In June comes the payback - Shetland isn't quite far enough north to see the midnight sun, but it really doesn't get properly dark at this time of the year. The local name for it is Simmer Dim (the summer dimness) - and unless you're staying somewhere with decent curtains the light will soon start to mess with your body clock.
Over the last few days I've taken quite a lot of photographs (no surprise there, I hear you cry) - the earliest was at 04:50 and the latest at 22:55.
|Early Start 04:50 looking out onto Quendale Bay|
|Late night (22:55) clouds over Quendale Links|
So what to do with all those intervening hours?
As with any time on Shetland, you keep your fingers crossed that the weather is going to co-operate. In the summer you might well get 18 hours of sunshine between dawn and dusk, but you might also get 18 hours of brightly lit fog.
|Sunshine and Waves on Scat Ness|
|Quendale Bay - on a good day you can see Fair Isle 25 miles away|
But, assuming the weather co-operates (which it mostly did for the last few days) you're going to want to do things like puffin spotting (lots of other bird life is available), Shetland Pony watching and (if you've got everything crossed) you might get to see one of the passing pods of orca.
|Puffin in the sea pinks at Sumburgh Head|
|Shetland Ponies - in front of the Sumburgh Hotel|
|Passing Orca - taken at The Taing, just north of Grutness Voe|
The ponies are there all year round - just keep your eyes open as you walk or drive around Shetland - at this time of year there are lots of foals around too.
The puffins appear in mid-April and stick around until late July or early August - there are puffins in lots of places around Shetland, my favourite puffin spotting place is Sumburgh Head at the south end of the Shetland mainland. Some days you'll see lots of puffins coming and going (and sometimes just hanging about on the cliff-tops), other days you might need to be a wee bit patient.
The orca are the real lottery ticket item. Shetland doesn't have a resident pod of orca (much to the relief of the local seals), but it does have several visiting pods who spend time as far north as Iceland and as far south as the Scottish mainland. The orca do often work their up or down the Shetland coast line so you will often get a heads-up that the orca are around via a local Facebook page that a pod has been sighted. This will result in crowds of both locals and visitors gathering along the coastline hoping that the pod will pass by close to the shore. Last week the pod took almost 8 hours to travel the 20 odd miles from near Lerwick (where they were first spotted) down to Sumburgh Head hunting fish and seals as they went, and providing a wonderful spectacle for lots of people
And if you don't spot any ponies or the puffins are too busy sitting in their burrows or spending time fishing at sea and the orca just aren't around, you'll just have to stick with wandering on the crowded beaches and busy headlands. Which isn't really such a tough call.
There are more pictures from the last few days in a Flickr album.