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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:12 am 
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Hello folks. Just some inane musings on recent events:

I’ve been wondering to myself over the last few days if we are seeing a sea-change in ‘news’ coverage. First off, there was the G20, and the subsequent death of Ian Tomlinson, which lead to the first bout of days-long saturation news coverage, although admittedly in relation to the (‘alleged’) action of some members of the constabulary, this elongated coverage was probably justified.

Then came the swine flue panic, which went on and on, at increasing levels of hysteria, before that coverage, in turn, succumbed to the unprecedented phenomenon of the weeks-long MPs’ expenses smokescreen, courtesy of The Telegraph. That story itself became indelibly entangled with the election of the two BNP members. And now we are in the predictable throes of the media circus surrounding the death of Michael ‘two autopsies’ Jackson, which looks like turning into another epic of Homeric proportions. Simpson, that is (probably).

Anyway, we may get upset with ‘our’ politicians, but what about the political agendas and processes of Westminster being affected by the excruciatingly elongated disclosures of a newspaper owned by the two non-elected tax exiles that are the Barclay twins? That pairs’ off-shore angst is (allegedly) fuelled by the fear of international entities such as the G20 or the E.U.—entities which might just manage to summon up the will and the way to abolish tax havens. If the few millions that MPs have over-claimed for could cause such a furore as it has, what about the £billions per annum that are not paid by tax exiles: perhaps £1.5b in Monaco alone? While UKIP were—perhaps on cue—the main beneficiaries of The Telegraph’s campaign, the BNP also gained seats as (I hope) an unintended consequence of all this, despite their total votes actually falling in comparison to the previous Euro election. Mind you, this was aided and abetted, I suspect, by the electorate’s lack of awareness of the actual manic complexities of the European voting system, by which protest non-voting by the followers of the main parties is not a sensible option. I mean, how much media coverage was given to actual process of the Euro election voting system?

Now, I could probably find several reasons why many MPs should not be in power—as could you—but the revelations of the ridiculous drip-drip of the fees leakage would be pretty well down my list. I mean, we didn’t honestly think that MPs were, up until now, upright beacons of ethical enlightenment, did we? Or is the backlash against the MPs of the three main Westminster parties merely the anger provoked by the electorate’s shame of being duped yet again? Sure, the Conservatives made gains, but against the on-going antagonism being meted out against the sitting government, even Myra Hindley could probably have picked up a few votes, and she’s dead.

Maybe what we need now is yet another over-the-top media campaign, this time identifying tax exiles, their earnings, and how many political party donations have been made by them over the course of the current parliament (although I can’t imagine The Telegraph taking part in this one). Lengthy media coverage of such a topic could make the MPs expenses saga seem as pale, by comparison, as Jacko’s face. And he’s dead, too.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:44 am 
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Hi Peter, welcome to the forum...I see by your musings that you like a bit of saga...


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:34 am 
Cripes Pete, that's quite a first post. Glad to see you're not a conspiracy theorist.
People only go into tax exile when the tax system in their home country is blatantly unfair as it is here. Hence we lose Connery, Coulthard, Murray etc.
If Bliar and Brun were not so concerned with social engineering and thus pitting us in hock for generations then our tax system wouldn't need to be so ridiculously harsh and complicated.
Have we reached Tax Freedom Day yet or is every penny we earn still going to darling Darling.
...
If you're looking for the next media fest then there's an upcoming "save the polar bear from melting ice" conference with the global warming nutters screaming inane scaremongering nonsense for weeks and millions of suckers believing their tosh. That should cause a few hundred square miles of timber to be cut down.

Jackson Shanks (White by choice)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:08 am 
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Longshanks - now you've touched a nerve and I'm posting below something which should keep you regular contributors happy for days.... however I do believe there is something in all this global warming stuff, (maybe not as bad as first predicted but certainly there is no getting away from some of the facts being presented) - for a more parocial viewpoint think of the access road to Seil - with a few more inches added to the Spring tides..
This comes from Time (magazine online, last Wednesday) and has some sobering predictions - just imagine for starters all those gun toting US citizens in years to come wanting water and food.. and it will spread to other continents.. happy Monday everyone!


