Welcome to the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory 'Obs Life' blog. This is the place to keep up to date with the observatory's work and daily goings-on: a weekly journal by the NRBO staff about all aspects of life at the obs. For up-to-date news of bird sightings, please visit our sightings blog at http://northronbirdobs.blogspot.com/.
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Spring is here! The first (exceptionally early) Swallow and Sand Martins have been seen and we're all gearing up for a busy season of visitors and hopefully an equally busy season for birds. The “to do list” we put together at the beginning of the winter has been added to almost as rapidly as jobs have been completed and ticked off, but we're getting there!
Firstly, an update on our last update. The eagerly anticipated (by us anyway) first North Ronaldsay annual bird report is in the final stages of its development. Weeks of proof reading, checking data and editing is all but finished. The materials have arrived and we just await one more article and it’s printing time. So don’t be expecting much bird news this spring as Ric, Rael and I will be locking ourselves in the office arguing with the printer until it’s done. It’s been a larger task than we initially anticipated but hopefully we’ve done the groundwork so our successors will find producing the 20th NRBO report in years to come somewhat easier. Also this month the transformation of the old flagstone room into a combined shop and visitor information display is progressing, albeit slowly, and we hope to open this new area to guests in a few weeks' time. There still seems to be an endless amount of paperwork coming out of Alison’s office, but at least after two hours of struggling, a hole in the wall and a box of wine gums later, the giant sofa has found itself a new home at the Old Manse. The new clothing range and stock has been ordered and includes NRBO Hoodies for the first time, and as I write this Ric is working out ‘Photoshop’ and beginning to design some of our new display boards. Tied in with this is the re-invention of the dog-porch. Our two sheepdogs Rhinay and Pot have moved over to Lurand with Kevin and Alison, so the former dog porch has had a lick of paint, all the old un-wanted Jackets, wellies and waterproofs sent to the charity shop and has now become a boot porch and cloakroom for our guests' outdoor belongings.
Also in the last month we’ve all gone a bit ‘green fingers’ crazy - It must be all these Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall programs on the TV at the moment. The unexpected warm weather has prompted us to get our vegetable patch rotavated early, weeded and our newly sown parsnips, carrots, turnips, onions and everyone’s favourite, the potatoes, await the virtually guaranteed April showers and sunshine. Fleur has also joined in, though she’s opted for the much more sensible flat kitchen as her growing space. And with the wide variety of fruit and vegetables she’s planted, even watermelons may soon be appearing on the menu!
Rotavating the vegetable patch. I may have said this before, but there’ll be a Pine Bunting in there this time next week!
The list of jobs we’ve ticked off is endless and far too many to mention them all, especially with Martha here all month helping out. The Hostel has been fully re-painted ready for the new season as has the bar and corridor. Rael and I finished replacing the fabric on the chairs and with better weather we’ve been able to get on with some outside jobs. The fence and heligoland traps have been given coats of wood-seal and creosote respectively and we’ve planted more fuscia, rhubarb and black-current about the Observatory, mainly in the vicinity of the new heligoland traps. We’ve also transferred a trailer load of irises from Ancum to a field at the Observatory, with the aim that one day we’ll have an annoyingly un-birdable area just like Bridesness on our doorstep in the not too distant future.
Transferring Irises from Ancum
Vistors over the last month included two gentlemen from the Highland and Islands Fire Brigade, over to present Kevin with a commemorative axe to mark his retirement from the Islands Fire Service. After almost thirty years of service most of the brigade were present to honour this achievement and it was of course good reason for a few drinks and a go on Ric’s err.. unicycle?
Kevin's new axe will come in handy once all our trees will have grown to forest proportions by next year!
The new fire vehicle has a few health and safety issues to be resolved before it can attend plane duty!
It would seem panto season is also upon us once again on the Island, and yes I have once again been tempted to cross-dress for the occasion. The grand performance of ‘Swanney Loch’ will take place in a week’s time. It seems that everybody, not just me, is playing the opposite sex, with Alison becoming somewhat typecast as the courageous hero for the umpteenth year in succession. I however, have the role of the evil sorcerer's less than beautiful daughter. The audience had better have their earplugs at the ready for when I sing, and they may require councilling after I’ve performed an interesting fan dance - previously performed by one Dita Von Teese! I have a feeling Fleur in particular may suffer lasting trauma!
Finding emarginations and taking biometrics on these wings has proved a little tricky!