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Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

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Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Laikipia on Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:43 pm

21 of us were lucky enough to go on the most wonderful safari to the Shetland Islands with Simon King.  Shetland is the most northerly Isles in Britain and during the summer has almost 24 hours of daylight.  

Each day we did something different, our first day we went otter watching with an otter specialist called John Campbell, an early morning start with a packed breakfasts (What a Face ) but well worth it.   We sat behind a wall in a line and watched an otter family, feeding and playing and it was spectacular.
In the afternoon we walked along the coastline looking for seals, otters and anything else.  

The second day we went to Lerwick, Shetland's capital and split into 2 groups.  We joined Brydon Thomason (just been on Countryside the other night) looking for wildlife along the seashore.  In the afternoon we joined the Dunter 111 a boat specially adapted to view the magnificent seas cliffs of the Island of Noss.  No pictures can do this place credit, the thousands of breeding seabirds, and a huge colony of gannet it is truly amazing, the noise and sight of them all had us all completely spellbound.  One of the lads on the boat threw fish in and we watched the gannet diving for them.  If you ever saw Simon's Shetland diaries you'll know where I mean.  

Day three was otters, otters and more otters.  We also went to a bay to see colonies of terns, seals and skuas.

Day four was the Island of Fetlar, known as the Garden of Shetland.  We caught a small ferry, ooooooh I love their ferries and we met Brydon again who showed us the beautiful islands with the stunning wild flower meadows.

We visited the most southerly point of mainland Shetland, Sumburgh Head and we met RSPB warden Helen Moncrieff who showed us round the cliff top reserve.  Puffins so close you could touch them, which you don't of course, but they are such endearing little birds, and I wanted to stay and photograph them all day but we had to move on.   I think we saw most of the expected seabirds, but we certainly saw great skua (Shetland name bonxie) fulmar, shag, razor bill and guillemot.    

We visited the Island of Unst, the most northerly point in the British Isles, we took two ferries and ended up at Hermaness and walked through moorland through the skua colonies (keep away from nests they attack). The views were completely spectacular, we saw puffins a plenty until the cloud came down and we couldn't see a thing!

One day we did a night time visit to Sandwick where we picked up a small boat that took us plus about another 30 people to the uninhabited island of Mousa.  Mousa is an RSPB reserve which has an amazing Iron Age Broch and a large colony of storm petrels.  These tiny seabirds come to their nesting places in dry stone walls and the broch under the cover of darkness.  We lay on our backs around the broch and watched them fly in, it was like watching bats, they are so fast and silent.  It was quite something and we eventually got back to the hotel at 2.30am - a long day indeed but so worth it.

We caught a ferry to Bressay and then were taken 5 at a time over the sound to visit the Noss island on foot. To see the cliffs of Noss from above was completely different to seeing it from the Dunter 111 and we realised just how many birds there are and just how high up we were.

Each day we had a scrummy packed lunch done for us by the Hotel.  They gave us so much to eat I thought I would burst.  Each evening we'd meet up in the bar, and then have a meal together, a lot of laughs and mostly early nights as Simon likes early starts.   I must say he is the best and most fun, knowledgeable person and his enthusiasm is catching.  The other people in the group were also fun and passionate about wildlife.  We already knew 5 people from our trip to Dorset so it was great catching up with them.  You'll see from the slideshow that although the weather was great, the wind chill factor is something else.  We're all layered up so sometimes you can hardly see who is who.  We hopped on small ferries in the two vans and island hopped and never had to think about getting anywhere as it was all arranged for us.

Oh and we did see a Red Necked Phalarope (incredibly rare and red status RSPB)
http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/r/redneckedphalarope/index.aspx  
We were sworn to secrecy not to Tweet etc where we saw her.  Although Countryfile did show one a couple of weeks ago.

I can honestly say I would never have visited Shetland on my own but we are both so pleased we did, it really is stunning, magical and enchanting and the wildlife is wonderful.  I imagine in the winter it is incredibly harsh though.