[i]Even as Congress belatedly tackles legislation that would cut U.S. carbon emissions and international negotiators bickered over a global climate deal in Bonn, Germany, a new report by several federal agencies underscores the truths that too often risk getting lost in politics: global warming is real, it's happening now, and if we don't act soon, the consequences are likely to be catastrophic.
Scientists and officials working with the U.S. Global Change Research Program released on June 16 the first climate-change assessment to be completed during Barack Obama's presidency. The assessment, which is required periodically by Congress, breaks down the predicted effects of global warming in the U.S. by region and sector; it contains no new research, but it paints a detailed and worrying picture of what a warmer America will be like 10, 50 and 100 years from today. "It is clear that climate change is happening now," says Jerry Melillo, a lead author of the report and an ecologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. "The observed climate changes we report are not opinions to be debated. They are facts to be reported."
Produced by 13 federal agencies and several major universities and research centers, the climate report found that if carbon emissions continued growing unabated, the mainland U.S. would heat up anywhere from 7 degrees Fahrenheit to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2090, with some margin of error. That's similar to the predictions found in the 2007 report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but the real value of the new assessment is found in its detailed breakdown of the different effects warming will have in various regions of the U.S. — in a country as geographically vast and diverse as the U.S., climate change won't be felt monolithically.
Here are a few of the report's highlights

Water Woes. Precipitation will generally become heavier in northern areas, and will tend to fall in severe downpours, leading to more widespread flooding. Meanwhile, the South — and especially the Southwest — will become drier. That's alarming because the Southwest and Southeast, where populations are growing faster than in any other U.S. region, are already struggling with drought.
Heat Index. Get used to sweating. Under a business-as-usual course, by the end of the century, Washington, D.C., could average as many as 90 to 100 days a year above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, up from around 30 to 40 days now. Southern Florida and southern Texas could see more than 160 days a year above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Polar Thaw. Climate change is being felt first in the Arctic regions, which explains why Alaska is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the country, and could warm by as much as 13 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 50 years. That will melt sea ice and severely affect already endangered species like the polar bear and the walrus. And warming could ruin the state's valuable fisheries — as sea temperatures warm, the habitat for cold-water fish like salmon and trout could all but disappear in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

Northeastern Exposure. Warming will make skiing, ice-skating and snowmobiling pastimes of the past in many areas of the Northeast, decimating the multibillion-dollar winter-sports industry. The center of maple-syrup production will shift from New England to Canada, and production of apples and other produce that depend on cooler winters will decline.

Early Deaths. All those heat waves will take a serious toll on human health, with a significant increase in deaths due to high temperatures. The poor and the young will be most vulnerable.

The predictions, based on unchecked growth in carbon emissions over the next several decades, are scary. Equally scary is what has already happened. The assessment shows that over the past few decades, winters in the Midwest have warmed by a few degrees, and the number of winter days without frost has increased by about a week. Sea levels have already risen by 8 inches or more in some coastal areas of the U.S., and under the business-as-usual scenario, they could rise 3 to 4 feet by the end of the century — enough to put much of Florida, including the Everglades and the Keys, under water. "Much of the foot-dragging on addressing climate change reflects the perception that it is way down the road and only affects remote parts of the planet," says Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which contributed to the study. "This report demonstrates that climate change is happening now and in our backyard."
The timing of the new report is perfect. A bill to cap U.S. carbon emissions, sponsored by Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, is making its way through Congress and could be up for a vote in the House of Representatives as soon as next week. Although the bill has the support of the White House and has been watered down considerably to earn centrist and conservative votes, it will still struggle to become law. Opponents argue that cap and trade will ruin the U.S. economy by raising energy prices. But while there are arguments to be made against cap and trade, what's increasingly certain with every new scientific report is that the time for empty talk has expired[img][/quote].[/[/img]i]


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:11 pm 
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Goths at the Gates.

