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Thursday 15th June

On the way up to Shetland for our week with Shetland Wildlife, we stopped at Leighton Moss RSPB to look around the reserve. On the feeders was a family of Bullfinches, also juvenile Great & Blue Tits. When we heard there was an Osprey seen from the Lower Hide, we hurried on down. We had a quick look in the Causeway Hide and saw Mute Swans, Moorhens, Coot & Mallards. From the Lower Hide we saw the Osprey perched in the dead tree. Another Osprey flew across the field and disappeared over the trees. There was also a Buzzard and a Male Marsh Harrier flying about. On our way back from Lower Hide we saw a Female Common Pheasant & a recently hatched chick. Also there was a Robin doing a bit of sunbathing under the bush.We had another look from the Causeway Hide and saw one of the Ospreys there fishing. It dived in and it was a successful catch and the Osprey flew off with a fish back to the nest. On the boardwalk I saw a Speckled Wood Butterfly. Back at the feeders, we saw the Juvenile Bullfinch feeding on the feeders. The Adult Male and Female Bullfinches were also feeding nearby. A Juvenile Treecreeper was briefly seen near the feeders. A Vole appeared and we were very shocked to see a female Pheasant catch and kill it. I never realised they did that! In front of the Visitor Centre was a Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding on some peanuts. Afterwards Me and Mum had a quick look on Allen Pool. There were only 2 Avocets, Oystercatcher presumably with young & a huge colony of Black-headed Gulls. On leaving the reserve, we saw some Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the fields. We then headed to Lockerbie for the night.

Shetland 15th - 26th June

Friday 16th June

We left our guest house in Lockerbie & headed up north. We popped into Loch of the Lowes to see the Ospreys. The Female was on the nest with 2 chicks & did a little fly around to collect more nesting material. On the feeders was a Red Squirrel, Siskins, Mallards, Common Pheasants, Chaffinches, Great Spotted Woodpecker & Yellowhammers. We couldn’t stay very long as we didn’t want to miss the ferry. We made our way to Aberdeen and still had a bit of time before catching the 7 o’clock overnight ferry to Lerwick, so Mum and Dad had a quick look at Dunnottar Castle which was close by at Stonehaven.

On leaving Aderdeen, we saw a couple of Grey Seals and some Dolphins. On the crossing there were Gannets, Guillemots, and a single Puffin.

Saturday 17th June

We woke up on the ferry & saw our first views of the Shetland mainland. A few more seabirds were seen on route, mainly Gannets, Fulmars & a few Bonxies. We arrived at Lerwick at 7:30AM & we had time to look at Sumburgh Head RSPB.

We met Andy Howard on his last day on Shetland, before he had to catch the ferry back. I spent a bit of time photographing Puffins in flight, as they were hovering in the wind. Other birds included Fulmars, Gannets, Oystercatchers, Common Guillemots, a few Razorbills, Hooded Crow, Great Skua & Northern Wheatears. We then made our way to the Sumburgh Hotel where we met Hugh Harrop, Kate Macrae and the rest of the group. There was a change of plan for the evening. As the weather was not too good, the boat trip to Mousa was posponed till Thursday, so we spent the rest of the evening in our hotel room. Dad meanwhile went back up to Hoswick to settle into his hotel for the week.

Sunday 18th June

Our first day on Shetland with the group was exploring Sumburgh Head RSPB. We saw Razorbills, Puffins, Common Guillemots, Gannets & Kittiwakes. A Pale Morph Arctic Skua cruised along the headland. A Shetland Bumblebee was nectaring on flowers near the cliffs and a Juvenile Rock Pipit was being fed by the Adult on the wall. A Juvenile Rabbit appeared out of one of the burrows near the Puffins and we had our hearts in our mouths as he ran back and forth along the steep cliff. It was still very windy today and the birds were hovering in the air. Even the Wheatears! We went to Grutness to see Arctic Terns and Common Gulls. Also there were a few Ringed Plovers. A Rock Pipit foraged along the coastline. We drove along a roadside loch and saw some Bonxies bathing and a couple of distant Red-throated Divers. You could hear them calling on the wind. Then one of the Red-throated Divers flew over the road. We drove further up and in a bay near Bigton were some Common Seal & their youngsters on the beach. One of the Mother Seals was trying to get her young one in from the sea and it was very amusing to see it keep getting away from her and going back into the water. She eventually got it ashore and it settled down by her to have a suckle. There were also a couple of Grey Seal on the beach. Later in the day we explored the area around Quendale, which is Hugh’s local patch. There were lots of Eider Ducks near the shore with their babies, and it was lovely watching them for a while. Hugh spotted a Great Northern Diver in Summer plumage and we all had good scope views of it. An Arctic Skua perched on one of the nearby rocks and a few of managed to get quite close for photos. We also saw Common Eiders, Shetland Wren and Arctic Tern. We headed back to the Hotel for our evening meal.

