Monday, February 28, 2011

White-Fronted Goose? Greenland? and the return of the Twite!

White-Fronted Goose possibility of the Greenland flavor- Flavirostris

Bold black patches?
Luck to get a close photo today in good light... What do you think?

White-Fronted & Pink-Footed

Patches on the other side.

Welcome Back!

Seven Twite returned yesterday sitting on the metal birdfeeder holder and the roof of my house screeching at me while out in the garden. As if to say... we are hungry! where is the feeder! Okay I said and rushed in to to fill it. The wind had blown the niger seed feeder off the hook ages ago and I haven't seen a Twite in my garden since November so I had not replaced it. Soon they were feeding away. I would guess these birds must of been here before? I wonder where they have been?

Homemade Niger Seed Feeder... Made with a lambs bottle, a hot nail to melt holes and barbecue skewers. 


Crocuses in full bloom today! no wind and the 3rd sunny day in a row!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Free Bird!

Great Black-Backed Gull - Found dead on the Beach -  Wingspan over 5 feet.
photo by Henry, he wanted to make it looked like my head had wings...
Sunny Days!

Tidepooling in a t -shirt. The kids played outside all day. Henry caught this small Shanny Blenny, starfish, crabs, etc.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring has Sprung? First Flowers of the Year!

The Crocuses are up! first sign of Spring.

Today was the first sunny day in over two weeks!

It was comparatively warm with a south western breeze. My early flowers have been waiting for a chance to bloom. As we found time to get outside for a walk. Henry even caught a frog in our back pond.

Mini Daffodil

I found a bit of shipwreck on the South Harbour Beach. The wood is mahogany and it is held together with copper rivets. It seems to have been from a small boat, maybe a yoal or skiff. Possibly a section of the bow as in this photo you see the inside port section sort of upside down?

Thomas "The Ministers Cat" now residing with us at the Auld Haa had a pleasant day outside even though you can't tell by that look on his face.

Oystercatchers & Turnstones - The Keels & The Skerry

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You have some Gull showing up like this!

A interesting Gull showed it's face in my Garden Today.

I got excited for a moment today when this Gull showed up...thinking at first it might be? a winter Franklin's Gull? or something like that? Sure there are plenty of Black Headed Gulls around but all the others are in winter plumage with mostly white heads. Also Black Headed Gulls have dark brown heads and this one looked dark grey/black? it even had a white tail in flight with no black? The Colins guide shows black on all BHG's shown in the book? Well it was anticlimactic, but I did a minute or two of  birdwatching excitement on a other wise grey rain day.

I guess I'm not the only one who can't wait for Spring. This gull is starting it's Summer plumage early?

All the other Black Headed Gulls around here look like this at the moment...
In the South Harbor with the other Black Headed Gulls.
I'm still learning... and Gull identifications are not easy for me.
If I have made a mistake and it could possibly be a rare Gull? please let me know. Cheers

Monday, February 21, 2011

Goose! Goose! Goose! White-Fronted - Greylag - Pink-Footed

White-Fronted - Greylag - Pink-Footed
 I got a call from Nick that a Greenland White-Fronted Goose was on the field below Springfield and Houll. When I got there I took these two photos below Quoy. I think this is just European White-Fronted Goose? it could be a 1st winter Greenland? The better marked Greenland White-Fronted was far a field in the middle of the crowd. There was no way to get close enough with my camera not to spook the closest ones then losing them all to flight. So I just left them, I had better views with my bins.

White among the Greys

This Whooper Swan seemed quite tame after last weeks Bewick's.

Whooper among the Shetland Kale at Aesterhoull

Wood Pigeon feeding under my bird feeder... That's two new bird for the year!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stevenson's South Lighthouse - Fair Isle - Northern Lighthouse Board - Scotland

South Lighthouse (Scadan) Fair Isle

Northern Lighthouse Board supply vessel, unloaded using a helicopter.

Plaque on the wall near entrance.

Reflections on the past.

Postcard circa 1904  note the roof shape was changed after WW2 bombing rebuild.

Two views from the South Harbour - calm at low tide - below waves after a gale.


View of the South Lighthouse from the cliff tops of Malcomn's Head

South Lighthouse, Fair Isle, Details:
Year Established 1892 Engineer David A & Charles Stevenson

Position Latitude 59° 30.858'N Longitude 001° 39.206'W

Character Flashing (4) White every 30 SecsElevation32 metres Nominal Range22 nautical miles StructureWhite tower 26 metres high. There are 96 steps to the top of tower.FoghornHorn (2) every 60 seconds

Northern Lighthouse Boards History & Info:

There are two lighthouses on Fair Isle the South (Skaddan) and the North (Skroo). The machinery and equipment at the South Light were almost identical to that at the North Light. A noticeable difference to the visitor, however, is that the height to the light from the ground is 73 feet - another 26 feet of stair-climbing against that required at the North Light.During an air attack in December 1941, the wife of an Assistant Lightkeeper (Mrs Sutherland) was killed and her infant daughter slightly hurt. Six weeks after this the wife and daughter of Principal Lightkeeper (Smith) were killed when a second air attack produced a direct hit on the main dwelling block at 3.45pm on 21 January 1942. Two bombs were dropped in this attack, the first registered a direct hit on the west gable end of the main block of dwelling houses. The main building and spare caught fire and were completely burnt out.Roderick Macaulay, Assistant Lightkeeper, walked 3 miles from the North Lighthouse where he and his daughter had a narrow escape in a former raid. Through snowdrifts and gale force winds he journeyed to lend a hand in restoring the South Light to operational order, and back again in the dark to take his own regular watch; he received the BEM for outstanding services.A plaque in memory of the War dead was erected by the Northern Lighthouse Board and Scotland’s Lighthouse Museum on the boundary wall of the Station in March 1998.

