Shetland for birders
Price includes all ferries. Price excludes flight from Aberdeen, which Heatherlea can arrange at cost. Allow £150 – £200.
Maximum ten guests plus leader from our resident team. Join us at Aberdeen Airport or travel foc by minibus from our hotel in Nethy Bridge.
This exciting autumn holiday to Shetland offers you the chance to see a number of rare and scarce migrants amid spectacular scenery. We stay in three centres, with two nights at the Sumburgh Hotel in the extreme south, two nights at the Baltasound Hotel on Unst, Britain’s most northerly island, and three nights at comfortable accommodation in central Shetland. We visit all the key birding places for autumn migration, and you can expect to add Yell, Bressay, Whalsay, and perhaps Fetlar and the Out Skerries to your British ‘island list’!
Recently our holidays have produced a massive list of rarities including Bluethroat, Buff-bellied Pipit, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Citrine Wagtail, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail, Yellow-browed Warbler, Booted Warbler, Barred Warbler, Radde's Warbler, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Arctic Redpoll, Common Rosefinch, Little Bunting and Lapland Bunting. A real feast!
Peter Cosgrove in the famous 'Unst Bus Shelter!'
What turns up depends upon the weather, so there are no guarantees, but we'll find our own birds and twitch good ones as we travel around the island. If the wind is in the east, then large falls of finches (e.g. Brambling), thrushes and crests (with Yellow-browed Warblers) are likely, along with odd species such as Woodcock, Water Rail and Long-eared Owl.
General birding will include some seawatching (Gannets, divers, skuas, Manx and Sooty shearwaters are distinct possiblities). On the mainland, species such as Starling, Twite, Greylag and Pink-footed Geese and Raven are common. The freshwater lochs should hold reasonable numbers of common ducks, with rarities such as American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal a possibility. Good numbers of waders will be locally present, and we will scour flocks of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Redshank and Curlew for the odd rarity.
Access to most places on Shetland is largely unrestricted, and birding is made easier by the almost complete lack of trees. Rare birds can turn up virtually anywhere, but the best areas might be in the central and south mainland where vegetation is generally better developed. The northerly and most rugged part of the main island holds plantations which are good places to visit for migrant passerines.
Our two nights on Unst should be productive. Unst has a tundra-like landscape, with slopes covered in thin turf and stony outcrops and screes. The north and west are the best vegetated areas and are likely to be best for migrants, though lochs in the south and sounds in the north of the island are well worth our attention. We will also visit the legendary Unst Bus Shelter, where birders leave tips and items matching the décor (we will check this year’s colour scheme before we travel, and take something suitable!).
Numerous small gardens and crops provide the only vegetative cover on the islands, and with travel easy on good roads, these islands can be very productive in autumn.
All in all we expect an exciting and varied birding adventure, where as usual in Scotland’s Outer Limits, just about anything can turn up. Travel will be by air from Aberdeen, where the group will meet up, or as an alternative you can travel to Aberdeen with Heatherlea after a week with us in Scotland at Mountview Hotel.
Expect a wide variation in weather conditions, which can be wild and unpredictable, with temperatures perhaps averaging around 15 degrees Celsius. Sunshine, rain and strong winds are all possible, and you will probably experience a bit of everything. Wind can be fairly constant on many days. Biting insects are not expected. Please bring walking boots or shoes, weatherproof clothing and a small rucksack. The holiday will be run at a relaxed pace, featuring fabulous birdwatching in a spectacular setting! There will be short to moderate (1 to 3 mile) walks some days.
What's included in your 'Shetland for Birders' holiday price
•Seven nights comfortable en-suite hotel/guest house accommodation on the Outer Hebrides. We choose from our personally inspected shortlist, where birders are welcome and the hospitality is special. Guests are never expected to share. All rooms are en-suite. Full details with your joining pack.
•Full Scottish breakfast and dinner from Saturday evening til Saturday morning, packed lunch daily.
•All transfers by comfortable minibus. All ferries and other boat trips. Drivers can leave vehicles safely parked at The Mountview Hotel.
•Guidance from a professional Group Leader.
What's not included in your 'Shetland for Birders' holiday price
• Flights to Shetland
•Extra night in Nethybridge area at beginning and end of holiday. This can be arranged for you if requested at time of holiday booking. Price £45 per person B&B.
•Transfers from/to rail links in Aviemore.
•Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.