Wednesday, May 02, 2012

BBC Springwatch on Fair Isle & a New Lamb Skin Jacket

BBC Springwatch Crew with Roy Dennis

At cliffs edge the isle has a way of humbling everyone even the biggest of celebrities.
Fair Isle it's self will hopefully shine through as the awe inspiring star it is...
If you watch Springwatch they plan to share regular local wildlife stories.
 I can't wait to see what they come up with? Springwatch starts at the end of the month.
As you can see the Good Shepherd had a good day... with the sea so calm.
They even saw a Minky Whale off Sumburgh Head.

Spring Watch for most Fair Islanders is all about the lambs...
A Lamb Skin Jacket?
This Lamb is triplet... this always causes a problem because a mother has only 2 teats. The runt or caddy lamb is usually taken off the mother and some times killed or bottle fed. Cute as it my seem, bottle feeding a lamb is not profitable for a crofter and its a lot of work. Our crofters know a few tricks and this is one "The Lamb Skin Jacket" is one of the strangest to the casual on looker but is really quite efficient. In this case this mother ewe (our bottle fed caddy lamb Violet from 2007) had lost her muckle lamb for unforeseen reasons. The ewe still full of milk, this triplet is put on to it's new mother using the old skin from the dead lamb to help bond the new family unit. The result is amazing after a day or 2 the skin is removed and all is well with the world.

This Lambs mother had an infected teat and could no longer feed both it's lambs. While this mother had lost her lamb for no apparent reason. So the two have been match together with the skin & scent of the dead lamb to help connect the bond between the two.

The lamb follows the ewe around looking for acceptance.

It works, not to say they are always happy about at first.

Northern Pintail - Self found Island tick & Lifer! (record shot)

Back to the birds! Today I found 2 Northern Pintails in the South Harbour coming back from the shop about 1pm. Drive by birding photographed from the drivers seat. I didn't know what they were at first? I did know I had never seen them before so i made a few notes and drove home to look in my Collins Bird Guide. Pintail! I go back to the harbour on foot and they are gone? :(
as far as I know so far I'm the only person to see them so I share this rubbish record shot so someone will believe me... you know who you are. Birders, we all need a bit of proof!

The day started out with a  phone call alerting me of a Bluethroat seen at the parks by the old mill... Believe it or not a Pintail is a much rarer bird on Fair Isle. The day ended with a Green Sandpiper on the Scrape.


  1. Interesting about the lambs. I can see why they do it but you'd think there would be somewhat of a smell of death about the lamb coat as well as lamb scent.

    Maybe that's why the mother isn't happy at first, something smells wrong but she can't figure it out. Or I could be telling tales.

  2. Great pictures! I love the puffins and the lambs. I follow Springwatch loosely, I like it but I prefer Autumnwatch. Your island looks absolutely gorgeous.