Tag Archives: Cornaig

RSPB Information – April 2011

rare gull on Tiree

April was dominated by high pressure with light SE winds, much sunshine and very little rain. The warm temperatures encouraged many migrant birds to arrive a little earlier than normal, whilst others such as Lapwings and Greylags also started breeding earlier.

April is a very busy month for migration and Tiree is an important staging post for many species heading to breeding sites further north. Scattered flocks of up to 100 Black-tailed Godwits in their brick-red breeding dress stopped off for a few days to feed around the lochs (8th-27th) and included colour-ringed birds from both wintering sites in southern England and breeding sites in Iceland.

There was also an arrival of some 300 Pale-bellied Brent Geese around the coast (15th-21st), including birds that had been ringed at their wintering sites in Ireland and on staging areas in Iceland. Golden Plover numbers built up at their traditional staging area at The Reef to at least 5,000 birds (12th) and were joined briefly by a trip of 14 Dotterel (19th), the largest flock ever recorded in Argyll.

Most of the Greenland geese departed early in the first two weeks of April, although there were 4 late Barnacle Geese at Loch Bhasapol (21st) and two late Greenland White-fronts at The Reef (26th), plus a scattering of lone Pink-footed Geese and at least 13 Whooper Swans at the end of the month.

April rarities included a 1st-winter Bonaparte’s Gull at Gott Bay , the first record of this small North American Gull for the island and only the second for Argyll. Other good spring birds included two juvenile Glaucous Gulls together at Traigh Bhi (17th), a hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gull at Gott Bay (7th), a drake Garganey at Loch a’ Phuill (21st-24th), a female Redstart at Carnan Mor (16th), a male Ring Ouzel at The Reef (26th), a Brambling at Carnan Mor (30th), single Lapland Buntings at Balephetrish (11th) and Traigh nan Gilean (12th) plus 2 including a summer plumaged male at Loch a’ Phuill (24th), a male Ruff at The Reef (4th-5th), an early Woodpigeon at Balephuil (4th), a Barn Owl at Heylipol (5th-8th) and single Lesser Redpolls at Balephuil (10th and 21st) followed by 2 at Carnan Mor (24th).

There was an unprecedented spring influx of up to 12 Blackcaps (from 9th) and Sand Martins (record count of 550 on 27th) plus good numbers of both White Wagtails and Greenland Wheatears. A colour-ringed Pied Wagtail observed at Sandaig (12th) had been ringed at Slapton Ley, Devon in September 2009 and is believed to have wintered in Portugal.

Arrivals of spring visitors were mostly early and almost all of the regular breeding migrants were back by the end of the month. Following early arrivals of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Wheatears in March, April arrivals included Swallow (2nd), Sand Martin (4th), White Wagtail (5th), Manx Shearwater (7th), Great Skua (7th), Willow Warbler (9th), House Martin (10th), Little Tern (11th), Whimbrel (18th), Arctic Tern (21st), Sedge Warbler (21st), Grasshopper Warbler (21st), Whitethroat (28th), Whinchat (30th) and Cuckoo (30th). Lapwing chicks were observed from mid-month and were widespread by the month end, whilst Corncrakes returned from 14th with some 50 scattered males back by 30th. Many smaller birds took advantage of the good weather with early nests seen of Blackbirds, Stonechats and Linnets.

Many thanks to those of you who have kept me posted with your latest observations. If anyone would like to report unusual sightings of birds or other wildlife on Tiree, please contact me at the address below:
John Bowler, Pairc na Coille, Balephuil, Isle of Tiree PA77 6UE. Tel: 220748

Retired after 39 years – Good luck Jessie

Jessie Gray

Depute Head in charge of Primary and Pre 5, Jessie Gray, retired last week after 39 years as a teacher.

Jessie started her teaching career on Tiree at Hillipol Primary School before moving to Dunoon.
She returned to Tiree in 1990 to take up the position of Depute Head teacher.

Now that Jessie has all the time in the world she is planning to pursue her hobbies of travelling sewing and golf.

Concern over school cuts

books

Tiree High School Parent Council/ PTA has received the devastating news that Tiree High School must reduce the number of teachers it employs. The PTA held a public meeting At An Talla on Friday 14th May to discuss the possible implications for the school and the island.

An Tirisdeach contacted Argyll & Bute Council to ask for their comments on the matter and we received this response:

“Last year, a group consisting of secondary head teachers and the then Head of Service was set up to review the secondary staffing standard. The aim was to reach a standard which can be uniformly applied across the council area, which had not happened in the past. That standard, which involves a complex calculation based on a number of factors, is being used for all Argyll and Bute secondaries for the 2010/11 session. At the same time, all secondary schools have been asked to take their share of a £600,000 reduction in funding for secondary staffing next year.

Several years ago, Tiree High School was allocated additional staff to meet specific demands which existed at the time. This is the reason that it now appears that Tiree is having to make a bigger reduction than some other schools. Under the standardised scheme, and taking into account the budget reductions, Tiree’s staff savings target should be 3.5FTE. However, we have decided that this is not possible for 2010/11, and have instead identified 2.2FTE. There will be no effect on the subject choice on offer. Although the French teacher is on maternity leave, there are only three pupils who have requested French for next session and we are currently investigating the possibility of providing this through distance learning. The French teacher will remain in post after her maternity leave.

On Monday, the council’s Executive will discuss the proposal to carry out a fundamental review of our entire education estate which will look at what facilities we currently have, how they are used and how we might ensure they are more sustainable in the future.
This is in the context of a comprehensive education review that seeks to maximise the proportion of resources which are available for the direct delivery of education and minimise any risk of adverse impacts on education outcomes, and at a time when all of the public sector is under pressure to deliver quality services as efficiently as possible. Any future decisions can only be taken on the basis of the information which the completed review will provide.”

We also contacted Alan Reid MP who said:
“It is completely ridiculous to apply a council wide formula to an Island school. Tiree High School, along with other Island schools, should be treated as special cases and the council should have a more flexible attitude”

Feelings obviously run high on this matter, and a great many attended the meeting to find out what could be done by the community in this situation.

Allaying the Closing Fears

Councillor Mary-Jean Devon

Further to the article in this weeks Oban Times with regards to “Tiree named on school closure draft”, I am writing to allay the fears and concerns of the people of Tiree.

Due to the difficult financial time every council in Scotland is facing various efficiency options . As far as Argyll and Bute Council is concerned no decisions , discussions, meetings, or consultations have taken place regarding Tiree High School. As your elected member I can categorically assure you of this.

The infrastructure of Oban High School and its Hostel could not accommodate the pupils of Tiree High School as you will have read recently in the press. The Oban Hostel has just undergone a major refurbishment which allows them to accommodate 104 pupils. They are nearly at capacity presently as is the roll of the High School.

Please be assured if any discussions let alone decisions had been taken regarding Tiree High School I would have been in contact with the people of Tiree as they are the first to be consulted.

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding this matter or any other issues you have.

Councillor Mary-Jean Devon 01688 302792 07912 949073.

Tiree High School

You will no doubt be aware of rumours circulating about the possible closure of Tiree High School. Whilst I appreciate that you are obviously worried by these reports, may I please assure you that no plans have been drawn up to close any school.

As we all know, difficult financial decisions lie ahead for all local authorities within the next few years.

Argyll and Bute Council has made it clear that the severe budgetary pressures will require it to review every aspect of its service provision, including education.

Those reviews are ongoing, and are likely to continue for some time.