Beach clean rounds off Coll Bird Festival

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Coll Bird Festival 2019, now in its sixth year, once again finished with a fantastic beach clean on May 12.

This year the local RSPB team chose Gortan for the clean-up, a beautiful little bay that many visitors never make their way down to.

Organisers were delighted with the turnout which peaked at 49, with not one of them turning up just in time for the rewarding barbecue.

A spokesperson said: ‘A lot of hard work by all involved, and we are very grateful for the enthusiasm with which locals and visitors take to collecting washed up rubbish.’

Run by a local charity, Coll Bird Festival aims to encourage new visitors to the island, particularly those interested in enjoying the huge variety of wildlife on Coll. More than 90 bird species were spotted during the 2019 three-day event and, in the words of Prof Rhys Green: ‘The Isle of Coll is the best place in the UK to see the elusive corncrake.’

Catering for beginners through to the experienced birder, the range of guided walks and boat trips provides a fantastic learning opportunity in the most stunning of locations.

Highlights from the weekend included the corncrake, mating hen harriers, a pair of sea eagles, little tern, purple sandpiper, pintail, white wagtail and twite.

Evening talks change year on year with a range of visiting speakers including, for 2019, Siobhan from the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.

The weekend was topped off with a buffet and ceilidh. Thanks to Billy the Box and friends from Tiree. Thanks to CalMac for sponsorship, and to RSPB Scotland without whom this event would not be possible.

The spokesperson added: ‘It was a wonderful weekend for us as well as the visitors, delighting in the Coll sun. It’s great to hear feedback from our customers about the welcome they received not just at Coll Bird Fest, but on the island of Coll in general.

‘We are already busy planning Coll Bird Festival 2020, with the dates set for May 8-10, and we are delighted to have Prof Rhys Green as our key speaker.’