Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Updates relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Update from 17th April 2020

The Government’s latest guidance that the current lockdown restrictions are set to continue into May means that FIBO will continue to operate without seasonal staff for the foreseeable future. In addition, the staff permanently present on the Isle (the Warden and Administrator) are restricted in their daily activities by ensuring that they stick to the current guidelines. This means that monitoring activities and ringing are currently limited to those that are able to be undertaken as part of permitted daily exercise or can be done from FIBO’s temporary base at the Schoolhouse.

Whilst we will continue to publish bird news and latest sightings on our website and social media, these are not directly comparable with census counts from across the Isle in previous years. That said, we’re hopeful that between the FIBO staff and several keen Islanders (including two former FIBO wardens!) that there’ll still be plenty to report. With over 70 years of continuous data collection, it is a shame we have not been able to operate as usual this year, although the long-term data set should not be harmed by having a gap of one year, but there was simply no way of carrying on, and our priority is obviously the well-being of all on the Isle.

Although Fair Isle is fortunate in having had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this point in time (17th April), that is not to say that there is no chance of the virus arriving on the Isle. Anyone requiring hospital treatment would have to leave the Isle and, whilst this can be complicated at the best of times, the current situation makes it potentially even more difficult. This means that the Fair Isle community is especially vulnerable to any outbreak. FIBOT recognises the importance of doing all that we can to minimise any chance of the virus arriving on the Isle and to ensure that, were it to happen, transmission amongst the community is minimised.

As would be expected, visits to the Isle are currently not permitted (other than for essential workers), and our lifeline links to Shetland Mainland (flights from Tingwall operated by AirTask and the Good Shepherd IV ferry sailings to Grutness) are currently working to restricted timetables.

At some point, things will return to normal and we look forward to those days, in the meantime, we hope you all stay safe. We’re sure a few of you may be managing to add species to your garden list, or have discovered new local patches. We’d love to see a few FIBO hoodies, baseball caps or mugs getting used as you see a few birds that we’re unlikely to get up here – so please send us your pictures on Twitter (@FI_Obs).

Best wishes from David, Susannah and the FIBOT Directors, 17th April 2020

Update from 27th March 2020

Following a meeting of FIBOT and the FIBO Warden, we have taken the difficult decision to suspend the start of the season.

As well as taking into account the official advice of the UK and Scottish Governments and Shetland Islands Council, we have been in regular discussions with the Isle community and we’d like to thank them for their input.

Whilst following all advice, it is still possible to access most of the Isle, so the Warden and other birders who live here there will still be recording as many of the birds present as possible, and some ringing will be able to continue for the time being at least. To this end, we will still be releasing bird news from the Isle, but this is obviously intended for information only, and nobody is expected to attempt to travel to Fair Isle for birding (note that AirTask are taking bookings only from Isle residents and essential visitors, the Good Shepherd is not taking passenger bookings and charter flights for anything other than essential visitors will not be given permission to land at the Airstrip).

We will continue to review the situation throughout the season and will keep you updated with any changes.