Page last updated at 01:52 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Observatory's 4m revamp 'nears completion'

Fair Isle Bird Observatory [Pic: Fair Isle Bird Observatory]
The observatory also acts as the island's only hotel

A famous bird observatory on Fair Isle, off Shetland, is about to see the conclusion of a £4m upgrade.

The existing facility had attracted bird watchers for 60 years and was the lynchpin of the island's economy, but was in a poor condition.

The revamped facility, which is larger and has hotel-standard rooms, is expected to attract even more visitors.

It was paid for by the Scottish government, Shetland Council and the observatory's own fundraising.

For more than a century, ornithologists have been aware of the importance of Fair Isle for monitoring migrating species and resident seabirds.

There has been an observatory there since 1948, originally in a series of naval huts which were replaced 40 years ago by a purpose-built research station.

The observatory also acts as the island's only hotel and, despite being leaky, draughty and mainly having dormitory accommodation, the old building attracted hundreds of visitors each year, from all over the world.

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