Weekend on Fair Isle

Just back from a long weekend on Fair Isle. I am chairman of the Bird Observatory Trust and we are building a new bird observatory on Britain’s most isolated inhabited island. On Friday, it was very exciting to see the new building sitting so well in the landscape as we circled in on the Islander aircraft from Shetland. It was my first chance to see the building, which was built in sections in Orkney and shipped to the island. It’s the result of our £4 million funding appeal and is looking on time for opening next spring. I was there with our architect to check progress with Deryk and Hollie Shaw, our warden and administrator, who live on the island, and to discuss final details of the internal working of the Observatory. It’s a fantastic improvement and Hollie will be taking next year’s bookings from early January. Fair Isle is just such a wonderful island to visit for birdwatchers and island lovers, so if you’ve never been you really should go, and if you’ve been before please come and try out the new building.

As I landed on Friday I hoped to see some good birds because the wind was in the south-east and looked very hopeful for exciting rare birds from the east. There were hordes of blackbirds, fieldfares and redwings, and a good scattering of woodcock, but sadly the rain and high winds made bird-watching extremely difficult , and my best sightings were a woodlark and some tame jack snipe. While there, I logged in to check on the satellite tagged birds, and it is just the young osprey, Rothiemurchus, which has still to settle down in his first wintering area in West Africa. At the moment he is still moving up and down the Atlantic coast of Mauritania. I wonder if he will stay there or move further south to Senegal.

Check out: www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk and www.fairisle.org.uk

The new bird observatory

The view across South Haven