Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cretzschmar's Bunting! Caspian Stonechat! - Fair Isle, Shetland.

Cretzschmar's Bunting - Emberiza caesia

This rubbish was my best photo of the afternoon sighting of the Cretzschmar's Bunting.

After 26 hours of the Fair Isle Bird Observitory Staff, Guests & Fair Islanders scouring the Isle for the Cretzschmar's Bunting, the bird was refound by Asst. Warden Richard in the Gilly Burn. Let's just say everyone was more than motivated to see this amazingly rare bird. This is only the 5th time Cretzschmar's Bunting has been seen in Britain. With the first being seen on Fair Isle at Gaila near my house, June 10th 1967 and a second was seen at Bull's Park June 9th 1979. Fair Isle has 3 out of 5 records for Britain. When I heard the news the bird was relocated, I ran out of my house without my binoculars! Lucky for me my scope was in the car... It was quite distant as no one wanted to flush it away. I stayed and looked an soaked up as much relief as joy in getting my eyes on the bird. After about 40 min. I left, I had to cook dinner for my Auld Haa Guesthouse vistor's, 3 workmen working on the North Lightouse. After some chichen breasts stuffed with feta cheese, onions & bread crumbs, served with wild rice and onion-rings, I put coffee and desert on the table and headed back out the door to see if I could see it again... It was 8pm overcast in failing light but I wanted to see it again. It could of been anywhere out in the long grass at the bottom of Hoini I thought? As lucky for me the Fibo staff and 2 Ex-Wardens just in on the Good Shepherd were scoping out the bird on the footpath below the Houll on the way to the Shop. I got better views this time. The low light is not great for photos, for some reason video does better in low light conditions? So I took a few bits witch I have shared below.

Hey, that Caspian Stonechat is a beauty and no slouch when it comes to be rare in Britian. Yes, only a subspecies (for now) but a 6th record for Britian! I saw the bird each time I drove down the road yesterday. I took this video hand held from the drivers seat of my car. LOL

                           Video record of the two birds.

 Both birds are stunning & beautiful bits of wildlife and I feel blessed to have seen them. They are both still hear today, I'll hope to see them again soon.

Caspian Stonechat

Sometimes common British birds like the 2 Linnet I saw yesterday are sort of rare here on Fair Isle. Any birds of the Tit family can also start the locals running. This morning it was a sighting of a Mandarin Duck that had everyone searching the Isle. I dipped it, for now...

Fancy Birds Ay?

My post from the day before after not seeing the Cretzschmar's:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I didn't see the Cretzschmar's Bunting!

Caspian Stonechat - variegatus
 The bird of the day was a stunning and very rare Cretzschmar's Bunting. Only seen by 3 or 4 people, I was not one of them even though the bird was seen very close to my home. I saw the photos... ouch! The finder was taking photos of the Red-Breasted Flycatcher found by his home, with camera in hand the Bunting popped out of the long grass infront of him on a piece of ground gone over several times earlier today by the fibo team while looking at the Flycatcher... crazy find! Plenty of other birds about and the Caspian Stonechat would of been an amazing sight any other day, but it felt more like a constellation today.
Fair Isle Wren

Red-Breasted Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher


Wryneck - South Harbour Beach

Brambling - Redpoll - Brambling

A very rufous Dunlin

Lamb at Springfield

Pray that the Cretzscmar's Bunting is seen tomorrow.
It would make everyone happy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fair Isle Early Spring Bird Photos by Mark

Red Flanked Bluetail - Tarsiger cyanurus

While I was away in the States my birdwatcher friend Mark was house sitting. Besides feeding the cat, chickens and fish, he fed and watched the birds. This post highlights the best photos and best birds he saw in the last 2 weeks. Thank you Mark and FIBO staff for not finding any birds I need for my Fair Isle list. But a rare first ever Fair Isle spring record of the Red Flanked Bluetail made me more than green with envy. Marks photos speak for themselves I think he had a pretty good trip.

(European) Robin

Fair Isle Wren



Bonxie / Great Skua


Mali Munk - Fulmar

Female - Crossbill

Male - Snow Bunting

Male - Lapland Bunting

The South Harbour Skerries getting a good washing.

Purple Sandpiper

Northlink Ferry passing Foula viewed from the North Lighthouse.

Male - Eider Duck
Tree Sparrow at the Auld Haa Today.
I'm home for one day and already adding to the Fair Isle Year List again.

Thanks Mark, Stunning Photos!

Friday, April 11, 2014

SHETLAND - BBC Murder Mystery on Fair Isle

 I have just a few photos from last September visit from the cast and crew of the TV show SHETLAND.

Let me start by saying that no one here on Fair Isle can recall a Murder on Fair Isle... Ever! Going back  to the Orkneyinga Saga of the Vikings, even they have no mention of murder on Fair Isle. The Vikings called Fair Isle "Fridarey - The Isle of Peace". If you do come to Fair Isle, the only "MURDER" you are likely to find is a small group of Crows... The TV show is not factual or realistic in this way, it's entertainment. Enjoy it if you can.

What is true is the landscape of Fair Isle is spectacular! Fair Isle it's self is a star of the show, even though the weather and the sunlight wasn't great while the camera crew was here, it still shined through. National Geographic placed Fair Isle number 5 on their list of Top Ten Islands in the World.

Here are some links for more info about the show:




Cast and crew flew into Fair Isle for 2 or 3 days,
the rest of the show was shot elsewhere.

A different kind of "roll em" on the Good Shepherd.

A nice bit of kit....

This was the scene on the North Haven pier that I was an extra in.
I don't think I'll make the cut....
(I did make it in so briefly, mostly out of focus thought.)

Jimmy meets Jimmy
The real Jimmy and Jimmy as played on TV. 

Fair Islander Jimmy Stout and Douglas Henshall who plays Jimmy Perez on TV.

Jimmy Stout was the Special Constable of the island when Anne Cleeves started writing her stories while working at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory. Jimmy's family ancestry has been on Fair Isle since the days of the Vikings. The silly totally unfair Isle and Shetland name Perez comes from the teasing of Jimmy's olive skin colour and love of the Sun, some folks say he has some blood from  the Spanish Armada Ship that wrecked on the Isle in 1588. Hence the name Perez was fabricated to protect the innocent.
I think the Isle would gladly welcome them back if needed. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

In my Garden Today!

Bird in my garden today... My parents garden in the USA.

April Fools!

 Henry and I are visiting family in in the States during the 2 week Spring school break.
In the past few days we have seen many common birds here in Upstate New York. 
Any of which I would love to find on Fair Isle.

House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus