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RSPB Information

January was very wet and windy, thanks to a succession of Atlantic storms, although it remained unusually mild.

The rare birds from December remained as they were, including the Todd’s Canada Goose in with the Barnacle Geese at Kirkapol/Vaul and the pair of Ring-necked Ducks, which commuted between Loch Bhasapol and Loch a’ Phuill.

The Atlantic storms brought in a few “white-winged” gulls from the Arctic including a young Iceland Gull at Loch a’ Phuill (19th) and an adult Glaucous Gull at Loch a’ Phuill (4th) followed by juvenile birds at Gott Bay (14th) and Loch a’ Phuill (19th).

Other good birds included 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Heylipol (17th-22nd), a Black-throated Diver off Traigh Bhi (24th), Short-eared Owls at Ruaig (20th) and Balinoe (20th), 9 Common Scoters including a flock of 7 in Gott Bay (22nd-28th), a Jack Snipe at Balephuil (27th) and a Snow Bunting at Gott Bay (30th).

The Big Garden Birdwatch weekend on 25th-26th January found moderate numbers of birds visiting garden feeders in the mild conditions, including a few Greenfinches and odd Dunnock. The January goose count (22nd-23rd) found a total of 5,612 Barnacle Geese, as well as 741 Greenland White-fronts and 2,243 Greylags, plus 143 Whooper Swans on the lochs, 20 Pinkfooted Geese, 2,290 Golden Plover and 2,500 Lapwing.

A dead Common Dolphin came ashore at Gott Bay (14th) but mostly the bays were alive with mixed feeding flocks of waders. Many garden plants began flowering much earlier than normal in the mild conditions, including banks of primroses in sheltered spots.

John Bowler

Tiree community enterprise boosts island’s fishing industry

The timely delivery of a major project by a community enterprise on the island of Tiree in Argyll has provided a longterm boost to the island’s fishing industry.

Tiree Community Maritime Assets Ltd has completed the much-needed refurbishment of Milton Harbour and the creation of covered landing and sorting facilities. The project cost £1,164,955 in total, including just under £350,000 from Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE). It has improved the harbour by raising the height of the quays, extending the pier and providing a new quayside facility.

Tiree’s five shellfish boats can now tie up and unload safely, and sort their catch efficiently in the new shed, resulting in increased capacity and improved catch quality.

Local fisherman Neil MacPhail said: “Since we have moved back into Milton the pier improvements have proved to be everything we had hoped for and more. Loading the catch is taking half the time with so much less manual input and more space. “The buyer is extremely happy with packaging and grading under cover in the shed and the resulting catch quality. “For the first winter in 25 years I am looking forward to sleeping peacefully when there are southerly gales and spring tides.”

Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: “We were keen to support this project as improved pier facilities mean a secure future for the Tiree fleet. This is a huge benefit allowing safe berthing in all weathers and increased capacity and quality of the catch. “In practical terms, this investment means up to 20 good jobs are secured on the island, with all fishermen and most of their crews local to Tiree. This contributes to the local economy and community resilience, including supporting the schools on Tiree and Islay. “We congratulate the Tiree Community Maritime Assets Ltd on completing this project, which will benefit the fishing industry in Tiree for years to come.”

Tiree Ranger Update

Hi folks, Well that’s January out the way and it’s certainly becoming more noticeably light in the mornings.

The island took a bit of a battering from Storm Brendan with erosion obvious on most of the beaches. We lost about a foot and a half of sand at Ruaig and the materials from the old camp have become visible on Crossapol. The storm brought in a huge amount of litter as well. This was really noticeable along Gott Bay as it had been thrown onto the roadside rather than being caught up in the dunes. Three days and three van loads later the majority of it has been cleared up by myself. This has lead us here in the office to start to think about resurrecting The Big Tiree Tidy.

I know this went down well on the island two years ago and it would be great to get the community together again to spruce everything up and it gives us the opportunity to remove some of the bigger items that others haven’t been able to move previously. I’m thinking along the lines of having it towards the end of April and working on a team basis again. If you think you or your family would be up for the challenge please drop me a line on ranger@tireetrust.org.uk so I can gauge interest.

I’ve also got a few access tasks to complete like fixing some stiles and some ongoing repairs to a few of the car parks. If folk would be interested in volunteering and getting out for a few hours then please give me a shout. There will be cake!

The Weekend Wander walks have been going well with the next one on Sunday the 16th to avoid the cattle sale the day before. Meeting at The Lodge hotel at 11am. If these continue to go well I will look at running them on a weekly basis when the weather gets better. The Weekend Wanders are run as health walks with the idea that none of them will be too strenuous and it gives us all the chance to get out and about and to have a chat with folk. It’s certainly giving me as a newbie a chance to meet and learn. Again there is also the opportunity of eating cake. Can you see a theme here? I’ll also be adding a wee twist to them once an important delivery arrives so do come along.

