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Issue 49 - Scotland News

Scotland Magazine Issue 49
February 2010


This article is 8 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Scotland News

In brief...

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) and PhD student Andy Foote have together been studying the small population of killer whales that inhabit the waters off the west coast of Scotland.

The ‘west coast community’, as they are known in the field, is only thought consist of nine animals, and is the only ‘resident’ population found in British waters. Using a technique called photo- identification (photo-ID), each animal in the group can be recognised by the unique markings on their dorsal fins. The photo-ID studies have also revealed that of the nine individuals, there are four males and five females. All the animals associate with each other although some individuals are more regularly sighted together than others. The conservation status of the group is thought to be critical since no live calves have been sighted since research began almost two decades ago.

HWDT Chairman Maxwell MacLeod said “I find it really alarming that no youngsters have been seen for such a long time. It is vital that we maintain this research as we know so little about the role these animals play in our eco-system”.

The first Pictish throne to be built in over a thousand years has been unveiled at the National Museum of Scotland.

The throne was commissioned by The Glenmorangie Company and National Museums Scotland to aid understanding of the Early Historic people of Scotland and their society.

This period of Scotland’s early history between 300-900AD has many myths associated with it and is widely accepted to warrant more research.

The Pictish throne is the first to be built in over a thousand years and was created by master furniture maker Adrian McCurdy whose design was inspired by depictions on some of the first Pictish sculptured stones.

Burns restoration

First Minister, Alex Salmond, opened the National Trust for Scotland’s restored Burns Cottage in Alloway recently.

The iconic cottage, where Burns was born 250 years ago, has undergone careful renovation and reinterpretation, as part of the conservation charity’s project to transform the Burns National Heritage Park into the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

Expert teams have carried out core repairs to the 18th century thatched cottage which was built by Burns’ father. New audio visual displays will bring Burns’ story to life and the area of smallholding around the cottage, where the Burns family kept the livestock that supported them, has also been landscaped to give an impression of the agricultural landscape that existed 250 years ago.

The £1 million restoration marks a major milestone in the progress of the Trust’s £21m Robert Burns Birthplace Museum project, due for completion in September 2010.

• Enthusiasts gathered on Burns’ birthday to watch the burial of a special time capsule, packed with information, photographs and memorabilia, representing the part that South Ayrshire, the home of Robert Burns, played in celebrating the Year of Homecoming.

Photo course pays off After winning a coveted arts award, a golf course photographer from Fife has made an appearance at the Scottish Parliament to showcase images taken for last year’s Open Championship. Mark Alexander exhibited his award-winning work alongside other artists recognized by Creativefife’s annual awards – the only accolades of their kind in Scotland.

Alexander walked away with the award for the Best Commercial Photograph. One of three shortlisted from 17 entries, Alexander said he was thrilled to be nominated, never mind win. “The photography category received the highest number of entries, so just to be shortlisted was thrilling,” said the 37- year-old photographer. “Winning the award was something else. Golf course photography is a niche specialism.” In brief...

A bespoke nesting platform has been built on the Glenlivet Estate in a bid to attract more breeding pairs of golden eagles to make it their home.

The Glenlivet Estate is one of 22 working with RaptorWatch to try and improve breeding numbers of golden eagles, peregrines and hen harriers in Scotland’s north-east.

“Getting the platform into place took two expert climbers from the RSPB Scotland along with assistance from myself and the RaptorWatch project officer,” said Glenlivet Estate countryside manager Vicky Hilton “The platform sits high in a larch tree in a secret location on the Glenlivet Estate where RaptorWatch will continue to monitor it. If it is successful in attracting golden eagles to nest there might be future opportunity to add a webcam to the setup as long as it does not compromise the birds’ safety.” National Museums Scotland has commissioned Shetland fiddle-maker, Ewen Thomson to create a fiddle for the Performance and Lives Gallery of the redeveloped National Museum of Scotland when it re-opens in 2011.

The new gallery will explore performance traditions across the world including a focus upon the musical traditions of Scotland.

The Scottish fiddle tradition is rich and varied with the skills of its makers, composers and players passed down through the centuries.