Our Wild    Life

Nature photography by John Langley ARPS & Tracy Langley ARPS

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Orkney Isles, Scotland - June 2015


The Orkney Islands lie just off the north of the Scottish mainland. There are around 70 islands of varying size and about 18 of them are inhabited.

In June 2015 we spent 3 weeks in the Orkneys. We stayed on a couple of the largest islands and visited several of the smaller islands on day trips.

There are many miles of wild and rugged coast on each island, so seabirds were our main targets.

The rough ferry crossing set the scene for the whole of our trip - strong winds with the odd rain shower or rainy day. The gales made photography difficult at times, holding onto long lenses for dear life on the cliff tops, but the high wind and rough seas made for some dramatic images during our stay.


Many of the islands had high seabird cliffs



Fulmars seemed to revel in the high winds - we’re sure they were just flying for the fun of it



They were experts in windy take-offs and landings



A raucous trio






Also on the high cliffs the windy weather made acrobats of the gannets





















Seaweed is collected for nest material


















The winds whipped the sea into dramatic roller-coaster waves




Arctic skua





A young cormorant dries off on the cliff edge



A raven calling on the cliff top









On the cliff-top moorlands ringed plovers were nesting, hunkered down in a rain shower



The prospective parents took turns in incubating the egg …



… and they posed well during the changeovers



Nearby we found the diminutive and rare Scottish primrose - only a few centimetres high



Lower down, at sea level, dunlins fed amongst the seaweed



The dunlins were in their black bellied summer plumage



Some of the beaches were sandy, others had beautiful rocks rolling into the sea



We found a colony of the rare oysterplant growing amongst sea campion on a rocky beach



In some of the more sheltered sandy bays seals basked in the occasional sunny outbreaks



The seals sheltered from the rough seas on banks of seaweed






Almost every island had lots of curlew - their evocative undulating calls were frequently heard






Black guillemot was our prime target for this trip and we found them on several of the islands





















The intense red of the black guillemot’s feet is matched by the red inside its mouth and tongue















Several of the birds were pairing up for the breeding season






We watched several courtship dances, where birds would chase after each other flapping their wings






There are lots of archeological sites on many of the islands

We visited the Ring of Brodgar at sunset - very atmospheric






Razorbills were present in the seabird colonies












The locals were very helpful in pointing the way to the wildlife hotspots

- but the wildlife wasn’t so obliging, we only saw an odd puffin here occasionally



We found most of our puffins on some of the smaller islands






















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