Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New Year, New Birds, New Jobs...

Susannah and I would like to wish Friends of Fair Isle, visitors to the Obs and readers of the blog a very Happy New Year, all the best for 2014 and we hope to see you up here at some point!

The birding has got off to a good start, with a very respectable 45 species recorded on New Year’s Day, despite a feeling that there wasn’t that much about. It was helped by the sunny and quite pleasant conditions, as the mild, but at times very windy, weather has continued.

The undoubted highlight was the Velvet Scoter, which flew out of Furse and past Buness, not only a Fair Isle tick for me, but the first live one to be seen from the island since 2011 (a freshly dead bird was found in 2012). It’s remarkable that after one of the best ever years for number of species seen in 2013 (the current total is 214 if everything is accepted by the relevant committees), we should record a species that didn’t make it onto the year list just a day later. Does it bode well for the year ahead? Maybe…

Other birds of interest as the New Year broke included a first-winter Glaucous Gull, 3 Little Auk off South Light, a Chaffinch (a male that arrived at the Obs on the 1st and is still present), a scattering of thrushes including around 20 Fieldfare, a few wildfowl including a couple of Long-tailed Ducks, a Whooper Swan and a Common Scoter, 2 Jack Snipe (flushed from Boini Mire with around 40 Snipe) and unseasonal Woodpigeon, Meadow Pipit and Dunlin. Since the 1st there has been little of note, although Merlin, Water Rail and Guillemot have made it onto the year list, whilst Tysties were just offshore and whistling in good numbers on an almost balmy 5th. It’s interesting that Guillemots have not made it onto the cliffs yet – this time last year they were regularly present in early January.

Some other news:

• Staff and volunteer vacancies are now available for 2014, check the relevant page on the blog.
• The 2012 Annual Report is out (having had a few weeks waiting at Grutness!). It contains the systematic list, ringing report, seabird report , details of other wildlife and write-ups of Eastern Grasshopper Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Siberian Rubythroat, Eastern Subalpine Warbler and much more. Send a cheque (made out to ‘FIBO’) for £11.50 (inc p&p) to the Obs if you’d like your copy, or join FOFI to receive a copy every year.
FIBO's very own version of Santa's elves get to work sending Annual Reports all around the world.
• Get your thinking caps on for the 2014 Prediction Competition, as we'll get that up and running from February. The same rules apply as already posted, with just a few species to change their predictability status (Great Spotted Woodpecker isn't predictable anymore, but Brent Goose is, I'll check if there are any more when I get back).

We’re away now until the end of the month, so we’ll try to answer all our messages as soon as we can in early February.

Right, I best go and pack…

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