The Nadair Trust, HIE and RSPB partnership has already experienced great success, engaging with and informing visitors to Islay. As expected, the 'Springwatch Effect' appears to have sparked enthusiasm for and interest in Islay and its wildlife amongst people from across the UK. After the BBC programme visited Mull in 2005, visitor records nearly doubled, there is evidence of a similar response occurring on Islay, with B&Bs and hotels reporting increased enquiries and bookings. As a further example, over 40 people attended the golden eagle walk this week (10th), this is an incredibly high turnout, and all got fantastic views of three peregrine falcon chicks at the American monument. This guided walk takes place every Tuesday, starting from the Upper Killeyan car park on The Oa. Visitors not only get an excellent experience when visiting the RSPB reserves but are also provided with information and guidance, encouraging them to explore the whole of the island.
Volunteers have always played a significant role in the work of the RSPB and while we have some local volunteers here on Islay, more would be very welcome! You may well have an interest in wildlife or simply enjoy working outdoors, so there are a variety of tasks and activities to suit a range of abilities and interests. For some people it provides a great opportunity to kick-start a career in conservation, making use of the RSPB resources to gain valuable experience and knowledge of practical estate management. For others it is a chance to share their experience and knowledge with others or to impart their enthusiasm for the islands with interested visitors. We are also looking forward to welcoming the first pupils taking part in the new ‘Skills for Work’ project, starting with the August school session. If these opportunities are of any interest to you, please contact the office on 850505. A new event will be a weekly, guided bike tour from the Gruinart Visitor Centre to Ardnave. Starting at 11:30am on Wednesdays and lasting two hours, the tour is a great way to see chough, hen harriers and some of the iconic, historical features of Gruinart. Bring a bike and join the ride!
This story was published with kind permission from The Ileach - Community Newspaper of the year.