Tuesday 28 August 2012

Yakety Crex.

Grey Herons are a traditional early autumn migrant on Fair Isle. This one appeared to have just arrived at South Light and it promptly pitched onto the first rocks it found and rested amongst the loafing gulls.
Southeasterly gale force 8 continuing...

That's always a promising shipping forecast, so we headed out into the gale with our hopes high. However, it soon became clear that there either weren't a lot of birds in, or (our hope) they were taking shelter at the bottom of the geos and will appear when the wind drops. My census route in SW saw me find no migrants on the cliffs, so it was a surprise when a Corncrake flew out from long grass near Upper Leogh.
After crashing back into the roadside verge ahead of me, the Corncrake came to the attention of a large cat, which dashed towards its hiding place. Not wishing to see any migrant get munched (let alone the best bird of the day!), I ran after the cat to try to shoo it off. At this stage, the Corncrake heard me approaching and flew off again in that careering manner that makes you wonder how they ever manage a long distance migration. With it fluttering along the road, the cat sensed it had a chance of a catch and went off sprinting after the bird again, causing me to run along the road trying to distract the cat. This went on for several metres, with the fat ginger bird being chased by a fat ginger cat, which in turn was pursued by the warden (and yes, I am a red head and perhaps slightly overweight). The Corncrake then flipped over the stone wall, clipped the top of a fence and crashed into a ditch where it was seen to skulk off into the vegetation and then completely vanish, as is their wont. If anybody managed to capture the whole event on video, I’m sure it would look good set to the Benny Hill theme tune, but as it ended with the bird escaping and hopefully being none the worse for its ordeal, I can live with that.
The day’s birding was cut short by a deluge of rain that arrived shortly after lunch and very few other highlights being noted, although there was still a Common Rosefinch (at Midway then Lower Stoneybrek) and a Barred Warbler at the Obs.
A Rosefinch trying to justify its name by perching in roses.
With the easterlies crashing the rain against the windows as I typed this last night, it really feels like there should be some more birds in, hopefully the weather will have improved enough to be able to find them.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Latest Sightings.

Despite the lack of suitable fall conditions, the 24th went on to produce a good variety of migrants after the excitement of the morning trap round (see previous post). Highlights were the Thrush Nightingale (which lingered at the Obs, occasionally showing well), 4 Barred Warblers (2 at the Obs and singles at Chalet and Stackhoull), 2 Icterine Warblers (the bird at the Obs and another at Midway), a Red-backed Shrike (at the Haa), 5 Crossbill and the first Black Redstart of the autumn. Other migrants included: 6 Goldcrest, 20 Willow Warbler, 9 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, 4 Reed Warbler, Redstart, 6 Whinchat, 152 Wheatear , 4 Pied Flycatcher and the first Song Thrush of the autumn.
The Shoveler lingered on the Obs scrape until 25th.
Interestingly, many of the migrants trapped on 24th had high fat scores, perhaps suggesting they may not have travelled far to get here – could the calm weather have encouraged a ‘trickle down’ of birds from Shetland?

The 25th was a whole new kettle of weather fish, with strong northerly winds bringing the first really autumnal feeling day to the island and knocking migration on the head somewhat. There were obviously fewer migrants around (and those that were present were harder to see), which made the discovery of a flighty and vocal Citrine Wagtail (our 3rd of the autumn) at Easter Lother Water all the more surprising (although perhaps we should have expected something as any change in wind direction at this time of the year often delivers a decent bird). Very few other new migrants were noted, although there was the first Yellow Wagtail of the autumn and 2 Crossbills were seen.
One of the Crossbills recorded on the 25th was this fine male trapped in the Gully.
The 26th was pleasant and sunny, with the northerly winds decreasing and a general clear out of migrants. However, if birds are clearing out of Fair Isle, there’s always a chance that they could ‘clear in’ to us from somewhere else and a few new birds were indeed recorded, with a Common Rosefinch at Taft, a Red-backed Shrike at Boini Mire and a Sparrowhawk all noted, Meadow Pipits increased from 196 the previous day to 325 and at least 12 White Wagtails were amongst the 69 alba wags recorded. There were some birds that did linger, including the Thrush Nightingale, an Icterine and 2 Barred Warblers.
This flighty Red-backed Shrike only allowed for 'atmospheric' photos to be taken! With the entourage of Twite and Meadow Pipit, hay meadow, baling in the background and backdrop of the cliffs of Malcolm's Head, it hopefully gives an impression of the pleasant experience that is birding on Fair Isle in early autumn.
So a good few days, especially considering the weather, but with raging SE and rain headed our way and a mini-invasion of Greenish Warblers on the English east coast today, could we hope for something better tomorrow.
There are still plenty of seabirds lingering. Although the breeding season is over for many of them, there are still a few Bonxie chicks yet to fledge, most of the Gannet and Fulmar chicks are still in their nests and a few Shag chicks still have a way to go. Although overall numbers are not great, it looks like productivity will be quite good for the monitored Shag nests this year.

