Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Following the devastating fire which completely destroyed the Obs on 10th March 2019, we have been working extremely hard towards rebuilding it.

At present, we are aiming to reopen in summer/autumn 2021 which we appreciate is a tight schedule given all the work that is involved in building ‘Obs 5’. We are determined to try and meet this target.

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How the new Obs will look when built, with the warden's accommodation on the left. Visualisation by ICA

We intend to post regular updates about our progress in working towards this coupled with news of the ongoing ornithological work we are carrying out.

Other topics can be selected from the 'Fire & rebuild' menu to the left.

Latest sightings




30th March 2020
Weather:
WNW3-4 and sunny 
A pleasant enough day, although still very quiet for birds (as it can be at this time of year when the winds aren't conducive for migration). The start of the School Easter holidays, although under the circumstances, that's less of a big deal than normal, as the School closed last week.

Sightings:
Barnacle Goose, 109 Greylag Goose, Wigeon, 15 Teal, 4 Woodpigeon, 8 Lapwing, 12 Ringed Plover, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull,  'blue' Fulmar (one circling around the Fog Horn at North Light), Hen Harrier, Long-eared Owl (one at Schoolhouse was a bit of a surprise given the lack of other migrants; first of the year), 2 Merlin (adult male and female), Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, Chiffchaff (Chalet), 2 Blackbird, 9 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, Dunnock (Haa), Meadow Pipit (singing), 2 Chaffinch.

Year List:
83
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29th March 2020
Weather:
WNW4-5, cloudy and cold with some light showers
Beached Bird Survey today - very quiet for birds both on the beaches and elsewhere though.

Sightings:
Barnacle Goose, 106 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, Wigeon, 14 Teal, 5 Woodpigeon, 9 Lapwing, 15 Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sparrowhawk, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, Chiffchaff (Chalet), 3 Blackbird, 5 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock (singing at Burkle; first of the year), Chaffinch.

Year List:
82
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28th March 2020
Weather:
NNW5-6, sunny spells before totally clouding over and some light snow showers
Far less spring-like now and distinctly wintry.

Sightings:
2 Pink-footed Goose (battling north over Buness), Whooper Swan, Wigeon (female on Da Water), 15 Teal, 3 Woodpigeon, 8 Lapwing, Golden Plover, 17 Ringed Plover, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Peregrine (adult female), Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, Redwing, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch.

Year List:
81
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27th March 2020
Weather:
WNW3-4, sunny but cool
Still a nice enough day (albeit with the temperature feeling less spring-like), but the change in wind appeared to have held up migration for now. It was confirmed following a meeting with FIBOT and the FIBO team, that the seasonal staff's arrival to the Isle would have to be delayed due to the ongoing situation with coronavirus, which will obviously have an impact on the season. The situation will continue to be reviewed and we'll keep posting updates on the website. In the meantime, sightings will be updated regularly, although there will be no systematic census for the time being at least. 
 
Sightings:
Barnacle Goose, Whooper Swan, Shoveler (male), 4 Woodpigeon, 10 Lapwing, 12 Ringed Plover, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 4 Black-headed Gull, Great Skua (one past Buness), Guillemot (several on cliffs), Puffin (one off South Light),  Chiffchaff (Obs), 'Fair Isle Wren' (singing on Buness), 2 Redwing, Song Thrush, Stonechat (female trapped in Double Dyke), 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Chaffinch.

Year List:
81
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26th March 2020
Weather:
SW2-3, sunny with just an occasional cloud. Mild
It's good to be back. A very pleasant wander around parts of the North showed that there were a few birds on the move and it felt distinctly spring-like.

