Friday, 8 July 2011
Ric: Another busy week
It’s been a typically busy couple of weeks here at the observatory, with a good spell of pleasant weather giving the green light for the continuation of our multitude of ongoing projects. One more addition to our team arrived in the form of Laura, Alison’s other niece, joining the well-oiled domestic machine of Fleur, Catriona, Beth and Alex in the endless cycle of housekeeping duties and pudding production. The ornithological staff have been kept occupied, and out of the kitchen, by a combination of building another Heligoland trap, chasing around after elusive plovers, manually extracting undesirable vegetation from our prized field of tuberous crops and coordinating the logistical minefield of shuffling all the staff bedrooms around to make extra guest space available.
The new Heligoland trap is progressing rapidly thanks to Mark’s detailed planning and the practice we had building the last one, although it does seem considerably bigger than we had originally envisaged. With most of the uprights already concreted in place, it is a bit late for it to be resized, but the considerable dimensions that the trap has taken on can only result in it being even more effective at catching birds in the autumn.
Kevin has been back on the island for a couple of weeks, and has been hard at work finishing the harrowing and sowing in our crop fields and creating the observatory’s new camping area. He also managed to persuade a visiting microlight pilot to take him for a spin around the island: a fantastic opportunity for some aerial photography, the results of which will be appearing on the NRBO website soon.
Paul has been busy on sheep shearing duty for most of the last week, much to the delight of Beth who got the opportunity to fulfil her questionable ambition of divesting the troublesome ungulates of their fleeces. The famous North Ronaldsay sheep, adept at breaking down walls, leaping over barbed wire fences and tip-toeing over cattle grids, have been particularly mischievous of late, causing no end of frustration as they repeatedly thwart all attempts to keep them out of the fields.
The revamping of the NRBO website, my own little project/obsession at the moment, is coming along slowly as I become inured to the idiosyncrasies of the software and the monitor in the staff office. I’ll shamelessly take this opportunity to plug the site (again), and remind you all to keep checking back as I’ll be adding more pages whenever I get the time to make them.
Both Fleur and Heather celebrated birthdays during the week. A Barbecue on the beer terrace was organised, with a vast spread of food for us all to overindulge on until we could barely move enough to embark upon the towering pile of washing up. Pictionary was the evening entertainment of choice on both occasions, providing all the ‘quick draw fun’ that was claimed on the box, as well as a little bit of controversy over my drawing of ‘radial tyre’, which should definitely have won the game for me, Mark and Alex.
Radial Tyre, Ray-Dial-Tyre: that's close enough, surely! Who ever uses the term 'radial tyre' anyway?
All that remains for this blog post is the obligatory weekly updates on the issues that you all tune in to hear about. The potatoes are fine. Check. The trees are also fine. Check. The puppies are fine (and rapidly becoming a boot-chewing, floor-dirtying nuisance). Check.
Catriona has promised a grammatically flawless write-up for next week, which I look forward to not having to edit for you. For now though, folks, that’s all.