DAY 1 Saturday - Welcome Dinner &
Mousa Broch Storm Petrels
Late afternoon / early evening rendezvous at Sumburgh Hotel. After
our welcome dinner and orientation we take a boat to the island
of Mousa. Mousa Broch dates back to the Iron Age and is the largest
example of its kind in Scotland, standing at a staggering 43 ft
high! The broch is the summer home to hundreds of European Storm
Petrels, which return ashore to their nests as darkness falls -
their bat-like displays as they fly in from the ocean are a truly
awesome sight. We depart Mousa just after midnight and return to
Sumburgh. Overnight at Sumburgh.
DAY 2 Sunday - South Mainland Seabirds
During the morning, we visit Sumburgh Head to view multitudes of
seabirds, including our first Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes
and Shags. We'll also be seeking out Shetland's commoner passerines
- Wheatears, Rock and Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Twite and the Shetland
Wren. If seas are calm enough we'll spend time looking offshore
for Minke Whales, White-beaked Dolphins and Harbour Porpoise. In
recent years we've also recorded both Killer and Humpback Whales.
Then on to the peninsula of Scatness for breeding Arctic Terns -
and both Common and Grey Seals - and to the Loch of Hillwell and
Loch of Spiggie for an excellent assortment of breeding wildfowl
and waders. We end the day at Dalsetter, observing typical moorland-breeding
species like Curlew, Whimbrel and Arctic Skua. Overnight at Sumburgh.
DAY 3 Monday - Noss National
Nature Reserve & Tingwall Valley
This morning we board our chartered boat for an unforgettable cruise
to Noss National Nature Reserve for spectacular views of the famous
seabird colonies. The huge cliffs will be alive with the hustle
and bustle of one of the largest seabird colonies in Shetland and
the sight of nearly 20,000 Gannets wheeling around our boat along
with rafts of Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins swimming at arms
length will be truly awesome! Viewing this seabird colony from sea-level
will certainly compliment our cliff-top vista from Hermaness later
in the week . We'll also be on the lookout for Harbour Porpoise
and should see plenty of Grey and Common Seals. We spend the afternoon
in the crystalline limestone valley of Tingwall, where we hope to
observe our first Red-throated Divers, Red-breasted Mergansers and
nesting Whooper Swans! Mountain Hare is also a Tingwall speciality
and we would hope to encounter several individuals in the upper
reaches of the valley. Overnight at Sumburgh.
DAY 4 Tuesday - Fetlar Phalaropes
We travel north, across the island of Yell, to connect with the
morning ferry to the island of Fetlar. The prize here will be the
handsome Red-necked Phalarope, famous for its breeding role reversal.
Fetlar holds over 90% of the British breeding population, although
the birds' stay on the island is brief - they generally arrive during
the third week of May and are gone by the end of July! We should
also see a wide variety of other breeding birds including Red-throated
Diver, Whimbrel, Golden Plover, Dunlin and, if we're lucky, a summering
Great Northern Diver. We'll also search the north shore of the island
for Otters. Fetlar's fertile land produces a dazzling display of
wild flowers and we should find several species of Orchid with ease.
We cross Bluemull Sound late in the afternoon and arrive on Unst,
Britain's most northerly island. Overnight at the Baltasound Hotel.
DAY 5 Wednesday - Hermaness National
Nature Reserve & Keen of Hamar Arctic Alpines
We spend the morning walking on Hermaness National Nature Reserve.
A walk on this reserve is essential to appreciate just why Hermaness
is one of Europe's most important wildlife sites. The moorland is
home to 800 pairs of Great Skuas - the second largest 'Bonxie' colony
in the world - and the cliffs house 50,000 Puffins, 40,000 Guillemots,
28,000 Fulmars and over 20,000 Gannets! The cacophony of bird cries
and the smell of guano make this an overwhelming wildlife experience!
Amidst the tapestry of Heather, Crowberry, Bog Bilberry and Bog
Cotton we'll search for the carnivorous Round-leaved Sundew and
Butterwort. In the afternoon we visit the Keen of Hamar National
Nature Reserve. Hiking on this barren serpentine fell-field has
been likened to walking on the Moon but, as we explore this unique
habitat, a diverse eco-system appears. The reserve is home to an
array of rare wild flowers, including Arctic Sandwort, Northern
Rock Cress, Frog Orchid and Shetland Mouse-Ear Chickweed - found
here but nowhere else in the world! Overnight at the Baltasound
DAY 6 Thursday - Unst back to south
We'll continue to explore more of our favourite sites on Unst.
