A place that brushed with fame during the 60′s and 70′s as a breeding site for snowy owls, Fetlar, one of the smallest Shetland islands, Scotland has again got into the good books for being regarded as the place that has seen the biggest population rise anywhere in UK by 45 percent. With the population rising to 70 and may reach 100 by 2019, this switch has been remarkable for an island that had temperatures reaching only around 17C.
An island that is bursting with mouth-watering wealth of wildlife watching opportunities, it is known as the ‘Garden of Shetland‘ for its fertile soil and good beaches.
With scarce amenities like a shop, campsite, community centre and a primary school, it has been surprisingly interesting to know that people felt it too good to make this place as their home. A regeneration project led by islanders has resulted in this major success- 45 percent increase in population.
Driving a great community spirit and a favorable place for children to roam around just as in old fashioned-times, people felt Fetlar as the right place to stay inspite of its inadequacy in amenities and harsh weather. Without worrying about traffic, drunken driving or drugs, the people of this area have felt free to keep their doors open all the time.
With the population of Feltlar increasing considerably, there are hopes of building more accommodation facilities with the help of council housing and also of providing renewable potential energy and a cafe.
A massive ash cloud from an eruption of Icelandic volcano Mount Eyjafjallajoekull has resulted in the grounding of all non-emergency flights into UK airspace. The volcano which erupted for the second time in a month has been hurling a plume of ash 6 to 11 km (4 to 7 miles) into the atmosphere. Going by the wind direction, it is expected to continue bringing clouds of ash containing rock, glass and sand particles into UK and European airspace for some more time. The ash could jam aircraft engines and the problem might extend over the weekend.
“I would think Europe was probably experiencing its greatest disruption to air travel since 9/11,” said a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, Britain’s aviation regulator.
The unexpected halting of airline services has set the air traffic off track with hundreds of holiday makers stranded. About 17,000 flights were cancelled on Friday due to the dangers posed by clouds of volcanic ash from Iceland. Of the normal traffic of 28,000 daily flights that usually fly through European airspace, only a half will remain operational till the situation gets under control.
Britain’s air space remains closed although certain flights from the airports of Northern Ireland and Scotland were being allowed to take off. No flights operated from London’s Heathrow,the busiest airport in the whole of Europe, which caters to over 180,000 passengers daily. The second busiest airport of Germany’s Frankfurt airport, also suspended flights. Airlines across Asia and the Middle East have also canceled or delayed flights to most European destinations, thereby crippling the air traffic to a great extent. Though volcanic eruptions do not come under the purview of the insurance coverage some airlines have confirmed that they would be refunding fares or change flights.
The airline operational snags have largely benefited the rail companies where all its 58 Eurostar trains between Britain and Europe were operating in full capacity and if the problems persist, additional services would be introduced. Many travel operators roped in additional staff who were put on duty to handle phone calls of the anxious passengers and introduced coaches with more seating capacity to cater to holiday makers and the wedding parties.
Private recruitment firms are targeting at the unemployed Scottish teachers to work in England due to the growing recruitment crisis in the schools. The new market has opened up for those teachers who cant find work in Scotland for a permanent basis. Many of the teachers found it hard to work and realised that there are plenty of vacancies in English schools were teachers trained in Scotland are highly prized.
With the growing demands of work by the Scotland teachers, the teaching unions and the opposition politicians have blamed the Scottish government for such a problem, accusing them for backing out from their election promise of maintaining teacher numbers.
The growing trend of the teachers without work moving to Scotland adds up to the current difficulties faced by the newly employed Scottish school staff in securing employment. A recent report also found that two-thirds of the new teachers in Scotland are failing to secure a full time permanent job almost a year after qualifying. Many argues that this trend amounts to the colossal waste of the taxpayers money, with the annual cost of the teachers in Scotland calculated at £85 million.
However the Scottish government argues that the recruitment policy is much better in Scotland than elsewhere in UK. The situation has arisen in the recent years due to thousands of additional school staff being trained as part of Government moves to bring down the class sizes, lead first by the Scottish Labour Party and now by the SNP.
The main plan was that, as the population declined, more teachers would be employed to reduce class sizes, therefore improving the standards in education. However, instead the plans took a different role, where the local authorities reduced teacher numbers to save money, with the situation worsening in the current financial climate.
UK’s largest bird of prey, sea eagles, have thrived in the country since their reintroduction from extinction and are proving to be generating a high tourism bonus. Little larger than the golden eagle, it is mottled brown in colour with a pale head and pale patches on the wings and distinguished by its hooked beak and white tail.
A bird of the wilderness it inhabits huge territories where it can nest undisturbed. As predators, they are meat eaters though they will take carrion as well as go hunting for themselves. Nesting in remote areas they prefer tall trees or cliffs and remain in one territory bringing up their young ones in the successive years.
Like many other birds of prey, they have suffered from widespread persecution by humans. Though their habitat loss was not a factor in their decline, the birds were hunted by gamekeepers and shepherds to protect their fisheries and livestock and were also prized as trophies. As a result, sea eagles experienced a decrease in numbers throughout their range during the nineteenth century.
From 1975, a number of the species were imported from Norway over a period of ten years and released into the wild on the island of Rhum. It wasn’t until the end of this period that the first pair bred successfully and since then they are released into the wild in Scotland, both in Wester Ross and most recently in Fife, where 15 birds were released in June 2009.
The release programme has been a success in the re-establishment of the birds in Scotland and currently there are around 200 individual birds, with much expected to increase. An additional advantage and a plus side, the birds are bringing economic benefit to the economy in the west of Scotland and the estimates show that around 6,000 people visit the island of Mull annually to see the eagles, generating around £2million for the local economy.
Provided with the highest possible protection status for the sea eagles under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, making it an offence not just to kill or injure or damage their nests, but also to disturb them, they have become very popular and a tourist amusement. There are guided tours that run from 21 March-mid July with essential booking at a cost of £4 per adult. Elsewhere in Scotland, there are several good sites for spotting the birds, all in the west of the country. These include:
- The Isle of Skye, close to Portree and Kylerhea
- Argyll, most notably Crinan, Loch Awe and Ardcastle
- The island of Raasay, off Skye
The Dalcairnie Falls near Damellington in East Ayshire, froze from top to bottom. The sources said that it was for the first time since 1947 that the water falls got frozen like this.
The whole of United Kingdom (UK) is facing severe snowfalls and bad weather. England’s south-western counties were badly affected. The fresh snow has hit major parts of UK, causing more problems for transport adding more trouble for road gritting. More schools are shut and roads in south-western counties of Europe didn’t open. While the busiest of UK roads underwent emergency repair work due to the damage caused by the snow.