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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
July 2010 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
ANOTHER AWARD FOR EIGG
Hot on the heels of winning a third share of a million pounds in the Big Green Challenge, the islanders of Eigg are celebrating a more modest win - £20,000 in the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy!
The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust came out the overall UK Gold Award winner for their outstanding achievements in cutting energy consumption and devising a unique electricity capping system, dramatically reducing household carbon emissions by nearly 50 percent. Six UK and six international projects were chosen as winners.
Lucy Scott and John Booth of the IoE Heritage Trust went down to the awards ceremony in London on 1st July to be presented with their award by Sir David Attenborough.
The Isle of Eigg had briefly been experiencing some bad press as the prolonged spell of dry weather meant they had to cut their energy consumption; but the critics soon backtracked when the award was announced!
ARISAIG GAMES BECOMES A TWO DAY EVENT
This year's 74th Arisaig Highland Games and 6th Clan Ranald Gathering also becomes the first An Tilleadh - The Return.
The new venture will take a different focus each year but will centre around a family, person or event which will be explored in depth.
This year the subject will be Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, the renowned Jacobite bard who is buried in Arisaig cemetery. On Tuesday 27th July, the day before the Games, there will be a guided walk on the Rhu peninsula where he lived, and a trip to Castle Tioram close to Acharacle, near his birthplace.
An Tilleadh continues next day at the Games where renowned speakers will tell of the Bard's times and works. For more details log onto www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk
MISSION GALA DAY
Mallaig was overrun by Jacobites during the Mission Gala Day. They came off the steam train and after taking part in the festivities, went to Skye on the ferry.
There was mixed weather for the Gala but on the whole it stayed dry for the large crowd who gathered on the pier.
Thanks to Moe Mathieson for the pictures.
Below left, the Portree Pipe Band at the Gala Day.
A capsized dinghy was part of the RNLI display.
If you arrived on Knoydart this weekend you could be forgiven for thinking you were at Glastonbury. Danny and Angie are leaving and had a "cheerio Knoydart" bonfire down at the long beach. The midges had a good time too. Rick and Dorothy tried to help get rid of the mighty beastie by setting the grass on fire at the big house….I'm not sure if it was a deliberate attempt or if it worked cos I didn't manage along. We wish Danny and Angie all the best in Dunoon.
This weekend also saw the arrival of a stag party, a 30th birthday and a hen night. I managed to get 2 proposals from the stag group as a challenge arranged for them as part of a days course organised by Tommy. My "husband" looked pretty suspicious when after asking my hand I produced a marriage certificate and started asking for his particulars - it was a sample from Rhona's old job of registrar.
Fingers crossed Donald will get his operation on Monday. He is waiting for a heart bypass in the Royal in Edinburgh. Rumour has it Donald's been enjoying the tennis whilst he's been away. We wish you a speedy recovery Donald and can't wait to have you back home.
The dry weather means we are monitoring the water levels in the dam for our power supply. We're limiting our usage to essential use and so far we've not had to switch the power off at nights as we had to do last year. Although with the continuing good weather this may change. And some folk are bathing with a friend to save water while some aren't too bothered. Earlier in the month we had a visit from John Duncanson and his team who did repairs and checks on the hydro. Their visit coincided with the renewables week.
The village hall has been the place to be seen with a lot of events last month. The Tannahill Weavers performed a concert where they told us an excellent cure for seasickness, apparently it works particularly well for Glaswegians - the bands words, not mine. You need to stick your head over the side of the boat and grip a five pound note between your teeth, and you'll not heave.
Three men in a boat found their way back to Knoydart for a session in the Old Forge and a ceilidh in the hall the following evening. This is the band and isn't to be confused with the television series featuring Griff Rhys Jones which will be filming here at some point in August. There was also a game of bingo in the hall to raise funds for the hall refurbishment. Sorry to bore you with stuff I've been up to but it was a dream come true for me up on the stage with my bingo machine (more like a hamsters cage) and a microphone. We had some special guests that night, 5 yachties who had tied their dinghy up and forgot about the incoming tide. A good time was had by all and £100 was raised. Don't worry if you missed it cos there will be another one in July - look out for posters. Gerry even missed the first half of the Brazil game to come (although that might be because he's scared of Aaran).