Just to finish on a sad note, I lifted a young dog otter off the road at Balephetrish. I know otters aren’t universally popular here on Tiree for various reasons. (It was foxes and mink that caused issues in my old village). I’m trying to gauge what size of population we have on the island so if you see any, alive or dead or signs of them please let me know. Til next time.

Hayley Douglas

Land Below The Waves Meets Scottish Parliament

The Tiree community has been given a once-in-a generation opportunity to meet Scottish politicians at an event in March.

The organisers hope the event will celebrate the island, kick-starting a stronger relationship between Tiree and policymakers. And everyone’s invited!

The idea was the brainchild of Ian Gillies after a 2018 visit to the island from Leslie Evans, Scotland’s top civil servant. Receptions like this are a regular feature at the Holyrood home of the Scottish Parliament.

The idea is to take all the energy, all the good ideas spilling out of Tiree, and take them into the heart of government to showcase the island as it stands today. Side-by side with a celebration of all things Tiree will be a series of face-to-face talks with ministers, MSPs and top civil servants about the problems we are facing: our need for skilled jobs and affordable housing, the increasingly urgent problem of how to replace Tilley, even the threats to our land from a changing climate. Plenty to talk about!

The reception, hosted by our MSP Michael Russell, takes place from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday 18 March in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament. The evening will feature music by the prize-winning Còisir Bun-Sgoil Thiriodh, some tunes from Tiree musicians, a refreshment from Tyree Gin, and three new short films made by Jack Lockhart.

Funding for the evening has come from the Tiree Trust, whose directors see this as a chance for Tiree to make a real impression where it matters, as well as the Tiree Association. Invitations will be going out this week to many active members of the Tiree community, on the island and beyond. But there is an open invitation for anyone with a connection to Tiree to come along. Numbers are limited to around 180, so please let us know if you would like to come by replying to admin@tireecommunitycouncil.c o.uk or by dropping a note to Tiree Community Council at the Crossapol Business Centre.

An extra flight to Glasgow has been set up to cope with the numbers travelling. Since we are not sure whether the linkspan will be operational by then, a special bus service from Oban has also been arranged to take islanders to parliament for the day.

Do join us in this celebration of an island!

Tiree Community Council

Talented filmmakers from Argyll made it into shortlist for FilmG competition

A fantastic array of films by talented filmmakers, schools and community groups from across Argyll have made it into the shortlists for this year’s Gaelic short film competition – FilmG.

Judges had a tough job whittling down the impressive field of a record 103 entries, who were all competing for the top prizes. Christine Morrison, a documentary producer with 25 years of experience was on this year’s Youth judging panel. She said: “It was a pleasure to watch the many original, inventive films made by talented young filmmakers as a member of the FilmG 12 – 17 youth category judging panel. Competition was tough as film-makers tackled a wide range of subject matter with verve and style.”

The shortlists showcase a wide variety of film styles, from time travelling comedy and classic who-dunnits to bicycle travelogues, historical documentaries and commentary on social media and the Gaelic language itself.

This year’s theme for entries was “Treòraich”, meaning ‘guide, or lead’, and was interpreted by the filmmakers in a variety of clever, funny, serious and inspiring ways. In the hotly-contested Youth category, which received a record 75 entries this year, Ardnamurchan High School in Acharacle received four separate nominations for their two highly entertaining films. ‘Reòite’, which involves time travelling using a whisk, has been nominated in both the Best Film and FilmG International Representative categories, while pupil Parker Dawes has received a Best Performance nomination. ‘An Cuach, Na h-Iuchraichean agus an Dròn’, which was produced by the Gaelic learners class, and also involves a bit of time travelling, this time with a quaich, has been nominated for the FilmG Award for Gaelic Learners.

Tobermory High School also picked up two nominations for their football film, ‘Alasdair Dionghmhalta’. Alongside a nomination in the FilmG Award for Learners category, pupil Cailean MacLean has also been nominated for Best Performance.

Ìle Bheò, a drama group formed of Gaelic learners from Islay High School, have also been nominated in the FilmG Award for Gaelic Learners category for their film ‘Bodach na Mòine’, where a young blogger uncovers another side to the booming tourist industry on the island.

Talented individual filmmakers have also been recognised in the Youth category. Annie Sìne NicNìll from Fort William has been nominated in the Most Creative Production and Best Young Filmmaker categories for her powerful animation, ‘Tarraing’, about a young boy going off to war, while Thomas Young of Dunoon, received a Best Documentary nomination for his film ‘Eachdraidh Dhòmhnaill MhicLeòid’, a film about the world famous piper Donald MacLeod, MBE.

