Shetland Autumn Birding
Shetland’s record for attracting migrant birds is legendary. 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 as Lanceolated and Pallas’s Grasshopper warblers and Pechora Pipit and Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll which all remain almost unknown elsewhere in Britain. There is also nowhere better in Britain to find such wide range of scarce migrants, in such a beautiful and remote setting and best of all, away from crowds. It is undoubtedly a paradise for rarity hunters, finders and ‘listers’.
Led by Martin Garner of ‘Birding Frontiers’ (and current BBRC committee member) along with a supporting cast of experienced birders, well-known names in birding circles such as Roger Riddington editor of ‘British Birds’ (and a former warden of Fair Isle Bird Observatory), Brydon Thomason, Rob Fray and many more.
Few can match Martins renowned leadership, knowledge and communication skills (not to mention his enthusiasm levels!). This combined with the efforts of the rest of the team, our local knowledge, small group size and our attention to detail presents an unrivalled Shetland birding experience.
Shetland Autumn Birding with ‘Shetland Nature’ – professional and exceptional
– highly recommended. Dominic Mitchell (Birdwatch Magazine, Managing Editor)
Our holidays are meticulously designed and coordinated with team spirit in mind and to suit all levels and this is something we take great pride in. With this in mind we make time for birding for our own finds and make sure everyone gets involved.
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 (2010 holiday testimonial)
An example of itinerary
The holiday begins on Friday evening when we meet and greet at 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 Saxavord Resort.
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, as well as boasting an impressive list of rare migrants during spring and autumn, is famous for its nesting Red-necked Phalaropes and the Snowy Owls which bred there in the 1960s and 1970s. 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 possibilities.
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.
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? Brydon’s birding team of Martin Garner, Roger Riddington, Rob Fray and 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 (Manager, Birdguides)
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 (2011 holiday testimonial)
Booking – 2013 Holiday Dates
|Friday 27th September – Thursday 3rd October||Available|
|Saturday 5th October – Friday 11th October||Available|
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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