Our clients for the Ultimate Shetland Tour with Shetland Wildlife arrive of their tour on Saturday so Paula and I wanted to make the most of the last day we had together before I headed to Sumburgh Hotel to start the week with our guests.
The weather was looking pretty good and with clearing skies and sunshine we headed up to a spot on the headland that I have placed Bushnells before. A family of otters use this part of the headland quite a lot and I wanted to get a couple of Bushnells there and leave them for the week to see what we could capture… so fingers crossed!
The coastline is so lovely up here and I am always in awe of the immense space and skies there are in Shetland!
We headed up towards Sumburgh, stopping on the way to look at the views…
and have our lunch on the beach!
Sumburgh Head is a must when on Shetland. Not only is it a stunning location, with great and informative Visitors’ Centre but it is also a great place to see a variety of birds. The puffins are most people’s favourite and I managed a few shots as they popped in and out of the burrows. I think they are either on eggs at the moment or feeding newly hatched chicks.
We watched four individuals for over an hour.. pretty hard to photograph as they are so fast. The arctic skuas come in two morphs; light & dark. The further North you travel, the more prevalent the lighter morph is. As ground nesters, the individuals further South are more likely to be in brown heather-type foliage, so need to be dark to camouflage. Further North, there are going to be patches of snow and rock, so the paler morphs are better hidden. These individuals were waiting for puffins to come in, at which point they would plummet out of the sky and attack the incoming birds, forcing them to drop their beak of sand eels. The skua would then retrieve the food from the sea.
I spent several hours trying to capture these beautiful birds hovering like tiny aerial ballerinas….
Finally, we dragged ourselves away, sneaking in a chance to photograph the meadow pipits which are also common in this area, packing their beaks with insects to feed hungry chicks in nests on the ground, which are usually well concealed and built by the female from dry grass and lined with finer grass and hair.
You are never far from interesting wildlife photographic subjects here in Shetland!