This large, bright, attractive bird with black wingtips is known as the solan goose in Orkney. There are 5,000 pairs in Orkney with the largest colony on remote Sule Stack 40 miles west of mainland Orkney. In 2003, part of the colony moved from Sule Stack to Sule Skerry, and there are now 1,000 pairs there. In the same year, another part of the colony moved to Noup Head in Westray and there are now 600 pairs there. Given that there had been no new gannet colonies established in the North Atlantic in the twenty years up to 2003, this was an unusual occurence.
They can plunge into the sea to fish from a height of 100 feet or 30 metres and the main reason for the success of the species, while other seabird numbers are in decline, is that it eats a wide variety of fish. The gannet (Morus bassanus) always breeds in colonies on isles and inaccessible cliffs. It is while it is diving or in flight, gliding with outstretched wings or flying with deep strong wing beats that this bird is at its most spectacular, with its wingspan of 165-180cm. One of the best spots to get up close is Noup Head on Westray.
The fulmar is known as a mallimack or malli in Orkney dialect. Its common names are the Northern fulmar, fulmar petrel or Arctic fulmar and its proper name is Fulmarus glacialis. Orkney is a paradise ...More
The guillemot (Uria aalge), known as the aak in Orkney, has a dark brown head, neck and upperparts. It has a distinctive white line across closed wings. The bill is black and tapering and legs are dar...More
There are about 10,000 razorbill (Alca torda) in Orkney – a member of the auk family locally called the coulter-neb or sometimes the sea crow (sea craa). They are noisy, quarrelsome birds that nest ...More
Everybody’s darling, the puffin, or the tammie norrie as it is affectionately known in Orkney, brings a smile to the face of anyone lucky enough to see it. This small auk is worth seeking out in som...More
This great pirate of the skies is infamous in Orkney for terrorising anyone who goes near its nest during the breeding season. Always known in Orkney as the bonxie, its dive-bombing tactics around you...More
A gannet in flight in OrkneyThis gannet is searching for food in the seaA gannet diving to collect fishAn Orkney gannet scanning the surface of the seaLapwing Also known as a teeick in Orkney (and ...More
Birds of Prey
Click to Enlarge A gannet in flight in OrkneyClick to Enlarge This gannet is searching for food in the seaClick to Enlarge A gannet diving to collect fishClick to Enlarge An Orkney gannet scanning the...More
A gannet in flight in OrkneyThis gannet is searching for food in the seaA gannet diving to collect fishAn Orkney gannet scanning the surface of the seaShelduck A mainly black and white duck with a ...More