Monday, January 31, 2011

Barred Warblers of Autumn - Fair Isle Birds - 2010

Bird Watching?

Barred Warbler
I had at least 3 Barred Warblers in my Garden during Autumn 2010 dating from mid Sept. to mid Oct.

They stayed about 5 days each with a few days between sightings. With such close views it was easy to see they were different birds as the 1st was quite plain with very faint bars. The 2nd was more heavily patterned than any Barred Warbler I have ever seen. Witch is not that many, but I do seem to have one or two every year since I moved to Fair Isle 5 years ago. The 3rd bird had deformed tail feathers. The first Barred Warbler I sighted was eating berries from my black current bush. Soon after it found the apple I had set out for Blackcaps. I saw some disputes among the Blackcaps, Garden and Barred Warblers but the Barred Warblers seemed to easily take control of the area. Most of these photos were taken from the windows of the Auld Haa House where I live.

Barred Warbler - undertail & rear flank

Barred Warbler hunting Bluebottle Fly

Barred Warbler swallowing Bluebottle Fly whole

The first time a birdwatcher pointed out to me I had a Barred Warbler in my garden I hardly thought it was anything to get excited about... really could any bird be much more boring as compared to a first Autumn Barred Warbler? (maybe Brown Flycatcher, LOL) Oh, how things have changed since then, I took so many photos and now have started to note the smallest details. If I could only see a male in full breeding plumage I would jump for joy! but that isn't very likely here on Fair Isle. That said views like these of any bird get me a little excited these days thanks to more experience and a little knowledge. 


yum & bonus!
The Barred Warbler's small bristle feathers near the beak are stuck together from drying apple juice.
This unlucky Bluebottle Fly was also attracted to the sweet tasting apple.

3rd Barred Warbler with manky tail feathers

Barred Warbler resting in the window box and protecting his apple/territory

A few birdwatchers walked all the way down island searching for birds only to find a "Lifer" in my window.

This Barred Warbler is from 2008 I caught it in my garage trying to get out the glass window.
I called Simon the Asst. Warden and he came and gathered it for ringing and then let it go on it's way. 
Show this post to anyone disinterested... those who can't see your fascination with dull grey colourless birds.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fair Isle at War! - Knitwear, Planes and Guns - WW2 History

Love the big gun and how big Fair Isle looks in comparison to Shetland & Orkney

Neptune Magazine Article from Second World War
I just bought this on online and thought I would share it.

Easier to read if you set zoom to 200% on view
and you can read it in 4 languages.

If anyone has anymore Fair Isle at War info please contact me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Seal Pup, Sheep's Wool, Sunrise & Talking Birds - Fair Isle walk with a camera.

Puppy teeth!

Looks happy... to bite you!

Next year that wool is going to make a warm Fair Isle jumper.

Great photo... except the tongue?

found objects

Skadan Water Hazard


Sunrise from the Auld Haa Garden

As I sent my son off to walk to school, I set out for walk with my camera inspired by the mornings sky.
These photos are today's results.

Sunrise South Harbour - Low tide - Fair Isle

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Bishop visits Fair Isle and so do the Birds! - Knitwear & Twitching - memory from Sept. 25th 2008

You can see 2 prototype Mitre Hats made in sample fabric as I cut out the finished products.

I got the call... from the future Episcopal Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney
including Shetland and Fair Isle.

The Very Revd. Robert A. Gillies also know as Bob was awake late one night listening to the radio. Bob heard the story of our coming to Fair Isle from America on the BBC. Bob deiced then if he did need a Mitre Hat made it should be made within his congregation and there is a just the hat maker I need in Fair Isle. It wasn't long after that Bob was selected and needed a Mitre and a matching stole. I found our original phone conversation very humorous at first as Bob didn't really know what type of hats I normally made. As we talked I realized that no one makes Mitre hats in Scotland and I had as much experience as anyone. So much to my surprise I said Yes! I'll do it.

at sewing machine

I couldn't find the fabric I wanted in Lerwick. I asked Bob to find something he liked in St. Andrew's at a bridal or fabric shop. With much back and forth of fabric samples etc. we agreed the very expensive gold fabric was perfect. It also meant no mistakes! Bob sent me the fabric a vintage mitre hat and stole on loan from a previous Bishop. I then could make new patterns and understand construction. I worked out all the logistical problems in the samples with the inexpensive fabrics. This took some time as the learning curve was great. I did manage to finish the Mitre Hat in time for Bob to wear as he was ordained Bishop.