Friday 24 August 2012

Good Start...

With NE winds forecast for the weekend, we were hopeful that there may be a few birds tomorrow, but it looks like a few things have arrived ahead of the weather. Morning traps this morning produced a Thrush Nightingale and an Icterine Warbler, we're just off on census now, so we'll soon find out whether there's anything else out there...
Our third Thrush Nightingale of the year, this juvenile was in the Gully.

Icterine Warbler, caught in the Single Dyke.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Duck of the day.

Although Barred Warblers can be amongst the skulkiest of migrants, on Fair Isle they often show more readily - as this bird photographed from the kitchen window shows.
No sign of the Arctic Warbler today and there appeared to be not too much new in on the passerine front, although there were 3 Barred Warblers around the island, including a showy bird at the Obs. Tree Pipits increased to 6 and a few other migrants remained including Pied Flycatcher, 4 Whinchat and 2 Reed Warbler amongst a scattering of others.
Technically the bird of the day was a juvenile Shoveler that arrived on the Obs scrape in the afternoon, the first of this species to be seen on Fair Isle this year. There was an increase in some of the commoner waders, with Ringed Plover increasing to 52 and Dunlin to 20, whilst 6 Ruff, Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and a Whimbrel were also seen.
The calm seas allowed the best day of cetacean watching so far this year from the island, with 5 White-sided Dolphins off Buness, 2 White-beaked Dolphins off Meoness and a scattering of Porpoise around the island totalling at least 24 animals, including several small calves.
A drier night tonight looks like it should be ok for Storm Petrel ringing, so we're about to head out and try our luck...

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Lightning Strikes Twice?

Our attempts to have a Storm Petrel ringing session tonight have been somewhat scuppered by the approaching thunder and lightning - probably not a good idea to be waving eight foot metal poles around under the circumstances. Up until then the weather had been fairly pleasant (although there were lingering fog patches, especially on the hills) so it's a bit of a blow that we can't get out. Still, at least we'll get an early night!
On the bird front, there are clearly things still on the move but, like Sunday, there seemed to have been a bit of a clear out. Remarkably, like Sunday, the best bird of the day was an Arctic Warbler. Jason found it just before dinner as it fed along a drystone wall by the Hjon Dyke trap before it made its way along Gilsetter and eventually settled at Setter where it showed quite well this evening. Initial impressions were that this bird's median covert bar was very weak, so it may be a different individual to that seen in the Kirn o'Skroo on Sunday. Hopefully it will show itself tomorrow and allow some photographs to be taken, which may help to prove whether this is indeed a remarkable double appearance.
Other sightings from the last two days include: Barred Warblers at the Obs and Plantation on 20th with birds at Stackhoull and the Haa today, Common Rosefinch trapped in the Vaadal on 20th, a new Wood Warbler on Ward Hill (20th), the first Song Thrush (20th), Goldfinch (21st) and Black Redstart (20th) of the autumn,
2 Sand Martin and 33 Swifts today and reasonable numbers of warblers and other migrants still present. Also today the Good Shepherd crossing produced 2 Storm Petrels, a Minke Whale and 2 White-sided Dolphins, whilst at least 9 Porpoise were seen around the island.
It's not just birds on the move, a few migrant insects have been noted. A couple of Painted Lady butterflies have been seen and several migrant moths have joined the resident species in the traps. This Dark Sword-Grass is a  regular migrant to Fair Isle and is a smart wee beastie, although it perhaps would have been better to have had a plainer background to photograph it on!
The forecast is for light winds for a couple of days, which will hopefully encourage a few birds to get on the move, then easterlies at the end of the week and strong NE winds by the weekend. Exciting times indeed.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Ed of the Arctic

