Category: Noss boat

 

We are delighted to announce that we have yet again won an award, this time in the Travel & Hospitality Awards 2024……more coming soon with a press release. THANK YOU!!

 

 

 

 

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat – November article.

This month we celebrate the 200th issue of I’I shetland!! 🎉

“In recognition of this milestone, we have selected stories subjectively from each year since its launch in 2006! We hope you enjoy our selection, remembering those occasions along with us, as well as celebrating your community in print. We thank all our advertisers, reads and contributors that make i’i Shetland special and Shetland’s monthly magazine.” 💛

“Other features this month include The Accordion & Fiddle Festival, Shetland Jewellery ‘Shining Bright’, Bruce Williamson, Shetland Swing performance, Elizabeth Atia’s latest recipe, Shetland Wildlife with Rebecca Nason, i’i Kids for the peerie ones, your photography in Readers Pics and much more! Pick up your copy today!” i’i Shetland, Nov’23

 

 

Celebrating Shetland’s Community

“Our popular monthly magazine, i’i shetland, tells the stories of the people and happenings in the lively Shetland community. From local events to personal triumphs and the births of Shetland’s newest residents, we tell the stories of the people that make Shetland the wonderful place it is.

Our magazine is written, designed and published by Millgaet Media, centred around the stunning photography produced by our team of exceptional photographers”

The Noss Boat co-owner, wildlife photographer & naturalist Rebecca Nason, writes a monthly article in Shetland’s popular local magazine i’i Shetland. October’s article was titled “OWLING OCTOBER” and contained beautiful images of Long-eared Owls together with an interesting insight into their lives and their migration through the Shetland Islands. All images taken on Shetland mainland and Fair Isle. November’s article ‘YELLOW FELLOW’ is out now!

We have been proud partners of Geopark Shetland since being invited to join forces in 2019 & are delighted to continue our journey with them into 2023/4 & beyond. We are excited to include aspects of Shetland’s incredibly diverse geology during our live Noss Boat commentary & to offer geological information enthusiastically to our many passengers each year. We are very happy to raise the geological profile of Shetland where we can & to offer direction for further exploration in this important area of Shetland’s natural history. Look out for the very colourful geological map onboard & please ask for our new free geology leaflets.

 

3 billion years in the making…

WHAT IS A UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARK?

A UNESCO Global Geopark is an area with internationally important rocks and landscapes, all of which are managed responsibly for tourism, conservation and education. Whilst geology may be their foundation, UNESCO Global Geoparks build upon that by bringing it together with other aspects of heritage, such as archaeology, history, culture and biodiversity, all of which are intricately linked with the ground beneath our feet. Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark is managed by Shetland Amenity Trust.

WHAT HAPPENS IN UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARKS?

Tourism:Geoparks are places of thriving responsible tourism and development, where people live and work. They act as catalysts for community enterprise, innovation and business for the benefit of everyone.

Conservation: UNESCO Global Geopark status does not offer statutory protection and places no restrictions on development or on farming practices. Instead, UNESCO Global Geoparks work in conjunction with existing designations to promote the protection of our local environment.

Education: Geoparks are outdoor classrooms and living laboratories, where the stunning landscapes inspire learning and discovery, contributing to environmental education that helps deepen our understanding of the world around us.

 

 

Shetland in spring.
25/05/2023
Rebecca Nason/SHETLAND SEABIRD TOURS – THE NOSS BOAT
Shetland in autumn is a special place for local and visiting birders. It is undeniably the place to be, sharing its gold status only with the warmer, comparatively tropical and long-established destination of the Isles of Scilly, in the extreme south-west of Britain (see Birdwatch 351: 42-44). But Shetland is now on every birder’s radar as the leaves curl brown, and exciting, volatile weather systems start to form.

Shetland’s ‘mega’ status in autumn has developed over the years due it to producing unparalleled extreme vagrants, from both Siberia and North America. Being a string of more than 100 small islands isolated in the North Sea, it is the perfect location to host off-course, lost vagrants and create a hotbed of excitement for anyone out looking for them. Of course, the islands are also landfall for more expected common and scarce autumn migrants, often in large numbers, moving to warmer climes and more accessible food sources further south, away from the harsh northern winters.

