Page last updated at 23:59 GMT, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 00:59 UK

Island in 4m bid for twitchers

Fair Isle (Picture courtesy of Undiscovered Scotland)
Fair Isle lies halfway between Orkney and Shetland

A fundraising appeal has been launched for a new bird observatory on Fair Isle, one of the UK's most remote inhabited islands.

The National Trust, which owns the island, said the existing facility had attracted visitors for 60 years and was the lynchpin of its economy.

The Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust said it needed to raise 1.5m for the new building, which will open in 2010.

Shetland Islands Council has pledged more than a quarter of the 4m cost.

'Ornithological mecca'

Hundreds of bird watchers travel to the island off Shetland every year to observe migrating birds.

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Puffins on Fair Isle

The bird observatory there is known to ornithologists around the world and is famous for its rare bird migrants and spectacular seabirds.

Bill Oddie, a regular visitor to the observatory, gave his backing to the fundraising campaign.

"Fair Isle is one of my favourite birding locations," he said.

"I first went as a schoolboy, a visit to my ornithological mecca - I've been back many times and seen some cracking rare birds.

"I encourage everyone to donate generously and help build the new observatory and I hope to be one of its first birding visitors."


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