Friday, 4 January 2013

Wandering many a weary first foot.

This Short-eared Owl appeared after SE gales in late December.

Happy New Year everyone, we hope you all had a great Christmas and festive period. Things have been busy here as everyone on the island looks back on another busy year and takes the opportunity of having a bit of free time to socialise. The New Year guising was as enjoyable and resourceful as ever, it’s never possible to pick a favourite group but the ‘Sheep Log’ was particularly fun (with the Grace character’s ‘I love Texels’ comments raising a particular chuckle amongst everyone who’s witnessed Grace in action at Log!) and the friendly dog in the ‘animal tax’ skit will linger long in the memory, as will the Fair Isle Olympic team and various impressions from around the island.
Despite the inevitable late night, the next day sees the start of the new Year List, so a few of us headed out (only ever so slightly groggily) to see whether we could top last year’s 38 species for January 1st. A good day saw a total of 44 species recorded (only 54 were recorded in the whole of January last year), a couple were missed (Golden Plover and Snow Bunting were probably around somewhere), but overall, most things put in an appearance. Highlights were all lingering birds, but the Goosander and Great Tit in particular were good records (neither species was recorded in 2011), whilst two Moorhen together on the Meadow Burn were an interesting winter sighting.
There have been regular Moorhen sightings since the bird that was flushed from the Gully just before we went away in late November, with the Schoolton and Haa birds now seemingly having found each other and settling in the Meadow Burn. There were several records of birds overwintering in the last decade, although these are probably the first since 20007/08.
Other good birds included an adult Glaucous Gull, Woodcock, Water Rail, Goldeneye, 2 Long-tailed Duck, Merlin and a fine adult female Peregrine (the 39th species for the day and a good way to beat last year’s total as it cruised over Vaasetter and up Homisdale). 
This adult Glaucous Gull was in the North Haven on New Year's Day looking like it had enjoyed a heavy night.
I’ll update the website shortly with details of sightings from the end of last year, but thankfully I missed very little while I was away!
This Great Northern Diver in the North Haven in late December  showed very well. Winter birding on Fair Isle can be tough going, but is enjoyable and there are usually a few highlights. What will this winter hold?...
It’s the FIBOT Directors’ meeting on Tuesday, so I’ve got a trip to Aberdeen to look forward to (back to back journeys on the Northlink, always fun!) then back home and start all of the preparations for the 2013 season – not long now (speaking of which, many of the peak times are very heavily booked now, so get in touch if you’re planning your holidays and don’t forget to check our special offers ).

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