The number of birders visiting Shetland in autumn has never been higher – partly because of its illustrious recent birding history, which serves as a magnet for teams to undertake annual pilgrimages north, but also as a welcome movement for more ‘local’ travel over long-haul destinations with the climate crisis firmly on our minds. There was also the knock-on effect of more enforced localised travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, whether through restrictions in travel, logistical difficulties or a new-found sense of enjoyment, with what’s on our doorsteps with ‘staycations’ favoured over foreign birding. Shetland has never seemed more appealing as a get-away destination for those wanting to enjoy some quality autumn birding. But it shouldn’t only be synonymous with autumn. Perhaps not as widely known about is that we do spring here, too – and it can be rather more spectacular than you might imagine!


A classic Shetland scene: a Puffin, with sandeel snack, sits pretty against the looming backdrop of the cliffs of Hermaness. Late spring and early summer can be brilliant for producing rare migrants across the isles, with the added bonus of thousands of breeding seabirds to marvel at (Rebecca Nason).

If you think you know Shetland from your previous autumn visits, think again – experiencing the islands in spring is a world away from the ‘fifty shades of brown’ you might be used to. The whole ‘feel’, as well as climate, are different, making it seem like a totally separate destination and experience. From May onwards, the islands are an explosion of colour, of seabirds, of waders and – of course – exciting migrants to keep all who visit on their toes and with hands firmly on the binoculars.

Seabird Central

More than a million seabirds call Shetland home in the relatively short summer season. The islands become a raucous hive of activity with 22 breeding seabird species, 18 of which are found in internationally important numbers. Shetland’s vast coastline and rich, highly productive waters create the perfect breeding grounds and a wildlife spectacle hard to beat in Europe, if not the world.

May is the month that seabirds return in big numbers and when breeding activity starts in earnest, reaching fever pitch into June. The cliffs burst into colour, with pink Thrift and blue hues of Spring Squill lightly swaying on the warm sea air. There are few stretches of coastline without Northern Fulmars cackling as they enjoy the air currents, and several hot-spots will see you eye-to-eye with Puffin, Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Great and Arctic Skuas, plus the resident Black Guillemot.

The majority of seabirds have, as elsewhere in the UK, suffered declines in recent years, in part at least due to the lack of sandeels, on which many depend. Conversely, Northern Gannet and Great Skua numbers have increased across the isles, due to a less restrictive diet and ability to adapt in the face of increasingly fast environmental changes. Shetland still remains a stronghold for many seabirds and these form at the very least a background highlight for any birder’s spring trip.


Common Snipe is a common and familiar breeder across Shetland, with noisy birds displaying from fence posts (Rebecca Nason).

The biggest seabird colonies are found on Fair Isle, Foula, Hermaness on Unst, and Noss, which is off Bressay; the last two are home to huge and increasing Northern Gannet colonies set in breathtaking scenery. There are ample opportunities to enjoy seabirds at close quarters both as a birder and photographer in Shetland, not least by taking a walk up to the heady cliffs at Hermaness, where you will be greeted en route by Great Skuas and arrive to an amphitheatre of gannets and Puffins in spectacular surroundings.

As an alternative, taking the Noss Boat tours from Lerwick to experience more than 25,000 gannets from sea level, nesting on towering weathered sandstone cliffs and rocket-diving for fish around the boat, is hard to beat. The 2,000-year-old Mousa Broch monument is alive with European Storm Petrels at night during the summer months, most arriving back in May, and an evening Mousa Island boat trip is a special experience not to be missed.

For those seeking the most photographed seabird in the world, Puffin, then Sumburgh Head is the best location, being a firm favourite site with locals and visitors alike thanks to the added bonus of a lighthouse, marine exhibition centre and café – and it can be a great place to find rarities!

 

Abundant waders

Away from the coast in spring, the moorlands and globally important blanket peat bogs take on attractive mauve tones, broken by swathes of Cottongrass and damp flushes. These wonderful northern habitats, and the historically less-intensively managed croft lands, are home to a wealth of breeding shorebirds.


