This new 2-centre tour, based in Scalloway on the southern tip of ‘Mainland’, and on the island of Unst, is carefully timed to make the most of Shetland’s wealth of nesting waders and seabirds. From Scalloway we’ll explore cliffs, sea lochs and smaller uninhabited islands for breeding species such as Golden Plover and Razorbill before transferring to the island of Unst, the most northerly inhabited island in Great Britain. Shetland is a magical place, and whilst our focus will be on Otters, seals and host of bird species, the experience of simply being in this remote, northerly outreach of the British Isles, among its rugged landscapes and huge skies, is hard to beat!
The Shetland archipelago is among Britain's most exciting wildlife destinations. We begin by taking the overnight ferry from Aberdeen to the capital of the Shetlands, Lerwick. Among the breeding species we hope to see from our first base at Scalloway will be Eider, Fulmar, Gannet, Storm-petrel, Golden Plover, Great and Arctic Skuas, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Razorbill, Puffin, Black Guillemot, Rock Dove and Twite. Grey and Common Seals and Otters are among the mammals we'll be hoping to see and we also explore such fascinating historical sites as Jarlshof. Next we transfer to the island of Unst, home to Red-throated Diver and Common Scoter, then on the island of Fetlar we'll look for such breeding species as Whimbrel and Red-necked Phalarope.
• Sea-watching for cetaceans & seabirds on the ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick
• Breeding Eider, Storm Petrel, Great & Arctic Skuas, Arctic Tern & Puffin
• Rock Dove, Twite & Raven
• Mammals including Grey & Common Seals & Otter
• Red-throated Diver & Common Scoter on Unst
• Shetland Mouse-ear Chickweed (Cerastium nigrescens)
• Ancient settlements of Jarlshof & the Great Broch of Mousa
• Breeding specialities as Whimbrel on Fetlar
• Led by an expert naturalist guide
+32 71 84 54 80
Présente du lundi au vendredi de 10h à 17h.
Mon 31st May - Tue 8th Jun - FULL
Mon 14th Jun - Tue 22nd Jun - FULL
Mon 30th May - Tue 7th Jun - 1655 €
Mon 13th Jun - Tue 21st Jun - 1655 €
* These tours are operated by Naturetrek (ABTA Y6206) for which Nature et Terroir acts as agent.
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Andy Bunten has been an obsessive enthusiast about wildlife ever since he can remember. Educated at Cambridge, Newcastle and Imperial College, he then embarked on a career in nature conservation. He has worked for local government, wildlife trusts and, for 26 years, the RSPB. He initially worked in RSPB Scotland then headed south to be the Regional Director for the South East of England for 5 years before, in 1991, moving to the North of England to take up the reins of Director there. An experienced lecturer, Andy has cruised extensively completing over 20 trips ranging from South America to the Philippines and from Argentina to Svalbard. Now an Environmental Consultant, Andy is an enthusiastic traveller and has led wildlife groups to numerous places around the world including the Seychelles, France, Egypt, Costa Rica, Panama, Borneo, Norway and Spitsbergen. Over the last few years, he has led trips in France, Romania, Hungary, Sweden, Spain and Scotland. He loves leading trips!
NB. Please note that the itinerary below offers our planned programme of excursions. However, adverse weather & other local considerations can necessitate some re-ordering of the programme during the course of the tour, though this will always be done to maximise best use of the time and weather conditions available.
Overnight ferry (Aberdeen to Lerwick)
We assemble at the ferry terminal at Aberdeen docks not later than 5pm for departure at 7pm on the overnight journey aboard a ferry operated by NorthLink to Shetland. A large, comfortable and wellappointed vessel, on which there are lounges, along with a cafeteria and a restaurant; most people manage to divide their time up happily between these facilities and some sea-watching from the deck. Common seabirds including Fulmar and Kittiwake are with us most of the way and there is always the chance of spotting your first Arctic or Great Skua of the tour from the deck ... as well as Manx Shearwater, Storm Petrel and perhaps dolphin or porpoise.
Reclining seats are included in the price. If you would like to upgrade to a cabin for that little bit extra comfort and privacy on this overnight journey, contact us and we will check availability and cost for you.
Once again, for those of you up early this morning, some sea-watching on deck is likely to be rewarded with more seabirds. Arrival at Lerwick, capital of Shetland, is usually at about 7.30am. In the harbour, as the ship is docking, we can expect to see our first Black Guillemot and we will most likely have been seeing Great Skua since our first sight of land.