I can't get the video clip to post at the moment ................ will try again in a bit.

Lai


Last edited by Laikipia on Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:18 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : still cant post clip)
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Laikipia on Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:13 pm

Trying again.  I can't get it to embed so am just posting the link for the clip.
( Hope you dont mind Lai. I've edited it so it's embeded, it's a You Tube fault. The You Tube embeded link is missing http: in the link between src=, and //www. If you check the link now in edit you will see where I've inserted http: WS )


Lai

ps the music is the theme music from Local Hero (1980's ish film) not filmed in Shetland but 3 different locations in Scotland and I thought it appropriate, probably no one remembers it Very Happy
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  whitestarling on Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:23 pm

 WOW  http://i73.servimg.c That was brilliant Lai, what a magical trip. The scenery is stunning with so many different species of Birds as well, although we see clips of them on Shetland in nature programes, there cant be any comparison to actualy being there, and seeing it first hand. I've never heard of that music, but it just goes so beautifully with the video, it gives a sense of the isolation of the Isles, blended with an air of mystery. Love the shots of the Gannets going into the water, we sometimes see them here off the coast, but they are to far out at sea for a shot. Did that Gull take some food out of Simons hand as it flew past ?. Nice shot of the Curlew we get them here as well at the start of winter. But the Puffins have to be favourite, they are such lovely little Birds, and can look so sad at times. That must have been fantastic lying there as the Storm Petrels came in. Again seen quite a few times on TV, but nothing could beat that experience of lying there in the dark when it happens.
Magical Trip Magical Video, and Magical Music
Thanks so much for sharing Lai you've made my day
WS

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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Safariman on Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:27 pm

Great selection of photos Lai, it looks as if you had a great time. I love the photos of the Puffins they are very photogenic. Everybody seemed very well wrapped up against the weather and there were lots of enormous camera lenses!! I must confess that I have only managed to visit Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland and that was on business many years ago.
Loved the music, yes "Local Hero" was one of Bill Forsyth's whimsical Scottish films with Burt Lancaster and the music was by and played by Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits). I think that shows my age!!

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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Laikipia on Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:15 pm

Thanks  for that WS, much appreciated, I gave up with embedding it was annoying me so much, so thanks for sorting it out.

Thanks for the compliments WS and Safariman, much appreciated.

Yes that was a Great Skua (bonxie) taking a ginger biscuit from Simon, amazing to watch and so precise, which is lucky as they are quite vicious birds.  

I am laughing about that Safariman, as I loved the film Local Hero and the music so am also showing my age!  We surely needed layers, one day I had 5 on as the wind was quite strong and biting, at times though it was sunny and almost warm Very Happy   Also true about the huge lenses, I can't carry a 500mm so don't own one but I would have loved to have one for all those birds and otters.

I meant to say that the bus shelter is on the island of Unst and each year it has a different theme - no one knows who changes it but it is so brilliant.


Lai
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  littlewid on Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:39 pm

What a wonderful time that sounded Lai. The video was just so serene and although I didn't know the music it was just perfection for the photo's. So many superb pictures but I must say I just adored the Puffins and especially the Puffins in flight, they are just so breathtaking aren't they. It sounded as though so much was packed into the trip and when you seeing such magnificent birds and wildlife I bet getting up early was not a chore but an excitment of what you were going to see that day.
So enjoyed that so much, thank you for sharing Group Hug 

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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Laikipia on Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:38 am

Thanks Littlewid. I must admit puffins are my all time favourite sea birds they are so curious looking, when they walk they look like little old people and as they are so small when they are landing in that strong wind you wonder how they manage to land at all. I was in heaven seeing them all and did suggest to Simon they left me for the day with the puffins so I could just sit and watch them Laughing 

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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  gregrowlerson on Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:42 pm

Note to selfie: Must catch up on this thread!
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  littlewid on Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:43 pm

Lai I could have sat and watched the Puffins all day as well if I had been lucky enough to have been there as well, they truely are wonderful birds they have such a unique quality about them I think. You are lucky to have spent time with them.