A trip to Shetland in late spring and early summer should produce the delightful Red-necked Phalarope, which breeds in small numbers across the archipelago (Rebecca Nason).

You cannot fail to notice the sheer number of waders between May and the end of July. The densities are a reminder of what other parts of Britain were once like before widespread post-war agricultural intensification. Thirteen species nest in total, often in an abundance hard to match in other parts of Britain – 11 are found in internationally important numbers.

Common Snipe is a regular sight and evocative sound of a Shetland spring, from bold strategical fence-post podiums to the drumming vibrations filling the wide skies alongside displaying Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Eurasian Curlew. Other moorland and peat bog sites, particularly in the outer islands, provide favourable habitats for breeding Dunlin and European Golden Plover, as well as forming the nesting grounds for more than 95% of the British population of Whimbrel. Ringed Plovers enjoy a plethora of undisturbed beaches and Common Sandpipers bob along stream fringes. Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit are rarer breeders, with neither confirmed annually.

Red-necked Phalarope is an iconic feature of the isles that returns from wintering grounds along the west coast of South America in May, with the highest densities on Fetlar. A visit to Shetland in spring is surely not complete without a visit to see these stunning waders. If you are lucky, you may come across phalaropes at other sites in the isles, particularly on ‘feeding lochs’ as they make their journey back to Fetlar and other isolated breeding localities. The RSPB has been highly successful recently in improving targeted habitat management for these birds at key sites, particularly at its flagship Fetlar reserve.

On the multitude of lochs across the isles, two other rare breeders are quite easily encountered. Red-throated Diver is perhaps the most enigmatic Shetland breeding species in summer, with many paired up on lochs by late May or commonly seen fishing offshore. Whooper Swans also nest in small numbers.


Northern Gannet is one seabird species that is thriving in Shetland, with particularly impressive colonies on Unst and Noss. Boat trips give brilliant opportunities to see them up close (Rebecca Nason).

So, with a backdrop of frenetic breeding-bird activity across the isles, visiting birders in spring and early summer will have plenty to occupy themselves when migration is slow or winds are unfavourable. With so many birders taking to photography these days, there is a bounty of opportunity at every turn. Another big plus in spring is the light, with very long daylight hours when compared to the frustratingly short days of autumn. Light combines with more settled weather to provide a real advantage – even doubling field birding hours compared to the autumn. You can bird until teatime and well beyond!

Migration Season

What can you expect with spring migration across the isles? Movement starts in March, though only really picks up from the beginning of May onwards – spring is much later here in the far north of Britain. It’s also worth noting that there are smaller numbers of birds than in autumn, when many youngsters will be making their way south for the first time. However, the birds you do see have the added glamour of being in fine breeding plumage. Many will also show incredibly well, with limited vegetation cover and disturbance, meaning plenty of spring highlights can be enjoyed at close range and without the crowds.

On top of a host of common migrants, classic scarce overshoots by mid-May (given suitable weather conditions) could include Red-backed Shrike Bluethroat, Wryneck and Common Rosefinch, with regular visitors such as Rustic Bunting, Thrush Nightingale, subalpine warblers and Marsh and Icterine Warblers all tending to be much more regular here than anywhere else in Britain.

Spring Blyth’s Reed Warbler records have notably increased in recent years, too. Other scarce or rare migrants typical of this time may include Red-rumped Swallow, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, European Nightjar, European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Citrine Wagtail and Paddyfield Warbler. Interestingly, the mega-rare Green Warbler has now been recorded five times in Shetland in spring or early summer out of a total of just eight national records.


A colourful array of typical late spring and early summer scarcities that may be found in Shetland include Red-backed Shrike (top) and Common Rosefinch (James Hanlon / Helen Perry).

The majority of Shetland’s scarce and rare spring birds are found after periods of south-easterly winds. Even light winds will bring in migrants, either propelled north from southern Europe or pushed west as they head for Scandinavia. But there are also increasingly regular records of American vagrants making landfall in Shetland in spring, just to add to the honeypot of possibilities!

