Shetland, September 2019

A new month - and definitely a new season.

Every season on Shetland brings its own attractions. Spring brings the returning breeding sea birds - puffins, guillemots, razorbills and terns (along with their piratical acquaintances, the skuas).  Summer brings the implausibly long days, and remarkably short nights.

In autumn, as we pass the equinox, things change again.  The migrants start to pass through, sometimes huge flocks travelling together, like the barnacle geese heading from Svalbard down to the Solway Firth, and sometime individual birds apparently making their journeys in solitude.

Barnacle geese - passing through.

Not all the Shetland birds are transitory - some stay around all year - the gannets always seem to be around particularly down the east side of the Shetland mainland. A few minutes standing at Sumburgh Head will almost always reveal gannets heading either north or south along the coast, sometime just cruising past and at other times diving for fish.

Gannet heading south past Sumburgh Head

These monthly blog posts always talk about the changeable nature of Shetland weather - just a few hours can transform from autumn storms to summer-like sunshine

Mists and wild seas on the Quendale side of Scat Ness
Summer Returns (at least briefly) to Quendale Bay
The switch to longer nights as the autumn passes does also bring some bonuses - as it gets darker in the evenings the chances of seeing the Northern Lights (locally the Mirrie Dancers) get better.  And while there are never any guarantees, just occasionally the sky lights up.

Northern Lights at Virkie