For locals and visitors alike, currently, birding/twitching is possible in Shetland, but we need to act responsibly.
The local police, members of the public and the county recorder, have been posting reminders on Whatsapp/bird news groups, and Social media, of what is expected of everyone during the current pandemic.
Visitors might think they are coming into a ‘low-Covid area’ and therefore, can take less notice of any regulations. Local folk may view visitors as ‘high-risk’ to bring Covid into the community. This creates a difficult set of circumstances. Everyone is feeling the effects of living in a pandemic for over 6 months now – patience is growing thinner as we all cope with the demands made on us.
To ensure a pleasurable birding experience we ask that everyone takes note of:
1. Scottish Gov. Covid regulations, the Outdoor Access Code and Shetland Bird Club code of conduct. This will affect how many can gather together, share a car, and stay in accommodation. Currently, up to 6 people from 2 households can gather outside. Only people from same household can share a car (see Transport Scotland for more information).
2. Think carefully about how you park and the speed you drive – think about other road users, land use and access.
3. Consider wearing a mask outside when social distancing is difficult.
4. LEAVE if there is already a gathering which exceeds current limits – come back later.
5. Leave a twitch once you have seen the bird to allow others to view.
6. Have alcohol hand gel – and be seen to be using it on a regular basis.
The Scottish Gov. Covid regulations can be enforced by the police.
It is not an exaggeration to say that people are watching us and how we are behaving!
The Shetland community is normally very tolerant and accommodating to birders.
We have to accept that this year is different.
Good luck, and stay safe,
Julie Redpath, Chair
Shetland Bird Club