Having been born and raised in Shetland, to me the seasonal changes that define our environment are also a huge part of what makes us who we are here. Appreciating and living with, even embracing whatever the weather can bring, from calm to chaos, is part of what makes island life so special. From my earliest days I was out in all weathers with my father on our family croft, (in my toddler sized overalls). The outdoors was where I needed to be. It was from this early age and through this way of life that my love of wildlife began.
Over 40 years on, and maybe still a crofter at heart, the need to be outdoors is still as strong, but it is around our wildlife throughout the seasons that my working life revolve. Winter is as big a part of this as any other.
The shorter days do mean more time spent indoors, be it with my family, at the desk or just winding down. But this time recharges the body and mind, to be ready to make the most of the days I am out, and even the longer days that lie ahead. For me, there is a balance and a pace of life that I just don’t have throughout those long summer nights, however marvelous and exciting they may be.
This is a season of less being more. I still find it hard to describe how the hills that are a chorus of bird song and the cliffs so raucous with seabirds cries in summer are equally as inspiring by their simple winter serenity.
Many of our breeding birds have long since left, following the timeless rhythm of the seasons on southward migration, leaving only the hardy residents to see the winter through.