We fly into Shetland and take the ferry€ross to Fair Isle, with the possiblity of seeing seabirds and maybe some cetaceans during the crossing. Arriving at the Observatory, with its comfortable rooms, friendly atmosphere and good food, we become part of the wider island community for the week.
The island’s minibus will take us to some of the farthest reaches of the island, but otherwise we’ll enjoy plenty of walking and, being only 3½ miles long, we’ll have the freedom to explore every nook and cranny of this inspiring island. Our day might start with a pre-breakfast walk€companying the warden around the Gully, Double Dyke and the Plantation, to discover what migrant birds have arrived overnight and are in the Heligoland traps.
If the winds promise migrant birds, we’ll walk to the lower lying crofting land. We’ll scour gardens, patches of crops and along stone dykes, where we could find a range of migrant species including Ring Ouzel, Redstart, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Whinchat and Wood Warbler and we can hope for Red-backed Shrike, Wryneck or maybe a Bluethroat, Icterine Warbler or singing Marsh Warbler!
The island holds nationally and internationally important populations of seabirds; 18 different species nest here and late spring is a great time to see some of the 250,000 that breed. We’ll explore the coast, seeing Eider and Black Guillemots as well as Grey and Common Seals and look for some of the islands other breeding birds. Small freshwater pools can also host waders and waterfowl and we’ll ensure we visit places such as Golden Water, Sukka Mire and Easter Lother.
To the north lies some of the island’s most spectacular scenery, where high heather moors roll on to towering sandstone cliffs, offering shelter to migrant birds such as Goldcrests, Flycatchers and warblers, amongst the thousands of seabirds breeding on the ledges. On the moors at Ward Hill and Easbrecks, skuas are present and we may seawatch from Buness, right by the observatory, to watch the skuas making forays to rob Kittiwakes, Gannets and terns out on the water and to look out for passing whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Yet with all these bird riches around us, it is likely to be the Fair Isle island magic that will linger in the memory - the complete tranquillity, the wind, the waves, the stunning scenery - away from crowds of people, it’s a true escape from the bustle of the modern world.
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This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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