Marianne writes: While out rowing in recent weeks many of us have seen a significant number of dead guillemots, and (thankfully) larger numbers of live, though rather lethargic birds.
I met with the Isle of May National Nature Reserve Manager, David Steele yesterday. What David doesn’t know about birds and islands on the East Coast of Scotland isn’t worth knowing!
David’s conclusion is that, as George also speculated, the recent easterly winds may have been blowing the birds up the Forth away from the vicinity of their breeding cliffs on the outer Forth islands and the eastern coast (a few do nest on the inner islands and mainland).
As far as mortality is concerned, the state of recent tides may have led to an unusual concentration of normal numbers of dead birds. More worrying are the lethargic birds, which may indicate feeding problems, or that they are tired from bad weather.
The annual sea bird count on the Isle of May will take place in late June, and this will give a good idea of whether there is something going on regarding numbers this year. David will give me an update when the results are in and I’ll let you know.
David was really interested to hear about what we’d been seeing and congratulated QRC members on being great ‘citizen scientists’. Citizen science is an important resource, and these sorts of reports can be really helpful. We’re in a unique position to observe, given the amount of time we spend on the water. So, carry on the great wildlife spotting, while trying to not to attract the ‘eyes in the boat’ call from your cox!
David’s really keen to come and talk with us about the Isle of May, the internationally important populations of seabirds in the Forth, so I’ll get a date for that in the Autumn. He’s a terrific speaker and has a huge wealth of stories, having lived not only on the May, but also on the Farnes Islands off the Northumberland coast.
Liz writes: A small team of QRC members descended on Dalavich on Loch Awe for the inaugural annual weekend rowing festival, hosted by the local rowing club – Kilchrenan, Inverinan & Dalavich Coastal Rowing Club (KIDs) – and their new skiff Mingulay.
The event consisted of a Saturday of fun open rowing and come-and-try coastal rowing for the locals, plus a chance to row on beautiful Loch Awe for the nine visiting skiffs (eight clubs – St Andrews brought two boats – and their crews. The grand finale was Sunday’s race of 14.6 miles (7.3 miles each way) from Dalavich to the halfway mark – between Taychreggan Hotel on the west shore and Portsonachan Hotel on the east – and back.
The Saturday started in typical Argyllshire fashion with a light rain, a true soft day! Boats were unloaded and set on the beach for all to inspect and admire. However, as the afternoon commenced the sun came out and the clouds cleared. All visiting boats were asked to take a “local in our boat” so they could experience the joys of skiff rowing. We were lucky enough to have three different “newbies” in the Maid.
Donald is a seasoned rower who has lived for 40 years on the loch, a mile down and over the other side, a one-hour drive away!! He had held his masters ticket for commercial craft on Loch Awe and is now enjoying retirement. He said he usually rowed over to Dalavich but his boat had just developed a leak. Needless to say, he required little tuition and was able to point out a crannog on the loch plus the castle used by the Campbells as a prison on the south shore.
Then we took out Ewan, a well-known rower from the Isle of Seil. We
were lucky enough to spot a pair of ospreys who were nesting and fishing as we rowed round their island. Lastly, we picked up Nigel, a big lad from Edinburgh!!! He was a genuine novice and we took him to see the crannog and the ospreys. He was delighted, so we poured on the charm and suggested he might like to join QRC. Not sure if we were successful as his partner rows for Eastern!
There were also a few smaller boats for people to try – North Queensferry brought their “Wee Boat” and there was even a slidey-seat skiff.
That evening we were treated to a fantastic buffet meal in the local social club and excellent Loch Fyne ales from the bar – an excellent preparation for the next days racing. Some club members got some unexpected exercise when a village woman popped in to the bar to ask for help moving a chicken coop. “It’s not far” turned out to be quite a distance, and the coop was rather large! But the job was done and the chickens now have a fine view of a field of alpacas.
Sunday dawned with absolutely beautiful clear weather and little wind. Oh no! Midgies!! Yes, the wee blighters were out in force – a great incentive to get out on the water. The coxes’ briefing started at 9:30am. We had nine crew plus Mike B as logistics expert, so Liz offered to cox in both directions, allowing the more able bodied to row.
The first leg was rowed by Sharon (stroke), Douglas (No3), Alastair (No2) and Barbara (bow). The course was a tricky one with two dog-legs to navigate, the first to starboard, so we started well out into the loch to get the best line. We had a great start with ourselves, Arran and St Andrews
racing together for the first 2 miles. Both Arran and St Andrews then pulled ahead and we were a very strong third. We successfully maintained third place with an excellent time of 1 hour 21 minutes. The fourth boat, Renegade finished four minutes behind us. The winner of the first leg was St Andrews in an impressive 1 hour 16 minutes, with Arran second on 1 hour
16mins and 30 seconds.
All teams then swapped crews, with the exception of Renegade, who rowed both legs with the same crew. Each crew had ten minutes or so to change and their start was timed separately. Our crew had been ferried by Mike B to Struan beach near Taychreggan Hotel.
The crew for the second leg was Anne P (stroke), Mel (No 3), Maria (No 2) and the Flan (bow). We had a good start and set off in bright sunshine with no wind. However, about 3 miles in a stiff headwind started and we rowed the rest of the race into a strengthening westerly. The ladies rowed exceptionally well, coming in third in a time of 1 hour 30 minutes. Only Arran (1 hour 19 minutes) and the all-male crew from Kinghorn (1 hour 23 minutes) beat them for time.
The overall winners, by cumulative times, were Arran, with St Andrews second and Kinghorn third. We were fourth, just two minutes behind Kinghorn.
We all had a fabulous weekend, the hospitality of our hosts was excellent and the setting was stunning. Roll on next year.
The photographer, Mick Atkins, writes: “When circulating, please inform all crew members and interested parties that it they are interested in obtaining any images (either electronic or hard copy prints) to EMAIL ME DIRECT WITH THEIR REQUIREMENTS… Please inform them that I am quite prepared to release images at cost, to cover expenses and a much reduced fee for electronic high res j.pegs (depending on requirements).”
Rachel writes: We have a few issues this coming week. No evening rowing due to low water. We hope at the weekend – Easter Weekend – that the Marina can accommodate us for Saturday / Sunday mornings on a pontoon. Afternoons are good though, with plenty rowing opportunities.
Monday 15th April
11.51 — 4.9 m H. 18.36 —1.3 m L
06.59 — 1.6 m L. 12.58 — 5.2 m H. 19.38 — 0.9 m L NO SOCIAL SESSION
07.56 — 1.2 m L. 13.56 — 5.6 m H. 20.34 — 0.5 m L NO TRAINING SESSION
08.48 — 0.9 m L 14.51 — 5.8 m H 21.22 — 0.3 m L. NO SOCIAL SESSION
09.34 — 0.6 m L. 15.42 — 6.0 m H 22.02 — 0.2 m L
Saturday 20th — Easter Saturday
10.15 — 0.5 m L. 16.30 — 6.1 m H. 22.38 — 0.2 m L Pontoon required.
Sunday 21st — Easter Sunday
10.53 — 0.5 m L 17.16 — 6.0 m H Pontoon required for morning training.