Category Archives: Uncategorized
for The Hynish Centre, Hynish, Tiree
The Hebridean Trust requires a replacement Warden to work with our existing staff for the 2015 season at the Hynish Centre. We are looking for someone who can provide an excellent holiday experience, including some full-board catering, for the wide range of visitors due this summer; from small families to large groups; from the vulnerable and disadvantaged to the extreme-sports enthusiasts.
The role includes housekeeping and some catering for Alan Stevenson House, Morton Boyd House and The Cottage, plus warden for The Skerryvore Lighthouse exhibition and The Treshnish exhibition.
You will be working alongside our Assistant Warden, Lesley McLean, until the end of July, and thereafter support will be available.
Catering experience, good organisational skills and an interest in meeting people will help!
To find out more about this role please contact Lesley McLean on 01879 220574.
Visit our website at http://www.hebrideantrust.org
A charity registered in Scotland (SC038956) and in England and Wales (285629)
It has come to that time of year again when we are busy organising the Community Open Day.
We invite you all to come along on Saturday the 10th of May at An Talla. If any community group wishes to have a stall on the day then please get in touch with Sophie or Donna on the details above. More information to follow.
Community Shop – It’s a YES vote
Over 140 people turned out on Saturday the 1st of March to cast their vote, which resulted in a YES vote being the majority.
The Directors and staff at Tiree Trust would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Steering Group for all their hard work and dedication to the project.
Open Grow Day
A few months ago I entered youth groups into a Grow Wild competition, which we then went on to win three ‘Ready Steady Sow’ wild flower seed kits.
The Grow Wild project is about bringing people across the UK together to learn and develop their knowledge and skills about wild flowers. I have arranged a small seed sowing event for this Sunday at the Rural Centre. For further information please see the attached advert in this edition.
Last week’s article in The Scotsman by Hugh Reilly was, in the Editor’s opinion, amazingly distasteful. The piece was intended as a ‘slagging off’ of Scottish Labour’s leader Johann Lamont. Mr Reilly said
“The First Minister-in-waiting (waiting like Godot but for a far longer period, I hope), told of her childhood on the island of Tiree, a place where a puffin is less a thing of beauty, more an hors d’oeuvre before dining on a fillet of grey seal pup”. Mr Reilly continued by sayng “oddly the doughty fechter doesn’t speak Gaelic, she merely “respects it”. Rather disrespectfully, monolingual Hebrideans who speak that ancient tongue feel blessed that they cannot comprehend a single word the woman says. Unfortunately, those of us cursed with an understanding of English are doomed to endure more angst-ridden outpourings from London-Labour’s outreach agent. Previously, I’d thought that Lamont’s ignorance of Gaelic was down to laziness but, if Alasdair Allan, the Scottish Government minister for learning is to be believed, television is the bane of learning a foreign language. If this is true, one must presume that The Woodentops, Bill and Ben and, yes, the biggest culprit, Noddy, shoulder the blame for Johann’s inability to converse with her archipelagodwelling neighbours.”
As you will know, your Editor is not from Tiree, he is not a Gaelic speaker, he’s not even a Scot!!! He does, however, find the ramblings of Mr Reilly to be offensive, and would love to hear feedback from An Tirisdeach readers.
The extremely wet and windy weather continued unabated through December with a hurricane strength storm on 8th causing widespread damage across the island. A few birds got into trouble in the high winds and there were reports of a swan in a garden at Scarinish and a Cormorant on the road at Balephetrish. Unlike in the previous two freezing winters however, conditions remained generally mild with an absence of any prolonged frost.As a result, grassland waders and wildfowl found it easier to find food in the wet fields and marshes, with some 2,990 Lapwing and 3,150 Golden Plover counted around the island mid-month.
There were also hundreds of Wigeon and Teal scattered on the floods across the island, whilst many of the shorebirds such as Ringed Plover and Turnstone came in off the beaches to make the most of the rich feeding inland.
Offshore, gulls and auks found good feeding in more sheltered areas and there were fewer stormbound birds on the beaches than might have been expected given the stormy conditions. Hundreds of Fulmars returned to visit their nest ledges on rare calmer days, a sure sign that they were not feeding far from shore, whilst odd Gannets were present offshore throughout.
Winter scarcities were few and far between but included the long-staying blue-phase Snow Goose, which remained all month with Greylags in the Cornaigmore area. The Black Swan was last seen at Loch a’ Phuill on 2nd and presumably headed off to winter further south, whilst a Barn Owl was a rare find hunting along the road at Loch an Eilein (11th).
Scarcer waterbirds included 3 Pochard at Loch a’ Phuill (2nd) with a Scaup there (11th), a Little Grebe at Loch Riaghain (12th and 20th), 5 Common Scoter at Hough Bay (17th) with 3 more off Mannal (31st) and a Moorhen at Loch Bhasapol (20th).
