WEST WORD
COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Lochaber Small Business of the Year 2015
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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March 2017 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Railway and harbour news

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MALLAIG ASG MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOLS: UPDATE
As reported in the February edition of West Word the Highland Council has proposed combining three local schools clusters to create one cluster consisting of Mallaig High and eight local primaries - including four in the Small Isles and one in Knoydart - under one head teacher.
Following meetings with representatives from local communities in the Mallaig ASG (Associated Schools Group) on Monday 13th February, and as a result of acknowledging the complex issues involved in managing this unique combination of mainland and small island schools, the Highland Council has agreed that further consultation will continue to take particular account of the needs of the local communities and the very unique geography of the Small Isles. The Council also agreed that development and testing of technology will be required to support any new management arrangements.
There are planned visits to the Small Isles and Inverie along with a further public meeting in Mallaig in March/April. Mallaig ASG proposals were not presented at the March Education, Children and Adult Services Committee (ECAS), but revised proposals will be produced in May and taken to the June ECAS Committee.
In his column, Councillor Allan Henderson says "Can I once again stress that it is vital that parents in the whole of the Mallaig A.S.G. area let us know what they think is best for the area and the needs of the children's education in the future. One thing is certain, provided the technology can be improved, change will happen, as the council strive to support and sustain teachers in remote and rural areas. I would suggest that it is better to drive the change rather than having to react to proposals that you may not want."

WELCOME TO THE NEW EDITOR
West Word is going to be in the capable hands of Kirsty Bloom, a keen reader of the paper and a member of the Mallaig and District Canoe Club, and her photos have appeared in West Word.
Kirsty lives near Fort William and is a frequent visitor to this area, interested in the history and wildlife and the community spirit of 'West Word country'. She has a background in tourism and desktop publishing and website building. She is looking forward taking on the challenge of West Word and getting to know people locally.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Well, Ann's very, very last issue (she said again) but this one has mainly been done by Kirsty with Ann on the side-lines annoying her. It has, of course, been a steep learning curve for Kirsty who has found that what takes the most time is the tweaking once all the content is in. March, like the previous two months, in any year is slow for news and what's ons, making it a struggle to fill the pages, with lots of gaps once the main content is in. Luckily she has enjoyed the challenge - let's hope that continues!
We hope you'll manage to come along to Ann's retirement party where you can say hallo to Kirsty while enjoying the music and having a wee drink. It's actually 18 years that Ann has been in the driving seat, not 16 as she has been saying - time flies when you're having fun!
With the problems the printer gives us (too often) the West Word Board looked into outsourcing the printing but the cost was far too high - some 2 - 3,000 a year more than we pay now. We didn't think you would want to pay 3.00 for your copy if West Word! We'll carry on as we are for now and when necessary can look at a replacement printer in the future.
Some things remain the same and this month as always we thank Anne and Miya for sticking stamps and labels on envelopes (300 times!) and Morag and Ewen for assistance with the printing. If anyone else would like to volunteer as a printer sitter, please contact Kirsty!
Ann Martin and Kirsty Bloom


