Friday, 30 December 2011

Tall Ships - Day 1

In mid July, Fair isle was a host port for the Tall Ships 2011. We had two days of fun packed activities as well as celebrating local traditions with all of the crews of the historic ships.

Eight Ships anchored in North Haven which were:

Sorlandet - Barter Ship
Wylde Swan
Ocean Spirit of Moray
Zenobe Gramme
Miles to Go

They have started to arrive in North Haven

Just one of the historical ships

The Wylde Swan
Decided to anchor outside my bedroom window for the night

There was alot of preperation leading up to the event in making the island very welcoming and presentable for the ships. From weeding to beach cleaning, from food preperation to decorating.
The islanders made an valiant effort in making the island so magical!

One of the 1st things you see when sailing in tho North Haven

Artistic Impression of a tall ship
Islanders laid on alot of activities for the crews and island guests, from Chair making to Puffin walks, Visiting the museum to knitware and spinning workshops, Archeological walks to Meteorlogical talks, etc, etc.........the list goes on!!

Traditional Fair Isle straw backed Chair making
Guests got to see how these unique chairs are made,
The straw is grown on ths island and the wood was orignally colletced as driftwood
 as it got washed on to the beaches around the island.

During the evening, everybody enjoyed the faboulous live entertainment in the Marquee at the havens, To say it was bitterly cold, the dancing around made everybody very warm.

The venue for the evening's entertainment

The Fair Isle Choir and guests starts of the night with sea shanties

Followed by Fair isles very own band

in which they were capivating the audience

The Fantastic Fraser Fairfield and Fair Isles very own Talented Inge Thomson

Martin Green - one of Scotlands Great Musicans

The Night went out with a bang with
Neil Thomsons very own
Rock Band

After a most amazing time, we had to do it all over again the next day!

Musican Websites:

Fridarey - 
Lise Sinclair -

A Grand Opening

At the beginning of July, Fair Isle Bird Obsvertory started of with its official grand opening of the brand new £4 million building. Alot of work was put into it to make the weekend run smoothly by alot of people. As I was on the catering side, I had to do alot of the baking for over 130 guests which included some VIPs. Past Wardens, Administrators, Directors, Researchers, National Trust for Scotland, BTO, RSPB, the islanders and the well Known ornithologist Roy Dennis MBE.

Photograph copyright - Carrie Marrel Gunn
Just a small selection of the baking which included:
Key Lime Pie and Haven Slice - Both my signature Bakes
Fair isle peat, Scones, tea loafs, Sticky Ginger Bread etc.
The Old observatory but was not the first building to be built.
(Photograph taken in 2006)

The Brand new observatory building
(Photograph taken in 2010)
Being apart of Fair Isle Bird Observatory and the island its self has been a life changing experience, When im there, I learn new skills, My confidence grows and I make new friends. Next year will be my 10th time and I will be celebrating a big birthday of mine in the Autumn.  You can see from my previous posts that its a truely Magnificent Island and its well worth of visit. If it was not for George Waterson who dreamt up of an Observatory over 60 years ago, I wonder where I will be today?

For more
 information about the opening please click on the links below:

Its been a while......

Sorry for the lack of posts from the last several months, It became quite busy up on Fair Isle. Im back home for the winter now so this can be a project to do over the next few months. There will be alot of catching up to do from the Tall ships to the Birding, from my last few weeks on Fair Isle to being back home in Doncaster.

I hope everybody has had a Good Crimbo and you are looking forward to the New Year........I will certainly be as I will be heading back to the island for my 10th time!

Happy Belated Christmas!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Invasion of Cruise shippers

Every year Fair Isle gets between 12-18 cruise ships visiting the island where we have a range of activities which they can experience. From standing with Puffins to learning about the History of Fair Isle at the Museum, From checking out Traditional Knitware and admiring the the local stores to treating yourself to delicous homebakes.

The Spirit of Adventure - The biggest cruise ship which we have visiting

The National Geographic anchoring just north of the Observatory

They come ashore on small boats and ribs (inflatables)

Before a FIBO member of staff takes them on a guided walk to see.....

Loads of Puffins

Shetland name: Tammy Norie

The Museum
The Museum use to be the village hall where they had there traditional dances. The building is very small so only half of the islanders could fit nt. They had to dance in shifts so one half stayed outside while the other half danced inside, And when it got to hot and vice versa, They swapped around. At least we dont have to to that now has the new hall is not as small.
After there encounters with Puffins, they come to the hall to endulge on scrumptious homebakes

and to buy their Fair isle Knitware

They can always check out The FIBO stall where they can buy gifts for their families

Before having one last look at the Puffins

By the end of their visit, they head back to the ship where it is set in a spectacular setting.

Sheep Hill

About four times a year, The hardy Shetland sheep (around 400) which live on the North of the island gets rounded up for clipping, their annual shots and to take the lambs of the hill for the winter. The Sheep are a communal flock which means every croft on the island has there fair share (which they have at least 20 sheep each). This is a big island event and all visitors are quite often encouraged to join in and give them a helping hand. The islanders round them up twice in the summer so they can get the majority of the sheep. With them being shetland sheep, they are very use to the terrain and they know the enviroment very well to a point they do run down the cliffs on to the beachs below....They know people wont follow them as it is too dangerous for us.
Being rounded up though Skua Territories

Being pushed in to the sheep cru

Finally, they are caught!

They are held in the cru so they can be released together

We dont use electric shavers to clip the sheep

Keeping Watch

We use a cross between sheers/scissors

A Ram waiting to be clipped

waiting to be released

We then take them to a nearby field 

So that ewes and lambs can find each other again.
(they are then released early next morning)

The Greater Art of Stalking.......without success!

Every summer, The small rabbit colony outside the observatory often produces alot of baby rabbits. This in turn provides rich pickings for the local Gulls and Skua's. Every few days, A Greater Black Backed Gull visits to colony to see whats on the menu. Below is a series of Photographs (record shots) of the avian predator attempting to get its meal but in the end the young Rabbits gets the last laugh when the adult steps in.

Checking out its potential meal

You can tell the Gull is still a amature at stalking

And the chase is on.......

The adult rabbit has just clocked what is going on

And steps in to save the day leaving the Gull go hungry for another night
Will the Greater Black Backed Gull get its this space to find out!!

What a Whale of a Time!!

At the end of June, Fair Isle  got visited by a pod of 8 Orca's AKA Killer Whales which put on an amazing performance for all islanders, staff, researchers and observatory guests. As everyone sat down for lunch, Susannah came running through to the dining room to say "Sorry this is an inconvienient time but there is a Pod of Killer whales up at Wirvie", I have never seen the observatory emty so fast, Not even for a rare bird.

The Bull
 These exceptional visitors even made it on to several news articals where they used my photo below.
Two extremely lucky observers watching the Bull below
Shetland and Fair Isle waters are no stranger to these magnificent creatures as we have a few pods summering each year. The best time to see them is May, June and July but I have seen them as late as October. Every eccounter is just as spectactular as the first as you can see from the next two photo's from 2005.
A pod of four consisted of 2 cows, 1 calf and a bull.

Showing how close they come in.
Who needs to go abroad to see whales when you can see them just as good in the UK!

Below are the links to just some of the very interesting news bulletins including some fasinating accounts of such an magical encounter: