Scottish Island choice May/June 2020

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David
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#1
I am thinking about going to a Scottish Island(s) next year for seabirds and other wildlife and my choice is between :-
1) Shetland Isles because of Skuas, Otter and Red Phalarope
2) Orkney because of the greater number of Birds of Prey
3) Lewis and Uist because of white tailed sea eagles.

Any recommendations? Which might be cheaper? From London what is the best way to go? Also would I need to hire a car?
Sorry for a broad question but I am not sure what is best.
 
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Jeremy Moore
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#2
I found Orkney rather tame and agricultural landscape-wise after Shetland - Hoy being the exception, although I didn't visit all the islands. Not sure why the number of birds of prey would be a deal-breaker. I believe it does have good numbers of hen harriers and no doubt a good variety of others but numbers by themselves.....?

Shetland was very wild but due to oil industry money access to the various islands was good. It would be Fetlar for red-necked phalarope. I'm sure you'd need a car on Shetland. some of the islands are pretty big. Noss - access from Mainland for gannet colony. Hermaness, most northerly part of the UK good for accessible gannets.

Personally I'd go to Uist/Benbecula, Harris/Lewis. It does have phalaropes if you know where to go.

Others will no doubt be able to advise.
 
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Dave
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#4
I am thinking about going to a Scottish Island(s) next year for seabirds and other wildlife and my choice is between :-
1) Shetland Isles because of Skuas, Otter and Red Phalarope
2) Orkney because of the greater number of Birds of Prey
3) Lewis and Uist because of white tailed sea eagles.

Any recommendations? Which might be cheaper? From London what is the best way to go? Also would I need to hire a car?
Sorry for a broad question but I am not sure what is best.
Can't recommend one because all of them are superb.

Shetland will be the most expensive to get to, for obvious reasons, and it will be expensive while you are there because of the size.
The Outer Hebrides will probably be the cheapest. Orkney probably in the middle.

If you aren't driving from London then yes, you will need to hire a car. A car is, IMO, the only practical way of getting around and stopping where you want and for as long as you want.

You'll need to do a fair bit of calculation about travelling by public transport and then hiring a car versus using your own car.

Flights to Inverness (if going to the Outer Hebrides or Orkney) are cheap, possibly cheaper than driving, but depends on how many are going. If you can cope with sleeping in a seat for a night you could get the Caledonian Sleeper from Euston to Inverness for, at the moment, £50.00. Its more expensive than a cheap plane seat but saves messing about with waiting at an airport and no charge for luggage.

If you are looking at Shetland then the choices are flying to Sumburgh and hiring a car, or the overnight ferry from Aberdeen either with or without a car. I haven't flown but the ferry is great and you arrived about 7am so gain an extra day.

How you travel also depends on how much time you have.

For wildlife there is not much to choose. They all have it an abundance.

Dave
 
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David
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#5
Can't recommend one because all of them are superb.

Shetland will be the most expensive to get to, for obvious reasons, and it will be expensive while you are there because of the size.
The Outer Hebrides will probably be the cheapest. Orkney probably in the middle.

If you aren't driving from London then yes, you will need to hire a car. A car is, IMO, the only practical way of getting around and stopping where you want and for as long as you want.

You'll need to do a fair bit of calculation about travelling by public transport and then hiring a car versus using your own car.

Flights to Inverness (if going to the Outer Hebrides or Orkney) are cheap, possibly cheaper than driving, but depends on how many are going. If you can cope with sleeping in a seat for a night you could get the Caledonian Sleeper from Euston to Inverness for, at the moment, £50.00. Its more expensive than a cheap plane seat but saves messing about with waiting at an airport and no charge for luggage.

If you are looking at Shetland then the choices are flying to Sumburgh and hiring a car, or the overnight ferry from Aberdeen either with or without a car. I haven't flown but the ferry is great and you arrived about 7am so gain an extra day.

How you travel also depends on how much time you have.

For wildlife there is not much to choose. They all have it an abundance.

Dave
Very useful - thanks for that.
 
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#7
I am thinking about going to a Scottish Island(s) next year for seabirds and other wildlife and my choice is between :-
1) Shetland Isles because of Skuas, Otter and Red Phalarope
2) Orkney because of the greater number of Birds of Prey
3) Lewis and Uist because of white tailed sea eagles.

Any recommendations? Which might be cheaper? From London what is the best way to go? Also would I need to hire a car?
Sorry for a broad question but I am not sure what is best.
From my experience I would suggest Mull, it’s got Otters, Golden Eagle, White Tailed Sea Eagles along with plenty of other wildlife. It’s closer and easy to get to from Oban.
 
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John Moncrieff
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#8
Hire car pretty much essential for Shetland - hard to chase Orcas by bus If flying, book a looooong way in advance - prices are ridiculous at short notice - would recommend booking through BA from London as they codeshare with Loganair and if there’s any problems it’s up to the airline to look after you/get you to your destination. Ferry cheapest, especially with a sleeping (if you’re lucky) pod rather than a cabin.

Puffins, Gannets, Skuas easily accessible, Phalaropes appear at several other spots outside Fetlar. Unfortunately the only resident bird of prey is Merlin (I have a friend with licensed Merlin and Red Throated Diver hides)
 
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