Weather (and puffin) Report, April 2018

This is Shetland - the weather is different here.

The past few days really have confirmed my long held view that the weather on Shetland is just the reverse of what most of the rest of the UK is getting.

For much of the past week Shetland has been dry and sunny (on a few days cloudless blue skies) from early morning through to late at night.  At the same time much of the rest of the country has been wallowing (or so I’m told) under heavy cloud cover and close to continuous rain.

And yesterday, as if to prove the point Shetland was blanketed under a layer of thick (and sometimes thicker) fog while folks down south were soaking up the rays in the garden (and tweeting comments about breaking out the barbecue).  If I’d set up a barbecue in the Shetland garden, I’d have been hard-pressed to find it again (and that’s not because the garden is very big).

So, what have I done with my (most-of-a) week of Shetland sunshine.  I’ve been wandering on the beaches and headlands, and mostly spending the time at Sumburgh Head looking for linzertorte and puffins.

My arrival on Shetland this week, coincided with the return of the puffins - I know, good timing!  The guillemots , razorbills and kittiwakes return to the cliffs earlier in the year, and I don’t think the fulmars ever go away - but the puffins reappearance really is the sign that spring has sprung.  

At the start of the week there were only one or two puffins checking out the cliffs - but by the end of the week there were dozens of birds around - and the influx has (hopefully) only just started.  

It would be good to think that the arrival of the early puffins (who presumably get the pick of the burrows, once they’ve evicted the rabbits) was going to herald a bumper breeding season, but I’m not very optimistic. I don’t think there has been a good breeding season around Sumburgh for a while.  

Puffins do live for a long time, so one or two poor seasons aren’t really a problem, but if the feeding grounds really are as depleted as recent reports suggest (and that could be over-fishing or climate change or a combination of the two) there is a long term problem.


In the meantime I’ll probably be spending more time on the beaches and headlands - and I might pop up to Sumburgh Head every now and again to see check up on the puffins (and to visit the splendid little cafe in the visitor centre - they do very good linzertorte).

Quendale Beach
Old LORAN Station on Garth's Ness
Sumburgh Head & the Lighthouse
Guillemots at Sumburgh Head
Shetland Wren at Sumburgh Head
Puffins return to Sumburgh Head
Getting Close - Puffin at Sumburgh Head
Early Lambs on Garth's Ness
Tea Room with a View - the cafe at Sumburgh Head
And if you want more pictures - there's a Flickr album too.