Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A trip to Fair Isle

On the 22nd of February I travelled to the amazing Island of Fair Isle for a weekend away.
I travel to the Island for birding and to visiting relations,
The Island is Famous for its Bird Observatory and it's Knitting.
On this Island I have seen many birds, Crustaceans and Fish that I have never seen before Greenish Warbler, Sea Spider and Tadpole Fish as some people call them.
Destruction done as the 48ft High waves hit the Fair Isle South Lighthouse destroying its south-eastern wall around two weeks ago.
A metal fence bent by the sheer force of the waves.

The only standing piece of wall was the corner entrance engraved with a plaque in memory of those who were killed at the Lighthouse during the Second World War.

A large chunk of ground was heaved up by a flying hunk of concrete stone a few meters wide.
During the high seas the Lighthouse almost became and Island due to so much water,
this is almost certainly the worst seas it has faced.
On other news my weekend away was much more happy.
On the the morning on the 22nd I met up with some old friends of mine Tommy & Henry Hyndman residents on the Island whom I go bird watching with every trip.
Tommy: Artist, Birder and finder of the
 1st Citril Finch seen in Britain in 2008

Henry (his son),
Birder, Rock-pooler and finder of many firsts for Fair Isle as
Small Cushion star and sea slugs.
 We first went for a spot of birding at the south end of the Isle and then headed up north to the Havens (Where the Good Shepard IV is housed)
to look for anything of any interest.
We found a young seal at the edge of the road at North Haven down past the Bird Obs
It was very far on land for a young seal but after a while he went back into the sea
and watched us and left.

Further along the beach Henry found this upside down
Ray/skate, At first we had no idea but luckily along came the Bird Obs Warden
David Parnaby and Identified it as a Cuckoo Ray, for us this was a quite exciting
find for all of us.

After we returned back to the south end me and Henry decided to go Rock pooling
for fish, Crustaceans, etc.
When Henry found this Scorpion Fish I was quite excited because I've seen one before.
They get the Scorpion part from the poison in their spikes (so if you stand on them you get a nasty shock)

A Long-Clawed Porcelain Crab

A Bristle Star
Fulmar also known as the "Maalie"

The 23rd
 Sheep Rock
A Juvenile Greenland White-Fronted Goose a 1st for me,
after many failed attempts since October 2012

A Sea Urchin or a "Scadyman's Head"
(South Harbour)
A "Blue Limpet"
(is found in a area away from sun but always touching the sea,
a normal Limpet is white because it is higher up on rocks
 making it more sun resistance, unlike the blue limpet which
is always in water and does not need so much protection from light)

Squat Lobster

 Squat Lobster
A small starfish

The 24th 
A Fieldfare

Adult Female Great Tit
Which was Ringed by ex-warden Deryk Shaw

Seems as these Sheep can smell Off-Islanders
Me & Henry were asked to help with the Beached Bird Survey
by Warden David Parnaby
We found two birds in total
One of the birds we found was this young Shag,
 (at North Haven)
Lot's of Shags have been appearing dead on the
east coast of Scotland and England this
is the first one found on the Isle.
Another bird we found was an oiled adult Common Guillemot
(also North Haven), we had no idea where it had been oiled
but it is still sad that it died by human causes.
but something else that was strange was this
large pile of seaweed or "Tang"
was stacked over a meter high in a cave
at North Haven

A great find by Henry a Montagu's Sea Snail or a Tadpole Fish
my first and his second a very strange fish Indeed
 The Tadpole Fish and another great find by Henry
a strange sea slug which baffled both of us,
of course we had to call in Tommy to help Identify
it, but he couldn't Identify it
so we took it up to Haa for further study.
The 25th my last day
It is nearly the start of the bird migration again
but strangely these Greylag Geese haven't got the picture
Instead of heading north they started heading south
 towards Orkney Instead.
(South end of Fair Isle)
On my Last day I'd thought
I would take some photos of this lovely landscape

The Kirk and Sheep Rock

Stackhoull Stores aka The Shop and Lower Stonybrek

After taking these pictures I walked down to Haa
 to see Tommy & Henry who had a big surprise for me...
A Sea Spider (Pycnogonum Littorale) most certainly a new one for me and Fair Isle!
I found it without noticing when gathering gravel for
the fish tub which had the Tadpole Fish and the sea slug,
Tommy & Henry had discovered it after I'd left the day before.
Me with my Fair Isle find in bright sunlight

Another unusual find was this tiny mite like creature
which we found swimming about in the tub.
To get all of our creatures Identified by
Nick Riddiford another ex-Fair Isle Warden who lives up the road.
After a while Nick was still un-sure about our Mite and Slug
so me & Henry left them there for further studying.
I had to quickly go for a plane shortly after visiting two relations
and left amazing Fair Isle Heading back to Shetland

The Airstrip
My birding highlights of this trip were
White-Fronted Goose, Great Tit, Skylarks and Woodpigeon.
I would like to thank Tommy, Henry, Stewart and David for
helping me with birding this trip,
also I would like to thank Liz and Triona for supplying me with food.
I have recently heard that the Unknown Sea slug an AWESOME find by Henry is actually a snail
named  Lamellaria Perspicua (ANOTHER FIRST FOR FAIR ISLE)
 a snail which has a fragile translucent white
shell, completely hidden by the mantle of the body extending over it.


  1. It is nice to see things other than birds in Shetland, keep up the good work I will add you to my blog
    Please take a look at mine, planning a move to Shetland as soon as possible


    1. Thanks Richard your blog is great to, Amazing pictures.

  2. Well Done! cheers Tommy & Henry

  3. Elena Mera-Long2 March 2013 at 09:32

    Great stuff, Logan! Keep it coming! Elena.