The Westray Connections Music Festival will take place in venues throughout the island between 28th and 30th August. Details to be announced shortly.
The annual Westray Regatta will be held on Saturday 25th July, followed by the Island Picnic on Sunday 26th. A weekend of events is planned- visitors very welcome. Details to be announced here shortly.
A jam-packed weekend of fun featuring great food, all kinds of sport, crafting and sculpting, live music and dancing is planned in July on Papay. Organised by the Papay Community Association, The Papay Fun Weekend has something for everyone- visitors warmly welcomed! For more details see EVENTS or look up www.papawestray.co.uk/events- you can also call 01857 644 224 for further information.
The trombone quartet, Slide Too Far, are set to visit Westray and Papay 22/23rd June as part of the St. Magnus International Music Festival. See Events diary and St. Magnus Festival website for details. Tickets (£6 / £1 under 16’s) available at the door.
The first of this summer’s live music concerts at the beautifully refurbished Graand Owld Byre, Chalmersquoy, Westray have been announced. The dates are as follows:
Tuesday 16th June 8pm – local and guest musicians play a variety of music, followed by supper
Wednesday 24th June 8pm – Live music gospel concert to raise funds for a hospital in Pakistan, followed by supper
Tuesday 30th June 8pm- local and guest musicians play a variety of music, followed by supper.
Suggested donation £7 / £5 concessions.
The archaeological excavation at Links of Noltland is underway again for the summer. Work this year will concentrate on the extensive Neolithic settlement and on a Bronze Age burnt mound. Visitors are welcome- working hours are 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday (larger groups should make contact in advance- firstname.lastname@example.org). Artefacts from the dig can be seen at the Westray Heritage Centre- including the famous ‘Westray Wife’ figurine, the oldest human representation yet found in the British Isles. Keep up to date via our Facebook page (Links of Noltland) and the dig website (linksofnoltland.co.uk).
Newcastle Self catering accommodation in the heart of Westray next to Westray Golf Course and within easy walking of Pierowall Village, shops, swimming pool etc.
Noltland Castle and beaches nearby.
Sorry no pets.
tel: 01856 872509
Want to learn how to bake something new and chat with some local from Westray?
If you’re here on the 13th March you might fancy signing up for the Baking with Rita course at the West Manse.
Friday August 15th 19.30 Exhibition opening with a live sound performance and artist talk.
PAPEY LISTSKJUL (Papay Arts Centre):
SINCE 2007. A REVOLUTIONARY ARTS & HERITAGE HUB OF THE NORTH
Formerly known as Land Art Papa Westray is an Art Venue for around the year programme of exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, talks and a base for ARTIST’S RESIDENCIES in Papa Westray, Orkney.
For more information contact:
tel: 01857 644 340
The Apartment at Chalmersquoy has been newly renovated and comprises of an open plan kitchen, dining and living room. It has a sun porch with a breakfast bar overlooking the most glorious view of Pierowall Bay. It also has a bedroom with a double and a single bed and a showeroom. There is also a chair bed in the lounge area to sleep the 4th person.
Find out more at www.chalmersquoywestray.co.uk
tel: 01857 677214
mobile: 07803 048189
The Ben End at Chalmersquoy has been newly renovated and comprises of an open plan living room, dining and kitchen at a very high standard. Also on the ground floor is the shower room. Upstairs are two large bedrooms – the family room sleeping upto 5 and the twin room for 2. There is also a small toilet upstairs.
Find out more at www.chalmersquoywestray.co.uk
tel: 01857 677214
mobile: 07803 048189
Newbigging is a traditional 19th century “but and ben” which was renovated and extended to a high standard in 2011. It now provides attractive, modern, high quality self-catering accommodation, suitable for up to three couples, or a family.
A very short drive from Rapness ferry terminal, the house sits in an elevated position, providing unrestricted coastal and sea views over rolling farmland. It is perfectly positioned close to some of Westray’s best cliff and beach walks and is near to The Castle O’ Burrian, one of the best Puffin watching spots in Orkney.
Find out more at our website www.newbigging-westray.co.uk
Tel: 01856 873151
Tel: 01856 875825
Mob: 07708 153334
Balfour Cottage – one bedroom cottage in Pierowall. Within walking distance of all amenities. There is a sofa bed in living room making it suitable for a family of 3 or 4. Sorry – no pets.
