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Noss - BirdForum Opus

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The uninhabited Isle of Noss is a National Nature Reserve covering more than 300ha of moorland and grassy slopes to the east of the island of Bressay, off the east coast of Mainland, Shetland.

Noss is a popular destination for ornithologists as the island holds one of the largest seabird colonies in Europe.

The eastern and southern sides of the island are fringed by sandstone cliffs, up to 200m high in places, and the islands slope down to much lower cliffs in the west.


Notable Species

The most numerous of the breeding birds are Common Guillemot with tens of thousands of pairs but there are also thousands of Northern Gannet, Kittiwake and Northern Fulmar and hundreds of Black Guillemot, Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin. Great Skua and Arctic Skua breed on Noss as well as various gulls and Common Eider.

Rock Dove and Rock Pipit nest on the cliffs


Migrants are scarce due to the lack of cover but species such as Wryneck and Bluethroat are annually recorded.

Rarer vagrants are sometimes recorded and have include White-throated Sparrow from North America, European Bee-eater and Alpine Swift from southern Europe and Olive-backed Pipit and Needle-tailed Swift from Asia.


Birds you can see here include:

Red-throated Diver, Northern Fulmar, Northern Gannet, European Shag, Common Eider, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Atlantic Puffin, Rock Dove, Eurasian Wryneck, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Common Wren, Northern Wheatear, Bluethroat, Northern Raven, Hooded Crow, Twite

Other Wildlife

Both Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus and Common Seal Phoca vitulina are common and cetaceans seen in the seas around Noss include Common Porpoise Phocoena phocoena, Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata and Killer Whale Orcinus orca.

For botanical interest Noss has Roseroot Rhodiola rosea, Spring Squill Scilla verna, Thrift Armeria maritima and Sea Campion Silene maritima.

Site Information

History and Use

To do

Areas of Interest

To do

Access and Facilities

Noss is open to the public from mid-May until the end of August, from 10.00 until 17.00pm every day except Monday and Thursday. Prior arrangement needs to be made with the reserve warden.

To reach Noss take the ferry from Lerwick to the island of Bressay which can be crossed by car or on foot to the ferry terminal on the eastern side. From here an inflatable dinghy takes visitors across the narrow sound to the island for a small charge.

There is a small information centre on Noss. Once on the island visitors are requested to stay on the clifftop path which circles the entire island and takes 3-4 hours to walk.

In addition there are regular boat-trips from Lerwick around the island and beneath the nesting cliffs providing better views than even the clifftop. This is a unique experience and should not be missed by anyone with even the slightest interest in birds.

A red flag is flown when the island is closed or the crossing is unsafe.

Contact Details

The Reserve Manager, SNH, Ground Floor, Stewart Building, Alexandra Wharf, Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0LL

Tel: 01595 693345

External Links

http://www.scottishislandsaccessrights.co.uk/ Click on Noss

Content and images originally posted by Steve