Shetland Nature

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Shetland in Winter

Posted by Brydon Thomason on Wednesday 4th December 2013 | News

Having been asked to write a feature on Shetland in winter for the exciting new digital travel magazine Go & See, we felt we really needed to share just how special Shetland is in winter and with this image gallery you can see why…

The Shetland Islands in winter is a classic example of the wonderful wildlife we have right here in Britain during the winter months. The unspoilt beauty of the Shetland landscapes is ever changing through the seasons but often in winter it is even more so. Although in the heart of winter there may be little more than six hours of daylight, on a clear day this light offers a purity and clarity that will take your breath away and often on such a crisp calm winters nights the skies can be brought to life with the aurora borealis…

From calm clear-skied frosty mornings to wild winter storms thundering waves onto dramatic sea cliffs, the weather is far from predictable. Throughout the isles wintering sea duck’s, wildfowl and waders arriving from the Arctic abound as does the highest density of Eurasian Otters in Britain, active by day along beautiful and remote coastlines. There is beautiful blend of adventure, excitement and tranquillity found in winter in Shetland whether you are a walker, naturalist or wildlife enthusiast that is totally unique.

Quotes from team members

For me there is no other species or subject that captures the atmosphere of the Shetland wilderness as authentically and magically as otters do. Throughout the seasons I am privileged to spend my days tracking and studying these captivating creatures and winter is my favourite for this. Getting to know the movements and behaviour, particularly of mothers with cubs is very special indeed, as you follow their daily routines along our beautiful and remote shorelines. With shorter days our diurnal Otters condense their foraging activity into the available hours of day light. It’s a challenging, busy and special season for our otters.Brydon Thomason

When the clouds break the low mid-winter sun bursts through, the light is exquisite. I have never experienced such beautiful light that can last all day creating an orange glow along some of the most dramatic seascapes in Britain. It is so much fun being out with the camera creating pictures in such awe inspiring light and scenery that you don’t want the day to end. Sometimes the skies remain clear into the night and the most amazing light show takes place, the aurora, always breath taking.Richard Shucksmith

Britain’s most Northerly town of Lerwick is full of mid-winter magic. The picturesque, vibrant & historic harbour town holds many hidden gems for the photographer& naturalist & what better time to visit than January when one can enjoy near-Arctic wildlife coupled with the spectacle which is ‘Up’Helly Aa’ the traditional Viking Festival. Shetlanders really celebrate in style, the men dress in full Viking regalia and parade proudly & whisky-fuelled through the old streets of Lerwick. Bearing large lit torches at night & following an ornate Viking Long-ship to a drum beat procession is great fun to capture on camera – a true highlight of the Shetland year& my own! I enjoy photographing birds around the harbour such as Black Guillemot, Long-tailed Duck, Common Eider & White-winged Gulls in the low Northern light and in the evening a hearty traditional ‘Cullen Skink’ soup or a ‘Shetland Gin’ helps warm me by a roaring peaty fire.Rebecca Nason

If you would like more information on what we offer during the winter months, such as a self catered stay in our stunning Shetland Nature Lodge with bespoke itinerary of day tours, or perhaps a holiday option, please contact us for details.