Tel: 01857 677801
Mob: 07718 621061
Westray Connections 2013 was a great success and the short video below gives a flavour of the event and the acts that took part.
An archaeology project in Orkney has been recognised at a prestigious UK-wide awards ceremony.
The project at the Links of Noltland on the coast of Westray has been named Rescue Dig of the Year at the Current Archaeology Awards..
Commissioned by Historic Scotland and carried out by EASE Archaeology, it was said to have shed light on the domestic and ritual life in prehistoric Orkney.
The site includes the well preserved remains of more than 20 buildings..
Richard Strachen of Historic Scotland, the project manager of the Links of Noltland dig said: I’m delighted that this incredible project has been recognised with such a prestigious award .It is an endorsement of the national and international significance of the site, and the hard work of those involved in the project all of whom faced challenging conditions..” Links of Noltland continues to surprise us, and is greatly enhancing our understanding of the Neolithic and Bronze Age”
The award is backed by Current Archaeology Magazine.. Editor Dr. Matthew Symonds said: ” The Links of Noltland project saw off competition from some of the most exciting recent archaeological digs in the UK to emerge as the favourite in the prestigious “Rescue Dig of the Year category.
We asked people on Westray to submit photos for consideration as suitable cover photos for the 2014 Islands of Orkney Brochure.
The entries were narrowed down to seven before a final assessment including the brochure editor.
Below are the other final 6 photos that were included in the final consideration.
Unfortunately there is no-one on the islands offering cycle hire but Cycle Orkney based in Kirkwall are happy to hire cycles for use in the islands. They stock a wide range of Ladies, Gents, and children’s bikes. You can find out more at their website – www.cycleorkney.com
ORCAS Pod of 6 killer whales seen off Papa Westray photo on Facebook Westray Group. Taken from small fishing boat !
Westray Connections is going to take place on the weekend beginning 30th August.
Things kick off on the Friday night with an informal music session at the Pierowall Hotel as the musicians gather and warm up instrumentally and vocally.
Saturday the 31st will start with ‘Westray Jam Sessions’ which will take place at various locations during the morning and afternoon, venues to be finalised.
These sessions will be concluded with a parade through Pierowall Village by The Kirkwall City Pipe Band in the late afternoon. Home to spruce up and then….
The Saturday evening event will be a musical feast with a variety of bands and musicians entertaining till late… but not as late as last year so don’t worry you will be able to have a quick sleep and then head to the Pierowall Hotel Garden on Sunday afternoon for the finally which will be less formal, T in the Tent….. Music, Food, Fresh air and hopefully glorious sunshine.
The line up so far is (in no particular order) –
- Driftwood Cowboys
- Genuine Draft
- Nö Boys
- Kirkwall City Pipe Band
- James and Maggie
- Broken Strings
- Raisin The Stoor
- Jenny Keldie
- Michael Harcus
Keep a look out for posters and more info. Tickets for Saturday night event and Sunday buffet will go on sale soon.
For more information email email@example.com
Westray Connections 2102 saw a variety of musicians of all ages and styles performing in venues across Westray with a concert and dance in the school hall on Saturday evening.
It was a great success and we hope that this year will be the same.
The date for Westray Connections this year will be Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September.
We hope to bring a variety of bands including the Kirkwall City Pipe Band.
As we get more information we will set up a dedicated page for the event so check back here soon to find out more…
If you’d like to see some photos from last years Westray Connection have a look at –
AAKnowledge weekend in Papa Westray, Orkney, commemorating Britain’s last breeding pair of great auks.
A long weekend of activities on Papa Westray over 17th – 19th May 2013, organised by the Papay Community Association.
- AAKnowledge Concert: 17th May 7:30pm ’til late
- Farmers Market, Kelp Store: 18th May 11am – 2pm
- Boat Trip(s) to Fowl Craig: 18th May 2pm – 4pm
- AAKnowledge Dinner & Presentations, Beltane House: 18th May 7pm ’til late
- Commemorative walk to Great Auk Monument & Picnic: 19th May 11am – 2pm
There are five sign posted Westray Walks
8.8km linear cliff top trail, maritime heath, ending Noup Head lighthouse.
