. For the 2022 season the single-supplement is £250.

Do you need a Minimum Fitness Level to Join this Tour?

Yes. Although the tour is easy enough with short and regular walks, these are sometimes on footpaths over rough terrain on coasts and hills. You should be able to walk unaided at least a mile on rough or uneven surfaces. You should also be able to access our vehicle with ease, and be comfortable with steep access stairs on ferries that we use to visit islands. Please contact us if you have any concerns over your participation.

What will be the Level of Connectivity with Wifi or Mobile Coverage During this Tour?

There is free Wifi at The Sands Hotel and in some other venues that we visit. Wifi speed and mobile coverage across the islands is reasonable, but guests should be aware that relative to the Scottish Mainland and cities, Wifi speeds are slower, and mobile coverage is not always guaranteed, although in an emergency the tour guide can usually fix this if necessary by driving away from the 'not-spot'. Some of our guests regard these attributes of island life as good!

How do you Support Local Communities During this Tour?

Orcadian Wildlife is a patron of the Orkney Folk Festival. Our family is also a member of several national conservation charities (eg Bumblebee Conservation; Butterfly Conservation Trust; RSPB; Scottish Wildlife Trust). The RSPB and SWT have many nature reserves in Orkney which we visit regularly, and guests are actively encouraged to join these organisations after visiting their sites in Orkney. We also make a point of visiting local businesses and cafes during our tour to support the local community. Guests are also encouraged to visit our island capital, Kirkwall, on their 'day off' (see itinerary) where many local sites such as St. Magnus Cathedral and local shops may be supported.

Can you Book Accommodation for us Prior to the Start of this Tour?

In short, yes, both pre- and post-tour at your preference. We'd be pleased to discuss the many options avaiable to you on booking.

How do I Pay and what are the Terms of the Tour?

We ask for a 20% deposit upon booking with the balance of payment due 8 weeks before travel. Payment by bank transfer is preferred. Please ask if you would like us to send you our Terms and Conditions.

What Should I pack for this Tour?

All our guests are given pre-tour advice upon final payment to help them prepare and pack for the tour. For example, Orkney's weather is gloriously unpredicatable (all four seasons in one day is a bit trite but true!) but your tour guide is adept at not getting guests cold and wet! The weather rarely stops our activites, and we work around it.

Can you Cater for any Special Dietary Requirements?

Yes. The Sands Hotel is very experienced in meeting specific dietary requirements such as dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian etc . Please let us know of any special dietary requirements at booking. Local produce is used whenever possible.

Should we Bring Credit Cards and/or Cash?

This tour is fully inclusive, and all you have to do is to get here. However, you will need to pay for any extras purchased at the hotel (eg your bar bill) or additional refreshments during the tour, other than your packed lunch which is provided. The Sands Hotel takes most credit/debit cards but a small amount of cash may be useful for some of the smaller places we may visit. Cash machines are available in Kirkwall and Stromness. All internal transport and site fees within Orkney are included as part of your tour, other than any private arrangements that you may make as part of your 'day off' (see itinerary).

Join Our Fixed Tour Starting Date

Tour Dates Tour Availability From Price Spaces Left
29/04/2023 - 05/05/2023 guaranteed GBP 1,750
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06/05/2023 - 12/05/2023 guaranteed GBP 1,750
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13/05/2023 - 19/05/2023 guaranteed GBP 1,750
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20/05/2023 - 26/05/2023 guaranteed GBP 1,750
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27/05/2023 - 02/06/2023 guaranteed GBP 1,750
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03/06/2023 - 09/06/2023 guaranteed GBP 1,750
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7 Days

Price & Availability

GBP1,750 / per person
Single Supplement GBP 250
This tour is operated by: Orcadian Wildlife
5 based on 1 reviews

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Operator Review Summary

5 Based on 1 reviews

Tour Facts

  • Orkney Islands, Scotland
  • On Request
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 5px
  • 7 Days
  • April to July
  • +12 years
  • Leisurely
  • No
  • English
  • Kirkwall Airport or Ferry ports
  • Kirkwall Airport or Ferry ports