KNOYDART
Well we've been blessed with a fair bit of sunshine and blue skies this month, certainly enough to make the daffodils and snowdrops bloom. It's all looking quite spring like really! Only one brief snowfall so far too, which melted rather rapidly much to the kids disappointment. The hills fair looked stunning though, pure white against the blazing blue sky. French Alps? Who needs them?!
We had a good night of music in the middle of the month with the Ewan MacPherson Trio, a surprisingly busy turnout considering it was the middle of February. And Veronika has been keeping us entertained on Saturday nights with alternating fish and chip and curry nights, as always a great night out and fantastic food.
Planting at the white gate has started, with Lewis, Danny and Gabriela doing the majority of the planting. Approximately 50,000 trees are to go in, creating a productive conifer/broadleaf mix as well as native woodland. And speaking of Danny (Gorman), he has officially returned to Knoydart, after leaving nearly 7 years ago! It took a while but he eventually made it. Calum Wilson also made an appearance back from Whistler this month, meeting his wee nephew Ossian for the first time (who, for the record, is growing at a fair rate of knots!). Kitty turned 8 on the 22nd, and enjoyed a lovely day out to Fort William. You can tell we don't get out much when even the kids are crazy excited to go to Morrisons (though the soft play was definitely the highlight)
Knoydart Lodge is opening at the end of March (the 31st) and there are still a couple of places available for that first weekend. It offers private en-suite rooms with shared self-catering facilities and is pet and child friendly, so look it up online and take a chance to come stay.
And finally, we are all looking forward to the Pre-season party on Saturday 18th March with Fras. It'll be a good chance to let our hair down good and proper before the start of the season when the touroids start flooding in again and everyone's busy. Everyone's welcome so come on over for a good wee Knoydart Sesh. (Tickets cost a tenner for adults). Oh, and not forgetting a big congratulations to Isla on her recent engagement to Matthew (who currently lives on Harris). Very exciting news!
Heather Gilmour

ISLE OF MUCK
When Marine Harvest dispatched the first crop of salmon from the Muck fish farm it was around Christmas 2015 and bad weather had delayed the dispatch of many of the fish. As the smoults had been released in August 2014 many of the fish were 16 months old when they reached Mallaig. At that stage they could only be fed from the barge anchored alongside the cages and on poor days access to the barge could be difficult. So on up to 100 days the fish were not fed and this though not life threatening must have affected the growth rate.
The 2nd batch of smoults released in mid March 2016 could be fed online from the shore with the aid of WiFi. As a result they were fed every day and the biggest fish left the island early in February having been less than 11 months in the cages. What a difference!
It is March and it is tree planting time. Toby has purchased 3,000: mainly hardwoods but a fair few Sitka Spruce which grow well on Muck. This year the planting sites have included Square Wood and Wire Park. Square Wood originally was planted in March 1922 by a team which included Charlie MacDonald, father of Sandra Mathers. Before this there were no trees on Muck and most people considered that it was too exposed for any to grow. Before planting can take place brambles have to be cleared.
They now grow prolifically wherever cattle and sheep are absent. Clearing them is not a pleasant task!
That is all this month but I must mention the Open Day on Sunday 11th June.
And more important a new arrival on the island.
To Colin and Ruth at Livingston Hospital on 9th February.
A son Alexander weighing 11lbs 5 oz.
Lawrence MacEwen

ISLE OF CANNA
The night of Thursday 2nd was one of the stormiest yet with a violent south wind blowing at least 60 mph. Fish boxes and garden furniture blown all around the garden. The fishing vessel Nordic Way came in for shelter and remained for the rest of the day; her skipper said it had been horrendous out in the Sound of Canna.
The Shearing Shed held another event this month in the form of a concert by well-known singer-songwriter from Greenock, Yvonne Lyon. Despite chilly temperatures we enjoyed the evening and look forward to many more once it gets a little warmer!
Preparations are well under way on the farm as lambing season approaches and we all hope that the very wet weather we experienced at the end of the month does not come back.
Canna has almost entirely escaped the snow which has affected the mainland, however we have enjoyed looking across to a white Rum!

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The highlight of the month was the return of long term residents, Magda and Joaquin, who had both been away for some time. The entire community was down at the pier to welcome them home and we enjoyed a great get together the following day to celebrate their return.
Donald MacKenzie

Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
This month in Canna House has seen the completion of the Intensive Documentation Project, carried out by Indigo Carnie and Liz Holden, over the last 12 months. The completion of this project now means that every single item in Canna House has been recorded officially and most items also photographed - a hugely important task, covering more than 10,000 objects!! Canna will miss Indi as she now leaves us to continue some other work with the National Trust for Scotland in other areas. We wish her all the best and hope she will return to visit many times.
This month also saw the start of a creative residency project in partnership with the National Library of Scotland. This project is entitled "Fuaim na Mara" or "Sound of the Sea" and is centred around the Sound Archive. The Canna Archivist was successful in seeking funding to bring well known Glasgow singer songwriter Yvonne Lyon to the island to conduct creative workshops with the Community and to produce new artwork and new songs, all based around some of the Sound Archive recordings.
The completion of the project will see the Canna Pier Waiting Room become transformed into a place of art, music and fun, and the resulting new songs and the originals which inspired them will feature in a piece of film which will be shown on the waiting room TV monitor, all summer long. The project is part of a wider NLS project called "Scotland's Sounds". You can track the projects progress on the Canna Sounds Facebook page. We look forward to welcoming some of you at our official launch on April 2nd, in the Waiting Room! www.yvonnelyonmusic.com Fiona MacKenzie

ISLE OF RUM
Here starts the annual preparations of trying to make living on an island look easy. Every possible spell of dry weather is spent painting, fixing and generally tidying up. Thus far we have enlisted volunteer help to paint the visitors centre and toilets, fix the drainage on the north side trail and prune everywhere! Derek has strimmed whole swathes of the campsite making it look better than ever; we had a beach clean in the driving rain last Sunday, which was a success, well done everyone, think every item of clothing was wet through after that and we gave the village hall a much needed clear out as well. So mostly looking alright, still the old hostel site needs tidying up but soon the village will look more sprightly.
Not much of an update on the Castle other than ensuring that all the tours run to schedule this year, we do want anymore disappointed tourists not getting a tour due to staffing problems. The friends of Kinloch Castle are visiting next month and bringing their piano impresario, Alexander, who has kindly offered a recital on the Steinway - a mix of Lady Monica's classics and some 1920s toons, it'll be nice to be back inside the castle again, we don't get in half as much as we used to, but plan on changing that too.
A fabulous community meal was held in the bunkhouse (thanks to Jed for letting us use it) and we tucked into venison chilli and croft 3 sausages, pretty darned tasty they were too.
The six nations Rugby has proved popular on Rum this year, the matches being projected onto the bunkhouse wall. Team Scotland support is spearheaded by Lesley, who has a major competitive streak that none of us knew about, so I'm really hoping Scotland win or there might be trouble!
Sylvia and Kim have told us that their Rum Heritage project will be open by the end of March. There will be a display of their research and lots of historical information in the Old Dairy.
That's all for February.
Fliss Fraser