The finished products

We aren't done yet, originally Bob had asked for a stole that incorporated Fair Isle Knitwear?


I contacted Rachel Eunson at Fair Isle Crafts Co-op and asked for her collaboration with the project.  She accepted and to a stunning result. Choosing traditional Fair Isle knitwear patterns with cross shape motifs including the Spanish Armada Cross, Rachel use just the perfect colors of gold and red all symbolic to Christianity. 

Fair Isle Hand Framed Knitting for Bob the Bishop

Now all I had to do is sew a loose stretchy curling piece of precious knitwear to a thick rigid expensive gold material top and bottom with a flimsy backing fabric to the other side... with no mistakes! Have you ever tried to sew 2 pieces of the same fabric together for any distance with out twisting? You couldn"t imagine 3 more different fabrics sewn for 8 feet? on 2 sides? Took some fiddlin' with my tension on the machine but I over came my fears and finally achieved an end result we all can be proud of. 

I finally met "Bob The Bishop" about a year later Sept. 25th 2008

The Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, The Very Revd. Robert A. Gillies outside the Fair Isle Chapel.

Birdwatchers Rejoice!

The day before the Bishop came to Fair Isle on 23th of September 2008 the Birdwatcher were already a exuberant flock with sightings of Fair Isle Specialities "PG Tips" (Pallas Grasshopper Warbler) and a "Lancy" (Lanceolated Warbler) plus Buff-Breasted & Pectoral Sandpipers... and a Red-Throated Pipit!

(Asian) Brown Flycatcher - Rubbish Photo - Amazing Mega Rare Bird! 

With the arrival of Bishop on the 24th also came a Brown Flycatcher in the morning and a Red-Flanked Bluetail just before dinner! Bob being interested in birds he was keen to go "Island Twitching" with me. Other birds noted that day (Rosefinch, Bluethroat, Yellow Browed Warbler & Corncrake) 

Island twitching the Red-Flanked Bluetail in the crop at Kenaby - Fair Isle

It just happened to be my Birthday the 25th of Sept. Bob was going to give a short sermon at the Methodist Chapel in the afternoon. That morning most of the birdwatchers on the island were searching the crofts in the southern end of the isle. I was informed of a Siberian Thrush! Seen up on the north west cliffs at Guidicum. Thank goodness I have a car! it's about 2 miles up hill all the way. My car quickly filled up with birdwatchers, but we still felt sorry for all those we passed along the way. Even after we parked it was quite a hike. Eventually everyone who wanted got to see the bird. I'm sorry all these mega birds were to far away for my camera to take decent photos, but these birds are well documented as Fair Isle records.

One needed a scope and no fear of the afterlife to see the Siberian Thrush from the cliff tops of Fair Isle

The Siberian Thrush flew into a twitching location viewable from one precarious place.

We had great views of the Siberian Thrush thanks to so many scopes being present and sharing birders. After ticking the bird and taking in the scene and scenery we quickly return back to the Auld Haa to find the only 2 birders not viewing the Siberian Thrush with a Arctic Warbler on the roof of my Shed! This caused all the birdwatchers to race back down island as fast as they could...
You never saw a happier bunch of birders breathing so heavy!

Finger Ticking Good... Lifers! British! & Island Ticking away like Mad!

With most of the previous days sightings still on the island I heard one birder refer "it was like Heaven".
I was thinking, thanks for the birthday gifts! For those of you not into "Birdwatching" these birds seen in the UK. maybe a once in a life time experience for those lucky enough to see them. A truly amazing few days of birding.
Bob The Bishop left the next day on the 26th. The same day as a sighting of a Siberian Stonechat!
 I guess Bird Listing is just another way of counting your blessings...

Arctic Warbler I had the pleasure of seeing ringed - Autumn 2010

Good thing Bob heard I was a hat maker on the radio...
if he had first seen this puffin hat he might of had second thoughts.