Whilst I have to say that living on an island like Islay makes you somewhat immune to the drastic changes and extremes of accompanying weather for the area. However, occasionally more noticeable events occur or are predicted. We're in the middle of one at the moment, although I don't believe it's going to be "extreme" in the more accepted sense.
I suppose it's easy to be cynical towards some of the more "simple", but nonetheless genuine, comments that arise in the media whenever extreme events occur. For some people who have usually avoided the "pleasure" of high winds, lashing rain, high seas and general disruption it may well be a very significant occurrence in their lives and one they don't want to see repeated either! By contrast, it's a bit of a " you puts up with what you get" situation for us in many senses given island life regularly includes wild weather. However, I must, somewhat mischievously, repeat the television report I heard yesterday of someone ringing in to say his refuse bins had been blown across the yard. Well as a wild weather "indicator" I'm afraid that's way down on the scale of severity given I've had to retrieve bins from across an adjacent field on more than one occasion. Currently they're tucked away in the barn and have been for several days!
On a serious note I've just checked my barometer and it's reading 940 millibars, which is actually the end of the scale on the device. I'm told the lowest ever recorded pressure reading in the UK is 923 so we're not far away from that position. In 13/14 years of being here I recollect only two or three really fierce storms, i.e. wind speeds in excess of 110 mph. They're not a nice experience as damage to property etc is a given; they're actually quite scary too as the accompanying noise is horrific as very high winds have a roaring sound and, if your power supply is still retained, the volume control on the TV or radio usually needs hiking up. Doing anything outside is usually out of the question and a thought must be given in those circumstances to farmers needing to deal with stock and to the various emergency services whose personnel have to turn out to rectify matters. Thankfully, floods aren't the problem experienced in many other areas, although unbelievable quantities of water can descend upon us!! It's the waters we're surrounded by that can so easily generate problems, which is precisely what is happening at present with the two earliest ferries today having been cancelled. It's rather traditional for Islay to see family get-togethers at Christmas/ New Year, a situation which can be severely affected by events such as those now affecting the Hebrides/ Western Isles. It has to be said that, in my opinion, Caledonian Macbrayne ferries do their damnedest to "deliver" in such difficult circumstances and if cancellations occur then they reflect the severity of the circumstances involved!!
As for wildlife then I have to say that I'm just about to put the kettle on and then rely on the delights contained within the latest BirdWatch magazine. A review of Christmas arrangements and accompanying opportunities can be taken later when all the excitement dies down!!
Despite the best efforts of the weather may I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and New Year and enjoyable birding during 2014.
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