Hello from Shetland and Happy New Year to you all!

This side of the festive season the breeding season feels within touching distance and we’re starting to get things ready for the season ahead.

The first week back at work was mostly spent in the office, thanks to the incessant gales! But it gave us a good chance to catch up with each other, take stock of where we are in the work programme  and get planning to complete practical jobs before Spring.

Thankfully the weather has calmed down this week and we were greeted by Fulmars and Guillemots outside the office at Sumburgh Head at the beginning of the week. Although they won’t be thinking about breeding for a few months, we’ll now see the Guillemots on and off the cliffs during calm weather.

A photo taken through binoculars, shows a circle inside which can be seen a stack of rocks with black and white guillemots sat on it
A digi-binned photo of Guillemots on the rocks at Sumburgh Head

If connecting with nature is something you’re hoping to do more of this year, then you are in the right place! Over the next few months, RSPB Shetland will be running a series of Wintering Wild and Well events from RSPB and partners, that will include workshops, online talks and new resources. We hope to provide helpful insight and information about the natural world and support the wellbeing of the local community over the winter. The reserves team will be running Guide in the Hide sessions at Loch of Spiggie where you can brush up on your wildlife skills or just chat all things nature with us. These sessions are running 10-12 on 23rd January, 6th and 20th February, 5th and 19th March.

Two whopper swans swim across a loch. The left hand bird is an adult, white with yellow on the bill. The right hand bird is a juvenile with grey feather and grey on the bill
An adult and juvenile Whooper Swan.

Sunshine at Loch of Spiggie

We’ve managed to get out to sites this week, doing some jobs at Spiggie including our swan count. Yesterday we went across to Fetlar to check on our phalarope sites. They’re looking good after the grazing and digger work that was carried out in the autumn. We have started to put the boards in at the sluices and turn our water control pipes up. This means we’ll now be keeping as much water on the sites as possible. This helps to ensure there are pools and flushy edges for when the waders return, even if we have a dry spring, whilst also supressing some vegetation growth keeping water bodies open. We’re just counting down the days until Spring now!                                                                                                                                    

Recent sightings:
Sumburgh Head : Guillemot, Fulmar, Great Northern Diver, Little Auk, Common Scoter, Raven, Wren, Twite, Merlin,  Peregrine, Fieldfare, Redwing, Great Black-backed Gull, Oystercatcher

Loch of Spiggie : White-fronted Goose, Scaup, Coot, Curlew, Whooper Swan, Glaucous Gull, Pochard, Pintail, Cananda Goose, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Teal, Long-tailed Duck, Tufted Duck, Snipe, Wren, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl