The beautiful Great Yellow Bumblebee was once numerous in flowery meadows throughout the UK but, as with many other species (including the Corncrake), changes in farming practices over the last 100 years have led to a drastic decline and populations are now confined to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the far north of Scotland, and parts of Orkney. It is one of the rarest bumblebees, and is a Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species.
Here on Easdale we have an abundance of all the things the Great Yellows like best, especially up on the plots: red clover (see illustration above), knapweed (like a puny thistle without the prickles) and vetch (a low growing leguminous plant). The queens choose holes under tussocky grass to make their nests, and we’ve plenty of that as well. They prefer to make their nests a polite distance apart, so it’s unlikely that we’ll have more than one or two colonies; but, as each colony has up to 50 workers, there could be 100 of them zooming about! So take a bit of time to rest in the sunshine amongst some red clover and vetch and listen for the BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
The RSPB is apparently undertaking a survey of Great Yellow Bumblebee numbers, but we couldn’t find a link to it. If you do spot any individuals, contact the Bumblebee Conservation Trust – HERE – who have a very helpful factsheet on their website.
Yes, not one but TWO! They’ve taken up residence in the shrubby bank at the back of the Coalree, and their territories extend in roughly a semicircle down into the Rush’n’Gush.
Corncrakes lurk about in the undergrowth and are very hard to spot, but one islander was actually lucky enough to see one as it legged it across the path into cover at the other side.
The males call mostly at night, between about 11pm and 3am, but ours are pretty shouty during the day as well. This was good news for an RSPB birdwatcher who’d come across to the island to verify our reports, and our resident birds are now officially logged.
The corncrake’s Latin name derives from its call – Crex Crex – and this distinctive call can be heard for almost a mile! Females usually make a bark-bark call, but also use the crex-crex call like the males, so we can hope that we have both a gentleman and a lady in our midst, and that they become very well acquainted!
There’s lots more information about the Corncrake on the RSPB website - HERE - including a video recording of a calling male.
When seventy ladies attended an event at Seil Island Hall, how many loo rolls were used in the ladies toilet that night??
There should be a picture of loo rolls here, but we’ve received an irate comment from a photographer called Paul Pablo (or possibly Pablo Paul) claiming that we’ve used his photograph illegally and demanding that we remove it or make arrangements to pay copyright.
While not being entirely certain of the authenticity of this comment (do eminent photographers of loo rolls read Easdale People??), we’ve nevertheless taken down the photo because the very shallow coffers of EP wouldn’t run to being sued for breach of copyright!
For the first time within living memory Stone Skimming Sunday dawned bright, clear, sunny and warm and – astonishingly – remained like that for the whole day. So the Fairbairn family were pleased to be able to set up their RNLI stall under sun-shade parasols rather than under rain- and wind-swept umbrellas!
Tombola, RNLI merchandise, soft drinks and crisps were on offer, all with the aim of raising funds for the RNLI.
With Willie acting as a most effective “barker”, visitors stopped by, looked, bought, and enjoyed their winnings from the tombola. (Thanks to so many generous donors, there were very good prizes to be had!)
And the amount raised on the day by the Fairbairn family’s stall was sufficient to attract funding from the TSB to bring it up to a truly staggering total of:
to help fund the work of the Oban Lifeboat.
The Island Residents’ Association also played a small part, with a stall inviting passersby to “Save the Sailors from the Cruel Sea : and help the RNLI save real lives at sea”.
Adults and children alike enjoyed making helicopter noises – chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug-a – or THWACKA!-THWACKA!-THWACKA!-THWACKA! – as they lifted the mariners from the water with a hand-held SeaKing! The modest amount of £32.90 was taken. But every little helps.
Remember that the RNLI is a charity, funded solely by donations, and that its crews are all volunteers. Those guys put their lives at risk every time they go on a “shout”.
Meanwhile, we ask how much money went into Eilean Eisdeal’s coffers from this year’s Stone Skimming Day? This has yet to be revealed.
Apparently £9,500 was realised from the Stone Skimming event last year. That’s A LOT OF MONEY!!
Where has it gone? How have islanders benefitted from it?? Rhetorical question probably, because … we … just … don’t … know!!
We also ask ourselves what happened to the money received from the Climate Challenge Fund:
- Eilean Eisdeal Energy Education Programme. The Easdale Island energy education programme aims to raise awareness of energy usage, change behaviour and reduce household energy consumption and the carbon footprint of the island. The installation of a whole-island electricity usage meter with detailed information displayed via a large screen monitor in the ferry waiting room will raise awareness and assist in evaluating the progress of the project. £12,060
Now, that’s certainly A LOT OF MONEY! Raise your hand if you’ve been engaged in an “energy education programme”, or if you’ve seen that “whole-island electricity usage meter” in the ferryshed.
H’mm. If that money wasn’t used, was it forfeited?
