Shetland Nature

Wildlife, Birding & Photography Holidays in the Shetland Islands

Call:  (0)1957 710 000

Shetland Autumn Birding

Holiday overview at a glance:

  • Up to 8 guests
  • Expertise and leadership of more than one guide
  • Seven nights all inclusive accommodation
  • Arguably the best hospitality & local cuisine
  • Be part of a team effort, bird finding experience
  • Learn new skills & discover the latest in international bird ID

Shetland Autumn Birding with Shetland Nature? Professional and exceptional
– highly recommended
Dominic Mitchell (Managing Editor, Birdwatch Magazine and Birdguides)

Dates:

  • Friday 26th September – Friday 3rd October, 2014
  • Saturday 4th October – Saturday 11th October, 2014
  • Saturday 26th September – Saturday 3rd October, 2015
  • Saturday 3rd October – Saturday 10th October, 2015

(holiday commences at 18:00hrs in the evening of the first day and finishes after breakfast on the final day)

There is something truly special about birding a remote archipelago in autumn. To really indulge in the sheer wonder of bird migration there are few better backdrops than Shetland and the Islands reputation is legendary. The unique combination of its geographical location, stunning scenery, quiet and crowd-less birding localities and of course it’s unparalleled track record for attracting migrants, rarities and headline mega’s make it a paradise for birders, rarity hunters and listers alike.

Year after year, a mouth-watering selection of rare species are recorded in the islands, many of which have become known as ‘Shetland specialties’ such asLanceolated and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers, Pechora Pipit and Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll which remain almost unknown elsewhere in Britain. There is an exhilarating atmosphere in the autumn that instills the feeling that just about anything is possible. With species such as Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous-tailed and Siberian Blue Robin’s, Chestnut-eared Bunting, Taiga and Brown Flycatcher’s, Yellow and Magnolia Warbler’s, Veery, Swainsons and Grey-Cheeked Thrush to name but a few- this optimism is not misplaced.

Led by Martin Garner of ‘Birding Frontiers’ (and current BBRC committee member) along with a supporting cast of experienced, well-known birders and renowned Shetland rarity finders Roger Riddington, Brydon Thomason, Micky Maher and Rob Fray (amongst others) our itineraries offer an unrivalled Shetland birding experience.

Few can match Martins renowned leadership, knowledge and communication skills (not to mention his enthusiasm levels!). This combined with the experience; local knowledge and field skills of the rest of the team offer our guests an unrivaled Shetland Autumn Birding experience…

Team effort bird-hunting

One of the key elements and attractions to our birding holidays is the opportunity to discover, the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of finding our own birds- which often results in the euphoria of a team-found rarity. Few birding experiences can compare to waking each morning to the concept of a new day and new possibilities and often on an island with few, if any other birders.

Through our combined knowledge of the islands and our birding experience, our Autumn Birding itineraries provide our guests with unparalleled Shetland experience. Our unique insight, combined leadership and our attention to detail provides our guests with the opportunity to;

  • Be part of a team effort bird-finding experience and hunt for your own birds
  • Know where birds can be found and how best to ‘work the locations’
  • Know how to ‘bird’ intuitively in relation to weather/winds and what birds to target
  • Keep in touch with breaking news & connect with rarities if logistically possible
  • Benefit from leadership of multiple guides – maximizing coverage, learning & opportunities
  • Through the Birding Frontiers team discover the very latest news in bird identification from around Europe and beyond

Our birding holidays are meticulously designed and timed. Spanning what is traditionally and renowned to be the best and often most productive two weeks of the autumn, these itineraries are not only designed to showcase the magic of autumn migration on a remote archipelago but also to offer the best chance of finding birds and connecting with those already found.

Our shared learning and team spirited approach along with attention to detail on our holidays are much acclaimed. The level of experience we take our holidays for our guests is not the only area in which we go that extra distance, this season we set up an innovative scheme with some local crofters and land owners with an ‘Autumn Seed Scheme’.

By encouraging the planting of what is known as ‘sacrificial’ crops (left standing specifically for birds) we are not only creating habitat for migrants to feed and shelter but also prime and authentic Shetland autumn habitat for our guests to search for our own birds.

Each holiday is designed to suit all levels, which is something we take great pride in.

