Nature Notes

September 15, 2011

Orkney Birding: Marwick Head

Filed under: Birds,Orkney Isles — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 6:00 am

Marwick Head, Orkney Islands

Marwick Head is an extensive stand of cliffs located on the northeast coast of the East Mainland, and is the breeding site of many species of birds.

The kilometer walk from the parking area to the cliff face is home to Eurasian Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, European Starlings and House Sparrows.


The cliff itself is home to a wide range of breeding birds. By far the most numerous is the Common Guillemot or Murre with tens of thousands of pairs lining the ledges. It comes in two forms, an unadorned dark head and bridled form with white markings around the eye. The Razorbill is widely distributed about the Islands, never as numerous as the Common Guillemot.The Atlantic Puffin is found at Marwick Head but only in small numbers.The Black Legged Kittiwake has about 10,000 active nests at Marwick Head.The newly fledged young are distinctively marked, reminiscent of Sabine’s Gull.

Keep a lookout for pure Rock Pigeon in their natural habitat, as well as Jackdaws. Northern Fulmar glide with their straight wing glide.

Great Skuas, Greater Black-backed Gulls, and Ravens commonly cruise the cliffs, looking for chicks to pick off.



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