Sunday, April 1, 2012

Paying the penalty !

Spent some time in the hills in the north east of Islay looking at various areas, having the occasional sighting of typical birds of that type of habitat, but nothing exceptional.  Meadow Pipits are now in reasonable numbers and additional birds seem to be arriving too in each of the last few days.

During this time I was oblivious to the fact that a couple of serious hill fires had broken out in the NW part of the island. All fire appliances were deployed and , by the evening, major inroads had apparently been made into the problem. Knowing one of the areas concerned, the worst affected, the big problem is one of access and the local firemen would doubtless have had a very challenging situation on their hands.  This is the downside of periods of  warm and dry weather when the vegetation becomes really dry and even the smallest   fire, particularly backed by a brisk wind, can end up as a major problem. Thankfully key species like Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl have probably not yet begun their actual breeding activities beyond taking up their territories. Other birds such as Northern Wheatear, which are usually present in the area,  have not yet even arrived in numbers so the situation could be much worse.  Thoughts too must be given to our island volunteer firemen crews who are drawn from the community, train and make themselves available for incidents of this sort. Incidents are dealt with in addition to their own commitments and work and their selfless contributions are to be much applauded.

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