Monday 22 February 2010

Sweet Silver Song!

Calm seas, no wind, blue skies and brilliant sunshine has made for a fantstic few days on the isle. If wasn't for the frozen ground, icy puddles and temp of -2C, it could almost be summer!!?
Whatever, it has encouraged birds to begin to move......on Friday (19th) 45 Skylarks were logged and the first joyful bouts of singing were heard. A count of 21 Lapwings increased to 45 the following day when 37 Oystercatchers and 10 Golden Plovers were also counted - spring migration at last!! Despite the nice weather, the hard ground means birds are still finding it hard to feed so the Burkle birdtable and surrounding area continues to be heavily used, mainly by Starlings and Rock Doves although up to 15 Twite, 21 House Sparrows, a few Blackbirds and the lone Chaffinch join them.

The kids have (with a bit of coaxing) spent most of the weekend outside 'helping' with a few outdoor chores (ponies feet, cleaning out chicken hut, recycling bottles & cans) and I spent an hour or two servicing all their bikes so they can get back into cycling to school rather than walking. On Sunday afternoon we had an entertaining game of 'Hittyball' on the Burkle lawn - not an easy game to play when your 'lawn' has at least a 30 degree slope!
One of the Obs workmen, Ray, hired the hall for the evening on Saturday and invited everyone to come along to celebrate his birthday. We thought we'd go along with the kids for an hour or so...........but ended up staying 'til midnight! Whilst the kids amused themselves playing 'football' and 'badminton' in the hall, the adults amused each other with some chat, music and a few beers in the Committee room. We also showed these Orcadians how to play pool!!
Even though we had Henry (from Auld Haa) staying for a sleepover, the kids went to bed with no complaints when we got home!!!!

Up at the Obs, external groundworks were taking place this weekend whilst the inside awaits more supplies and qualified personnel. A cattle grid has been dug out and laid in position and posts for the surrounding fence are in - no more will sheep be able to lie at the back door!!!!

Thursday 18 February 2010


The winter is not over yet - a stiff northerly has blown for most of this week with the occasional flurry of sleet or snow. As to be expected there has been little change in the bird scene but one or two Oystercatchers are just starting to move (max count 7) and a Great Crested Grebe was in Furse yesterday.

I have just about got over last weekends depressing results with Scotland Rugby Team and my two football teams (Celtic and Newcastle) all dropping points, although the Toon are now back on top with a 4-1 thumping of Coventry last night!

Up at the Obs, the Happy Orcadian Band are back plus a few others and they are pressing on with plasterboarding the downstairs, more electrics and some outside landscaping. Masses of plasterboard and lots of carpet arrived this week!!

Darts later this evening......

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Thats Champion Darts!

The snow has certainly gone and for the most part it has remained a few degrees above freezing, which has helped the half dozen Skylarks, Chaffinch and multitude of thrushes to survive. Greylag Geese are still everywhere with the six Brents and single Barnacle Goose and Bean Goose with them. Lapwings number 15, Golden Plover 7 and Curlew 25. One or two Woodcock are still around but 3 Wigeon are new.
There were hundreds of Guillemots ashore on Sunday (6th) for the first time this year.

Around the isle, farm animals are all surviving well - all being fed on hay or haylage and a few getting added hardfeed.
At Burkle, kids are also thriving though Ythan looks funny now he's lost his two front teeth! Number one son however, has just started his higher prelims with English on Monday but as with most teenage boys when his parents eagerly try to find out how it went..... it was "Okay!"

On Saturday, Darts Club held their annual social. Each darts club member brought his partner along and we all played each other for the Fair Isle Darts Trophy, with a break in between for some fabulous curries!! Alcohol was imbibed too! Most years this prestigous prize seems to end up at Setter but this year there was a three-way tie after all the games had been played and there was a nailbiting play-off for the trophy; all six players had to throw three darts each and the highest team score won. Well done Stackhoull!!!!.................and no, Burkle didn't make the final!

The Obs site is desolate.......all the workmen are away on leave. First ones are back again on Friday!

Thursday 4 February 2010

The Wheel of Fortune!

Its been a quiet few days on the birding front with a Tundra Bean Goose the only thing new.

A bit of rain last night washed most of the snow away. Will that be the last??

One plane (from Orkney) got in and the Good Shepherd sailed yesterday. The majority of the workmen escaped for a week or so of home-time, leaving just a few to handle the supplies off the boat that evening - yet more plasterboard, rolls and rolls of insulation, a load of doors and some mirrors! There hasn't been any transport on/off the isle for a week so the boat was fairly laden, including 40 barrels of fuel, c100 bags of coal and 18 sacks of mail!

Stewart Thomson of Shirva has made a spinning wheel from bits of wood from the old obs and the new obs. As with all his wheels it is a beautiful work of art and turns silently and smoothly. He has kindly donated it to us to raise funds for New Obs Appeal. The appeal has gone well so far, but donations have almost reached a standstill, though we only have £25,000 left to raise for furniture. We hope Stewart's hand-crafted wheel no. 106 will bring in a few hundred pounds or more - after all it is a unique piece! See the FIBO homepage ( for details.

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