Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Next Generation!

The following two pieces are illustrations given to me by two smashing lads on Fair Isle, who have undoubtedly got an eye for illustration. All the families and kids on Fair Ilse seem to have this ability to capture their surroundings and are extremely creative. The island seems to have a magical way of bringing the creative side out of everyone.

Hoopoe by Henry Hyndman

Henry did this Hoopoe for me after I saw my first on Fair Isle in Spring 2010. Although I have seen many abroad there is still nothing like seeing one in the British Isles and after missing a few at Spurn I was very eager to see one in the UK.

Thankfully Simon answered my prayers and found one sat on top of Vaadal Trap. It remained in this vicinity for a few days around the Vaadal Ditch area and even went to roost in the plantation much to my surprise one morning trap round as it shot out of the fir tree in back of the trap. However due to the north westerly wind the bird got height quickly and flew over my head and out of the mouth of the trap! Sorry Deryk!

The bird would often disappear for sometime and would be usually be relocated by the Starling researchers checking the starling nests in the dyke's. I vividly remember Jane Reid texting me 'HOOPOE ROCKET STATION'. At this time I didn't have a clue what or where the Rocket Station was and thought she was tipping me off about a new band!

I later discovered it was the building halfway up Hill Dyke and proceeded to watch it with Jane and Del as it fed in the west side of Vaadal Ditch where Del and I managed to get some record shots of the bird. After its departure a Hoopoe appeared on mainland Shetland and may as well have been our bird continuing to delight other observers.

Releasing a Hoopoe after it was Ringed in Eilat (Not Fair Ilse Unfortunately)

Scooty Allan's (Arctic Skuas) by Lowri Best

I am very grateful indeed for this drawing from Lowri as my Fair Ilse experience would have been the same without these birds. Having spent the past two summers working so closely with these birds you get encapsulated by them. I cant begin to explain what a privilege it was to monitor their nests, monitor the chicks and watch the lucky few flegde to begin their trans-equatorial migration! THEIR SIMPLY AMAZING!

A chick from one of my favourite pairs, isolated well away from the main nucleus of breeding Scootys on the island! Unsurprisingly this beautiful little chick failed as did its sibling the year before

Monday, 6 December 2010


This post is really just a great big THANK YOU to some very good eggs I have had the pleasure to meet on my northern adventures. Firstly to Rebecca Nason and Phil Harris for everything they have done for me and for some amazing moments had on Fair Isle (none more so than the Waxwing Fest (feeding from out of our hands at times....MIND BLOWING!)

Rebecca and Phil sent me the following photo that captured another of my favourite memories from Fair Isle that involved a superb pair of Hooded Crows that constructed one of the most beautiful nests I have ever seen near to the cliff edge in one of the Geos on Fair Isle. Over a period of weeks I watched the assembly of the nest from a few dried kelp stems until it was lined, eggs were laid and the chicks hatched....Unfortunately due to the workload at the Obs Deryk, Simon and Myself didn't get the chance to ring them before the stunning chicks fledged!

This photo is just one of many that can be viewed at
and is a classic example of how Rebecca is in my opinion more of an artist than a photographer and seems to look at birds in a completely different light than a lot of her fellow leading wildlife photographers!

Another cracking egg, cracking birder and cracking artist is Will Miles who sent me this Olive-backed Pipit painting as a memoir of my first Olive-backed Pipit! I had many great conversations with Will about life and birds (especially whilst trying to catch petrels)and learnt a lot from him. What Will doesn't know about Leach's Storm Petrels and European Storm Petrels is probably not worth knowing and is a true birder who gets the same excitement from a migrant Dunnock coming in off the sea than he does finding vagrants from the far east!