Sunday 6 December 2009

The Essex Factor!

Schoolton Nick's on a roll. He phoned this morning to tell me of a Waxwing in his garden. Lubo and I came across it on our rounds in Lower Stoneybrek garden. A cracking male, it flew around me a couple of times and when it saw I didn't have my camera with me, it perched on top of a rosa bush just five metres away from me and just sat there!!
There was no sign of the RN Grebe in South Harbour but I, sorry we, flushed a few Woodcock, a couple of Water Rails and found a dead Short-eared Owl.

We took the ponies a bit of hay and moved their electric fence to give them some more grazing. We also took them a wee tub of carrot peelings, but these were no ordinary carrot peelings. They were lovingly home grown, freshly picked today, totally organic, the sweetest, the softest, the cleanest, the orangiest carrot peelings from Hollie's Garden!! Whatever, the ponies seemed to like them as they ate them, well, like a pair of hungry horses!

Fyntan has just recovered from a sicky bug, so last night Ythan went down with it, resulting in lots of vomit and two bed changes, and then this morning Raven had the first twinges! But by 10am they had all rallied and been fine all day. Its an odd bug as it only seems to be effective at night! We shall see how much sleep tonight brings!

X-Factor semi-final result - Lachlan's favourite, Danyl is out leaving my (and Raven's) tip to win, Ollie plus Hollie's fave Dagenham Stacey and Ythan's choice Geordie Joe. Its too tense for Fyntan to make up his mind!

Saturday 5 December 2009

Nick's (a) Redneck!

At last, a bird to write about! Auld Haa Tommy phoned to say Nick (Schoolton) had found a grebe in South Harbour he wasn't too sure about. I immediately went down with a 'scope to meet them and after a few frustrating minutes trying to find the frequently diving blighter I had it in the 'scope long enough to see it had a thick dusky neck and alot of yellow in the strong dagger-like bill - a Red-necked Grebe! I thanked Nick for finding me an island tick (its the first on the isle since 1996) and Lachlan (who happens to be home this weekend) even got out the car and braved the rain get it on his list.
Its been pretty quiet otherwise though with a couple of dark-bellied Brent Geese and a Barnacle Goose with the 200 or so Greylags. The Chiffchaff just made it into December whilst the Jackdaw is still going strong! Three Grey Herons, a scattering of Robins and thrushes and still a fair few Woodcock, c20 Skylark, Merlin and a couple of Water Rail make up the best of the rest! Despite lots of gulls taking refuge on the isle during the regular gales, white wingers are noteable by their absence!! I guess we need some really cold arctic northerlies to get them, but I am quite happy to wait a few weeks!!
Aside from birds.......the most excitement has been a weekend out in Lerwick for the whole family - Christmas (and essential clothes/shoe) Shopping! Fun!? We returned on Monday morning a good few pounds lighter in the wallet but several pounds heavier round the waist having visited the Pizzaria, the Curry House and the Chippie on consecutive nights!!
Hollie's main (mane!) birthday present eventually arrived - a couple of sets of horse jumps, which she seems to be delighted with and hasn't sent back......although she hasn't (as yet) been near them with a pony! I think that won't be 'til next summer!
The Obs is progressing - even some carpets down upstairs now but, contrary to the headline in this weeks Shetland Times (!), it will not be finished by Christmas! The workmen on site are away from 16th and really looking forward to their, well deserved, Christmas break.
I checked out my AW Jack Ashton-Booth's new blog today - great stuff, he's such a nice lad!
Okay, X-Factor time.........Ollie!..... Ollie!...... Ollie!.......

Sunday 22 November 2009

A Catch-up!

Nov 5th - 10th: Jack's last few days saw little new but he did manage to trap another Long-eared Owl and find a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Hjukni Geo on 7th - a late Bonxie went through the same day and 20 Blackcaps was a significant arrival but not as significant as a count of 115 Woodcock!! Last sightings of Stonechat, Ring Ouzel and Goldcrest were all on 6th when Yellowhammers doubled (to two) and a Reed Bunting joined them. All the Shaws were up early to wave Jack off on the Good Shepherd on 10th. It was very sad but I am pleased he has accepted my offer for him to return next season (as has Simon), to the brand spanking new Observatory!! In the meantime I hope he finds adjusting back to the real world (is Hull part of the real world? - answers on a beermat to the usual address)) not too distressing!

Nov 11th-17th: Its hard to cover the isle myself so have to choose areas to do each day - the majority of the south one day, the north the next etc. But suffice to say that things are quietening down further with thrushes dwindling to around 150 Blackbird, 200 Redwing, 60 Fieldfare and 5 Song Thrush. Owls are still evident with a couple of Long-eareds (including more fresh captures) and 3+ Short-eareds. The goose flock has changed slightly with one of the European Whitefronts (the juvenile) departing and being replaced with a Pink-foot and the Barnacle being replaced with a (pale bellied) Brent Goose! Around 80 Greylags make up the bulk! Turnstones have built up to 165 and I suspect they may stay around that number now (or increase slightly) until next March. There are still up to 30 Skylarks and half a dozen Meadow Pipits around with a large handful (18) of Robins, the odd Chiffchaff, a few Chaffinch and Brambling, a Siskin, a couple of Linnets and a second Reed Bunting. Parties of Snow Buntings are everywhere and 570 logged in the south on 15th may have been an underestimate. A Dunnock was at Quoy on 15th and a Jackdaw arrived the same day.

Autumn migration has all but petered out now (22nd). The goose flock has changed again with now 5 Pinkies, 2 Whitefronts and c100 Greylag. Ten Wigeon and 2 Teal feed alongside them. Four Whooper Swans decided to keep going. Three each of Lapwing and Golden Plover loaf around Barkland fields. Thrushes still dominate the passerine scene with 60+ Blackbird, 150 Redwing and 25 Fieldfare scattered around the south but parties of Snow Bunting totalled 115. Still 20+ Skylarks and a four Meadow Pipits linger and the few Robins may well stay for the winter. The Jackdaw that is still here may do so too! The lone Chiffchaff that is also still here is unlikely to though!

Away from birds, the big news this past while has been Hollie's step closer to the big Four-O on 20th. She was so excited that she couldn't wait for me to bring her a cup of tea in bed and rushed downstairs, to be met by the children, who had all made her cards with a large number emblazoned on them! Her pile(!) of presents and cards was swiftly opened before school. The presents I bought here are all (typically) having to be returned for being the wrong size or just not suitable!! I've still got one to come though (it takes ages for anything to get here even if ordered a month in advance!) so hopefully she won't want to send that back too :-(

Ruth invited us all (and s few others) to Setter for a Vegetarian Birthday Tea (Ace! I didn't have to cook!) and the following evening was a Birthday Girlie Night at Kenaby (Ace! I get to watch Match of the Day!).

