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Youth as good as experience in race to help Shetland's spectacular wildlife

Last modified: 29 October 2014

Storm-petrel at sea off Isles of Scilly, June

Image: Joe Cockram

Last Friday, a 12-hour bird race organised by the Young Nature Volunteers in Shetland raised money to help a seabird tracking project, RSPB Scotland announced today.

The race started at 5 am, and the two four-person teams were welcomed over the finish line at 5 pm by friends, family and BBC Scotland’s Out of Doors team, who were there to award the prize – a pair of glittering gold binoculars.

RSPB Shetland’s Young Nature Volunteers, who were founded this year, organised the event to raise money for storm petrels, or alamooties as they are called in Shetland. The teams have raised enough money (hundreds of pounds) to buy at least two tags for storm petrels.

The young volunteer team took on the ‘Golden Oldies’ in a race to see how many species of bird they could find in 12 hours. They found an astonishing 72 species, while the ‘Golden Oldies’ spotted a spectacular 88 species. Given the wild, windy weather and the time of year, both teams did remarkably well and once the handicap was applied to the older team to balance their many years more experience, the result was a draw.

It was decided that the trophy should be split for 6 months each starting with the Young Nature Volunteers. However, the real winner here is the wildlife they have raised money to help.

Mark Bolton, a Principal Conservation Scientist for the RSPB (whose nickname is "The Petrelhead"), contacted the group saying "what a wonderful effort by young people in Shetland to help provide the new technology needed to track seabirds for conservation.”

If you would like to know more about volunteering or supporting wildlife conservation in Shetland, please call 01950 460800 or email

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