ISLE OF EIGG
February this year has hardly merited its Gaelic name of wolf time. With clear skies and sunny spells, it has produced a frenzy of activities in crofts, farms and gardens, with much tree planting going on. The Cuagach ceilidh croft for one now boasts a new pond and 3 flags and the burn nearby has been terraced with 3 pools overflowing into one another: we got to thank Wes for this inspiring landscape art.
A pair of courting Sea-Eagles took advantage of the clear weather to glide all over the island, the sun catching on their white tails and golden heads! John the Bird tells us there are other signs of approaching spring, with "the first returned Shelduck appearing on the 8th while arrivals of Skylarks occurred from the 20th and Song Thrushes from the 18th and the first Pied Wagtail put in an appearance on the 24th. Other bird notes included an unseasonal Gannet on the 16th & 24th, regular sightings of Hen Harriers & Sea Eagles, a Peregrine on the 8th, a Golden Plover with the Lapwing flock on 23rd-24th & the over-wintering Greenshank present throughout. Not much to report as regards 'other wildlife' though there was the odd Otter sighting and an optimistic Pipistrelle bat was on the wing on the 20th. Oh yes, the first flowering Primroses were noted on the 22nd so spring must indeed be coming."
Another sign is that the trust has appointed a new SWT warden for the summer season. We look forward to welcoming her soon.
We must also mention the robin at the pier which is now even more tame than ever and to John the Post's delight, follows his pal into the post office! John was even more delighted of course with the arrival of his first grandson Oran, born on January 21, who made his first outing to Eigg this month: congratulations to proud parents Ben and Jill who are moving back to Eigg soon.
Helping to dispel the winter blues, the tropical birthday party organised by Brendan and Felicia for my 60th birthday on the first weekend of the month was a great success. With a great array of hot and sunny tunes from the Caribbean to Africa, DJ Anders of Eden Festival fame made us all dance to the small hours and much fun was had by all. The Eigg kids certainly enjoyed playing in the hammock and Colin looked rather fetching in his new Carmen Miranda headgear. Thanks must go to Ailidh Morrisson for creating a wonderful tropical and colourful setting in the hall and to my kids for such a nice treat for us all! Such a pity that the bad forecast on the Monday prevented our Small Isles friends from joining in the fun
Back to everyday reality, we heard the results of the mysterious CID investigation of bones found in Uamh Fhraing, Eigg's Massacre Cave, last September. Carbon dating showing them to be 16th century relics, Historic Environment Scotland were none too pleased that no archaeologist had been called to the initial investigation as it most certainly removed some crucial clues along with the 53 human bones remaining from the 16th century massacre. These had obviously escaped the attention of the islanders that were tasked by the minister and the priest to gather the human remains and bury them in the Kildonnan graveyard, thus frustrating the grisly souvenir collection that went on in the late 19th century!!! Nonetheless, the archaeology team dispatched as soon as the carbon results were communicated managed to record the cave in great detail and the bones will be examined further to provide clues about Eigg inhabitants at the time, before joining the others at Kildonnan. As much speculation still remains as to the exact date and facts of the Massacre, we are looking forward to this particular Eigg history mystery being solved.
Camille Dressler


NEW FUTURE FOR THE SHEARWATER?
Many thanks to Steven Steven for once again updating us on the fate of the much loved MV Shearwater which plied between Arisaig and the Small Isles from 1973 to 2001. Owner Murdo Grant of Arisaig Marine sold the boat and in February 2002 she left Arisaig for the last time, skippered as always by Ronnie Dyer, to be delivered to her new owner in Inverness to be used as a houseboat. At the time he was delivering her, Ronnie was celebrating 25 years with Arisaig Marine and the Shearwater - so that must mean he's celebrating 40 years at Arisaig Marine now!
In 2010 she was up for sale again and we had heard no more until Steven sent us the very welcome and exciting news that not only has she been sold but that she is hopefully going to be towed to Plymouth where it is planned to restore her to her naval condition, in a similar way to HMS Medusa which was renovated by the Medusa Trust (www.hmsmedusa.org.uk).
MV Shearwater saw wartime service as a Harbour Defence Motor Launch and is recorded as having taken part in the D-Day landings. After D-Day she became a Survey Motor Launch in the Thames/Channel area. If you want to read about her history in more detail go to www.westword.org.uk and look at the back copy for April 2002.

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MV Shearwater as she is now (painted green on one side!) at her berth in the canal at Fort Augustus

Steven adds a lovely note:
"It was odd that I was thinking of the invaluable role the Shearwater played in keeping the Small Isles going in the 1970s and 80s, and Brucie Watt's boats too when all there was from government was the Loch Arkaig. I was reading in January's West Word that it was again the same operators who stepped in to relieve Muck - Grants, Dyers and Watts to the rescue!"
Ann Martin


STAR OF THE SEA
Christopher Swan (Swanny) and the Marguerite Explorer are well remembered locally so West Word was pleased to have sight of his newsletter, Oceanus - which included exciting news of local man Billy Dyer.

