Blog

Categories
Uncategorized

Highlights from our Winter Ornithological & Seabird Surveys

Winter in Shetland is not for the faint hearted but as a wildlife tour operator who keeps their boat ‘in the water’ we absolutely love it and embrace everything the days from November to February throw at us!

Whilst we offer no public sailings to Noss we are always available for charter and we are proud to provide the boat infrastructure for conducting winter ornithological and seabird surveys for Aberdeen University’s SOTEAG (Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Group) and the boat for Atlantic Grey Seal surveys for the Scottish Government conservation agency NatureScot.

At 60 degrees north our days are admittedly short, but they are action-packed and live long in the memory. The winter of 2021/22 has proved to be one of the best with Orcas, King Eiders, a White-billed Diver and scores of baby seals being the stand out moments for our skipper and crew.

Our Catamaran Seabird is now ‘out the water’ for maintenance as we prepare for an exciting 2022 Noss Boat Tour Season. We cannot wait to get back out there and share with you – our great passion for wildlife, geology, folklore, history and so much more.

Enjoy our mix of photos and keep a look out for more Noss Boat News coming soon!

 

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Assisting Lerwick Lifeboat With Exercise Training

 

Tuesday night with a difference a couple of weeks ago, but one we were proud to be part of. We were approached early October by Lerwick Lifeboat’s Coxwain to see if we would be willing to assist them with a night-time exercise and of course we were happy to assist. The exercise involved us going out the North exit of the harbour, then East to the Gunnista Holm to allow the Lifeboat to attach a tow line and take us safely back in alongside Mair’s Pier in Lerwick harbour. The lifeboat certainly does an outstanding service for everybody and good to see them out training. It’s exercises like this that helps to develop the crews skills and only too happy to assist with any required exercises with such fine friendly crew.  They all do us very proud with their outstanding bravery .

The Lerwick branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has provided four lifeboats over the last 90 years. The first one arrived in July 1930 and was called the Lady Jane and Martha Ryland and now we have the beautiful Michael and Jane Vernon 17-10. The current lifeboat is a 1997 severn-class-all-weather vessel (56 feet) and the most powerful in the RNLI’s fleet, with two “MTU’ engines that produce up to 1600 horsepower, a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles.

The costs for all 4 lifeboats have been entirely met by donations. The team are grateful to all those in Shetland & elsewhere who have helped funding.

The work the RNLI does is incredible and over the years the coxswain and crew have been decorated for several extraordinary rescue operations, they certainly do us very proud and over the years they have received many well deserved awards for their outstanding bravery. Their service has been recognized with 62 RNLI Gallantry Awards. The most recent being the RNLI gold medal award to Coxswain/Mechanic Hewitt Clark, for the incredible rescue operation that took place off Bressay in November 1997. That day they had to battle through storm force winds and enormous waves to save lives from a ship called the Green Lily – date never to be forgotten here in Shetland.

Last photo taken by Dennis Coutts – a well-known local photographer, which shows you Lerwick’s first lifeboat mentioned in our story above and I am sure you will all agree that our crew members definitely deserve a big shout of many many thanks for all the amazing work they do.

If you’re visiting Shetland, be sure to give @rnlilerwick1710 a donation when passing their HQ in the waterfront’s Tollbooth building, which also has a lovely gift shop. You will also find charity boxes in local shops and we have one onboard Seabird. If you can’t wait, you can donate online via RNLI.org – thank you!

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Seabirds-and-Seals Participates in Taste of Shetland Festival

We were delighted to be part of the recent Taste of Shetland Festival 2021 festival. We were approached by Shetland Tourism Association asking if we would be willing to appear in their short video which was showcased on a big screen for all festival attendees and for those at home to watch. We of course happily accepted and loved attending in person on the day.

It was a great festival celebrating Shetland food & drink, but also everything else amazing that Shetland has to offer.

