Island Buzz

The great yellow bumblebee (GYBB) is creating quite a buzz on the island.

It’s one of the UK’s rarest bumblebees and its distribution has declined by 80% in the last century. The cause of its decline is most likely due to agricultural intensification and the subsequent loss of clover-rich flower meadows. Tiree’s expanses of machair, which includes a variety of clover and clover-like flowers, make an important refuge for this enigmatic bee, but even here, the species appears to be struggling.

Bumblebee surveys conducted by the Tiree Great Yellow Bumblebee Project from mid-May to the end of September revealed some astonishing results. They recorded 105 GYBB over the summer of 2017, and a whacking great 370 in 2018. Until then no-one had realised just how important Tiree was for the species.

Tiree homes are scattered throughout the island, usually within bee’s-reach of GYBB nesting and hibernating habitat, making their gardens ideal for creating a ‘mini-machair’ network. In total, Tiree Great Yellow Bumblebee Project, planted around 40 areas with GYBB ‘super-food’.

Over the next two years they will review the success of the ‘mini-machairs’, continue to conduct bumblebee surveys and grow more GYBB ‘super-food’.

As a summer visitor – expect to see more of these rare and beautiful bumblebees.

Unbidden Guest

As the days grow longer, and winds turn warmer, signs of the season to come make a welcome entry. Snowdrops and daffodils begin to show themselves as hardy harbingers of the much anticipated seasonal change. Their perseverance and determination is something we can only hope to emulate in our lives.

Lengthening Days

At last the days are lengthening. In the early morning, as the sun rises, shadows are created across the beach in the golden light of a strengthening sun. Arcs of silver light, like the flight of a bird, stretch out to meet the ascending glow. The morning light lingers like a halo. There is peace on the beach at the start of day.

Winter Days

Wild storms, with violent seas and crashing waves, followed by calm and tranquil days. A seasonal pattern is starting to re-establish itself. It’s easy to forget the ebb and flow of winter weather patterns – but these last few days have reminded us that we can always expect some ‘pet days’ no matter what the weather throws at us as we approach the shortest day.

Autumn Equinox

It’s two weeks since the autumn equinox finally swept away the summer. We feel the pull into winter with the increasingly late arrival of the sun each morning, and the disappointing shift of sunset ever earlier in the day. Less noticeable is the ever more shallow arc of the sun across the sky, meaning its rays carry less solar and heat energy compared to summer. This autumn equinox is often accompanied by stormy weather – and this year is no exception. We’ve had a good few days of high winds, huge seas and lots of rain.

Looking East

We have a glorious day here on the island. Standing on the beach below the cottage with the sun at my back – I can see the outline of the islands to the east standing clearly against the sky. Mull and Iona form a backdrop to this spectacular view. We’re so fortunate to live on this dramatic coast.

Pearly Grey Sky

We seem to be moving into the autumn – the last few days have been cooler and the island landscape is cloaked in a blanket of muted colours. The light has taken on a pearly greyness and we’re living under a sky which is drained and less vibrant. Only last week we were enjoying colourful sunsets and warming ourselves on a beach fire!

Sunset Stones

We’ve had the most amazing sunsets this week. Evenings on the beach – lighting fires, toasting marshmallows and barbecuing with the family – have been a real pleasure. The sky has been a colourful, textured background to all our activities.

The Secret Island

Throughout the summer there will be an opportunity for visitors to experience island hospitality. During the evening there will be natural history and heritage talks, music performances and lovely things to eat and drink. These entertaining and informative evenings are at Baugh Church at 7.30pm each Monday until 13 August.

Glistening Bay

Another spectacular day on the island. Along the coast a gentle breeze keeps the temperature at a bearable level. Wonderful views towards the east across the glistening bay. Sandy Denny wrote some evocative lyrics about the coast:
A handful of small coloured flowers were nestling in the grass
I tossed them to the blustery sky and watched them as they danced
Oh the fickle sea I’ve always loved and to this very day
I’ll see those flowers come floating down towards the glistening bay.