Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

No white Christmas this year on Fair Isle, in fact, we're forecast to be getting temperatures in double figures! Whether there is snow or not, it's still a spectacular place to be for the winter. Some of the skies have been really dramatic recently and stormy and sunny spells have battled for dominance. A particularly beautiful sunset followed the winter solstice, as if the sun was announcing that the days were getting longer and she was in charge again (although I didn't have my camera with me that evening, so I'm afraid this view from our lounge window a few days ago will have to do!).
There’s not a lot of bird news to report since my last update, some typical winter birds have included a Glaucous Gull, small numbers of Snow Buntings and a few ducks, including a Common Scoter. The goose flock seems to have dispersed, with no sightings of Bean Geese since 14th and no White-fronts since 17th, although the Greylags are still here (along with a Barnacle Goose), so I’m sure they’ll drag in one or two other species during the winter. A wander round the North of the island hoping for a Snowy Owl (or anything else from that neck of the woods!) didn’t produce much at all, although I did manage an owl when a Long-eared circled over my head at Homisdale as dusk approached. Having come from the direction of the Obs, it’s presumably still roosting unseen in the back garden.

The recent highlight has been a movement of Little Auks on 22nd. Although small numbers are seen most days if you stare out to sea, I noticed 17 in a few minutes from the kitchen window (whilst ‘taking a break’ from end of season reports and other paperwork). I thought it might be worth a proper seawatch, so asked Susannah to keep an eye out while I went and got ready (which involves putting on as many clothes as you can manage for sitting on Buness in December). In the short while it took, Susannah had counted another 197 Little Auks streaming south, so I was quite excited about what sort of total we could end up with in the last hour or so of daylight. I was a bit disappointed then, when after half an hour I’d only seen another seven! Still, a total of 221 isn’t bad.

So, with nothing more to report, I’ll end this post by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Thank you to all of you who have sent cards and greetings and to all of you who have read the blog during the year. Don’t forget to feed the birds, and if you’re lucky enough to be visited by Blue Tits, Great Tits or any of the other ‘common’ garden birds, make sure you appreciate them!

Merry Christmas from all the Parnabys.

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