An Orca pod (killer whales) has been active in Orkney waters this week. Several people photographed them today in Kirkwall Bay.
Otters have been spotted out and about. There are even otters active on the streets in the centre of Kirkwall late at night.
Hares are very active at the moment and easily spotted in the fields all over Mainland . (Mainland is actually the name of the biggest island in the group).
Short -eared owls can be seen, active by day.
Grey seals and harbour seals are easily spotted at low tide in many locations.
Large flocks of Greylag geese are still present and can be spotted in fields by the roadside. Many of these will be moving off for the summer, but a number will remain. It is always spectacular to watch them flying over and the noise is amazing. Their numbers have increased in recent years and they cause considerable damage to the grass crop.
Not such good news – stoats are everywhere. They are cute little things, easily spotted darting about. Most turn white (ermine) in the winter months but they are now returning to their distinctive red-brown colour. They are even appearing in urban gardens now. However, they are ferocious killers of other species, especially Orkney voles and ground nesting birds. Because the stoat has been introduced accidentally to Orkney in recent years, it poses a serious threat to the owls that also rely on the voles for food. There is a programme of monitoring and humane trapping to try and control the problem, but it may be too late. In less than a decade, the stoats appear to have become very well established.