Shetland Nature

Wildlife, Birding & Photography Holidays in the Shetland Islands

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Summer Season

Posted by Brydon Thomason on Saturday 7th August 2010 | News

What a fantastic summer season we have had here in Shetland. Our ‘Wild Shetland Weekends’ and ‘Shetland Nature Experience’ holidays (which all sold out!) went wonderfully. There were many highlights throughout the summer. All our groups enjoyed multiple encounters with Shetland’s enchanting wild Otters – this really is a ‘Shetland Nature’ speciality and an area where our clients experience first-hand the difference between travelling with a small group of six as opposed to a ‘coach-tour’ group of twelve! But it was not just the Otters that enthralled this summer. We had many thrilling cetacean encounters too; Minke Whales, Basking Shark, Risso’s and White-sided Dolphins, Harbour Porpoises and last, but by no means least, Killer Whales were all seen by our groups. This was undoubtedly one of the best summers on record for Killer Whale sightings throughout the isles; with a combination of our local knowledge and contacts, the fact that all our guides are resident in Shetland and not just brought here for the summer, and of course an element of luck, we saw Killer Whales on all but two of our holidays! We also identified a new pod for Shetland’s waters, a very interesting find indeed – a more detailed news post on this will follow soon…

Amongst the other highlights were of course Shetland’s mouth-watering diversity of breeding birds and the northern specialities the islands harbour, such as Red-necked Phalarope, Red-throated Diver, Merlin, Arctic Skua and Great Skua, to name but a few, not to mention the seabird colonies and evocative nights with the Storm Petrels on Mousa. More news on the breeding season for Shetland’s seabirds to follow from our friends at the RSPB soon…

Birding highlights included some star-quality sightings. Amongst the rarities seen were Great Reed Warbler, Black Stork, White-tailed Sea-Eagle and Iberian Chiffchaff (the latter being the first ever Shetland record), whilst scarce migrants included Long-tailed Skua, Red-backed Shrike, Marsh Warbler and Golden Oriole. We also made some very exciting discoveries on the birding front, with Hoopoe, White-billed Diver, ‘Northern’ Eider and a fine drake Surf Scoter making national headlines! More on these stories on our ‘Birdwatching’ Reader Holiday posting…

Plants, by their nature, don’t fly or swim away, so it’s always lovely to catch up with them in stunning surroundings. The Shetland endemic Edmondson’s Chickweed has proved a star attraction, whilst orchids have included Fragrant, Frog, Heath Spotted, Early Purple and Northern Marsh. Several scarcities included Oysterplant, Arctic Sandwort, Northern Rock-cress, Wood Burdock and Moonwort. Mountain Hares also performed well, with all groups connecting with them; this species can be found later on in the season.

A big thanks must go to our hosts at the Orca Country Inn, Saxa Vord Resort and the Spiggie Hotel, for excellent company and cuisine after a full-on day in the field; savouring the best of food Shetland has to offer is a must. Much enjoyment came from the debates over cheesecakes!