Flying Puffins, Arctic Skua & Dabbling Eider: Ultimate Shetland Day 1

The heatwave on the mainland has not quite made its way up to Shetland yet! We headed to Sumburgh Head in our fleeces, outdoor coats and hats with a keen wind. Once again, the birds did not disappoint. The guests were treated to fantastic views of the arctic skuas soaring over the cliffs, along with fulmar, kittiwake and black-blacked gulls. On the cliffs, we were able to watch nesting guillemot, some razorbills and, of course, the puffins. For some of our guests, this was the first time they had seen a real puffin!

After watching the lower cliffs, we headed to the top. The winds were pretty keen here which means that the puffins were finding it hard to land, hovering  and twisting and turning in the gusts as they came into the cliffs. We were all poised with our cameras…. but it was not easy! Getting the camera to lock onto the bird and then try to track it in strong winds is not easy! It means you end up with lots of photographs like this…..

Popping out of their burrows right in front of us, everyone had the chance to get shots of these fantastic and charismatic little characters.

A tiny rabbit stole the limelight for a while as well…. sneaking between the puffins..

We finally dragged ourselves away and headed off to see what other species we could see.

We drove around the coast, spotting shelduck and eider with ducklings. At Quendale, the sun had found its way from behind the clouds and we settled out of the wind to watch eiders in the small bay. Here, there were a number of female eider with a creche of ducklings. The females raise the young whilst the males move out into the open sea to moult. The females often join together with all their ducklings. In this group there were about 25 ducklings and it was a pleasure to watch. They were quite nervous, so we didn’t get too close.