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Monday, 9 April 2012

All change on Rum...the beginning of yet another busy summer season

As things are surely set to change for our visiting public, there’s something very positive in the Rumic air lately. The new pier waiting room is looking swish and feels like it’s always been here, and in a strange way I suppose it has, because most of the stone came from Ferry Cottage (burnt down in 2004). Visitors will no longer have to cross their legs as they wait for the ferry either or dart into the bushes for that matter, as the waiting room will also have a compost toilet nearby, which will be built much more inexpensively than the new toilet facilities on Handa (£50 K), have you seen that? It’s almost ready for use and SNH are just waiting for a completion certificate which Richard hopes will be passed in the next week or so.Even in the wilds of the island, the public will ‘taste the difference’ as a new public observation hide will be built at Kilmory by the end of April. Sandy and Carl from Eigg have been working hard getting it ready, and it will soon overlook the rutting stands which were made famous by BBC’s Autumnwatch a few years back.

The new pier waiting room/welcome building
On the People’s Popular Ranger Front things are all set and in place for the fourth year of rangering activities. The controversial new Ranger Base in the Community Hall is up and running and will provide a dedicated space where the public can actually talk to me when I’m not guiding, strimming cats or chasing after dogs. It will be midge free also, which in my humble opinion is the key to longer visitor/ranger interactions. It’s worked well over the last few days and I’m happy to continue. I’m even right next to the Tea Shop and very close to the second best chocolate cake in the world..I haven't yet worked out whether this is a good or a bad thing.

The corner of discontent..the new Ranger Base in the Community Hall

Vikki, Ali,Chain, Jinty's Dad Pete and Rachel have been working hard to make sure all went smoothly with the new camping cabin delivery and groundworks last weekend.They were made by a small firm in Applecross and were delivered and installed by two very nice guys called James and Duncan.

Kool Kamping Kabins (please note the old wooden shelter as seen in Flora Celtica page 77)

James and Duncan two minutes before the ferry..a mad rush and gone!
They’re great additions to the island's facilities and definitely fill that ‘glamping’ niche.I think they’re proving popular already this spring, so if you would like to book one please e-mail Ali on .

Unlike her predecessor...Vikki is serious about development

They were funded by HIE and 
Leader and we all appreciate Vikki’s hard work seeing it through from the funding application to the finishing touches.Nice one bro!

The two cabins have names already and have been christened Minishal and Fioncra after two of our smaller western peaks.Nice sign writing Ali.... 

Also new this season is the purpose built walking route signage around the village and NNR. These will make sure that less people will be walking around the village scratching their heads...they’ll only be scratching because of the midges from now on. I bet we still get a few folk who walk the long way round the front road for a castle tour though, I suppose it’s just the way it's the Rum Factor! There are three routes on offer, a red route (a sundew) will guide you into Coire Dubh, the blue route (an otter.. or a dinosaur if you look from a distance according to Fliss) takes you right around the loch from the Community Hall to the otter hide, and the yellow route (a golden eagle) will guide you up onto the North Side Trail.

New village signage

Can’t say that everyone in the community think them great, but they’re a vast improvement to what was there before and will definitely make life easier for everyone. I guess you cant please all of the people all of the time! Must say that I did like my old North Side Trail sign and am slightly sad it’s been retired to the garden at the Ranger Mansion.Oh well, onwards and upwards.
Now we're on the summer timetable, last Wednesday's (4th April) busy ferry was the first of many to come.It's strange at this time of year, as you've become so accustomed to very little in the way of social stimulation...then come April 1st there's lots of people and potentially they all want to talk to you!Can be a bit overwhelming at first, but you soon adapt.Last Wednesday also saw the first of the big cruise liners of the season, with passengers from the Hebridean Princess popping in for a castle tour.

Off the starting blocks..the first busy ferry of the year

The Hebridean Princess with a new lick of paint 

Recent sightings
Spring has apparently disappeared for the time being as conditions since the 29th have been much cooler with a more northerly to westerly airflow bringing some drizzle and snow to the higher ground.We've still had a bit of passage however.Two of the crossbills from last week stayed around until Saturday 31st, whilst the usual suspects, i.e. the ducks and divers were displaying in Loch Scresort still.

Frankie Howerd's favourite ducks...bill-tossing and neck-jerking are features of the male eider's courtship display
Some raptor interest on the 31st with 2 Buzzard displaying over the Dibidil Track and the pair of adult sea eagles were seen on occasion at Kilmory. 23  whooper swans were observed heading north from Kilmory on the 1st April as were quite a large flock of black headed gulls (18 individuals).
Whooper Swans moving north. Kilmory, 1st April 2012
Surfing female eider
The wind turned to the NE on the 3rd April which brought some snow to higher ground.The wind was ripping right into Loch Scresort that day and the eiders had no choice but to surf it out. One song thrush was observed brooding chicks also on the 3rd.They're fairly early, but that's the gamble many of our resident birds face at this time of year...presumably they were fooled into thinking it was summer by last weeks glorious weather.
Other noteworthy species included a single linnet on the 3rd and a white wagatil on the 3rd and 4th (around the castle grounds).
The single white wagtail Motacilla alba alba noted on the 3rd and 4th April  

Thought I'd just pause it here for a moment and carry out some bird ID pointers ..check out the differences between white and pied wagtail, these birds are basically races of the same species.White wagtail Motacilla alba alba is the continental form and therefore the bird above is a passage migrant, i.e. a bird passing through Rum. The pied wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii (pictured below) is the British race and breeds on the island.It's not rocket science, but in alba note the contrasting black crown and nape with the grey mantle (back).In yarrellii the crown and nape are the same colour as the mantle, jet black.

Motacilla alba yarrellii...a true Scot

Return passage of winter thrushes has been quite disappointing with only a single redwing at Kinloch all week, and another out over at Harris on the 5th.Lesser redpoll and siskins numbers have been good with many birds heard in Kinloch, presumably passage migrants and some returning breeders.Try the alders near the old Ferry Cottage site (near the current campsite).Oh and some news of our bittern, it was seen on Barra (Outer Hebrides) on the 4th.Well I presume it was ours, as there cant be many other bitterns in these parts at the moment.
Some of the weather in pictures over the last week......
Easterly blow...Tuesday 
Hardly snow capped...Hallival and Askival

Chilly sunrise out east

Another chilly sunrise out east!



  1. Doing quite well there with the updates, its good to see some news from other people's perspective! And I thoroughly enjoy the images to see the progress :)

    Keep them coming!

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