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!

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