Congratulations to Jim and Claire who are expecting, we should have a new resident by Christmas as Claire's due in December.
Kira is planning a sponsored swim across the loch, details are still to be arranged and she is yet to decide on her chosen charity but she has been training come rain or shine and hopes to complete it before she goes on holiday on the 15th July.
Fred, Rhona, Jim and Kristy are to attend the Queens garden party in Holyrood this month on behalf of the foundation. Hopefully there will be some nice photos of them to include in next months issue.
We also say farewell to Hilary who has been working in the school for the past year. The end of school term means that Ewen Tibbets is off to high school next term and Struan will be moving to the "big" school from nursery. Good luck boys. Paisley passed her exams with flying colours and has made the grade to be able to do an exchange study for a year in Canada. Well done you!
Old Frank is off on his holidays, a cruise round the British Isles. Bon Voyage Frank, I hope your big fancy boat will make it into Inverie so we can see your tartan troosers! I wonder if he'll be allowed to sit at the captains' table since he is a captain himself?
Big Rhona got soaked on the tearoom staff Christmas party and attempted to dry off her damp jeans using the air dryer at the toilets in the Kyle, we got to wondering if Frank is the interior decorator.
Some advance warning with important dates for your diaries - the Games are on the 7th August in the village, with loads of events new and old to keep everyone entertained and there's a ceilidh at night with the Jim Jam ceilidh band playing. If anyone has a shield that needs to be returned can they give it to Tommy on the Western Isles, with any luck we'll manage to keep some trophies ourselves this year! On the 28th August there's a Market garden open day and craft fair with live music at night with Lynn's band Vaguely Ragin'. Hope to see you there. (well, maybe not the Mallaig Ladies tug o war team!!!)
ISLE OF MUCK
With every indication that our six months of fine weather is coming to an end, we will have to get accustomed to more normal weather when rain is never far away. Though much of the island is brown and burnt by by the lack of water, none of the houses on Muck have been short, all being served by reliable springs of a quality at least as good as can be bought in bottles. But that is not good enough for environmental health who are are insisting that all our water is treated before it reaches the houses. So the farm has had to embark on a major scheme using ultra violet to kill any bacteria that may be present. And ultra violet technology is imposible without electricity 24/7. At the moment it is less than 10 hours a day.
But things are looking up on the electricity front. Now all of it comes from our central diesel generator at great cost to the consumers. However money is now available to pay for a 'project officer' who will in turn raise funds for a new wind scheme which is likely to require (but not certainly) new turbines and certainly new downstream equipment and storage. More electricity will certainly be needed for our new hall now at the building warrant stage with construction possible this autumn. So it could be that the ceilidh at the 2011 Small Isles Games could be in the new hall. We certainly hope so. This year the host island was Rum with a well organised and exciting contest blessed by a beautiful afternoon and a breeze to keep the midges at bay. It was also well supported by Muck and more unusually Eigg! Muck managed to win the Shield with Eigg a close second. Well done everyone who competed!
ISLE OF EIGG
Talking about the weather - such a gold old British tradition - seemed to have been a favourite pastime this June, as the soaring temperatures, endless blue skies and continuously colourful sunsets we have recently enjoyed also saw our water supply dwindle dangerously low.
And as there has not been an Eigg wildlife update for a while, here is what our SWT warden has reported in terms of a very mixed effect on wildlife during this incredibly dry spring.
Butterflies generally seemed to have had an excellent year (numerous Dark Green Fritillaries & Graylings and Orange Tips on the increase). Moths too have been very much in evidence with large numbers of Transparent Burnets all along the islands south coast. Unsurprisingly, Damsel & Dragonflies have fared less well.