A circular walk of 6.4km (4 miles) following part of the West Westray Walk
A linear walk of 6.3km following the West Westray Walk to West Kirbist
A 3.6km circular walk from the Bay of Tuquoy to Cross Kirk
A longer 6.2km walk including the beach at Mae Sands
A short 1.2km walk, to the Castle o’ Burrian to view puffins
A longer 5.5km circular walk to Stanger Head and the Bay of Tafts
Easy circular walks exploring a medieval church, a broch, a castle and the finest sandy beach in Westray
The longest route is approximately 6km, or just go for a stroll on the beach
Braehead Manse offers quality Bed and Breakfast or Self-Catering accommodation on the north west Orkney island of Westray. Two en-suite bedrooms are supported via a large open plan kitchen/diner/lounge arrangement for Self-Catering users.
Braehead Manse is situated 1mile south of the village, on the hilltop over looking Pierowall village with views of the village and Papa Westray.
A warm and friendly welcome to all who visit.
For more information on the tours offered visit their website.
2 bed cottage in centre of Pierowall.
Convenient for shops, post office, local hotel for bar and meals, swimming pool, and heritage centre.
Sorry – No Pets
The puffins have arrived at The Castle O’Burrian. Spotted on the 14th April this marks the start of this years Puffin season at Westray’s most popular puffin watching spot.
A pair of pintails wetre also spotted at Broughton.
A day exploring the spectacular seabird colonies on the wonderful island of Westray.
The day will include guided walks to the Castle of Burrian puffin colony, an open day at the RSPB’s Noup Head reserve and a boat tour of the stunning seabird cliffs below.
Another general Orkney post about a new online magazine dedicated to the Orkney Science Festival, which highlights Orkney in general, as well as containing stories of science and people.
You can see the first issue with stories from Papay, North Ronaldsay, Sanday and Stronsay, new insights into the Ring of Brodgar, a story from Skaill House, and several stories about John Rae and events planned to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth at – www.frontiersmagazine.org
There are also many beautiful photos from around Orkney
Not news about Westray or Papa Westray as susch but hopefully useful to any visitors all the same.
Orkney Nature Festival
Saturday 11th May – Sunday 19th May 2013
Orkney’s first festival dedicated to celebrating our amazing island wildlife. The 9 day programme of events includes boat trips, guided walks, bird watching by horse & carriage, photography and art displays as well as the opportunity to enjoy great, sustainably produced food.
For more information visit the festival website at www.orkneynaturefestival.org
The fine two-storey buildings near the Old Pier are kelp stores. Kelp – an alkali substance produced by burning seaweed which was in great demand by the soap- and glass-making industries – dominated the Orkney economy in the late 18th and early
19th centuries. In the boom years Papay was producing more kelp per capita than any other island and George Traill of Holland was one of the lairds who made a substantial fortune from the profits. The walled enclosure behind the kelp stores was a boathouse for Traill’s sloop which transported the kelp south, to Newcastle and beyond, and brought coal, seed and other merchandise back north. Traces of kelp kilns: shallow, circular depressions where the ware was burnt, can be seen in many places near the shore.
Walking around the shores of Papay one can see a number of these boat shelters cut into the dunes. The lack of any natural harbour here meant that the fishing boats had to be dragged out of the water and well above the high tide line after every trip. Of the 17 known sites round the coast, some date from Viking times while the most recent were built in the early 20th century. The best examples are at Nouster, where there are four large 19th century nausts, lined with stone walling and well preserved, and at Backaskaill where the iron winches still stand above them. There is also an unusual group at Cott, where the nausts have been formed by setting large flagstones on edge. The number of nausts indicates the former importance of fishing here – iin 1870 there were 254 boats on the island.
At the centre of the island is the impressive steading of Holland, which until the end of the 19th century was the hub of a large estate which owned all the island and land on Westray and the Mainland as well. The extensive range of buildings, including a circular mill-tramp, corn-drying kiln etc, date from the late 17th to the 20th centuries. Visitors are welcome to look round (with care if there are animals or machinery about – this is very much a working farm!) and to visit the Bothy Museum, which is always open.
On a small promontory jutting into St Tredwell’s Loch from the east, is a confusion of ruined buildings. At the core of the mound is an Iron Age fortification, but the rectangular walls on the top are those of a medieval chapel. St Tredwell is mentioned in a late medieval account of the mission that King Nechtan invited to Pictland: its leader was Boniface and Triduana or Tredwell was one of the “holy virgins” who accompanied him. Legend recounts that Nechtan fell in love with Triduana and praised the beauty of her eyes. She responded by plucking them out and sending them to him skewered on a thorn.