Swanny writes:
"It's a few years now since I closed Oceanus and bought the Star of the Sea. Since then there have been many adventures; I crossed the Atlantic twice, scampered around the Caribbean and then spent several years exploring north of the Sea of Cortez which remains one of my favourite places in the world. Of course whales were the driving force behind all these trips.
"I am now selling Star of the Sea to concentrate on photography, I also hope to build a house in the wilds outside Mallaig, but to spend at least six months a year in Mexico exploring in my panga.
"The great news is that I have sold the boat to a friend of mine: Billy Dyer. In gloriously poetic fashion he is from Arisaig, our old home when we were chartering the Marguerite Explorer and on which he sailed countless times.
"He is a remarkable young man and has all the skills and attributes to succeed. Billy is exceptionally bright, incredibly capable, is technically highly competent and an excellent naturalist. He really is unique and gallingly he even sings better than I do! He is in short a young man who deserves full support. "If you want the opportunity to explore and seek out miracles away from the crowds then support him and book a trip!"

Billy will be running chartered trips in the Star of the Sea and the first will be in Spring 2018, exploring the northern part of the Sea of Cortez, a fabulous area full of wildlife and spectacular scenery, and where amazing cetaceans can be spotted. Both Swanny and Billy will be on the boat for this trip. It runs from March 24th to April 10th 2018 at a cost of 3500p.
Billy and Swanny can be contacted via swannyc@hotmail.com
To see Swanny's amazing cetacean photos go to cswannphotography.com

HARBOUR NEWS

Fish Quay
Contractors Gareloch Support Services (GSS) have now completed all scheduled works on the Mallaig Fish Quay. Repairs to walings, ladders and the wooden piling have all taken place in the 450,000 contract.

Jary's Wharf
GSS have also been requested to insert two new wooden piles and a new ladder at the "Spanish John" berth on Jary's Wharf and this is currently being carried out. Completion date in early March.

Outer Harbour
Local divers have been busy in the Outer Basin clearing some debris/rocks that have accumulated on the seabed over the past few months.

Loch Fyne
MV Loch Fyne is set to arrive in Mallaig on Friday 10th March in order to take up the Mallaig-Armadale ferry run as scheduled on Friday 31st March - the commencement date of the 2017 summer season.
Robert MacMillan
CEO
01687 462154 info@mallaigharbourauthority.com


ON AND OFF THE RAILS

The end of an era
As this is the final column that 'Editor Ann' will have to transcribe from my handwriting to the computer for West Word, I cannot let the moment pass without a huge debt of gratitude for the hours/days that she has spent on it (including checking every web page that I advise followers to go to!) Now she will be able to enjoy being a reader of West Word for pleasure, and perhaps as a future columnist? Who knows, but whatever direction you choose or wherever the future takes you, Ann, I wish you much luck and pleasure. Thanks.

Sundays - and one Saturday - 'Bustitution' between Fort William and Crianlarich, and return, during March.
Network Rail require the railway line to be closed every Sunday in March (and the last Saturday) between Fort William and Crianlarich in order to carry out essential maintenance/engineering works.
Trains to and from Mallaig - on Sundays the only one of course is 16.05 ex Mallaig - will meet up with coaches at Fort William and deposit passengers at Crianlarich for onward travel by train. The same will apply in reverse.
On Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th all trains in both directions will be replaced by coaches.
Sunday 26th March bustitution coincides with the first day that we resume extra trains for the summer. Trains will depart Mallaig to timetable times. Please check at your local booking office or online for further details if required.
On Saturday 25th March we will travel on the bustitution from and to Fort William and Crianlarich ourselves as we hope to attend an afternoon of inspirational talks to be held at Crianlarich Hotel. The West Highland CRP (Community Rail Partnership) are presenting a free afternoon event with light refreshments between 3pm - 5.30pm. The speakers are John Ransom, author and local historian talking about Crianlarich's Railway Past: a potted history of a life at a crossroads, and Dr Paul Salveson, author, lecturer and signalman, speaking about Crianlarich's railway future.
It has the makings of being a good afternoon - even if you travel by car!
Contact westhighlandcrp@gmail.com to book places, or telephone Hege Hermes on 01397 722295. Details on www.westhighlandcrp.co.uk or just come along. The Great and the Good will be there!