Britain's most northerly settlement at Skaw may hold a few late
migrants (or even a few early returning ones!) and we search the
lush flower-rich meadows of Norwick for breeding Redshank, Snipe
and Curlew. In the afternoon we explore the sheltered bays and wetlands
of southern Unst. Otters and seals will be our prime targets along
with handsome brick-red Black-tailed Godwits. Only a handful of
Black-tailed Godwits breed in Shetland and they belong to the race
islandica, which is more widely distributed in the Faeroes and Iceland.
We should also encounter Dunlins on breeding territory giving their
trilling display song. We will leave Unst in the afternoon stopping
off on the island of Yell on our way south to see an impressive
gathering of tiny Round-leaved Sundew. Continuing south we head
across Yell Sound by ferry and arrive back at in the south Mainland,
home for the next two nights. Overnight at Sumburgh.
DAY 7 Friday - Northmavine and Eshaness
We spend the day in the north Mainland - a beautiful region composed
mainly of red granite and diorite. We will spend the morning at
one of our favourite patches of coastal moorland, looking for Otters,
Mountain Hares, Red Grouse and an array of breeding waders such
as Dunlin, Snipe and Curlew. Continuing north towards the picturesque
village of Hillswick, we make a stop to find the rare and declining
Oysterplant - now found at just a handful of sites in Shetland.
We lunch at the awe-inspiring Eshaness Cliffs, where caves, crags
and rocky 'geos' form some of Shetland's most dramatic and iconic
scenery. We visit the Grind o' da Navir - an incredible amphitheatre
formed by the huge seas of violent winter storms and on our return,
we will stop to admire the Holes of Scraada - a 132-yard collapsed
cave with Fulmars as residents! On our return to the lighthouse
we will keep an eye offshore for plunge-diving Gannets and terns,
and with luck we may sight whales and dolphins. After another exhilarating
day we'll head back south for our farewell dinner. Overnight at
DAY 8 Saturday
After breakfast we'll transfer you to Sumburgh airport, or make arrangements for you to travel to your onward destination in Shetland.
2019 Operating Dates
Sat 15th June
Sat 22nd June
Group Size - maximum 12 travellers
with Kate MacRae and Hugh Harrop as guides.
previously mentioned, Kate is the UK Ambassador for Bushnell trail
cams. Kate uses trail cams extensively in her work (click here
for her web site) and has captured incredible footage of a wide
range of Shetland's wildlife. Trail cams are a relatively new and
innovative way to record, understand and enjoy wildlife behaviour
that is impossible to witness under normal wildlife viewing conditions.
Trail cams are increasingly becoming an essential part of any wildlife
enthusiast's kit. These small, battery-powered units have a sensor,
which detects body warmth & movement, triggering the unit to
take a photo or a video clip. In daylight many units will even capture
video in full HD! At night, the unit bathes the area in infra-red
light, allowing captures even when it is pitch black. The footage
is recorded onto an SD card which can simply be removed and placed
into a PC or laptop.
Whilst the trail cam concept will in no way detract from the amazing
physically visible aspect of this holiday (and why would it - we've
been running it for over 20 years!), the use of trail cams on this
trip will complement your understanding and enjoyment of Shetland's
wildlife. How often does that Otter walk along a certain stretch
of coastline? How many Puffins are using that single burrow entrance?
Is that scrape on a patch of heather being used by a Mountain Hare?
What is nibbling at the leaves of a tiny Frog Orchid? Is that tiny
crevice really used by a Storm Petrel? All can be answered with
a trail cam and in addition to the itinerary published above, we
will be exploring unique and highly innovative possibilities during
the week, which will include placing cams and then reviewing and
uploading footage that all participants will be able to take home
with them as a memento of the trip.
Need more info? Click here
for our Travellers Fact File.
Spaces are limited! Want to book now? Click here
for our booking page
Puffins tens of thousands!
Great Northern Divers
Rock Dove (real ones!)
Otters - lots!
Arctic Hare - lots!
Northern Marsh Orchid
Early Purple Orchid