Then there are the ‘big’ birds – the extreme vagrants that visitors may dream of. History tells us that they happen here with regularity. Who can forget the Pallas’s Sandgrouse at Quendale in May 1990 – a bird that was widely twitched from the mainland. Another very popular bird was the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater in June 1997, with other standout finds from various points of the compass including Caspian Plover at Skelberry on 3-4 June 1996, Rose-breasted Grosbeak at West Burra on 3-4 May 2016 and Black-and-white Warbler at Aithsetter in late May 2020.

Of course, Fair Isle and its constant coverage stands head and shoulders above the rest, boasting an unforgettable list of extreme vagrants in May that includes Brown-headed Cowbird, Thick-billed Warbler, Song Sparrow and White-throated Sparrows, multiple Calandra Larks and Collared Flycatchers, and Steller’s Eider. Migrants keep appearing well into June, with later highlights having included Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Hermit Thrush, Myrtle Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and the famous Citril Finch of June 2008.

Spring birding days can be fabulously varied and frequently brilliant across the isles. The quotes below are surely enough reason to get the pulses racing and a spring trip to Shetland firmly on the staycation radar.

Rob Fray wrote in the Shetland Bird Report 2018: “All of this was a prelude to possibly the most remarkable 24-hour period in the long history of Shetland birding: late afternoon on 14 May produced Shetland’s first Marmora’s Warbler at Baliasta, Unst, a Black-faced Bunting nearby at Norwick, and Shetland’s first Eurasian Crag Martin on Fair Isle. By mid-afternoon on 15th a Song Sparrow on Fair Isle, a Terek Sandpiper at Virkie and European Bee-eater at Sandwick had been added to the roll-call (along with ‘also-rans’ such as a Garganey at Melby and the first of spring’s six Red-breasted Flycatchers at Sumburgh Head).”


Shetland has a long and enviable list of mega rarities that have appeared in late spring. Among them are these two gems from Fair Isle: June 2008’s Citril Finch (top), which was a first for Britain, and a Thick-billed Warbler in mid-May 2003, which the long daylight hours allowed for a twitch from the mainland on its first day (Rebecca Nason).

An extract from The Birds of Shetland: “Potentially one of the most exciting months of the year is May. A fall in May can be a colourful event, and it is all the more enjoyable as it is likely to occur in bright sunshine. Alongside the duller Tree Pipits, Garden Warblers, Willow Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers may be resplendent male Common Redstarts, Whinchats and Pied Flycatchers, or classic Shetland migrants such as subtly plumaged Wrynecks, bandit-masked Red-backed Shrikes and stunning male Bluethroats of the red-spotted form.

“Some extremely unusual birds have been found in early May, including three Dark-eyed Juncos, and Shetland’s only Black Stork and Marsh Sandpiper. But in the second half of the month, almost anything can turn up – American Kestrel, Common Yellowthroat, Myrtle Warbler or White-crowned Sparrow from North America, Black-winged Pratincole, Calandra Lark or Little Swift from southern Europe or south-west Asia, or even White-throated Needletail from Asia.”

It goes on to cite June as “an excellent month for extremely rare vagrants”, before naming Lesser Kestrel, Bimaculated Lark and Cedar Waxwing on an enviable and mouth-watering list of possibilities.

So, why not give Shetland a go in spring? There’s plenty of breeding birds to see at this vibrant time of year. Plus, if you’re in the right place at the right time, and with the right weather, who knows what you might find!

 

  • This article was published in the June 2022 issue of Birdwatch.

Shetland’s Late Summer Seabirds & Cetaceans

We have been good friends as well as work colleagues of Brydon Thomason for many years & been collaborating with his highly successful local wildlife tour company SHETLAND NATURE since we started our own business in 2016. We are delighted that The Noss Boat tours features in all his seasonal group itineraries, & for the first time this summer, we are part of his new Summer Seabirds & Cetaceans itinerary. Check out his website & some of the tour details below:

Holiday overview:

Seven nights’ all-inclusive accommodation

  • Small group size of just six to eight guests
  • Led by resident naturalist guides who live/work here all year round
  • Unique insight into behaviour and ecology of Shetlands Otters
  • Exclusive cetacean search boat charter with Shetland Seabird Tours
  • Exclusive boat charter to Gannets of Noss NNR with Shetland Seabird Tours
  • Peak season for inshore cetaceans such as Minke Whale, White-beaked & Risso’s Dolphin

NEW FOR 2023!

