End of an era - a thank you to Tony Marr

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YvonneB

OH Bird Recorder
Feb 5, 2017
338
11
#1
Outer Hebrides Birds would like to say a massive thank you very much to Tony Marr for his contribution to the counties bird records over the last ten years. It really does feel like the end of an era and Tony will be sorely missed in his far flung outpost up in Ness, Lewis where he has spent the spring and autumn for the last ten years.

We received this email from Tony yesterday and have added it in it's entirety.

Farewell to Ness and The Butt of Lewis

I left Port of Ness last week on completion of my ten years migration watching at the Butt, and I’m now back in Cley next the Sea to start writing up my results. Apart from the possibility of an occasional ‘holiday’ visit to Lewis in the future, I plan to remain in Cley and resume my regular walks out to Blakeney Point, weather, shingle and legs permitting. I am told that it still attracts rare birds and good falls of common migrants! I’ve been able to find regular rarities in Ness, but up there the word ‘fall’ does not normally apply to birds.

The attached copy of my last-ever wildlife article for fios, the fortnightly North Lewis Newspaper, describes how under-watched the northern tip of the Outer Hebrides still is. This autumn has attracted a few more keen birders to visit and to stay, and I’ve been happy to encourage and to assist them in finding birds arriving from Iceland, Greenland and further afield. Unfortunately, despite the seemingly endless series of westerly gales and storms hitting Lewis, most of the North American landbirds discovered this autumn have arrived in south-west England and south-west Ireland. It was a very disappointing season for Scotland, especially for the Northern Isles and particularly Fair Isle.

I make no apology for including in the attached farewell message a plea for more birders to visit the Isle of Lewis and Harris (one island). The Outer Hebridean islands of North and South Uist, Benbecula and Barra have consistently produced good birds for decades now. With more birders visiting the larger northernmost island, its full potential could be realised. As a lone ranger on the tip of north-west Scotland, I’ve often felt overwhelmed by the large area I’ve tried to cover on my own. The cavalry has not yet come thundering over the hills from Stornoway.

I recommend to you Josh Jones’ blog for a visit he made in late October with Dan Pointon (his third visit) and Richard Bonser (his first). In his eminently readable blog: www.joshrjones.com/blog/late-october-on-lewis, Josh describes their results in covering mostly the west Lewis area around Great Bernera, Uig and Gallan Head. Josh suggests that ideally you’d need more than a single team covering the island in peak autumn – ‘with so much cover to go at, 10 or more car loads would be able to do this huge island a bit more justice’.

He concludes that ‘ Lewis has it all – apart from birders working it. With Tony Marr’s return to Norfolk this winter, there will now be a precise total of zero birders based at Ness, while the western parts of the island essentially remain unbirded for the majority of the year…. It has the potential to produce birds from all points of the compass, and not just in autumn. For those of you thinking about a week on Shetland again next October, why not mix things up and visit the Hebrides? It’d be great to see more consistent coverage up here in the future, as clearly the very few visiting at present are barely scratching the surface. There must be so much to be found’.

Now there’s a real challenge…

Tony Marr
 

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