I always try to use local guides if possible, because local guides have local knowledge and this saves valuable time. Brydon knows Shetland intimately and especially the local otters. Within an hour he had me in front of two otters. In two days I’d been within photographable range of 7 otters – there is no question I’d have achieved this without Brydon’s help. Oh and another thing: he’s a damned fine chap! Peter Cairns – Peter is a full time freelance photographer, whose images have won awards in several international competitions such as BBC wildlife photographer of the year and the GDT European photographer of the year. He was also a founding partner in the widely acclaimed ‘Tooth & Claw’ predator project and is a member of the ‘International league of Conservation Photographers’ and a founding director of both ‘Wild Wonders of Europe’ and ‘The Wild Media Foundation’.
On Friday we got home from a Shetland Nature holiday lead by Gary Bell, which we enjoyed so much that we wanted to write and thank everyone involved.
From the moment we arrived, everything was so well organised that we had nothing to think about except enjoying the amazing scenery and wildlife. Gary was a wonderful guide and showed us so many things that we would not have seen if we were on our own – we are really glad that we decided to do this tour. Please pass on our thanks and best wishes.Alastair and Fran Jepson
After several unsuccessful attempts at otter photography over the years it was time to call in a professional so on my recent trip to Shetland I teamed up with Brydon Thomason who showed me how it’s really done! With an intimate knowledge of the northern isles, Brydon is well acquainted with a host of otter sites- in a matter of minutes at our first location he spotted our first adult. On my own I would no doubt have tried to get close to it there and then but Brydon assured me it was asleep on the shore so better to wait for it to come out to feed. Sure enough after an hour’s wait it emerged together with a cub and proceeded to feed in the calm water. Magical! Later he located another mother and cub at a second site, which proved to be the highlight of the day with an amazing encounter just a few metres away and some great shots were ‘in the bag’. But this was about far more than photography – I learnt a great deal of field craft skills over the two days and an awful lot about otters. If you want to see and photograph otters there can be few better. Many thanks, Brydon. Mark Hamblin – Mark has been a professional wildlife photographer since 1995, with a special interest in the natural heritage of the British Isles . His work has been widely published throughout Europe, and he is the author of three books. He is one of the founding members of Wild Media Foundation and his collaboration on the Tooth and Claw initiative has galvanized his belief that photographers have a crucial role to play in communicating nature’s stories.
My Shetland Nature Experience was fantastic. Led by knowledgeable and laid back guide, Rob Fray, within an hour or so of leaving the ferry, our group had already seen our first puffins and gannets, and the sightings only increased. Accommodation and food were super. By the end of the week I was able to identify many bird species I had hitherto not known and enjoyed many enchanting sightings of otters which were a first for me. The small group and guest to guide ratio made a world of difference.
I left Shetland feeling enriched and my knowledge of and respect for nature and the perils it faces having considerably expanded. A 5* and unique experience!
Fiona Halliday, freelance journalist and photographer
“What a wonderful week we have had. The wildlife photography here is an excellent experience that was beyond any of our dreams! The expertise of Brydon’s guiding made us easy reach all of our targeted species to encounter, enjoy and photograph. On top of this wonderful experience was this marvellous house- The Shetland Nature Lodge where we felt at home from the first night.
Thank you so much for a great holiday above all our expectations :)Lenka Gondova & Stefan Kordos– Slovakia
Otters have long since been a species have I wanted to photograph and although I have had a few brief encounters have never managed anything great. A couple of colleagues mentioned Brydon’s name to me and to get in touch with him about my forthcoming trip to Shetland. Once there I meet up for 2 of the days with Brydon. The first day we did not have a lot of luck, however we thoroughly enjoyed the day and learnt so much by listening and watching Brydon. On the second day I think we saw in the region of 8-10 otters, with one particularly fantastic encounter with a mother and 2 cubs. I have to say Brydon’s local knowledge and enthusiasm is wonderful and anyone going to Shetland would be wise to get in touch with him, not only for otters but for all of Shetlands wildlife. Since my trip to Shetland I have since had a few of my own otter encounters on other locations and the experience of being out with Brydon helped enormously.
Wow, what a week! With an Excellent guide, Gary, we had fabulous views of Shetland, lots of different birds and good weather. The list can be expanded, but to “quote” Brydon: so many highlights I can hardly think where to start or stop!
