Orkney has a vast array of wildlife watching opportunities; what else would you expect from an archipelago with a wider range of bird habitats than anywhere of a comparable size in Britain? Bird-watching is rewarding at any time of year here. You don't have to be an expert to see all sorts of birds which are usually shy of humans. In Orkney, crowds of curlew, slow-flying day-hunting owls, and tribes of musical whooper swans are part of the scenery.
In winter, the fields and water-margins echo to the thousands of geese, waterfowl, Whooper swans, and other visitors. In spring and early summer, the large numbers of puffin, guillemot, razorbill, kittiwake, gannet, shag, and fulmar populate the islands' cliffs, creating vast bird cities. All have an Orkney name - can you guess which bird is the mallimak, or scootie-alan? In the fields and wetlands, hundreds of curlew, lapwing, redshank, and other small waders congregate to raise their young. Rarer breeding visitors on the hill lochans and in the less cultivated parts include the rain-goose (red-throated diver), and the corncrake.
Find yourself watching curious Grey and Common seals, lying still on a lonely shore to wait for a shy otter, hearing the rustle of the unique Orkney vole, surprising a drumming snipe in the wetlands, or seeing a pair of handsome hares boxing and gambolling in the Spring.
Orkney's wildlife enjoys the unspoilt environment, the relative lack of disturbance, and ample feeding grounds. Stand on any shore, and it is likely that a seal will find you irresistably interesting... if you whistle or walk on it may very well swim along in time with you. Or see them hauled out on pleasant days wherever rocky skerries provide them with space to bask lazily.
Walk quietly, be prepared to go slowly and breathe in the peace and solitude, and the wealth of Orkney's wild riches can be yours.