Sightings:
Whooper Swan, Shoveler (male), Water Rail (Chalet), Lesser Black-backed Gull, Bonxie (one over Easter Lother; first of the year and earliest arrival since 2016), Guillemot (hundreds on sea), Razorbill (hundreds on sea, and several returning to colonies), 2 Puffin (singles off the Holms and in Furse; first of the year), Sparrowhawk (female heading high north that was probably the same bird seen later in the Plantation, where it caught a male Blackbird), Merlin (female), Rook, Carrion Crow, Chiffchaff (Chalet), Goldcrest (Chalet), 23 Blackbird (an obvious small fall of thrushes), 10 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, Stonechat (male, Wirvie Burn), 2 Chaffinch, Twite (singing at the Restengeos).



Other wildlife:
Peacock:
one at Barkland, an unusual spring occurence of a butterfly
Grey Seal:
215 hauled out on Wirvie, Jivvy and Easter Lother alone

Year List:
81
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21st-25th March 2020
After a relatively quiet spell, a couple of days of murky, windy weather on 23rd-24th gave way to a calm, sunny day on 25th. The Parnabys returned to the Isle on the latter day and a few signs of passage were noted.

Highlights:
Iceland Gull:
North Light on 25th

Other sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, 114 Greylag Goose, 38 Pink-footed Goose (passage on 25th), 3 Whooper Swan (22nd), Shoveler (male on Da Water from 23rd; first of the year),  Wigeon (25th), 23 Teal (25th), Red-breasted Merganser (female, 25th), 6 Woodpigeon, 34 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, Golden Plover (25th), 2 Black-headed Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull (24th; first of the year), Grey Heron (23rd-24th), Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl (21st), Peregrine (juvenile female 25th), Rook (24th-25th; first of the year), 3 Carrion Crow, 170 Skylark (with singing first noted from 25th), Chiffchaff (Chalet, 25th; first of the year, four days earlier than 2019 and earliest since 2017), Goldcrest (21st-25th; first of the year, earliest arrival since 2016), 8 Blackbird, Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, Robin, Black Redstart (male, Lower Stoneybrek 25th), Stonechat (female), Pied Wagtail (21st-25th), 15 Meadow Pipit (light passage throughout), Chaffinch (male from 22nd), Brambling (Obs, 25th; first of the year), Snow Bunting, Reed Bunting (Chalet, 25th).

Year list:
79
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16th-20th March 2020

Sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
118 Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, 12 Teal, 5 Woodpigeon, 27 Ringed Plover, 79 Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Razorbill (coming into the Holms), Cormorant (18th-19th; first of the year), Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl (20th), Merlin, Peregrine (adult female), 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Blackbird, Fieldfare, 3 Song Thrush, Robin, 3 Stonechat (two males and a female), Siskin (male; 17th), 2 Snow Bunting, Reed Bunting (3rd; first of the year).

Year list:
72
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11th-15th March 2020

Highlights:
White-tailed Eagle:
12th-13th, an immature over Hoini (seen from the fire truck during an exercise!) which drifted high south out to sea at 0720hrs the following morning
Iceland Gull:
2CY on 11th

Other sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, 123 Greylag Goose, Whooper Swan, Long-tailed Duck (male, 13th), 5 Woodpigeon, 15 Lapwing, 75 Turnstone, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, 230 Skylark, 3 Blackbird, Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, Robin, 3 Stonechat (two males and a female), 2 Snow Bunting.

Year list:
70
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6th-10th March 2020

Sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, 150 Greylag Goose, Whooper Swan, 12 Mallard, 13 Teal, 6 Woodpigeon (peak count on 10th), 2 Water Rail, Black-headed Gull, Hen Harrier (ringtail), Merlin, Peregrine, 210 Skylark, 4 Blackbird, 9 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush [with virtually no thrushes by the end of the period], 2 Robin, Black Redstart (7th; first of the year), 3 Stonechat (two males and a female on 8th was the peak), Chaffinch (9th; first of the year), 7 Twite, 2 Siskin (10th; first of the year).

