Have just spent my first 24 hours in Orkney - the hills may be small but the wildlife here is incredible! Within two hours of arriving I had counted 30+ different bird species - including a short-eared owl.

Click here to see a map of the routes undertaken

Hill: Milldoe - Mid Tooin (Orkney Mainland)
Date: 15th May 2011
Company: Myself and Beinn

I set off early this morning to ascend Milldoe (Mid Tooin) before catching a ferry to Rousay to also ascend Blotchnie Fiold.

I parked at Graemshall below Hammars hill and then set off along a good track as far as Fibla Fiold.

Fibla Fiold and Milldoe from start of walk:

Looking back towards Hammars hill and start of walk:

Looking across Wide Firth to Wideford hill:

The walk as far as Fibla Fiold wasn't that interesting.

Looking back towards Hammars hill:

Signs of previous peat cutting on Fibla Fiold:

Approaching transmitter at top of Fibla Fiold:

Beyond the transmitter on Fibla Fiold, the ground was very mossy/spongy but not that wet underfoot.

As I walked the short distance between Fibla Fiold and Milldoe (Mid Tooin), I saw Mallard, Greylag Geese, Curlew, Whimbrel, Oystercatcher and a Red-throated diver.

Milldoe (Mid Tooin) from Fibla Fiold:

Trig Point and Summit mound of Milldoe (Mid Tooin):

Looking back to Fibla Fiold transmitter from trig point:

The grassy mound just beyond the trig point is the summit. I didn't hang around long as I did not want to be late for the Rousay ferry.

Beinn on top of summit mound of Milldoe (Mid Tooin):

After returning the same way back to the car, I dropped Beinn off back at our cottage and then made for Tingwall to catch the ferry to Rousay.

Hill: Blotchnie Fiold, Rousay, Orkney
Date: Sunday 15th May 2011
Company: Just myself

Tingwall jetty:

Tingwall to Rousay ferry:

The ferry crossing was really nice. Standing on the car deck, just a few feet above the water, I saw Guillemot, Cormorant, Terns, Gulls, ...

Blotchnie Fiold from ferry:

Arctic terns:

Approaching Brinian, Rousay:

On arriving at Brinian, I followed the route taken by my pal Colin last year.

Ascending Knitchen hill:

Looking across to first hill of the day, Milldoe (Mid Tooin):

Wyre and Gairsay:

After walking alongside the stretch of gorse, I followed the white-topped marker posts to the summit of Knitchen hill.

Following the marker posts up Knitchen hill:

During my ascent, I spotted an interesting caterpillar - long white hairs on top, long orange hairs below with white spots along its side.

Garden Tiger Moth caterpillar:

About ten metres further on I spotted what I thought was the adult moth. From checking ID when I got back it would appear that the caterpillar was a Garden Tiger Moth caterpillar and the Moth was an Emperor Moth. Really cool caterpillar and moth!

Emperor moth:

Looking across to Wyre from ascent of Knitchen hill:

From the start of the walk to the summit of Blotchnie Fiold, I saw only one bird. A skylark. It sang away while fluttering above me. I was thinking bit of a poor show for an RSPB reserve!


Summit cairn of Knitchen hill:

Blotchnie Fiold from Knitchen hill:

On reaching the summit of Blotchnie Fiold, the birdlife began to improve.

Looking back to Knitchen hill from Blotchnie Fiold:

Peerie Water and Muckle Water from summit of Blotchnie Fiold:

Peerie Water and Muckle Water (zoomed):

Kierfea hill from summit of Blotchnie Fiold:

In the distance, I saw a really large bird. At first I thought it was some kind of raptor, however, as it was joined by a second and then a third and they began to come closer I reckoned they were Great Skuas.

Great Skua:

It didn't take long before the Great Skuas started taking a bit of an interest in me but thankfully no attack. Two of the three Great Skuas seemed more interested in attacking each other.

Great Skua:

Great Skua:

I stood watching the Great Skuas for at least fifteen minutes and while doing so also managed to photograph a group of passing geese.

Greylag Geese in flight:

I decided to leave the summit when the rain started. I followed my in-bound route back as far as the col between Blotchnie Fiold and Knitchen Hill but then decided to descend towards Loch of Knitchen.

Loch of Knitchen:

I followed another line of white-topped marker posts during my descent.

Descent towards Trumland House:

As I made my way down a couple of geese flew past me about twenty metres away. I then noticed the reason why. Four young goslings walking across the hill. Cute or what?

Gosling (Greylag Goose?):

I then made an error of judgement in deciding to head towards a good path near Trumland House. Why an error of judgement? I was confronted by the lady owner who bent my ear for a full fifteen minutes. This land is private. There is a charge to walk through the gardens. This is the sabbath, Why did you climb the deer fence?

Eventually we departed on friendly terms when she saw that there were missing and erroneous paths on the Ordnance Survey map .
The ferry back to the mainland was also nice.