Model Rail Scotland 2017
As I write my column this month, Model Rail Scotland has been and gone!!
Over the weekend of February 24 - 26th the clubs, societies and organisers of the show once again pulled out all the stops to put on a magnificent exhibition of working layouts, with many different regions and track gauges represented. In all there were approximately 140 stands on show.
Steve and I travelled by train to Glasgow on the Thursday to attend the show on Friday 24th. It was a glorious sunny day, but after leaving Tulloch the sky was full of snow enabling us to have a wonderful journey across Corrour and Rannoch in thick snow. On arrival at Crianlarich the snow was thick enough for some passengers (including me!) to stretch our legs and take part in a fun snowball fight!
We spent eight hours at the show meeting up with friends within the rail industry. We were surprised to see so many locals attending and enjoying the stands and exhibitions. Many a grandparent purchased model locomotives for their grandchildren! It was good to see the Millers from Knoydart making their annual trek to the event. Our paths crossed whilst we were all enjoying breakfast at Wetherspoons with us departing for Mallaig and them heading for the show! Our thanks go to all the Clubs, Societies and individual stallholders who work together to make the event the success that it is. Without their knowledge, dedication to detail, and patience, the next generation of railway enthusiasts, modellers and train crews (and the current ones!) could not come together and move forward. I hope that all of you that attended had a great time. We did, and look forward to next year's event.
Photos of the event can be seen on www.modelrail-scotland.co.uk

Station names
Occasionally it has been known for railway stations to have a name change for one reason or another.
The ScotRail station at the SEC was re-named 'Craiglang' for the duration of the 'Still Game' show, which was on live at the Hydro at the same time as Model Rail Scotland. This resulted in many photo-shoots underneath the signs (including us) - see photo! As passengers arrived from Glasgow and Dalmuir they were doing a double take to ensure they were at the correct station! ScotRail staff were only too willing to assist in group photo taking, joining in the good natured 'Still Game' banter and hilarity that followed.

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L-R Steve Roberts, Andy Savage (CEO, Railway Heritage Trust), Sonia Cameron,
Graham Atkins (Rabbies Tours), John Yellowlees (ScotRail Honorary Rail Ambassador).

Network Rail local track improvements
As I reported in last month's column the track improvements between Mallaig and Arisaig are progressing well. Thanks go to the Network Rail workers and their contractors for the way they have gone about the work, with no disruption to ScotRail services and for the efficient and quiet way they were moving heavy machinery late at night and early in the morning. We travel safely because of it.

Six weeks to The Jacobite steam season!
With only a few weeks before the start of another West Coast Railway (WCR) The Jacobite steam service, there is good news from 'Team Riley', the suppliers and owners of the locomotives used on The Jacobite.
Ian Riley has now completed renovation/restoration of a third 'Black 5' no. 45212 and his intentions are to use it in conjunction with no. 45407, a regular locomotive on The Jacobite. Black 5 no. 44871 will possibly spend the summer on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, but will be available for use on the Mallaig line should the need arise.
It is going to be a long season from Easter until the end of December, with just November off!
To date I don't have any details on other locomotives to be used on The Jacobite, but the KI owned by NELPG will be first choice. John Cameron's beloved K4 The Great Marquess is now to be retired and so is not now expected to be seen on the West Highland Line again, unlike John himself, who 'pops up' on a Riley footplate now and again - taking lunch in Mallaig!

And finally ..
Friends of the West Highland Line's excellent A4 glossy Spring 2017 West Highland News Plus is now out and available through me, Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig PH41 4RD, or telephone 01687 462189. Price 3.50 + postage with 'top class' editing by Doug Carmichael plus superb colour photography. What's not to like? Contact me and I'll post one out to you.
Have you read your March 2017 Lochaber Life yet? 'Tales of a Corpach Porter, 1946' is very readable. Try it!
See you on the train,
Sonia Cameron


World Wide West Word

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Here's Elisabeth Johnston of Mallaig on holiday in Jamaica in January 2017.
She was there celebrating her 70th birthday with all her family and grandchildren - 14 people in all!

