Shetland's Wildlife

Shetland's Wildlife

In the summer Shetland really does comes alive with wildlife – especially birdlife. We have various sea birds that make themselves at home on the rugged cliffs – we have the Puffins, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, and Fulmars and Gannets and Guillemots.

We have various nature reserves on the islands where you can go and see these nesting birds.  Hermaness, which is one of the most northerly nature reserves, is home to 30000 pairs of breeding gannets along with the puffins and fulmars.  This nature reserve is also home to breeding Great Skua colonies that nest across the moorlands.  Sometimes walking through a Great Skua colony can be quite challenging.  If you come near to their nests they do come and dive bomb you and it really is quite scary.

Fetlar is a very special Island known as the Garden of Shetland and is home to Red Throated Divers, Great Skuas and lots of moorland birds during the summer months. Fetlar gets a very special visitor every year The Red Necked Phalarope.

The Phalarope is a rare UK breeding bird and is a Red List Bird and listed under the Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Always a joy for visitors to see and causes lots of excitment when they are about.

The Island of Noss is a designated nature Reserve and has a significant breeding colony of Gannets as well as other birds that enjoy the remoteness and protected status of the island. 

Sumburgh Head is the main home for the puffins during the summer.  They really are enjoyable little birds and love having their photos taken by visitors.  It has often been discussed if the visitors go to see them every year or do the puffins return to the cliffs to see the visitors.


On our moorlands we have Golden Plovers, Grouse, Wimbrels and Curlews to name a few.  We do not have any deer or foxes or badgers on the hills and probably our main land animals will be otters, hedgehogs and polecats.  Although otters predominantly live along the shore they are known to roam about.  Otters can also be very elusive so when you find one on the shoreline approach slowly remembering that it is a special sighting but most importantly that they are also a protected mammal.