Sign up for our Free email Newsletter
and get all the latest wildlife news!

Browse Old Articles


Wildlife, bird and whale watching on the Shetland Islands.

09/10/2007 00:00:00 The human population of the Shetlands are outnumbered approximately 60:1 by seabirds, with Fulmars, Puffins and Guillemots all numbering in the hundreds of thousands and are the most numerous of over 150 bird species recorded here.

The Shetlands also has thriving populations of otters, and Harbour, Common and Grey seals. It is also one of the UKs hotspots for cetaceans, with Minke and Humpback whales seen regularly, and occasional visits from Orcas and Pilot whales as well as schools of White beaked, Rissos and Atlantic White-sided dolphins and Harbour porpoises. The Shetlands are primarily a bird watching destination, dominated by the huge seabird colonies that adorn the rugged cliffs. The list of birds to be seen here includes puffins, gannets, fulmars, Red-throated divers, guillemots, Hen harriers, Short Eared owls, razorbills, Great and Arctic skuas, Storm petrels, kittiwakes, snipe, Red Necked phalarope, dunlin, lapwing, redshank, curlew, Golden plover, eiders and many unusual or even rare visitors such as Snow buntings, whimbrell and Purple sandpipers. Much of this wildlife can be seen on foot, but to get a real idea of the immensity of some of the bird colonies, as well as the best chance to see whales and dolphins, boat trips are vital and fortunately well catered for.

Unst is the most northern part of the UK and home to the Hermaness National Nature reserve, a major breeding site for seabirds. Noss National Nature reserve is the most accessible of all the major sea bird colonies.

The Red Necked phalarope can be found on the island of Fetlar, while Fair Isle (of shipping forecast and knitwear fame) is home to vast colonies of seabirds. The narrow peninsula that runs for 25 miles from Lerwick to Sumburgh Head is a spectacular mix of seabird cliffs, archaeological sites and amazing land and seascapes providing opportunities for land based whale watching.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

To post a comment you must be logged in.

New user? Register here


Click join and we will email you with your password. You can then sign on and join the discussions right away.