Hello again, it has been almost four weeks since my last blog and I’m not quite sure where the time has gone!
I’m well into my placement here on the Ross of Mull now and after today, only have 3 weeks left on the Island. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here so far and feel I’ve managed to become a part of the local community here. I’ve made a lot of good friends in the village and have joined the local football team.
We play on a weekly basis at the back of Bunessan primary school and also in Oban fortnightly. We have our annual 5-aside football tournament as part of the Gala Fortnight on the 23rd July which I’m looking forward to. If anyone reading fancies entering a team, please get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Getting back to Ranger business, Emily and myself have also been extremely busy over the past few weeks. Last week, we camped on Iona on the Tuesday night in order to survey the corncrake population. The survey commenced at midnight as the male birds return to their own area (not quite a territory) to call for a mate during the night. On this occasion we recorded 13 calling birds, down from 24 the previous month. I was even lucky enough to see my first corncrake on the walk to the campsite!
I’ve also been monitoring the Shag colony at Pigeon’s Cave on the south of Iona on a weekly basis and incorporated this into our camping trip. The breeding season for Shags is often prolonged and staggered so it is really interesting to see some birds still sitting on eggs whilst there are chicks close to fledging.
The following day, we led a guided walk to the tidal island of Erraid and despite the torrential rain, everyone enjoyed themselves. Erraid is the setting of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel ‘Kidnapped’ and the beach at Balfour Bay, named after the main character, is absolutely stunning and well worth a visit!
My Mum and Dad came to visit at the weekend and it was good to see both them and my dog, Calie, who I’ve probably been missing the most since I arrived on Mull. It was good to have the weekend off and spend time as a ‘tourist’ visiting Iona. We had dinner at the Bakehouse in Bunessan on both nights and it was absolutely brilliant – Well worth a visit if you’re in the area!
This week we hosted ‘Practical Plants Day’ at Creich Hall which is probably one of our biggest events of the summer. The day was a great success with over 60 people taking part in various workshops throughout the morning and afternoon. Emily, Lucy and myself manned the Kid’s Activity Tent throughout the day. We tried to place a focus on activities associated with plants which included making pencils from elder sticks and charcoal, bug hotels and paper-making among others.In other news, we have three feral kittens and their Mother living under the shed next to the Historical Centre. Efforts are under way to trap them and they are all looking for a new home! And finally, on Wednesday 20th July we have our ‘Keats History Walk’, meeting at the car park at the Kinloch junction, near the old bridge – Grid reference NM 545292. Please check our Facebook page and https://mullionarangerservice.com/events for information on the following week’s ‘Fun in the Sun’ and ‘Pioneering Planthunters’ events!
I also have my own event coming up on Tuesday 2nd August where I’ll touch upon some of my own research carried out as part of my dissertation thesis:
‘Enjoy an evening’s bat walk around Bunessan to discover what species are foraging in the area. Meet at the Historical Centre at 8.30pm for a brief talk on the ecology and behaviour of bats before embarking on a short walk around Bunessan. Dress for the weather, wear stout footwear and bring a bat detector if you have one! Admission free but donations to the Ranger Service welcome.’