St Tredwell was widely venerated in Scotland and the lochs and wells associated with her were famous for curing diseases of the eyes. Pilgrims travelled to Papay from all over Orkney and the north seeking cures at St Tredwell’s loch, and were still doing so long after the Reformation
It is sometimes possible to reach the Holm of Papay by local boat. There are 3 neolithic tombs on this small island. At the north end is a small stalled cairn, where Unstan ware pottery was also found, which may well have been the burial place of the people who lived at the Knap of Howar. The south tomb is an exceptionally large chambered cairn, with unusual carvings on the lintels above some of the chambers.
Hen Harrier – 1 ringtail (female or juvenile) seen flying north over Papa Westray on 12th, with another seen on 25th.
Kestrel – 1 flying north-east over Papa Westray on 18th.
Merlin – 1 seen by Tim Dodman at the south end of Papay on 18th.
Corncrake – 1 male heard calling between Nouster and the Post Office, Papa Westray on the evening of 16th.
Sanderling – 31 seen on North Wick, Papay on 18th, a mixture of worn, post-breeding adults and juveniles in fresh autumn plumage.
Whimbrel – 1 flying over the North Hill RSPB reserve, Papay on 16th, calling. 2 on the North Hill reserve and heard calling on 17th. 1 heard calling at Fowl Craig, North Hill reserve on 19th.
Golden Plover – 5 seen on the North Hill RSPB reserve, Papa Westray on 13th. 36 seen flying east over Papay on 16th. 6 flying north over the North Hill reserve on 17th.
Greenshank – 1 flushed from the pools at the north end of the North Hill RSPB reserve, Papay, on 20th.
Swift – 1 flying around Rose Cottage, Papa Westray on 19th and 20th.
Sedge Warbler – 1heard singing at Whitelooms, Papay on 15th.
The breeding season is now officially over, for the seabirds anyway, so I can officially reveal that most of the seabird species that breed on the North Hill RSPB reserve on Papa Westray and on the Noup Cliffs RSPB reserve on Westray have had a relatively good season!
Despite returning to Papay and Westray in relatively good numbers, Arctic Terns have had yet another terrible breeding season on both islands. Many of the pairs nesting on these islands managed to hatch out some small chicks this year, but due to weather conditions, predation and a lack of food, sadly, most of these chicks did not make it to more than about a week old. Two fledged (flying) young were seen on Papa Westray at the end of July, and about five or so have been seen on Westray – very low numbers when you consider the number of pairs nesting, 365 pairs on Papay alone!
Guillemots and Razorbills had a relatively good season this year, as both species managed to fledge chicks from both the North Hill reserve on Papa Westray, and the Noup Cliffs reserve on Westray. It is very good to see Guillemots and Razorbills fledging chicks this year, as the past few years have been disastrous, with almost no chicks fledging at all. This year’s youngsters have all now left the cliffs and are now well on their way to adulthood. Both of these species spend their winter out at sea. They leave the cliffs at the end of July and go out to sea with their parents to learn to fish and fly and won’t return to land to breed until they are four years old, but the adults will return next year in April to breed. Puffins also leave their breeding areas at the end of July to spend their winters in massive groups called ‘rafts’, floating out on the Atlantic and the North Sea, and won’t be back now until April, so don’t expect to see any if you visit over winter! May – July is the best time to view all of our nesting seabirds, but autumn and winter are best for seeing migrating birds.
The Kittiwakes over on Noup Cliffs reserve, Westray have also had a surprisingly good breeding season this year, with about a quarter of nests fledging young! This is still very low numbers in comparison to other areas around the UK, as anyone who watched the BBC’s Summerwatch programme will know, but it is very good for seabird sites in Orkney to be fledging this number of chicks! Kittiwakes stay on the cliffs for a little while longer than the auks do, but by mid-August all of the adults and juveniles had left dry land for a winter out at sea – these birds are true sea-gulls! Shags generally do quite well, and often manage to raise plenty of chicks to fledging, and this year has been no exception. Most of the nests along the Fowl Craig cliffs on the North Hill reserve, and those in Ramni Geo on the Noup Cliffs reserve have managed to raise quite a few youngsters! These can still be seen hanging around on low rocks along the shore line, and often congregate in large groups with adults and last year’s youngsters, and will stay around for a while yet, so keep your eyes peeled!
