DAY 1 Saturday - Welcome
Late afternoon / early evening rendezvous at the Sumburgh Hotel.
During our orientation dinner we will run through our planned itinerary
and enthuse over the exciting prospects the days ahead offer. Overnight
at the Sumburgh Hotel.
DAY 2 Sunday - South
After a filling breakfast (porridge is obligatory!) we spend the
day in the south Mainland, seeking out our common winter residents:
Black Guillemots, Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese, Long-tailed Ducks,
Goldeneye, Great Northern Divers, Eiders, Purple Sandpipers and
Golden Plovers should all be seen in good numbers. Mammal buffs
will be entertained by scores of both Common and Grey Seals and
if sea conditions are calm enough, Harbour Porpoise. Endless flocks
of 'larids' should also keep us entertained and among them we would
hope to find both Glaucous and Iceland Gulls. Overnight at the Sumburgh
DAY 3 Monday - West & North
Mainland Otter Quest
We head for the sheltered inlets of the north and west Mainland
to search for Otters. Shetland is the north European stronghold
for this species and we're fortunate to have a population in excess
of a thousand individuals. Our knowledge of their movements and
feeding habits is second to none and we hope to give you some truly
outstanding views. In recent winters we've found several sites with
family groups - our tried and tested field craft of reading tracks
and following tides pays dividends! In our quest to find these striking
animals, a number of arctic-breeding birds will also be on view
- Slavonian Grebes winter in just a handful of secluded bays, as
do diminutive Little Auks. We end our day by visiting a roost site
for the majestic and highly secretive Long-eared Owl. Overnight
at the Sumburgh Hotel.
DAY 4 Tuesday - Up Helly Aa -
Lerwick Fire Festival
A day of festivities! With the Raven Banner hanging from Lerwick
Town Hall and scores of local men magnificently dressed as Vikings
you may well think that the clock has turned back 1,200 years! We
spend the morning enjoying the Guizer Jarl's parade and admire the
huge Galley built for the 2019 festival. We take a break to view
an impressive gathering of Grey Seals and should also find Glaucous
and Iceland Gulls nearby. We'll also search the Tingwall Valley
for Arctic Hares, which at this time of year, are dressed in their
white winter coats. As dusk approaches and the atmosphere builds,
we ensure ourselves a grandstand view of the Up Helly Aa climax.
Under the black winter skies, over 800 colourfully attired guizers
muster and carry their burning torches through the streets of Lerwick,
producing a riot of colour. The Galley is towed to its last resting
place and the ranks of guizers encircle the doomed longship. A bugle
calls and, as the last note is sounded, blazing torches are flung
in a shower of fire and flame to a proud rendering of "The Norseman's
Home". As the chants and songs continue, the inferno consumes the
ship until she's no more than a scattering of ashes. We return to
the hotel for our farewell dinner and hope that we can end the holiday
by showing you one of nature's most beautiful gifts - the Aurora
Borealis. Overnight at the Sumburgh Hotel.
DAY 5 Wednesday
After breakfast we'll transfer you to Sumburgh airport, or make arrangements for you to travel to your onward destination in Shetland.
Alternatively you may wish to extend your stay and we are happy to make any necessary arrangements for additional accommodation, car hire etc.
2019 Operating Dates
Sat 26th January
Wed 30th January
Group Size - max 8 travellers
Great Northern Divers
Lesser Scaup - wow!
Iceland Gulls lots
Otters - lots!
Arctic Hare - lots!
The Aurora Borealis!