Monthly Report, August 2022

Again, a Shetland month - albeit with a quick trip to Glasgow thrown in for good measure.

August always seems like a transition month around the cliffs - the auks pack up and depart, and the first hints of autumn appear but there is still the potential for a bit more summer weather.

And the 4-word summary of the report - auks, waves, fins, fog.

Reporting Days: 31

Location: Shetland

Miles Walked: 150

Miles Driven: 432

Gardens Tended: 1

Photographs Taken: Many thousands (Auks, Waves, Fins & Fogs)


During August the auks finally abandon the cliffs and head back out to sea. 

In most years there's a sense of sadness marking the end of summer, this year I was just relieved to see them go - with avian influenza being so prevalent at the moment the open sea is safer than the colonies.  

The razorbills always disappear first (mostly not even waiting for the start of August), the guillemots next (although there are always a few laggards) then the puffins (usually disappearing en masse) and finally the black guillemots (although these don't go far, and just change plumage for the winter season spent close to shore).

Dry Stone nest building at Sumburgh Head

Calling Tystie at Scat Ness

Who's watching Who at Sumburgh Head


A spot of sunshine plus some decent seas rolling in from the southwest alway gives the chance of seeing good white water - fabulous to watch (from the right vantage point) but I wouldn't want to be navigating close to the cliffs. 

White Water at Scat Ness

White Water at Sumburgh Head

Breaking Waves at Scat Ness

Rolling Waves at Scat Ness


After a pretty limited opportunity to see much marine life over the last couple of months, it was good to get a period of calm seas and lots of time to watch for passing fins.  For about ten days in August both minke whales and basking sharks were reliable sightings in the waters around Sumburgh Head.

Minke whale off Sumburgh Head

Basking shark off Compass Head


And the calmer summer weather almost inevitably means summer fog around Shetland - which is fine unless you happen to be trying to get a flight...

Foghorn in the Fog at Sumburgh Head

Scat Ness in the Fog


And speaking of flights - in August I took my first flights since March 2020 (and my first Loganair flights since January 2020). I was starting to wonder when I'd need to venture back into the air, but travelling at short notice on the ferry isn't really practical over the summer and some things just can't be done by Zoom or Teams (other platforms are available...)

Leaving Sumburgh Airport

And next month - I'm expecting to have a mix of Shetland and (whisper it gently) Oxfordshire pictures...