A scorcher of a day (described by one of the harder to please staff as ‘muggy yuck’!) saw the Wardening team out a bit earlier than usual to combine a whole-island Eider count with the daily census, and what a pleasant experience it was, although we got the rare experience of being savaged by midges in a couple of areas as the usual sea breeze deserted us and let the little blighters feast on anyone standing still.
Many of the seabirds have left us now, although a flock of around 60 Arctic Terns remains around the South Light area where they are joined by the occasional Common Tern (2nd from right).
A total of 124 Eiders were logged and, although numbers have fluctuated wildly in the recent autumn counts undertaken, this does seem to be on the lower side, which seems to tally with early indications from the survey from the rest of Shetland.
An earlier start than usual was needed to cover all twenty odd miles of Fair Isle's coast to count all the Eiders. This female was accompanied by two juveniles, but only 20 of the 124 birds counted were this year's youngsters.
There was a general feeling that there had been a bit of a clear out of migrants, but as every optimistic birder on Fair Isle knows, that just means there are fewer birds to sort through to find the good bird! A pleasant sunny day with a light SW wind may not seem like ideal rarity-hunting conditions, but (as mentioned in yesterday’s blog), a shift in the wind can often bring a good bird – and it did! Ed (our current JHMF volunteer featured previously in the picture quiz on this blog a few days back) did the business when he found a fine Arctic Warbler in the Kirn o’Skroo. Initially showing only briefly, Ed relocated the bird in the afternoon where it eventually showed well and started calling, to the happiness of the assembled masses.
The fifth year in a row that Arctic Warbler has been seen on Fair Isle, with this being about the 80th to be recorded here.

The assembled masses.
There were a few other migrants new in, with 3 juvenile Crossbills noted, but counts of most species were generally lower, with 34 Willow Warblers, 5 Chiffchaff, 5 Garden Warbler, 3 Reed Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 4 Whinchat, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Tree Pipit and a Siskin. The ringed Barred Warbler remained in the Obs garden, but was generally elusive.
This rather fed up looking young Crossbill was making do with the closest it could find to a pine tree in the south of the island.
Three Greylags were newly arrived and visible migration of birds heading south included 20 Whimbrel, 4 Swallows and a Raven. Two Green Sandpipers and 2 Greenshank were the most notable of the rest of the waders.
As I type this, the wind is now a light SE and it's drizzling. Surely we couldn't have more birds arrive tomorrow could we...?

Saturday 18 August 2012

Saturday sightings.

Another day of mixed weather, with blazing sunshine giving way to fog brought in on a SE breeze, which blew away in the evening as a fresher SW wind developed.
Highlights were a new Barred Warbler and a lingering Wryneck, whilst good numbers of migrants remained scattered across the island. Warblers were well represented with 102 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 14 Garden Warbler, 5 Reed Warbler, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and a Grasshopper Warbler logged.
The first Goldcrest of the autumn appeared in Grey Geo and other migrants included 2 Fieldfare, 5 Whinchat, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Siskin, Kestrel, 6 Swift and a Woodpigeon.
Despite the rest of the island enjoying sunshine at the time, several migrants (including this Willow Warbler and Pied Flycatcher) preferred the fog-shrouded remains of the WW2 radar station on top of Ward Hill. It really is worth checking everywhere for birds of Fair Isle!
A few waders are also on the move, with the more interesting records including a juvenile Little Stint (on the Sprittery Hole), Ruff, Green Sandpiper, 9 Common Sandpiper, 11 Sanderling and 15 Dunlin.
A change of wind direction can often be a good thing on Fair Isle, so it will be interesting to see whether the recent good run of birds is topped by one more rarity tomorrow. After that, there seems to be a good chance of the winds going back to the east by next weekend - and with September rapidly approaching, things could get really exciting!

Friday 17 August 2012

Latest sightings.

A couple of days of continued easterly wind helped to bring in a few more birds, but thick fog on Thursday afternoon and heavy rain on Friday afternoon hampered birding and perhaps left a few more surprises to be discovered.

