Sunday, April 27, 2008


There are lots of Red Deer wandering about the moors here on the islands, many on shooting estates. They will often come to the roadside to graze because the foraging is better quality. Recently, a local newspaper printed a photograph of two stags begging food at a car layby on the A9 near Inverness, where a burger van was parked. Motorists were stopping to buy food and the stags had worked out that this was an easy source of free meals.They are usually very wary of humans, who tend to shoot them, and I think this was probably quite unusual behaviour for wild deer. Those two stags appeared regularly and have become a tourist attraction. The deer on Lewis are much more cautious and a long lens is usually needed to get decent photos.Incidentally, there are only Red Deer on these islands. No one, as yet, has had the bright idea to release Roe, Fallow or Muntjac deer.

Just a week or two after telling you all about the dead Cuvier's Beaked Whale washed up here, it's happened again. This time, a six metre Minke whale was beached a couple of days ago at Brue on the Westside. The animal was alive when first seen, but died within a short time. No one knows the cause of death, or why the whales get stranded, but there was a Naval exercise going on in the area recently and there is local speculation that Sonar interferes with the whale's navigation mechanism and disorientates them. The Navy deny this.

Following the decision earlier this week by the Scottish Government to reject the huge wind farm proposal, the developers and the Western Isles Council are predicting long term doom and gloom for the Western Isles economy. Already though, the decision has started to concentrate the minds of politicians into thinking about proposals to kick start and develop the local economy without wrecking the landscape.It's still not certain though that the Lewis Wind farm company won't continue to try to obtain permission for another land based wind farm in some form or other. They talk about a plan that involves, among other proposals, the community receiving 50% of any future profits from the turbines. This demonstrates a complete failure to understand that the 11000 objections were not about money, but about protecting this beautiful island.

In my last blog, I mentioned that there is a plan to build a tidal generator at Shader, Barvas, on the Westside of Lewis.The plans and proposals have been made public and lodged with the Scottish Government in the last few days and look really exciting. The idea has arisen from residents within the village of Shader,who have been looking for ways to create a small harbour and shelter for creel boats.The scheme is known as the Siadar Wave Energy Project( SWEP). If it gets underway, it will be built by a consortium from npower renewables and Wavegen and will involve the construction of a series of generators built into a breakwater and linked to land by a causeway. This is designed to absorb the power of heavy seas and create a sheltered inner harbour for both fishing and leisure boats.There will be a slipway on the shore, to be used by commercial crab and lobster fishermen as well as sea angling boats. Huge pistons driven by wave and tide action will pump air up and down the interior of concrete towers to generate electricity. They will produce 4 megawatt, apparently enough to power 500 homes each year, a fifth of all households on Lewis and Harris. The project is currently costed at about £20 million pounds and if granted planning permission, could start next year and create 50 jobs during the 18 month construction period.

The Sabbath continues to be attacked from all sides. This time, it's by the Stornoway golf club, who want to play golf on a Sunday.
In 1923, Lewis was owned by Lord Leverhulme, who gifted Lews Castle and 64000 acres of land to the people of Stornoway Parish. The Stornoway Trust was established as a not for profit organisation to manage the estate on behalf of the community and has done so ever since.
The Trust is the landlord of the golf club, who want to be able to hit their balls on every day of the week. At present, members can only play Monday to Saturday and have asked the Trust for permission to play on the Sabbath.
The Trust has responded by stating " (We Are) not inclined to accede to the request for seven day golf". They have declined to give detailed reasons for the refusal, but there is a local belief that the Trust is infiltrated by members of the Lord's Day Observance Society, who don't want any erosion of Sabbath Observance by any of us. The golf club, with lots of important and influential members, as well as ordinary poor people, is not taking this decision lying down.They have consulted the lawyers and further developments are likely in the near future. A ludicrous consequence of the current position is that whilst golf club members can't play on Sunday, non members can and do. Not being a golfer, I don't understand this, but there we are.

Having battled with tradesmen during the house renovation, I now have to face the unpleasant reality that the biggest impediment to further progress is myself.I know, from long, bitter past experience that I am of world class standard at displacement activity, when I should be buckling down and getting on with the job.I had lifted a paint roller last night and had it poised mid air, ready to strike the first blow against an unpainted wall, when my ex landlady and her cousin turned up clutching a bottle of wine. They are much more congenial company than ten litres of vinyl silk, so no contest. Here we go again today though. The radio has a really interesting programme on that I must give my full attention to, this blog needs writing, friends and family need to be phoned and I really have to go and see if there any flowers out on the croft just yet. Where is my friend going to sleep when he arrives on Wednesday?


Anonymous said...

what a scabby stag ought to be shot and made into burgers

Marty said...

Thanks for all the great informative posts about the islands! I have been researching the Outer Hebrides and look forward to reading all you have written. :)