This from The Guardian, Monday 1 June, 2009, by Andrew Simms:

Ten months have passed since pointing out that we have, at best, 100 left before a new, far more dangerous phase of global warming begins. The "chatter" of concern is getting louder. But at the same time, the political system in Britain has been wracked and absorbed more by its own inadequacies than by this fundamental threat to civilisation.

The fall of the Roman Empire was due to a large extent, writes the historian Adrian Goldsworthy, to a system of government that became inward-looking and weakened by internal dissent. Gone was the singular focus from the golden days of the Republic, when a small, trusted coterie of around 1,000 administrators ran the whole empire efficiently.

In its place was a bloated, inefficient and suspicious bureaucracy of 35,000, seeking power and personal advantage. Worst of all, gripped with self-obsession, they took their eyes off the Goths at the gates, and paid a devastating price. Any similarities to actual people alive today and current political circumstances are, of course, entirely unintended and circumstantial. Goldsworthy points out that every age can project its own experience onto the Romans, which just goes to show how much they did actually do for us.

In the last ten months, support for needing to take radical action over countdown period has been far and deep. Nobel prize winners from Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC to Wangari Maathai of the Kenyan Green Belt movement have leant support, thousands of individuals have too, along with groups whose memberships run into the many millions. Even "spiderman", in the form of French free climber Alain Robert, has risen, literally, to the cause.

Yet, in spite of the support that investing in the great transition could give to a weakened economy, the new and additional resources being made available are paltry compared to the support given to the financial sector. Around the world, as states become more acutely aware of the threats to food and energy security stemming from our ecological overreach, they are taking action. But they are just as likely to be eyeing the natural resources of other, weaker states to meet their rising consumption, as they are to be changing consumption patterns to live within their environmental means. Land grabs for food and biofuels seem to hit the news with growing frequency.

Technological optimism is all around us. "You cannot predict the future and unimagined solutions come along; they always have done," we are reassured. Whenever there is a great problem, human ingenuity finds a techno-fix. Who could have predicted the chemical fertilisers for our food system, which thwarted Malthusian pessimists? The problem is, with the timeframe to act on climate change, those solutions that are meant to allow us to carry on as usual should have arrived years ago and be in place now. Now, with at best 90 months left on our clock, we have a challenge that will be a bit like the first time a child jumps from the top diving board into the swimming pool.

Both terrifying and thrilling, we need to brace ourselves for the fastest descent in the use of fossil fuels that a society like ours will ever have faced. It will need technology, behaviour change and regulations to ensure fair shares and equity on the way down. We don't know everything that will happen on the way down. But if we get it right, I suspect that we will rediscover several important things along the path that have been largely lost or forgotten: something about the importance of community, about our own ingenuity and ability to do things for ourselves, and something also about how deeply connected to, and ultimately dependent on nature, we really are.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:25 pm 
Crikey O'Reilly....its time to panic.
NiceBeaver; I love The Happy Mondays too.
Chill out folks and consider

The Sun is behind Global Warming
Rather than man-made CO2 being responsible for global warming, there is evidence it is caused the fluctuations in the intensity of the Sun's heat.

CO2 levels
Although the level of CO2 is higher than the "pre-industrial" level – today it is about 0.038 per cent of the atmosphere, compared to 0.02 per cent, carbon dioxide levels have often been as much as 10 times higher than they are today.

Polar bears and penguins are not dying out
Most populations of polar bear are doing well. Numbers have more than doubled since 1950. They are also good swimmers. Although some Antarctic penguin colonies are decreasing in size, their numbers are also steady.

The Gulf Stream is not under threat
The Gulf Stream is as strong as ever, and getting warmer. There is no evidence to suggest the Arctic ice melting is pushing it further south.

