We are delighted to be up & running with our 2021 Noss Boat Tours. We are operating within the latest covid guidelines for tour operators, so some changes have taken place to ensure the safety of all onboard. One such change is only taking smaller numbers of passengers, rather than the usual full 12 on each tour to enable more space & seating for all whilst allowing a 1 m distance between passengers from different groups. The boat, life jackets & various onboard accessories are cleaned between tours & we ask that hand sanitiser is used by all passengers before boarding our vessel. Luckily our boat is very well ventilated & an outdoor excursion such as ours enables freedom of movement & enjoyment whilst keeping within the current covid guidelines. We ask all passengers to wear face masks when embarking & disembarking our vessel & advise masks to be worn throughout the tour.

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat – is working hard to maintain it’s high standards whilst taking operating guidelines during the covid-19 pandemic very seriously. Please note that by booking a tour with us, you are joining us at your own risk & acknowledge that we as a company & individual staff working for our company, will not be held accountable if you should contract Covid-19 following a Noss Boat Tour with us.

If you have any questions relating to our Noss Boat Tours or Covid-19 restrictions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us:

Phil Harris:   +44  (0)7767872260

Covid-19: Latest visitor information

Please see the following as written & shared by Promote Shetland  – May 12th 2021

Updated 12 May 2021

Lockdown restrictions have been eased across Scotland. Here we look at what that means if you’re planning a trip to Shetland this summer.

When can I book a trip to Shetland?

Currently you can travel to Shetland from Scotland and other parts of the UK. This includes travellers from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.

From 17 May, Shetland, and most other island communities in Scotland, will move down to Level 1, while most of mainland Scotland will move to Level 2. Unrestricted travel will be allowed within Scotland (with the possible exception of Moray) and overnight stays with family and friends will be allowed in line with rules on indoor gatherings.

People must not travel to places in Level 0, 1, or 2 areas if they are from a Level 3 or 4 area, except for essential purposes.

As ever, the situation can change at any time, so for the latest travel updates, please refer to the Scottish Government guidelines.

For travel information to the isles, please see the NorthLink and Loganairwebsites for the latest ferry and air travel updates.

Do I need to take a Covid test before I travel?

Those travelling to Shetland and other Scottish islands are being encouraged to take lateral flow tests ahead of their visit – one three days before and one on the day. If a positive result is returned from the initial test people are encouraged to take a more sensitive PCR test before making a final decision on whether to cancel their visit.

Lateral flow tests will be free to order for anyone living in Scotland from 26 April. To find out more about this and how to order, check the Scottish Government website.

Will shops, hospitality and tourist attractions be open?

Yes, many shops, hospitality businesses and tourist attractions are already open. But, please note, some businesses and tourist attractions have decided to remain closed for the 2021 season or to operate at reduced opening hours. Most places are also reviewing their plans on an ongoing basis as the situation progresses. To avoid disappointment, we suggest you research the things you want to do and places you want to see before you get here. We also advise booking restaurants and visitor attractions in advance, where possible.

General guidance for visitors

  • Continue to wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitiser in shops and visitor attractions where it is provided.
  • Wear face coverings in all shops and on public transport. You must also wear face coverings in pubs, cafes and restaurants when not seated at your table.
  • Check notices on the doors and windows of shops, visitor attractions, cafes etc., as they may be limiting the number of people they allow in.
  • Use contactless payment in local shops as much as possible.
  • Maintain the 2 metres social distancing guidelines, although this can be reduced to 1 metre on public transport and in retail outlets and indoor and outdoor hospitality venues, where agreed risk mitigation is in place.

Although the vaccine continues to be successfully rolled out across the UK, it is still vitally important that everyone remain vigilant and follows the latest NHS guidelines.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Shetland.

