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Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Rum Ranger winter work plan (part 1 of 2)

Again, apologies to anyone following this blog, it’s always the first thing that suffers when things get busy. Although in reality, I haven’t been busy! I've been off-island taking the majority of my annual leave around hogmany, and just before that it was Christmas with report and programme writing to be done; the three months before that I have no excuse! In terms of time off the island and ones sanity, it’s never a good idea to violate the three month rule on here (taken from Dr Dunbar’s survival guide to island living Volume II), as you eventually turn into Jack Torrance from the Shining if you decide to. And then when you do go off to the mainland, you realise that everyone is just as crazy and sun deprived as you are, but it’s still reassuring to know the world is still out there!  

Yes, yet another year is upon us (a very happy new year by the way), and there is much to do before the season starts again in earnest; more on that later (in part 2!). So what’s new for the 2013 Rum Ranger season? I’ll still be here delivering a slightly modified programme of events, but will be continuing with the usual evening talks, eagle walks and the mini pelagic wildlife cruise to the Isle of Soay aboard the Merchant Vessel ‘Sheerwater’ with Ronnie.Oh, and of course the 'Discover Rum' guided walk, which will still be organised in partnership with Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries (Ltd!). In fact, I really like the way the programme has evolved over the past four years, as we now know what works and what doesn't, so this is probably what we’re going to try and run with for the next wee while anyway.

However, as its Year of Natural Scotland this year, we've added a few more events to the already bulging monthly programme. In fact, it’s looking like it’s going to be very busy indeed!  So what’s the  Year of Natural Scotland all about I hear you ask? Well, it’s a Scottish Government Initiative that’s being led by Events Scotland, Visit Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, and is aimed at celebrating Scotland’s natural environment, its conservation and responsible use. Undoubtedly it will help the tourism industry, but will also play a key role in encouraging our youngsters to enjoy Scotland’s outdoors, so I’m all for it! Heaps of events up and down the country all summer. For further information please check out   

So with that in mind, we've a few YoNS extras this year, which  include two night time expeditions up to our nearest sub-colony of Manx shearwaters on Hallival.This will be a very very privileged opportunity to observe these fascinating birds close at hand as they try to find their burrows within the grassy boulders. It really is an awesome experience due partly to the fact that many adult birds wheel overhead in the darkness calling like asthmatic wheezy chickens, or even Trolls, if you know what one of these sounds like! I’m selling this eh! Anyway, there’s one trip running in April and one again in September. Come along, it’s a truly awesome wild experience not to be missed, and in my humble opinion, one of the craziest things you’ll ever see in the Scottish birding world.

Adult Manx Shearwater

Also to come, George Logan from Scottish Photography, and myself believe it or not (who does he fink he is, David Bailey?), will be here delivering a wildlife photography workshop in June, and this will involve indoor and outdoor sessions aimed at the beginner. And as the island is full to the brim with biological activity at that time of the year, we should experience an extravaganza of interesting photos. Thank god you don’t have to splash out on 35mm film anymore and now you can just go berserk with that trigger finger; this may be especially true down at Kilmory where I may get a little carried away.  

As you know (and even if you didn't), I’m always harping on about quality outdoor learning experiences that really cut through the general humdrum.  It really is the only way we’re going to connect people to the environment on a lasting level, so on that very note, I’m very pleased to announce that we’re organising a midsummer camping trip to Kilmory, which will not only take into account the next generation of red deer, but hopefully also an opportunity to observe all things further down the food chain.However it will focus on the work of the Kilmory Deer Project, which has monitored the red deer here for just over forty years. Basically there will be some choice in what you want to take a closer look at, as all will be pretty flexible on the day and plenty of staff on hand to answer questions. The sunsets are great from Kilmory at that time of the year due to the long (hopefully) sunny days, and as we’re out in the wilds for quite a prolonged period, we will most definitely see many seabirds, hopefully a sea or a  golden eagle, plus the usual common seals, otters and arctic terns.Dragonflies are pretty prolific at this time of the season and who knows, we may even see a basking shark. For more details on this and all the other IRCT Ranger Service events please check out our website on

More on the work plan and general news in the next installment!Cheers for now..oh and I've started tweeting, please check me out on Twitter on Rum Ranger@RumRanger

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