Land up in the Hills of Orkney

Dingieshowe to the Gloup

We met at Dingieshowe beach, Tankerness, around 10 am.


The autumnal morning was not looking good with gale force southerly winds and squally showers. A Goldcrest flitted in the background. A brief stop at the Gears lay-by overlooking a small cove to view a number of Bar-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers, some Wigeon, two Dunlin and a Merganser Duck. We moved onto nearby Newark Bay by car.

newark beach

At Newark we saw more Plovers and many Turnstones on the rocks. Common Gulls and a Kittiwake roosted on the sand while a couple of Sanderlings advanced along the tide line. Three Razorbills were offshore while a Wheatear landed just behind us. We then moved to the East side of the bay where it pished with rain so we had a cup of tea and drove off toward Halley Beach.

On the way a big flock of 150 Golden Plovers were grazing in a field while overhead a flock of 30 or so Greylag Geese flew north. We saw the first of many Snipe in a muddy hole.

Halley Beach was new to me. It is located on the south side of the Deerness sound, a few miles north of the sad and evocative Covenanters Memorial. It is a seldom visited beach as it is quite tucked away. I will be returning, it is very beautiful and in many ways the classic unspoilt Orcadian beach. We stopped here for sandwiches. During this break the weather cleared from the west and it became a sunny warm (ish) afternoon.

At Halley we saw more Ringed Plovers, Bar tailed Godwits, Turnstones, Common Gulls, Snipe and a Razorbill. In addition some Fulmars flew east overhead, a Moorhen paddled in the peedie lochan behind the beach and one Pied Wagtail appeared. A group of 15 or so Twite flitted above the roadside as did a Swallow. Meadow Pipets sat on the fence posts. A female Hen Harrier swung past over Deerness Sound and circled lazily over the water.

We intended to walk from here back to the Gloup car park, which would be a lovely 3-4 hour walk but were running low on time so drove up to the Covenanters Memorial car park and set out for the Gloup from there.


This takes you around the nature Reserve of Mull Head, a major headland on the Orkney Mainland, it lies on the island’s eastern coastline to the east of Deer Sound about 8 miles east of Kirkwall. It is one of the must see locations in Orkney.


Enjoying the walk, we came across a pair of vagrant yellow-browed Warblers. The East coast of Orkney is well known in the autumn for blown off course migrants. Apparently this tiny pair should have been heading from Siberia to Japan. Sadly they won’t make it now and won’t survive the winter here. Rock Pipets, Wheatears and Pied Wagtails accompanied us as we looked down on mature and young Shags and a number of handsome Eider on rocky ledges.

As we cut inland a chaffinch flushed from the heather. We arrived at the Gloup to find a migrant Redstart and a recently arrived exhausted Pink Footed Goose sitting behind a clump of grass.

The Gloup, Deerness.


Altogether today we saw about 30 species. The most prolific were Snipe and probably Golden Plovers, of which we saw hundreds. We ended the outing here, returning home to await the next meeting.

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