Saturday 5th – 12th August, 2023

We are delighted to launch this unique new tour itinerary, which focuses primarily on three of Shetland’s star wildlife attractions – seabirds, Otters and cetaceans. Focusing on these throughout the latter weeks of the summer is something we do every year on our day tours and bespoke holiday bookings, but this season, it feels particularly appropriate to add it to our holiday program.

Celebrating the amazing vibe and momentum throughout the UK nature community building around the incredible ‘Wild Isles’ series, this itinerary features three of the series headline acts – Gannets, Otters and hopefully – Orca!

For many of Shetland’s species the brief northern breeding season is already ending by August, yet for most, especially sea birds, the season is in full swing. Though Common Guillemot chicks have left their ledges and Kittiwakes are fledging, Gannetries are a raucous hustle and bustle of activity with chicks still a few weeks from fledging and on the clifftops and grassy slopes, Atlantic Puffins are still present in decent numbers, as are the mighty Great Skuas, which are still yet to fledge their chicks and Arctic Skua give chase to Arctic Terns in their dramatic aerial pursuits. This is also peak time for cetaceans, being the time of year we tend to see the widest range of species inshore, particularly those that are following the Mackerel, Herring and Saithe that amass in our waters in this season.

Itinerary

Day One – Arrival dinner and meet/greet

Our week adventure begins on Saturday evening when we meet and greet you at the Sumburgh Hotel. Over dinner as guests and guide become acquainted, we enthuse about the exciting adventure ahead and this is the perfect time to learn about the islands, the wildlife and indeed life in general in Shetland. This is something we feel plays a very important role in your Shetland experience and with all our core season team of guides being resident Shetlanders we take pride in this. Overnight at Sumburgh Hotel

Day Two – Sumburgh Head & Mousa

We begin our voyage of discovery in the South Mainland, at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Sumburgh Head reserve, where we hope for our first Puffins of the week. Sumburgh is the ideal setting in which to start to get to know some of Shetland’s breeding birds, with many of our common species close at hand.

This is also the first of several cetacean watch-points that we will visit, where we keep a keen eye off shore for species such as Harbour Porpoise, Minke Whale, Risso’s and White-beaked Dolphin which are all regularly recorded here in late summer, with a decent chance of Orca too. This is also been the peak time to see Basking Shark here too, which will also be on our radar at all watchpoints.

In the afternoon we take the small passenger ferry across to the marvellous uninhabited island of Mousa. The short ten-minute crossing offers one of the best places in Britain to see Harbour Porpoise. Our walk around the RSPB reserve will take us along cliffs that are favoured nesting places for Fulmar and Shag; also Black Guillemot and Gannet may be seen fishing offshore where we have a good chance of cetaceans too. On the walk we will observe lagoons that are a favourite haul out for both Common and Grey Seal. We also pass a small loch, a favourite bathing pool for Arctic Terns and has been known to accommodate a nesting pair of Red-throated Divers. The final highlight of our visit to the island will be to explore Mousa Broch. This almost complete broch (stone tower) stands 13m tall and is the best-preserved example of an Iron Age (c.300BC to 200AD) broch in existence. Overnight at Sumburgh Hotel

Day three – South Mainland & Noss

Today we venture north. Leaving Shetland’s south Mainland we journey north to the north western part of the Shetland Mainland. Before leaving the south, we enjoy a gentle coastal walk while exploring the nearby peninsula of Scatness, Fitful Head and the picturesque tombolo of St Ninian’s Isle beach, each of which offering the opportunity of sea mammals off shore

In the afternoon we join the amazing, multi-award winning Shetland Seabird Tours for the first of the week’s two marine wildlife boat charters onboard the Ayda Ruby II, with naturalist skipper, Phil Haris who takes us out from Lerwick to the spectacular Noss NNR, home to over 18,000 breeding pairs of Northern Gannets. The colonies and towering cliffs are truly awe-inspiring, followed by an exhilarating feeding frenzy offshore. We will also enjoy many other seabirds here, both on the water and in the colonies above.