The New Obs is really coming on with c80% of upstairs now completed and by the time the lads alll depart for their well-earned Christmas break on 16th December, that part should be 100% complete. I can't wait!!! Downstairs is really taking shape too now and with the last tweaks of the final layout now completed they hope to be well on with this too before Christmas.

The Ponies are looking good, if a bit muddy, still just on grass (and the odd handful of carrot peelings), the dog is even better, if a bit annoyingly persistent that I either play with him all the time or take him out for a(nother) walk whilst teh 8 chickens are still pushimng out 6 or 7 eggs a day - Good on ya chooks!

Sunday night - its X Factor judgement time! I've spent the whole afternoon phoning in for five of the acts in an attempt to get Jedward outa there (No! Not really Boss!). Anyway, the time has come.........see ya!

Wednesday 4 November 2009


Every time Jack enters the Gully or Plantation, he seems to come out with another Long-eared Owl!!! He's caught another three since my last posting! At least three Short-eared Owls are however staying well away. Still over 1,500 thrushes about and the Shorelark, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer and Black Redstart also linger. There has been a 'fall' of Snow Buntings with a flock of 170 at Leogh and 100 on Rippack and with a few small parties elsewhere giving a total of 350. Sifting through the 120 Greylags, I picked out three European Whitefronts, three Pink-feet and a single Barnacle Goose. An adult Iceland Gull in south harbour was the only other arrival of note. Up North, Jack flushed a Water Rail, which promptly flew out to sea and was immediately snatched by an opportunistic Peregrine! The Moorhen was also found dead today but this had been 'catted' but the corpse won't go to waste (well not all of it) as Jack loves studying and drawing such morbid remains "Wow! Moorhen feet!"

Lubo is a fair size now and can clear fences with ease, which is also what Storm did today by stepping over the (sagging) strand of electric tape, which was supposed to be restricting the ponies' grazing, into a fresh grass area. As the tape was still a few inches off the floor, little Bijoux couldn't make it and had to stand on the 'correct' side looking mournfully on as the big white(ish) glutton stuffed himself - Oh, the perils of having short legs!!!!

Monday 2 November 2009

A New Direction!

Awoke to gales once again, but from the west for a change, so figured I wouldn't be called on for plane duty (as it turned out there weren't any planes all day) and headed straight out after breakfast. It was a rather damp trudge round the South with highlights of the three Woodlarks still at Neder Taft and a Moorhen at Skadan. Jack's highlight of the North was a Goldfinch in the Plantation.

The winning bid in the auction of James McCallum's Siberian Thrush painting in aid of the New Obs Appeal was for an impressive £550 - Thankyou very much Nigel Woolliscroft!
Our next auction will be for Shirva Stewart Thomson's latest spinning wheel - another fabulously handcrafted piece of working art, made from pieces of the Old and the New Observatory!! Details to follow soon.

Lowri came round after school and stayed for tea, which was nice!

Lubo thought he'd help himself to a few onions this evening - as if he didn't smell bad enough!!!

I re-wired the storage heater in the porch and put the cable inside a piece of black pipe and instructed Lubo to stay away from it. We'll see how long it lasts!

Sunday 1 November 2009


Following a very clear, bright night (all the witches could be clearly seen flying around on their broomsticks!) the morning dawned grey & dull with a brisk (and increasing) SE'ly wind. I ventured north but it was rather quiet as most of the thrushes must have departed overnight. It did however make it easier to sift through those that were left, in search for some thing different......but the best I could find was a Mistle Thrush (and Jack found one in the South too). An adult male Sparrowhawk was doing its best to (permanently) reduce numbers further and a Long-eared Owl sitting quietly on the cliff at Guidicum was no doubt planning to do the same, once darkness fell!! A Black Redstart on the Peat Road has been there for a week or so now.
Jack phoned to say there were now THREE Woodlarks at Neder Taft!!! When I got back, I looked it up - that is the highest number seen together on Fair Isle since a flock of 15 on 11th October 1948!! Cool! Jack also found a Moorhen at Springfield.
The rain arrived at 2pm, making a very dull gloomy day even duller and gloomier (and wetter!).

It was the Harvest Festival in the afternoon and Hollie and the bairns went along to the Hall to see what was what and returned an hour and half later laden down with lots of nice things to eat.....and read!

Saturday 31 October 2009

The Witching Hour!

At last, a nice calm day with a light SSE'ly wind. Jack trapped another Long-eared Owl before breakfast. I was on South census while Jack had the North. I thought it might have gone with the calming of the weather but the Woodlark was still faithful to Neder Taft, where a Barred Warbler also popped up! The recent thrush theme continued with over 1,100 in the south, but fewer in the north and there was a noticeable clearout, of Blackbirds in particular, at around 4pm with the traps suddenly devoid! Woodcocks too were evident and I flushed a total of 72 on my census. There was another Barred Warbler at Haa and a Common Rosefinch at Lower Leogh, a Yellowhammer at Schoolton and Lesser Whitethroat at Shirva - a very brown bird with a much-reduced grey hood but still with a distinct eye mask, of which we get quite a few each autumn, and what we used to call 'blythii' but perhaps may be 'halimodendri'? Meanwhile Jack finally caught up with the Shorelark at Dronger!

Hollie took our three wee ones and Lowri out on Storm, with Bijoux dutifully tagging along. All the kids enjoyed their little ride, although the ponies were both in 'a funny mood' and Fyntan got a shock when Storm's fast trot suddenly turned into a couple of strides of canter and a wee buck before he was halted. Fyn did superbly well to stay onboard and remain 'fairly' calm!
Kids all went out 'trick or treating' as soon as it got dark, followed with everyone meeting at Auld Haa for some ghoulish food and a few pints of Witches Brew!

Friday 30 October 2009


A return to gales and although Thursday started out very mild with clear skies, by mid-morning we had been consumed in thick fog resulting in the abandonment of trying to count anything and having to resort to wandering around in the hope of tripping over a good bird! Friday arrived and the fog had cleared but the SE'ly wind was just as strong. Thrushes are still moving through in good numbers - over 3,000 counted in total. More Woodcocks have also arrived with over 100 flushed by myself and Jack - so the actual number present must be many times more than this! Both Woodlark and Shorelark are still present whilst the only other new things were a male Yellowhammer, male Red-breasted Merganser and a female Long-eared Owl - a delightful reward for Jack on the early morning trapround!