The number of Gannets nesting at the RSPB’s Noup Cliffs reserve on Westray increased again this year to 623 nests, which have produced a grand total of 473 chicks, meaning that three-quarters of all nests were successful in raising young this year! Gannets are very hardy birds and often show high levels of breeding success, but this is a particularly high number fledged, even for them! The Gannets will be around on the cliffs until about the end of September, so you can still see them for a while yet! Noup Cliffs and its Gannets are now famous as well, after being filmed for the BBC’s Summerwatch programme, aired in early August.
Fulmars have had a mixed season this year. Fulmars are also a very hardy species, and are usually very successful at raising chicks, as they defend themselves by spitting fishy, smelly oil at anything that gets too close to them, warding off any potential predators and ensuring that many young make it to flying. This is the case on Noup Cliffs, where many Fulmar chicks can still be seen on the cliffs and in Ramni Geo, slowly changing from balls of fluff to fully-feathered youngsters. However, they have done quite badly on the North Hill reserve on Papay this year, with evidence of both eggs and chicks being predated, which is possibly due to the addition of a pair of breeding Ravens on the cliffs this year. However, Fulmars are very resilient birds, and can live for 60 years, so one year of poor breeding success is nothing to worry too much on. Black Guillemots appear to have done well this year, and several adults can still be seen on the crossing from Westray to Papay, so keep an eye out if you’re on the Golden Mariana!
Both the Arctic Skuas and Great Skuas have managed to raise young this year. The Great Skuas (or Bonxies as they are known here) always seem to do quite well, and this year is no exception, with several fledged juveniles still present on the North Hill reserve. The Arctic Skuas have been declining in numbers since the mid-1990s, but have had a relatively good season, with four chicks fledged – an increase on just one fledged chick last year!
The eight different wader species that breed on the North Hill reserve (Oystercatcher, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Snipe and Dunlin), seem to have done well this year, with young chicks seen earlier in the year. The eight species of passerine that breed on the North Hill reserve have also done well again this year, and small flocks of Twite and House Sparrows can be seen flying about the island in feeding parties, and the Starlings can be seen gathering together in one large group to roost in the evenings.
August is a good month for bird migration, as species begin to leave their breeding sites and travel to their wintering sites in Europe or even as far as Africa. Sanderling, Dunlin, Turnstones, Purple Sandpipers, Bar-tailed Godwits and Black-tailed Godwits are all gathering along the beaches, coastlines and inland water sources rich in food at this time of year, with flocks often including many birds in their juvenile plumage, as well as adults in both summer and winter plumages, so autumn is the perfect time to brush up on your wader identification skills! The Loch of Swartmill on Westray has proven to be a particularly good site for migrating waders, with flocks of 300+ Dunlin seen in July and August, as well as Greenshanks, Green Sandpipers, and a wide variety of the commoner waders such as Curlew and Redshank. At this time of year, you often get migrating birds blown off-course by strong winds, so anything could turn up, as proven by the presence of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (which breeds in Siberia) on Westray in July! So remember to keep your eyes peeled at all times, and report any interesting bird (and other wildlife) sightings to the RSPB or to the OrkBird Yahoo group.
The Scottish Primrose is now nearing the end of its flowering season, so please don’t be surprised if you don’t see any on your visit to the known colonies on Westray at Aikerness and on Papay on the North Hill reserve. However, the heather is now in full bloom, as are several other flowers, such as Devil’s-bit Scabious.
For any more information about the RSPB reserves on Westray (Noup Cliffs) or Papa Westray (North Hill), please contact the main office in Stromness on 01856 850176, as the Warden for these reserves will not be available overwinter. You can also keep up to date with what’s going on at all of our Orkney reserves by visiting the RSPB blog at: http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/orkney/b/orkney-blog/default.aspx.
Or by visiting RSPB Orkney’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/RspbOrkney
Hopefully we will see this increase in numbers of fledged chicks continue again next year, but we shall have to wait and see… Tune in next year for more information!
He was dishonourably discharged from the merchant navy for running contraband – they even found tea in the barrels of his guns.
He was the Laird of Rapness for a while with the second floor of this house being the deck of a boat. there is a load bearing pillar supporting the ceiling as he had a hole cut to get up on to his deck.
His wife Ester was a spendthrift and William ended up poor but the West End Hotel in Kirkwall was their town residence.