Once ashore in the late afternoon we make our way north to The St Magnus Bay Hotel in Hillswick, where we will spend the next four nights.

Day four – North Mainland

Today we begin to explore the magnificent and rugged north-western part of Shetland Mainland. From a geological and landscape perspective, this remote corner of the islands is unique and there is much to admire. At Eshaness lighthouse, the breathtaking views of one of Shetland’s most iconic vistas are guaranteed, and an examination of a nearby blowhole is not for the faint-hearted. If the weather is good, we will spend time scanning for whales and dolphins out at sea. Risso’s, White-sided and White-beaked Dolphins, Minke Whales and of course Orca (Killer Whale) can all be seen from here with a bit of luck, a keen eye – and better still – a calm sea! Harbour Porpoises are the most common cetacean and perhaps more predictable, and we should be able to find these at our regular sites.

In the afternoon we venture up onto higher ground, up to the tele communications mast on Collafirth Hill, which shoulders Ronas Hill.  At 450 metres above sea level, Ronas Hill is hardly a mountain yet it is the highest point in Shetland. Overnight at St. Magnus Bay Hotel.

Day Five – All About Otters

Unique to Shetland Nature, we will spend the day devoted to one of Shetland’s star wildlife attractions, the Otter! In the absence of Badger or Fox, the Otter takes centre stage. With a higher density than anywhere else in the world, it is little wonder that Shetland has long been recognised as the best place to see and study this wonderful mammal.

It was in fact around this very species that Shetland Nature was evolved, through co-author of Otters in Shetland- the tale of the draatsi’ , Brydon Thomason’s lifelong passion and experience of them. It is little wonder that Otter watching is therefore our signature specialty, and we pride ourselves on the insight and encounters. We have yet to have a group leave disappointed and we have every confidence in our continued success.

Here is one of the many areas that our guests experience first-hand the benefits of our small group size and the leadership of local naturalists. Our approach is based on our unsurpassed knowledge of Shetland’s Otters; where and when to stand the best chance of encounters and most of all how to search and observe without disturbance. We will visit some of the best sites in the islands to give you a unique insight into the secret lives of one of the nation’s most evocative and captivating animals.

Our sensitivity towards Shetland’s Otters is as renowned as our success with guests’ encounters. We operate under a government legislation Schedule 2 license issued by Scottish Natural Heritage. Overnight at St. Magnus Bay Hotel.

Day Six – Unit

 

 

Today, for the penultimate full day of the itinerary we journey to the very top of Britain, the island of Unst. Island hopping from Mainland to Yell and again across to Unst, the ferries offer the perfect opportunity to scan the sea for cetaceans.

On Unst we begin our North Isles experience by savouring the rich flora and fauna of Unst and head out onto Hermaness National Nature Reserve. Setting out on foot through the heart of the reserve, we can guarantee ‘up close and personal’ encounters with Great Skuas, known locally as Bonxies, which nest in large numbers on the moorland interior. Reaching the spectacular cliffs on the west side of the reserve, we hope to be first greeted by Puffins before breath-taking views of Muckle Flugga and the most northerly lighthouse in Britain. These and the surrounding stacks and cliffs boast well over 22,000 breeding pairs of Gannets, the largest colony in Shetland.

During the afternoon, we will take our time exploring the lesser known corners of the island and some of our favourite cetacean watchpoints and otter sites and leaving the island, again have a chance of a fin from the ferries. Overnight St Magnus Hotel

Day Seven – Cetacean Search boat charter

Today, on our final full day of the trip we join Shetland Seabird Tours once again for an extended and exclusive marine wildlife adventure. Leaving Lerwick in the morning, we set out specifically in search of cetaceans, with species such as Harbour Porpoise, Minke Whale, Risso’s and White-beaked Dolphin all regularly recorded, and our main target species – not to mention Orca, with a bit of luck.

Being actively involved in the local sightings group, and quite likely, Phil’s up-to-date sightings on their previous days trips on board the Ayda Ruby II we will head out in search of whales and dolphins for the morning.

