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Council urges caution as lockdown restrictions eased

Argyll and Bute Council is urging people to act responsibly and follow national guidance following a busy weekend at popular beauty spots.

The warm weather brought high volumes of visitors to the area including Luss and Arrochar which in turn created antisocial issues including parking congestion and littering in the village and across beaches. Councillor Robin Currie, the council’s policy lead for roads and infrastructure said:

“It is disappointing that some people chose to ignore national advice and clearly travelled more than five miles to visit. We cannot be complacent whilst the risk of infection remains. The reckless actions of a few may impact us all. Ignoring advice to stay local will simply delay our recovery and have a further impact on the economy. We understand that people are desperate to enjoy being outdoors but we still need to exercise caution and help protect our rural communities. Our car parks and toilets remain closed so please think very carefully before making a journey. Our local economy depends on the tourism industry and we are just as keen as everyone to welcome people back to the area, but only when it is safe.”

The council will continue to work closely with Police Scotland to monitor antisocial behaviour and are dedicating extra resources to popular sites including Luss this weekend, by having more wardens on site. National guidance remains:

• Stay at home as much as possible

• Stay local (5 miles)

• Avoid busy and popular beauty spots

• Keep two metres apart

Read the latest Government advice

https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

Tiree Community Council Makes History

First Public Meeting On Island by Teleconference

The screen was a mosaic of faces, taking turns to raise their hands to speak. This was the new face of democracy on Tiree.

Unable to hold public meetings due to coronavirus, Tiree Community Council held its May public meeting using the Zoom videoconferencing tool.

First reactions were positive. Twenty two devices tuned in from the public, some with a number of people huddled around the screen or phone; this is actually more than we get in An Talla.

One of the councillors, Ian Gillies, joined us from his lockdown in Ayrshire, while members of the public logged on from as far afield as Hampshire and Yorkshire. It had been two months since our March meeting, and they had been long months. The council had met over Zoom twice in that time to confront the threat of the coronavirus crisis, and the minutes of these private meetings are now up on our website.

Tiree Community Council had been one of the founders (along with Argyll and Bute Council, the Trust and Cùram) of the island’s volunteer group, TAIC, which is so ably led by Rona Campbell. We had set up the new Tiree food project Solar. We had helped Tiree Medical Practice in their preparations for the epidemic. And we had been part of the Trust’s ‘No One Left Behind’ project to make sure everyone can be connected to the new digital age.

Doctors Mike and Lindsay spoke about huge changes in the island’s medical practice. Numbers of coronavirus cases on Tiree have fallen to very low levels over the past three weeks, but they asked people to be patient with the lockdown as we were not out the woods yet.

The practice is starting to use Near Me, an NHS video consulting service, which allows doctors to connect to patients at home. This is proving very successful; one obvious challenge is making sure every household has a suitable smart phone, tablet or computer – and the skills to use them. They emphasised that the problem now was that some patients were worried about bothering the doctor or going to hospital at the moment, and therefore people were not getting the treatment they needed in time. Their message: we’re open for business as usual, but we’re just doing things slightly differently.

Don McKillop, CalMac’s local Area Operations Manager also joined us. He told us about the new Emergency Lifeline Timetable, giving the island three boats a week. This number of vessels was the bare minimum to cope with current levels of shop supplies, fuel, animal feed, fertiliser, and the increased volume of parcels. Cars travelling to Tiree were now stopped at ‘Box 1′ outside the marshalling area and asked for documents to show that the occupants had a valid reason for travel. This is proof of residence on the island and photo ID. Foot passengers have to do the same at the ticket desk. The staff had turned some cars away when the measures first came in, but there had been no disallowed visits over the last few weeks, and Don thought travellers were getting the message. The system wasn’t perfect; the Calmac staff had no civil powers to back up their position. But passenger numbers on the Tiree route were down 97%. The ELT is set to last until 31 May when it will be reviewed. This is a crucial question for the summer. We received a letter from a constituent who emphasised how important it was to safeguard the residents of our old peoples’ home, and asking us to endorse the Scottish Government’s advice to wear cloth facial coverings in shops where the two-metre distance might be breached. We were happy to do this.

