Meet Brydon Thomason
As a born and bred Shetlander I can’t recall a defining moment or age that I personally succumbed to Shetland’s illustrious charms. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the natural environment that was (and essentially still is!) my playground. As my passion for nature progressed so too did my interest in the relationships between seasons and species, the weather and wildlife and how the landscapes and habitats are affected by it and of course how we as Shetlanders live within it.
My childhood interests and indeed antics all revolved around life outdoors. I grew up on a croft on Fetlar, an island renowned for its ornithological history and known locally as ‘The garden of Shetland’. As a young boy I spent as much time as I could, working with my father on the croft and spending similar time with the local RSPB wardens on the islands reserves. In many ways my introduction to Shetland’s natural environment was quite interesting and unusual as I had influence from both agricultural and conservation aspects.
Another influence early in my life was the late Bobby Tulloch, a legendary naturalist in the isles and beyond. Bobby was a childhood hero to me and a huge inspiration. He too was a born and bred Shetlander, from the neighbouring island of Yell. Many a time Bobby would invite me along on a tour he was leading, which was something he pioneered in the islands. Even as a young lad I admired how he made a career around his love and understanding of Shetland and its wildlife which was always a lead I aspired to follow.
Like Bobby I had an independent enthusiasm for exploring the natural world around me. Like many a young nature lover I spent countless hours in and around fresh water streams and lochs, rock pools and beachcombing, searching for bird’s nests and perhaps what was my favourite of all, tracking Otters.
Even though birds and birding developed into what many would label ‘an obsession’ (especially my wife, Vaila!), it was my fascination for Shetland’s Otters that undoubtedly developed into my life passion. Learning how to track their movements by finding spraints, holts and runs and where and when to find them and studying their behaviour became my main motivation as a naturalist.
Although you could say I am a relative newcomer to photography, and was late to jump on board the digital revolution, from the moment I did I was hooked. I quickly realised that my love and appreciation of nature would be opened up to a whole new dimension by capturing moments from the encounters I enjoyed.
On a very similar level I found sharing knowledge and communicating my passion to others to be something that was very important to me. Being part of the whole process and experience of making people’s holiday and memories special (and promoting Shetland to the world) is something I am extremely proud to be a part of and find immensely gratifying.
It was this passion, drive and enthusiasm that was (and still is) the catalyst for establishing my own wildlife tour company in 2006 and my aspiration to build a career and essentially, a life in the wild rather than a sharp head for business.
Shetland is a small but very special place and for visitors there is much talent, expertise and wonderful ways to explore and enjoy our outstanding cultural and natural heritage through tours, events and organisations. My vision for Shetland Nature and our ethos that is fundamentally shared throughout our team has always been for us to be ‘one of’ these choices rather than be ‘The number 1 choice’.
It is perhaps taking it a little far to say that I see myself as ‘living the dream’, but as anyone fortunate enough to do not only what they do best, but what they love most would agree – this statement is not too far from the truth!