Monday 19th June

We explored the central mainland of Shetland & saw some Whooper Swans & Red-throated Divers from roadside lochs. We headed to Girlsta to look for Otters, but sadly didn't see any. Just the remain of his lunch. There were some Fulmars and Common Terns around the area.

Hugh received a message on his phone that Orcas had been seen off Noss. We parked up along the road overlooking the Sound of Mousa, where we had lunch. Hugh was in touch with a boat that had the Orcas near them, but they were too distant for us to see. We went to Sandsayre for a hot drink and while we were there we bumped into Julie, who we had met on the Extremadura trip. She was also on the lookout for Orcas. We were kept amused by a family of Shetland Wrens on the beach. A few Common Eiders were also there with some Ducklings. We headed up to Compass Hill where the Orcas started to hunt close to the shore for Seals. Then we raced towards ahead Sumburgh Head and caught up with them again there. There was at least one calf with this group that was called ’Tili.’ Afterwards we lost sight of them when they headed to the point. It was such an exciting time and my best view of Orcas!

We then headed up to Hermaness NNR. We had lunch in the visitor centre car park, where we saw a Shetland Wren & Twite. In the afternoon we walked up to the sea cliffs at Hermaness. On our way I spotted a Female Common Snipe with a newly hatched chick. A few Heath Spotted Orchids & Round-leaved Sundew were present on the reserve. Hermaness is also home to 800 pairs of Great Skuas which breed here. From the cliffs were Gannets, Fulmars & the occasional Puffin fly past. The sight and smell of all the Gannets on the cliffs were amazing. We saw a pair of Bonxies that were feeding on a recently fresh dead lamb. A quick detour back to Skaw beach for a final sighting of the Pilot Whales in the fading light. There was no sign of them the following day, so they must have moved on. I just hope they kept away from the Faroe Islands! A Red-necked Phalarope was seen briefly on a roadside loch in the late afternoon. We then headed on to the Baltasound Hotel.

Tuesday 20th June


Today we had a long journey up from Sumburgh to Unst for our 2 night stay at the Baltasound Hotel. Hugh had another text message, this time it was about a pod of Long-finned Pilot Whales at Skaw. We caught the first ferry from the mainland to Yell and another from Yell to Unst. We headed striaght to Skaw beach where the pod was first seen. We only saw a family of Common Eiders & 2 distant Otters. We managed to catch up with the Pilot Whales off Lambaness. There was about 30 in the group and it looked like there were some youngsters too. We had brilliant views of them as they were just staying in the shallows by the cliff.

Wednesday 21st June

We set off early from Unst to Fetlar on 08:55AM ferry. The weather was perfect. We headed to the Loch of Funzie where the Red-necked Phalaropes, on very calm & sunny days feed on insects. A Male Long-tailed Duck was on the loch and displayed briefly with it’s yodelling call. Normally a Winter Visitor up in Shetland & stay into May, so this Male in breeding plumage is rare sight. This individual also lacks the long tail. Red-necked Phalaropes were the main target species in Fetlar. Like the Dotterel, the sexes are reversed & it’s the Females that are brightly coloured. The Females also do all the displaying to attract the Males. The Males are duller than the Females, but a still lovely bird. The Males incubate the eggs & care for the young. We were lucky to see both birds feeding near the edge of the loch. The Female came so close to us we could have touched it. Afterwards, they both flew towards the far end of the loch. The rest of the group went to hide, but Me & Hugh continued watching the Long-tailed Duck as it swam a bit closer into view. As we were about to go, Dad appeared and we told him where to look for the Phalaropes, but they didn’t come in as close for him. We headed to a bit of moorland on Fetlar which is a good habitat for Dunlin, Snipe, Golden Plover & Arctic Skua. We saw Dark & Pale Morph birds together. A Painted Lady Butterfly was also found and is a rarity in Shetland. A Shetland Wren was perched on a fence post while we having lunch by Houbie. In the afternoon we headed back to Unst. We didn't see any Whimbrel on Fetlar, but we saw a few birds on a roadside moor. A Ringed Plover was calling nearby. A Great Skua was also seen as well. The marshes around Unst provide the habitat that is perfect for breeding Common Redshanks. We headed back to the Baltasound Hotel for last night, before heading back to Sumburgh.

