Papa Stour History & Community Group


All pictures courtesy of Jim Nicolson.

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Your journey to the bird heaven which is Papa Stour

begins the moment you arrive at the ferry terminal at West Burrafirth. Look out for Artic terns (which Shetlanders call Tirricks) diving for fish near the pier, and from the boat on the way to Papa you will almost certainly see on the water Black guillemots (Tysties), Shag (Scarf) on the rocks, diving Gannets (Solan), gliding Fulmars (Maalie) and maybe the occasional fishing Puffin (Tammie Norie).

As the ferry comes into Housa Voe, look out for the Great Northern Diver (Immer Gos) that visits in the summer, brown female and black and white Eider ducks (Dunter), and the swooping Greater Blackbacked (Swaabie) and Lesser Blackbacked (Peerie Swaabie) Gulls, as well as Common Gulls (Peerie Maa).

From the ferry terminal, should you decide to follow the road, you’ll see Wheatear (Chak), flocks of Twite (Lintie) and paired off Lapwing (Tieve’s Nacket), and listen for the Skylark (Laverek), the Curlew (Whaap), and Snipe (Horsegok)

Should you decide to walk along the coast, rocky banks and beaches,

you won’t be able to miss the sight and sound of the Oystercatchers (Shalder), Meadow and Rock pipits, (Sporrow), the mellifluous Shetland Wren (Sistie Moose), and possibly the rarer Whimbrel (Peerie Whaap) Golden Plover, Redshank and Fieldfare. Who knows what other pipits, warblers and buntings you might spot, depending on the time of year of your visit.

The beaches are often breeding sites for the Artic Terns, so please take care not to disturb them…they will give you plenty of warning! You will also see flocks of Turnstone (Stenpekker), Ringed Plover (Sandiloo) and Dunlin feeding at the shoreline.

Other birds further inland who will warn you off coming near their chicks are the scary Great Skua (Bonxie) and Artic Skua (Scooty Alan), and you may see and hear the Red Throated Diver on one of the lochs.

Everywhere you’ll see

starlings, sparrows, blackbirds and wild geese, ravens and hooded crows. If you visit during the migration seasons you will find Papa Stour a wonderful stopping off point for a wide range of species.

Come and visit, and see for yourself!

All pictures courtesy of Jim Nicolson.