We also sell crafts made by island crafts people.
Opening hours are usually from half an hour before the first ferry till half hour after last one but like many island residents we cover many activities including fire safety at the islands airport on occasion so on the odd morning or afternoon we have to close for an hour. On these occassions we put a notice up letting people know reopening time.
Telephone: 01857 677877
Sandwich Tern – 1 juvenile seen in cut silage field near North Rendall, Papa Westray on 16th plus 6 juveniles seen at Wellpark, Papa Westray on 25th.
Dunlin – 21 at North Wick, Papa Westray on 25th. 300+ at Loch of Swartmill, Westray on 29th.
Sanderling – 2 at North Wick, Papay on 4th.
Purple Sandpiper – Approximately 30 seen on the east coast of the North Hill reserve, Papa Westray on 23rd.
Curlew – Approximately 300 individuals seen feeding in cut field at Roadside farm, Westray on 29th.
Whimbrel – 1 seen at Noup Cliffs, Westray on 10th, plus 3 flying by Moclett, Papa Westray on 12th.
Golden Plover – 3 seen near Blossom, Papay on 12th. 26 adults and 6 juveniles in cut silage field, Papay on 19th.
Bar-tailed Godwit – 6 in summer plumage in cut silage field, Papay on 19th.
Black-tailed Godwit – 5 in summer plumage at Loch of Swartmill, Westray on 29th.
Greenshank – 2 at Loch of Swartmill, Westray on 29th.
Grey Heron – 1 at Twiness beach and 4 at Ness of Tuquoy, Westray on 29th.
Manx Shearwater – 2 seen off of Mull Head, Papay on 23rd.
Merlin – 1 seen perched on the fence at Turnstones, Papay, by Patrick on 6th.
Sand Martin – 3 hanging around the beach at Links of Moclett, Papay – several potential burrows in the sand dune there, so possibly breeding, although not seen entering these holes.
The number of Gannets nesting at the RSPB’s Noup Cliffs reserve on Westray has once again increased to a whopping 623 nests! Considering that Gannets only started nesting on this reserve in 2003, that’s a pretty impressive increase in a relatively short amount of time. Most of these breeding pairs now have small, fluffy white chicks, so keep an eye for them.
Arctic Terns are also doing well this year, with over 150 nesting pairs on Papa Westray and a further 300 or so pairs nesting on Westray in several different colonies across the islands. Most of the terns in these colonies are currently incubating eggs, but many are also now looking after young chicks! Arctic Terns are very protective of their eggs and chicks so please view the colonies from afar and do not approach any colonies that you come across, especially as the colonies are very prone to disturbance and may abandon their nests if disturbed. Please do not try to attack the terns – they are just defending their nests!
Guillemots and Razorbills are all now looking after young chicks, both on the North Hill reserve on Papa Westray and at Noup Cliffs reserve on Westray. The Guillemot and Razorbill chicks are getting quite big now and soon will be jumping off of the cliff ledges into the sea! Evenings are the best time to visit these reserves if you want to watch the ‘jumplings’ flinging themselves off of the cliffs! Many of the nesting Shags are also now looking after chicks of various sizes, but these will hang around for quite a bit longer, and won’t leave the cliffs until the end of July. The Kittiwakes also now have chicks! These cute little balls of fluff can be seen in most of the nests at Noup Cliffs, but unfortunately none nested on the North Hill reserve this year. These chicks will also be around until the end of July whilst they gain their juvenile plumage. Puffins are being seen at both reserves on a daily basis, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to see these popular little birds coming out of their burrows or hanging around on the cliff ledges. Evenings are generally the best time to see Puffins, but they can often be seen during the day as well, especially at Castle of Burrian on Westray, where there are a few hundred pairs nesting!
Fulmars can be found nesting all around the coastline of both Westray and Papa Westray, so you may come across quite a few of these birds – our relative of the Albatross! They should all be on eggs by now, with chicks soon to follow, and will defend their nests violently – by spitting their oily, fishy gastric fluid at you! So if you come across a nesting Fulmar, keep away, unless you like to smell of rotten fish! Black Guillemots, or ‘Tysties’ as they are known here, can also be seen around the coastline, usually in the early morning or the evenings, sitting out on the rocks and cliffs near their burrows and singing their nice little whistling tune. They are very lovely little birds, well worth watching if you see any.
