Thursday, 10 June 2021

North Ronaldsay

Photo: Arctic skua, North Ronaldsay.

There are only two ways to get to North Ronaldsay, the remotest of the inhabited islands of the Orkney archipelago, either fly or go by boat. The boat goes once a week and takes about three and a half hours from Kirkwall whereas the plane goes three times a day and takes 15 minutes, but can only carry eight passengers. We chose the latter. 

The day started well when a male hen harrier drifted past as we were taxiing down the runway at Kirkwall. North Ronaldsay itself failed to produce the hoped for June mega today, but we had some excellent birding non-the-less. The highlight was probably the six great northern divers, three of which were in breeding plumage, but there were many other highlights including the summer plumage sanderling, turnstone and dunlin on the beach and the masses of Arctic terns and fulmars, the latter nesting everywhere including on the ground (see separate blog post). 

Arctic terns.

Black guillemots.

Female eiders with young.


Golden plover.

The seaweed eating sheep of North Ronaldsay.

Common seals.

Approaching North Ronaldsay.

It was a blustery, dull, grey day, but it was dry and when I booked this trip several weeks ago I'd have taken this weather. Imagine being dropped off on an island like this in rain or an east coast haar. In fact earlier this week the plane couldn't even land because of the haar, despite the fact that it took off in glorious sunshine at Kirkwall.

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