Of course, to watch an Otter fishing and eat the fish on shore is one, the stunning male Snow Bunting another”.Per Olof Fagerström
Professional and exceptional – highly recommended. Dominic Mitchell – Birdwatch Magazine, Managing Editor
Brydon has grown up with “his” otters and understands them better than anyone else I know. I spent a week with Brydon during which we found otters every day, leading to some superlative photography. David Tipling
I met Brydon when I was visiting Herma Ness, northern Unst, on a press visit to this wonderful seabird colony. His warm, friendly, personable manner, combined with his depth of knowledge made the whole trip a joy – our laughter mingling with the cries of ten thousand seabirds. It is nigh on impossible to trump the experience of walking between nesting Bonxies, going eyeball to eyeball with thousands of Gannets or watching Puffins at point blank range. Brydon managed it, though, when he picked out a surfacing pod of Orcas offshore while our jaws dropped. Brilliant! Mike Weedon – Bird Watching Magazine, Peterborough
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 Roger Riddington, Martin Garner, Rob Fray and others, need no introduction to hardened birders. These ornithological gurus are also welcoming, instructive and undoubtedly leaders in their field of bird identification. If you want to connect with the next First for Britain, I’d recommend placing yourself in their charge come migration season. Fiona Barcla – Manager, Birdguides
Twenty years earlier I was on Shetland for a month with a colleague filming Otters for the BBC Natural History Unit. In that amount of time you get a feel for your quarry. This winter I was back again for Otters and a Shetland contact put me in touch with Brydon. Within minutes of meeting him I knew he also had an empathy for wildlife which only comes with years of experience gained from watching and following animals closely. An unassuming polite fellow who has excellent local knowledge and field craft. Otters are not easy to find let alone follow, but Brydon was able to read the signs and locate them quickly. They may be his first passion but he has a vast knowledge of Shetland’s wildlife with a passion for the Birdlife coming a very close second. So if you need a wildlife guide on Shetland then you’ll not go far wrong with Brydon. Manuel Hinge – BBC Wildlife Film Maker
This was my first birding tour, and it’s hard to see how it could be bettered – good weather brought good birds to be enjoyed in beautiful surroundings, expert leading and each hard day’s birding was finished off with a terrific meal and lots of laughs. Paul-Bright Thomas
A big thank you for organising such a great week – I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it! A big thanks too, for putting up with such a comparative ‘rookie’ in your midst – you couldn’t have been more helpful and patient. Chris Kirby
The accommodation at Saxa Vord was very comfortable, and the meals provided were excellent. Having done a few tours to Shetland, I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable trip that I have experienced. Andrew Dodd
In June 2008 our Group arranged for two guided trips round parts of the Shetlands – we booked with Shetland Nature Cruises and Tours (picked from the web). We made an excellent choice – Brydon’s attitude and enthusiasm for all aspects of Shetland’s wildlife were exceptional. Our Group was particularly interested in otters, so Brydon’s specialist local knowledge of them turned out to be just what we wanted. We’re birders and botanists too – again we were not disappointed in the birds we saw and identified (both resident and migratory) or in the plants we saw. Without Brydon’s feel for the islands in general and Fetlar in particular our trips would have been much less comprehensive and much less enjoyable. We’ll be calling on Brydon again when we next go to the Shetlands, and we heartily recommend him to other wildlifers. Peter Pilbeam – Cambridgeshire Mammal Group
Brydon gave me best otter watching experience I could have ever wished for, on two occasions we saw a family of 3 and on the third occasion 7, such a knowledgeable person plus an expert birder, making the trip to Shetland an experience never to be forgotten and well worth repeating in 2009. Barbara Gardner– Norfolk
We would highly recommend the guiding services provided by Brydon for any one visiting Shetland. We were particularly impressed in Brydon’s approach, without the usual compromises for tourism that we have seen else where, we were genuinely able to view nature in a natural and undisturbed manner. In 2007 Brydon was able to give us a unique experience of watching otters and other wildlife in places only a locally born and bred Shetlander would have known about. Brydons knowledge of the Shetland bird life is remarkable and in particular his genuine enthusiasm allowed us to enjoy watching and spotting birds that we would have certainly missed on our own. His willingness to explain any aspect of wildlife and life in general in Shetland was stimulating, leaving us wanting more! Steve and Christine Redwood – Essex
Brydon was recommended to us at our hotel when we asked about guiding in order to maximize our chances of seeing the wildlife we wanted to see during our short stay on Shetland. Local knowledge is everything and in the two trips we took with Brydon it was clear that we were in the company of someone with that valuable asset. Brydon’s knowledge and enthusiasm are second to none. His finger is on the pulse with all the latest sightings and we got to see the Phalaropes and Otters that we so much wanted to see. We certainly recommend Brydon and will not hesitate to contact him again when we return to the beautiful Shetlands. Rob and Yvone Barker
If you really want to get close to nature on the Shetland islands, there is no better way than to go on one of the expeditions run by Shetland Nature Cruises and Tours . As it was our first trip to Shetland we wanted to see as much as possible of the island’s wildlife. We consulted the local tourist office in Lerwick and they recommended we tried Brydon’s company. This turned out to be an excellent choice. Brydon was very knowledgeable, knew exactly where to go to find all manner of birds and mammals and gave us the opportunity to observe them at close quarters in their own habitat. We will have no hesitation in calling him up again when we return to Shetland and look forward to enjoying another of his exciting expeditions. Richard and Sandra Sceats– Essex