The Maldives are not sinking
Maldives property owners are so confident the sea is receding, they are building a number of upmarket seafront hotels. Tuvalu in the Pacific, often seen as being most at risk of flooding, has actually seen a fall in sea levels.

Global warming would be good for us: Warmer climate and an increase in CO2 could be good for farming and agriculture. Less severe winters will also allow more crops to be grown.

I challenge anyone on this forum to give just one example of the effects of global warming on Seil in evidence today. Go on. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.

Geeky people love scare stories and comspiracy theories because it gives them something to talk about in their boring lives and a sense of importance that they are warning us all, when, in reality they are totally unimportant people.
Hoping no-one takes this last comment personally again.

Long Gore (yellow carded nutter by choice)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:24 pm 
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Longshanks - chippy by choice?

I had hoped to raise the (usual) level of forum chat - but I see it's pointless and will retire, like so many before me, with dignity intact and leave you to your somewhat rigid views rather than welcome debate.
Before doing so I would just like to say that I don't care for your somewhat aggressive stance (shown on previous occasions to others) in your penultimate paragraph - and in your last paragraph I can assure you, as you seem to insinuate, that I am neither geeky, boring or have a sense of importance - though - I would suggest you remove the rather large chip you have on your aggressively defensive shoulder and chill out a little yourself, be willing to view others opinions, (you are not being asked to adopt them) listen more - and remember the ratio of two eyes, two ears and one mouth.
I tend not to take things personally and your ignorant comments (ignorant as you don't know who I am) are water off a ducks back though you will no doubt misconstrue this as taking things personally, I am just a tad tired of your usual caustic remarks to other posters - you are obviously not having a very happy Monday. I do hope things improve for you shortly.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:20 pm 
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Longshanks:

1. ‘"Across the solar cycle, the Sun's energy output varies only by about 0.1%," says Sami Solanki from the Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany.
"When you look across much longer timescales, you also see changes only of about 0.1%. So just considering directly variations in energy coming from the Sun, this is not enough to explain the climatic changes we have seen and are seeing now."’


2. Aye, I’m sure CO2 levels have been ten times higher than they are today, probably during WW2, for example. Regardless of CO2 levels, which have somewhat hijacked the statistics, there are other factors to climate change, too. It’s a combination effect, not reducible to one factor.


3. ‘The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group reclassified the polar bear as a vulnerable species on the IUCN's Red List of Endangered Species at their most recent meeting (Seattle, 2005). They reported that of the 19 subpopulations of polar bears, five are declining, five are stable, two are increasing, and seven have insufficient data on which to base a decision. On May 14, 2008, the U.S. Department of the Interior reclassified the polar bear as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act, citing concerns about sea ice loss. Canada and Russia list the polar bear as a species of concern.’

4. The gulf stream: ‘Recent observations have shown that since 1950 there has been a decrease of 20% in the flow of cold water in the Faeroe Bank channel between Greenland and Scotland. This is one source of cold dense water that drives the density-based component of the Gulf Stream. There may be an increase in flow from other cold water sources, but, if not, it could be the start of the slow down of the Gulf Stream.’

5. Regarding building in areas prone to flooding, property developers seem to have a penchant for building on areas prone to flooding, e.g. flood planes. Look at the numbers affected by flooding in the UK over the last couple of years. What you describe as the Maldive developers’ ‘confidence’ is more a case of burying their hotels in the sand, make a profit and to hell with the consequences later. Current financial short-term opportunism breeds confidence, not arguments about climate change. Tuvalu sea levels falling? Link to this: http://media.adelaidenow.com.au/multime ... thnow.html

6. ‘Good’ for us? Oh yes, I forgot, the only ‘good’ is the financial. Silly me.

