Otters and Seabirds

Sullom Voe by moonlight

The dawn chorus here is provided by lapwings and curlews – very different from home! I’ve been back to Muckle Roe to look for the otter again. After waiting for half an hour, I saw it coming out of the water in the same place as before. It climbed up the rocks and disappeared behind a boulder. I expected it to reappear at the grassy knoll above, but this time it didn’t.

Looking for otters in glorious sunshine

It was another 20 minutes before it came out. Once again it groomed itself and rolled in the grass to dry its fur. I now know it’s a male. After five minutes, he went back into the rocks and again failed to reappear below. I decided he must have a holt in a crevice in those rocks. A good half hour later, while I was having my sandwiches, he came out and went back into the sea. I waited another three hours, but he didn’t come back. I spent the time watching eider ducks on the beach, fulmars soaring over the cliffs and a pair of red throated divers that appeared on the water. When the tide is out, every rock and piece of kelp that momentarily appears on the surface looks just like an otter!

Otter on the Rocks

I’ve also taken a boat trip from Lerwick around Bressay and Noss, which are two islands just to the west of the Shetland ‘mainland’. Bressay has spectacular caves which contain extraordinary marine life. Our crew launched a remotely controlled video camera so we could see it all on a monitor screen. There were anemones, sea urchins, jellyfish, soft corals and lots more. Noss has 180m cliffs which provide nesting habitat for 20,000 Gannets, 30,000 Guillemots and a few hundred Puffins. For a while, the boat was followed by Great Skuas, which were totally fearless and tried to peck our cameras in the hope they might be edible. Once again, I was lucky with the weather – bright sunshine and calm seas.

Great Skua attacking photographer

Gannets on the cliffs of Noss


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