Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Sumburgh Head lies at the extreme southern tip of Mainland Shetland and has cliffs with breeding seabirds, boulder-strewn beaches and clifftop grassland.
This is one of the best birding sites on Mainland Shetland with a well-deserved reputation for turning up rarities among the migrants. It is also a good seawatching point during passage periods.
 Notable Species
Offshore in late summer there is a large congregation of moulting Common Eider and scarcer seabirds such as Sooty Shearwater and Long-tailed Skua may be seen during seawatches. Regularly seen from Sumburgh Head are divers, European Storm-petrel, Long-tailed Duck and Little Auk.
Birds you can see here include:
Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Northern Fulmar, Sooty Shearwater, European Storm Petrel, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, European Shag, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Common Shelduck, Common Teal, Mallard, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Peregrine Falcon, Corn Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Northern Lapwing, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Ruddy Turnstone, Great Skua, Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua, Long-tailed Skua, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Little Auk, Atlantic Puffin, Rock Dove, Eurasian Skylark, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Shetland Wren, Bluethroat, Northern Wheatear, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Icterine Warbler, Barred Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Red-backed Shrike, Hooded Crow, Northern Raven, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Twite, Common Rosefinch, Snow Bunting, Reed Bunting
 Other Wildlife
Sumburgh Head is excellent for viewing cetaceans with Common Porpoise Phocoena phocoena, White-beaked Dolphin Lageonrhynchus albirostris and Risso's Dolphin Grampus griseus, Killer Whale Orcinus orca, Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata and Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae all possible.
 Site Information
 Areas of Interest
The scrub and bushes around the lighthouse and the two disused quarries along the approach road are among the best areas to search for passerine migrants.
Another is the garden of the Sumburgh Hotel where an almost rivalled list of rarities has been recorded over the years. Amongst the commoner species of warbler have been Blyth's Reed Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler and Greenish Warbler as well as Citrine Wagtail, Olive-backed Pipit, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Thrush Nightingale and Black-throated Thrush.
 Access and Facilities
There is an airport at Sumburgh, alternatively take the A970 southwards from Lerwick. There is a car-park near the lighthouse.
Grid Ref: HU407079
 Other Nearby Sites
 Pool of Virkie
Just to the north is the Pool of Virkie, a sheltered inlet of the sea with exposed sand and mudflats that attracts good numbers of waders. Development has recently reduced its appeal to birds but it is still worth checking.
 Quendale Bay
Quendale Bay lies on the western side of the peninsula opposite Pool of Virkie and is a good area for wintering divers and seaduck.
 Loch of Hillwell
About 3km to the north of Quendale Bay is the Loch of Hillwell which has wintering waterfowl in variety and numbers and occasionally Corncrake is recorded here.
 Contact Details
Tel: 01950 460800 (RSPB)
 External Links
Content and images originally posted by Steve