Day 9 |
Jun 07, 2012

Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland 

By Luciano “Luqui” Bernacchi, Birder, Glacier Guide

Co-ordinates: N 60º20'39", W 1º15'23"
Weather: Partially cloudy.
Air Temperature: 10ºC
Pressure: 1014 hPa
Wind: 10/15 Kn

We stayed overnight at Lerwick, the main port of the Shetland Islands, Scotland.
I woke up early morning, in this beautiful small town that I had explored the previous afternoon and evening during some free time. The atmosphere, interesting architecture, plus the history of this far-north part of the UK makes the Shetlands a place many people wish to visit, but few make it here.

After breakfast I joined my colleagues of the Expedition staff, down at the pier to meet the local guides and port agents, for our half-day excursion of the Island, called “Jarlshof & the South Coast”. I was on bus number one, and after we had about 25 guests on board we started.

Our local guide was a very informative local Shetlander, a woman who had been born, raised and lived her whole life at the Shetlands, and she was very good at sharing with her knowledge and passion for this small community. All the guests enjoyed talking and listening to her as she guided the tour.

As the bus meandered the narrow roads, we passed various small farming communities, (townships as they are known here) and saw old ruins, Shetland Ponies, and great views of the Isle of Mouse we had visited the previous day, with it’s incredible well preserved 2000 year old Broch. We slowly made it to the southern tip of the island enjoying wonderful coastline scenery along the way, and I even saw a few Common or Harbour Seals swimming against the sandy bottom in the crystal clear waters. On one of the stops most guests could see them clearly.

Upon arrival to the famous archaeological site of Jarlshof the group walked around the site. The various ruins are right by the coastline, and were first discovered after a severe storm unearthed parts of the remains. I listened and wandered in my mind through time as I heard stories and details of the many people who lived here over many centuries; since the very early Neolithic houses, the Bronze-Age village, and Iron-age Broch, several Norse Houses a medieval farmstead, and the XVI century laird’s houses.

After some time by the ruins, a member of the Expedition Staff, Ornithologist Chris Harbard and myself, showed some guests how a Grey Seal fished and watched as he ate a big fish with very red meat. We were quite certain that is was a kind of flounder, and watching the Grey Seal at close range was an unexpected bonus.

By that time I was looking forward to the coffee/tea and biscuits that followed in the nearby Hotel Sumburgh, on the way there it was impossible not to stop a few minutes and take photos of four beautiful Shetland Ponies with four very cute little foals.

We later returned to Lerwick and the Silver Explorer, as she was ready to cast lines and sail to our afternoon activities at the Island of Noss. Lunch followed and soon we were in the vicinity of the nearby Noss Island that offers some of the best Zodiac Cruising in Scotland, with huge numbers of Seabirds, particularly a huge Gannetry, the largest Seabird in the region. We could not offer the Zodiac cruises as the wind and seas had picked up ad predicted. However Captain Alexander Golubev manoeuvred the Silver Explorer and we could get good views of the coastline, the impressive cliffs, and look at the thousands of birds that surrounded us. I happily spent some time watching hundreds and hundreds wonderful creatures such as: Gannets, Fulmars, Kittawakes, Common Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Great Skuas.

Due to the change of Plans, Expedition Staff Geologist Juan Carlos Restrepo offered a lecture about Oceanography. We added information about the area during recap and heard a briefing for the following two days at the Faroe Islands.

During dinner I suggested to a few guests we should say farewell to Scotland and the UK, it has been several wonderful days, and we all look forward to the days to come in the remote Archipelago of the Faroe Islands.