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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 19th February 2000
Issue No167

Mercy Mission for Otters Extended

A device aimed at reducing the number of otters killed on Highland roads has been so successful that more are to be installed.

Evidence gathered since reflectors were placed at four locations suggest the number of otters hit by vehicles has fallen. Now Highland councillors have agreed to install them at a further seven locations on Skye where otter deaths have been recorded. The device picks up light from vehicle headlamps, directing it sideways as a red beam, intended to scare otters off the road. The Skye based International Otter Survival Fund and the Born Free Foundation have requested the device be used more widely to prevent further otter deaths. The Born Free Foundation is to pay for the reflectors and it has been suggested volunteers could install them. The device has been used elsewhere in Scotland for species such as deer and badgers. They were installed on a trial basis around a year ago on the A87 at various locations between Kyleakin and Broadford on Skye. While in the past, six to eight otters were found dead every year on that stretch of road - there has only been one recorded death since the reflectors have been brought in. Caroline Robson, Born Free Foundation's UK project manager said: "The information available shows that it is working and we would like to see it provided not just on Skye but in other parts of the Highlands and Islands." Councillors have now agreed to push ahead with locating the reflectors at Edinbane, Ose, Bracadale, Drynoch, Faoilin, Ord and Teangue. The council is also to seek permission from the Scottish Executive to install a further three on the A87 trunk road at Portree, Varagill and Ard Dorch. Skye councillor Angus Sutherland was pleased with attempts to reduce otter deaths. Mr Sutherland said: "This is excellent news. "

Ye Olde School Days

Dickensian school days are to be brought to life shortly in the Highlands with the opening of a "Marie Celeste" classroom. The ghostly relic of the Victorian education system is to reopen its doors after being reconstructed at the Highlands Folk Museum in Newtonmore. The 127 year old corrugated iron so called "demountable" school was originally built at Knockbain, near Inverness, to cope with a population boom in the Highlands. However, the 30 pupil kit classroom has been left virtually untouched since being mothballed by the council in the late 1960s. Among the relics are maps of the old British Empire, the original black iron range which was used for teaching domestic science and a Coates of Paisley glass library cupboard. Graham Watson, Highland Council's Badenoch and Strathspey cultural and leisure manager, described the classroom as a remarkable find. "All the classroom fittings, maps on the wall, desk and cloakrooms had been left completely untouched when a new school was built next door," he said. The school room was transported the 50 miles by road to the museum.

Irn Bru in Moscow

To many, it is a mysterious orange coloured drink beloved in Scotland for its hangover curing properties. But to the hip and young of Moscow, Irn Bru is the trendiest soft drink on the market and a symbol of how the Iron Curtain has fallen. Sold for almost a century as Scotland's other national drink, it is now one of the trendiest fizzy concoctions sold in the clubs, bars and restaurants of the Russian capital. In fact, so successful is it that manufacturers KLP Soft Drinks, which hold a franchise to brew the fearsome orange fizz, is now looking for factory premises outside Moscow to meet rocketing demand from across Russia. Russians down around one million litres of Irn Bru every month, little compared to the amount consumed in Scotland, where it is the biggest selling soft drink, but enough to make Russia its biggest overseas market. "We have operations in Britain and Spain, and it is also sold in Canada," said a spokeswoman for manufacturers AG Barr.

Cairngorms Protection

The European Special Protection Area in the Cairngorms could be extended following consultations which began recently. Scottish Natural Heritage is carrying out consultations on behalf of the Scottish Executive to extend the existing Cairngorms SPA to include the pinewood at Glenmore Forest (1,430 hectares) and a further 50 hectares of ground on the western slopes of Fiacaill a' Choire Chais. SNH area officer in the Cairngorms, Eileen Stuart, explained: "The Cairngorms SPA was established in 1997. The pinewood at Glenmore Forest supports important crossbill and capercaillie. These species are listed under the EC Wild Birds Directive so it is appropriate for this area to be included in the SPA. Also, the western slopes of Fiacaill a' Choire Chais are used regularly by foraging raptor, such as golden eagle, peregrine and merlin which means this area also qualifies for protection under the Directive."

Brooch Find

A medieval gold ring brooch found by a treasure hunter on holiday on the west coast of Sutherland is causing quite a stir among archaeologists. Dated 1600, and with blue white and green enamelling, it is viewed as a particularly valuable and unusual piece. Nothing is known about it's original owner other than he or she must have been very wealthy. Archaeologists are keeping the exact location of the find secret to deter treasure hunters and are only saying that a male holidaymaker unearthed it while using a metal detector. The brooch is currently being examined by experts at the National Museum in Edinburgh. Patricia Weeks, archaeologist at Inverness Museum said it was rare to find a gold Scottish ring brooch with such detailed enamelling on both sides. They were usually made of silver or copper alloy and were fairly plain. "To find a gold one with this sort of detail is quite unusual and certainly indicates an owner who was very wealthy," she said. The reverse side of the brooch carries an inscription in old Scots. It reads FEIR GOD IN HIART C M A 1600.

Mussels Saved

A water authority and a nature expert united to carry out Scotland's first mussel transplant. The colony of rare, freshwater pearl mussels brought work on a major new sewage treatment works to a standstill when they were found in the path of diggers cutting a trench in the riverbed. That was when the North of Scotland Water Authority called in river environmentalist Dr Peter Cosgrove. With the help of divers and his trusty glass-bottomed bucket Dr Cosgrove gingerly lifted the prized shellfish from the river bed and moved them to a new secret location nearby. And having successfully completed the operation, Dr Cosgrove won himself what must be one of the most unusual jobs in the country, playing nursemaid to the resettled colony. Now, he regularly pulls on his waterproofs and wades out into the fast flowing River Conon in Ross-shire to make sure his very rare mussels are safely tucked up in their beds, a job he has now been commissioned by Noswa to carry out for the next ten years in the interests of the environment.

Old Mail Route Demolished

An historic drystone bridge in Wester Ross, which once acted as a vital mail link between mainland Scotland and Lewis, has been demolished. The old clapper or multi culvert bridge over Tollie Burn, which carried the access road to the west end of Loch Maree, became the victim of violent spates which have beset the area over the past two years, and which weakened it. Its verges had been eroded by flooding and it was certified as dangerous by Highland Council. Tollie Bridge, believed to be around 160 years old, is to be replaced by a temporary Maybey Bridge, an improved version of the famous wartime Bailey bridge. Locals are anxious that a permanent replacement, scheduled for sometime in the next decade, should be in keeping with the picturesque surroundings.

Charity Event

Inverness MP David Stewart handed over a cheque for 600 to David Sutherland, trustee of the Highland Homeless Trust. The cash was raised through a charity Christmas card sponsored by Tullochs, Stronachs, Culloden Pharmacy, Weldex, Highland Office Equipment, the Bank of Scotland and British Regional Airlines.

Political Roundup

First Minister is Questioned

Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar was asked to reaffirm his support for taking civil service jobs out of the central belt and into other areas including the Highlands. A full meeting recently of the Highland Council discussed a report by chief executive Arthur McCourt on the debate surrounding decentralisation of public service jobs. He says the creation of a Scottish Parliament is recognised as a "key opportunity" for such a policy.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Some rain in the West a.m. Bright in the East. Locally heavy rain later. Wind light to moderate South Easterly. Temperature 12c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Locally heavy rain. Misty. Winds moderate to strong Easterly. Temperature 8c to 12c.
Bands of showers across the region. Bright with sunny spells. Moderate North Westerly winds. Fairly mild.
Mainly dry. Fairly cloudy with limited sunshine. Light Southerly breeze. Mild temperatures.

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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