We had also been sent a letter asking us to support an island Hardship Fund at this time. We agreed with this idea, and will take it up, in the first instance, with the Trust, which has the necessary funds. We had been asked if the Tiree waste disposal site could re-open in a limited way. On enquiry, closure was a national policy decision, and the local council staff have no discretion in the matter.

If you have any issues you want us to address, please contact me. The next public TCC meeting will be in June. You can join us with a computer, tablet, or any phone from the comfort of your living room!

Tiree Ranger News

Hiya folks, Hope you are all doing well? We had a cracking spell of weather there but it has gone pure baltic again!

Certainly, seeing the seasons change now and Tiree’s greenery is coming to life. The Sea Pink is in bloom around the coast and Cuckoo Flower and Bog Bean in the marshy areas. So, what have I been up to instead of my events and visitor management. Well I’ve been out checking all the signage to see what needs to be changed, familiarising myself with the odd bit of the island I haven’t properly explored yet, recording signs of Otters right across the island and buzzing around in my wee van delivering shopping and scrubs for TAIC. Few other bits and pieces too for when we hopefully can meet up again.

The birdlife is increasing around the island too with 4 Corncrakes calling from my front door, Linnet and Blackbirds on nests in next door’s garden and hundreds of waders on the beaches. The numbers of Fulmars were building up on Kenevara a few weeks back and it’s time to turn our eyes to the sea. For the last two weeks, the seals have been very active around the island. Most nights I’ve watched the colony at Ruaig playing and porpoising in the bay. They have been doing this at Salum and Balephetrish as well.

Next month, the Commons will start pupping so please be careful and try and to avoid disturbing them if you see them resting on the skerries. There have been a few sightings of Basking Sharks away from Tiree and it won’t be long until these giants are back around the island. If you spot any please let me know.

Finally, I just want to say thank you to you all. I’ve now been on the Island for 6 months. Applying for the Ranger post came about by chance. I was rooted on the mainland but after 9 years working for the council and seeing the changes happening in the Ranger Service and the reduction in our roles there I wasn’t happy anymore. Fast forward to now and the kindness and help that everyone has given me from the MacDonalds and Flora at Ruaig, locals around the island and to my work colleagues, has shown to me that I have made the right decision. Thank you, it means a lot.

Until next time…

Hayley Douglas – Tiree Ranger

Tiree Association News

We hope you are all keeping well, during these uncertain times.

We would normally be in the throes of organising our Annual General Meeting and summer events programme, however we are disappointed to announce that we have had to postpone and cancel all upcoming summer events, due to restrictions and uncertainty regarding Covid19.

Our AGM gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past year, event highlights, community contributions and give thanks to you all for the continued support. We have taken the decision to postpone this meeting and we will reschedule it when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, if you would like any further updates or information or would be interested in joining the committee, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

As already mentioned, we have also taken the decision to cancel our programme of summer events, including the annual Sports Day, which is a highlight of the Tiree Summer Calendar along with the concert and dance. We are disappointed that we won’t be able to go ahead with either event this year and we hope to be back with lots of activity in the Summer of 2021.

Our Annual Gathering Concert and Dance are scheduled to go ahead on Thursday the 19th and Friday the 20th of November. We very much hope that we will be able to go ahead with both of these events and will be monitoring the situation and Government advice over the upcoming months. We do hope that you are all keeping safe and well. If you’d like any further information please contact us on any of the details below.

Boost coming for the Hynish Heritage Centre and Tiree community

The Hebridean Trust was founded to celebrate our island’s strong heritage, culture and language.

Recognising the unique buildings and history we have in Hynish, they renovated what is now the Hynish Heritage Centre and linked exhibitions into what stands today.

The Hebridean Trust has always been led from Oxford: but in a move to really engrain the Hynish Heritage Centre within the social and economic structure of the Tiree community and maximise the use so it’s a real resource, the registered office and administration will relocate to Tiree this year. Trudy MacKenzie, Tish MacKinnon and Rosaleen Campbell have been appointed as new Trustees to support the move: while also working with the existing Trustees to develop the long term vision for the centre and attracting funding to bring the ideas to life. We’ll continue to share more details as we move forward.

