Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ice Ice Baby! Waxwing! & New Pond Tick Today

Bohemian Waxwing at Sunset.
photo taken Jan.16th 2011
I couldn't lead out with the photo below... So I used a pretty one from last year I never published.

Waxwing Today? you can hardly tell from this photo... 
 I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this Waxwing in my garden briefly about 10am..
I took this record shot and then my camera's battery promptly died.
I put out apples but I never saw it return to eat them.
Still I'm very happy to see one and to add it to the Fair Isle year list of birds.

Note: Last Spring I wired red plastic beads to the branches I use to feed apples to the birds.
Idea being they would look like berries and attract birds to the apple.
Even though the Starlings & Blackbirds ate all the apple I put out 2 days ago,
the Waxwing paused long enough investigating the beads. Hey, I got to see the bird...
Proof that it works! not just another crazy idea of mine.

Ice Ice Baby!
We found another dead Iceland Gull...

Iceland Gulls - left: Adult (3 Winter?) - Right: 2nd Winter?
I did see 3 live Iceland gulls today driving Henry to school this morning.

Pond Tick!
My pond from my bedroom window with 2 visiting Greylags? that's a first!

One of the Greylag Geese - Doesn't look very healthy?
I put out some Chicken feed on the side of the pond but it would rather eat the plants around the edge of the pond. The other goose flies in an out every time I enter the garden while this one stays.

Auld Haa House gets Goosed!

My son had a mega sighting of his own today? photo by Henry

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Landscape Photos

Stack o' Vatstrass - Wick of South Haven

View from Finniquoy - Wick of South Haven

Still at least 5 Iceland Gulls and a Glaucous hanging about.... these 2 at Skerry Holm.

Is it Rain or Hail? South Harbour

The evening blush.
The rocks are named Da Keals & Da Skerry - South Harbour

Monday, January 23, 2012

Time to Keep - Lise Sinclair's Music Project

One of the flagship projects during this Year of Scotland’s Islands Culture is Fair Isle resident Lise Sinclair’s series of songs inspired by George Mackay Brown’s book, A Time to Keep. Brown was one of Scotland’s most prolific writers. The book and now the music identifies the strengths and the difficulties of living in a closely-knit community and has a sharply observant eye for human kindnesses and failings, and is particularly sympathetic to those on the edge of any society.”

For Lise, the project is about connecting the past and the present...and music is a way of keeping this time.

She has assembled a band of musicians reflecting a shared Northern Isles cultural identity from Orkney, Fair Isle, Shetland and Iceland. Together they are recording and producing a CD and booklet of Lise’s new songs along with an Icelandic translation. During March 2012, they plan to premiere the work in Orkney, followed by performances in Fair Isle, Shetland, the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh and Iceland.

Have a listen to Lise's interview on
The Book Cafe - BBC Radio Scotland today:

BBC  Video by Fair Isle's Liz Musser

More info on Lise Sinclair on BBC Website

Last Night's Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights a glow.
As seen looking north from my driveway... Fair Isle's Methodist Chapel in silhouette.

What an amazing display!
We had an over all bright glow in the northern sky for hours... 
but for about 10-15 min. (about 10pm.) we had some bright pale green streaks of light.
It was partly cloudy as you can see. It seems funny to see the stars in the light patchs,
while the clouds are dark silhouettes in the nights sky.

The camera records more colour than the naked eye as I had an exposure time of 5 to 10 sec.
I still don't know how to get a good photo of the Aurora, but I'm getting better.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hawaiian Gull?

Hawaiian Gull
no color added...
Rosy Gull? Pink Gull? Henry named this a "Hawaiian Gull"... You wish Henry!
I call it a Sunset Gull... just a photo of a Iceland Gull with the refected glow of the sunset.

this is what I found when I googled Hawaiian Gull...
Q. Why aren't there any Gulls in Hawai'i ?

