Shetland 2015 – Day 7 Sunny St Ninian’s & Sumburgh Head

Shetland is an isle of contrasts… you can often see just about all weather conditions in a matter of hours. We have been incredibly lucky this week and have had cold but bright weather and very little rain. Today, we were treated to an absolutely gorgeous day… still only 15 degrees but blue skies, sunshine and hardly a breath of wind (which is rather unusual in Shetland!)

The grassland area outside Cheyne House is full of flowers, so I nipped out to take some pictures of the Spotted Marsh Orchids and Squill which are dotted all over this slope.

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Today was a day to see Shetland at its most beautiful and we headed to one of the prettiest bays… St Ninian’s Isle beach. This is a natural Tombola; a natural sand causeway with sea on either side. It was certainly a stunning sight as we parked up above the bay, climbed down the dunes onto a stunning white beach with turquoise, crystal clear waters.

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The fulmars were nesting up on small sandy cliffs, tucked up amongst the Thrift…

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Walking a long the coast watching the terns dive into the still waters, a movement caught my eye… a Ringed plover was scurrying amongst the seaweed..

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I sat down on the sand, looking out to sea when another movement caught my eye up on the rocks. Completely camouflaged, nestled on the barnacle covered rock face was a female Eider and three ducklings. Her colours and those of her young were exactly the same colour as the rocks and, when she stopped moving, she simply disappeared…

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After a few moments, the female slipped into the water and proceeded to have a wonderful bath in the sea, spraying the area with droplets of water and giving me a great chance to photograph her.

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Another female appeared and, again I was astounded by her ability to blend in with her surroundings so took this picture… can you spot her?!

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Sliding silently onto the water, these females then made their way across the bay, with their offspring in tow… somewhat more obvious on the open water!

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We jumped back in the car and, seeing as the day was so stunning, Paula drove us up to one of the high points, so we could look out of the islands…. it is truly a spectacular view of the complex shoreline and islands that make up the Shetland Isles. A completely different view at every turn.

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Another excellent place to see Puffins on Shetland is at Sumburgh Head. We had nipped up there when we had first arrived, but decided to go again to see if we could complete our seabird collection of images with a few more of these charismatic little characters. Heading to the very top, to the viewing point, there were about 20 puffins sitting on this part of the headland. They are used to people, so came incredibly close and I was able to get some lovely shots of them calling, yawning, preening and trundling around. I could watch these birds all day and I took lots of images!

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We finished off another wonderful day by standing on the top of the cliffs, as the Fulmars cruised along  on the thermals right in front of us… plenty of opportunity to practise my flight shots… and a much easier in a calm conditions like this!Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 21.58.02 Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 21.57.24

Shetland certainly came up trumps again!