Some bird species are really struggling. Amongst the latter, Greylag Geese with very few broods being recorded & Common Gulls, the numbers of which seem to have collapsed completely. Terns also have been pretty scarce with as yet no birds breeding at the usual colonies.
Others species are faring very well: Buzzards, benefitting from the large bunny population, the four pairs of Long Eared Owls which have fledged young, an increase in the numbers of Rock Doves and the now thriving mini Sand Martin colony at Laig.
There is also a noticeably high numbers of Cuckoos & Whitethroats this year while Wrens, tits & Willow Warblers have fledged large numbers of young.
The most noteworthy breeding record though concerns the pair of House Sparrows which raised young at Kildonan, the first successful breeding record on Eigg since the early 1980s! Offshore, there has been the usual sightings for the season of dolphins, Minke Whales & Basking Sharks. In fact Basking Sharks have been seen as close to the shore as Laig bay and Galmisdale Bay, where their enormous fins were seen on day cruising the waters below the Tearoom, much to our visitors' amazement.
However, the weather did manage to break - only briefly - during our annual birthday celebrations, without deterring the revellers who swelled our island population to triple its ordinary number! It was not quite Glastonbury like in proportion, but the campsite appeared very busy with a great number of young people who appeared to think Eigg a very suitable alternative to Rockness. And rock they did, with the impressive line up gathered in the community hall for our 13th birthday. The bands were all amazing and equally played a blinder, keeping us all on the dance floor for hours (who needs the gym with a workout like this!) . A lovely close to the weekend was a music session in the Tearoom bringing the celebrations to a calmer level being able to catch up properly with many friends, and returning islanders such as Felicia Greene, home after 18 months of wandering in hot climes.
Of those who came were a good many folks who have volunteered in the past for the SWT, and they will all be pleased to know that plans are being drawn for the Green volunteers house, with a good deal of input from Karl Harding, whose successful wooden round house design is becoming a "Green housing" classic.
On Monday 21st , Morag Hughes swam across to Eigg from Arisaig in 6 hours, her sponsored swim part of her training to swim the channel. Greeted by a good crowd of well wishers along with piper Donna MacCulloch, Morag was given a hot shower and a bowl of soup before speeding off with her RLNI support team back to Mallaig. We wish this determined lady all the best for her swim over the channel!
Then an Alien came to visit Eigg in her father's space ship, landing in Eigg Primary school! Find out more about it when this first feature film produced on Eigg will be distributed in September in a dvd outlet near you... In any case, the premiere on the 26th was a very well attended occasion, with the young actors and producers were very pleased with the success of their endeavour.
We must not forget to mention the launch of Ailidh Morrisson's poetry book at Lageorna on the 9th, accompanied by Sharon King and her songs from her Reckless Angel CD. Ailidh's book can be ordered via Amazon.
And last but not least, following a veritable journalistic orgy of idle and misinformed speculation on the success of our electricity scheme as the island was put on red alert (ie minimum consumption) due to shortage of water and lack of wind (are we really that threatening to the nuclear lobby? well, that could be a good thing...) we were able to celebrate our latest award for the scheme, £20,000 as UK Gold award winners, given to us by the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, - the world's leading green energy awards no less - at their 10th annual awards, for what they called "our outstanding achievements in cutting energy consumption and devising a unique electricity capping system, dramatically reducing household carbon emissions by nearly 50 percent."
It will be good to be able to spend the money on more photo voltaic cells to help us cope with periods of dry weather such as these, but as Lucy Scott observed as she attended the ceremony at London's Royal Geographical Society, it was humbling to see the wealth of creativity in countries for whom the provision of low carbon energy is an absolute necessity in a situation of fuel poverty such as we can hardly imagine.
In the meantime, the other UK winner, Willis Renewable Energy Systems, from Belfast ought to be of interest to many in our part of the world for their Solasyphon, a plumbing innovation that speeds up and simplifies the retro-fitting of solar water heating in existing homes, saving the cost of buying a new water tank!