There is just so much to see and do in Shetland, this lovely short video gives you some very fine suggestions, including our Seabirds-and-Seals Noss Boat Tours.

Enjoy this short video which is copyright of ‘Shetland Tourism Assoicaiton’ – with permission to share further afield.

 

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Thank You – Following An Amazing 2021 Season

On Saturday 16th October we had our last scheduled Noss Boat Tour of the 2021 season and what a cracking day we had for it. Beautiful sunshine, calm seas, plenty of wildlife opportunities and 12 delighted passengers enjoying their time on our very comfortable Catamaran Seabird. 

This second photo below was taken at the end of the tour as we berthed at the Small Boat Harbour. Everyone gave fabulous feedback and thumbs up, including the 3 missing but they couldn’t stay for the end of season photograph as they had another appointment that they had to rush off to.

This season has been absolutely incredible, we would like to thank everyone who has joined our Seabirds-and-Seals Noss Boat Tours and to everyone who has supported us in any way at all, very much appreciated by us both.

Thank you to everyone who has left us so many fantastic reviews/recommendations and for all the photographs shared on our social media sites, absolutely amazing. Our customer experience & feedback is most important to us, thank you. Feel free to keep sharing your amazing tour photographs on any of our social media sites, we absolutely love them and so too do our followers – please do keep them coming. Still time to leave us a review if not done already – you can review us here on FB/TripAdvisor & Google – thank you.

Thank you to our relief crew members over the season – you know who you are.

We are making exciting plans for our 2022 season with lots of bookings already – just watch this space for further updates.

We are excited about the future and look forward to welcoming many more passengers onboard Seabird. Shetland is very special in our hearts  and we love showcasing all it has to offer with great passion and enthusiasm.

A lot of people ask us what we do in the Winter months, well we are still involved with Seabird assisting various companies with seabird and seal counts. We are involved with the Lerwick lifeboat who hire us to do practice exercises. We have some exciting private charters ahead. We work on new promotional materials/marketing for the following season. We love the outdoors so make sure to get out for walks, like to take in plenty of exercise to keep us fit. Marie has her relief carework and Brian gets stuck into any project he can, currently doing maintenance on an old ambulance we purchased and been converted into a campervan. We like to try and get a wee break away when the time is right, be great to get away on a road trip with our camper to see family members not seen in a while.

Enjoy the rest of 2021, take care, stay safe and please keep following us on our social media sites. We will keep our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages active from now until start of next season and of course our blog here on our website.

Thanks You once again and from the bottom of our hearts .

Over & Out
Marie & Brian

P.S – photos taken with my new Lumix camera which I am still getting to know, but my good friend Richard Ashbee is going to teach me a thing or two on photography – I wil be a pro before long 

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Opera Video Performance – Inside The Orkneyman’s Cave

Following on from previous blog post – here is the beautiful opera singing performance inside the Orkneyman’s Cave – amazing accoustics inside the cave.  Thanks to Novel Adventures group member Cheryl for your outstanding opera performance – wow just beautiful .

Our last opera performer was our good friend from Faroe – he is director of the Faroese Symphony Orchestra. I was so in awe of his singing that day that I forgot to take a video, so I promised myself that the next time we had an opera singer onboard, we would be sure to capture it.

Special thanks to Novel Adventures Owner – Kim, for sending on the video, much clearer volume than the one I took.

 

 

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Andy the Highlander and Novel Adventures

 

On our second last scheduled Noss Boat Tour of the season – Tuesday 12th October, we had our group that have been booked for some time on-board Seabird and most members all the way from the States.  The title of the tour was called ‘Outlander’ and will make sense as to why it is called that as you read further.  The tour was very well organized by the lovely Kim who runs her own company called ‘Novel Adventures’ – this will be the second time Kim has been on our tours. Considering they had all been up since 4am to catch a flight, they were full of life/smiles when we met them at 11am for their first time on Victoria Pier. We are sure they would have slept well that night after all the beautiful sea air. One group member though from Sweden and another from Scotland – Spot the True Scotsman! This gentleman is better known as “Andy The Highlander” – he does guided Scottish Tours and has played big roles in the Shetland Crime Drama Series and also The Outlander Series – this brought the tour to being titled ‘Outlander Adventures’. You can check out more about Andy on his Facebook page by following links at foot of this post or just google ‘Andy The Highlander’, his story of how he got to where he is today – absolutely amazing.  

