Shetland Nature

Wildlife, Birding & Photography Holidays in the Shetland Islands

Call:  (0)1957 710 000

Shetland Nature Photography Holiday

With David Tipling & Brydon Thomason – 2014

Holiday overview at a glance:

  • Leadership and expertise of two guides – lowest guest to guide ratio
  • Opportunity to track and photograph Shetland’s otters
  • Unique opportunities to photograph northern specialities from a hide
  • Exciting innovative gannet photography opportunities
  • Full choice from à la carte menu & some of the best hospitality, accommodation and cuisine that Shetland has to offer


  • Thursday 5th June to Thursday 12th June, 2014

Our unique wildlife photography holiday in the enchanting Northern Isles is led jointly by David Tipling and Brydon Thomason. With the unsurpassed insight and local knowledge of a native Shetland naturalist and one of the nation’s most experienced wildlife photographers this is arguably the most comprehensive Shetland photographic itinerary available.

To nature and landscape photographers the Shetland Isles is a truly tantalizing location. Majestic cliff scenery, unspoiled wilderness, teeming seabird colonies and moorlands that are alive with some of the nation’s rarest and most evocative breeding birds – all offered in what is literally around the clock light. The opportunities are world renowned.

This specialist photography workshop is timed to maximize opportunities and so runs over the height of the northern summer, known locally as “simmer dim”. We will be based on Shetland’s northernmost island of Unst for most of our stay, at the very top of the British Isles. The island is celebrated for a diverse range of wildlife habitats from blanket bog to seabird cliff, freshwater marsh, heather moorland and the strange moon-like “fellfield”, and is home to Hermaness and the Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserves. From here we are also well-placed for exploring the neighbouring islands of Fetlar and Yell, and the north Mainland.

Special birds of these islands include arctic and great skuas, red-throated divers, many species of breeding waders including golden plover and whimbrel, not to mention seabirds such as puffins, gannets, and black guillemots. On Fetlar we may be lucky enough to find the rare red-necked phalaropes as they feed on a freshwater loch. Weather permitting; we shall make boat trips out to the gannet colonies at Noss or Muckle Flugga where we have innovated exciting opportunities to photograph gannets at their very best! Also we will endeavour a day trip onto the islands of Mousa or Noss.

Orcas are now very much a regular feature of the Shetland summer, sometimes seen several times a week as they hunt the coastline for unwary seals, just a few metres offshore. During our stay we will be on constant standby to react to any reports of orca sightings, and with our local knowledge and contacts throughout the isles we are often the first to receive news, maximising our chances of an encounter with these awe-inspiring cetaceans.

Perhaps the highlight of this holiday will be the opportunity to track wild otters with renowned otter guide, Shetlander Brydon Thomason. Throughout the week we will run a rolling itinerary so that just two people at a time can enjoy this exhilarating opportunity under specialist guidance. Wild otters are one of the most challenging but ultimately rewarding wildlife photography subjects in the British Isles. With our field experience and local knowledge we have an excellent chance of delivering this “holy grail” to our clients.

We expect to make some early starts to take advantage of the long days of mid-summer. Moderate fitness and agility level required – involves a fair amount of walking on rough ground, perhaps up to five miles a day.

Your accommodation:

The first two nights and the last night will be spent at the Sumburgh Hotel, which is convenient for arrival and departure, whether by air or by sea, and for exploring the Shetland mainland. En-suite rooms.

The rest of the holiday will be based at the Baltasound Hotel, Britain’s most Northerly hotel, on the isle of Unst. Baltasound Hotel have recently been awarded a certificate of excellence form Trip Advisor. They offer comfortable well-equipped rooms, and in the restaurant you will be able to enjoy some of the best cuisine Shetland has to offer, which makes full use of the freshest local produce.

2012 Guest Review:

Hello Brydon
I really enjoyed my trip with you and David.
The people skills of the both of you make everybody feel very welcome and that can make or break a trip. There are very few companies that deliver what they promise in their brochures or on their website but you do more than that. Having been on a Shetland trip before showed me how much your company stands out. Never had I thought to see wild otters this close in their environment. It was only possible because of your tracking skills and great knowledge about otters. The choice of taking only two people at a time to minimise disturbance works very well. So while some two people are off to find otters others of the group are photographing birds from a hide near the bathing pool of the arctic skuas. This hide gave good opportunities for getting pictures of all kinds of bathing birds. I also enjoyed Hermaness for photographing sea birds.
The combination of seeing and photographing otters and birds make this trip stand out from other trips offered on Shetland
If at all possible I will be back to Shetland to do another trip with you.
Keep up all the good work
Dick van der Lely

Read a review and recommendations from 2012’s photo tours and see a gallery of images from our guests →

Booking – 2014 Holiday Dates

Fitness Level Required
Walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £1,350
Thursday 5th June to Thursday 12th June, 2014 Available
Please note all holidays commence at 18:00hrs in the evening of the first day and finish after breakfast on the final day when we can arrange and advise transport for onward travel.

Contact Us to Book

Contact us for more information or to enquire about alternative dates for your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday.

Telephone: +44 (0)1957 710 000    Email:

  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability
  • On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietry
  • Throughout the holiday some of the activities will potentially involve walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain. There will require a reasonable level of fitness. We can also provide holidays at a more leisurly pace; please contact us for details

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