In this blog join Kate MacRae, better known as WildlifeKate, as she reports on her recent trip to Shetland with the Leica Trinovid 10×32 in hand. WildlifeKate is an advocate for being outside in the great British countryside and her LIVE cameras are followed avidly by viewers across the world. She also features regularly on BBC Springwatch, Autumnwatch, Countryfile and others.
“From live wildlife cameras, to fun wildlife challenges, I hope to help everyone discover the joys of our natural world,” says WildlifeKate.
Mid June, for me, means escaping land-locked Lichfield and spending time in one of my favourite places; an archipelago of wide open spaces, arching skies and huge seascapes. My escape is Shetland, where I guide with Shetland Wildlife for their ‘Ultimate Shetland’ tour.
I always guide around the time known as ‘Simmer Dim’. Being 60 degrees North (the Arctic is 66 degrees), Shetland experiences up to 19 hours of daylight midsummer, with the sun setting around 10.30pm and rising around 3.30am. The five hours in between, when the sun just sits on the horizon, can bathe the landscape in what feels like an eternal ‘golden hour’ of gorgeous light where night seems suspended and wildlife watching can go on forever!
There are three essential bits of kit for me in just about all my wildlife adventures; my camera, my trail cameras and my binoculars. This year in Shetland, I was using the Trinovid 10 x 32 for the first time. Their superb low light capabilities had me scanning for wildlife at all hours and they were never far from my side.
When guiding, it is essential that I am always looking out for wildlife. The Trinovids were perfect for my needs. Small, light and with a durable rubber armour, they were easy to carry and they were up to coping with all the weather that Shetland can throw at you.
Shetland is a world-class attraction for birdwatchers and with rare migrants popping up all the time, blown off course from their destination, you never know what you might spot! Other species highlights included snipe, golden plover, redshank, curlew, whimbrel, red throated divers and ringed plover.
Shetland is famous for sensational seabird colonies. The Trinovids provided me with the perfect views of the myriad of seabirds nesting on the cliffs of Noss, and those in the sea around this incredible spectacle. The optics in these binoculars are astounding. Amazing clarity and superb sharpness, right up to the periphery of the field of view, I could see every feather detail on the gannets and the Great Skuas (‘Bonxies’ to Shetlanders) as they soared close to our boat. With fast focusing and a non-slip nature rubber coating, I found them easy to hold, even in one hand, whilst moving around on the sea under the towering cliffs.
The close focus capabilities meant even watching puffins, just a few metres away, was possible. Feather and beak detail was fabulous through these high quality optics. Many of us forget to use binoculars for subjects close to us, but they can reveal details you would never notice with the naked eye.
These binoculars came into their own when scanning the coastline for the mammal that most visitors want to see when coming the Shetland; the otter. Although Shetland boasts to be home to more otters than anywhere else in Europe, they are still difficult to see. We were lucky enough to spot them hunting and emerging from the sea on several occasions during our tour.
My trail cam work focused on these mammals as well and I was able to capture some fabulous clips of these mammals to share with our guests.
If you are looking for somewhere to escape, then Shetland can offer you all you want. From dramatic coastlines, to pristine beaches and turquoise seas, huge panoramas and fabulous skies, you can experience a sense of wildness and freedom rarely found elsewhere in the UK. If the wildlife I have mentioned isn’t enough to tempt you, how about the mention of orca? Although I didn’t see them on this trip, I have in the past. Seeing these spectacular mammals forging through open seas is a sight that will stay with me forever.
Thank you Shetland. See you again next June, along with my Trinovids of course!
You can keep up to date with WildlifeKate over on her website: www.wildlifekate.co.uk