Back in the 1970's i had read a book - Shetland Sanctuary by Richard Perry , which provided a lot of inspiration. I imaged a wild, isolated place far from anything I had experienced so far in my life. Yes i had spent alot of time in the Western Highlands of Scotland, but felt that the pull of being on an island full of wildlife was something that I needed to do. While other friends jetted off to hot places in the south, i wanted to go to the colder, wind swept north. Not just John o'Groats but the real far north of Britain, Muckle Flugga and all the other exciting islands as well.
I had heard about Noss from someone who had given a talk on National Natures Reserves to our local wildlife group and added to the very detailed account written by Richard Perry i vowed to visit Shetland as soon as possible. Richard Perry provided such a vivid account of the bird life on Noss that I felt that it provided more excitement than a safari in Africa, and it was in the UK too.
So on our first trip to Shetland, back in 1987, I was lucky enough to have the weather on our side and managed to get over to Bressay then onto meet the boat which would take us across to Noss. However I wasn't expecting to go by inflatable dingy!
The wind had picked up and made an interesting experience going across the sound and especially landing as the swell caused difficulties getting up onto the rocks with my camera equipment. Luckily having spent a full day on the island the weather was calmer on our return.
Time seems to go slower in Shetland, which is great as you can get so absorbed in watching the seabirds that hours shoot by. Close encounters with Gt Skuas, then Gannets, Fulmar, Kittiwakes, Puffins, Guillemot, Black Guillemot and Gt Black Back Gulls were imprinted on my mind, as well as the smell and noise.
The towering cliffs provided homes to 1000's of birds and you could easily understand how Richard Perry had spent months studying the birds on this island. He provides detailed accounts of the daily lives of each species especially the Gannet and Gt Skua, and since the first read I have constantly picked the book up to relive my own small encounters.
Each year we are on Shetland we go back to Noss, it is such a great place and each time it is different with so much to see. Once we get up to Shetland to live we will be able to see the island during different months, each month revealing secrets that only time allows to the patient observer.
Where do you get your Shetland inspiration from, please let me know