Ultimate Shetland is the most comprehensive wildlife holiday currently on offer - the only one to include visits to Mousa, Noss, Yell, Unst, Fetlar and Northmavine. Our daily itinerary is as follows...


Storm Petrel

Killer Whale

Gannets

Red-necked Phalarope

Great Skua

Otter

Edmonston's Chickweed

Oysterplant

Grey Seal

Golden Plover

Puffin

DAY 1  Saturday - Welcome Dinner & Mousa Broch Storm Petrels

Late afternoon / early evening rendezvous at the 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 - Seabirds & Selkies

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 Porpoises. 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 - Tingwall Valley & Britain's best bird cliff!

We spend the morning in the crystalline limestone valley of Tingwall, where we hope to observe our first Red-throated Divers, Red-breasted Mergansers and Britain's only breeding Whooper Swans! Arctic Hare is also a Tingwall speciality and we would hope to encounter several individuals in the upper reaches of the valley. After lunch, we board our boat for an unforgettable cruise around the island of Noss for spectacular views of the famous seabird colony, often referred to as "Britain's best bird cliff." We'll meet 20,000 Gannets, 40,000 Guillemots and 5,000 Kittiwakes! We'll also visit Common and Grey Seal colonies and look for Harbour Porpoises along the way. Overnight at Sumburgh.

DAY 4  Tuesday - Fetlar - the Garden of Shetland

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, Unst.

DAY 5  Wednesday - Unst - The end of Britain!

We have a full day to explore our favourite sites on Unst. The magnificent glacial inlet at Burrafirth will reveal inshore species like Black Guillemots, Red-throated Divers and Red-breasted Mergansers and we will also witness magnificent displays of wild flowers at the 'hanging gardens'. The moorland nearby at Saxa Vord hosts impressive gatherings of Bonxies and we should also find Whimbrel, Golden Plovers and lots of Wheatears. We'll also visit Britain's most northerly settlement at Skaw and 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. After dinner we visit a small marsh and listen for one of Britain's rarest breeders - Spotted Crake. Our chances of seeing this Starling-sized skulker are probably nil but we should hopefully hear its weird, whip-whistling song. Overnight at the Baltasound Hotel.

DAY 6  Thursday - Unst - Hermaness & Keen of Hamar

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 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, Frog Orchid and Shetland Mouse-Ear Chickweed - found here but nowhere else in the world! Late in the afternoon we will island-hop south and return to Sumburgh.

DAY 7  Friday - Northmavine

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 moorland, looking for the elusive Arctic Hare along with 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. 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. 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. In the late afternoon, we head back to the south Mainland for our farewell dinner. Overnight at Sumburgh.

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. However, you may like to join one of our follow-on holidays!

Holiday Information 2018 Operating Dates

Sat 12th May

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Sat 19th May

 
 

COST

£1345

 

Single Supplement

£175

 

DEPOSIT

£100

Sat 19th May

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Sat 26th May

 

Sat 26th May

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Sat 2nd June

 

Sat 2nd June

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Sat 9th June

 

Sat 9th June

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Sat 16th June

 

Sat 23rd June

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Sat 30th June

 

Sat 30th June

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Sat 7th July

 

Sat 7th July

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Sat 14th July

 

Group Size - 8 - 10 travellers



RECENT HIGHLIGHTS

Puffins – tens of thousands!
Storm Petrels
Red-throated Divers
Great Northern Divers
King Eider
Whooper Swans
Red-necked Phalaropes
Black-tailed Godwits
Tawny Pipit
Thrush Nightingale
Subalpine Warbler
Bluethroat
Red-backed Shrikes

Otters - lots!
Killer Whales
Minke Whales
White-beaked Dolphins
White-sided Dolphins
Risso's Dolphins
Harbour Porpoise
Grey Seals
Harbour Seals
Arctic Hare - lots!

Frog Orchid
Northern Marsh Orchid
Early Purple Orchid
Fragrant Orchid
Oysterplant
Shetland Mouse-ear
Chickweed
Arctic Sandwort
Northern Rockcress
Hoary Whitlow-grass
Moonwort
Sundew

 

 
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