After spending a whole night and day travelling up from Birmingham by coach, I arrived at the Isle of Coll. I was greeted and shown around the newest volunteer accommodation I had ever seen. That night I was greeted by a great rainfall on the roof and windows, it later transpired that a good few fields and even the airport runway were flooded.

Some of the more regular activities that we do this time of year are removing old fences. One particular section of fence was located in what can only be called a marsh like area, with thick mud and plant matter stuck to either side which had to be scrapped off after we pulled it out with the tractor.

This is also the time of year when some surveys come to an end, I took part in the last bee transect and was fortunate to come across a Great Yellow Bumblebee worker, as well as 40 other bees along that transect.

We have also been doing a recent spurt of soil sampling some of the fields. This involves digging out slithers of earth and collecting the soil at the bottom. This is collected from around twenty areas of a field, mixed together to create an average soil blend for that field. This is so we work out what composition of nutrients/minerals needs to be put back into the soil for maximum growth next year.

We were also lucky enough to be approached by Katie, from the WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation), who spent the day teaching us how to carry out a shore watch. This involves watching from a certain site through special binoculars at the shoreline and as far out as you can see. This is carried out as a 10 minute exercise, with four minutes through the binoculars then one minute with the naked eye, and then repeated. The aim is to record any sightings of cetaceans we might see during a shore watch or as a casual sighting. So far we have recorded two casual sightings of dolphins on clear days.

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James Duncan