Highlights from the 16th were one lingering Citrine Wagtail, the first Red-backed Shrike of the autumn (in Wester Lother) and first Little Stint of the year at Utra. Scarcities included 2 Barred Warblers and a Wryneck, with counts of commoner migrants including 88 Willow Warbler, 15 Garden Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 4 Whinchat, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Tree Pipit, 2 Redstart, 2 Green Sandpiper and singles of Wood Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Fieldfare, Spotted Flycatcher and Greenshank.
The Wryneck on 16th showed very well from the Obs lounge window before heading up to feed in the heather.
As the wind dropped on Thursday night, it became clear that it would be worth trying a Storm Petrel ringing session, so after the live music of a ‘Fair Isle Thursday’, the wardening team trouped out to set up the nets and start a somewhat different soundtrack. A successful night saw over 120 Storm Petrels trapped and many of our visitors getting their first experience of these wonderful seabirds.
Two and a half hours later and the wardening team were up again to open the nets and run the traps before heading out to census the island. It was clear that some new birds had arrived, with four Reed Warblers and two Grasshopper Warblers noted. Other new birds included Siskin, Kestrel, Swift and Sand Martin. Singles of Barred Warbler, Wryneck and Wood Warbler remained and counts of most other migrants remained similar, including 6 Ruff on Meoness.
So the birding continues to be good, the forecast continues to be promising and we’re moving towards the time when anything could turn up, any guesses what we might get this weekend?

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Birds keep coming.

More arrivals today, to add to some lingering species, made for another good day’s birding. The two Citrine Wagtails both lingered and scarcities today included the first two Wrynecks of the autumn (on Dronger and at Chalet) and three Barred Warblers. New arrivals included our first autumn records of Redstart, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat (2), Whitethroat and Tree Pipit, with counts of other migrants including 85 Willow Warblers, 25 Garden Warblers, 6 Pied Flycatchers, 6 Whinchat, 5 Chiffchaff, Fieldfare (our 2nd this month) and a Wood Warbler.

Waders have increased, with 10 Sanderling, 22 Dunlin, 4 Common Sandpiper, 27 Golden Plover, 2 Whimbrel and 6 Ruff amongst others. The 6 Shelduck remained at Muckle Uri Geo and other records included 6 Grey Herons and a Kestrel.
Another day of easterlies and some showers tomorrow could well see some more birds in; you’ve got to love the autumn!

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Tails of the unexpected.

The wind stayed strongly from the east, the rain came (heavily at times) from late morning and more birds arrived. Census started well when a Barred Warbler was trapped in the Gully, with the rest of the morning’s exciting birding producing first a Common Rosefinch in Hjukni Geo, then another Barred Warbler at Steensi, a Citrine Wagtail was star bird of the morning when it was found on Utra scrape before a third Barred Warbler appeared at Midway. Not bad!
With over 65 records, Fair Isle is the best place in Britain to look for Citrine Wagtail, which is fitting given that the first for Britain was trapped here in 1954.
After lunch, the Wardening team headed down to try to get views of the Citrine Wagtail, but managed even better than that, when two were found together at Utra.
Although often seen together, they rarely posed well enough to get both in the same frame! Multiple records are not unprecedented on Fair Isle, but are still unusual - a 'flock' of BBRC rarities is always going to be special. In 2011 there were five Citrine Wagtails: one in August, 3 in September and one in October.
The census totals are likely to be undercounts given the rain and winds, but a good number of migrants included: 2 Wood Warbler, 28 Willow Warbler, 11 Garden Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 7 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Whinchat, 1 Siskin, 6 Ruff, 3 Sanderling, 3 Common Sandpiper and 335 Common Gulls.
More to come? Well, with the Shipping Forecast this afternoon reading 'Fair Isle: Easterly or southeasterly 4 or 5, increasing 6 at times. Rain or showers, fog patches' I wouldn't rule it out.

Monday birds

The south easterlies continued, although the strong winds and glaring sun made for difficult birding at times. Best bird today was a Icterine Warbler (the first of the autumn following a very good spring for the species) in Skinners Glig, alongside a Wood Warbler. Elsewhere there was just one Pied Flycatcher, along with 16 Willow Warblers, 3 Garden Warblers and 3 Chiffchaff.
At South Light the flock of juvenile Shelduck had increased to six, which seems to be the highest count on the island for over 20 years!
With the strong winds set to continue tomorrow and rain on its way, I'm sure there'll be more birds around, although it won't be easy conditions to search for them.

Yesterday's picture quiz featured Ed Tooth (our newest JHMF volunteer) and three of the four Wood Warblers, i.e 'Ed Wood Wood Wood' giving the answer: Edward Woodward. Sorry.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Easterlies come good.