We had Iain & Ruth from Setter for tea on Thursday as it was Ruth's birthday. It was a very relaxed affair involving lots of pizza and cous-cous but as they were leaving, a spark shot out onto Iains leg! It turns out Lubo has, for the third time, chewed through the wire to the storage heater in the porch. He knew he'd done wrong too! He's lucky he hasn't electrocuted himself and he was reprimanded for it (again).

Later on, I played some of my worst darts ever at Darts Club........and then out of the blue scored a maximum ooone hundred and eeeiighteey!!

Ponies are looking decidedly hairy again in preparation for the winter!

Kids are preparing for Halloween tomorrow!

We're out to Kenaby for tea tonight......another birthday celebration for Ruth!!!

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Larking about!

Just a breath of SW'ly today made census very pleasant. My thrash around the North once again produced lots of thrushes (350 Blackbird, 240 Fieldfare, 215 Redwing & 20 Song Thrush) but highlight was a nice Shorelark at Wester Lother. A couple of Chiffchaffs at the Peat Cuttings were of the very clean grey & white variety and therefore do not fit the current criteria for Sibe Chiff but where they fit in is open to debate!
In the south, Jack had the Woodlark again and arrivals of Collared Dove and Wheatear but thrushes dominated here too - 235 Blackbird, 1,300 Fieldfare, 600 Redwing, 13 Song Thrush.

Hardly any wind but low cloud delayed planes 'til the afternoon. This meant that first day back at school was disrupted for the Primary bairns (who never got their day-trip to the Science Fair in Lerwick) and non-existent for the High School eens whose plane departed Tingwall just as the bell sounded!


Tuesday reads pretty much the same as Monday with thrushes the main meal with 250 Blackbird and 220 Redwing. The Woodlark was once again star bird but two Black Redstarts, 7 Jackdaw, a handful of Dunnocks, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and a couple of Redpolls were also seen. Adult male Peregrine and juvenile female Merlin kept them all alert!

Monday 26 October 2009

Bye Bye Simon!

Following a weekend of Easterly gales and driving rain with no hope of finding any birds (tho' we did try!) this morning arrived much calmer - a light but cool N'ly. After the morning plane, carrying our Chairman, the Architect and AW Simon away, I headed off round the North. It was a pleasant walk but other than thrushes (130 Blackbird was top species) there was little to report; a single Jackdaw and a Black Redstart at the Mast being the highlight.
Meanwhile AW Jack covered the entire South himself where he had far more thrushes (eg 400 Redwing, 363 Fieldfare and 180 Blackbird). The Woodlark lingers at Neder Taft and a scattering of Robins, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Reed Buntings were noted.

Much of my weekend was taken up going round the New Obs room by room with Hollie, Roy Dennis and David Russell finalising layouts so that the electricians, plumbers and joiners can assemble them. It was a really productive couple of days and whilst the workmen get on with that we can start to think about raising some funds to furbish the place. Yet more fundraising! Anybody know a generous furniture store owner?

Friday 23 October 2009

Arrivals & Departures

The wind is calming down making it more birdable! Bird of the day must go to the Woodlark at Neder Taft. A Stock Dove was new for the autumn and a Richard's Pipit was also a new arrival whilst Jackdaws have reached double figures. Thrushes once again were the main meal with over 1,000 each of Redwing and Fieldfare with 600 Blackbird but just two Ring Ouzel spotted. Woodcock was the next most abundant bird logged with 37 counted. A Shelduck on Easter Lother is on Simon's radar for tonights dazzling foray! Oh, and yesterday's bunting was indeed just a Yellowhammer - Jack had one at Quoy.

Other news.....Planes got in for the first time since Monday!!! The in-laws got out and were replaced with our Chairman and the Obs architect who have come to have a look around and iron out a few minor details.

Thursday 22 October 2009

One Bright Spark!

A couple of days of 50mph SE'ly winds has severely hampered census. Everything got covered in salt spray yesterday but this has been diluted a little today by almost constant rain!! Lovely!

As has been the way lately, its thrushes that dominate the counts, although actually counting them has been tricky but 2,000+ Redwings have been logged and a few hundred other species combined, including 6+ Ring Ouzels. The one flash of inspiration has been a smart wee Firecrest in Gunnawark on Wednesday afternoon whilst this afternoon five Jackdaws dropped in, some with partial white collars.......and Simon trapped three of them at the Chalet!! I flushed a Bunting out of Raeva which called like a Yellowhammer but with rain-soaked shaking 'bins I couldn't get anything on it! So, if a Pine Bunting is found tomorrow........

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Oooh! Its Nice!

A strengthening SE'ly wind brought in lots of thrushes but very little else. In excess of 2,000 Redwings were logged and a few hundred Fieldfares and Blackbirds and at least six Ring Ouzels. The ringed Neder Taft acro was confirmed by Simon as a Reed Warbler and as we haven't ringed one for weeks, it must be a control but it was just too windy to even attempt to put a net up to catch it!

We took Hol's parents round the new obs and had a chat with Raymond. Work has started on downstairs now and with many room partitions in we could picture it better and we were also able to make a few suggestions for improvements......and now is the best time to do it!! Its looking good! Alistair & Pat were impressed too!

Monday 19 October 2009

Clear Out!

Things have really quietened down the past couple of days with far fewer thrushes in evidence and many of the smaller passerines having also cleared out. A few Chiffchaffs of varying degrees of eastern-ness provide the main talking point, joined in the notebook by a scattering of Dunnocks, Robins and finches. An 'acro' bearing a leg ring appeared in the Neder Taft crop late on and although I felt it looked Reed-like, it really was too dark to be sure. Something to look for tomorrow!

Saturday 17 October 2009

Burkle Tattie Harvest

Whilst having a cup of tea first thing, I scanned the garden with the kitchen binoculars and spied yesterday evening's interesting Lesser Whitethroat. Wellies on, grabbed my Leicas and camera and rushed outside (making sure Lubo did not follow me). It still looked very interesting, small and pale with hardly any contrast between head and mantle and a very short primary projection and a very white outer tail. I called 'the boys' and proceeded to try and get some snaps as it fed in the rough grass next to our tattie/cabbage/kale patch. The boys arrived and after field views and photographs, we erected a net and caught it. A whole suite of measurements were taken and it seems to fit Desert Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca minula) best of all. The Yellow-browed Warbler was flitting around the garden too.

And that was as good as it got today! There were very few thrushes and the only other bit of interest was provided by a dozen or so 'eastern' Chiffchaffs.