 

Althought getting late into the season, we were still treated to loads of wildlife and opera singing inside the stunning Orkneyman’s Cave – just beautiful . The opera performance can be viewed by clicking on the link below – enjoy!  Once on our Seabirds-and-Seals Facebook page – feel free to give our page a ‘Like’ and have a browse through our many posts.  

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4605222239515760&id=176326809072014

If you are unable to open the above link – check out our seperate blog titled ‘Opera Video Performance Inside The Orkneyman’s Cave’.

In the Giant’s Leg photo – I had them all shouting gannets, speaking of which – we had a few follow us from the leg over to Noss, simply stunning!

Delightful group to have onboard Seabird and a fantastic time had by all – got thumbs up at the end of the tour . Since the tour over a week ago now – group leader Kim has messaged me to say “Superfantastic first day in Shetland”. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to get their Shetland vacation off to a fabulous start.

Following this tour – we had our very last tour of the 2021 season on Saturday 16th October, which was also a great success. 

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Scottish Enterprise Awards Winner 2021

 

Great write up in our local paper last week – Shetland Times 15.10.2021.

We are truly humbled to win yet another award to add to the trophy  cabinet.

Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this award possible.

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Noss & Bressay Tour History – 50’s and 60’s

As you will have read from the description on our tours, we like to share a good bit of history along the way as well as sharing our great knowledge on all the beautiful wildlife/nature we spot along the way, all our previous passengers love this good mix and is one of the factors that makes our popular 4-Star tours so unique.  We have many many stories to share about the history of Noss when moored up at our regular refreshments stop, which also has loads of wildlife spotting opportunities. I am sharing information from a friend Linda Sutherland who grew up in Bressay, which has given us even more information to share. Her story tells us all about the history of the boats that were used to transport between Noss & Bressay in the 50’s & 60’s, very interesting.

Linda’s Grandfather got tenancy of Noss in 1939, after he died his sons carried on farming, based on a croft in Gunnista plus Noss and one or two other small bits of land. The youngest son was Linda’s father. Linda and her Sister spent every summer in Noss until 1969, when the brothers gave up the tenancy. She has many fond memories of using the boats, fishing for pilticks on summer evenings, swimming kye and pony into and out of the isle, rescuing sheep stranded on a skerry at da Heidless Banks. I could write more but that’s all for now folks!

TXT BELOW/PHOTOS CREDIT – LINDA SUTHERLAND

The three boats were included in the Boat Week display in 2017 at Bressay Heritage centre. These boats were our transport between Noss and Bressay in the 50s and 60s.

The black one is the Bressay Lass, originally built for a Hardie man as replacement for one lost in Bressay Sound in 1910. We used it for flitting lambs out of Noss.

The blue one was our Noss workhorse boat, ferrying us and visitors over Noss Sound. Like the Bressay Lass, it was bought second-hand. Dad told me it had been built by Walter Duncan for a Captain Williamson of Owsensetter, to the spec that it should be light enough for one man to launch and draw ashore. It certainly was light, and easy to handle (even for a ten-year-old me. :-))

The green punt was built for my uncle by George Smith of Gunnista, Bressay. I don’t remember it being used very often – probably the main reason for having it in Noss was as emergency backup, in case the Walter Duncan one was unusable for some reason.

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Award-Winning & Longest Established Noss Boat Tour Busines

 

A snippet from a magazine featuring Seabirds and Seals

“In a year of staycations and holidays at home, many people across Shetland and the wider UK have come to appreciate, more than ever, what we have on our doorsteps. One business which has been doing the isles proud and doing a wonderful job of showcasing them for almost thirty years is Seabirds and Seals”.

