Largest tombolo in Britain

St Ninian’s tombolo is the largest active sand tombolo in Britain, attaching the small St Ninian to Shetland mainland by a 500 metre piece of land, and forming what is known as a tied island. In the Northern Isles, tombolos  known locally as ayres, are generally formed of gravel, cobbles or boulders. St Ninian’s tombolo is distinctive as it is made principally of sand. More here

Whale slaughter at Hoswick Bay

On 14 September 1888 a school of 340 pilot whales were driven ashore at Hoswick Bay as part of the annual whale drive and slaughtered by poor local crofters for their blubber. Traditionally, landowners had been given a third of any whales caught below the high water mark, but this time the crofters resisted their claim. The resultant legal case and landmark judgement ruled in favour of the crofters. Here

 Snowy Owls breeding

The only time in modern history that Snowy Owls have bred in the UK was on the Shetland Island of Fetlar. One couple bred on the island between 1967 and 1975.  The bird is now a rare winter visitor. More here from British Birds.

Red-necked phalarope stronghold

The Shetland island of Fetlar is a hotshot for red-necked phalarope. Almost of all Britain’s breeding birds nest here around Loch of Funzie. Read

Last white-tailed eagle in Britain before reintoduction

Before its reintroduction began in 1975, the last known white tailed eagle, an albino, in Britain  was shot in North Roe, Shetland in 1918, ending more than a hundred years of persecution against the bird. Three years earlier, the painter George Lodge visited the eagle and later depicited her being mobbed by three hooded crows in 1915.


June 28, 1914.  North Roe.  Meade-Waldo, Ogilvie-Grant and self, with James Hay the
watcher, went to where the sea eagle lives.  We saw her from a long way off, like a white spot on the cliff below the old nest which is still there on a 500-foot cliff. “She was very wild and flew off and away and we did not see her again.  She is quite white and looks as white as a gull while flying.  This shelter was a big crack or chimney,
with a split in the side opposite the entrance, from where we could look across to the nest which was about 100 feet from the top of the cliff.  I spent a time here making an oil sketch of the nesting cliff; but it was a horrid cramped position and a bad afternoon, blowing half a gale of wind and driving thick drizzling mist across.  I was fairly well sheltered and worked for one and a half hours, but was then too cold and cramped to continue so went home in the rain.


June 30, 1914.  Very windy.  Went again to see the eagle.  She was not in sight when we got there.  It was too windy to paint so I made a pencil sketch of the rock in the immediate vicinity of the nest.  While so engaged a hoodie crow continually mobbed something round the corner where we had no view, as it was shut in by the rocks on our left.  Meade-Waldo and Ogilvie-Grant therefore went out to the top of the cliffs to investigate, and out flew the eagle mobbed by two or three hoodies.  I had a very short view of her as she passed across my crack opening at a distance of about a hundred yards.  I noticed that her primaries were not white but appeared to be light brown.

The nest seems to be a mass of rubbish and looks just like the surrounding rocks.  We could see no trace of sticks, which lack would probably be due to wear and tear and stress of weather.  However, I got material for a picture and the wild weather if eminently in keeping with the subject.” More here