Fair Isle: southeasterly 5 or 6, occasionally 7 later.
And so it goes on. The weather has continued in a similar vein and, as would be expected, more birds are arriving. A very enjoyable day’s birding saw the North cliffs sheltering most of the migrants, with the feeling that we could be building towards some even better stuff; the forecast suggests the wind will stay in the east until next weekend. If you want to join us for the chance of some decent birds then there are still a few spaces available at our 25% discount offer, so you could cash in on some good birding for £45 a night full board.
A common enough migrant, but a Collared Dove on the cliffs of Dronger looked somewhat incongruous.
The rarest bird in local terms was the juvenile Marsh Harrier that went north over the island. Several species made their autumn debuts today, with a Barred Warbler in the Plantation the best of them; others included Pied Flycatcher (5), Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler (2), Grasshopper Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and Crossbill.
Finding four Pied Flycatchers feeding at the bottom of Wester Lother (in a 'flock' alongside 2 Willow Warblers, 2 White Wagtails and a family of Fair Isle Wrens!) was an exciting sign that there was a fall in progress. This one was on the clifftop at Guidicum.
Amongst the other migrants, the four Wood Warblers deserve a special mention (yesterday's bird lingering at the Obs, with three more on the West cliffs including two together at Guidicum) with totals of other species including 17 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, one Blackcap, one Collared Dove and 3 Swift. Waders included 2 Ruff, 10 Dunlin, 3 Green Sandpiper, and a Greenshank, whilst there were 3 Teal and 4 Shelducks.
A Ruff and Dunlin share Easter Lother Water with a couple of Bonxies.

Scanning the cliffs at Dronger for migrants led to the discovery of this Fair Isle Wren feeding chicks behind the rock it is shown sat on here. Britain's rarest bird seems to be having a good breeding season.
Ok then, here's a Fair Isle picture quiz for you to finish the blog post for today. Which Actor (who sadly passed away a couple of years ago) is represented by the following pictures of today's sightings:

Answers on the blog tomorrow!

The start of things to come (touch wood)?

The wind was indeed from the east on Saturday and so it was a very excited wardening team that set off on census. Although there weren’t a huge number of migrants in, there was definitely a certain promise in the air. The first Sedge Warbler of the autumn was backed up by 4 each of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, 2 Swift, 8 Grey Heron, 5 Shelduck, 2 Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper. There were four Porpoise seen in the mirror calm seas off Buness and a Sooty Shearwater and a few Storm Petrels were noted from the Good Shepherd crossing. The most admired seabird of the day though was a juvenile Puffin that flew into the Obs garden during the afternoon before getting stuck behind a fence. It was rescued, ringed and boxed up before being released in North Haven after last orders.

Bird of the day also pitched up in the Obs garden in the afternoon, when a Wood Warbler was found and went on to show brilliantly a few feet from the window before disappearing for a while, then turning up in the Gully trap. Not the rarest of migrants, but a real privilege to get views like that of such a little stunner.
The day finished with clear skies enabling a few of us to go out and watch the Perseids. A few shooting stars have been duly wished upon and if Fair Isle gets the Birdguides ‘red exclamation marks’ tomorrow, you’ll know what we asked for!

Saturday 11 August 2012

Promising forecast...

