Seals and otters, sea trips and coastal walks, curlews and hen harriers – that’s all part of a wealth of treats in store in this year’s Orkney Nature Festival, the programme for which has now been announced.
There are outings to islands – to Auskerry to see spring migrants, seabirds and cetaceans; to Switha, with its harbour porpoise, seals and nesting birds; Stronsay and Papa Stronsay for migrating birds and coastal wildlife.
In Stronsay there’s also an opportunity to hear the story of the Stronsay monster, and to take a walk close to where it was washed ashore 200 years ago – Rothiesholm beach is one of Orkney’s finest beaches for finding sea shells. There is also a guided walk to the Vat of Kirbister, to see the natural arch in the cliffs along with wild flowers and the possibility of puffins.
A day in Rousay includes a walk at Faraclett Head, the Midhowe coastal walk with its varied archaeology and birdlife, and an evening walk along the north coast of the island to Saquoy Head to see arches and geos, signs of seals and otters, and burns cascading into the sea.
In Egilsay there’s a nature walk on the RSPB reserve at Onziebust and a picnic at the St Magnus Kirk, and in Wyre there’s a walk to Cubbie Roo’s Castle and a coastal wildlife walk.
There’s an opportunity to tour the Highland Park distillery and go out to Hobbister to see where its peat is cut and the RSPB reserve. There’s a chance to plant trees at Happy Valley, and to see stromatolites in the rocks and primula scotica amongst the grass at Yesnaby. And there’s a boat trip into the Gloup at Deerness.
There is much more in the programme, which runs from 10-18 May and is aptly described as ‘A Wild Week of Island Discovery’ – full details are on the Orkney Nature Festival website.