Bird Observatory & Guesthouse
Update – 25th March 2019
Karen, Pete and Dave managed to get into Fair Isle last Thursday in between gales. A beautiful day but the first glimpse of the isle from the plane had a noticeable gap. It was a sobering experience - seeing the scale of the devastation up close and hearing first hand from those there at the time. We are currently working through the insurance process and starting to make arrangements for ornithological work during 2019. We are working closely with Shetland Islands Council, the Fair Isle community and other agencies, and hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll be able to start planning the rebuild.
Update on the Fair Isle Bird Observatory fire
We are extremely saddened to report that the entire building has suffered extreme damage from the fire and has been completely destroyed. Investigations into the cause of the fire are underway and at this time we don't want to speculate any further. We know that it was reported around 11:20 on Sunday morning (10th March). Thankfully, nobody was in the building at the time and are very pleased to confirm that David and Susannah Parnaby and their girls are safe. We'd also like to confirm that the wealth of bird census data collected by the Observatory since 1948 data are digitised and backed up safely. We have of course lost things that are irreplaceable including original artwork by Richard Richardson, George Waterson's hand-written diaries, and donated private libraries like those from Richard and George.
We would like to give our sincere thanks to all the fire crews and emergency services who worked tirelessly to try and save the building. This included the local Fair Isle fire crew who were joined by colleagues from Lerwick and Sandwick in Shetland. We'd also like to thank the Maritime & Coastguard Agency Rescue helicopter and the crews of the RNLI lifeboat and SIC's pilot boat for their assistance in transporting fire crew and equipment to the island. We are indebted to the Fair Isle Community for their continued support of FIBO and particularly for taking care of David, Susannah, Grace and Freyja at this time of need.
We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from across the globe - from Shetland, the birding community and beyond - with many folk asking for details of how they can donate. We have comprehensive insurance, so at least at this time, we are not launching a major fund-raising campaign. There will inevitably be elements where the full cost of the disaster will not be fully covered by insurance, and once the situation becomes clearer we may launch future appeals for help to replace specific items. However, if you would like to make a donation to help support the key work of FIBO whilst we get back on our feet then that would be very much appreciated (see our Make a Donation page).
We will not be able to honour bookings for 2019 or 2020 and the refund of deposits will be processed in due course. There is limited accommodation elsewhere on the island. Our priority now is to support David and Susannah with a medium-term aim to continue with as much ornithological census and research work as is feasible in the circumstances. We are all still in a state of shock but are committed to rebuilding and continuing the important work of the Bird Observatory.
Signed FIBO Directors, 11th March 2019
Welcome to the Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Guesthouse. We are proud of our long tradition of welcoming visitors to Fair Isle and of our continuous scientific research into seabirds and bird migration since 1948. The Observatory, built in 2010, offers 3-star accommodation for visitors to the island from April to October and houses a team of wardens, a Ranger (funded by SNH) and other staff. More ...