Fair Isle still looks very summery, with many flowers still in bloom and some lovely weather (although some foggy spells as well), but the autumn is here...
We’re now open again after the break for staff holidays and it couldn’t be better timing to get the following shipping forecast: Fair Isle, southwest backing southeast 4 or 5.
On Fair Isle in the autumn with an easterly wind it feels like anything is possible, but we’ll just have to wait and see what turns up. In the meantime, there have been a few signs that autumn is already with us.
The rarest sighting (in Fair Isle terms) were two Sandwich Terns in South Harbour on 3rd, totally eclipsing (for me at least) the 30 or so White-beaked Dolphins that were cruising north past Meoness at the time! Even better news from the world of terns was the Common Tern that fledged from Buness, the same site that still hosts our only surviving Arctic Skua youngster. Young Puffins are also on the move, with several fledglings heading out to sea.
'Alan' the young Arctic Skua follows a parent across Buness. The only Arctic Skua chick to survive long enough to be ringed, it's amazing it has gone on to survive to fledging and has (so far) avoided the Bonxies.
Storm Petrel trapping has continued (with almost 600 ringed this year), the 4th Leach’s Petrel of the year was caught (in the early hours of the 4th) and others were heard that night and 5th.
A good year for Leach's Petrels, with more heard and seen around the nets than usual. Hopefully there'll be more caught, as petrel ringing can continue into September, weather permitting.
Waders have been well represented, with the lingering Wood Sandpiper remaining until 7th and being joined by a second bird on 4th. There were up to 3 Greenshank, 6 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling (with the first juvenile from 8th), occasional Whimbrel and a Green Sandpiper (4th & 9th). There were fewer wildfowl, although 3 each of Greylag and Wigeon, along with a single Teal, were seen.
A juvenile Dunlin on Easter Lother Water, one of six here.
The first juvenile Willow Warbler appeared on 5th, with up to 3 seen later in the week, and a couple of ‘new’ Chiffchaffs joined the summering birds. A Dunnock (2nd) may have been a summering bird, like the four Robins and Blackbird, but the Fieldfare at Skerryholm on 6th was definitely a new migrant, as were Kestrel (8th), Collared Dove (1st – 7th) and Swifts (3rd & 9th).
Juvenile Willow Warblers are usually amongst the first autumn migrants.
The alba Wagtail roost in the Obs garden started to build up and included the first Whites of the autumn, whilst ringing activity also showed the presence of three juvenile and an adult female Linnet.
The Linnets were all trapped separately over a few days, but the presence of three young juveniles and a female in active primary moult, combined with the sighting of birds nest building at Schoolton for two days in the spring and the presence of at least one adult until mid-July, would strongly suggest breeding on the island. Although Linnets are now relatively common in southern Shetland, this would be a first breeding record for Fair Isle.

Dusky Brocade, one of several species attracted to the moth trap recently.
Bog Asphodel, one of the more beautiful flowers on the island.
Field Gentian is in flower at a few sites on the island now.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Autumn 2012: availability and special offers

Visit in the autumn and you'll see Fair Isle Wren, but who knows what migrants will drop in.

The Obs has now closed for ten days to give staff the chance for a break, although there are still enough people here to take bookings and hopefully find some good birds! We are now taking bookings for accommodation in 2013, but we also still have some spaces in autumn 2012.

August: there are still some spaces scattered from 11th onwards, the whole month qualifies for a discounted rate of 25% off standard room rates. There’ll be Storm Petrel ringing when the weather allows and migrants will include scarcities like Barred Warbler and Common Rosefinch, with the month also having a good track record for rarities like Arctic Warbler, Thrush Nightingale and Citrine Wagtail (along with Pallid Harrier and Great Snipe in August 2011). Recent years have produced Grey-necked Bunting, Siberian Accentor and Syke’s Warbler in August in Norway, so perhaps that gives a hint of things to come…

September: late cancellations mean we’ve still got rooms right up until the 23rd. Anyone in Shetland who fancies popping over to get a taste of the place for one night could do worse than take up the spare room available on the 28th. The Young Person discount (£30 per night full board for under 21s) applies up to 15th September. There’s surely no need to mention the possibilities for the birds you could see in September on Fair Isle…

October: Rooms are available from 4th October to the end of the month. From 13th October there’s a discounted rate of £45 per night per person (full board). For many years in the early 2000s, the 3rd week of October was the time to visit Fair Isle, with a string of megas appearing; who knows what you could turn up if you visit this year…

To make a booking, give us a ring or drop an email with the dates you’d like to visit. If we’ve got availability, we’ll pencil you in whilst you confirm transport – only after that is sorted will you pay us a deposit (the remainder of the bill is paid when you are on the island). All prices are full board in en-suite rooms. Call us on 01595 760258 or email fibo@btconnect.com for enquiries.

Moonlight Shadows

The start of August was heralded by a Petrel ringing session in the Havens in bright moonlight, not exactly the best conditions for trapping birds, but the fact that a Leach’s Petrel was singing in South Haven before we even switched the tape on was a sign of things to come. A total of 28 Storm Petrels trapped was reasonable, but the star of the night was the Leach’s Petrel that was caught.
Tails you win: a comparison of Storm (left) and Leach's Petrel.
All through the night there were regular bouts of calling from unseen Leach’s and occasionally one would circle the nets (showing quite well in the moonlight). At least two birds were involved, but possibly more – whatever the numbers, it was a special night.
Storm Petrels are always a favourite with staff and visitors alike. The amazing lifestyle of these tiny birds adds to their appeal.
By the end of the session, the breeze had picked up from the SE and by Wednesday it was quite strong, with frequent rain. No migrants have been noted yet, but with a calmer day due on Thursday, there'll hopefully be something to be found.

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