IT'S ALL HAPPENING IN ARISAIG WEEK
The 6th Arisaig Week this year runs from Thursday to Thursday with an action packed seven days. There's surely something to please everyone in the variety of events organised for 22nd to the 29th July.
The week starts on Thursday 22nd with the regular Produce Fair in the Astley Hall, a monthly happening which is proving extremely popular with locals, visitors and stall holders! On sale will be all kinds of fresh garden produce, plants, home baking, hanging baskets, and hand made crafts. Admission is free, soup & sandwiches, teas and coffees and cake will be served in aid of Stella Nova Choir.
On Friday 23rd July, the talented Duplets, Scottish Harp and Song Duo, are appearing in the Hall in concert. With 'two Scottish harps intertwined', Gillian Fleetwood and Fraya Thomsen have been hailed as 'leading lights of Scottish music'.
World renowned pianist Robin Colvill appears at the Hall on Monday 26th July, with a programme of 'Bach to Gershwin'. He will perform works by Bach, Pachelbel, Wagner, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Chaminade and Gershwin to bring you a live performance of some of the most beautiful and exciting works of the piano repertoire with a state-of-the-art electric stage piano.
Tuesday 27h July sees an important inaugural event which is part of the Arisaig Highland Games, scheduled the next day for Traigh Farm, Arisaig. An Tillead - The Return - is a way of helping people who have roots and ancestry in Arisaig to find out more about their heritage. Each year will have a different focus - person, family or event. This year's subject is Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, the renowned bard from Acharacle, who lived and died in Arisaig. There will be a walk on Rhu peninsula to see where he lived, as well as some other interesting things about him and the area. As the man was also known as the Clan Ranald bard there will also be a visit to Castle Tioram, near Dalilea where he was born and brought up. If that sounds too strenuous, or your interests lie elsewhere, then the 6th annual Arisaig Craft Fair is on in the Astley Hall, with free entry, 11am to 4pm. Hand-made local crafts of all kinds, plus soup & sandwiches and refreshments sold in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. Wednesday 28th July is the day of the Arisaig Games and Clan Ranald Gathering, at Traigh Farm. An Tilleadh will continue with talks and information on Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair In the evening there is a ceilidh dance in the Astley Hall to the Ballochmyle Ceilidh Band. Thursday 29th July not only rounds off and ends Arisaig Week but does the same to the much enjoyed annual visit from The McCalmans. Ian McCalman retires from the band at the end of this year and this is their last tour folks! Tickets have been selling since February so make sure you get yours soon.
For information on the Astley Hall programme, phone 01687 450263 or look at www.astleyhall.org.uk. For more information about the Games, look at www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk
FUIAM LAUNCH FIRST CD
Our own eight piece, multi-instrumental and vocal group Fuaim are back for the Summer with more gigs, more songs, more noise and their very first album. These young local musicians have set about creating their own material and arranging traditional sets, including a variety of styles: Scottish Tradition to Eastern flavours; jigs to waltzes; and strathspeys to reels. For a real taste of local traditional music, culture and highland spirit all in one night, come along to one of the concerts where you are guaranteed a great night out with the whole family. The new album is for sale at these gigs and also in local shops and businesses, price £10. Catch them in an afternoon session in the Chlachain Inn, Mallaig, July 18th, 1 -3 pm, an evening session in the Old Forge, Knoydart , August 6th, , a concert in Glenuig Hall, August 12th, 7.30pm or a concert in the Astley Hall, Arisaig, August 14th, 7.30pm
THE ROAD TO THE ISLES AGRICULTURAL SHOW
The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show was held on 12th June 2010, as usual at Camusdarach, by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Simpson. Attendance numbers were slightly down on last year but the pleasant weather helped everyone to enjoy the show.
The livestock classes were well supported as usual, especially the sheep classes, and there was an excellent display of baking, handicrafts and floral art in the Industrial tent.
