Shetland Spring Birding

Holiday overview at a glance:

  • Seven nights all inclusive accommodation
  • Arguably the best hospitality & local cuisine
  • Be part of a team effort, bird finding experience
  • Late-night excursion for Storm Petrels
  • Boat trip to a world-renowned seabird colony
  • Maximum of eight guests
  • This tour will include a short beach clean as part of our commitment to protecting Shetland’s natural environment

2024 Dates:

  • Saturday 11th May to Saturday 18th May, 2024

Landing at Sumburgh airport an impatient and ever excited Martin Garner whisked us away to the nearby headland, for waiting just off shore was a pod of killer whales, what a great start and each day just got better and better. Wildlife watching in the Shetland Islands is an incredible experience, I call it Wildlife rather than Birdwatching for one simple reason, the isles have it all. Something else that made the whole trip so amazing was around every turn in the road we were confronted by staggering landscapes. Tim Appleton MBERutland Water Reserve Manager,
Co-Organiser of Rutland Birdfair

Shetland in spring and summer is a very special place, marked by a heady cocktail of breathtaking scenery, isolation and tranquility. The wealth of stunning wildlife-watching opportunities mixed with a rich cultural heritage combine to enthrall and delight visitors to the islands. The reward for travelling this far north is a dazzling combination of wildlife, so rich and varied it’s hard to squeeze into a few words.

A wonderful week in a delightful friendly archipelago with more Red-backed Shrikes than I could have dreamed of. Martin was a splendid guide and I could only marvel at his visual acuity, comparable to that of a Peregrine Falcon! Charles Gallimore

For the birder and aspiring rarity hunter excited by the prospect of finding their own birds, every year spring produces quality scarce migrants such as Common Rosefinch, Icterine Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Wryneck, Marsh Warbler, Bluethroat and Golden Oriole whilst species such as Rustic Bunting, Red-throated Pipit, Subalpine Warbler and Thrush Nightingale are all but annual. And better still they are all in their summer splendor.

Then there are the much sought rarities and ‘big finds’; such as Collared Flycatcher, Great Reed, Blyth’s Reed, Paddyfield, Sardinian and Savi’s Warblers whilst recent years have included Squacco Heron, Little Crake, Franklin’s Gull, Moltoni’s Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, and you just never know mega’s such as Thick-billed Warbler, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and Pallas’s Sandgrouse have turned up in the past!

This against the backdrop of some of Britain’s rarest and most enigmatic breeding birds (such as the Red-necked Phalarope and Red-throated Diver); the highest density of Otters anywhere in Europe; breathtaking sea cliffs, 2 species ofSkua, spectacular displays of wildflowers, home of over a million seabirds; and a magical late-night adventure to a world famous Storm-petrel colony.

Add to that regular summer sightings of Killer Whales (which incredibly last year the group saw within ten minutes of arrival at airport!!) plus fellow cetaceans such as White-beaked, Risso’s, White-sided and Common Dolphins, Minke Whales and also Basking Sharks (which have all been seen on recent holidays). You can see why the Shetland Isles feature in so many natural history documentaries and why ‘Lonely Planet’ listed it as one of its Top 10 regions in the world to visit in 2011: to quote “this might just be the last untamed corner of the United Kingdom“.

All Shetland Nature trips are meticulously planned. This holiday has been designed to showcase the full spectrum of Shetland’s late-spring wildlife like no other. Timed to span what is traditionally one of the best and most productive weeks of the spring, this itinerary showcases the marvel of spring migration along and the excitement of bird hunting, finding and learning whilst also enjoying Shetlands all-star wildlife attractions.

We feel the quality of our client’s creature comforts to be equally as important as the quality of encounters our Islands have to offer – this is why we use the best hospitality and local cuisine available.


Throughout the week our itinerary will need to remain relatively flexible as at any time news of a recently discovered rarity can quickly change plans. We will visit most of the main islands and hopefully, weather permitting the rather remote and rarity renowned Out Skerries along with top birding hot spots throughout the isles. The following Excursions/spectacles/species will however be included/targeted;

  • Three nights stay on Mainland and four nights on Unst
  • Boat trip to Noss National Nature Reserve
  • Late night boat trip to Mousa for Storm Petrel
  • Fetlar for Red-necked Phalarope
  • Hermaness National nature Reserve on Unst

Booking – Holiday Dates

Principal Tour Guides
Fitness Level Required
Walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £1,880
2024 Dates
Saturday 11th May to Saturday 18th May, 2024 Available

Contact us for more information and to register your interest.

Private Tour Options: This holiday can also be arranged exclusively for private booing for couples, families or small groups.

Contact us for information and cost proposal for your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday. Email: [email protected]

Additional holiday information:

  • Read about the hotels we use – view our hotel providers.
  • All meals, accommodation, guiding fee’s and excursions as well as ferry fares and transport are included in package cost.
  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability.
  • Not included in cost are items of a personal nature or hotel bar tabs nor is travel to and from Shetland included.
  • No single supplement charged.
  • 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. A reasonable level of fitness is advised however this is run at a leisurely pace. We can also provide holidays at an even more leisurely pace; please contact us for details.
  • Please note that all itineraries are subject to change but guests will be advised in advance should it be necessary to make any major changes.

View Terms & Conditions for booking