There is no mains electricity supply on Fair Isle apart from a local wind generator and constant running generators were provided in a modernised engine room. These were diesel driven sets of 50 kVA capacity, the prime movers being of Gardner manufacturer. The alternators were "Brushless" from Markon Engineering Ltd, of single phase type.
The fog signal used compressed air type where the energy can be stored in the air receivers and quickly expelled to give the character of two blasts of 1.5 seconds duration every 60 seconds. The compressors to supply the necessary air were electrically driven from the main station generators. The fog signal was replaced with an electric emitter type during the automation.

The Keepers left Fair Isle South Lighthouse on the 31 March 1998 for the last time; this was the last Scottish manned lighthouse to be automated.

South Lighthouse in the morning snow with a Grey Heron flying by.

Seal Pup at Muckle Yuri Geo tidepools just below the Lighthouse

I love taking pictures of the lighthouse at sunset.

FAIR Isle at Sea – thy lovely name
Soft in my ear like music came.
That sea I loved, and once or twice
I touched at isles of Paradise. 
                                                 Robert Louis Stevenson 

Nice place for my artist studio though it is a bit disracting as I am always looking out the window.

Friday, February 18, 2011

White Winged Gull

It can't be? it must be an albino?

Today's self found garden tick again... but today I got a photo I could zoom in on.
As seen from the Auld Haa - among Oystercatchers, a Hooded Crow and Fulmars
South Harbour cliff edge, Meoness

second winter?
There has been both Iceland and Glaucous Gulls around for weeks now. This one was so white!
The others I saw on Valentine's Day were creamed coffee color with modelling and or streaking.
It might be that this bird was just blown dry today?

I would gladly trade it for a Blue Tit? as this kind of stuff is getting to be the norm around here lately.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Goldeneye! South Harbour - Fair Isle Tick

Goldeneye! record shot
Look what I found! A rare Fair Isle Goldeneye in the South Harbour walking home from the Kirki Geo Cemetery after Stewart's burial today. I had only once seen a Goldeneye on Fair Isle and only briefly as I had flushed one from the shore of the South Harbour last Autumn. Then the bird and or duck flew quickly out to sea? I wasn't even sure what it was at the time until I hear that someone had seen one later in the day. The Goldeneye's white wing and back patches noted in the Collin's guide seemed to match what I had seen earlier in the day. This time there is no doubt! I even got a record shot. Reconfirming my Island tick and self found to boot! No sign of the Bewick's Swans today or anything else of note. Once again this photo was taken on my pocket camera and reinforces my need for a better camera with a large lens or at least digiscope set up? I wouldn't mind an equipment sponsorship to my blog if anyone is interested? I have a sign as you enter my house " if you can't make do... Fair Isle is not for you." so you can expect to keep seeing bad photos of good birds until then. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bewick's Swan! Fair Isle Tick! with neck collar?

Bewick Swan with neck collar and yellow leg band.

I got a call this morning from Neil to tell me about some "Island Twitching" as 5 Bewick's or Tundra Swans had been located at "The Water" near the Kirk. Excited I gather myself and gear then start walking at pace. Half way there Brian stops his truck and says get in I was just coming to get you. It's a small island and earlier he had seen Liz had our car parked at school. Thankfully he gives me a ride and drops me off on the road with the other Islanders viewing the birds. A Winter twitch of five people. LOL. Nick said it's a Island Tick for him too. Lifer for me. Woohoo! 

Bewick's Swans, The Water & The Kirk.
 Swans are such Beautiful Birds and are always a pleasure to see on Fair Isle. When Swan's are seen on Fair Isle the are usually Whoopers. I did see one Mute Swan last Summer. Bewick Swans breed on the far North East Tundras by the Arctic Ocean wintering in Southern Europe usually missing Fair Isle and Shetland all together. Fair Isle has not seen a Bewick's Swan since Jan. 1971 and this is only the sixth recorded sighting with a new total of 17 birds as they come in small groups. Now with the Bewick's, I score the Swan Hat Trick or Trifecta.

You can see the neck collar and almost make out the yellow leg band.

Below is this photo zoomed in on the Bewick's Swan's neck collar.

I don't know for sure? it could be 1240? A248? 1246? etc.
The winner is 124E

They took off before I could get close enough. 
I wasn't that concerned as I knew the sighting would be reported.

Hear is a added link to more info:
Bewick's Swans and Sheep Rock
The Swans circled the lower half of the Island, then came back to "The Water" I didn't bother them again.
Little did I know at the time... my son Henry was the first to see 5 Swans flying while walking to school and alerted others to there presence. Of course he didn't know they were Bewick's...

Other recent Bird Sightings around the Auld Haa:
Creamy off white winged gulls - Iceland 13th -14th & Glaucous Gull 14th in the South Harbour
 ( together in the same field of view through my bins! if it was always so easy)
Also: 1 Carrion Crow, 1 Raven, 3 Redwings, 6 Fieldfare, 2 Red-Breasted Merganser
24 Oystercatchers, 41 Curlew, 7 Sylarks 1 Chaffinch 1 Snowbunting
Lapwings? Turnstones? Redshanks? countless? well I didn't count them...

Large flock of Lapwings today.