The afternoon entertainment began with a piping selection by Callan MacBeth from Mallaig and this was followed by a very entertaining display by the ‘Drakes of Hazard’ with Mark Wyllie.
Mrs. Jessie Corson then presented the trophies and prizes to all the winners.
Overall Livestock Champion Mr D Wright Snr
CATHODIC PROTECTION WORKS NEAR COMPLETION
Work on the Mallaig Harbour Cathodic Protection contract is expected to be completed by mid July.
Installation of anodes to provide cathodic protection to the underwater portions of the harbour steel piling affected by accelerated low water corrosion commenced in the third week of February and main contractor iicor, Aberdeen, and their chief sub-contractor Shearwater Diving Services, have completed anode installation on the Outer Breakwater (inner and outer faces), Stub Breakwater, Ice Plant quay, Fish Pier, Lovat Pier and Breast Wharf.
Some additional works have been required and these included: a) installation of anodes on collars rather than by direct welding on piles at the inner end of the Fish Pier. This was required as the steel pile casings surrounding the concrete piles were too thin to allow direct welding of anodes; b) additional plating to allow anode attachment to the most severely corroded of the Breast Wharf piles; and c) one steel pile casing on the Fish Pier was perforated and part of the reinforced concrete within defective. This was repaired to full strength by welding on additional steel and by pouring repair concrete before installation of the anode.
The picture shows the lorry-mounted concrete pump used in the repair of the defective pile on the fish quay.
The total cost of all this remedial work is £625,000 and the Mallaig Harbour Authority has been assisted by grant payments from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) for repairs to the fishing quay and piers, and from the Scottish Government's Ferries Division via CMAL for works on the Steamer Pier and Linkspan.
Work yet to be completed is the anode installation at the RNLI Pontoon piles and the plating of holes in the Breast Wharf piling.
Robert MacMillan, Port Manager to the Mallaig Harbour Authority, said 'Working together with Harbour Engineer's Wallace Stone and the team at iicor, we are confident that we have a suitable corrosion management strategy in place to protect the harbour well into the future!'
Fishing news - John Hermse, Secretary MNWFA
General: The weather has been generally good throughout the last few weeks and hopefully the northerly and easterly winds, prevalent of late, have given way to the more fish-prolific southerlies. Nephrops catches have been better of late, although not as good as previous years. Landings are still down some 11% on 2009-which was generally considered to be a poor year. If you factor in price decreases, then earnings on West coast prawn vessels are approximately 30% lower than three years ago.
Renewables: The unprecedented rush towards the establishment of renewables "any place at any cost" continues without apparent restraint. Whilst I am generally in favour of harnessing the planets free environmentally sound resources, it must not be to the detriment of the indigenous industries and rural communities. There are already signs that developers are showing scant regard to existing stakeholders in the headlong rush to establish yet another renewables site. One other thing strikes me about this new industry- the exploitation of the resource and all the ancillary services required to research and establish a site, seem to be taken by non-Scottish and non-UK contractors! A situation surely to be avoided in the current political situation.
Environmentalism: it is to be hoped that the present politically expedient rush of environmental initiatives will be stemmed by the political climate-especially post budget-however I wouldn't bet on it! The "Greens" are on a roll (wholemeal from an organic resource) and they will be applying pressure by intense lobbying of the Scottish Government. They (the NGOs) can hardly hold their water at the thought of including as many - and as big an area as possible- in the MPAs currently being considered under the Marine Bill. As predicted two stooges, masquerading as councillors, have proposed a motion to ban "trawled equipment" from the whole of Argyll and Bute Region! I wonder how many other selfishly motivated MPAs will be proposed in the coming months?
New SFF President: MNWFA welcomes Alan Coghill from Orkney as the new SFF President. Alan is a stalwart fighter for the industry and his knowledge of the West coast and shellfish fisheries are a bonus to MNWFA members. We wish Alan best of luck in his new position in this arduous time for the industry. The two Vice-Presidents, James Brown and David Shiel remain the same.