It’s also exciting to announce that these changes will bring future job opportunities and create an excellent community hub for us to shout about and attract tourism when the time is right. A project support team has been built with the aim of involving as many Tiree people as we can to really boost the projects and get them up and running. To date the team includes Mark Vale who will focus on IT and the website, Jennifer MacKinnon driving Marketing, Fiona MacKinnon leading on Finance and Jane Isaacson will be supporting on funding.

We’re developing a lot of partnerships on and off the island and have spoken to a range of local bodies, local businesses and individuals about the options for the future. The response, support and ideas so far have been really heartening.

As a tourism and hospitality business we’ve closely followed the Governments COVID-19 advice, and just as we’re seeing other businesses around the world take a pause – we are too. Although a challenging time, it does give us the opportunity to plan and get everything in place. Our great onsite team, Fiona and Christel, are focusing on their individual online training plans until we can safely re-open.

We would love to hear from you if you have any ideas or would like to get involved in whatever capacity – from supporting the projects, to partnerships. Involving locals and people with a strong Tiree connection is key to making Hynish everything it can be.

Contact: Tish on 07887 726542 or via email

Photo By M J Richardson, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4508006

Let’s Hear It for Tiree

How lucky are we to be living on Tiree just now? Although we are each isolated in our own way, there is still a sense of being part of a community, and a caring, proactive and responsible one at that. We also have vast, empty open spaces for our prescribed daily exercise. Spare a thought for those crammed into anonymous city flats. A lot of messages of gratitude have been conveyed to our front-line medical staff and carers, and rightly so, but there are many unsung heroes on the island that must continue with their jobs and voluntary work in order to provide lifeline services to the rest of us. So, a huge THANK-YOU! to all food providers, shop staff, delivery drivers, pier and airport personnel, posties and postal staff, internet providers, telephone engineers, water and electricity supply personnel, petrol and fuel providers, waste disposal staff, police, emergency services personnel, and An Tirisdeach. All these services help us stay safe and connected at this strange and difficult time.

Anonymous

NEWS. Click below for Isle of Tiree coronavirus updates.

Bringing you the latest and the best information from the entire range of sources that we currently have access to. We will update these pages as soon as any new information becomes available.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Updates

Image result for coronavirus image

Tiree Medical Practice Update 25th April 2017

Due to the COVID 19 outbreak we are now offering video consultations using ‘Near Me’. This will help us continue to provide appointments in a safe way, minimise face to face contact and hopefully keep infection rates low. 
Over the next few weeks we will continue to offer the same telephone consultations and face to face appointments if required but when we call you back we might offer you a video consultation. 
I thought it would be a good idea to post this video to explain a bit more about it.
Some hospitals are now using this as an option rather than offering you a face to face appointment on the mainland.
We are keen for all Tiree patients to get in touch if you are not feeling well. We are open for business as usual but are trying to consult in as safe a way as possible. 
Please click on this link if you want to find out more.

https://bit.ly/nearmetiree
Thanks again for all the support

Tiree Medical Practice

Notice from Tiree Coastguard

April 17, 2020 

Lachie Brown, Officer in Charge of Tiree Coastguards has asked people to stay out of the sea during the lock-down in case there are accidents at a time when the emergency services are so stretched. Some in this country have argued that surfing, windsurfing or sailing count as their permitted daily exercise. However, lifeboat crews were called out last week in Devon to incidents involving a kayaker and dinghy sailor. The RNLI has made this statement: ‘While you are allowed out for daily exercise, we do not recommend that this exercise is in or on the sea. ‘Swim England have consulted with Public health England. They say that ‘Open Water Swimming is an activity that is not currently permitted. 

Update from the Medical Practice 31st March 2020

Things have changed a lot for everyone since our last message.  It is great to see the effort being made on Tiree to follow advice and keep as distant as possible from one another.  

Probably the hardest place for everyone to keep their distance from those around them is the COOP, but we all need to eat.  We are really grateful to all the staff at the COOP for their continued efforts to make distancing possible whilst shopping.  