A. There are no indigenous or endemic gull species that nest in the Hawaiian Islands, although recent fossil evidence suggests that a gull species may have inhabited the Islands once. The position of the Islands means that there is very little "edge" to the island landmass, with the narrow strip of coastal reef and rock quickly falling away into the deep ocean and ocean trenches. Gulls are generally continental species which inhabit the shallow waters along the edges of the continental shelf of mainland areas, and as such their food preferences are reflected in the areas they usually inhabit. It is very difficult for gulls in Hawai'i to find the right type of foods to satisfy their dietary requirements. However, several gull species do visit the Islands each year, mainly during the winter months and mainly in juvenile plumages, although a gull might be observed at any time of the year. The most frequently occurring species are Ring-billed Gull (above) and Laughing Gull, but Franklin's Gull, Bonaparte's Gull, Herring Gull and Glaucous-winged Gull are also recorded in small numbers annually. Most gulls that arrive in Hawai'i take up residence at coastal ponds, lagoons, streams and beaches and may remain for several weeks or even months, however, due to the lack of suitable food individuals often end up emaciated and will starve to death. A large proportion of the gulls that arrive in Hawai'i never make it back to the mainland. Franklin's Gulls, which usually arrive in the spring, are almost always adults in summer plumage and appear to be just passing through and seldom stay for long at one site, and perhaps this is one species that does actually complete it's rather "off-course" migration. A full list of gull species that have been recorded from the Hawaiian Islands can be found in the State List.

from: http://www.birdinghawaii.co.uk/faqs2.htm

Being blessed with so many great sunsets lately I was again at the South Lighthouse taking photos....

But to my suprise it was even better when I got home... after sunset, before dark.
The view as seen from my garden.

 other birds around....
The Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow) & a Robin are still here...

Oystercatcher! first of the year... maybe more appropriately named Wormcatcher?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Henry's 11th Birthday Party

Pinata Bull - The Birthday Boy - 11 Birthday Cake

All the kids! partying after school.


Party Games & Skits

The first candy starts to fall... done worry plenty for all.

Happy Birthday 2 U !

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Counting on Iceland Gulls

We always count on some White Winged Gulls  to make Winter birding on Fair Isle a bit more interesting.
but the reason they are here is most likely they are starving and looking for food.

As I found it on the South Harbour Beach
Henry & I have a closer look. I really need to learn taxidermy...
From a short distance they look pure white, but up close it is amazing to see the taupe coloured marbling

under side
back side
 Iceland Gulls
The Good News is that 7 other living individuals were counted today.
Warden David, Henry & I  did the rounds on a pleasant calm winter day.
Probably on of the warmest places in Britain today. (no Joke)
All the white wingers were seen in the south croftlands or the South Harbour.
Other birds of note: 10 Hooded Crow, 20 curlew & a Dunnock.

2 adults, 1 third winter, 4 first/second winter birds.
(total of 8 counting the dead one.) 
 See the Iceland Gull count results for all of Shetland
Adult Iceland Gull
Strong grey back like Herring Gull but no black wing tips

Juvenile -1st or 2nd Winter Iceland Gull
Pale creamy white all over

3 Iceland Gulls - South Harbour

I know it's a Iceland Gull but with sunsets like this any gull would do...

We saw 1 2 3 4 5 6 ticked by on the blog today...
Thanks Everyone!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Iceland & Glaucous Gulls & a Pond Tick!

Iceland Gull - Adult - even less common around here...

2 Iceland Gulls & a Swan               1st winter Iceland Gull

Birding had been a bit slow since the New Years Count really not much to add (A few Ducks) but...
Yesterday when I finally checked for 3 Gulls out the window on Meoness, I thought I was seeing things... are all the Gulls Iceland? To my surprise yes all three of them! Today I had 5 Iceland & 1 Glaucous around the Auld Haa & the South Harbour plus Warden David had another 2 Iceland maybe another Glaucous but not sure if it isn't the same bird... Wow! I was working in the garden when this Adult Iceland dove into my pond! (Wahoo! Pond Tick!) only 10 foot away swim on top. but my camera was in the house. I think it was trying for one of my goldfish. After I got my rubbish camera I was able to get about 10 foot away from the one adult gull and get some good shots. My Fuji Camera 10megapix 10X optic zoom held together with a rubberband is not the nature photographers first choice and the dull blue overcast light didn't help, but not bad...

Tomorrow(Sat.) we'll try to survey the whole island as part of a Shetland's White Winged Gull Count due to the large influx of birds in the past few days.

Glaucous Gull - South Harbour 
Taking photos of White Winged Gulls together is hellish to be sure you have the right bird.
I think I got it right but white birds in silhouette is sort of useless.

I'm looking for a Kumliem's Gull if any such thing truly exsit?

What a Kumliem"s Gull?