Monday, 11 April 2011


Saturday was boat day for me. Neil picked me up at 0700 and in thick fog we set sail for Grutness. There was a small swell but nothing to worry about but birding/cetacean searching was pointless due to the fog. We arrived in good time at 1015. There was a huge amount of stuff to load and try as we might we could not get it all onboard - we had to leave two pallets of animal feed and it wasn't until 1330 that we headed for home once more, tummys full with Hol's shepherd's pie! I eventually came back to Burkle at 1800 and everyone was due at a dance at the hall at 1900!!! A cup of tea, check the sheep, shave and shower and then to the dance! It was the postponed 'mens dance' from New Year so we all sat down for food, wine and a raffle (no I didn't win anything - I never do, in fact all the prizes went to a select few multiple winners!!!) followed witth a few childrens games and some dancing. It was all over by 2330, by which time I was sat in front of the TV with Lachlan, trying to keep my eyes open to watch 'Match of the Day'.

Right on cue, early on Sunday morning (10th), our first lambs appeared - a set of twins to 'Two Nicks'. Hollie looked out the bedroom window at 0630 but said she could only see three sheep so would have to get up to go to check. She went to the bathroom and I had squint out the window and spotted her (the ewe, not Hol) in the bottom corner of the field with two cleaned-up lambs. We hurriedly dressed and went to see them, I checked them over (one of each), sprayed and named them 'Blue One' and 'Red One'. It was a damp morning but calm and it felt like it was going to be a really nice day. Two Swallows (the first of the year) flew past. We came back inside and an hour or so later, Raven got up and was very excited to see them, but said we could not use those names, so she named them Ginnie & Ron - who are apparently two characters from 'Harry Potter'. Anyway, whatever their names they are very healthy and feeding well. 

Hawfinch - on the garden list!
Other new arrivals on Sunday included Sand Martins, House Martins, Willow Warbler and Blackcap. This morning (Monday) a nice male Hawfinch was hopping around the garden and it found its way into the chick coop and couldn't get out. I therefore seized the opportunity to get Hawfinch on the Burkle ringing list and quickly and safely cornered it and transferred it to a bird bag. I phoned the Obs to see if anybody there would like to see it. The bus rolled up a short while later with a full complement of (current) Obs staff and one of them was delighted to be given the opportunity to handle and ring such a smart bird.

A Happy Anonymous Ringer!

Obs crews - new and old!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Welcome Home!

I'm not sure what to say.... We (myself & wife Hollie) have been 'officially retired' from FIBO for nearly a week now, following a month-long handover period to the new Warden & Administrator, David & Susannah Parnaby. However we are still working hard to make the start of the new era as smooth as possible so are still doing several hours a day for FIBO. For example, we spent most of yesterday making a list of amendments/photos for the FIBO website and the evening choosing Rebecca Nason canvases for the guest rooms. We would like to produce a farewell Newsletter and of course I have the 2009/2010 FIBO Report to complete. Hollie is also still helping Susannah out with bookings, accounts etc. So we have not severed our FIBO ties yet!! Its quite a hard thing to do, to hand over your baby to somebody else. Its been a pretty steep learning curve for David & Susannah and until the rest of the staff arrive (only the two AWs are here at present) and the season gets underway proper they will not really have a true indication of the job, but at least we know we have done/are doing our very best to help them with the transition. I hope they are looking forward to the challenge and am sure they will find their feet and do well.
So, FIBO aside I am desperately trying to find time to get the croft ready for lambing - first ones are due this weekend. A couple of promiscuous ewes have already lambed elsewhere on the isle!! Baaaad Sheep!
We only have 18 ewes in lamb (10 Cheviot crosses and 8 Shetland) and all are looking nice and round, getting fatter on ewe nuts. I only have one bale of silage leftI have been trying to decide how to move things around so that ewes are in a convenient place for lambing and the year-olds have enough grazing and Munter (our extra-friendly Texel Ram) doesn't feel left out! Before I can do this however I have a couple of fences to complete! I thought I had it all planned out when Iain Stout dropped by today and came up with an absolute Masterplan. "Why not put the first nine ewes to lamb in the wee park next to the house. You can then keep an eye on them at night from your bedroom window!!?" Genius!!! So that's tomorrow's priority - Fencing and then moving sheep.

Lubo, one of the best arrivals at Burkle! June 2009

Burkle house became a whole lot busier and noisier today! All the kids came home, following either a week away in Edinburgh/Glasgow looking at University accommodation (Lachlan) or two weeks away with Grandma & Grandad in Kent/Norway. Lachlan has finally decided he wants to go to Edinburgh Vet School (the fact that his girlfriend and best friend are going there may perhaps have something to do with it!?). The younger ones were keen to show us their photos and videos of them ski-ing/snowboarding and it would appear they had a great holiday. Lubo (the dog) was ultra-excited to see them all!! And Raven had to run over and greet the ponies. Fyn didn't seem that keen to go and kiss the chickens! Hmmm! Wonder why?

Bird News: Well, spring is definitely here (the grass has suddenly turned green in the past week) and it is definitely a bit warmer (even double figures some days!). Wheatears, Bonxies, Chiffchaffs, Dunnocks and Goldcrests are just some of the species that have been added to the yearlist in the past couple of weeks. Rather than just repeat what is already on the FIBO website just use this link to keep up to date

Brown-headed Cowbird, the rarest bird on the garden list to date! May 2009

Saturday, 2 April 2011


Well, my post-FIBO life begins here.......and will have to get back to you later as I've got to meet the boat!