Shetland Garden Feeding Station
Every year, I travel up to the Shetland Isles to stay with friends Paula and Magnus, before guiding for a week with Shetland Wildlife. I love staying in this beautiful location. Huge skies, great expanses of coastline and fabulous wildlife, it is a wildlife-lover's paradise.
Paula and Magnus's house, and the feeding station I built, is facing Wadbister Voe; one of the many sea inlets around Shetland's rugged coastline. It is a very exposed site, so it will be interesting to watch the changing weather here. This won't be a feeding platform for small birds, as Shetland is not home to our more common UK garden birds. Regulars will include hooded crows and gulls, starlings and sparrows and possibly their working collies!
Shetland is renown for its migratory rarities so we may get some surprises. Blown off course, many unusual birds appear in Shetland, making it popular with bird watchers. All sorts of species have been recorded here, from bluethroats, to snowy owls, bee eaters and rare warblers.
Shetland is in the middle of the North Sea, surrounded by some of the North Sea’s richest fishing grounds and close to some of its most productive oil fields. The line of 60 degrees latitude cuts through Shetland’s South Mainland – but, while Shetland is on the same latitude as parts of Alaska, it is warmer thanks to the Gulf Stream. Directly to the east lies the Norwegian coast, with Shetland closer to Bergen than Inverness. To the northwest lies the Faroe Islands and then Iceland.
Shetland is one of the best places in Europe to see bird life and sea mammals. For bird-watchers, Shetland is a paradise, from the puffins at Sumburgh Head to tiny, rare red-necked phalaropes and two of the UK’s largest gannet colonies, on the steep cliffs of Noss and around Hermaness, on the northernmost edge of the country.
Shetland is also home to the highest density of otters in Europe, and possibly the world. Even though they’re wary of humans, they can be spotted around the islands and are often seen around ferry terminals. Grey and common seals are a more common sight. The sheer number of seals is the primary reason for another of Shetland’s regular visitors: orcas, which are seen through the year, but especially in June and July, when the seals are having pups. Humpbacks and other whales are also sighted.
Paula Moss & Aperture Shetland
Paula has lived here on Shetland for 14 years.
"I started to appreciate Shetland through the lens, and soon realised that this was a special place I had come to live in. The one aspect that gripped me first was the wildlife. I spent many many hours discovering places, watching birds and animals so I could try and understand their behaviours better.I found a lot of enjoyment just taking friends and family around the islands when they came to visit. This got me thinking more about being a guide on the Islands."
In 2018 she qualified as a Tourist Guide for the Scottish Tourist Guide Association (STGA) She now guides visitors to the best places to watch wildlife and helps them experience the best that Shetland has to offer.
Check out Paula's website for more information about Shetland and her work.
My images from previous trips to Shetland
These images are from previous 'Ultimate Shetland' trips that I guide with Shetland Wildlife and Hugh Harrop. An incredible week, aiming to see as much of Shetland and its incredible diversity of wildlife, in just one week....