Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Fair Isle Part two

An early breakfast at the hotel and we headed back up to Sumburgh Head Lighthouse so Bert and Steve could check for the Western Bonelli's Warbler. However, it had sadly departed overnight so we headed towards Lerwick to pick up supplies (especially required in Steve's case as his luggage had not yet arrived).
From there we drove on towards Tingwall airstrip in plenty of time for our flight to Fair Isle. Careful packing had meant that my luggage weight was bang on maximum allowance of 15kg (basically 11kg of camera gear and 4kg of socks, jocks, t-shirts and stuff!).

This had meant leaving my tripod and head behind and instead making do with just a monopod. As it happened it worked out fine and it was far easier to carry my lens and camera around on a monopod rather than drag a tripod and wimberley head around with it too.

Terminal One - Tingwall International

Flight 001
Our flight was full (four of us and the pilot), pre-flight checks out of the way and we were up in the air. Within half an hour we were passing over the northern tip of Fair Isle and minutes later we touched down smoothly on the island's air-strip. We were met by the Bird Obs mini-van which transferred us to the Obs for lunch and an introductory briefing.

North Light, Fair Isle

Checking nothing fell off en route

The smug look of a man who is just about to begin his week on Fair Isle
After lunch I dropped my stuff up to my room (a family room - en suite with a double bed, a bunk bed and a view of the observatory garden...nice!!). And then it was time for some birding.

By Fair Isle standards the first afternoon was uneventful. I enjoyed watching the Bonxies flying around the moorland and the Fulmars gliding along the cliff edges. Cronking Ravens overhead and flocks of Twite were something you don't see too often in Norfolk either. I birded the south of the island at first, getting to know the lie of the land and the names of the some of the places (Setter, Pund, Chalet and so on). The still present juvenile Pallid Harrier made a few passes, quartering low over the stone walls, the crofts and (of course) the sheep.

Juvenile Pallid Harrier, Fair Isle, Shetland
At least two juvenile Hen Harriers were present also and it was useful to make the comparisons.
At Chalet I stopped to take some photos of the resident Twite flock as they perched on the fences and preened.

Twite, Fair Isle, Shetland
The first afternoon flew past, as the shadows lengthened it was time to make our way back to the Obs.

Looking north towards Chalet
As I strolled back I flushed a small bird from the edge of the ditch onto a stone wall. Yellow-browed Warbler, the first one of the autumn! It posed nicely on a lichen covered stone before dropping over the other side of the wall and out of sight.

Yellow-browed Warbler, Fair Isle
With that it was back to Obs for dinner, a bottle of ale and the evening log.

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