Hello from the RSPB Shetland Team  

I’m thrilled to start this blog off with some good news - the wildlife viewpoint at Loch of Spiggie is now open to the public!  

The building was installed for us by the Gilleard Brothers LTD,  who did a great job in building it in gale force winds! Inside there’s numerous viewing windows, 6 moveable benches and an accessible bay for wheelchair access. We also have a storeroom which has space to potentially hold an all-terrain wheelchair. There’s lots of room inside, so we hope it becomes a valuable community space. The internal walls are still a work in progress and we’ll be working with local artists and school children to create artwork and identification guides to adorn the empty spaces. 

The new building looks out onto some tern rafts that we were able to install thanks to funding from NatureScot’ s Nature Restoration Fund. Both Arctic and common terns are often subject to disturbance so these rafts will provide an area where they can raise their chicks free from that. The Perspex sides are there to hopefully thwart predators such as otters. Terns already use the perches around the loch so hopefully the rafts will enable those who use the new wildlife viewpoint to have fantastic views of the terns laying their eggs and raising chicks. Fingers crossed.  

The new wildlife viewpoint and tern rafts at Loch of Spiggie

Last week the team spent some time on Mousa, installing boardwalk in wet areas and putting in some small path diversions. We also took advantage of the calm weather to carry out the tystie (black guillemot) count. Starting at 6am in the morning we walked the entire coastline of the island, counting tysties on the cliffs and on the sea. We recorded all the birds we saw, but the final count only includes the birds in their full breeding plumage, a total of 95 birds, which was a very similar number to last years count. 

Mousa broch on our early morning tystie survey

I’ve been back to Mousa today with some new volunteers who will be meeting visitors on the island, talking to them about the reserve and pointing out the fantastic wildlife. Whilst we walked around the island we completed a few jobs and they had a chance to get to know more about the reserve and the work the RSPB do. There’s still a little bit of induction left to do but they will be on Mousa a couple of days a week when they start, so if you take a trip out with the Mousa Boat and see our volunteers make sure you say hello. We also managed to get the Biosecurity for Life trail set up for visitors to enjoy and spread the message of how important it is to keep Mousa free from mammalian predators.  

Contents of the rucksack for the new trail on Mousa

Alongside all that we’ve carried out our first wader and wildfowl surveys of the breeding season - it’s been a busy week! 

A round up of sightings across our sites: 
Sumburgh – puffins, guillemots, kittiwake, fulmar, razorbills and shags can be seen on the cliffs. Great skuas, herring gull and great black-backed gulls are regularly seen flying around. Wheatear numbers are building on the headlands and the starlings have started to nest in the stone dykes.  

Loch of Spiggie – Two Slavonian grebes have been seen from the hide today (27th April ) as well as a drake pintail, whooper swans, a single barnacle goose and great skuas. A drake ring-necked duck remains on the neighbouring Loch of Brow.  A red kite, of which there are less then 40 records for Shetland spent some time around Spiggie at the beginning of the week. Two pairs of mute swans have nests on the edges of the loch and curlew are starting to display. Goldeneye and long-tailed ducks can still be seen whilst redshanks, snipe and oystercatchers are settling on territories. And a finally a couple of swallows in the area too- it almost feels like spring!   

Until next time