The ponies were taken out yet again as it was so calm and dry and even Hollie was onboard for a short time today!
We lifted our tatties - two whole fish boxes worth! Should keep us in mash for a few weeks!
I can't believe Celtic only drew against lowly Motherwell!!.......and Newcastle lost to Forest!

Friday 16 October 2009

Dodge misses out!

I felt dismay and a touch of disbelief when Jack texted early this morning to say that the Blackpoll Warbler was not in the Plantation! I was sure it would stay. Ex-Warden Roger Riddington was coming in for it on the plane and I was hoping to just meet him and take him the 200 yards to the Plantation and share his joy at seeing the bird. I was sure it would not have left but could we find it in time for Roger's plane at 11.15? If there was no sign, he wasn't coming! There wasn't! He didn't come and at 2pm the bird Skerryholm. It showed incredibly well to the small crowd that gathered before relocating to the beach, where it remained on and off until late afternoon at least, feasting on the myriad of insects there. Hopefully that should keep it going for a while longer!

The Blackpoll Warbler was the undoubted main prize today, but there were a whole list of goodies to be seen with lingering Rustic Bunting at Lower Stoneybrek, Little Bunting at Pund, Short-toed Lark on Meoness, Bluethroat at Neder Taft and late on a probable Desert Lesser Whitethroat at Burkle, where a Yellow-browed Warbler appeared at the same time, but barely got a glance at! The DLW suddenly took off and flew up the road toward Quoy but we failed to relocate it in the rapidly disappearing daylight. That'll have to be tomorrows mission!

Aside from birds......ponies were out again, with Fyntan, Raven, Ythan & Pat (Hol's mum) all on board Storm at various times!

Thursday 15 October 2009

Gad Bless America!

He! He!

The Craib Workparty!

A couple of birds to lift the spirits came in yesterday. Firstly, Jack had a very bedraggled Short-toed Lark on Meoness and in the afternoon a nice Rustic Bunting appeared first at Quoy then at Stoneybrake crop.

North was pretty fog-bound though I could hear lots of thrushes! The Bluethroat was still at the Obs. Other sightings from the south included Yellow-browed Warbler and Bluethroat.

The main arrival however was that of Hollie's parents, here for a week of playing with grandchildren and completing a long list of 'little' jobs around the house!! Hurrah!

Tuesday 13 October 2009


A brisk SE'ly is what we want, but not accompanied by constant rain!! Although there were birds around birding was almost impossible as binoculars got soaked as soon as they were lifted. Still lots of thrushes, many Robins and Dunnocks too. A few Bramblings and Chaffinches and at least three Greenfinch were seen too. A Yellow-browed Warbler kicked out of the grass in Da Water was probably the best sighting, if you don't count another brief view of the River Warbler! A probable Siberian Stonechat was reported at Schoolton but had disappeared into the rain by the time I got there! The day ended with the now customary late Loco chase, but yet again it disappeared in the gloom! From the couple of flight views obtained it looked quite long tailed so was probably one of the Grasshopper warblers from previous days.

Simon was at his dazzling best this evening and brought me a Golden Plover to ring!!

Hollie has spent most of the day in bed!!!!

Monday 12 October 2009

Owls That!

Unfortunately the rarest thing in today's report was the lack of wind!! It made slogging the isle much easier, but decidedly warm!!
Birding highlights were the same ones that have been around for days - River Warbler, 2+ Little Buntings and 2 Bluethroats. A couple of Yellow-browed Warblers were new though but yesterdays elusive 'Loco' turned out to be just another Gropper (while our neighbours to the north AND south were finding Lanceolated Warblers!!!). My personal highlight was flushing a couple of Short-eared Owls and a Long-eared Owl, all roosting together in the rough grassy bank below the school. An influx of Chiffchaffs (13 in total) included three grey-brown individuals lacking in any obvious green or yellow, certainly of eastern origin - but how far? Thrush numbers were much lower but 75 Fieldfare is an increase, Blackcaps have risen to 21 and 3 Greenfinch were totally new!

Hollie took one pony, Storm, out again with the two Kenaby girls but I'd say it was the other one that needs the exercise!!!

Lubo doesn't need any extra exercise and I dared to leave him at home this afternoon. As the saying goes "absence makes the hard grow fonder" and he was mightily pleased to see me later on. I rewarded him with a worming tablet and even though I hid it inside a veggie sausage, he found it......but ate it anyway! And Yes, he ate the sausage too!!!!!

Sunday 11 October 2009

Loco! Loco! Loco?

A light Westerly wind veered Northerly and picked up during the afternoon. There were more thrushes today with 2,300 Redwing, 170 Song Thrush, 170 Blackbird, 30 Fieldfare and 16 Ring Ouzel. Also, the White's Thrush was reported near the Mast. Excitement was provided by a Locustella warbler in the Houll crop but it turned out be just a Grasshopper Warbler. The 'resident' Loco was also seen - the River Warbler in Lower Stoneybrek garden. As the light began to fade, the third Loco of the day was flushed from the Shirva thistles but unfortunately disappeared almost immediately - perhaps tomorrow!? Little Buntings at North Haven and Neder Taft were added to by another at Springfield. The Bluethroat remains at the Obs. Other arrivals included a Yellow-browed Warbler in Furse, a Pied Flycatcher, 10 Dunnock, 23 Blackcap, 6 Reed Bunting and a couple of Water Rail.

Big news away from birds is that Hollie has at last re-acquainted herself
with the ponies! Hollie, Storm, Lachlan, Hannah, Bijoux and Alice all went for a plod around the road and returned home without any hitch!
All at Burkle are gripped by X-Factor and it was the first eviction from the final twelve tonight. The older half of the family were astounded that the annoying twins got through (though the younger ones liked them) but were not surprised that Kandy Rain were eventually voted out!

Saturday 10 October 2009

Its a Zoothera!!

Following a quiet day yesterday, despite the strong SE'ly wind, today was much better. The continuing near-gale force SE'ly meant that the majority of birds were sheltering down the west cliffs. It was a dull old day with frequent showers, some heavy. Thrushes were arriving throughout the day - Redwings led the way with 4,600 logged but 770 Song Thrushes, 46 Blackbirds, 37 Fieldfares and 15 Ring Ouzel added variety. The best however was left til late when at 16.45 Micky Maher stumbled upon a White's Thrush at Hjukni Geo. Pure quality!!! It waited around long enough, peeking out of a hole in the cliff before departing amid a torrential shower! Everyone got soaked but nobody minded!! Nice one Micky!
In-land the River Warbler was seen fleetingly a couple of times, the Richard's Pipit was at Quoy, the Little Bunting remained at Taft and three Bluethroats were logged. Other counts included a dozen Robins, 58 Brambling, 38 Snow Bunting, 41 Goldcrest and four Chiffchaff, two each of Sparrowhawk and Woodcock plus singles of Stonechat and Willow Warbler. The best day for long while!

