Sunday, 11 December 2011

Crash! Bang! Wallop!

So, it looks like we survived. Damage to the Obs has been minimal and it sounds like the rest of the island has managed without anything too serious going wrong. The winds were quite severe again last night, but today has been calmer (still not exactly tropical mind) and it looks like we could get a couple of days of relatively pleasant weather. However, it is clear that the traps have suffered somewhat. Some damage is expected every winter, usually the catching boxes get rattled and wire needs replacing, but this is the worst I’ve seen it (ok, I know I’ve been here less than a year, but it is pretty bad honest!).

Those of you who know Fair Isle will know that the Vaadal stream isn't meant to look like this.

Even those of you who've never been here will know that the Vaadal trap isn't meant to look like this.
Hjon Dyke has also suffered.
Double Dyke over. The largest trap is in the most trouble, leaning at an alarming rate and both catching boxes and ramps severely damaged.
The slightly better conditions did enable me to get out for most of today to see what birds were around (although it was still windy enough to avoid most of the cliffs) and it was quite a pleasant selection. A brief seawatch from Buness produced six Little Auks, whilst the NW winds had also brought a couple of Glaucous Gulls (an adult and a first winter) to the North of the island. The mid-November falls seem to have resulted in more birds lingering into December than is sometimes the case, with two Long-eared Owls, 49 Blackbirds, 36 Redwing, 2 Robins, 3 Skylarks, Woodcock and a Carrion Crow noted.
It's good to see the LEOs have survived the worst of the weather so far and are now looking happier (well, not happier as Long-eared Owls always look rather cross, but drier at least). One was seen hunting not far from the Obs this afternoon.
With a bit more time to search out goose flocks today the counts were higher, with 16 Tundra Bean Geese, 26 White-fronted Geese (a couple were possibly Greenland birds, but the light was too poor by the time I saw them to make a definite call), nine Pink-feet and 149 Greylags, along with four Whooper Swans. The Great Northern Diver was in North Haven again (and Tommy saw a Long-tailed Duck in South Harbour), with typical winter fare including a smart male Merlin, Golden Plover and 24 Snow Buntings.
Having swapped Christmas presents with all the family down south on our recent travels, we're getting in the festive spirit. This is Grace helping to make a Christmas cake and sporting her 'I didn't realise there was someone behind me when I started eating the ingredients' look.

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