Once we have disembarked and collected our transport we will then head west to Scalloway where, after depositing our luggage at the hotel we will set off to explore this area of Shetland Mainland. We may make a visit to the Walls peninsula in the far west of the island where the spectacular scenery of lochans and voes provides a home to many moorland birds as well as seabirds and Grey and Common Seals. On a clear day the western horizon is dominated by the island of Foula, the remotest inhabited island in the UK. Alternatively, we may head east to the equally spectacular Nesting and Lunna Ness coast. In either case we will be keeping a sharp eye out for Otters, which are always a possibility in these locations.
Today we will return to Lerwick and make the 5 min ferry crossing to Bressay, the island just east of Lerwick, which shelters the town and makes it a safe haven. We cross Bressay and make the short boat trip to Noss, one of the most spectacular seabird colonies in the North Atlantic. A walk round the island should give us views of Eider, Arctic Tern and Black Guillemot as well as Great and Arctic Skuas, and the occasional Grey Seal sticking a pensive head above the water. As the cliffs rise, we should come across our first Fulmar nests, and then further round have good views of Razorbill. Cradle Holm offers superb views of Puffin while, a little further on, the Noup of Noss bursts on our senses. There are great numbers of Guillemot and Gannet here in addition to the species we have already observed. However, Kittiwakes have declined in recent years due to food shortage (sand eels) during the summer months, and the resulting mortality of chicks has had a knock-on effect on numbers. Noss is also a good location to find the Shetland Wren, recognised as a distinct subspecies. In some years Crossbills can be seen foraging in the seaweed here during irruptions from Scandinavia.
In the late evening of Day 3, it may be possible, if weather permits, to arrange an optional outing to view Storm Petrels arriving at their breeding colony on the Island of Mousa (£20 fee not included in tour cost).
We will travel to the south of the Mainland to visit Sumburgh. Here we find the remarkable antiquity of Jarlshof where the remains of at least five civilisations from Bronze Age to Medieval times are found. Above this site – on Sumburgh Head – there are seabird cliffs, and there are often good views of Gannet flying past at eye-level, as well as very approachable Puffins. If the weather is fine, there are also good views of Fair Isle.
If time permits, we may cross the largest tombolo (sand bar joining two islands) in Britain to visit St. Ninian’s Isle.
We may also spend a few hours in the town of Lerwick where we may wish to visit the museum amongst other attractions and we will be sure to check the harbour for any interesting birds which might be about. Occasional Glaucous and Iceland Gulls are drawn into the harbour when following returning fishing vessels.
Mainland & Unst, Shetland
This morning we leave Scalloway and head north towards are second base on Unst. We may go for a walk through the Kergord woods – not a great forest but the largest in Shetland, and it should mean we can add Rook to our checklist! We’ll check the Loch of Tingwall for waterfowl and Red-throated Diver, and everywhere we go we will be watching out for Merlin and Peregrine.
In the afternoon we’ll leave the Mainland, crossing first to Yell and then on to the island of Unst. Unst is dominated by peat but in the lochans here Red-throated Diver are seen regularly.
Our accommodation in Unst locates us conveniently for the next 3 nights.
Fetlar & Unst, Shetland
Crossing by inter-island ferry to Fetlar, we’ll spend the whole day on this fabulous island in the hope of seeing a feast of waders. Brought to fame by Bobby Tulloch’s discovery of Britain’s only record of breeding Snowy Owls (which last bred here in 1975), Fetlar has the greatest breeding number of Whimbrel in Britain; its larger cousin, the Curlew, is also found here, enabling us to make a direct comparison. The other wader we particularly hope for here is the engaging Red-necked Phalarope.
While these two rarities will be top of our list, we should also see breeding Redshank, Golden and Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Snipe. Most of these waders have young at this time of year and this makes some usually skulking species – notably the Snipe – much easier to observe. We’ll look for Otter as well as Great and Arctic Skuas during our visit to the island as well.
Today we explore the most northerly inhabited island of the United Kingdom. Here we will look for Cerastium nigrescens, Edmondston’s Chickweed, a botanical curiosity and a “Native. Only on serpentine debris at 50ft on Unst, Shetland”, as Clapham, Tutin & Warburg state tersely in their (pre-metric) ‘Flora of the British Isles’.
After inspecting the chickweed we continue to Hermaness National Nature Reserve. We will spend several hours walking here, taking in views of Muckle Flugga, the most northerly point of Shetland. Gannet breed here in great numbers, along with Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Shag, and other seabirds. The walk to the cliffs passes through one of the largest colonies of Great Skua in Britain and is an experience not to be missed.
Overnight ferry (Lerwick to Aberdeen)
We leave Unst today and return to Mainland where we have time for more exploration, maybe of the wild rock scenery at Eshaness, before departure from Lerwick at 5.30pm.
Our tour ends at approximately 7am this morning, on our arrival in Aberdeen harbour. We recommend pre-booking a taxi if you require one.