Monday 24th October Fresh E cloudy with showers
The weather forecast for the next ten days tells me that tomorrow is the only day that I can be assured the Good Shepherd will sail. Wind tomorrow will be south-west compared to a strong north easterly next Tuesday; the boat is now on its once weekly Winter timetable.
Also the wind for the next few days will also be south westerly so that will be from almost behind me as I cycle towards Lerwick, the capital of Shetland.
It would be reckless to risk staying until next week. The thing that would keep me on Fair Isle is the friendship of Lee Gregory and Cath Mendez.
I need to pack. I need to say goodbye to some wonderful people who it is a real privilege to know.
I head for Florrie and Jim's croft in the south of the island and chat with them whilst enjoying my first coffee for days. The view from their kitchen is amazing; a vista of sea and land with green and blue, white spray and mist. Paintings on the wall would be superfluous, their's changes all the time. Both Jim and Florrie have friendly, full smiled personalities and they tell me tales of birdwatchers from decades ago who weren't as well behaved or as conversant as today's birders. There is also a fear that some aspects of what makes Fair Isle so very special; the openness, the lack of any sort of crime and the wonderful sense of community in, may be lost in the future. All must work together, crofters, Bird Observatory staff and visiting guests to the island, to ensure that that never happens. Communities like Fair Isles, are extremely rare and therefore so very precious. A jade jewel of such splendour, a place to visit and marvel at.
Birding on the way back north, I watch the geese flock again. Goodbye and thanks to Fiona and Robert at the shop and a donation given to the November the Fifth firework fund.
Up from there to Lower Stoneybrek, Neil is back and I am so glad to see him! Neil is now retired as Captain of The Good Shepherd so I won't be able to say goodbye from the quay at Grutness, Shetland tomorrow.
As Neil closes his door after saying we'll see each other again next year, a northern bullfinch flies along the roadside and lands in the field nearby. This magnificent, large mass of pink topped by a black cap bird hops around in the grass, behaviour very unlike any I have seen display by British bullfinches.
The afternoon is spent with a broom kindly lent to me by yet another crofter, Rachel. I sweep out my abode and brush the wooden walls. My aim is to make it shine before I finish.
Three hours later, having packed and cleaned, I go down to Lower Stoneybrek and leave a donation to the Island Development fund. It is a duty to do so. The island has been so good to me during my extended stay.