7. The point is that the effects of climate change become evident at first in vulnerable colder regions, much as flu manifests itself more seriously in vulnerable people. Just because you don’t have any obvious symptoms of flu doesn’t mean others' don’t: Why are glaciers disappearing all over the world? Seil is not a vulnerable area. Yet. However, I suspect changes are already under way in the insect population. Get out the magnifying glass.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:07 pm 
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Welcome to the forum Peter.

You have raised some very interesting points, and I am sure most of us look forward to reading more of your posts. I apologise for hijacking your thread temporarily - it won't happen again.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:55 am 
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Peter C
I agree with you, in fact was responding and pasting the piece about the gulf stream when you beat me to it ! - Good response.
I heard today that researchers are going to monitor (tag and track) puffins off the coast of Northumberland, a popular breeding ground where numbers have been reduced by more than a third in the past five years. I suspect lack of food - sand eels maybe - lack of this food source seems to be affecting many other species reliant on it - views?
Eagerbeaver


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:25 am 
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Hi Eagerbeaver. Well, I’d have thought, too, that the decline in sand eels would have been the reason behind the decline, but the National Trust head warden of the Farne Islands is quoted in today’s Northumberland Gazette as saying that ‘their staple food, the sand eel is in good supply, but they're just not coming back to the islands.’ The first link goes to the BBC report from last year, which is kind of upbeat about the Farne puffins, but that was before the census results came through. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7372161.stm

This link goes to the BBC report of tagging from today (July 1). Hmm, maybe they’re getting fed up with the terns.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8126331.stm

The problem seems to be what’s occurring when the puffins are away from the islands. Hopefully the tagging will find out where they’re going and, therefore, what the conditions there might be.

Cheers.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:45 am 
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Thanks Peter - interesting - especially the final para which states....We had about four weeks of strong easterly winds before the breeding season started; that was really unprecedented.
"That may have affected sea temperatures, which in turn may have affected plankton growth, which would have had a knock-on effect on sandeel recruitment and growth," .... it doesn't take much does it? Again, Terns as you suggest are not the friendliest..

I came across this snippet the other day - food for thought indeed...

How much water does food take to produce?

WATER is used in almost every stage of food production, from growing crops to feed animals to washing and preparing products. Researchers at Cranfield University have calculated just how much water is used to produce many common foods:

• Cup of tea – 32.4 litres
• Pint of beer – 160 litres
• 1 glass of wine – 120 litres
• 1 glass of milk – 200 litres
• 1kg of beef – 15,000 litres
• 1kg poultry – 6,000 litres
• 250g packet of peanut M&Ms – 1,153 litres
• 575g Dolmio pasta sauce – 202 litres

Cheers
Eagerbeaver


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:11 pm 
Just a helpful thought you two:

"Seil Chat
A general forum to discuss any issues involving our community"

I'm unsure how familiar you are with Seil but there are no puffins here, lack of water is certainly not a problem here and I don't really comprehend this thing about the "Seil access road" being under threat from a couple of inches of sea level rise.

Can I recommend an excellent site which is not focused on Seil issues and caters for those of a green bent:

http://www.greenphase.com/forum/index.php

Its part of the Webcraft plc empire, as is this site, so I'm sure I wouldn't be upsetting this site's owners by recommending it as a good place for your green thoughts.

Swampy Shanks (ever polite by choice)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:48 pm 
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Longshanks - thank you for your helpful suggestion. I was merely responding to a thread from a topic called "Politics, news and stuff" on a forum I took for persons connected with Seil (living and/or interested in the area) to air their views and encourage debate and exchange.
I am very familiar with Seil and rising water is a concern of mine (and perhaps others), especially around the corner of the Balvicar road outside the shop.
Eagerbeaver


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:52 pm 
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Longshanks,

If you can put down your large wooden spoon for a moment - there are from time to time, odd small groups of puffins in the water that I've seen between Seil and Mull over the past 25/30 years. I'm not suggesting there is a local colony somewhere!