Thursday 22nd June

We started at Keen of Hamar Nature Reserve for a bit of botanising. This site is home to some of Britain's rarest plants. We saw Northern Rockcress, Frog Orchid, Edmonstons Chickweed & Slender St John's Wort. A Female Northern Wheatear was feeding a couple of Juveniles that had recently fledged. On another moorland was a Dunlin with a chick & a family of Oystercatchers. We caught the ferries back over to the mainland. Back at Sandsayre pier were some Common Seals resting. They were later disturbed by the Mousa boat when it came in. Dad joined us as the group headed out to the Isle of Noss and we saw Fulmars, Common Guillemots, Great Skua, Razorbills, Puffins & the star bird the Gannets. After cruising along the seabird cliffs, the crew stopped & threw the fish out to the Gannets. Photographing plunge diving Gannets close to the boat is very hard. Some Gannets were trying to snatch the other one's fish. A Bonxie was flying in close by the boat. The highlight for me that day was trying to drive the boat back to Sandwick, but it was not as easy than it looks. A Kittiwake made an appearance following the boat. Later, we boarded the boat again as we headed to Mousa Island, where there is ancient broch. The European Storm Petrels only fly back after dark to avoid being attacked by Gulls & Skuas. We got a few glimpses of them flying around the broch. Occasionally they would land on the side of the broch while trying to figure out where the hole is. However, the call is more memorable, it's been likened to a fairy being sick. This was an amazing experience, and as we made our way back to the boat we could hear them calling in the rocks on the beach. It was early morning by now, but its never completely dark at this time of year, the Simmerdim!

Friday 23rd June

We had an exploration of the North Mainland. At Hillswick, lwe saw another rare plant called the Oysterplant. Only found in a handful of sites in Shetland. We went to the breathtaking Eshaness Cliffs to have a walk around. A few Fulmars & Gannets were of note, also a single Puffin on the cliff briefly. From the cliffs we saw the impressive land mark of Dore Holm, which looks a bit like a Horse. In the afternoon, we headed down to a site where Kate Macrae had left her Bushnell Cameras in the hope of getting some Otter footage. She had and she showed us the footage that evening. If you would like to see it, have a look on her blog www.wildlifekate.co.uk/my-blog/4588864364

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel early to get packed. In the evening after dinner we said goodbye to the group. My personal thanks to Hugh Harrop & Kate Macrae for guiding. Also I would like to thank Brian, Peggy, David, Zoe & Diane for their company.

Saturday 24th June

We started our final day at the Sumburgh Hotel watching the Shetland Ponies while we waited for Dad to pick us up. Then we headed back up to Sumburgh Head RSPB for a last look at the Puffins on the cliff. We headed across some moorland in the Central Mainland where we saw a pair of Red Grouse & a Summer Plumaged Golden Plover. A roadside lochan was home to a family of Red-throated Divers, which were feeding happily. We popped into see Linda and Phillip, who we met on the Extremadura trip and had a cup of tea with them. We headed back to Lerwick & on our way we saw a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. In the harbour at Lerwick was a Black Guillemot & a Razorbill. We headed back on the 7PM ferry to Aberdeen. On leaving Lerwick we saw Fulmars, Gannets and a Manx Shearwater. The top deck was closed as Gale Force 7 winds had been forecasted. It got too windy outside, so we had to go in. Further south the sea began to be very choppy and the Ferry was rolling from side to side. We sat in the Restaurant for a while, but were becoming a little unnerved by the sound of crockery breaking in the kitchen about three times. Then we hit a big wave and all the chairs fell over, some even breaking the chains that were attached to them. That was it! We headed to the cabin to try to sleep. It was hard to sleep as everytime a wave hit the bottom of the ferry, there was a big thump. Mum was not very well, but Dad and I managed to get threw the night without being sick.