In August the Astley Hall is hosting an exhibition of the Prestonpans Tapestry, the first mainland stop of this significant community project on its first ever nationwide tour. The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust commissioned the tapestry last year and travelled round Scotland in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie to give talks and to ask local needlewomen to help achieve the finished article.
The Prestonpans Tapestry celebrates the journey which 25 year old Bonnie Prince Charlie made from France to the Outer Hebrides and then through the Scottish Highlands to victory at Prestonpans. Between July 31st and September 26th it will travel from Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides to Prestonpans, stopping at significant points along the route; it will later go to Edinburgh and then Derby.
At 104 metres long, it is the longest piece of tapestry in the world - the Bayeux Tapestry is a mere 70 metres - and is made up of 104 metre wide embroidered panels, each created by volunteers along the route.
The Prestonpans Heritage Trust invited all the stitchers to a 'Gala Day' on July 26th, which allowed viewing of the tapestry, plus a book launch. There was musical entertainment and a meal. Arisaig's June Cairns and Helen Brodie and Morar's Christine Haynes and Pauline Elwell attended.
June Cairns takes up the story:
'It is a miracle that Arisaig's panels were done at all. Our chief stitcher left the village just as we got them, and another broke her wrist in January. Having been sent to Eriskay by mistake, the panels only reached us at the end of March. 'Since then, Rose MacEachen, Anne Cameron, June Cairns, Vera MacDonald and Helen Brodie have been beavering away to get them done for the end of June. Our logo is the Celtic 'A' as seen on the Land Sea & Islands Centre sign. We worked panels 14 and 16.'
For more information on the Tapestry, see www.prestonpanstapestry.org.
The exhibition in the Astley Hall will be open from 11am until 4pm on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th August, and on the evening of the 3rd Trust member Arran Johnston (who came to the original presentation dressed as the Bonnie Prince himself) will give a presentation on The Battle of Prestonpans and its Tapestry at 7pm. Entry is free, though donations are welcome. There will be activity sheets for the children and books on sale.
The Trust now have a unique problem-where on earth do you permanently display a tapestry which is longer than a football pitch?
Left: The Arisaig stitchers - left to right:
RHU BOATHOUSE TO EIGG SWIM
The longest day of the year, and perfect weather conditions, saw Morag Hughes from Corpach, swimming from the boathouse at the end of the Rhu road to Eigg. Mallaig's Marine Training Centres RIB accompanied Morag as her safety boat along with her husband, Ronnie, who provided Morag with food and refreshment at regular intervals along the way.
Morag completed the swim of 7.4 miles in 6hrs 44mins with an average speed of 0.98kn. As far as we are aware, this is the first time the swim has been completed without the aid of a wetsuit. This qualifies Morag to participate in the channel swim in early July, which she is doing for Cancer Research.
A couple of jellyfish on the way were the only 'nasty encounters' and 2 Minke Whales (which we didn't tell her about until after!) were spotted. The Sheerwater called along side on its return journey with a friendly cheer of encouragement. A hugely warm welcome from the people of Eigg greeted her arrival, with a much needed warm shower and warming bowl of soup.
Thanks to everybody who sponsored/donated for the Mallaig Lifeboat, the amount raised will be in next months West Word. Thanks also to Moe for the photos.
NON STOP ROWING
West Word - ten years ago
- The 36 page issue of July 2000, price 75p, headlined 'Moby on a Mission' and told of Tom 'Moby' McClean's proposed trip around the coats of Britain - in a whale shaped boat. Tom's intention was to raise awareness of the plight of the whale and the boat had been six years in the planning and two in the making. Tom, who lives in Morar, was the first person to row the Atlantic single handed, in 1969.
- This issue was the first to go online at www.road-to-the-isles.org.uk
- Such were the vagaries of our first printer, a Riso, we had to apologise for some of the issues of the previous month had been printed with pages upside down. Remember those days?