Both the Arctic Skuas and Great Skuas will now be looking after eggs, and some even have chicks at the moment too. These birds are extremely aggressive in the defence of their nests – you will be attacked if you get too close. If the Skuas do start swooping at you, remain calm and keep walking – you will leave their territory eventually. Watch where you put your feet though as the eggs and chicks are often very well camouflaged, and the adults will be much more annoyed if you tread on them! Please do not try to attack the Skuas, they are just defending their nests!
Most of waders and gulls are also looking after young chicks, so keep a look out for them as you go around the islands. Wader chicks (such as Oystercatchers, Lapwings, and Curlews) can be very difficult to see as they are also well camouflaged and will hide when people get near to them, so they can be difficult to spot! Some of the gull species may swoop at you if you unwittingly get close to their nests, but they will not hit you, so again just keep on walking until they stop chasing you. Most of the small ‘songbirds’ such as Sparrows, Starlings, Skylarks, Wrens and Meadow Pipits now have flying young, and can often be seen feeding their young on walls and fences or in fields and trees, so watch out for the young ones!
Corncrakes seem to be doing well this year, with 6 males heard calling on Westray and at least 1 on Papa Westray, making Westray the best island to visit if you want to hear (or possibly even see) one this year! Corncrakes are usually only heard at night, with 11pm – 3am being the best time for hearing them call, but they can be sometimes be heard in the daytime as well.
July is not the best month to see migrating birds, but anything is possible! Some waders have started to come in already, with two Sanderling seen on Papa Westray on the 4th July. Golden Plovers have also started coming in, and several unusual warblers have been seen across Orkney last month, so please do keep an eye out for anything unusual whilst visiting Westray and Papa Westray. Please report any unusual sightings to the RSPB Warden on 01857 644 240.
July is a good month for wildflowers, and many beautiful species can be found across both of the islands, but especially look around the coastline, where species such as Thrift, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Kidney Vetch, and Sea Campion can be found in flower. July also brings the second flowing season for the Scottish Primrose, a tiny little primrose that is only found in Caithness, Sutherland and six of the Orkney isles, with colonies on both Westray at Aikerness, and Papa Westray on the North Hill reserve.
July is also a good month for seeing whales and dolphins, both of which have been seen in Orkney recently! On the 26th June a pod of 5 Orcas were seen off of the West coast of Papa Wesray, moving north along the coast and were enjoyed by many locals and visitors alike! A pod of Risso’s Dolphins were seen from Noup Cliffs earlier in the year as well. You are more likely to see whales and dolphins when the sea is calm, so remember to scan the sea occasionally if you’re out on a nice calm day. And please call the RSPB Warden or tell one of the locals if you do see any whales or dolphins, so that other people can come and see them!
For any more information about the RSPB reserves on Westray (Noup Cliffs) or Papa Westray (North Hill), please contact the Warden on 01857 644 240. You can also keep up to date with what’s going on at all of our Orkney reserves by visiting the RSPB blog at: http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/orkney/b/orkney-blog/default.aspx.
The RSPB Warden runs wildlife tours around the North Hill reserve on Papa Westray every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon until the end of August. If you would like to attend one of these tours, please call the Warden on 01857 644 240. Booking and stout walking shoes are essential!
Thanks to Sarah R.S.P.B. Warden for providing this report.
Whooper Swan – 1 dead discovered near Mull Head on 5th.
Greylag Goose – 55 broods plus 182 non-breeding adults counted at St Tredwell’s Loch on 21st.
Barnacle Goose – 1 seen on St Tredwell’s Loch by Tim on 2nd. 2 seen in field near Cuppin farm on 7th.
Shelduck – Pair with 10 young reported at Backiskaill loch.
Gadwall – Pair seen on Westray on pool near Taingi Skerry in the south of the island on 10th.
Black-throated Diver – 1 seen off of West coast by a visitor on the 5th.
Great Northern Diver – 1 in summer plumage seen in Papa Sound on 9th.
Gannet – 623 nests counted at Noup Cliffs on 25th.
Peregrine – 1 young bird seen around Ramni Geo at Noup Cliffs (Westray) on 14th.
Golden Plover – 5 in field near Hundland house on 29th, moving onto the reserve later in the day.
Whimbrel – 1 seen at Knap of Howar by visitor on 5th. 1 at Taftend wetland and 1 at Roadmire on Westray on 10th. 4 flying West over Fowl Craig and calling on 20th.
