Thursday, 11 April 2013
Simon - A new face!
Hi, this is my first Obs Life blog entry as I’m a new addition to the wardening team here this year; I come fresh from spending all last year in Broome, Western Australia, I’ve noticed a slight temperature change since being here but I’ve spent a few seasons working on Shetland and Fair Isle in the past so I soon reacclimatised! In an unplanned coincidence Ric, AW here for the last couple of years, has moved down-under to take over my old job in Broome, perhaps not a big surprise given the small, incestuous Bird Observatory world!
My home last year - pretty much identical to Nouster Bay!
My first few weeks here have been filled with a wide variety of jobs, largely concerned with getting the Observatory ready for the upcoming season, I've helped paint most of the walls in the hostel, cleaned lots of things, made repairs and small adaptations to the Helgoland traps near the Observatory, put mist nets up in anticipation for the vegetation to grow up and generally got my head round the running of the Obs including the bar, kitchen, rooms etc and my role in amongst it all.Another major job resulting from the severe storms over the winter months has been to make a start on rebuilding large portions of the sheep dyke round the island which has been washed away. We’ve just started a section near Gretchen Loch as it’s close to the Obs, provides good cover for migrants during an easterly blow and allows folks to reach the hide overlooking the Loch without disturbing the birds before getting inside. Good progress has been made with Mark and myself having several afternoon sessions while lately we’ve been joined by roving dyke-builder extraordinaire Dougie who has speeded up the process no end!
Unsurprisingly I’ve also been carrying out the daily bird census of the island, exploring my way round, getting to know all the promising looking dykes, ditches and clumps of vegetation where migrants will turn up through the season but the trickiest part has been trying to learn the names of the crofts, fields and sections of the coast – I’m slowly getting there but it will be a long process! I’ve also carried out several mist-netting sessions at Holland House with the definite highlight being a cracking Long-eared Owl while a Curlew was certainly a surprise catch in amongst the Sycamores in the garden!I write this with the famous North Ronaldsay Panto looming large on the horizon (Saturday night!), I’ve been told it’s a huge gala-like event with a lively dance afterwards to get involved with – although I have to bear in mind, the last time I was dancing in the Northern Isles I ended up breaking my foot in three places, although that was to Blondie and not Scottish country dancing…….perhaps I should be more worried thinking about it!
The result of the last time I danced in the Northern Isles!