I have not yet had too much opportunity to enjoy or put my new Olympus gear to the test, after switching from Nikon to Olympus at the end of January. With appalling weather in February and the world health coronavirus crisis and lockdown since…time spent behind the camera has been minimal. Plans are afoot to resurrect my garden hide set up before species other than House Sparrow and Starting start to move through as well as concentrate on more macro work in the short term at least. In the meantime, I’ve just been looking back at a couple of pre-lockdown Olympus sessions out into field on Shetland. The first early opportunity was on the westside of mainland Shetland, where, after a couple of failed attempts at approaching a very nervous Mountain Hare, I found another more confiding individual. Mountain Hare in early spring are still white, beacons against the harsh browns and dark peatlands of rural Shetland which rarely has any serious snowfall so little need for white camouflage ( or indeed any camouflage as predators are few and far between here). Given the culls of Mountain Hare on mainland UK, I think Shetland’s populations are probably the luckiest in Britain.

The upright-hoping-she-can’t-see-me approach, before settling a little lower in the heather. My first ever wildlife shot using the Olympus E-M1X with 300mm pro f4 lens & x1.4 converter hand-held. The conditions weren’t great, but I took this at ISO 640 at 1/400sec, f5.6. My initial thoughts I remember were being delighted to be able to take shots with such a lightweight set up which enabled me to nimbly move across boggy peatland to approach my subject. The set up actually felt almost toy like to hold and shoot with after lugging around my Nikon DSLR for so many years.
What a beauty…. The other immediate benefit was that I could so easily feel confident in my manual exposures (I always shoot manual) in a situation which was a little tricky with a white subject on a dark background. The ability to look through the lens and visibly watch my exposure changes and tweaks on the image in front of me – in LIVE exposure meant that when I took a shot – what I saw is exactly what I got – no need to check after or worry about over exposure (EVF).  The resultant image was as I had seen it when I took it. What a benefit.
The level of detail was astounding I thought at ISO 640 and with the 1.4 converter…..here is a similar shot to the image above but at 100%.

The changing topography of my approach to the hare meant that actually I ended up a little closer than I had intended to achieve a clean shot. In hindsight I’d have removed the 1.4 converter and given my fury subject a little more space – but in this instance I took what I could in the given opportunity. Mountain Hare are numerous and often approachable on Shetland. I can’t wait to go to a few of my hare hotspots after the lockdown finishes.

One of my first trips out with my new Olympus set up, I enthusiastically headed to the harbour in probably the worst weather conditions for some time, constant half light & drizzle. Well what better way than to dive straight into difficult photographic conditions with totaly new gear – it’s going to be a steep learning curve but I’ll start at the deep end. The seabirds I had been hoping to see weren’t around, but opportunistically, a trawler had just come into shelter from the stormy weather and a number of seals gathered around the boat, heads straining above the choppy waters….my first photo victims.

Atlantic Grey Seal  – Olympus 300mm prime f.4 pro lens. ISO 800, f5.6, 160/sec

First impressions were good, the auto-focus was fast & locked on to the seals quickly considering the movement of the water. I found ISO 800 my preferable limit before noise began to show too much and quality possibly began to be compromised. At this early session I was hesitant to hand-hold with low speeds, settling for  1/160 sec to try and freeze the seal in the relatively fluid, wild weather  – most shots of the seals at 100% did seem surprisingly sharp given the low shutter speed and low depth of field.

A regular Lerwick scene but gulls are a great way of practising various exposures and modes with new gear. If there is a sniff of bread, gulls often flock around the car and ‘hang out’ giving plenty of stationary subjects to practise on. ISO 800 f/5.6 1/100sec Olympus E-M1X with 300mm hand held.
Atlantic Grey Seal in choppy waters and low light – good results though a little grainy at 100%. ISO 1600, 1/250sec, f5.6.
ISO 1600, 1/320sec, f5.0. I love birds against ships, for the urban wildlife/natural abstract quality. Here the deep red ship worked well though at ISO 1600 there was notable grain with such a dark, one coloured, saturated background.
Taking an exposure reading from the bow of the ship. I was so impressed with the quality of the initial bright, pin sharp shots. Here an easy subject which didn’t move. ISO 1600, 1/400sec, f/5.6.

Most of my images are taken using continuous autofocus (C-AF) mode as a lot of the time I am working with birds, which are notoriously difficult to photograph as so often on the move, so a good, fast continuous AF is a real advantage to the bird photographer. Also, with so many of my images now take from a boat in the summer months and from the shore (or car!) of birds on the sea in the winter months, even slow birds are continuously moving on water, so also cry out for a good C-AF mode. Although early days, I have so far found the Olympus E-M1X coupled with 300mm f4 pro lens to be incredibly fast both with the initial lock on the subject and the subsequent tracking and focusing, getting a much higher hit rate than I had previously been used to with my DSLR.