Hi Brydon, I just wanted to thank you for a fantastic week’s birding. In particular Martin Garner was a completely inspirational guide. His knowledge surpassed that of any birder I have spent time with by far and his enthusiasm was limitless. In my late forties I believed my approach to birding was immovable but Martin has made me question my principles and my methodology. Positively life-changing! We saw great birds on the trip, but more importantly, I learned how to get greater value from birding. I look forward to future trips.Alan Matthews

Brydon & Martin’s professionalism was remarkable; their combined local knowledge, birding & all things avian was truly outstanding. Martin’s boundless enthusiasm and dogged determination were amazing in finding & educating us about the birds.
We would recommend this holiday unequivocally.
Judy and Peter Farren

I enjoyed being part of a team that goes out and finds rare birds – not just turns-up on a ‘twitch’ which is easy to do – that’s the difference with Shetland Nature. Thank you for putting up with such a comparative rookie!Chris Kirby

Brydon was unstoppable, lining up sites and recounting their past rarities, finding birds from the driver’s seat, quartering the cover to make sure no find went unfound and bringing us the latest news from across Shetland. At the same time, our appreciation of the islands was enhanced by the feeling that he knew and cared an enormous amount about their wider ecology. Martin made a birding team out of us, giving us insights into the origins of the birds we were seeing and their identifications, switching us on to the audio dimension, and getting genuinely excited at the odd tick or two! We had a terrific range of birds, found some cracking scarcities, and were in on the finding and identification of challenging Shetland classics like Lanceolated and Blyth’s Reed Warbler.Paul-Bright Thomas

An example of itinerary

The holiday begins on Friday evening when we meet and greet at the airport and are transferred to the Sumburgh Hotel where we check in for the evening. Over dinner we will enthuse over what awe inspiring possibilities of birds which may feature in over the week ahead and indeed recount the birds that have in the past.

We begin on Saturday by exploring the southern end of the Shetland mainland and some of the best birding hotspots before making our way north. The route to Unst, our base for the rest of the week and most Northerly Island, will be chosen to take advantage of the birding opportunities on offer and maximize our chances of connecting with any good birds on offer. When we arrive in Unst we check into the comfortable and well-appointed Baltasound Hotel.

For the next few days we are arguably in one of the best possible positions to relish the exciting possibilities of both finding our own birds and connect with the best of the news when we need to. Unst is a spectacular island that serves as the first landfall for tired migrants crossing the North Sea. Unst is undoubtedly one of the premier rarity hotspots in Britain, and each year attracts a wealth of species from both east and west.

From Unst we have the great advantage of being able to island hop to the neighbouring island of Fetlar, another stunning island which, which boasting an impressive list of migrants and rarities during spring and autumn, Similarly Yell can also offer good potential and receives the least coverage out of all the isles.

Throughout the week, we will be fully in touch with the local grapevine and news of what is turning up throughout the islands and our itinerary may be juggled to take advantage of the situation. After a few days in the north isles for example a day trip to Mainland Shetland is often a good call to connect with good birds found elsewhere. An adventurous trip to the Out Skerries or Whalsay may well also be a possibility.

Shetland is larger than most people realize so migrant arrivals are not always uniformly spread throughout the isles. Our Shetland Autumn Birding holidays are perfectly placed to adapt to local conditions and news where and when is logistically possible.

Read trip reports and testimonials from our outstanding Autumn Birding holidays in previous years:

I enjoyed being part of a team that goes out and finds rare birds – not just turns-up on a ‘twitch’ which is easy to do – that’s the difference with Shetland Nature. Thank you for putting up with such a comparative rookie!Chris Kirby

Brydon, I just wanted to say thank you to yourself and Martin for a great autumn birding break. I had looked forward to the trip for some time and had high expectations, which were more than exceeded in all respects. Having done a few tours to Shetland, I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable trip that I have experienced.Andrew Dodd

If you have ever visited Norfolk in early autumn and spent ages searching through acres of habit, shoulder to shoulder in a crowd for those reported but elusive Yellow Browed Warblers and Barred Warblers? Then you should visit Shetland where both species can be found for yourself. I spent 8 days with a small group from Shetland Nature and it was the most eye-opening birding I have ever experienced. I saw eight new species; we found our own Lanceolated and Blyth’s Reed Warbler’s, White-Billed Diver and two Little Buntings! But what I can’t convey in words is the sheer birding enthusiasm of our tour leaders Brydon Thomason and Martin Garner, an enthusiasm which at times bordered on the (pleasantly) insane! You need to see it for yourself. Highly recommended but you will never be the same again: “It’s birding Jim, but not as we know it!Graham Croney

When I visited Shetland in rarity-laden autumn 2009, I was lucky enough to be in the capable hands of ‘Shetland Nature’. What more could anyone want? With a birding team of Brydon Thomason, Martin Garner, Micky Maher, Roger Riddington, Rob Fray (amongst others) need no introduction to hardened birders. These ornithological gurus are also welcoming, instructive and undoubtedly leaders in their field. If you want to connect with the best birding action in Shetland, I’d recommend placing yourself in their charge come migration season.Fiona Barclay (Former Manager, Birdguides)

Booking – Holiday Dates

Tour Guides
Fitness Level Required
Moderate
Walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £1,145
Dates
Friday 26th September – Friday 3rd October, 2014 Available
Saturday 4th October – Saturday 11th October, 2014 Available
Saturday 26th September – Saturday 3rd October, 2015 Available
Saturday 3rd October – Saturday 10th October, 2015 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: info@shetlandnature.net

  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability
  • On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietary
  • 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 leisurely pace; please contact us for details

View Terms & Conditions for booking