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Arisaig's Tom MacKinnon has sent us a picture from India this month! He says 'So I've went to India to surprise mum (Lucia), then Ruaraidh Fairburn (from Morar) came out and we've been travelling together. This is the first time we have been able to operate a camera - haha joke. But this is us and backpacker mates on our terrace looking into the 15th century fort of Jaisalmer, west Rajasthan.' Tom and Ruaraidh are on the left. Tom packed his West Word in July 2013 and has been carrying it around the world ever since!

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The Mallaig Craft Gin Club went on a wee tour to Glasgow at the beginning of March and took their West Word to read on the train - thanks for the pic, Brogan!

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Local band Dimh took West Word on their recent our of the USA and read it poised at the very edge of the Grand Canyon. L-r Angus, Ellen, Ross and Murdo.


BIRDWATCH February 2017 by Stephen MacDonald
A fairly quiet month birdwise, although there was a hint of Spring, as more birds began singing and displaying. The most interesting report came near the end of the month, when a Nuthatch was spotted on a peanut feeder in an Arisaig garden on the 25th. It was seen and photographed on the 27th. There have been two previous records in the Arisaig area, but it is still a scarce species in the Highlands with as yet no proven breeding records. A written description/photo is still required for it to be accepted on the Highland List.
The Kingfisher was seen on several occasions on the Morar River upstream from the hydro dam. The drake Mandarin Duck was still present on the Morar Estuary until the month end.
Two Whooper Swans on Loch Morar early on the 14th was the only report of the month, with no reports from Loch nan Eala, where there is usually a wintering flock. Still regular sightings of Slavonian Grebes on Loch nan Ceall, also good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye there.
The wintering Greenshank was still on the Morar Estuary until the month end. There were regular sightings of Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones on the rocks at West Bay, Mallaig. Woodcock were seen on numerous occasions especially at night, feeding on roadside verges at Morar and Bracara and also in fields at Traigh. Curlew were seen on the Morar Estuary, the shore at Traigh and Loch nan Ceall.
There were several reports of adult Sea Eagles from the Morar area and also the Rhue peninsula. A Golden Eagle was seen at Rhuemach, Arisaig on the 23rd.
A Merlin was seen hunting Meadow Pipits at Curtaig on the 4th and a Kestrel was seen near the Glen House, Arisaig on the 7th. Sparrowhawks were reported from several gardens in the Morar area.
The 'Viking Gull' was still around the harbour, Mallaig until the month end.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen on feeders in a Morar garden and were heard drumming in Arisaig on several occasions.
Jays were seen and heard in the Arisaig area, mostly round the Loch nan Eala area, but three were seen in the oak trees near Torr Mor on the Rhue peninsula. Missed from last month, a Water Rail was seen crossing the road near Morroch, Arisaig on the 23rd.

SWRI to SWI Centenary Celebrations
2017 marks 100 years of the SWRI in Scotland. This National organisation of women has had a great influence on women's lives down the years and, although reduced in membership in recent years, is still a great institution. In response to women from the towns who wished to become members, but thought they couldn't, the word "rural" has been dropped from the brand name, hence SWI, Scottish Women's Institutes. The local Federation and institutions will be holding their own celebrations and will be telling you all about it in WW later.
Meantime, there will be an exhibition of the organisation's history in Edinburgh from April 5th to April 18th. If anyone, and I mean anyone, not just members, or indeed women, finds themselves in the Edinburgh area at that time it will be well worth a visit. The exhibition is mainly in The Royal Scots Club, but also in SWRI HQ at 42 Heriot Row, just along the road from The Royal Scot's Club. This is on the north side of Queen St. Gardens, not far from Princes St, Waverley Station and the bus Station. Tickets cost a mere 5.00.
Go along if you can. We'd love to see you there.


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