After lunch and back on dry land, we take time to explore and enjoy central Mainland, visit some of the more secluded side-roads of the East and West, enjoying a leisurely safari-style adventure in search of Mountain Hare, Red Grouse, Otters as well as a cetacean watchpoint or two!

Over dinner in the evening we reminisce about the week we have had, the places we have been and the species we have seen before bidding you a fond farewell, as your holiday comes to an end after Breakfast the following morning. Overnight Sumburgh Hotel.

Booking – Holiday Dates

Principal Tour Guides

Fitness Level Required – Moderate
Walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £1,895
2023 Dates
Saturday 5th August to Saturday 12th August, 2023

Contact Us to Book

Private Tour Options: This holiday can also be arranged exclusively for private booing for couples, families or small groups.

Contact us for information and cost proposal for your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday. Email: info@shetlandnature.net

Additional holiday information:

  • Read about the hotels we use – view our hotel providers.
  • All meals, accommodation, guiding fee’s and excursions as well as ferry fares and transport are included in package cost.
  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability.
  • Not included in cost are items of a personal nature or hotel bar tabs nor is travel to and from Shetland included.
  • No single supplement charged.
  • On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietary.
  • Throughout the holiday some of the activities will potentially involve walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain. A reasonable level of fitness is advised however this is run at a leisurely pace. We can also provide holidays at an even more leisurely pace; please contact us for details.
  • Please note that all itineraries are subject to change but guests will be advised in advance should it be necessary to make any major changes.
Blog Post Extracts from Promote Shetland


GREEN TOURISM AWARD  – SILVER – SHETLAND SEABIRD TOURS – THE NOSS BOAT

“Shetland Seabird Tours have done a fantastic job in achieving the Green Tourism Silver Award following on from their first GreenCheck Assessment. The team have displayed an excellent understanding of sustainability as well as an awareness of the opportunities and challenges associated with running a responsible business. Shetland Seabird Tours have performed particularly strongly in the Biodiversity, Chemicals, Community, Experiences, and Water goals during this assessment. The team have shown a strong commitment to continual improvement, a willingness to implement change where required, and dedication in the pursuit of sustainable best practices. A hearty congratulations to the team on their efforts and achievement in this assessment. Shetland Seabird Tours will undoubtedly continue to make progress in the Green Tourism programme as they continue their sustainability journey” Green Tourism 

What achieving our Green Tourism award means:

We are supported in our sustainability practices, and in our improvement journey by the world-leading sustainability accreditation partner, Green Tourism. 

Achieving a Green Tourism award means that our sustainability practices have been assessed and verified by a credible partner. It shows that we have an ongoing commitment:

  • to sustainability standards and practices
  • to work responsibly, ethically, and sustainably
  • to contribute to our community
  • to reduce our impact on the environment, and
  • to be accessible and inclusive to all visitors and staff.

Green Tourism has assessed our business against 15 sustainability criteria grouped under the pillars of People, Places and Planet. These consider the social, economic, and environmental actions we undertake, providing a holistic assessment of our sustainability performance. To ensure that our cliental/passengers understand our sustainability commitment, we have been assessed by Green Tourism to validate our practice. This independent assessment brings reassurance that our practice is evidenced and authenticated. We are proud to have been awarded a Silver award in our 6th February 2023 assessment.

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat – Highlights 

Green Tourism also helped us to highlight our areas of sustainability strength. At our 1st assessment our sustainability highlights included: Biodiversity, Chemicals, Community, Experiences & Water.

We have been working hard across the business for a few years to reduce our impact on the planet after a challenging time during covid, where we were able to stop, reassess our business & our future & re-evaluate our goals & directions. We were already committed to the environment as passionate ornithologists, naturalists, & conservationists, but time reflecting during the 2020 lockdown, for a business 100% tourism reliant, gave our business the opportunity to further cement our branding, environmental ethos & future direction & to further improve our commitments to the environment & sustainability. We now have an exciting action plan in place through Green Tourism, & continue to improve on our green commitments & look forward to growing as one of the first “green” tourism businesses in Shetland. A Silver Award allows prospective passengers to immediately identify us as a business that places great value the environment & strives honestly & seriously, to reducing our impact upon it. Another small step in the right direction…… 

GREEN TOURISM are a world-leading sustainable tourism accreditation, which means we are in ‘good company’ with some of the world’s largest brands in hospitality & tourism.