A few days later whilst experimenting in the harbour, photographing swimming tysties (black guillemots) and dunters (Common Eider) flocks feeding close to shore, I started using a new mode which immediately grabbed by attention = the continuous autofocus tracking or CAF+TR. I was perhaps reluctant at first, having been dabbling and gaining confidence with fine results in the basic C-AF mode alongside enjoying the little AF joysticks to quickly alter my focal point and position of the bird in each frame. However I was really pleasantly surprised at the fast focus and continued tracking obtained in this new mode and the high percentage of good, sharp imagery.

Common Eider, a flock of males moving briskly through harbour waters 1/500 sec, f/7.1, ISO 800 C-AF mode hand-held.
A smart male Common Eider taken using the CAF+TR mode.. ISO 500, f/6.3 1/400sec. This mode was quick to hit onto the subject and continually track it in focus (for 80% + of the 10 shots taken) as it moved across the water at some speed.
This black guillemot was busy feeding close to shore. 1/320 sec, f/7.1, ISO1600 C-AF mode, hand-held.
Good detail obtained with fine droplet of water on the black guillemots back and tail even at ISO 1600. Image enlarged to 200%.
Poor weather conditions, a little wing blur but perfectly sharp head and body. Olympus E-M1X, 300mm ISO 800, 1/320 sec f/7.1

Last week we released a public notice advising our many followers, customers, friends & associates of our temporary closure in light of the current Coronavirus health crisis & our tourist-based local business. We have been inundated with such comforting comments & support & have been overwhelmed by so many people who had booked with us for 2020 happy to keep there booking in place & have it carried over to a convenient 2021 re-booking instead. We have also now produced our new gift vouchers which are £45 for 1 adult & £25 for under 16’s each. Not only does purchasing one of these vouchers mean you have a booking with the Noss Boat, to take at your convenience & in whatever year, month & day of your choice (subject to availability) but it also supports our small family business in such uncertain times. THANK YOU – SST x
info@shetlandseabirdtours.com

SHETLAND SEABIRD TOURS Ltd.
– THE NOSS BOAT –
public statement – Wednesday 18th March 2020

We are very keen to let our many customers & followers know where we stand in a world which is currently experiencing a public health & financial crisis in light of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). The Shetland Islands are unfortunately no exception with a number of cases now being confirmed & many local businesses now on hold. We are, as a family & a business (which is totally reliant on the tourist sector) taking the ever-evolving UK government & NHS advice regarding Coronavirus very seriously & have halted the start of our boat tour season which was due to start near the end of March.

It is with regret that SHETLAND SEABIRD TOURS – NOSS BOAT is now CLOSED FOR BUSINESS for the rest of MARCH, APRIL & MAY 2020. We will re-evaluate our situation during May for the rest of the 2020 Shetland tourist season & hope that more positive news & boat trips may resume later in the summer.

We will over the next few days, be contacting all of our late March, April & May PRE-BOOKED CUSTOMERS to let them know our current situation & offering the two options below:

1. A cancellation & full refund.

2. A chance to postpone your boat tour until later in the year or for a date of your choice in 2021.

The above options are also available to all our PRE-BOOKED CUSTOMERS for the rest of the 2020 seabird tour season though we will not be officially closing the JUNE-OCTOBER tours or making any decisions on our Noss Boat trips during that period until after out next evaluation in May. Obviously, we understand that many of our customers are having to cancel their 2020 trips to Shetland regardless of our own business situation. If you are able to not cancel but postpone & carry over your booking with us into 2021 we would be extremely grateful though we know this is not always an option. We understand that this is a very stressful & uncertain time for all & our thoughts go out to those affected directly by the virus or as a result of the financial implications of it. If you have any questions regarding trips with Shetland Seabird Tours Ltd. please do not hesitate to get in touch by either calling Phil & Rebecca on:
07767872260 or email us at: info@shetlandseabirdtours.com

Yours sincerely,

Rebecca Nason & Phil Harris
Shetland Seabird Tours Ltd/Noss Boat.