In the Open category, eight filmmakers picked up at least two nominations each. Tiree’s Eoghan MacIllEathain has been nominated in both the Film Dùthchais as Fheàrr and Best Industry Director categories for his film Tìr an Eòrna, which looks at Tiree’s whisky making past, and how the industry is seeing a revival on the island.

Shannon NicIllEathainn of Tobermory has also received two nominations for her film, Seònaid, a documentary about the wonderful Janet MacDonald, who has done so much for Gaelic on Mull. Shannon has been nominated in the Film Dùthchais as Fheàrr category, and also for Best Film.

Oban’s Coinneach Lindsay has been nominated in the Best Script category for his film script, ‘Na Cnàmhan’.

FilmG Project Officer, Ross Christie, said: “It’s encouraging to see entrants from every part of the Gaelic community – from primary and secondary schools, to students, professionals in the industry and amateur filmmakers of all ages. It’s clear that every one of them has a story they want to tell, and FilmG provides the perfect medium for this, and brings the work of Gaelic creatives to the fore.”

Murdo MacSween, Communications Manager for MG ALBA, said: “FilmG is an integral part of the Gaelic media environment, sparking creativity and developing talent to the extent where the next step could be employment and a career working in the sector. The quality of the films has been outstanding this year and it will be an exciting awards ceremony.”

All the shortlists are available to view on the FilmG website, and voting for the People’s Choice Award is still open until the 31st of January. All the winners will be announced at the annual FilmG Awards Ceremony, to be held in the iconic Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on 14th February.

FilmG is the Gaelic short film competition, funded by MG ALBA and delivered by Cànan Graphics Studio on the Isle of Skye. For more information visit, www.filmg.co.uk

Appeal To Islanders To Save Air Service

Argyll and Bute Council is appealing to residents on Coll to save the island’s air service by filling airport-safety jobs.

The council advertised four posts each on Coll and Colonsay. These roles will enable flights to land and leave from the islands by ensuring that their airports meet CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) regulations. The council received a good level of response from Colonsay. More roles however need to be filled on Coll if the island’s air service is to continue.

Councillor Robin Currie, Policy Lead for Islands said: “As a council we are doing all we can to make an air service from Coll possible. Despite financial challenges, we have put funding in place to run a service. “We can’t make this happen on our own though and so are appealing for the help of islanders in delivering a service that works for them. “We will make training available, so that local people have the chance to develop additional skills and the expertise that is needed by the island is kept on the island. “We are asking islanders to get involved in a service delivered by the local community for the local community.”

Coll has had an air service for 12 years. The council currently operates flights between Coll and Tiree and Oban. The island is also served by a ferry service to and from the mainland. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) previously provided fire safety cover through a Memorandum of Understanding set up by what was at the time, Strathclyde Fire & Rescue. This enabled SFRS Volunteer Firefighters to undertake the additional role of Airport Firefighters. Following a review of this arrangement, Argyll and Bute Council and the SFRS agreed that community safety and resilience would be improved with dedicated Airport Firefighter roles. The council has therefore created and funded posts that bring together fire safety and grounds operation duties, to make it possible for the airport service to continue.

All applicants to the new posts will have training provided, which is funded by the Council. Paul Devlin, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire, said: “We have worked in close partnership with the local authority to identify and achieve the best outcomes for community safety. There is no doubt that the creation of an airport fire service further to a dedicated SFRS crew will enhance safety on Coll and Colonsay and is therefore good news for the community.”

Details of the roles can be found on www.myjobscotland.gov.uk. Applications are requested by 4 February 2020.

Tiree Ranger Update

Well folks, I’ve been here for a month now and I have had the chance to meet many of you out and about or at events. So much so I’m at the stage that I’m remembering faces but not from where so please give me a helping hand if I’m looking a bit puzzled.

I’ve spent my time at work getting to grips with some of the Ranger duties as well as exploring the island. I’ve been up to the school to meet the teachers and see what topics I can help with and had a lovely lunch with the Cùram lunch club ladies. I even took them Minnie the Mink to meet (a stuffed one not a real one) and she almost got rehomed (read pinched) by one of them.

One of my favourite activities is tracking so I spent a day looking for Otters and found one female with two cubs which we watched for 15 minutes and another family who I suspect are living under the decking of one of the holiday homes. I’ve started work on an events programme for next year with the first couple happening during the Christmas holidays so why not join me for a Mince Pie Beach Buster or Hangover Cure Walk (cannot guarantee it will clear your hangover but it will make you feel better). Look out for the posters and hope to see some of you there.

