Hello from the RSPB Shetland Team  

It has been a busy and exciting few weeks since our last blog post.

Every month, the Shetland team runs a learning and development session intending to improve our knowledge and understanding of specific topics or get involved in projects throughout Shetland. At the end of April, the Shetland team ventured to Fetlar. 

On the island, the team got involved in a project run by a local crofter, with help from the Shetland Amenity Trust. The Trust runs a grant Scheme in Shetland on behalf of the Woodland Trust for Scotland. This enables crofters/smallholders to claim up to 80% of trees and tree guards. The idea on Fetlar is to create a section of woodland with a viewing screen looking over the nearby loch. With help from the Fetlar school, we planted over 350 trees!                                                                                                                                                                                         

tree planting

Tree planting on Fetlar 

That evening we also ran a presentation in the Fetlar Hall, discussing the work the RSPB does in Shetland and the star species for Fetlar. This was well attended, and we are now working to present this across Shetland (stay tuned). Surprisingly, the day was made even better as it was t-shirt weather!!

The team on the beach enjoying the sunshine

The team on the beach enjoying the sunshine 

The next day we started the wader surveys for the year. We walk transects around the site, recording wader activity on site. The first visit is generally a bit quieter, but the team had a good abundance of waders displaying promising breeding behaviour, so it will be exciting to see what this year brings!

Early morning survey on Fetlar

Early morning survey on Fetlar

Alongside the surveys, we have been using better weather to improve the visitor infrastructure. This weekend the Fetlar Community Hide parts were varnished and the path drainage improved. At Sumburgh head, we have extended and enhanced the viewing platform near the orca, and finally, the tarmac outside the Loch of Spiggie Hide was completed. 

The new tarmac at the Loch of Spiggie Hide

The new tarmac at the Loch of Spiggie Hide 

Sumburgh Head

The seabirds continue to delight visitors with razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmar and shags all visible on the cliffs and regular gannets and bonxies flying past. Puffins are still most likely to be seen in the mornings and evenings but they are becoming more regular in the day when they are collecting material for their nests. The first guillemot egg was recorded on 9th May. 

Loch of Spiggie area

The terns have arrived over the last week with both common and arctic terns being seen from the wildlife viewpoint. Swallow numbers have built up and they have been joined by a few sand martin and house martin. The Arctic skuas have also returned for the summer. Curlew are still displaying in the area.
A handsome drake garganey has been seen on the north end of the loch and a pair of dotterel have been in a field just to the south of the reserve for the last two days.

Some of the whimbrel are back on territory and singing though winter is still hanging on with some barnacle geese in amongst the greylags. Our wader surveys recorded snipe, redshank, lapwing, oystercatcher, curlew and golden plover on breeding habitats

Until Next Time