The Shetland Isles in summer is one of the most dramatic and inspiring locations in the British Isles, and a great place for wildlife photography in the so-called simmer dim that these long days offer. We have put together a dramatic programme which includes the splendour of locations such as Hermaness, the photographic pleasures of Puffins on the small island of Fair Isle, a full day stalking Otters and an array of other bird species to be sought out including many specialists to these islands including Red-necked Phalarope, Black Guillemot, Arctic and Great Skua, Golden Plover and Whimbrel. It will be a jam packed ten days looking to take full advantage of the settings, subjects and potentially stunning light that can be found here at this time of year.
Itinerary Open +Close -
Day 1: A day of travelling to Sumburgh Airport on Mainland (or Lerwick if you have chosen to take the ferry) and we will then gather together as a group and head to the northerly island of Unst where we will be based for the next 4 nights. It will have been a long days travelling and with early mornings possible straight away the next day we will have an evening meal, make initial plans and a good night’s rest. We’ll advise you on flight and other travel options to suit you best after you’ve booked.
Days 2 – 4: Over each of these and the next day we will be splitting into two groups. 2 of us each day will be heading out with local wildlife photographers (and otter experts) Richard Shucksmith or Brydon Thomason for an exclusive day photographing Otters. It is only possible to do this in very small group sizes so we have asked them to add their expertise in terms of local families and additional guiding resources to allow us to do this. Everyone will be able to have a full day with them during our time here on Unst. For the rest of the group we will be planning trips to a number of locations which we know well ourselves including the majestic cliffs of Hermaness (great for gannets and Puffins and a moorland walk to get there which is excellent for nesting Great Skua and Golden Plover) the island of Fetlar (home to the small breeding population of the enigmatic Red-necked Phalarope as well as Whimbrel, Golden Plover and Snipe) and a number of other locations in search of Arctic Skua, Black Guillemot, Fulmar, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and possibly breeding Twite along with an array of landscape and macro opportunities as well as we look to enjoy the long hours of daylight available to us at this time of year – the so-called Simmer Dim. We will look to manage the itinerary on a flexible basis and to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to visit every location based on their personal priorities during this part of the trip.
Day 5: A final day of otter photography to complete everyone’s time with them and a final broader excursion for the rest of the group will see the day draw to a close as we head back to Mainland and our accommodation there.
Day 6: After an early breakfast we will set off to Tingwall airport for our island hopping flight to Fair Isle. The plane is only a small Cessna and only carries 7 people. So the group will be split between these two flights with a guide travelling with each group. There are weight limitations on the plane given its size and we will talk through the way to prepare for this with the final trip details. One other note at this stage: the weather conditions in the Shetland Isles are unpredictable at this time of year. Sea Fog is our main concern as the planes don’t fly out in these conditions so if we are not able to fly on today we will look at the chances of travelling tomorrow with the additional contingency of a 2.5 hour ferry (small boat) crossing instead so please be prepared for a possible boat journey. The same applies to our return journeys although the boat will be running on the day we are due to be leaving. Fair Isle is one of the remotest inhabited islands in the UK with a population of around 60 people. We will be met at the small landing strip and will then transfer to the bird observatory, which will be our base for the next few days of Puffin photography. After dinner we will head out to the Puffin colony for an evening of photography.
Days 7 – 8: It might seem a lot of effort to make our way to Fair isle but this will give you a complete feel for the diversity of the Shetlands overall as well as the fact that although it is not one of the biggest colonies it is in our opinion one of the finest locations to get images of this beautiful bird – the setting and quality of light here set it apart and there are options for both morning and evening photography so expect a very full day today. There are also good options for Great and Arctic Skua here as well as Oystercatcher and Wheatear.
Day 9: We’ll have a final early morning of photography with the Puffins before catching the planes back to Mainland during the course of the day and returning to our hotel at Sumburgh for a well-earned evening meal and to catch our breath as the trip draws to a close.
Day 10: We’ll catch our return flights (or ferry) away from Shetlands accordingly.
What our customers say
“An amazing location”
“The guides were very friendly and helpful with lots of photography tips”
“I really didn’t expect to come in such close proximity to the Puffins”