At the surgery, we are doing as many consultations as we possibly can by telephone.  We are grateful for your co-operation with this and with the new arrangements for picking up medication.  We now have a temporary Assessment Room beside the Dentists Surgery, which will be for assessing people with symptoms that could be Covid-19.  This will allow us to prevent the virus being passed on to patients or staff at the surgery building. 

We have prepared a temporary ward at Baugh Church.  This will allow us to look after anyone unwell with the virus, who cannot manage at home.  We hope we do not have to use it, but we need to be prepared.  We will be contacting those who have volunteered to be staff at the ward this week. 

We have heard more about the ambulance services arrangements for anyone who needs to be evacuated with Covid-19.  There will now be an air ambulance service using the fixed wing aircraft.

We are seeing a few people with cough and fever symptoms, but as time goes by, it is becoming clearer that some people with coronavirus do not always have both of these.  If you feel unwell and have any cold, cough or fever type symptoms, please let us know.  We may not always need to see you face to face, but we would like to hear from you please.  

You have probably heard talk of Covid-19 testing in the news.  Unfortunately, we still do not have access to testing except for front line health care workers, in order to get them back to work if they are suspected of having the virus.

There is a huge amount of effort going in from people across the community, be it helping move equipment, building partitions for the Ward at Baugh Church, making uniforms for volunteers at the Ward, plumbing and electrics installation for the Assessment Room, helping those more vulnerable to Covid-19 infection to isolate by doing their shopping or administrative and organisational work.  It’s a long list and we are really grateful to everyone who is helping to hold back the spread of the virus, and make preparations for whatever it may bring.

 For up to date information regarding COVID-19 in the community visit www.tireetrust.org.uk/covid-19

Louise Reid

Admin Assistant

Tiree Community Development Trust

Update from Tiree Medical Practice: COVID19

24th March 2020

Many of you may have noticed activity around Baugh Church. 
Whilst we hope we never have to use it we have set up Baugh Church as a potential ward ( not hospital) so that we can look after a number of unwell people at a time if we needed to do so.
The church now has a couple of hospital beds and is equipped with supportive treatment such as oxygen, fluids and medicines.
As you are all very well aware we have limited medical staff and we are hoping to make a list of potential volunteers who might be able to help us keep the ward going. In particular we are looking for people who may have had carer or nursing backgrounds but we are basically keen for anyone that thinks they might be able to help. Volunteers could not be in an ‘at risk’ group.
To give an update on the current situation on Tiree: we have a few families self isolating but this has not increased a huge amount over the past few days. Please let us know if you think you have symptoms and are self isolating as it will help us get an idea of levels of the virus on the island.
Thanks so much to everyone for paying attention to all the advice regarding self isolating and social distancing we really hope it will pay off so keep it up!
Also thanks to all our amazing volunteers who are helping with prescription deliveries and with shopping please contact Rona if you need assistance with this.

Doctors :

Mike,Linds,Ali and Andy

22/03/2020

CalMac state ferry travel across Scotland must be for essential travel only

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced today, Sunday 22 March 2020, that ferry travel across Scotland must be for essential travel only.

From now on ferries will be for those who live on our islands, who have an essential need to travel to or from the mainland, and for essential supplies or business.  Nothing else. The return of non-residents from islands back to the mainland will also be deemed essential travel. 

If you have already bought or booked a ticket but your travel is not essential, then you should not be travelling, and you must contact us for a refund. We expect the travelling public will listen to this new guidance to keep everyone of us as safe as possible

Glasgow-Tiree Air Service Public Service Obligation (PSO)

Tiree Community Council and Tiree Transport Forum are in dialogue with the Aviation Sector of Transport Scotland on our Glasgow to Tiree PSO through the COVID 19 health crisis which is seriously impacting on the numbers using the Glasgow flights, Michael Bratcher, Aviation Department, Transport Scotland has responded to us this week as follows;
There are no immediate plans to change the network further but things are moving quickly so that may change’

Update on Glasgow-Tiree Air Service

Michael Bratcher, Transport Scotland, Aviation Dept. 23 March 2020

As you may be aware, capacity is being scaled back on the Tiree-Glasgow service at present in light of the significantly reduced demand. This will initially involve doubling up the Campbeltown and Tiree service using the existing Twin Otters. I think there may have been a misunderstanding that the Saabs were getting brought in to increase capacity but, in fact, the opposite is the case. I’m sure you’ll agree that it makes little sense to fly empty or near empty planes so a capacity cut in the short term is inevitable. Things are moving pretty quickly so it may be the case that capacity is cut further if demand continues to remain at these very low levels. I am of course conscious of the need for connectivity to be maintained so that residents and supplies can get on and off the island where necessary.

