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Though the region is sleepy by human standards, it’s Heathrow Airport for birds. Many migrating between Scandinavia and Africa make a layover to relax and feed up. Because of this, and the Caribbean-clear surrounding seas, you can see lots of wildlife here, including puffins and seals.

During migration season, the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory B&B fills up with eager ornithologists. This time of year, I’m the only guest. In the evening, I join the staff for a dinner of North Ronaldsay mutton: the sheep dine almost exclusively on seaweed, and taste resultantly gamey.

That night, the sky is disappointingly cloudy, though I can see a clear patch. The Northern Lights, alas, elude me, but the night is still a vision. The moon is the brightest I’ve ever seen. It shines down through the clouds like a celestial flashlight, infusing them with hues of orange and pink. This is enough for me, and so is the rest of Orkney. I may not have seen the merry dancers, but I don’t miss them, not really. I count a few of the sheep illuminated by the moonlight outside and fall contentedly to sleep.

Daisy travelled around Kirkwall with Pat Stone ( More on the Orkney islands at

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Spotting the Northern Lights in Orkney
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