Friday, 1 April 2011

Arran Bird Report 2010

The annual Arran Bird Report is a "must" for anyone interested in the birds of Arran.
It includes a summary of the year, the impact of weather on birds, information on ringed birds, as well as reports on all species seen and some of Arran's special bird projects. The uniqueness of Arran is reflected throughout the report, including the number of UK protected birds that share our island with us, as well as the differences between here and even the adjacent mainland.
This latest version of the annual bird report is now available from shops and other outlets throughout the island, priced £4.00 or directly from Alan and Jill Hollick of High Kildonan:

Thursday, 8 July 2010

News Update: Press Release

The 2010 Wildlife Festival is over, but there is still plenty to see and do on Arran. We have updated the website with a calendar of events. This year's festival was our biggest and best ever, and we are extremely grateful to all our funders, partners friends and participants without whom the festival would not have been such fun. Unfortunately looking to the future it seems unlikely that the festival can continue to exist in its current format. Below is press release from the Arran Wildlife Festival on this matter. Although the exact details of our plans for the future remain uncertain, please watch this space for future updates, news, photos and blogs about wildlife and the wildlife festival on Arran.

The Arran Wildlife Festival has reached the end of its current funding package. It is time to take stock and consider the best way forward.
Over the last five years, the Arran Wildlife Festival has successfully fostered a greater awareness, appreciation and understanding of the local wildlife through a focus on education and conservation by running events during a week in May that are informative, fun and appealing to visitors and residents.At the meeting of the organising committee on Friday 2 July, the coordinator’s encouraging report of the 2010 festival was considered. This report is available from on the wildlife festival website. View Report. There was then a wide ranging discussion on how best to build upon the achievements of the festival. Consideration was given as to how to support wildlife related activities throughout the year. There was acceptance that what can be done is dependent upon the availability of funds supported by the personal commitment of all those involved, and that the festival in its current form may well have run its course. Over the next few months the organising committee will try to determine what is both manageable and sustainable within available resources. The intention is to provide a coherent approach to raising awareness about wildlife on Arran and to increase appreciation of Arran’s natural heritage while promoting Arran as a responsible wildlife tourism destination.

Jim Cassels, chairperson of the organising committee, would be delighted to hear from any person or organisation who is prepared to give time, energy or funds to build on the legacy of the festival. Jim can be contacted at

Friday, 11 June 2010

Wildlife Festival Photography Competition Winners Announced!

Sorting through the entries to the Arran Wildlife Festival Photography Competition is an enjoyable task as the images of our wildlife are fantstic and great to see, but the task of judging the competition fell to professional photographer Liz Leyden, and must have been agonising. In the end she chose a delightful picture of a meadow pipit by Brian Hall. Brian is a member of an amateur photography group in his home of County Durham, and is over the moon to have won.

"I came to Arran with 2 friends last year and we enjoyed the wildlife so
much we returned this year, how glad I am! The image was taken with a
borrowed Canon 7D and an Canon 800 lens, we were watching the pipit
from the Distillery car park, it kept landing on the gorse bush
so I took the camera and lay on the ground for 1.5 hrs before I got
this image."

Brian Hall's Meadow Pipit, Lochranza Distillery

This year's winner in the junior category was once again 11 year old Bailey Robinson from Lamlash. Bailey has seen double success in this competition in two years, but still had to work hard for his picture- sitting for hours photographing the wildfowl in Lamlash Bay with his mum.

Bailey Robinson's Mute Swan, Lamlash Bay

Commenting on the standard of entries, Liz said: "It was lovely to see the variety of wildlife that was photographed during the week even when light conditions were less than optimal. Congratulations are due to the winners and all the entrants."

Many thanks to Liz for taking time out from her work as a professional photographer to judge the competition. To view Liz's stunning images of wildlife from around the world visit her website: A special big thanks also go to competition sponsirs A Taste of Arran who have supported this event this year! Visit their website for tasty Arran goodies- available by mail order!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Wild Wild Woods!