One issue to note is that the Twin Otter aircraft may be needed by the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) to augment the existing air ambulance capacity. The Twin Otters can be fitted out to carry stretchers and are capable of landing at airstrips that other aircraft are not. If a Twin Otter aircraft is not available then a Saab may operate but please note that this would only be because the Twin Otter was not available and not due to any capacity requirement. It is anticipated that passenger levels will remain very low for some time to come.

Covid-19 CalMac prioritisation of goods for transport-statement

Information is from Elizabeth Ferguson, CalMac Community Board Member

As the situation around the Covid:19 outbreak develops, it is critical that essential goods are transported to where they are required.  At CalMac, we have a key part to play in this supply chain.  To assist everyone during these challenging times, a list of goods which are deemed priority has been created.  Any vehicle – be that an articulated vehicle, van, car with or without a trailer, involved in the transportation of these goods will be given priority on all routes and on all sailings.  They include: 

·         Vehicles carrying food and other goods for supermarkets and shops

·         Vehicles carrying drugs and other medical supplies

·         Vehicles carrying medical oxygen

·         Vehicles carrying items required by the emergency services, in particular medical items related to the current Covid-19 outbreak

·         Vehicles carrying fuel

·         Vehicles carrying livestock.

As you will understand, this may result in vehicles with non-urgent goods that may or may not have a booking being moved to a later sailing. In the current situation, this is unavoidable, and  we will do our best to clearly communicate the reason for any booking being moved to a later sailing.

If there are any issues or problems relating to this, please speak to the relevant Port Manager.

 END

Shop Safely on Tiree

As you know, coronavirus is circulating on Tiree. Keeping away from other people is an effective way to reduce the chance of you catching the disease and the chance of you passing it around our community.

We are really lucky to have the shops we have on Tiree. But with most meetings and gatherings cancelled, they are one of the few places left on the island where you might bump into someone else. Shopping safely has therefore become very important.

Here are some basic rules to follow:

· If you are at risk of getting a more severe illness from the virus – if you are over 70 or if you don’t keep in the best of health – consider asking someone else to shop for you (phone Rona Campbell on 01631 572975)

· Shop once week rather than every few days

· Shop on your own rather than in a group

· Stay at least 2 metres away from other shoppers from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. If the shop is crowded, wait in your car until there is more space. It is usually quiet early and late in the day

· Do not stop to chat. This goes against our very nature, but it’s important for the next few weeks!

· When you get home, wash your hands thoroughly, leave your shopping in the porch overnight and wipe down hard containers like milk bottles with hot, soapy water

The Coop on Tiree is now offering the time between 8 and 9 am that is dedicated to those over 60 and the carers of vulnerable people.

Dr John Holliday

HEALTH MATTERS

Number C.1

It has been a while since I put this series to bed, but I thought I would resuscitate it since we are officially in The Thick of It.

It is so important not to touch our faces at the moment. And so difficult! A study from New South Wales in 2015 filmed 26 medical students who had been told that they were under observation and that they should try to keep their hands under control. Despite this pressure, they touched their faces 23 times an hour on average. That is once every three minutes. Half the time this involved their eyes, nose and mouth, those little bits of us that are lined with sensitive membranes that viruses home in on.

So if you are stuck at home, wondering what family game to play, sit around the table for three minutes and try not to touch your face. Let me know how you get on!

Dr John Holliday 24/03/2020

THINK OF OUR POSTIES!

Most of us are all getting used to a new life tucked up at home, and a lot of us are spending more time in front of our screens. It is very tempting, when we can’t get out to the shops, to order stuff online. Please remember, though, that every order we make needs the attention of staff in some warehouse or other and a whole network of couriers including our own Tiree posties and delivery drivers. Every time a packet or box is handled and delivered to your door, there is a chance that it picks up the virus. We know that the virus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours. In the present circumstances, we depend more than ever on online shopping, but please think of all the people working in the supply chain. Don’t click unless you really need to!

