Shetland Summer Photo Tour

 

2022 -FULL

2023 - Dates to be announced shortly

Please contact me for details.

 

 


 

We fell for the charms of Shetland and its friendly and welcoming people a decade ago and have made return visits every year since. Each and every time have returned from our travels with stories to tell and memory cards full of images. It’s without a shadow of a doubt my second favourite destination to photograph wildlife, outwith my beloved Cairngorms.
 


 

Here’s some stunning facts and figures about Shetland and its abundant wildlife.
 

Shetland lies 600 miles north of London and just 400 miles south of the Arctic Circle. 
 

In mid-June Shetland enjoys the 'simmer dim' (Mid-Summer) the sun only dips below the northern horizon for a few hours. this results in a staggering 19 hours of daylight!
 

Shetland has over 1600 miles of spectacular coastline.
 

The population of Otters in Shetland is approximately 12% of the UK total and is the densest population in Europe!
 

In the Breeding season bird numbers swell to over a million breeding seabirds - that's more than 10% of the British total!
 

125,000 or 20% of the U.K's population of Puffins breed in Shetland.
 

Shetland has its very own species of Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes zetlandicus).
 

The price of the tour is for a fully catered week staying in a beautifully converted church. The views from windows are stunning. Otters swim & fish only 50 meters from the door, Arctic Terns flit around and fill the air with their chatter the delicate Ringed plovers scuttle along the beach. The unique Shetland Wren is abundant and nest very nearby in the stone dykes and along the rocky shores. Golden Plover inhabit the nearby hillside and Bonxies patrol the area with a dark menace!
 


 

On this tour we aim to share with you the best wildlife photography opportunities Shetland has to offer. With a maximum of only six clients we can guarantee time spent with you as individuals. On the two days we have scheduled for Otter photography the group will be split up in to two smaller parties, one will guided by a good friend of mine John Moncrieff. John is a local lad, born and bred in Shetland. His intimate knowledge if ’his’ otters are second to none. Any day spent in his company is an absolute pleasure. 
 

We will travel in a well-equipped and spacious vehicle; this will allow lots of room for you and your equipment.

We always try our hardest to support local businesses; wherever possible all Breakfasts, lunches and dinners will be made using only the finest locally sourced produce. Snacks, juice and water will available throughout the day.
 

Below you will find an example of how the week’s itinerary would be. Like all activities that rely on the weather, the real-time schedule will be decided on a day-to-day basis, therefore maximizing the opportunities available.
 


 

Day 1 - Sunday -12 Noon
 

You will be picked up at either Sumburgh airport or from Lerwick. Depending on the times of the flights/ferries we will try to sneak in a sneaky few hours with my favorite of the Shetland residents, the Tammie Nories (Puffins). For those of you on the Ferry or midday flights snacks will be provided on the first afternoon. In the evening, over a home cooked dinner, we will have a chat about the week ahead and get to know each other.
 


 

Day 2 - Monday
 

As you’ll still be a bit tired after yesterday’s travelling, today we will break you in gently with a day of Otter photography. After a hearty breakfast. We will meet up with John our resident Otter expert and split up into two small groups. One group will be guided by Andy and one by John (the groups will be reversed for the second Otter day) Today you will learn about Otter behavior, you will be become an expert in identifying and spotting sparainting spots (piles of Otter poo!). If you are feeling brave you can also sniff it, it smells faintly of violets! We will also be searching for rolling spots and fresh water pools, where the Otters bathe to wash the salt from there pelage. Once we locate an Otter a very careful and considered approach will be taken, no picture is worth spooking an Otter for. Our principal aim is to have close encounters with Otters; this will only be achieved with good field craft. John and Andy will carefully guide you in the correct approach.  If required the boys will also help you with camera settings and any technical assistance required.

A packed lunch, drinks and snacks will be provided. Home cooked evening meal.
 


 

Day 3 - Tuesday

An early start is the order of the day for our 05:45 seabird photography boat trip, watch in awe as gannets dive a great speed just meters from the boat, don't forget to take pictures!

This trip is designed to maximise the early morning light as it illuminates the impressive cliffs and seabird breeding colony of Noss.

The second part of the day will be spent searching, and with a bit of luck photographing otters.

A packed lunch and plenty of snacks and drinks will be provided throughout the day, on our late arrival back at base we’ll have a light supper before bed.

 


 

Day 4 - Wednesday.


Noss and its Seabirds

Home for supper.

As a special treat tonight we will be catching the late night boat to the small island of Mousa. This RSPB reserve is world renound for two reasons.  For the best remaining example of a 2000 year old Iron Age broch and the thousands of breeding Storm Petrel. Conveniently these two are intrinsically linked, the Petrels nest on the high stone walls of the broch. I rank the experience of visiting a Storm Petrel colony in the same league as a Black Grouse lek. That is the premier league of wildlife experiences!
 

As darkens falls the Petrel's start calling for their partners with a weird but wonderful churring call. It has been described by some as sounding like ‘vomiting fairies’. Last year Lyndsey headed to the Stoney beach and sat quietly, it wasn’t long before a Petrel landed no more than a foot away from us, in the soft half-light we could clearly see the detail of its plumage and actually how small they are.
 

At this time of the year at this latitude the nights are incredibly short, you notice this as we travel back to our base. By the time we arrive back at 2am the skies will be lightening again.
 


 

Day 5 - Thursday.
 

An earlier start today as we’re heading to the beautiful islands of Yell and Fetlar. Getting to Fetlar involves two ferry journeys, one from the mainland of Shetland to Yell, the second from Yell to Fetlar. One of the charms of Shetland is the possibility of surprise encounters. In 2013 whilst on this very journey Andy managed to see and photograph a very migrant to British waters, a Bearded Seal. Today’s main target species will be Black Guillemots, Arctic Terns and the rare and dainty wader, the Red Necked Phalarope. Nothing can prepare you for the speed these tiny wee birds wheel about in the margins looking for food. They look a bit like clockwork toys! 
 

