I awoke on Tuesday 20th to the sounds of geese, of the Pink-footed variety, flying over the house. A glance out the window indicated that there had been a significant arrival with several hundred scattered over Meoness. Venturing outside, the bitterly cold strong Northerly wind, frequent wintry showers accompanying the sights and sounds of large numbers of Pinkfooted (plus a few Barnacle) Geese and I could surely be forgiven for thinking that it was late October on Fair Isle, not late April!!? However, the lack of thrushes (in fact any significant numbers of other migrants) and an absence of birders hinted otherwise. I consulted 'the boys' and a total of at least 1,225 Pinkfeet (SIX times the previous record spring count) and 39 Barnacle Geese plus c100 Greylags could be seen at once from various vantage points. Obviously, Fair Isle is a preferrable location to Iceland at the moment!! Other than that there was a Long-eared Owl showing well in Lower Stoneybrek garden (until it was flushed by a photographer - Oops!), a Red-breasted Merganser and two Common Scoter offshore, a handful of Whimbrel, a couple each of Greenfinch and Linnet and a smart male Snow Bunting.
Ash clouds and rough seas are not helping the Obs get finished any faster!!!!
At home - Pat (the mother-in-law) is helping enormously (tidying, cleaning, cooking, sewing, filing, labelling, shopping, posting, taxi-ing etc etc) so we allow her a couple of glasses of vino at the end of the day to relax and let her entertain our guests (Alan Bull and Carrie Gunn - the newly arrived seasonal Ranger) for a while before she disappears upstairs to bed with Stieg Larsson! Alan is helping out too - ploughing through the 2009 Systematic List for me, in-between bouts of fitting together flat-pack furniture! Carrie joins us from Caithness, so not too long a journey for her and she even survived the Good Shepherd with her stomach intact! She seems a nice, friendly 'normal' girl, so hopefully I've made a good choice for the Ranger position!?
The 20th was a day of celebration for Storm, our Highland pony, who turned five years old and also for Lubo, the dog, who reached his first birthday!! Not sure they really understood the fuss but Lubo accepted his extra chews with pleasure! However, neither of them seemed to want their combined birthday cake of mashed rabbit and sugar-beet!!!
Lambing continues apace on the isle, despite the wintry weather, and as well as a new calf, Neder Taft now also have a funny-looking Anglo Nubian goat kid!