Shetland Seabirds & Otters

Tour Overview

Focussing primarily on seabirds and otters, this unique photo-tour features the combined expertise, local knowledge and personalities of multiple tour-leaders ensuring unparalleled opportunities and overall experience.

With his passion and creative approach for working on seabirds, Kevin Morgans is best known for his inspiring work on Puffins. On this exciting new itinerary, we are thrilled to collaborate with Kevin, pulling together our unparalleled local knowledge and experience, particularly on Otters. Each species will be worked on at a variety of locations and habitats through a variation of styles and techniques, offering guests to shoot exciting portfolios of each species. Fieldcraft and understanding species behaviour will feature first and foremost whilst helping guests ensure images are taken responsibly and that the wildlife is always put first.

Itinerary at a glance

  • Species assignment targeting Puffin, Otter & Gannet
  • Featuring the leadership, expertise and local knowledge of multiple guides
  • Itinerary running over eight days: seven nights’ accommodation, six days in field
  • National Nature Reserve shooting locations of: Sumburgh Head, Noss, Hermaness
  • Exclusive boat charters – Gannet feeding frenzy off Noss and Muckle Flugga Lighthouse
  • Bespoke Otter assignments: group paired off with guides to work on this very elusive species
  • This tour will include a short beach clean as part of our commitment to protecting Shetland’s natural environment

About the itinerary

This photography tour focuses primarily on these three species. With multiple leaders on hand throughout, this tour is designed and led to suit all levels of photographers. For experienced guests we ensure through our local and species knowledge that you get the best out of each location and subject whilst for less experienced guests we are on hand for tuition, critique and encouragement as and when needed.

So that we endeavour to provide the best possible shooting options on any given day, although we plan to follow an itinerary, our day to day excursions need to remain flexible, (or at least where logistically possible). Factors such as weather will be followed and monitored continually through the tour- whilst a distraction such as report of a pod of Orca may well occur, and connection may well be possible!

Day one: meet and greet

The tour begins at 1800 in the Sumburgh Hotel reception where you will be met by us. Over dinner as we get acquainted we discuss the program, species and locations and enthuse about the images we endeavour to facilitate you shoot. If weather conditions allow there will be an after dinner shoot up on the close by Sumburgh Head. Overnight- Sumburgh Hotel.

Day two: Sumburgh Head and Noss Gannet Charter

Begin the morning at Sumburgh Head Reserve for the first of three locations to work on Puffins. Here there may also be opportunity of other seabirds such as Fulmar, Razorbill and Shag. Later we drive north to Shetlands main town, Lerwick from where we take the short ferry crossing to Bressay, bound for the small uninhabited island of Noss National Nature Reserve. Puffins and Gannets will be our two target species here. We are boated across the very narrow channel to the island by the islands wardens and once we reach the east side of the islands are rewarded with the sight and spectacle of the sheer cliffs and the impressive colonies.

Overnight at Sumburgh Hotel.

Day three: Noss National Nature Reserve

Today we return to Lerwick to join Shetland Seabird Tours for the sensational spectacle of a Gannet feeding frenzy off Noss NNR. Having enjoyed the previous day shooting here from the clifftops, today we enjoy the views and opportunities from sea level and after the exhilarating session of Gannet feeding frenzy we also cruise close beneath the towering sea cliffs and the spectacular Gannetry, which support over 13,000 breeding pairs. Here we will also work on other seabirds such as Puffins, Common Guillemot and Kittiwake.

Our base for the next three nights will be a guest house on Fetlar

Days four, five and six: Hermaness NNR and Otters

Over these three days based on Britains most northerly island we will work on two assignments. Each day guests will be paired with leaders to work on assignment to target otters at various locations on Unst and Yell whilst the rest of the group head out onto Hermaness National Nature Reserve.

Arguably the most breath-taking of seabird cities in Britain, here we will target Gannets and Puffins. With spectacular panoramic views of sea cliffs and stacks there are superb opportunities to show these fabulous seabirds in their environment. The reserve here is home to an impressively high breeding density of Great Skua, better known in Shetland as Bonxies across the surrounding moorland which we can see and take time to shoot on the journey across the footpath of the reserve to the cliffs. The cliffs are home to over 22,000 pairs of Gannets here, spread over several colonies and there can also be some exciting options to shoot Puffins here too.

Over these days there will be at least two leaders taking guests on otter rotations. This is a tantalising assignment where guests learn about field craft, otter behaviour and perhaps most importantly, how to work towards shooting opportunities with these marvellous and notoriously elusive mammals.

Whilst on Unst we will also embark on an exciting boat charter from an on-the-sea perspective of the awe-inspiring seabird cities, including the sea stacks and Muckle Flugga Lighthouse that we have been enjoying from above. In addition to the spectacular opportunities to photograph the colonies and their inhabitants, at sea level we also enjoy exciting opportunities to capture the action of Bonxies mobbing Gannets, not to mention flocks of puffins on mirror calm black water, beneath the shadows of the towering cliffs.

Day seven: Noss & Sumburgh Head

On our final full day we return to Noss and Sumburgh Head for another opportunity to capture the action in these amazing seabird colonies. In the evening over dinner we enjoy looking back over our week, the places we have been, species we have shot and images we have taken before saying our goodbyes.

Day eight: Departure

After breakfast you are transferred from Hotel to the airport.


Booking – Holiday Dates

Fitness Level Required
Walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £2,595
Thursday 18th July to Thursday 25th July, 2024 Available
Also available as bespoke/one to one itinerary – please ask for details

Contact Us to Book

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.

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