Another local delights found on the island include, Snipe. Fingers crossed we get some posers. Who doesn’t want the classic, ‘Snipe on a post shot?’ We will also be on the lookout for Red Throated Divers, Bonxies, Arctic Skua, Whimberel, Golden Plover, Wheatears and Meadow Pipits. Depending on the time constraints we may even have time to look for Otters.

 To maximise the time spent on Photography we will stay on the island until 8pm. This will result in late return to base of about 10pm. Don’t forget that at this time of the year it will still be light at 11pm!

A packed lunch and plenty of snacks and drinks will be provided throughout the day, dinner will be a hearty picnic somewhere with stunning views.
 


 

Day 6 - Friday

Today we will be visiting my favourite place in the world! Getting there involves an early start and late finish. Not to mention a total of four ferry journeys. When in Shetland always expect the unexpected, in 2015 on one of these trips Lyndsey and I made we saw and photographed a pair of Otters, an Arctic Tern and very compliant juvenile Shag, and all of that whilst we waited for a ferry!
 

Hermaness is a National Nature Reserve and has some some impressive stats. 25,000 breeding Puffins, the third largest Great Skua colony in the world, 12,000 pairs of Gannets, 14,000 pairs of Fulmars, 20,000 Guilemot, need I say more?
 

The walk across the moors takes about half an hour to an hour. In recent years a boardwalk has been added and makes the trek so much easier. En route we are likely to encounter and be distracted by Dunlin, Golden Plover, Snipe and a personal favourite of mine the Bonxie (Great Skua). Last year we were gifted a wonderful photo opportunity. A Bonxie had a marathon bathing session in a pool of water no more than a few metres from the boardwalk. I’d been hoping for this opportunity many years. 
 

As we reach the end of the path, there are two options. Head left for Gannets & Puffins and turn right for Puffins, Bonxies and Gannets! I’ve sometimes found just staying put and the end of the boardwalk to be most beneficial, as this is often where the Puffins hang out. The return journey will be made according to the weather conditions, as we will be at the most northerly point in the UK weather conditions can change rapidly. 
 

A packed lunch and plenty of snacks and drinks will be provided throughout the day, on our late arrival back at base we’ll have a light supper before bed.



 

Day 7 - Saturday. Tour Ends at 12 Noon.

 

With heavy hearts it’s time to pack and head to the airport or ferry terminal. I’m sure after an action packed week in these wonderful and mesmerizing islands you like us will be hooked on the charms of Shetland, its wildlife, scenery and its friendly people. If flight times permit there will be time to stock up on gifts for your family, or for the cat sitter!

For those with a morning flight to catch and with time permitting it would be a pity not to have one last session with the Puffins at Sumburgh Head, wouldn’t it?
 


 

I’m sure like us you will fall head-over-heals in love with Shetland. The Islands have an infectious charm and when the weather is against you the wildlife still delivers. I’d be delighted to talk to you in person over the telephone if you want to be sold the virtues of this trip. Be warned, if you do call be prepared for a very long phone call, I can go on a bit, especially when it comes to Shetland!
 

Primary Species:
 

These are the species we will be concentrating on as our main photographic subjects.

Otters, Puffins, Red Neck Phalarope, Black Guilemot, Arctic Tern, Golden Plover, Arctic & Great Skua's, Red Throated Divers, Whimbrel, Snipe, Gannets & Storm Petrel - Non Photographic boat trip.
 

Secondary Species:
 

Common & Grey Seals, Shetland Wren, Gannet, Shag, Razorbill, Guillemot, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Fulmar, Eider, Shell duck, plus much more. Wherever and whenever an opportunity arises we shall make full use of it. Shetland has a wonderful habit of throwing up surprises!
 

What’s Included:

Five full days (Plus part of arrival & departure days) of fully catered Photography Days.

Storm Petrel Boat trip

Diving Gannets - Sea Bird Photography Boat Trip

All internal Ferries.

No Single room supplements.
 

Travel: All Travel from your arrival in Shetland in a comfortable and modern people carrier.
 

Guiding/Tuition: The full attention of the guide, patient and courteous help and advice when and where it’s required.
 

Giving back to nature: For each client on this trip I will be donating £50 to the Hillswick animal sanctuary in Shetland - I've chosen this great cause as they do wonderful work looking after sick or stranded Otters, seals and even the occasional Turtle! Details of their website can be found here A well deserving cause, I'm sure you'll agree?
 

Fun & Humour: Photographing wildlife should be an enjoyable experience. Although we’re serious about helping to obtain the best possible images, this will be done in a fun and relaxed way.
 

Accommodation:
 

I've chosen one accommodation for very good reason. Firstly for its location, not only is the outlook and scenery just 'Shetland on-a-plate'. It is also centrally positioned on the Shetland mainland, very handy for most of the day trips we will be enjoying. 
 

The converted church witch will be our base for the week is very well appointed and recently went through a major refurbishment. There are washing and drying facilities, these can come in rather handy with Shetlands unpredictable weather!
 

All linen and towels are provided.
 

I'd recommend a minimum lens of 300mm on a crop sensor body. Preferably longer would be ideal. Please feel free to call me to discuss camera equipment in more detail.
 

Your fitness level will need to be moderate. There will be walking involved on most days. Again, feel free to contact me to discuss this further.   
 

Maximum Group size: 6
 

Cost £1895.00
 

A deposit of £495 will be required at the time of booking.
 

The Balance will be due eight weeks before the first day of the tour.