In the same way that a load of the GreenStreets grant money was forfeited when it became abundantly clear that island residents did not want a wind turbine!! And abundantly clear, in fact, that islanders hadn’t been consulted before that GreenStreets money was applied for.
From Eilean Eisdeal’s Newsletter no. 49 dated November 2012 we also learn:
- SOLAR PV FEED-IN TARIFF
- We received our first payment from British Gas who are our feed-in tariff provider for the solar PV panels on the Hall roof. This came to just over £700 for 7 months, 20% of which will go to the island children for whatever project they decide.
OK, that’s almost a year ago. And presumably there’s another year’s-worth of feed-in tariff received by now. So how have the island children been involved and invited to decide how that money (we calculate £140 for the first year and now presumably doubled) should be spent?
Again … we don’t know. Parents don’t know .. children don’t know. So … where IS that money… ???
Lots of questions … no answers!
The winter ferry timetable commences on
SUNDAY 20th OCTOBER 2013
ASP Ship Management (the company who have taken over the ferry operation on behalf of Argyll & Bute Council) have issued a notice to passengers, and a link is given below so that all are aware of the rule now in force:
Following a spate of incidents unpleasantly targetting one of our ferrymen, Argyll & Bute Council have re-issued their notice indicating what sort of actions and behaviour cannot be tolerated towards their employees. It is very sad that this has been necessary, because our ferrymen are our friends and neighbours, and we rely on them totally for the excellent service they so willingly give. Click on the link below to read the notice:
Trawling the net for images to illustrate what Ellenabeich used to be like, we came across a website that matches location shots from old films with what those places look like now. In 1959 Ellenabeich, Seil and Oban were used as locations for a film called “The Bridal Path” starring Bill Travers, George Cole and Gordon Jackson, among other names familiar to those of a Certain Age.
The plot looks pretty dire, and features every stock Scottish comedy character in the book. A young man from a remote Hebridean island (er … Ellenabeich) is forbidden to marry his childhood sweetheart because the local Elders believe her to be his cousin and are concerned about “in-breeding”. Accordingly, he sets off to The Mainland in search of a suitable bride. Long story short … the Elders finally establish that the childhood sweetheart is not, in fact, his cousin and he returns home to claim her hand amid general rejoicing.
Here’s one of the shots from the film:
Spot the location! The “now” shot shown alongside it is quite startling. You can see the rest of the images on the Reelstreets website HERE.
The whole film is on YouTube, split into seven sections, and the second section featuring the image above (and shots of Oban with some wonderfully tank-like cars on the pier) is HERE.
Scenes for “Ring of Bright Water” were also shot in Ellenabeich in 1969 – again starring Bill Travers. This is him coming down the hill to the village, with Easdale in the background, and it looks as though The Bull has completely closed the harbour:
Getting closer to the village, there’s the square in its original condition, and a surprisingly intact pier surmounted by the crane:
And M.A. Cameron’s General Store was to become the Oyster Bar:
Search for “Ring of Bright Water” on the Reelstreets website for more images from the film.
Wonderful thing, the internet.
Waiting for the 418 during the winter months is a tooth-chattering, limb-numbing experience, as the rain lashes down driven by icy winds blasting from the North. The only shelter available is the door-less telephone kiosk which will just accommodate two – and that only if they’re already very well acquainted. For many years, regular 418 passengers have longed for a ‘bus shelter but, for complex reasons involving acceptable design and acceptable siting, it seems that this is not to be, even though Argyll & Bute Council could find the funds.
Now, our former ferryman George has taken the initiative himself and erected a shelter at the ‘bus stop. Here it is in situ:
Granted, this scaled-down version will only accommodate persons of approximately 10cms tall, but the gang of teenage sparrows will probably love it to hang out in as an alternative to the streetlamp covers. Here it is in close-up:
Hey! Some small people have already rushed in to put up posters!
Looks very appealing, doesn’t it? And shivering passengers wish that they could have an even more appealing full-sized one. The arguments over design and siting relate mainly to the fact that Ellenabeich village is a Conservation Area and, of course, Conservation Areas must be respected and protected from inappropriate development; but the square itself has changed so much over the last couple of decades.
Do you remember when:
- Harbour Cottage was a shop (run by Mike & Catherine Shaw), selling waxed jackets, wellies, tweedy items and a wide variety of interesting gifts to appeal to passersby – or those of us looking for a last-minute birthday gift?
- The Sea.fari booking office was our sub-Post Office, with Morag behind the counter? How convenient! And the Post Office did stock a good range of more than basic groceries. Not only that, but you could pick up your daily newspaper from there!
- The crane was still on the pier (albeit crumbling)?
- There were no paving slabs, no planters, no “heritage” streetlamps?
Surely a humble ‘bus shelter, with its unobtrusive perspex design, could fit in comfortably right at the ‘bus stop. After a short while no-one would notice it, and very soon no-one would remember when it hadn’t been there.