The non-birdy bit: The kids (including Lachlan) are all on school holiday for a couple of weeks and Hollie had em all beavering away today with individual lists of chores and I'm told they all completed (and enjoyed!) them - even LC!?
Lubo has had his first (long overdue) bath and although obviously petrified he was as good as gold and sat in the bath whilst Hollie, LC and I doused him in warm water and doggy shampoo!! He smelt lovely for half an hour....before I took him out with me again and he found some more sheep poo to roll in!
Hollie (with help from LC) has made some potent Chilli Beetroot jam!

Thursday 8 October 2009


A blustery cold NW'ly wind made birding less than comfortable......not that I had a chance to do any as I spent the day at Sumburgh Airport on a Fire Service Refresher course - fighting a simulated aircraft fire. Five of us from the Fair Isle unit went across and all found it very useful......and wet!
We returned mid-afternoon having passed and I immediately contacted my AWs to find what I'd missed. The answer was "Nothing!" Little Bunting, Richard's Pipit (now tail-less) and Barred Warbler all remain but there was no indication of much movement. "An interesting Lesser Whitethroat was at Skerryholm, though perhaps not a Desert Lesser Whitethroat"
South-easterlies forecast for tomorrow........

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Two Little Bunts.....

After a seriously windy clear night (45- 50 knots) it had calmed down considerably by the morning and apart from some seriously heavy rain showers it was a pleasant day.
The majority of yesterday's thrushes had moved on but the River Warbler was still present (but elusive) in Lower Stoneybrek garden, down the road at Taft a smart Little Bunting was located and a Barred Warbler was new in to the Lower Leogh roses. The north was the place to be and in particular the Havens where two new Bluethroats showed well, yesterdays Little Bunting remains and a Slavonian Grebe was on the sea. At Easter Lother, a Yellow-browed Warbler flitted about the cliff.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Home Alone!

Bird News:
A moderate SW'ly wind gradually increased through the day, making birding difficult by mid-afternoon and it was a severe gale by the evening.
Having said that, birds were arriving - most notably Redwings and Bramblings with around 2,000 of the former and 90 of the latter. Accompanying the Redwings were c200 Song Thrush, 50 Blackbird and five Ring Ouzel but just two Fieldfare. Other highlights were a Yellow-browed Warbler in Klingers Geo, a Little Bunting at North Haven (which was almost certainly seen briefly yesterday by our resident Yankee, Auld Haa Tommy!), a Common Rosefinch with a flock of 60 Bramblings at Quoy and the ringed Bluethroat again.
There was another Great Snipe shout but yet again we were left without verification! There were a fair few of its mini cousin around though, with at least 15 Jack Snipe logged.

Burkle News:
Today, the house smells of cabbage, Red Cabbage to be exact!!
The three young bairns have all come down with a lousy cough/cold so calpol, hot-water bottles and early beds for next few nights.
Hollie can't walk properly - keep fit started again last night!
Lubo has started to shred yet another of his beds and we have also had to remove all the hat/glove boxes from the porch to prevent them befalling the same fate!
Chickens have started to decrease their laying rate so we are now down to six eggs a day.
Courgette plants are however still producing.
One of the Chillies has turned red!
I think the ponies may have forgotten who Hollie is!!!
Its been really great having Becca, Phil and Martin staying with us and its now rather strange to have the house to ourselves for a while!

Monday 5 October 2009

The Loco - motion!

A few more Redwings and Song Thrushes and a couple of Fieldfare were indication that birds were arriving, despite the continued westerly winds and a Bluethroat, trapped in the Gully was followed with another (unringed) bird at the Havens. Things really livened up on 4th when a large Locustella was disturbed by Simon in Da Water and it promptly flew over the cliff and disappeared. It was rediscovered back in Da Water a couple of hours later by Chas Holt. It was extremely flighty and from these brief views it was thought to be a River Warbler - mainly based on upperpart colouration. However from distant views on the ground it did not appear to show any breast streaking but did have a clean white throat and noticeably bright lower mandible. Frustratingly the undertail coverts could
not be seen. Photos scrutinised later however did show some undertail coverts and these suggest it may in fact be a Savi's Warbler - another of the eastern race fusca.

Monday dawned bright and sunny with a light SW'ly and though all were itching to get out and find birds, some (Chas & Alan - Steve & Mark having left on Friday) were due to depart on the morning plane whilst others (all Obs staff) were dutifully bound to help with the Hill Sheep Caa. Alan & Chas still found time to find what they thought was a Blyths Reed Warbler before they left. I couldn't go and check it out until after the sheep gather!! Micky Maher and Richard Schofield arrived to take Chas & Alan's place and Tim Sykes arrived in the afternoon - more keen eyes to scour the isle.

After an exhausting couple of hours chasing sheep we were searching at Lower Stoneybrek for the Blyths Reed, when what should pop up on the wall but a River Warbler!!!! Standing there proudly showing its grey streaked breast and throat, it stunned us all, before dropping down into the crop and somehow vanishing! Wow - both unstreaked large Locos in as many days!!? The Blyths Reed then appeared and was duly trapped and confirmed!

So, an eventful few days and if the unconfirmed reports of Great Snipe, Citrine Wagtail, Arctic Redpoll and Little Bunting all turn out to be true then maybe our autumn is only just beginning?

Friday 2 October 2009

Pocket Pechora

A cold Northerly breeze forced everyone to wrap up. Highlights yesterday were mainly left from the previous day with the Pechora, 2 Common Rosefinch and Richard's Pipit all still present......and all in my garden at Burkle......where the Pechora was mist-netted and ringed. A Barred Warbler was also caught by Jack in North Grind whilst a few Jack Snipe (6+), 2 Great Northern Divers and a Slavonian Grebe were non-passerine highlights. Single Blackbird, Redwing and Song Thrush were hopefully fore-runners of larger numbers to come very soon!

In the evening, had to watch Celtic being held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home by Rapid Vienna in the Europa League, then went to the hall for an hour of disappointing darts.

Other news: It was International Day at school so kids all had to dress up in colours of different countries. Most did exactly that but Raven (as is her wont) went the whole hog and ran to school in a flamenco dress, clacking her castanets as she went!!

Lubo seems off his food but did eat his dinner eventually and has not touched his breakfast this morning - he seems okay otherwise though!

