DRYING PEATS, LEWIS
The lovely weather we have had recently seems to be going South, but It's still quite warm, although a bit wet and windy. As a result of the doubling in the price of heating oil recently, lots of peats have been cut all over the island and are now drying nicely, like those above. I haven't had time to cut any myself this year, but will do so next year now that the stove is installed and working. Volunteer peat cutters may be offered free B&B next April/May. Apply now.
Well, what an exciting week. Rare birds and Donald Trump. The bird is a Common Crane, far from common in the UK and only recorded once previously in the Outer Hebrides. This particular feathered friend arrived about a week ago on the outskirts of Stornoway and once its presence was announced, twitchers started arriving right left and centre to see it. Every plane and ferry was full to bursting with sensible, mature individuals who had travelled hundreds, nay, thousands of miles and spent large amounts of money to get here and put another tick on their bird sighting list. There was no need to ask where the bird could be seen, 'cos you just followed the binoculars and telescopes draped around the necks and shoulders of intense looking men wearing spectacles, who gathered in the middle of Stornoway to swap notes and purchase sandwiches and coffee.
Friday lunchtime last week. Went to the local service station to buy my usual Philadelphia and ham baguette - diesel at 142 pence a litre, but baguette a bargain at £2-30 - and there they were - Cameras, Goretex jackets in a fine shade of camouflage green and mobile phones welded to their ears. I was far too intimidated and lacking in confidence to speak to them, so sneakily followed them in my car to a farm on the edge of the airport--and there it was! As we arrived, this wretched creature flew in front of us, seven feet long beak to toes, pursued by other smaller birds, and landed in a field several hundred yards away from the assembled multitude. Out came the cameras. Lenses the size of drainpipes. Far bigger than my own pathetic example. My fairly compact camera just couldn't compete - and that folks, is why I can't provide any photographic evidence that the crane was ever here. Having read this, those still plagued by doubts about the veracity of this account should visit http://www.western-isles-wildlife.co.uk/, where there is a very good photo snapshot of the crane on 'Recent Sightings 3 June.'
Donald Trump. A fine example of a decent billionaire. Donald arrived at Stornoway airport last Monday in his private jet with the word TRUMP emblazoned on the side in gold lettering. He came here to visit his mother's childhood home. First cousins, second cousins, two mongrels and a stray blackface sheep turned up to greet the great man. I would have been reasonably impressed had Mr Trump hired a fleet of taxis to transport him and his retinue around, but no, he was provided with a Porsche 4 wheel drive vehicle, said to be owned by 'a local millionaire.' Hebrideans are not usually impressed by ostentatious displays of wealth and power and few people turned out to see him and wave stars and stripes in support.
The wind was blowing that day and poor Donnie suffered the indignity of having his comb over go vertical and make him look as if he'd been electrocuted.
This was his first visit as an adult to Lewis, which he said he had been wanting to make for many years. Mr Trump remained on the island for a full three hours. He denied that his lightning trip to the Western Isles was a publicity stunt connected with his current application to build a £1 billion pound golf course -'the best golf course in the world' - on the coast in Aberdeenshire. That application is being opposed because, like the Lewis Wind Farm, the proposed development is sited in a particularly environmentally sensitive site of Special Scientific Interest, which is more important to some local people than this planned vast leisure and housing scheme. A public enquiry is now taking place. The billionaire has threatened to take his bat and ball home to America if the enquiry goes against him. Oh well.