Far rarer however was a Kemp’s Ridley Turtle that was found freshly dead on the shore at Baugh (9th) by Bill and Moira Welstead – a victim of the hurricane. An Iceland Gull near Loch an Eilein at the end of the month was the fore-runner of an unprecedented invasion of this all-white gull from Greenland in the New Year, together with smaller number of Glaucous Gulls.
A goose count (12th+15th) found lower totals than in November totaling 2,153 Greylags and 566 Greenland White-fronted Geese, although Barnacle Geese increased to 2,934 and there were also 3 Pink-footed Geese, a large-race Canada Goose with two hybrid young at Greenhill and a lone Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Balephetrish.
Prolonged windy weather can cause problems for smaller birds as they struggle to find shelter in which to feed and roost. Regular feeding with seeds and bread, plus provision of fresh water, provides a lifeline for regular garden birds such as House Sparrow, Blackbird, Robin and Song Thrush and may attract usually more wary birds such as Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting and even Water Rail.
The Big Garden Birdwatch Event on 28th – 29th January will provide the opportunity to chart the continuing fortunes of birds in gardens across Scotland.
Thank you to everyone who has reported their sightings of wildlife to me during the year and here’s hoping for a wildlife-rich 2012 on Tiree.
What’s Happened Since Our Last Newsletter
The visualizations seen on the visit to Morecambe Bay highlighted many of the issues if the development goes ahead. SPR’s June visualizations were in all probability based upon the wrong foundation type . These were based on Monopile Foundation. Of interest, at Scottish & Southern Energy’s Greater Gabbard Array, near Lowestoft, these foundations experienced nearly 100% grouting failure. Similarly, 50% grouting failure occurred at a Danish off shore wind farm. This grouting , just like your bathroom tiles, is what joins the turbine to its foundation. Only in this case it didn’t ! Night time flicker has yet to be addressed.
National Windfarm Conference
NTA attended, and made a presentation of the Offshore Plan. Incredibly, most of the 300 delegates had no knowledge of Scottish Government’s Offshore Plan. Neither were they aware that the proposed Tiree Array represents 40 % of that plan. They were staggered at its size. Even the MSP chairperson was honest enough to admit, that he had no idea of the extent of the proposed Tiree Array. Health Issues were a major presentation. Predictably Renewables UK, the body that represents the wind farm industry, repeated its mantra that<br />
“There is simply no credible scientific evidence to suuport claims that infrasound from winfarms are a cause of sleep depravation or any other negative health impacts.”
Speakers at this Conference presented credible scientific evidence that windfarms constitute a health risk.
Jacket Foundations are the ugly bugs of the turbine world. These, according to SPR’s Aug 2010 Scoping Request p13, are the most likely foundation type for the proposed Array. SPR assured Tiree that this would be addressed. It now transpires, however, that SPR have no intention of offering any further visualisations until much closer to their planning application date . This is bad practice by SPR, but they can do it because the Licencing and Consenting Process allows them to get away with it. It’s a bit like showing a child a piece of cake, telling the youngster you’ll be back later with another piece, only to give him or her a nasty piece of out of date sponge with no icing this time!
An animated video of a possible Tiree Array “ lay-out” can be seen on www.no-tiree-array.org.uk
NTA is in discussions with Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland on all aspects of viewpoint selection and how to proceed to ensure participation in the planning process. This is to ensure you have visualisations of the proposed Array from viewpoints have selected. . Some of you may have read, or heard about, this report circulated by a major international investment bank. The report addressed an Independent Scotland’s fiscal ability to sustain ,and maintain, the current subsidy to developers. It received wide media attention and stated;-
“We would be very suprised if Scottish Power/Iberdrola were to go ahead with the Argyll Array until the constitutional position of Scotland within the UK was settled”
NTA has asked Scottish Government to comment
Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll & Bute, and Alison Hay Scottish Parliamentary Candidate welcomed the announcement by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, that a 5p per litre cut in fuel duty would be piloted in the Inner & Outer Hebrides and the Northern Isles, subject to agreement from the European Union.
Alan Reid said:
“This cut in fuel duty will help the fragile economies of the Argyll Islands. I have long campaigned for a reduction in fuel duty in remote communities. If the pilot is a success, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t, the scheme should be extended to the Clyde Islands and remote communities in mainland Argyll”
Alison Hay said:
“This would be a tremendous boost to the economy in Argyll & BUte. We have so many island communities that depend on the use of private vehicles for travel and this will help keep the cost of living in these communities down. I hope that the scheme could be moved quickly on by the EU and that it could be extended to include remote mainland areas in the future.”
A similar scheme operates in France, Portugal and Greece, so the EU should have no objection to its introduction here. Here on Tiree, the price of a litre of diesel is 142p and petrol 140p compared to the national average of 118p and 115.2p respectively.
