New Fair Isle bird observatory takes shape

CONSTRUCTION of a replacement bird observatory for Fair Isle took a step forward yesterday.

Modules built in a factory in Sheffield arrived at the island on a barge, ready to be assembled.

The world-famous observatory burned down in 2019.

Fair Isle has hosted a bird observatory since 1948.

As well as carrying out scientific research, the facility has also welcomed tourists from around the world.

The modules for the new building were designed by Inverness-based Colin Armstrong Architects.

After being built at IDHM in Sheffield, the modules were driven to Grimsby and sailed to Kirkwall.

A barge is now moving the modules to Fair Isle.

Douglas Barr, chair of Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust (FIBOT), said: “I am delighted to see the factory built modules arriving in Fair Isle and the start of the new bird observatory.

“This will allow us to continue and develop further our world-class data and research and for us to maintain our important role in both the tourist and wider Fair Isle economy.

“We really look forward to being open again and welcoming visitors to the island.”

Katrina Wiseman, Shetland team area manager at Highlands & Islands Enterprise, which is supporting the £7.4 million project with a £2.35m funding package, added: “Fair Isle can now look forward to a promising future as a global eco-tourism destination.

“The observatory plays a crucial role in supporting the viability and sustainability of one of the most remote islands in the UK.

“The project is bringing back a key income generating facility, providing employment, hosting visitors to the Island, and providing world-renowned research.

“This will provide significant spin-off benefits for all island businesses as well as the community.”

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.

Plus, don’t miss photographer Kevin Morgans’ puffin pictures in the November issue of Scottish Field magazine.