Year list:
69
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1st-5th March 2020

Sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, 219 Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, 14 Teal, 2 Woodpigeon (3rd; first of the year), Water Rail, 46 Oystercatcher, 7 Lapwing, Golden Plover, 24 Ringed Plover, 210 Turnstone,  85 Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Hen Harrier (ringtail still), Merlin, Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 165 Skylark (5th; as numbers fluctuated during spring passage), 9 Blackbird, 25 Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush [a general clear-out of thrushes was noted], Stonechat (male from 1st-4th, with 2 on 5th; first of the year), Pied Wagtail (5th; first of the year), Meadow Pipit, 6 Snow Bunting, Reed Bunting (3rd; first of the year).

Year list:
66
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26th-29th February 2020

Sightings:
Long-tailed Duck (26th), Merlin.

Year list:
62
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21st-25th February 2020

Highlights:
Iceland Gull:
adult on Meoness on 21st

Other sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, 8 Teal, 22 Lapwing (flock arrived on 23rd), 6 Ringed Plover (23rd), Dunlin (one in the south with Turnstones on 23rd-24th; first of the year), 10 Curlew, 56 Redshank, Hen Harrier (ringtail reappeared in the south), Short-eared Owl (24th), Merlin, Peregrine (adult female).

Year list:
62
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16th-20th February 2020

More stormy weather, interspersed with some slightly less stormy weather. Generally cool, with wintry showers.

Highlights:
Iceland Gull: 2cy in South Harbour on 17th

Other sightings (counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, 6 Wigeon, 13 Teal, Long-tailed Duck (South Harbour; 18th), Water Rail (Burkle), 41 Oystercatcher,  Lapwing (20th; first of the month), Ringed Plover, 8 Curlew, 250 Turnstone (minimum), 33 Redshank, Merlin, Peregrine (adult male; first of the month), Carrion Crow (Parks), Skylark, c50 Redwing, c10 Fieldfare, 2 Twite, Snow Bunting.

Year list: 61
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11th-15th February 2020
The generally stormy start to the year continued, although a slight lull in mid-week did at least allow planes to fly and the Good Shepherd IV to sail. There was little in the way of movement, although a couple new species for the year were noted.

Highlights:
Iceland Gull:
2cy again in South Harbour on 11th

Other sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, 7 Wigeon, 18 Mallard, 18 Teal, Goldeneye (Golden Water, 15th; first of the year), Water Rail (Burkle), 21 Oystercatcher,  Ringed Plover (2 in North Haven, 11th; first of the year. Four days earlier than the first arrival date in 2019), 15 Curlew, c300 Turnstone, Merlin, Carrion Crow (the resident Setter bird still present), Skylark, 2 Twite, Snow Bunting.

Year list:
61
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6th-10th February 2020

Highlights:
Iceland Gull:
2cy in South Harbour on 9th

Sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, 122 Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, 8 Wigeon, 14 Mallard, 18 Teal, Water Rail (Chalet), 16 Oystercatcher (9th), Golden Plover (7th; first of the year), 5 Gannet (on Stacks on 9th), Sparrowhawk (Schoolhouse on 9th), Hen Harrier (ringtail), 11 Fieldfare, Robin, 4 Twite.

Year list:
59
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1st-5th February 2020

Sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, 12 Teal, Water Rail (Burkle), 4 Oystercatcher, Sparrowhawk (Vatnagaard, 2nd; first of year), Hen Harrier (ringtail), 2 Merlin, 14 Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush (lingering near Barkland), 2 Robin, 17 Twite.

Year list:
58
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25th-31st January 2020

Sightings (counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
142 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose (a second bird arrived on the last day of the month), Whooper Swan, 19 Mallard, 14 Teal, Common Scoter (Haven), Long-tailed Duck, 2 Water Rail (Burkle and Chalet), Lapwing, 220 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 'blue' Fulmar (South Light, 25th), Hen Harrier (ringtail), Short-eared Owl (School Brae, 29th; first of the year), 2 Merlin, Peregrine (adult male, 29th), 10 Blackbird, 14 Fieldfare, 13 Redwing, 6 Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush (lingering near Barkland), 3 Robin.