Dr John Holliday, 24/03/2020

TIREE AND CORONAVIRUS

For a hundred years Tiree has welcomed visitors and won worldwide fame for its sunshine, its beaches and its welcome. The season to visit the island is upon us and we would normally expect to see over 20,000 people before the end of the year.

However, the current coronavirus epidemic is a once-in-a-century event. The virus is already circulating on the island. We know from past experience that epidemics have a particularly intense effect on our small, isolated community, which in winter numbers just 650 and contains a high number of elderly people. We need your help to get through the next few months as safely as we can.

The doctors and emergency services on Tiree are now at full stretch and working in very difficult circumstances. An increased workload from a large number of visitors is going to increase the strain.

We are trying to keep contact between people down to a bare minimum. Almost all meetings, church services and group activities have been cancelled. We are encouraging people to shop responsibly: that means a single person shopping just once a week with as little social contact inside the shop as possible. Many vulnerable and elderly islanders have retreated into their homes, and, often, would like to keep visitors to a minimum.

We would ask you to think carefully about your visit to Tiree at the moment. It is not that we are worried about you bringing coronavirus to the island. There is plenty here already. But we need to be able to work without distraction on the challenges we face: treating people and reducing the penetration of the disease into the community.

When coronavirus is all over and we are able to party again, normal service will be resumed!

We are grateful for your help and support.

Drs Mike McIver, Lindsay Kerr, Ali Ambrose and Andrew Clark, supported by Dr John Holliday and the members of Tiree Community Council

Council leader welcomes ferry funding for Argyll and Bute

The Leader of Argyll and Bute Council has welcomed an additional £954,000 from the Scottish Government for island ferry services.

Councillor Aileen Morton said: “Argyll and Bute Council delivers a number of services other councils don’t have to, for example ferry services. We have been doing a lot of work therefore to raise awareness of Argyll and Bute’s unique challenges with decision-makers. I am pleased that the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands listened to what we had to say and is providing an additional £954,000 for Argyll and Bute Council ferry services. £500,000 of this funding will be used to provide a new ferry for Lismore; the rest will support the continuation of ferry services to a number of our islands.”

The Leader and Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council met with Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands in January this year.

The announcement comes in advance of the Council setting next year’s budget this Thursday 27 February. Councillor Morton said: “We’re glad to see our island ferry services receive fair funding. While we will continue to discuss the potential transfer to Transport Scotland this funding removes one element of the financial pressures we face this year.”

Rural Centre Public Access Defibrillator Launched

Following the Cattle Sale held on Tuesday 25th February, Tiree Rural Development’s public access Automated external defibrillator (AED) was launched. Due to an issue with the supply of an outdoor cabinet to house the unit, which would withstand Tiree’s weather – the project launch date was delayed.

Archie John MacLean (TRD Director) made a speech after the sale to provide information regarding this project. Funds were raised, through various donations and a grant provided by the British Heart Foundation.

Thanks were given to the project donors – United Auctions, I A MacKinnon Haulage, Hamilton Brothers, NFU Mutual Oban (Warnock, MacDougall, Husthwaite & MacLean), AJ MacLean, Coll & Tiree Vets, AA MacIntosh, John Kennedy Transport, T Barbour, Alan & Janette Reid, Kerr Family, Heanish, Tarff Valley Ltd, SAC Consulting and an anonymous donor.

Without the very generous donations received this project would not have been possible. A fantastic sum of £2,700 was received from the sponsors – this allowed TRD to purchase the AED and an outdoor cabinet. A balance remains in this fund, and this will be ring-fenced within TRD’s accounts which will be used towards the cost of maintaining the AED (replacement batteries/pads) over its lifetime and will help towards the cost of replacing the unit at the end of the 10 year lifetime.

AEDs are compact, easy to use, safe and very effective. They can be used by anyone, whether or not they have had formal training. An AED gives the person using it voice instructions. An AED will not allow a shock to be given unless the collapsed person needs one. The AED is housed in an unlocked cabinet, that can be accessed 24/7.

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

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