- We printed a plea: 'Would the person who borrowed the scaffolding from the church hall in Mallaig without permission please return it as we now need to use it. We heard that God had seen you and that he might report you to the police. If it is returned you will receive forgiveness at the gates of St Peter and not a fine at the bench of Sheriff MacKay.'
- In Arisaig discussions were still going on re the Arisaig -Kinsadel section of the new road and there had been a public meeting to look at the maps and ask questions.
- And Mallaig Community Council discussed on-shore facilities needed for the development of the proposed marina!
- We had suffered some very bad storms in June - one of which resulted in the sinking of a yacht off Rum which was a couple's home.
- There were three pages of letters! Plus a page and a half of Constabulary Corner and Fireman Sam's Log. Also half a page of birthdays. This month there's only 2 birthdays! And one of those I put in!
- A Time Capsule was put into the roof of the Astley Hall on Midsummer Night as the renovation project neared completion. Villagers enjoyed a bonfire with food, drink and music on the piece of waste ground opposite, and the box was placed ceremoniously in the roof space by Lorna MacKay. It contained photographs, a history of the Hall, the community consultation on the project and of course, the June 2000 issue of West Word, together with the Millennium issue of January 2000 and the Telegraph of January 2000.
- Rev George Baird provided A Backward Glance with one of his articles reminiscing about his childhood in Mallaig.
- Chris Swan put The Marguerite Explorer in the spotlight, with an article on her cruising the Hebrides on a whale watching charter.
- I find it really scary reviewing a 10 year old West Word as most of the pieces I remember as if last year!
Birdwatch - by Stephen MacDonald - June Report
A fairly quiet month on the bird scene with little out of the ordinary reported. A pure white bird photographed at Mallaig Vaig at the end of the month appeared to be an Albino Blackbird chick.
3 Great Northern Divers seen at Earnsaig, Loch Nevis, on the 11th were either late birds or 'Summering'. The first report of Storm Petrels in the Sound of Sleat was during the first week, between Eigg and Arisaig. Good numbers of Manx Shearwaters were also seen in the Sound of Sleat.
Many more young birds were seen as the month progressed. Some Lapwing chicks at Back of Keppoch were almost fully fledged by the month end, while Snipe and Redshank chicks there were still very small. Plenty of newly fledged Goldfinch and Redpolls joining the young Siskins and Greenfinches at garden feeders in Mallaig and Morar.
An Eider Duck with 5 small chicks was seen at the mouth of the Morar Estuary on the 5th and a Mallard had 7 well grown ducklings up river of the Morar dam on the 17th. Also on the Morar river, Dippers were seen feeding young at the end of the month, their second brood this year. Several reports of Sea-Eagles through the month, from Loch Nevis and the Morar Estuary. The usual Barn Owls were seen in Mallaig and a Barn Owl was seen hunting at Beoraid, Morar, on the 26th. Peregrine Falcons were seen on several occasions between Back of Keppoch and Traigh, with one seen taking an Arctic Tern at the latter site on the 21st.
A few people have reported finding sickly or dead birds in their gardens in the last month. The live birds are usually very lethargic and easy to approach. They usually appear 'fluffed up', and some are wet or foaming around the beak. It is probably Trichomonas Gallinae (Canker), a protozoan parasite that affects the upper digestive tract, where it causes lesions and swelling in the throat, which makes eating and breathing difficult. Affected birds usually die after a few days from starvation or choking. The birds mostly reported are Greenfinches, and also a few Chaffinches, although it can affect many different species. It is spread by contaminated saliva or food, so where birds congregate together, eg feeders, bird tables, bird baths, etc, is where it is passed on.
Regular cleaning and disinfection of feeding and drinking areas is essential to help prevent the spread of this and other diseases like Salmonella.
There is plenty of advice on various websites about bird diseases and feeding hygiene.
World Wide West Word
Top left: Marion Anderson and Mary Purdon (Kirkintilloch) enjoy West Word
during their cruise to Madeira on board the Independence of the Seas.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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