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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Doogs on Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:27 pm

Also note to selfie : Must catch up on this thread . . . off to Sleep now, will do it tomorrow lunchtime
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Laikipia on Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:09 pm

I know Littlewid, they are birds I've always wanted to watch and spend time with so I am very lucky for sure Very Happy 

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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Doogs on Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:14 pm

All good things come to those who wait and that was definitely worth waiting for to watch - just brilliant Lai Very Happy   Sounds like you had a rather hectic but magical time up in the Isles. Certainly plenty to see, do and great that you were in lots of different places.  Loved seeing Simon in some of your photos, I do miss him on the TV and I can well believe he would be a fantastic guide on a trip like that, he really does seem a genuinely nice guy.

http://i73.servimg.c for another excellent slideshow of many aspects of nature, not just the animals.  Great to see some otters, they are such adorable creatures, bet watching them was wonderful.  Now you know me and birds, I'm not very good on them but I do know what a Puffin looks like (  thank goodness you're all saying) they are lovely little things aren't they ? Those brightly coloured beaks are just beautiful.  You managed to get a lot of brilliant shots of them in flight, lovely and clear, well done for that. I especially loved the snap of the two together at 3:48, really nice.  Had a wee chuckle at that shot of you all wrapped up well behind the wall with all your camera gear Very Happy (1:38)

Of course I remember Local Hero . . . . I'm Scottish remember Wink Laughing 

Really enjoyed watching that, well done
cheers 
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Laikipia on Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:43 am

Group Hug  Thanks Doogs, so pleased you enjoyed it and http://i70.servimg.c  you got the puffins and I know you are good on birds of Africa.

Phew I'm glad you remember Local Hero, but of course being Scottish you would cheers 

We're really hoping Simon will do another UK holiday next year and I know quite a few of us are keen to join him, he was talking about Islay so fingers crossed for that. I miss him on the TV too but with a young daughter he doesn't want to be away filming for long stretches which I understand.

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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  gregrowlerson on Sat Aug 03, 2013 5:59 am

Struggling to view all the video at present with my Censored connection Laughing but may try on my phone soon.

That seal at about 0:28 really looks a bit too good for everyone else, quite the monarchist king Laughing 

Were those birds at about 0:50 the ones that you viewed in the wee small hours all coming home to roost?

Many of your friends had some huge camera gear going on! Very professional!

It sounds like it was otters, otters, and more otters!!! Very interesting info about the area giving almost twenty-four hours of sunny at this time of year. A wonderful time for Pete and yourself to be there cheers 
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Laikipia on Sat Aug 03, 2013 6:49 am

Oh no you've still got a slow connection GR.  Poor you, sometimes I can't watch clips at all, it just whirs  No 

The birds at 0:50 are gannets and wonderful to watch diving for fish but not the little storm petrels that kept us up to the small hours, they were impossible to photograph due to the light and their fast speed, even Simon told me I wouldn't be able to get a photo.  

There was some serious kit there, but also some large bird scopes that Simon brought along for us to look through, handy with the otters and all sorts.  

Lai
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  gregrowlerson on Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:34 am

I managed to see all the video, and very much like the puffins; very weird looking creatures yet beautiful at the same time. You really took some fantastic shots. The old rock buildings and walls make for good scenery too and the music that you put it all too was peaceful in keeping with the vision.

There was a white bird with a huge wing span in one of the later pics also that was rather stunning.

Thanks for sharing.

A present for you:

flower flower flower flower 

GR sunny 
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Re: Shetland Islands safari with Simon King - June/July 2013

Post  Laikipia on Sat Aug 03, 2013 5:10 pm

Thanks  GR. So pleased you enjoyed it after all that hassle with the internet. I'm not brilliant on seabirds so would have to look at it again to remind myself of the big white bird with a huge wing span Embarassed 

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