Im writing to you from the Shetland Islands, a breathtaking place full of beauty,wildlife and an amazing coastline. Im here spending several days doing my own work before my clients turn up on my “Stunning Shetland” trip for the week. When I can I want to post some images and the experiences I and my clients have during our time on these islands.
After an overnight ferry from Aberdeen to lerwick the capital of the Shetland Islands I arrived and met up with my good friend Iain who lives and has lived on the island with his wife, Anne now for many years.I quickly got settled, had a nice cuppa before planning the days ahead.
The following images were taken on the first day as we found a Red-Throated Diver who was sitting on her nest. We took a few images from a safe distance away using our car as a hide before leaving her in peace while being watched by an adult Oystercatcher. Red Throated Divers are protected under “Schedule 1” as with a lot of other wildlife on Shetland including Otters and shouldnt be disturbed.
Thursday 16th June 2016
We spent the next day on the wonderful island of Fetlar after catching the early ferry. Fetlar is the fourth largest of the 100 Shetland Islands. The island lies South of Unst and to the East of Yell. Together, the three islands make up the “North Isles” of Shetland.
Fetlar is known as the “Garden of Shetland” due to it being by far the greenest of all the islands. Indeed, the name Fetlar is reputed to originate from the Viking term “Fat Land”, further strengthening the island’s claim to be a fertile area suitable for crops. Our main target on the island was the Red-Necked Phalaropes as Shetland is a stronghold for them and is the most southernly point of their habitat range.
Sadly with high winds we saw none throughout the day but then towards the end of the day saw one for a few moments but that was enough to witness just how beautiful they are. I will be returning next week with my clients so fingers crossed for better weather.
The following images show what we were lucky enough to see on this amazing island.- Male Elder, Redshank, Red-throated Diver, Dunlin.
Friday 17h June 2016
Everywhere you look on these amazing islands there is wildlife, the climate is amazing often making you feel like you are abroad. The wildlife never disappoints and shows you a level of trust you rarely see on mainline UK. Today we decided to get ready for clients and make sure everything was ready for their arrival.
Saturday 18th June 2016
Today I picked up my clients from the ferry point first, then later the airport. After collecting them we headed to Sumburgh Head to the south of the island and spent the rest of the day photographing the seabirds that live in this part of the island.Its a magical place too see Puffins, Fulmars and many other birds against the beautiful flowers of this wonderful part of the island.
After which we then headed to our base for the whole week, The St Magnus Bay Hotell, Hillswick, and went through the weeks event before relaxing with our evening meal and ready for the first days adventures for them the following day.
Sunday 19th June 2016
Today we headed out to Eshaness for our first day as a group on the island. Traveling in two vehicles this allows my clients to capture any wildlife we see or come across with minimal disturbance by using the car as a hide something the wildlife get use too here.
The group had some great luck on that first day, with Seabirds and other wildlife. Below are a few images from today of one of my favourite seabirds, the Fulmar.
Below are a couple of images of two of my clients enjoying the cliffs and seabirds at Eshaness.
We also stopped to do some macro photography on some of the islands amazing orchids. Once it was over we headed back to our hotel and our lovely three course meal waiting for us and then relaxed as I went thought some of my clients images and helped them with their processing.
Monday 20th June 2016
Today we all headed out looking for Otters at Luna and a few other places Ive known and had some success at over the years. I got my clients into place, went through what to look for and do, fieldcraft wise etc should an Otter appear. Before they took their places I always make sure everyone knows this information and cameras setting too so that everyone is ready.
After two hours we had no sightings of an Otter though, but wonderful views of the bay and seabirds passing by and fishing. We were also treated to several seals that just came quite close to where we were all hidden away, stopped, then watched us before diving away and disappearing.
Once we packed up we headed to Luna and the surrounding areas, we visited an Artic Tern nesting site where you can see these amazing birds set back from their nest and safety see and take images without really disturbing them. Everyone loved these birds as they are so elegant at the sametime very aggressive when defending their nesting sites from disturbance.
While we were watching an adult sheep and her young wondered too close to their nests, feeding on the seaweed that surrounded the Artic Tern nests. Their presence wasn’t wanted and both were attacked by the terns from the air. Eventually both moved off but not before having to endure nosy and nasty attacks from above. The following images show you some of these attacks before the sheep moved away.
Once the day was done we headed back to our hotel and then later settled down to our wonderful, home cooked three course meal before an early night due to an early start the following day.
Tuesday 21st June 2016
Today we visited the island of Fetlar, known as the garden of Shetland because of its beauty and vast green countryside. I took my clients back onto this wonderful island that i had visited last week to show them all some of the amazing wildlife that lives on this island.
The weather was really good in the morning as we waited to see the Red-necked Phalaropes but as the day progressed the wind increased and the Red-necked Phalaropes failed to show. We did have some amazing views of Sniper in front of the hide in the morning though. These birds are incredibly hard to see and without the hide we wouldn’t have seen them this morning.
We moved to a smaller pool to hopefully see the Phalaropes but the wind increased and we ran out of time. We did have some close encounters with Great Skuas though. Shetland Isles is famous for these birds which feed on carrion but more often or not they take eggs, birds and anything they can find really. Living alongside them if you were an animal or bird would be a nightmare.
They fly over you without little warning and come quite close and you see the size of them. As you look up though you hear them and then the next thing you know you just see this huge shadow of their bodies going overhead as this image above shows.
They are always watching other animals looking for any weakness or chance to attack and kill. They are handsome birds and designed to be a total menace to anything that lives alongside them. They have a real sinister appearance which Ive tired to capture in the following two images.
Wednesday 22nd June 2016
We headed out to the west of Shetland today, a beautiful part of these islands, full of wildlife and beautiful coastlines.We drove around and came across a lot of wildlife and my clients saw Mountain Hares, Red Throated Divers, Otter and so much more.
We also had some lovely encounters with Shetland Ponies. A tiny little pony that is named and origanlted from these wonderful set of islands. The following images are some of my favourites from the day of the Shetland Ponies.Red Throated Divers and a soaring Fulmar.
Thursday 23rd June 2016
Today we visited one of my favourite places in the whole of the UK, Hermeness, the most northernly point of the UK. Its home to thousands of nesting Gannets and other seabirds, including one of my favourite the Puffin. After the long walk out there we spent most of the day in this amazing part of the Shetland Islands.
The following images show you some of the encounters we saw and captured during our time there.This place is home to tens of thousands of Gannets and is truly amazing in its scale and size and the sheer number of nesting seabirds.
On the way to the ferry port we were very lucky to see a male Otter fishing in one of the bays, all my clients got some lovely images in the beautiful morning light.
Friday 24th June 2016
Today I charted a boat to visit the amazing island of Noss, off the coast of mainline Shetland. Its another massive stronghold of breeding Gannets and other seabirds in the UK. The skipper of our boat had brought some fresh fish and he threw the fish into the sea around the boat and we were treated to an amazing close up of the Gannets feeding feet in front of us.
The sheer size of this place is just unbelievable along with the noise of the thousands of nesting Gannets and other seabirds that nest here. All my clients got some great images from this trip, below are a few of my own favourites from this amazing trip
Its been just an amazing day to top off a brilliant week with my clients. Shetland is vast, its wildlife is truly amazing and I along with Iain my good friend who lives here have tired to show my clients some of the best places on the Shetland Isles during the last week.
Its been long days and lots of patience but its been amazing, I would like to thank all my clients for the laughs, your patience and company throughout the week. My time now comes to an end on Shetland sadly, I hope you’ve enjoyed my diaries from this wonderful part of the UK. If you’d like to join me next year on this trip then please see the following link, many thanks.