Arctic Tern – seen with young chicks in colonies on the reserve on 28th.
Collared Dove – 1 seen at Turnstones on 11th. 1 calling from Rose Cottage roof on 14th.
Short-eared Owl – 2 near Rendall and 1 near Knap of Howar seen by visitor on 11th.
Sand Martin – 3 at Loch of Swartmill on Westray on 10th.
Whinchat – 1 seen near the Ouse on Westray on 10th.
Whitethroat – 1 female in Rose Cottage garden on 24th.
Sedge Warbler – 1 in garden at Clestrain on 1st, moved into Rose Cottage garden on 2nd, singing constantly. Heard again in Rose Cottage garden on 6th and on 19th.
Willow Warbler – 1 in Rose Cottage garden on 2nd.
Chiffchaff – 1 in Rose Cottage garden on 8thand 9th.
Snow Bunting – 1 female seen and photographed at Mull Head by visitor. Pair seen at Mull Head on 8th.
Thanks to Sarah R.S.P.B. Warden for providing this report.
Kilnman cottage lies next to two mills, and has its own private sheltered garden. Double bedroom, lounge with box bed and woodburning stove, flagstone floors with underfloor heating throughout.
Weekly and daily lets available.
For more information visit our website at www.mill-cottages-westray.co.uk
Telephone: 01857 677447
No. 1 Broughton stands at the water’s edge looking across the sweep of Pierowall Bay and out across to Papa Westray. Across the bay creel boats and other sea traffic set out and return to Gill Pier – and from there you can take a day trip to Papay (Papa Westray).
Jerry’s artwork is on display throughout the house. Prints, paintings and postcards can be purchased. A selection of the works available can be viewed at Jerry’s studio.
We hope that you will come to visit us, and come back again. A warm welcome awaits you.
Telephone: 01857 677726
Whether you are staying in the isle or visiting for the day our twice-weekly island tour will help you make the most of Papay’s spectacular scenery, wildlife, history and culture. An experienced guide will collect you from the boat, plane or hostel and take you by minibus and foot around the ‘must see’ 6000 year old Neolithic farmstead at the Knap of Howar, the beautifully restored old kirk at St Boniface, and to the traditional farm steading and Bothy Museum at Holland. The day tour includes a guided walk with the RSPB warden along the sand and shingle beach and tidal reef of the eastern shore to look for waders and seals and to the cliffs and heath of the North Hill Nature Reserve, where a variety of birds and flowers may be seen, often including puffins and Scottish primrose. The Papay Community Co-op offers the Papay Peedie tours every Wednesday and Saturday from early May to the end of August with lunch and afternoon refreshments included.
Quality hostel accommodation run by an island community co-operative. All rooms en-suite with sea views over the Holm of Papay and excellent self-catering and lounge facilities. The hostel is ideally situated within easy walking distance of beaches, archaeological sites and the community shop and is a perfect base for exploring the isle. Warm welcome guaranteed.
or Jennifer 01857 644224
The Westray population is of unknown size but this animal is by no means scarce, possibly 500-1000 individuals. Several small colonies exist around the coast with greatest numbers occurring at Sponess and on the Holm of Aikerness. The Bay of Swartmill is a common summer haul-out. Pups are born in June to mid-July and these can swim soon after birth. Many adults are ashore in August when they moult.
A small breeding colony of perhaps 100 adults exists at the Point of Weatherness, some 25 minutes walk from the Rapness Quarry. Pupping takes place in October-November and the young remain ashore for up to a month while they moult the whitish coat they are born with. A large haulout can be seen at low water on the Skerry below Noup Head. Typically this species prefers more isolated and exposed breeding and loafing sites than its’ smaller cousin above.
Two Pictish cross-slabs that were found in the kirkyard at St Boniface are evidence that there has been a kirk on this site since at least the late 7th century – probably originally founded as a base for missionary campaigns among the pagan Picts. The present building dates from the 12th century, and was enlarged around 1720 and furnished with gallery, pulpit and box-pews. Some of these have been restored and the kirk is in occasional use and always open for visitors. In the kirkyard is a very weathered hogback tombstone which has been dated to the 12th century; these stones were a Norse type, imitating in stone the longhouse with its roof of wooden shingles. The reddish stone is not local to Papay, it has been imported to mark the burial place of an important person.