Wednesday 30 September 2009

'Wake me up when September ends'

Cool, blustery NW'ly with regular showers! Not the best day for birding, but frantically birding we all were, desperately trying to save this September from being the worst on record for rarities!
At around 10.30 it happened - Chas Holt & Steve Turner found a Pechora Pipit in the Kenaby crop. Woohoo! and fitting that it was a Fair Isle special (our 42nd record) that broke the drought! It gave us the run around but eventually everyone had satisfactory views as it picked its way along the tattie furrows and when it flew the distinctive call was ticked by many too!! Happy days!! and reminiscent of the rarity-free September of 2004 when that month was saved by an adult male Red-flanked Bluetail on 29th and then October brought a host of rarities, culminating in Chestnut-eared Bunting and Rufous-tailed Robin!!!!!!
However the floodgates have not opened yet as although another Common Rosefinch was discovered there was little else to report, though I did add Great Northern Diver to the house list!! October tomorrow.......

Welcome Leo!

Its gotten decidedly cooler! The wind yesterday, although lighter had moved round to the north. Having said that, we had a glorious warm sunny afternoon (9.5C) but as soon as the sun started to go down, the temperature plummetted - to 6C by midnight.

Birding was still quiet for the time of year - never before has a Common Rosefinch raised so much interest!!! The next best things in have been 3 large Common Redpolls, a Short-eared Owl and a Pintail. The Richard's Pipit still frequents Quoy/Schoolton and shows very well at times. Lapland Buntings are still increasing with a flock of ten seen near Pund, a few others elsewhere, and one or two more trapped at Chalet.

After two weeks of weather-enforced rest, the two ponies were taken to meet the kids coming out of school and Hollie, Fyntan, Raven, Ythan and Lowri all took turns in riding Storm while I tried to persuade Bijoux to keep up. Back at Kenaby an hour later, I left them all picking poo whilst Lubo and I continued on our quest for a Buff-bellied Pipit.........and failed!

It was a day of celebration however as my niece gave birth to a baby boy........and it was also Hollie's brother's birthday!!

Monday 28 September 2009

Send for the Doctor!

The westerly winds continue, veering more northerly today - and getting cooler. Even with more ex AWs on the isle (Chas Holt has recently joined the throng) good birds are still hard (impossible) to find. Thus, the most notable birds have been geese, of the Pink-footed variety, with around 1,400 present on Sunday and still several hundred today. Greylags have started to appear also and two Barnacles put in an appearance plus a few Whooper Swans. In fact birding has been so slow that we have taken to trapping lots of Starlings to aid the long-term research on this species and have almost run out of colour-ring combinations!!
A small influx of Chaffinches has (sadly) set the pulse racing - 16 so far, and three each of Icelandic Redwings and Common Redpoll dropped in today, along with five Chiffchaffs, whilst Snow Buntings have climbed to over 40.

However, potential dip of the year may be the 'wholly dark large Petrel' reported by The Good Shepherd crew just a few miles north of Buness. Neil's description fits Bulwers better than Swinhoes!!!

One good thing about having so many ex-AWs around is that we have enough folk for a game of footie in the hall, three teams of three in fact!! Excellent! After a couple of hours running around the hall, interspersed with the occasional moment of footballing magic (perhaps not!) it was decided that enough was enough and we all congratulated ourselves on getting through without serious injury ;-)

The early morning flight for the High School bairns never made it due to the wind until the early afternoon but both schedule flights (slightly hairily) got in. So Lachlan eventually got out.......and Dr Martin Culshaw arrived to occupy his still warm bed and after having successfully twitched Sandhill Crane and Taiga Flycatcher in the preceding days! Congratulations Martin!

Saturday 26 September 2009

Del's New Hoodie!

No change in the weather! Despite a promising-looking sea, a single Sooty Shearwater was the only thing of note in a whole hour yesterday.....and another this morning, with three Cormorants. On land yesterday we had a 14 Whooper Swans, male Tufted Duck, the Richard's Pipit, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Dunnock and now over 30 Snow Buntings.

Phil meanwhile spent much of the day running back and forth from the garden with bags of whoosh-netted Starlings, but he also trapped a Rock Pipit and a Hooded Crow - amazingly yet another ringing tick for me!!

Despite the wind strength, the favourable SW'ly direction meant that the planes have been getting in this week. Friday afternoon's plane brought the High School bairns home for the weekend and Lubo was extremely pleased to see Lachlan - as of course were we all, but the rest of us managed NOT to pee over ourselves in the excitement!!

Myself and Hollie had more on-site discussions with the Obs workmen, discussing finer details of the internal layout of the building and have to go back again with measurements of this and that.

Thursday 24 September 2009


The relentless strong westerly winds and showers continue and hence there is very little exciting to report on the bird front - a few more Snow and Lapland Buntings perhaps and the Richard's Pipit remains. A Robin is new at the Mast......where on this date last year I was showing people a Brown Flycatcher!! What a difference a year makes!! A few other things were seen however - Peregrine & Merlin, Cormorant, Garden Warbler, an abietinus Chiffchaff, a Chaffinch, a new 'northwestern' Common Redpoll and 6 Linnets are also new.
The Burkle ringing list is set to increase as Phil Harris, who is staying with us here with Becca Nason (yet another ex-AW), has cleared and baited a patch for a whoosh-net.
Myself and Hollie visited the Obs site to answer a few queries the workmen had and also had a good look around inside. Its coming on! Meanwhile, Terry Todd and his digger were hard at work outside, landscaping the excess topsoil into an area of wee pools for waders etc
Sounds like Darts club tonight may be very busy!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

More Laps

After another windy sleep-interrupted night I began to think that the old Obs wasn't so noisy in a storm after all! My watch alarm failed to wake us - I'd forgotten to reset it after using it to remind me of Fire Training the previous evening - and with the lack of sleep we'd managed to sleep through the kids getting up! Consequently, it was a mad rush in the morning to get the said children ready for school. Lowri arrived, as he does most school mornings, whilst they were still eating breakfast and so rather than walking or cycling to school, I ran them there in the car! A check of Dave Wheeler's weather page saw it had reached 45 knots overnight, so nothing too severe. The wind remained strong all day from a WSW direction which meant that, despite there being more birders on the isle, birding was pretty quiet. The highlight was probably the two Sand Martins that have battled their way here and there was a Song Thrush at the Obs. Pink-feet continue to move and 265 were logged whilst the sea produced 3 Red-throated Diver, a Manx Shearwater and 6 Wigeon.

