White-winged Gull arrival!

At last we have seen the beginning of the arrival of white-winged Gulls on Westray this winter. It began with an Iceland Gull being seen in Pierowall Bay, and now we have at least two  Iceland gulls visiting Skelwick Bay and Taft End beach. Two Glaucous Gulls were also seen on the north of Westray near the airport.

Iceland Gull

For a few days the cold air from the north held it’s grip on Westray, with minimal snow and some iced roads.

Sand O’Gill, Pierowall


The frozen Lochs pushed waterfowl like Wigeon onto the sea in the search for food.


One lucky observer watched an otter grooming it’s coat on the shore for about 20 minutes. Waders on Westray have included Jack Snipe, Grey Plover and Knot as well as the usual wintering flocks of Purple Sandpipers, Curlew and Sanderling.


Purple Sandpipers


Merlin sightings are increasing along with the occassional Hen Harrier, a nice male Hen Harrier passed across the fields in Skelwick. Snow Buntings are still around in small groups, an ever increasing flock of Twite, now exceeding 120 continues to feed on a couple of small fields planted especially with wild flower seeds. Common Seals haul out regularly in their favoured spots as the tide goes out.

Common Seals

Don and Sandra Otter

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