Autumn on Fair Isle is a birdwatcher's dream and we have ensured we are there at the best time! So enjoy a unique holiday with an unrivalled choice of three dates on Britain's most isolated inhabited island combined with some great birding on Mainland Shetland. Spectacular birds, awesome scenery, scrumptious food and no crowds and our very best ornithological staff as guides - simply brilliant!

Pechora Pipit

Barred Warbler

Olive-backed Pipit

Lanceolated Warbler

Paddyfield Warbler

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Lapland Bunting

Little Bunting

Citrine Wagtail


Savannah Sparrow

DAY 1  Saturday - Arrival in Shetland

Late afternoon / early evening rendezvous at the Spiggie Hotel. During our orientation dinner we will run through our planned itinerary and enthuse over the exciting prospects the week ahead holds in store. Overnight at the Spiggie Hotel and Lodges.

DAY 2  Sunday - South Mainland

After breakfast, we will spend the day in the south mainland of Shetland, where we will keep in contact with other Shetland Wildlife guides in order to maximise our chances of seeing whatever exciting birds are on offer. We will check the hotel garden and surrounding fields for migrants, which at this time of year should include Willow Warbler, Wheatear, Lesser Whitethroat and Redstart amongst others, before moving to Sumburgh Head where we will search the roses, thistle patches and quarries. Twite are plentiful here, and with luck we may sight cetaceans out at sea. We'll also visit Pool of Virkie, the largest expanse of inter-tidal mud in Shetland and by far the best place to see waders. Amongst the large numbers of Redshanks, Curlews, Ringed Plovers and Dunlins we may locate Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints, or maybe something rarer - autumn 2007 produced a Killdeer, a Baird's Sandpiper and two White-rumped Sandpipers here! Our itinerary will be kept as flexible as possible, but it is likely that we will visit the nutrient-rich lochs of Gards, Hillwell and Spiggie, where we will see newly-arrived wildfowl including the first returning Whooper Swans. A little further north, one of the regular King Eiders may have already returned; if so, we will endeavour to visit the area, making sure we check other migrant hotspots along the way. At this time of year, scarce migrants such as Yellow-browed Warbler, Barred Warbler, Common Rosefinch and Red-backed Shrike are likely possibilities, with the very real chance of something much rarer thrown in for good measure. Overnight at the Spiggie Hotel and Lodges.

DAYS 3 To 6  Monday to Thursday - Fair Isle

After breakfast we travel north to Tingwall Airport to board our plane, each of us full of excitement and anticipation at the thought of what rarities await us. After a thirty minute flight, we arrive on the remote and magical island of Fair Isle. We'll check in to our cosy and homely guest house, which is located at the southern end of the island

It's hard to define a day on Fair Isle. Our day will typically start with an optional pre-breakfast walk to check for migrant arrivals. After judging the weather prospects for the day ahead we could be heading to the crofting areas in the south or exploring the sheltered 'geos' in the north - in autumn, birds have a habit of turning up anywhere on Fair Isle.

With just a sniff of the fabled east wind we can expect a wide range of common species including Redstart, Ring Ouzel, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Brambling, Siskin, Twite, Mealy Redpoll and Snow Bunting. The island can also be awash with thousands of Fieldfares and Redwings. Among the commoner migrants we'll search for Richard's Pipit, Icterine, Yellow-browed and Barred Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Red-backed and Great Grey Shrike, Lapland Bunting and Common Rosefinch.

September and October are peak months for Fair Isle's rarities, and it can be outstanding for vagrants. Specialities like Great Snipe, Pechora, Red-throated and Olive-backed Pipit, Yellow-breasted Bunting and Citrine Wagtail are just about annual and we have a good chance of seeing Lanceolated, Pallas's Grasshopper, Booted, Radde's, Dusky, Pallas's, Arctic or Greenish Warblers! An outstanding list of vagrants has been amassed over the years - Harlequin Duck, Baillon's Crake, Blyth's Pipit, Siberian Rubythroat, Red-flanked Bluetail, Brown Flycatcher, Siberian, White's, Swainson's, Eye-browed and Black-throated Thrushes, Blyth's Reed, Paddyfield, Blackburnian and Tennessee Warblers, Savannah Sparrow and both Pallas's Reed and Yellow-browed Buntings. Almost anything can - and does - turn up!

A wide variety of other migrants will be on the move: Jack Snipe, Knot, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and Common Greenshank should be encountered and southbound geese will include Pink-footed, White-fronted, Greylag and Barnacle; Glaucous and Iceland Gulls will also be passing through in small numbers and our early morning sea watches may reward us with Great Northern Divers, Storm Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters, Pomarine Skuas and maybe diminutive Little Auks heading south.

Even when there are few migrants elsewhere in Shetland, Fair Isle has an uncanny knack of producing interesting birds. It is also one of the best places in the whole of Britain to find your own rarities. Who knows - maybe it will be us making the birding headlines this autumn!

DAY 7  Friday

We leave Fair Isle in the morning and return to mainland Shetland. For the rest of the day we will visit the plantations at Kergord, Voe, Vidlin and Swining. The abundance of food and shelter at these sites often encourages migrants to remain for several days, so whatever the weather, we should find some interesting birds. The commoner thrushes, warblers and finches may all be present while that tiny Siberian sprite the Yellow-browed Warbler is all but guaranteed. We have a good chance of unearthing a scarce migrant or two - perhaps a Red-breasted Flycatcher or a Barred Warbler. Merlins, Sparrowhawks and Long-eared Owls can often be found sheltering at these sites too. We will gradually return south to our accommodation at Spiggie Hotel, making strategic detours along the way to take in any exciting new migrants we may have learned of. Overnight at the Spiggie Hotel and Lodges.

DAY 8 Saturday

After breakfast we will transfer you to Sumburgh Airport or make arrangements for you to travel to your onward destination in Shetland. Those booking the Saturday 17th - 24th September, 24th September - 1st October, and 1st - 8th October trips may however wish to consider joining our follow-on Autumn Gold holidays running from 24th September - 1st October, 1st - 8th October and 8th - 15th October respectively.

Holiday Information 2016 Operating Dates


Sat 17th Sept


Sat 24th Sept





Single Supplement






Sat 24th Sept


Sat 1st Oct


Sat 1st Oct


Sat 8th Oct


Group Size - maximum 5 travellers


There are just too many autumn migration highlights, but to name a few...

Spotted Crake
American Golden Plover
Baird's Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Short-toed Lark
Shore Lark
Richard's Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
Pechora Pipit
Citrine Wagtail
Thrush Nightingale
Siberian Rubythroat
White's Thrush
Siberian Thrush
Grey-cheeked Thrush
Black-throated Thrush
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler
Lanceolated Warbler
Paddyfield Warbler
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Marsh Warbler
Greenish Warbler
Arctic Warbler
Pallas's Leaf Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Radde's Warbler
Dusky Warbler
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Brown Flycatcher
Lesser Grey Shrike
Arctic Redpoll
Lapland Bunting
Ortolan Bunting
Rustic Bunting
Little Bunting
Yellow-breasted Bunting
Chestnut eared Bunting


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