I spent a good part of the day making final (I hope) amendments/corrections to the Fair Isle chapter of the new Observatories Book that is due out (hopefully) this Christmas - which incidentally is only 94 days away!!!

I nipped out for an hour or two late afternoon and in an easing wind had reasonable views of the Richard's Pipit as it strolled around in long grass at Schoolton. Simon meanwhile has increased the Lapland Bunting ringing total to SIX - ringing ticks all round!

Monday 21 September 2009


With a fresh SSW'ly wind blowing, it was a quiet weekend for birds. The undoubted highlight was the new Little Bunting trapped in the Vaadal, however the Lapland Bunting trapped a few minutes later at the Chalet was also nice - and a ringing tick for yours truly!! A (the) Richard's Pipit was seen on Meoness.

The new Obs is coming on - the panels and flashing to the exterior have almost been completed and electricians and plumbers have arrived to start fitting out the interior. I was able to look around upstairs for the first time and it is an impressive building.

Hollie took the ponies out on Saturday around the east loop (without me!!) along with the kids and Lise. The children are apparently improving their riding technique and the ponies were as good as gold - apart from being spooked by some 'strange' new patches of tar on the road, causing a few sidesteps and snorts! They had their feet trimmed too - the ponies not the children!
A well-attended party at Setter on Saturday night meant Sunday was a very lethargic day, but a 'possible Great Snipe' claim spurred me and Lubo to thrash around Buggarts, Da Water and Boini Mire but to no avail.

Today we are greeted with another blowy grey day as a strong SW'ly makes birding difficult. The main arrivals so far have been Alan Bull and Steve Turner (both ex AWs) off the morning plane. Its good to see them but its been so long since Steve was here that I had to give him a map to find his way round - I'm sure it'll all come back to him pretty quickly though! They immediately went out and re-found the Richard's Pipit at Boini Mire, whilst Simon found yet another (unringed) Little Bunting in North Haven.
A Shetland Wildlife Tour group also arrived this morning so I do hope we can find some birds to make it worth their while, although looking at the forecast it could be difficult - perhaps a nice Dendroica warbler!? The day progressed with parties of Pink-footed Geese passing overhead, totalling some 200 whilst the afternoon plane brought in another ex-FIBO stalwart, Mark Newell. Fun times to be had at Taft the next fortnight!!!!

Friday 18 September 2009

Double Figures!

I missed another posting last night due to 'a stop press space-filling Fair Isle Times emergency' from Lise at 1830hrs. Then, moments after I'd agreed to get something to her that night, Robert texted me.... 'we thought we'd start Darts club tonight, usual time usual place'.....What? We don't start Darts club til after the last Lerwick boat, usually the first week of October!! I informed him of my promise and said I'd try and get along. Anyway, I rapidly (well, rapid for me) typed up a page of how the 2009 seabird season went and she seemed pleased (relieved) with that and got to Darts just after 9pm.
The other big news from yesterday was that Fyntan reached double figures - he is TEN! and very proud. Unfortunately it wasn't all fun & games for him as on the way to school he came off his bike and really hurt his knee. Raven & Ythan raced to Quoy and raised the alarm and he was taken to the nurse by Stewart. Patched up, he then had to come home to recuperate. However, by lunchtime he had recovered enough to go to school - in time for a loud rendition of 'Happy Birthday' and a Smartie encrusted cake!

There appears to have been little in the way of arrivals the past couple of days but definitely some departures, however the Arctic Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler and at least one Common Rosefinch are still here on a gloriously warm, bright day with a light SW'ly wind. The only arrival of note (so far) is the first Richard's Pipit of the autumn.

Back to was a pleasant evening despite my top score only being a couple of 100s. Robert claimed top prize by somehow achieving 156......and no treble 18s involved!!!

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Jigsaw Complete!

Apologies for no entry yesterday - I was up at 0530 to help gather lambs for the last shipment to the Shetland marts followed by census, another new Obs site meeting, computer work and in the evening we had a small 'farewell' gathering for our Wheatear student Adam, who left today. The Little Bunting was (and is) still present, but now sporting a shiny ring!
Today started well. I was answering a couple of e-mails whilst I finished breakfast prior to heading out when I spied a warbler in the garden. I raised my 'bins expecting it to be just a Willow but a stronger face pattern and long supercilium had me running out the door, even though I couldn't make out any wingbars! It gave me the run around but I managed to nail it as an Arctic Warbler - a nice addition to the garden list!! It disappeared whilst I was back inside phoning everyone but eventually all saw it at Kenaby later that morning. Meanwhile the first Yellow-browed Warbler had turned up too and Bluethroat, Red-backed Shrike, 2+ Barred Warblers and Common Rosefinch were added to the day list - the last to the garden list also!
But, prior to all this the barge with the last pieces of the giant 3-D Obs jigsaw arrived early this morning and by mid-afternoon the last pod was carefully slotted into place. Woohoo!!

Monday 14 September 2009

At Last!

The day started bright and calm with the wind just east of north. The sea looked pretty smooth - good for the barge bringing more pods. My orders were to meet the morning plane and pick up Dave Okill and Pete Ellis (two FIBO Directors) who were coming to see the new Obs. Hollie came with me and we were at the airstrip saying 'goodbye' to Chris Cox (another FIBO Director who had been up for a few days) when I got a text from Simon - 'Little Bunting at Setter'. Yes, at last its about to kick off! The plane arrived, I swapped one Director for two more and got another text - 'Bluethroat at Schoolton'. We arrived at the Obs and discovered that the barge had been in overnight with more sections. The guys were mightily impressed with what they saw........ but were pleased also with the Red-backed Shrike I discovered in the Obs Plantation. By lunchtime the wind, though light, was definitely from the SE (at last!) and the sun was very warm! I heard of another Bluethroat at Pund and was itching to get round North census but was required for a meeting with the Project Manager so reluctantly had to ask the AWs to do it for me. Landscaping, access and water issues (hopefully) dealt with I dropped the two daytripping gents back at the airstrip and headed home. Just enough time for a cuppa before Fire Training after the plane. Response times, spraying foam, checking BA sets and replenishing the appliance took us up to tea time.
After tea, Lubo (who was as desperate as me to get out) and I went out for a brief thrash around before dark but most birds had already gone to bed.
Jack phoned later to reel off their totals, including 385 Meadow Pipit, 251 Skylark, 70 Wheatear, 24 Willow Warbler, 17 Grey Heron, 15 Cormorant, 7 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Garden Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Lapland Bunting, 2 Whinchat, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Bluethroat and single Merlin, Kestrel, 'mealy' Redpoll, Siskin, Pied Flycatcher, Barred Warbler, Linnet, Dunnock, Common Rosefinch and Reed Bunting. Nice! More tomorrow? I hope so. Only seven pods to go!!!!