All Arran's primary schools were visited by a roving troop of woodland animals as part of this year's Wildlife Festival. Rangers from the Galloway Forest (Forestry Commission Scotland), Eglington Country Park (North Ayrshire Council), and Brodick Country Park and Goatfell (National Trust for Scotland) teamed up to present a Wild Wild Woods puppet show. This was followed by an interactive session, where the pupils found out about the fantastic wildlife to be found in Arran's woodland. The children learned how to screech like a barnowl, roar like a stag, tell the difference between a squirrel and a mouse-chewed pine cone and why a bat hangs upside down, and much, much more! We're not sure who had more fun in the end - the rangers or the children!
The event was kindly sponsored by the Co-Operative with transport help from Stagecoach.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Before dinosaurs roamed Arran

On the Monday evening Sliddery was the venue for the tracking of pre-dinosaur reptiles that roamed Arran about 230 million years ago. Several trackways have been discovered there by local enthusiasts, Jean and John Fitzpatrick. The animal that made the footprints were described as the 'Hand Beast of Arran', or scientifically as Isochirotherium. But what was the animal like that made these footprints? There was one animal that may have fitted the bill, but it is known form a single skeleton on Ticino in Switzerland; Ticinosaurus. A large komodo dragon-sized lizard that lived at about the same time as these footprints were made.

It was not until about 2000 that the first footprint came to light near to Blackwaterfoot. Since then, several hundred footprints of this elusive animal with the hand-shaped footprint have turned up from Kildonan to the King's Caves. On the Tuesday morning another group made there way across the hill past Drumadoon to the raised beaches before the King's Caves. Here, the first footprint was seen in a secluded stream in the hillside above the rocky beach. It was on the beach that the next discoveries were made, as several dozen footprints were discovered below high-water on the rocky platform. Both days were perfect for sighting these footprints and we were not disappointed!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Wildlife festival 2010!

Wow! It has been a fantastic week of wildlife and feet are only just coming back to earth. With over 70 events we have been very busy. Thankyou to everyone who led a walk, hosted and event or took part. The Festival's success depends on you- and of course the wonderful wildlife of Arran which was the real star of the show.Here are some photos from the week to whet your appetite. If you have some that you would like to share, why not email them to me at Feel free to add some words and if there is space we will include these too.

Yeshi and Tenzin get creative at the Family Funday.

The boys in blue!
Claire Youdale from COAST (right) and a member of the public with a tank of marine beasties at the Family Funday.
Members of the hard working tea room team!

Angela Cassels from Arran Natural History Society at the Family Funday.The boys from Arran Mountain Rescue flippin' burgers


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Flying Dustbin- A Portrait of the Fulmar

My second post today includes a missive from Raymond Besant, the film maker behind Saturday's special film night at the High School. I asked Raymond to send us a bit of information about his work and what drew him to film Fulmars:
"I grew up in the Orkney Islands where I developed an interest in the natural world and photography, particularly birds and the marine environment. On graduating from Aberdeen in Bioscience I became a freelance photographer before working for the Press & Journal newspaper as a press photographer. But my passion is wildlife and in 2005 I embarked on a project to make my first wildlife film with a view to becoming a wildlife cameraman. Practicing filming on the cliffs coincided with the failures of a subject familiar to me, seabird colonies. Shot over two years on days off and holidays I called it 'The Flying Dustbin' and it tells the story of the Fulmar and the challenges it faces from marine pollution and climate change. Because of monetary constraints I shot, edited, narrated and produced the film. Filmed in Aberdeenshire and the Orkney Islands the story also took me to St Kilda and the Netherlands. My previous photojournalism projects have included a strong environmental message and this theme continues in The Flying Dustbin."

The Flying Dustbin Premiered at Orkney International Science Festival and since then it has screened at the Scottish Wildlife photography fair and aired on tv in the US last year as well as touring local RSPB groups in Scotland. The RSPB use it as an educational tool for schools in Orkney. Clips have also appeared on a BBC Panorama documentary in 2008 and a Dutch tv programme this year.

The film went on to win Best of Category - Amateur, and a Merit Award for Scientific Content at the 31st International Wildlife Film Festival in the US in 2008 and was shortlisted in the Best Film on a Limited Budget category at the Durban Wild Talk Africa festival in 2009.

You may have seen other work from Raymond- On the back of the IWFF awards he worked on the BBC Natural World film 'A Highland Haven' filming Black Throated Divers on Loch Maree which aired on BBC2 last November. His latest project is as a cameraman for the 2020Vision wildlife project. (Interestingly, Fergus Gill- the young photographer whose work is on display at the Auchrannie Spa this week, is also involved with the 2020Vision project!)

Raymond will present his film "The Flying Dustbin-A Portrait of the Fulmar" at Lamlash Highschool at 7pm. Entry is free, but donations to the Arran Wildlife Festival and RSPB Scotland are very welcome!

Image credit: Fulmar by Andy Hay (