 Thanks to all at Green Tourism – we really valued the input & support given by the team to help us through the assessment process. 

THANK YOU

REBECCA & PHIL  Feb’23

 

 



 

 

 

Passengers and staff were treated to the most spectacular marine mammal encounter imaginable on Saturday mornings Noss Boat tour when en-route to Noss, Shetland Seabird Tours bespoke wildlife boat found themselves surrounded on all sides by a fabulous group of over 70 White-beaked Dolphins, playing in the surf, riding the bow of the boat, and on occasion, leaping and breaching right out of the water in Noss Sound.

“It was an unforgettable experience, having never seen such a large, playful, showy group of Dolphin, you just didn’t know where to look or where to point the camera next!” SST Passenger

Free Willy moment aboard The Noss Boat on Saturday. @ Rebecca Nason/SST

After making sure delighted passengers, including the owners 7 year old daughter Ayda were getting super views & photo opportunities, Rebecca, who is a professional bird photographer & new OM SYSTEM Ambassador, took a series of shots of one mid-distance, boisterous animal which was surfacing regularly as if on a pogo stick!

Full belly view of a fabulous White-beaked Dolphin. In the 1970s White-beaked Dolphin was considered to be the most commonly encountered dolphin in Shetland waters. It was much scarcer in the mid 2000s, with just 13 reports between 2015 and 2018 and has now been replaced by Risso’s Dolphin as the most commonly encountered dolphin in Shetland waters. However 2022 has seen a surge in observations in Shetland waters again. @ Rebecca Nason/SST

She says ” I had taken numerous shots of dolphins as they surfaced in small groups all over the place, but find it a lot harder photographing cetaceans than birds and was struggling to connect with such brief surface encounters, which are all to often gone just after they are seen with no time to raise the camera, fully engage & press the shutter! I noticed a few animals leaping right out of the water a little further away and decided to concentrate on these as they were visible for a few seconds longer out of the water whilst fully breaching. I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked at the back of the camera & realised that I had caught this stunningly beautiful marine mammal in full breach & that it was sharp! These images were only possible due to the awesome mirrorless OM SYSTEM gear I converted to during lockdown, the autofocus is just super fast, so I didn’t miss the moment!

Full breach! Doing the twist with a quick side view profile showing the fabulous blunt white nose. @ Rebecca Nason/SST

Cetaceans are being observed from Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat with increasing regularity, and this year has been exceptional with numerous sightings including the biggest ever counts we’ve had of Minke Whale, Basking Shark & Rissos Dolphin, also magical Orca encounters & daily Harbour Porpoise observations. All this on top of the dramatic wildlife spectacles surrounding the seabird city of Noss, with it’s awe-inspiring cliffs heaving with birdlife, and over 25,000 northern gannets in full breeding mode, surely one of Europe’s finest wildlife encounters by boat.

Owners, Rebecca & Phil are still buzzing from their weekend boat experience, with tours soon winding down for another season. “It has been our best year to date in both numbers of passengers & wildlife encounters, & we are fired up to see what the 2023 season brings. We have several varied contracts now into late autumn including working with the National Oceanography Centre survey team’s  Boaty McBoatface project off Bressay. And  as finalists in this year’s coveted Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, in the Best Visitor Attraction Experience” category, we are looking forward to joining the other Shetland category finalists for the awards ceremony in November in Inverness before we get back to finishing some new business developments in 2023″. Rebecca & Phil

All images taken using OM SYSTEM:



 

 

Reaching for the stars. White-beaked Dolphin at Noss Sound on Saturday. @ Rebecca Nason/SST
Surfacing White-beaked Dolphin: Other names include White-nosed Dolphin & Squidhound!
Water streaming off the backs of two White-beaked Dolphins. @ Rebecca Nason/SST
White-beaked Dolphin, water cascading from its dorsal fin – Noss Sound. @ Rebecca Nason/SST