Coll and Tiree provided a ‘hive’ of activity, with experts converging on the islands during National Insect Week.
Visitors included Bob Dawson representing the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and a group of four entomologists; including Darren Mann (Oxford University Museum of Natural History), Geoff Hancock (Hunterian Museum, Glasgow), Garth Foster (Aquatic Coleoptera Conservation Trust) and Jeanne Robinson (Glasgow Museums), sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Glasgow Natural History Society (GNHS) to survey the island’s insects and to investigate sightings of a very rare and special beetle.
Walks and talks were organised on both islands and lots of people came along to find out more about the rare and interesting insects they share their islands with. There was even interest from the national media; a film crew came out to Tiree for a day to film for the National Lottery Awards, who have supported the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s work on the islands. The visiting group were particularly interested in the short-necked oil beetle, Meloe brevicollis, thought to be extinct in the UK since the 1940s, before making a surprise re-appearance in Devon in 2007. No one expected that the next sightings would come last year from Coll, but a digital photograph sent to the beetle expert Darren Mann indicated that this was the case. These unusual looking beetles are dependent on solitary bees for survival. After hatching out of the soil, the beetle larvae sit around on flowers waiting for visiting bees to grasp onto. They must get to a bee’s nest, where they kill their young and feast on their pollen stores. Their host bee in the Inner Hebrides is the Northern Colletes bee (Colletes floralis) – also a rare species!
Whilst the bees are doing very well on both islands, no oil beetles were found on Tiree. Coll however was found to be extremely active this year, with about 40 beetles being recorded from 4 different coastal sites over 2 and a half days. A local high school teacher from Tiree came along to the beetle talks and was keen to teach his students about the beetles and enlist their assistance in surveying for them. These beetles can be relatively easily spotted along coastal paths and often identified from good photographs. Photographs can be submitted to the experts directly or via the RSPB wardens. The public can play an invaluable role in monitoring the status of these insect treasures in the islands. The general insect survey has also been revealing, resulting in many new insect records including at least a dozen species that have not been recorded from Coll and Tiree, including the diving beetles Ilybius guttiger and Hygrotus novemlineatus and the cranefly Erioptera nielseni. You can find out more about the insect survey on the National Insect Week blogs: http://blogs.nationalinsectweek.co.uk/jeannerobinson/
Hot on the heels of this peculiar beetle was Britain’s rarest bumblebee, the great yellow bumblebee Bombus distinguendus. Rather more mobile than the oil beetle, the queens emerge from hibernation mainly in June, and during the week were busy collecting pollen and searching for nests. Tiree and Coll are important areas for this species in the UK, largely because of the machair and its management.
After spotting a couple of queens on Coll, including one sheltering behind an Escallonia hedge in a strong wind, Bob Dawson of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust arrived at Ceabhar, Sandaig, to be shown a photo of a great yellow bumblebee by Duncan and Polly. Remarkably, it had flown into the restaurant! This was a good omen, with one or two more sightings, including one in John Fletcher’s garden, before a Bumblebee Safari at Balephetrish saw beautiful weather and a good turnout by people and bees alike. There were perhaps as many as 8 queen great yellow bumblebees among the dunes, mainly feeding on kidney vetch. An earlier Bumblebee Safari at Totronald on Coll had missed out on the great yellow bumblebee this time around, but the two other rare bumblebee species were present: moss carder bee Bombus muscorum and red-shanked carder bee Bombus ruderarius.
Coll and Tiree are the only places in the UK where these three rare bumblebees can be seen together, and if anyone would like more information on how to identify and record bumblebees please get in touch at the address below. We really need to know how the numbers are doing on the islands from year to year. Keep up to date with what’s happening with the great yellow bumblebee on ‘Bob’s blog’ http://gybb.bumblebeeconservation.org/
All of Coll and Tiree’s bumblebee species were out and about, including the unusual Barbut’s cukoo bumblebee Bombus barbutellus, which takes over the nests of other bumblebees. It was mainly the large, queen bumblebees that we were seeing, of the eight different species on the islands, but there were a few of the (smaller) workers out and about, which would be from nests started by queens back in May. These would have emerged from hibernation before the great yellow bumblebee, back in April and May.
There was also a bumblebee on Coll (at Cornaigmore) that ought not to be on the islands – a buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris. This is still a common species on the mainland, but it seems the sea crossing is not too serious a barrier for this large, mobile species. There are regular reports of bumblebees visiting boast a few miles from shore, which are usually the commoner species. Who knows, perhaps some of Coll and Tiree’s speciality bumblebees can make it to the mainland and establish nests there? Almost as quickly as they arrived, the experts reluctantly departed, convening on the M.V. Hebridean Isles for a quick debriefing over lunch. We were all agreed that these are very special islands indeed, and with a lot of analysis to do back at our respective bases.