Sunday 13 September 2009

Trot on!

A much calmer day and although the wind was still in the north-west, it was very light and it was dry. Surely there would be some birds today? The answer was 'Very little'. The highlight, by a long way, was had by Jack - a juvenile Dotterel over Ward Hill. The best the south could muster were two Barred Warblers, a Common Rosefinch, a Chiffchaff and the first (six) Pinkfeet of the autumn! At least three Lesser Whitethroats were also an increase whilst Ruff, Sand Martin and two Common Crossbill are presumably lingerers. Census counts were actually dominated by Skylarks (155) and Meadow Pipits (680).
In the afternoon I was persuaded by Hollie to help her exercise the ponies. So, along with Fyntan, Raven, Ythan & Lowri we went around the east loop and all four bairns 'had a shot' at walking and trotting on Storm, whilst Bijoux ambled along behind.
The builders were expecting the barge again today with more of the Obs pods, but despite keeping a watchful eye, I never saw it come by the south end.
Late news this evening.....Simon's had a Marsh Harrier over Hoini!!

Saturday 12 September 2009


Awoke this morning to the house rattling to another westerly blow and (fortunately?) the low cloud and drizzle put paid to any thoughts of a sea-watch! So, no barge, no Good Shepherd and no planes! After breakfast and whilst various island children arrived to play, I busied myself on the computer in the hope that the weather might improve later but by 11am it hadn't and I felt I had to get out - and Lubo certainly thought so! I was on southeast census this morning and with the westerly wind driving the drizzle, I decided that the east cliffs probably held my best chance of finding any migrants. However, other than pipits, Wheatears and Twite I barely saw any passerines - a couple of Willow Warblers and a Sand Martin. My AWs reported much the same as previous days but there are now two Lesser Whitethroats plus a Common Whitethroat and a Ruff.
Its been a fantastic autumn for field mushrooms but I kept forgetting to take anything to carry them in so have had to leave them for others but today Hollie gave me a carrier bag as I went out the door and instructed me to pick some. I duly returned home just before 2pm with the bag bursting with big mushrooms - so thats tea sorted, Mushroom Something!
After a noisy lunch, all the kids went up to Schoolhouse to watch a film, the weather had brightened (even enough for the plane to get in) so Hollie and I headed over to pick up pony poo!! Lovely!

Friday 11 September 2009

Happy Birthday

I'll start todays posting with a clarification of a comment in yesterday's - the boiled rotting potato peelings were not for today's tea, but for next door's pigs!!!

Still a mild fresh SW'ly wind but the barge bringing the Obs pods has managed two trips in as many days and with half of the pods now here, the building is now starting to look very impressive. North census was extremely quiet - five Wigeon the highlight - whilst elsewhere only new things were a Merlin and a reported Lesser Whitethroat. Lapland and Snow Bunting were also seen.
Quiet is not a word that would describe Burkle after school though! Ythan turned SIX today and the whole school and nursery (all 11 of them) came round for a party!! I stayed for half an hour, then just had to take Lubo had for a walk! We returned an hour or so later, just in time for some Birthday cake! All kids left after feeding their faces and playing and I don't think there were any arguments!

Thursday 10 September 2009


Red or green, Hollie's garden at Burkle has it by the bucketload along with broccoli, spinach, tatties, lettuce, courgettes and not to mention the forthcoming peas, beetroot, carrots and onions or to forget the indoor plethora of tomatoes and cucumbers. Its harvest time at Burkle and anybody who remembers her little garden at the Obs will be impressed!
The weather calms further, down to a Force 4 SW'ly and my morning census of Southwest turned up a handful of Willow Warblers, a couple of Tree Pipits, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a male Crossbill plus a Barred Warbler at Leogh and two Rosefinches at Houll. My AWs turned up a Blackcap, Lapland Bunting and another Tree Pipit and between us we logged over 400 Meadow Pipits.
After three hours of computer work I (and Lubo) headed back out mid-afternoon. I decided to try Hoini for a Buff-breasted Sandpiper followed by a Great Snipe search around Pund/Setter. Just as I reached the top of Hoini, the heavens opened and I immediately regretted leaving my waterproof at home. By the time I reached Setter I was soaked with nothing to show for it but two Snow Buntings. I trudged home, rubbed the pup dry, peeled my wet clothes off and jumped in the shower.
After a lovely tea, I entered the kitchen to wash up and was greeted by a horrible stench - not from Lubo this time but a pan of over-ripe tattie peelings boiling away on the stove. This was quickly evicted and windows opened. Tonights washing-up tunes came from Rod Stewart! I wonder what tomorrows awful smell will be?

Wednesday 9 September 2009


A noisy night in Burkle as the wind rattled and shook the building but morning arrived and although still windy its much less strong. A look at Dave Wheeler's weather page shows it peaked at c50knots at around 9pm. Greeted this morning to a terrible stench emanating from the porch. Obviously Lubo (the dog) has sore guts!! Kicked the dog out and Hollie and I cleaned up whilst the kids readied themselves for school. Kids gone to school and said dog fed I took him out for a walk around south-east but there appears to be nothing new in, a few Willow Warblers and Whinchats about all to report this morning. Went up to the Obs site to check if the pods had survived the gales. Other than a couple of tiles dislodged from the one that has not been fixed in place the answer is 'yes!' Its really taking shape now! Forecast for next few days is good so hopefully get the bulk of them here once the sea calms down.
A thrash around this afternoon didn't produce much more - a count of 34 Teal and a Redstart. Called in at the Chalet and AWs have had a Greylag Goose, a couple of Lapland Buntings (actually first seen yesterday) and a Snow Bunting. Hmmm, it'll soon be winter! The ringed Barred Warbler remains. Its nice to have a windmill working again although the regular power cuts a few days ago were a bit infuriating!! I'm gonna have to get a UPS for my computer!

Tuesday 8 September 2009


The first severe gales of the autumn have arrived today - a little early - a gale force S'ly (at present) but incredibly warm! Its a big blow (pun intended) to the Obs building contractors who can't do alot in this. There are now 9 new Obs pods on the isle but its too risky today to be swinging them from a crane or to be balancing oneself in a cherry-picker. Birding is predictably quiet with a single Barred Warbler the only thing of note. Spent much of the day tying things down in preparation for the worst of the weather this evening - the wind is due to move round to the west and pick up to force 9-10 with gusts of 80mph. We've moved the ponies to the Kenaby north park so they can shelter by the barn!

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