Year list: 56
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21st-24th January 2020
Weather:
largely SW or S winds, often quite strong and showery, with a calm day on 22nd seeing the island shrouded in fog.

Sightings
(counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
117 Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose (Utra, 24th; first of the year), 3 Whooper Swan, 7 Wigeon, 12 Teal, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter (Haven), Hen Harrier (ringtail still lingering), Water Rail (Burkle), Oystercatcher, Lapwing, 2 Purple Sandpiper, Merlin, Mistle Thrush (Rippack on 21st then wandering the Isle; first of the year), 8 Song Thrush, 3 Robin.

Year list: 55
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16th-20th January 2020
Weather:
variably windy, often quite strong and predominantly from the SW.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Little Auk:
one off Wirvie on 20th, first of the year

Other sightings:
3
Whooper Swan (the lingering adult and two new adults from 18th), Merlin, Snow Bunting (Upper Stoneybrek on 18th; first of the year).

Year list:
53
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11th-15th January 2020
Weather:
some big storms moving through and mostly not very pleasant weather.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull:
adult on 11th

Other sightings:
Long-tailed Duck (Haven), Common Scoter (Furse), Great Northern Diver (Furse on 13th; first of the year), Hen Harrier (ringtail still present), Merlin.

Year list: 51
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6th-10th January 2020
Weather:
generally windy, with some strong S and SW winds, often showery.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull:
2 2CY (1W) at Setter on 7th, with one still on 8th-9th
Glaucous Gull:
3 2CY on 7th, 5 (adult and 4x 2CY) on 8th

Other sightings (counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
85 Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, 4 'European White-fronted Goose', Whooper Swan, 5 Wigeon, 15 Teal, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser (North Haven and Furse, 6th-7th; first of the year), Oystercatcher, Purple Sandpiper, Song Thrush.

Year list:
50
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2nd-5th January 2020

Weather: variable, with 4th being a calm and very pleasant day, but NW then SW gales and strong winds either side of it. Some heavy rain at times, and largely cloudy.
No real signs of movement, and the strong winds didn't bring any large numbers of gulls (so the high Glauc count was a bit of a surprise), but a few more bits and pieces picked up for the year list.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull: 6 on 3rd (adult, 4cy and 4 x 2cy)

Other sightings (counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
Pink-footed Goose, 4 'European White-fronted Goose', Whooper Swan, 6 Wigeon, 6 Teal, Long-tailed Duck (2 in South Harbour on 4th; first of the year), Hen Harrier (ringtail still present), Water Rail (Burkle), Oystercatcher, 3 Lapwing, 20 Curlew, 15 Purple Sandpiper (South Light on 4th; first of the year), Black-headed Gull, Guillemot (plenty offshore on 5th), Peregrine (3rd; first of the year), Merlin, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Robin (Utra and Lower Leogh).

Year list: 49
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Wednesday 1st January 2020
Weather: moderate WSW wind, largely cloudy but dry, relatively mild, although cooler in the breeze.
Happy New Year everyone! After an enjoyable night of guising, the year started, as always, with a day of getting the year list going. Greylag was the first species to make it onto the year list with the wintering flock making a racket before light and, in better weather than we often get on 1st January, a decent tally was achieved (the highest January 1st total since the record breaking year of 2014) with a few interesting wintering species logged (although nothing new was found on the day and most species would be ones that would be expected to be found later in the year).

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull: 2; adult and 4cy or 5cy in roost at Easter Lother Water
Iceland Gull: 2cy off Bergaroo

Other sightings (counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
c120 Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, 4 'European White-fronted Goose', Whooper Swan, 9 Wigeon, 6 Teal, Common Scoter (North Haven), Hen Harrier (roving ringtail), Water Rail (Burkle), Oystercatcher (Skadan), 5 Lapwing, 23 Curlew, Woodcock (Boini Mire), Black-headed Gull (adult), Guillemot (good numbers ashore), 2 Merlin, Carrion Crow (Leogh), 3 Skylark (Lower Leogh), 10+ Blackbird, c20 Fieldfare, c70 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, Robin (Chalet), Meadow Pipit (Shirva).