With all this wintery weather there has been a lot of seal reports coming in to the BDLMR team on the Island. The pups have been turning up in strange places. I found one sleeping on the grass verge near Baugh Church. I thought it had been hit by a car and it wasn’t happy when I prodded it and it woke up. It quickly headed back into the sea and hasn’t been caught napping since. Remember if you are concerned about one please call 01825765546.

On the theme of wildlife rescue some of you will have heard of the flying hedgehog. At this time of year Hedgehogs should be hibernating and if any are seen it can be a sign that there is a problem. I found one on the road and I knew straight away it was too wee to try and hibernate. It fitted in my hand and only weighed 290g. To survive they should be more like a football and weigh over 500g. I used to work for a wildlife hospital in North Ayrshire so took it home for a feed. It was a wee bit shoogly so I thought it would be best to get it to Hessilhead rather than overwinter it myself. The next day I packaged it up in a box and with the help of the folk at the airport and a willing passenger the wee hog, who has been named Annag, made a short trip to Glasgow where she is now in the care of Hessilhead and is putting weight on. In the Spring she will be released on the mainland as I didn’t book her a return flight.

That’s all for now except for me to say have a great Christmas and New year folks!

Surgery Simulation

Following up from the simulations during the Easter weekend earlier this year, Tiree’s emergency services gathered at An Talla for a follow up session on Friday 29th November.

From 1pm the fire service, ambulance, nurses, coast guard and police spent the day doing team building exercises through simulations of emergencies, observed and advised by Dave Strachan from Pitlochry and Heather Sinclair from Perth, both who are from the British Association of Immediate Care, otherwise known as BASICS Scotland.

Heather said, “The people were great, teams were brilliant and worked well together. And thanks for the great weather!”

The simulations that took place this time around were in shorter bursts, but still offered a variety of scenarios from a victim who slipped on the rocks and lay crumpled in a difficult place to assess, a cyclist hit by a car lying on the side of the road with a blocked air passage and a casualty that had slipped on rubble and impaled their leg.

Tiree’s doctors played the convincing part of the casualties, leaving the rest of the emergency services to band together and problem solve in small groups with limited equipment. Each of the simulations lasted between 10 – 30 minutes, but each scenario gave the participants new perspectives and situations to consider that they may not have encountered before. The weather couldn’t have been better, as darkness quickly encroached with the winter season. Despite the lack of visibility, the teams met each simulation quickly, effectively and in some scenarios, good humour.

Sandy Mac said, “It was a very useful day. It was handy to see all the different services working together and learning new techniques.”

A lovely meal of fish and chips was provided by Alan, Janette and Megan Reid, warming everyone up from the crisp cold towards the end of the day.

The surgery would like to thank all participants from Tiree crews, the BASICS team, all visiting doctors and most importantly Megan, Alan and Janette for the delicious food.

Christmas Light Up

As Tiree’s nights grow colder, darker and unfortunately, wetter, it was time to chase the winter blues away with the annual light up of the Christmas tree at the Tiree Business Centre.

Though there was a slight mishap with the outdoor plugs right before the evening, Gerard McGoogan and Steve Nagy came to the rescue by fixing the lights fixture plug.

It was a wonderful evening with mince pies, chocolate biscuits, juice and mulled wine provided for free to the community by Tiree Trust. Christmas jingles were played over the speakers to get everyone into the holiday spirit, with some live performances between songs by the Tiree Pipe Band.

Following the excited countdown by the attendees, the lights were turned on to reveal not only the tree, but a new addition to the lights in the form of three reindeer. Santa Claus also paid a visit, handing out candy canes to the children.

Louise Reid would like to thank Gerard and Steve for their help with the repairs to ensure the night went without a hitch, Cameron Smith and Stuart Carr for building the set up, Marg Worsley for assisting with putting up the lights around the business centre, the Tiree Pipe Band for their performance, Santa for making a special visit despite his busy schedule and Shari for being an elf.

Tiree Community Bonfire Night

The Community Bonfire and Fireworks Night on Tuesday 5th November at Gott Bay had great attendance with a turnout of around 200 people.

The conditions for the evening couldn’t have been better – despite the chill there was no wind or rain to disturb the event.

The Trust organised the event with assistance from a group of community volunteers. The fireworks were provided by the Tiree Community Development Trust, the fuel for the bonfire was donated by Sandy MacIntosh.

The local fire service attended, they lit the fire and provided safety cover, the airport firemen brought along their portable lighting, the Cobbled Cow provided free food, Cameron and Lachie were responsible for building the fire, which was cleared by William Angus the next day and Jim and Craig handled the fireworks’ display.

Louise Reid would like to thank everyone, including those mentioned above, who volunteered their time, hands and resources.

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