Sunday 25th June

The seas calmed down about 4:30am and the appoach to Aberdeen was quite smooth. We decided to take our time and went back on board to have breakfast after we had disembarked with the car. Quite a few other people were doing the same thing. They proabably couldn’t have faced breakfast at 6 in the morning like us. Mum was still a bit peeky, so Dad and I went to Ythan Estuary near Newburgh to see if the King Eider was about. We only saw Common Eiders, Grey & Common Seals swimming and resting on the beach. Near the car park there was a Male Yellowhammer singing on top of a small building against the wind. We went to Loch Leven RSPB where we saw Barn Swallows nesting, Juvenile Goldfinch & Tree Sparrows. We also stopped at Falkirk to look at The Kelpies. Huge 30ft Horselike Sculptures next to the Forth & Clyde Canal. We then made our way back down to Lockerbie for the night.

Monday 26th June

We headed back south to Shrewsbury to look for the Black-crowned Night Heron of the race 'hoactli' which breeds in North & South America from Canada to Argentina & Chilie. We found the Adult roosting underneath the willow tree on the island. Unfortunately it spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening asleep and preeening briefly. I seem doomed not to see this bird very well! Still, I can’t complain. It had been a wonderful trip and I saw lots of superb wildlife. I can’t wait for my next trip to Shetland! A truly magical place!

Bullfinch [Male]

Bullfinch [above Juvenile  & Female below

Common Toad

Common Pheasant [Chick]


Avocet [Adult]

Osprey [Female & Chick]

Osprey [Chick & Female]

Yellowhammer [Female]

Siskin [Juvenile]

Puffins [Summer]

Common Redshank [Summer]

Grey & Common Seals

Common Seal [Juvenile]


Great Skua

Puffin [Summer]

Puffins [Summer]

Puffins [Summer]

Arctic Skua [Pale Morph]


Arctic Terns [Summer]

Grey & Common Seals with Juveniles

Red-throated Diver [Summer]

Rock Pipit [Adult]

Arctic Skua [Pale Morph]

Fulmar [Pair]

Arctic Tern [Summer]

Shetland Bumblebee

Common Eider [Family]

Whooper Swan [Family]

Common Tern [Summer]

Remains of an Otter’s dinner

Shetland Wren

Common Eider [Female & Duckling]


Tili the Orca




Shag [Juvenile]

Long-finned Pilot Whales

Shag [Juvenile]

Golden Plover [Summer]

Common Snipe [Female]

Common Snipe [Chick]

Round-leaved Sundew

Great Skuas



Great Skua [Pair]

Great Skua

Red-necked Phalarope [Female]

Red-necked Phalarope [Male]

Red-necked Phalarope [Female]

Red-necked Phalarope [Female]

Red-necked Phalarope [Female]

Red-necked Phalarope [Female & Male]

Common Redshank [Summer]

Dunlin [Summer]

Painted Lady

Ringed Plover [Summer]

Shetland Wren

Long-tailed Duck [Male]

Arctic Skua [Dark & Pale Morphs]

Northern Rockcress

Edmonstons Chickweed

Slender St John’s Wort

Northern Wheatear [Female]

Northern Wheatear [Juvenile]

Oystercatcher [Juvenile]

Common Seals


Me & Hugh Harropp at Eshaness Cliffs

Me at Hermaness NNR

Common Guillemots [Summer Flock]

Great Skua



Me driving the boat

Mousa Broch

Oyster Plant

Otter Sprint

Oystercatcher [Summer]

Puffin [Summer]

Eshaness Cliffs

Shetland Pony

Puffin [Summer]

Sumburgh Head RSPB

Golden Plover [Summer]

Red Grouse [Female]

Red-throated Diver with Chicks

Red-throated Diver [Summer]

Red-breasted Merganser [Female]

Red-breasted Merganser [Male]

Black Guillemot [Summer]

Grey Heron

Razorbill [Summer]

Manx Shearwater

Barn Swallow [Adult & Chicks]

Yellowhammer [Male]

Tree Sparrows

The Kelpies

Arctic Skua [Pale Morph]