Shetland Spring, April 2018

Any time of year can be splendid on Shetland.  But, if you were going to twist my arm, I think I’d probably be tempted to enthuse about April.

During March there might be hints of spring - the days are getting longer, the cliffs start to re-fill with nesting birds and the weather might have lost some of it’s earlier bite. 

Once you get into April, however, everything gets that little bit better.  

The days really do obviously get longer - the sun comes up way before most folks get their breakfast - and there is lots of light to see the wildlife until late in the evening.  The cliffs start to get seriously busy as the early-returning guillemots, razorbills and fulmar get joined by the undoubted star of the cliff-tops, the puffins.  Offshore you’ll regularly see gannets flying past, and if you get really lucky you might get to see one of the several pods of orca that frequent the coasts of Shetland.

Is this Spring? 
Evening Light
Chattering Fulmar
Passing Orca - Sumburgh Head

This spring I managed to arrive back on Shetland in early April just as the puffins started to reappear - at first just in small numbers but later in the month in decent numbers (i.e. it stopped being easy to count how many you had seen).  The puffins aren’t the only sign that spring has arrived - the great skuas (locally, bonxies) start to patrol the cliffs, ready to bring chaos as they hunt down their prey and on the flatter headlands the terns also return.  On Shetland we get both common and arctic terns, but conveniently the local name for both is tirrick - which neatly side-steps the challenge of trying to tell them apart.

Shetland Ponies on the Run
Watching Seal
Walking from Jarlshof to Sumburgh Head
Quendale Bay - evening light

Over recent years orca sightings have become much more common - during the summer months the seas are usually a bit flatter and there are many more people out and about, so not only are there more whales about there are also more chances that the whales will get spotted and reported.

The other sign of spring around Shetland are the new lambs - they’re quite a few weeks later than down south but are always a delight to see around the fields.

Early Lamb
Serious Ears

However, spring being spring means that you can’t always rely on the weather - sometimes the fog will roll in and you just need to remember what the views looked like.

On a clear day 
On a less clear day @Sumburgh Head

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