Wednesday 28 July 2010

Just another day, another year older!

The first Willow Warbler of the autumn - a yellow juvenile - was in the Plantation on 26th, with further singles on subsequent days at Burkle and Chalet. Also on 26th, the first juvenile Dunlin were at Easter Lother and a Sanderling on North Haven beach plus a Great Northern Diver in Finniequoy. A couple of Siskin have been knocking about whilst the singing male Sedge Warbler at Schoolton Ditch has found a mate! He has been observed chasing and feeding her and one observer thought she was carrying nesting material!!
At the Obs, things are happening on the building front once again. A team of five men arrived yesterday (27th) to begin making sense of what is still to be done, what materials are here and what still needs to be purchased.
The Good Shepherd also ran yesterday and returned laden with 8 huge pallets of stuff tightly wrapped in black plastic, all addressed to me! Wow! Lots of presents for my birthday!!? Well, not quite, it was furniture from Hollie's parents for Burkle and the Warden's house at the Obs. It is now all stacked up in the workshop at Burkle, all that is except for my & Hollie's new bed, which I put together immediately as we had removed our futon base earlier in the day in preparation. After 11 years of sleeping virtually on the floor we now have a proper bed!!! Thanks Mum!
The kids (well 75% of them) made me some delightful Birthday cards and I even got a beautifully drawn effort from Callum. In the evening, following the obligatory rendition of 'Happy Birthday' at the Obs dinner table I received more cards, a toolbox, cordless drill and a chainsaw.........and some glowing balls!!?!

Saturday 24 July 2010

Its a Wrap!

A Common Rosefinch was discovered near the shop yesterday (23rd) evening. It was trapped in the Plantation today and found to be an adult female. A Quail was flushed near Kenaby, four Common Crossbills were at Schoolton and a Green Sandpiper in the Gully.
Mali (Fulmar) season started this week and its been quite amusing introducing our young volunteers to this (smelly) aspect of Observatory work!! Storm Petrel ringing also kicked off but the first night was so bright that only six were trapped - all who attended were delighted though!
Its been a hectic three of days cutting & baling silage around the isle. It is very much a community effort. One person goes round on a tractor cutting a section of ever croft's crop, another wuffles, then the rows are tidied up by hand rake, ready for the baler. The tractor comes round again the following day baling the small round bales, several bodies then load them onto a trailer and deliver to the plastic-wrapping and stacking team. Unfortunately, today with only a couple of crofts left to do a prolonged heavy shower went through, soaking the grass and workers alike. Thankfully, it did stop after 30 minutes or so without harming the product too much and we were able to finish just after 2pm today........until the next dry spell! We also clipped our ten sheep yesterday, with help from Becki, Lachlan, Calum and the 'assistance' of a couple of FIBO guests! Hollie's little muscles are now complaining!!!
Personal highlight of the past few days has been the return home of Fyntan, Raven & Ythan. Its great to see their jovial little faces, all brown from their adventure to the 'tropical south' complete with new haircuts, shoes, clothes etc.

Thursday 22 July 2010

High Hirundines!

Pretty quiet on the birding front lately with Sanderling, Swift, lingering Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler the highlights. Some excitement on this mornings early trapround was provided by a Swallow (a rare capture here) in the Vaadal. Simon sprinted after it, losing a boot in the process, splashed through the stream and expertly guided the bird into the catching box.......only to discover it was one he ringed in the nest at the Mast a fortnight ago!! Speaking of Swallows, the nest in the new Obs garage must be (judging by the noise and pile of poo below) ready to ring now, however (such is the enormity of the said construction) I don't have a long enough ladder to reach them!! I may have to call in the Fire Brigade!
We are getting close to finalising a team to continue with the Obs building work and hope to have half a dozen men, under the authority of the Northmen, here next week to press on with it. Who knows, I may be able to get to live in the new Obs after all - instead of having to commute all the way from Burkle each day!!
At Burkle, Lachlan has some company, other than the dog. His friend Calum Williamson from Lerwick has come over for ten days to get involved. He also has (as does Lachlan) a biology project to devise and carry out, however the one he came up with is not really suitable at this time of year so I am trying to help him come up with another worthwhile project - not that easy to do in such a short space of time. Any suggestions? LC is doing his on Puffins and their breeding success related to diet - a bit of a cheat as that is part of what we at FIBO do but I suppose its more the exercise than the results that matter.
Ok, Robert's just come in........better go and do the Bar order!

Sunday 18 July 2010

Back of the Net!

The first real signs of autumn this weekend with a few waders on show; Little Stint, Green Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and Sanderling. There were also a few ducks with Pintail, 5 Teal and 2 Wigeon. Two Grey Herons were also new and a Garden Warbler was trapped in Plantation. Pride of place however goes to the first-summer Mute Swan in North Haven - only our ninth record!
Hollie was cook today and with a big Sunday lunch to prepare, I offered to help her this morning, which meant we also got tea prepared for later and were out of the kitchen by 1415hrs.
After lunch, Lachlan cajouled a few of us into a game of football and so after a couple of hours of four-a-side on the South Light 'pitch' there are some weary bodies in the Obs this evening!!

Saturday 17 July 2010

Its been a while!

Finally, following hours of pursuing them and listening to one excuse after another, BT have got us back on-line! NOT great service!
However, birders out there have not really missed much. June was relatively quiet with small numbers of common migrants and the occasional Common Rosefinch, Red-backed Shrike, Marsh Warbler, Bluethroat with highlights of a Honey Buzzard (6th), Blyths Reed Warbler (10th), Rustic Bunting (15th), Common Crane (16th), Turtle Dove (22nd), Shorelark (23rd) and a Hobby (28th). July too has been predictably quiet. Waders are beginning to return south, including Green Sandpipers (3rd, 9th) and a few parties of Common Crossbills (max 18 on 10th). We have been delighted to note that several pairs of Swallows are nesting, with nests in the new Obs garage, the airstrip shed and the buildings at the Communications Mast!! We also have a few summering migrants, including a Robin, three Chiffchaffs and a Common Whitethroat.

Following the troubles of the builders going into receivership, leaving us in limbo and several islanders owed money we are trying to sort out getting the project finished. However the legalities of it all take time........Meanwhile we are delighted to be able to be open for guests and listening to all the appreciative noises they make. Of course with a new building there are always teething/snagging issues (such as showers draining into the bedroom!!) but on the whole it is a fabulous place. Luckily, the bulk of the work still to be done does not affect the guesthouse side of the operation.

At Burkle, where we barely spend any time now.........just returning there at night to sleep, Lachlan is in charge! Luckily, the three younger ones have gone south with grandma for a couple of weeks and as always they are having a great time, including a trip to Eurodisney!!! Lachlan & Lubo are left to their own devices, but manage to turn up at the Obs at lunchtime and dinnertime!!
The other animals haven't had much attention either but we have had to de-mite the hens and their house AGAIN! Our sheep are waiting to be clipped and the ponies waiting to be ridden but we have barely had time to even think about these things. All the Obs crew helped out with the Hill gather though and virtually everybody had a go at hand-shearing a hill ewe, with one of our team preferring to tackle the big hairy fellas!!!

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