Friday, 29 October 2010

End of season volunteers day out

A big part of the Marine Reserve’s work is to raise awareness of the marine environment; why it’s so special and why we should look after it. We run lots of educational events throughout the summer for schools, community groups and visitors to find out about the special wildlife in the coastal waters around St Abbs and Eyemouth. It’s been a busy season with 58 events taking place and 1,180 people getting involved. All that rockpooling action is too much for a Marine Ranger to do alone! So I’ve been lucky enough to have the help of some hardworking volunteers who’ve made my job a whole lot easier. To show my appreciation of all the time they’ve put in I organised a trip to Deep Sea World in Edinburgh for a fun (and educational!) day out. Thanks guys, I couldn’t do it without you!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

COAST symposium on the Isle of Arran

I’ve just returned from the Isle of Arran where COAST (Community Of Arran Seabed Trust) hosted a conference entitled ‘Empowering Coastal Community Stakeholders’. The event was attended by academics, community groups, NGOs and government bodies working at the forefront of marine conservation in the UK and abroad. The aim of the meeting was to make connections between interest groups focussing in marine environmental protection and sustainable marine exploitation.

The conference was unanimous in support for protecting various aspects of marine interests from a multitude of different directions; this inspiring feeling is gaining momentum, and several key personnel from Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland were present. There were also various dignitaries including an MSP and an MP. My personal highlight of the weekend was a presentation by Callum Roberts from the University of York about the historical context of stock decline in the Firth of Clyde which generated a good debate amongst attendees.

It is hoped that the VMR will play an active role in future debates between coastal stakeholder groups and form positive links with other organisations. For more information about the event and COAST, please visit their website

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

While you were out...

I have been away on leave for a week or so, and true to form, all sorts of things have been going on in my absence. There has been a lot of activity on the migrating bird front with more sightings of great grey shrike and yellow-browed warbler as well as more common migrants such as redwings and fieldfares. However, the most exciting sighting has been of a red-flanked bluethroat (picture left) on Saturday. This beautifully colourful bird is a rare sighting in Britain, with one turning up somewhere on the east coast of Scotland or northern England every year or so. They are en route from their breeding ground in Finland to their wintering grounds in SE Asia. Also on Saturday a minke whale and 20+ bottle-nosed dolphins were spotted off the Head.

Not such a good sighting was of the wreckage of a car that has been dumped off the cliff just below the lighthouse. This was spotted by a local boat skipper on Sunday and St Abbs lifeboat went out to investigate. Thankfully there was no-one in the car, and after police investigation it turns out that the car was stolen and presumably dumped off the cliff when the thieves had finished their joyriding. There is now a lot of head scratching going on as to how to remove the wreckage which is pretty inaccessible from both land and sea (picture right).

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Having a look at our Lumps and Bumps

The Trust's Regional Archaeologist, Daniel Rhodes, came for a site visit today. He has newly taken over the role and wanted to check out our archaeological sites on the ground and also chat about future management including possible survey work to try and answer some mysteries associated with the sites.

St Abb's Head is mostly associated with its ornithological and scenic value, but there is also considerable cultural heritage associated with the property. Three thousand years of human activity are visible in the landscape, if you know where to look and what to look for.

The most important archaeological site is Kirk Hill, where there is evidence of multi-period occupation of the site. This is where St Aebbe (after whom St Abbs is named) set up her unisex monastery, bringing Christianity to the area from the west of Scotland, before it was carried on down to Lindisfarne. But there are many lumps and bumps on the ground up there (pictured left: Sue and John wander amongst some of them) and no-one is really sure exactly what there is. We hope to use modern technology to unlock some of the secrets without having to disturb the ground.

Daniel is very enthusiastic about the stories there are to be told at St Abb's Head, not only about the ancient sites, but also some of the more modern ones like the lighthouse, the salmon station and jetty at Petticowick and the Mire Loch. So, watch this space!

Picture right: lunch sitting in the remains of the church on Kirk Hill.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Love is in the air!

Yesterday, we had an interesting spectacle on the top of the cliffs, with a young couple getting married on Nunnery Point, to the north of the lighthouse. The weather was not terribly kind as it rained throughout the ceremony, but at least there wasn't a gale blowing! And the rain didn't manage to dampen the spirits of the 50 or so friends and family who joined the bride and groom on the cliff top for the occasion. In fact, the stunning array of colourful umbrellas, not to mention the jazzy wellies, added a certainly jollity to the whole thing!

Becci and Brad chose St Abb's Head because it is one of their favourite places, and they have enjoyed many a day soaking up the quiet atmosphere and the fabulous scenery of the place. And they were keen to ensure that the wedding was in harmony with this. There were no limousines, or marquees or decorations of any sort. Just a group of people standing on a cliff top with a stunning view for a backdrop. What more could you need?!

Pictures: top - here comes the bride; middle - the ceremony; bottom - a colourful gathering, with a stunning backdrop.