Other species recorded:
Mallard, Eider, Fulmar, Gannet (small numbers offshore), Shag, Turnstone, Snipe, Redshank, Kittiwake (small numbers offshore), Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Tystie, Rock Dove, Hooded Crow, Raven, 'Fair Isle Wren', Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Pipit.

Year list: 46
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26th-31st December 2019
Cheerio to 2019 and all your adventures, welcome to 2020 everyone, a year of great opportunity and excitement! 2019 was a great birding year all in all, let's see what 2020 brings... Thanks to everyone for your support during the year.

The last sunset of the year from Schoolhouse (David Parnaby)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Waxwing: 2 arrived on Boxing Day at Schoolhouse (after one was seen at Brecks in the morning) then just one on 29th-30th.
Glaucous Gull: adult on South Green (29th) with 3 adults on 30th
Iceland Gull: 1CY over Easter Lother on 26th, with one in South Harbour the following day

Other sightings (counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
111 Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, 4 'European White-fronted Goose', Whooper Swan, 8 Wigeon, 15 Mallard, 8 Teal, Common Scoter (North Haven), 2 Long-tailed Duck (South Harbour), Hen Harrier (ringtail seen again on 30th-31st), Oystercatcher, 5 Lapwing, Golden Plover, 2 Woodcock (Bergaroo and Wirvie, 26th), 75 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull (30th), 2 Merlin, Peregrine, 3 Song Thrush (Obs, 31st with small numbers elsewhere; an unusually high winter presence), a few Robin (including one at North Light), 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Twite.

Other Wildlife:
Common Skate - a large individual (230cm from snout to tail tip) washed up dead on South Harbour beach, with a 'mermaid's purse' on the same beach also belonging to this species.

Common Skate, South Harbour (Nick Riddiford)

Year list: 216
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21st-25th December 2019
Merry Christmas everyone, from all at FIBO

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull: 1CY over Meoness on 24th

Other sightings (counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
2 Wigeon, 6 Teal, Common Scoter (North Haven), 2 Long-tailed Duck, Hen Harrier (ringtail around Skerryholm, 24th; an unusual midwinter arrival), Water Rail (Chalet), 3 Lapwing, Golden Plover, c300 Turnstone, Short-eared Owl (Da Water, 25th), Merlin, Peregrine (adult male), Guillemot (lots ashore on 24th), 3 Carrion Crow, 21 Hooded Crow, 10 Fieldfare, 5 Song Thrush, 3 Robin, Meadow Pipit, Redpoll sp? (24th), 9 Snow Bunting.

Year list: 216
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16th-20th December 2019

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull: 1CY on 17th.
Glaucous Gull: 1CY on 18th-19th.

Other sightings (counts refer to maximum in period unless otherwise stated):
114 Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, 4 'European White-fronted Goose' (2 adults and 2 juveniles), Whooper Swan, 4 Wigeon, 14 Mallard, 8 Teal, 2 Common Scoter (Haven), 2 Long-tailed Duck (South Harbour), Grey Heron (over School, 17th), 3 Water Rail (Haa, Burkle and Barkland), Golden Plover, Woodcock (Gully, 16th), 46 Redshank, 2 Merlin, Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Skylark, 15 Blackbird (thrush counts are minimum and usually just from the south of the Isle), 5 Fieldfare, 77 Redwing, 5 Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush (School Brae, 18th; an unusual winter occurence), 5 Robin, Meadow Pipit.

Merlin, Johnny Arcus Park, 16th December (David Parnaby)

Year list: 216
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