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Puffins in Shetland About the Puffin The Puffin is probably the best known member of the Auk family, although there are another 21 species including Guillemots and Razorbills.

It is instantly recognisable with its brightly coloured bill and well liked by all birdwatchers. Puffins nest in burrows which they usually dig themselves with their very sharp claws amongst boulder scree and also in cracks in the cliffs.

About one fifth of the total Puffin population of Scotland breed in Shetland, approximatelypairs. Most of the large coloured part of the Puffin's bill the bright bluish and yellow areas closest to the head is simply a decorative sheath and is shed during the winter, to be regrown each spring at the start of the breeding season.

In winter plumage therefore their bill appears much duller in colouration and noticeably smaller. When to Puffin Watch Almost all Puffins leave Shetland during the winter months returning to their breeding areas from March onwards.

Large 'rafts' groups of birds swimming together of Puffins may be seen on the sea at this time as they gather around their breeding areas. They lay only a single egg and the chick is fed in the burrow on small fish.

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Most Puffin colonies are empty soon after mid-August. The best time to visit a Puffin colony is in the morning or early evening as most of the birds are at the fishing grounds during the day. During the incubation period Puffins spend more time ashore, but the extent of colony visits is variable, and although they may be ashore for long periods of time there may not be much activity.

Exciting behaviour will be sporadic - when a pair may quarrel or a gull flies over causing the Puffins to take flight before landing again or to preen or sleep. During the chick rearing period June to early August the adults can often be seen bringing beaks full of food to their young.

An observer, sitting quietly at a good vantage point near a colony just before sunset, will be able to watch many different behaviour patterns, e.

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Sumburgh Head At the southern tip of mainland Shetland, Sumburgh Head holds a colony of about 5, birds all breeding in the steep grassy banks and cliffs leading up to the lighthouse.

This is probably the easiest colony to visit as it is an RSPB reserve and there is a public road all the way to the lighthouse and ample parking facilities.

This is a very ancient colony as Puffin bones are common in the ninth and tenth century dwellings at the nearby Jarlshof Viking settlement.

How to get there Take the main south road to Sumburgh Airport but follow the road past the Airport turnoff. This road then leads all the way to the Sumburgh Lighthouse. The Isle of Noss Lying only a few hundred metres off the east coast of Bressay just across from the main town of Lerwickthe Isle of Noss holds about 2, pairs of Puffins.

They breed around the grassy cliff tops, and in cracks in the high cliffs of the isle, especially around the Noup of Noss the highest point.


How to get there Take the inter-island car ferry from Lerwick to Bressay. Cross Bressay about 3. The island is only open for visitors between mid-May and the end of August but this is very weather dependant. Daily information relating to the crossing is displayed at the Lerwick to Bressay ferry terminal.

Fetlar One of the northerly islands, Fetlar holds a population of about 1, Puffins almost all of which breed in steep grassy banks and in cracks in the cliffs. They are found all around the higher parts of the island although there are few large concentrations.

Timetable and Fares Info - Shetland Islands Council Inter-Island Ferries

How to get there Take the inter-island car ferry from Toft in the north mainland to the island of Yell. Travel north across Yell to the Gutcher ferry terminal and take the ferry to Fetlar. Prior booking is recommended as there are only 5 or 6 ferries per day to and from Fetlar.

An RSPB warden is present on the island throughout the year and an interpretive centre is situated along the main road about metres past the shop.

The colony of at least 50, pairs of Puffins is scattered over several miles of boulder screes and heavily grazed steep slopes along the west cliffs of the reserve.


This is one of the easiest colonies to walk to and is quite spectacular. How to get there As with Fetlar, take the inter-island car ferry from Toft to Yell and travel north to the Gutcher ferry terminal.

Bressay – Travel guide at Wikivoyage

Take the ferry to Unst and travel north across Unst to Hermaness which is at the very north-west tip of the island. A car park is situated at the entrance to the reserve and routes across the reserve to the cliffs are signposted.Best Dining in Bressay, Shetland Islands: See 16 TripAdvisor traveler reviews of Bressay restaurants and search by cuisine, price, location, and more.

This book charts the development of fishing for trout and sea trout in Shetland from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day and includes accounts of angling experiences of several well-known and not so well-known figures who have fished these islands. Boat tour includes comfortable cruise out to Noss NNR internationally famous seabird cliffs via Lerwick Harbour & Bressay lighthouse to enjoy Shetland's numerous seabirds & seals, scenic views & geology.

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“Bressay was one of the last of the Shetland Islands, that I visited. I got the short ferry from Lerwick and landed on a windy, showery day on Bressay.

Next to the ferry slip is the Bressay Heritage Centre/5.

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