Marie & Brian – Noss Boat Tours Team are delighted to be featured in the latest edition of ii magazine! They would like to thank all their customers and business associates for making them well and truly THE Number One boat tour to Noss – as voted by TripAdvisor members and reviewers.

Seabirds-and-Seals is a well-established award-winning business, founded in 1992 by naturalist Dr Jonathan Wills, making it the longest established Noss Boat Tour Business.  Brian has been intimately involved with award-winning tour company Seabirds-and-Seals since it started up in 1992 by naturalist Dr Jonathan Wills. In 2017 Marie & Brian Leask bought the business and continued the good work that Jonathan had been doing for years. 

Like so many native Shetlanders, Brian & Marie instinctively grew up to be dedicated bird watchers and naturalists.  Their experience and knowledge of the sea, nature and the local heritage around them is extensive and – to their passengers’ delight – highly entertaining.  Their fun, personal and engaging style appeals to all ages and varying interest.  Always two crew in the interest of safety, passenger comfort and welfare, they look after your every need to ensure you are having a fabulous experience.   A new series of TripAdvisor and Google reviews, started after their busy first season in 2018, those were extremely positive and show how popular this fascinating nature tour still is, after all these years! After just one full season they were awarded the Scottish Tourist Board’s 4-Star distinction and TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. Their tours consistently generate great reviews, leading to TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice award in 2020 and again in 2021.

Categories
Seabirds-and-Seals

Seabirds-and-Seals Wins TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice 2021

 

Seabirds-and-Seals are delighted to share their fantastic notification received this morning, what wonderful news to waken up to on a Saturday morning, both chuffed to bits.

Seabirds-and-Seals Wins 2021 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award and now Ranked No.1 On TripAdvisor. We would like to thank all our amazing passengers for making this fantastic award possible.

This achievement celebrates businesses that consistently deliver fantastic experiences to travellers around the globe, having earned great traveller reviews on TripAdvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year was, Seabirds-and-Seals stood out by continuously providing a fantastic experience for all passengers on-board their Noss Boat ‘Seabird’.

Statement from Kanika Soni (TripAdvisor Chief Commercial Officer) – “Congratulations to all the winners of the 2021 Travelers’ Choice Awards. I know the past year has been extremely challenging for tourism businesses. What has impressed me is how businesses adapted to these challenges, implementing new cleanliness measures, adding social distancing guidelines, and utilizing technology to prioritize guest safety. The Travelers’ Choice Awards highlight the places that are consistently excellent – delivering quality experiences time and time again even while navigating changing customer expectations and new ways of working. Based on a full year of reviews from customers, this award speaks to the great service and experience you provided guests in the midst of a pandemic.”

Seabirds-and-Seals was established way back in 1992, making it the longest operating Noss Boat Tour. Brian(Tour Guide & Skipper) has been part of the business since it started, acting as marine engineer and on occasions as crew. Next year we have a big Birthday to celebrate – 30 years of Seabirds-and-Seals.

All the reviews you read on TripAdvisor are since we took over the business from previous owner ‘Dr Jonathan Wills’ in 2018. We are absolutely chuffed to bits with all our successes and we have consistently won TripAdvisor awards each year since we took over the business. After only 1 season of trading – we were awarded 4-Stars from the Scottish Tourist Board.

“We are delighted to be recognized again for this award and showing as No.1 on TripAdvisor.  Glad to see that our hard work, passion and dedication has delivered as we certainly aim to provide our passengers with a most amazing wildlife/boat tour experience on-board ‘Seabird’. Thanks again to all our amazing passengers for making this award possible.  Our aim is to continue providing you with the best boat, best wildlife/boat tour experience, best guides and the best value for money, for many more years to come.”

Thank You
Marie & Brian – Seabirds-and-Seals Noss Boat Tours