David Wood, Site Manager at RSPB Scotland The Oa on Islay, fills us in on a project at the reserve that you have a chance to support receive funding thanks to Tesco’s Bags of Help Initiative.
Between 31st October and 13th November shoppers at Tesco in Campbeltown will be voting for their favourite of three projects, with the most popular receiving £12,000 in funding thanks to Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative.
RSPB Scotland’s The Oa reserve has reached the final three, securing £8,000, but with a chance of £12,000 for first place in the vote, or £10,000 for second.
The Oa reserve on Islay is a wild and rugged place on the southern tip of the island, often windy, but always beautiful. Brooding moorland, home to rare marsh fritillary butterflies and hen harriers gives way to stunning sea cliffs, coastal grasslands and magnificent panoramic views across to Northern Ireland and Kintyre. Soaring eagles and cavorting chough float on the updrafts, as the wind hits the sheer cliffs, and the imposing American monument stands proud on the very tip of the Oa. The monument, built by the American Red Cross in 1920 to commemorate the sinking of two ships carrying soldiers from the USA during the First World War in 1918, is visible from across the island and beyond. Along with the spectacular scenery and wildlife, it attracts thousands of people each year to the reserve, and challenges them to make the walk out onto the cliffs.
The Oa’s project you can vote for aims to improve the experience for visitors, especially those with limited mobility. The £8,000 will be used to improve access tracks and sensitively expand the car park. For those not able to make the walk over rough terrain to the monument, seating areas and new information boards will be provided to ensure everyone visiting the Oa can relax, enjoy the views and learn about the American monument and its significance.
An extra £2,000 would be used to improve trails away from the car park encouraging visitors to explore more of the reserve and increase their chances of seeing some of the wonderful wildlife. With the 2018 centenary of the tragic sinking of the troop ships fast approaching, a first place in the vote, and £12,000, would mean we’d be able to support the work of the local community group organising the commemorations. With them, we’d like to provide benches and information along the cliff top trail as resting places and where people can enjoy moments of quiet contemplation whilst looking out to sea.
So, if you are in Campbeltown over the next couple of weeks, please do cast your vote for RSPB Scotland’s The Oa at Tesco. Then, next year, come and visit the reserve and see the difference your support has made.