Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

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The Obs taken on 21 March 2019

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.

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The Obs taken on 21 March 2019

Message from David and Susannah

We’d like to thank everyone for the support given to our family during the last two weeks. What could have been an overwhelmingly difficult time has been made much easier by the support we have received, practically and emotionally, by so many people. We haven’t had the chance to respond to all the messages wishing us well, but we want people to know that they have all been appreciated and have all helped. In addition, the donations of clothes, toys, books, sweets and many other items have been very useful and have put smiles on the faces of the girls. The amazing fundraising effort will help us to replace many of our lost possessions and set up a new home, now that we’ve been rehoused on the Isle.

There are lots of people we would like to thank, too many to mention here unfortunately, but we have to say thank you to the entire Fair Isle community who have taken care of us exactly how anyone who knows Fair Isle would imagine they would. We also want to thank the firefighting crews from the Isle and elsewhere in Shetland for their tremendous work in tackling the blaze, along with the many others on the Isle who helped them throughout the day and night, as well as the Coastguard and Lifeboat. Shetland Islands Council were immediately in touch with us to offer support in whatever way they could and enabled us to be rehomed within days, which has made adjusting much easier, as has the support given by the FIBOT directors.

We know that the Obs and Fair Isle mean so much to so many of you and we are looking forward to repaying all your support by helping to rebuild FIBO, and seeing you at the Obs in the future.

Best wishes, thank you and good birding

David, Susannah, Grace and Freyja

Update on the Fair Isle Bird Observatory fire

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The Obs taken late on 10 March 2019

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.

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The Obs taken on 11 March 2019

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

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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 ...

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The Observatory with its garden of willows and Rosa bushes against the distinctive backdrop of Sheep Rock, 2015. © James Gentles