But on the decline in numbers of puffins in general I can only comment on my frequent visits to the Treshnish Islands and the comments made by the local boat operators who have seen a marked decline in puffin numbers there.

It is very apparent that not only are the puffin numbers down but so are the guillemots, razorbills and fulmars. There are large bare areas of rock on the sea stacks that just were not there - maybe 10 years ago. Last year on my visit there were no skuas to be seen.

The boat operators blame the lack of feed in the waters.

But ,this year, I can see in Clachan Sound that there appears to be fry and mackerel running! Is this not a bit early?

Any local experts?? :goldfish :goldfish :goldfish :goldfish

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:43 pm 
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Aye, skua populations in particular seem to have taken a hammering. Here’s a link to the 2008 Joint Nature and Conservation Committee report. http://www.jncc.gov.uk/pdf/pub09_ukseabirdsin2008a.pdf

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 2:13 pm 
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Some good pictures on your link - amazing one of tern chicks taken from cache of American mink - pity the mink cull being organised on local islands has been postponed - don't mind "nature" that's cruel at times but life, but not imported escapees - many of whom were released by supposed "do gooders" - mink do horrendous damage.

DonnieC - Thanks for the tip on mackerel possibly starting an early run, I'll get the rods out!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:32 pm 
DonnieC wrote:
But ,this year, I can see in Clachan Sound that there appears to be fry and mackerel running! Is this not a bit early?
Any local experts??

More than happy to oblige Ronnie.
Mackerel tend to return to British waters towards the end of May and it is far from unusual to have them around Seil by now.
One or two salmon around now too which is unsurprising seeing as the rushes are in flower.
This thing about fish or birds being early/late is a tad of a red herring. They don't wear watches with date functions and who is to say what is their "correct" date. They've been coming and going here for the last 10,000 years. Do we have an average date for arrival?

Long Cast (fly by choice)

ps Just for info Beaver old girl, Balvicar corner "floods" only after heavy rain. Nought to do with sea level rise, or not.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:22 pm 
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longshanks wrote:
ps Just for info Beaver old girl, Balvicar corner "floods" only after heavy rain. Nought to do with sea level rise, or not.

Err, not really. It flooded once or twice after heavy rain when BB filled in the drain. The only other times I have seen any serious flooding there is at high tide with a strong SW running. Then, the water is most certainly of a salty nature and indeed is a sign of sea level rise. Not in itself a sign of any great significance as this sea level rise is a local effect of tide and wind, but it is good to get at least some of your "facts" right from time to time. Got to be worth a try at least once, eh?

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:00 pm 
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Quote:
Mackerel tend to return to British waters towards the end of May


Sorry Shankers - Wrong again :doh - Mackerel are in fact present around the British Isles 12 months of the year.

Quote:
Aye, skua populations in particular seem to have taken a hammering. Here’s a link to the 2008 Joint Nature and Conservation Committee report


Bit puzzled with this one Peter - I don't want to insult or offend you as you're obviously a concerned naturalist but I've just read the link but I fail to see the 'hammering' you refer to.

In the report the Arctic Skua population has decreased by 14% in the period 1969-2008.
This hardly has me painting "Save the Arctic Skua" placards and organising coffee mornings - or whatever you birdie people do. I would suggest that this fluctuation would be well within the statistically expected limits of the population.

Infact the Arctic Skua or the Great Skua, the 'Bonxie' (which are visibly present in numbers in the Firth of Lorn) have 'Least concern' conservation status in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. ie they are 'Widespread and abundant'

But what's really interesting is that in the self same report you quote there has been a staggering 388% rise in the Great Skua population since 1969.

Statistics - Don't you just love them?

Could it be that with the four-fold increase in the bonxie population, the arctic skua is getting 'red squirreled' - Two similar species competing for the same niche?

..And furthermore with the increase in these migratory kleptopirates isn't it just possible that they are infact responsible for a higher percentage of the mortality in other seabird populations? :berserk

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