The Sunday Class
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Taught/practised on: 2014 February 16th
RED KITES OVER THE BLACK ISLE (S4x32) Ann & Ian Jamieson   Glen Orrin Collection 1  1- 8 1s & 4s set & cast in 1 place, 1s+4s dance ½ R&L  9-16 2s & 3s repeat 17-24 4s+3s & 2s+1s dance RH across, 3s+2s dance LH across while 4s & 1s chase clockwise to other end 25-32 1s+3s also 2s+4s set facing on sides & change places RH, turn partners 2H to own sides (end couples turn 1½ times)
Despite its name, the Black Isle is not an island, but a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water – the Cromarty Firth to the north, the Beauly Firth to the south, and the Moray Firth to the east. On its fourth, western side, its boundary is delineated by rivers. The River Conon divides Maryburgh, a mile outside Dingwall, from Conon Bridge which is the first village on the Black Isle from the north-western side. Its south-western boundary is variously considered to be marked by either a minor tributary of the River Beauly separating Beauly (in Inverness-shire) and Muir of Ord (on the Black Isle in Ross and Cromarty), dividing the two counties and also delineating the start of the Black Isle; or alternatively, the River Beauly itself, thus including Beauly in the Black Isle despite its official placement in Inverness-shire. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica 11th Edition, it was originally called Ardmeanach (Gaelic ard, height; maniach, monk, from an old religious house on the wooded ridge of Mulbuie), and it derived its customary name from the fact that, since snow does not lie in winter, the promontory looks black while the surrounding country is white. Rosehaugh, near Avoch, belonged to Sir George Mackenzie, founder of the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh, who earned the sobriquet of "Bloody" from his persecution of the Covenanters. Redcastle, on the shore, near Killearnan church, dates from 1179 and is said to have been the earliest inhabited house in the north of Scotland. On the forfeiture of the earldom of Ross it became a royal castle (being visited by Mary, Queen of Scots), and afterwards passed for a period into the hands of the Mackenzies of Gairloch. The Black Isle was one of the earliest parts of the northern Highlands to experience the clearances and was settled with many Lowland shepherds and farmers, especially from the north east. In addition to its Gaelic heritage, the Black Isle had its own dialect of North Northern Scots, used mainly among fisherfolk in Cromarty, which became extinct in October 2012, upon the death of Bobby Hogg, the last native speaker. Red Kites are distinctive because of their forked tail and striking colour - predominantly chestnut red with white patches under the wings and a pale grey head. They have a wingspan of nearly two metres (about five-and-a-half-feet), but a relatively small body weight of 2 - 3 Ibs. This means the bird is incredibly agile, and can stay in the air for many hours with hardly a beat of its wings. Red Kites are neither particularly strong nor aggressive despite being large birds. Primarily a scavenger and an opportunist; it profits from sheep carrion but is not capable of opening up sheep or lamb carcasses by itself and has to wait until more powerful birds such as ravens or buzzards have made the first inroads before it will attempt to feed. Red Kites are however predators and take a wide variety of live prey, ranging from earthworms to small mammals, amphibians and birds. Red Kites usually breed for the first time at 2 or 3 years old. They usually pair for life, although this is thought to be more because of a mutual attachment to the same territory and nest sites rather than any great attachment to each other. There are a few recorded cases of 'divorces' where both members of the original pair were later found breeding with different partners. In the 16thC, a series of Vermin Acts required 'vermin' including the Red Kite to be killed throughout the parishes of Wales and England -the bird was perceived as a threat to expanding agriculture. Such persecution continued throughout the 17th&18thC, and at the end of the 18thC another devastating blow happened when increasing numbers of gamekeepers were employed on country estates, set up after the initiation of the parliamentary enclosures. These men were responsible for killing far more Red Kites so Red Kites had bred for the last time in England; the story in Scotland was similar. Only in rural Mid Wales did Red Kites hang on, their numbers down to just a few pairs. At that point a few local landowners had the foresight to set up an unofficial protection programme to try to safeguard this beautiful bird. Over a period of around 100 years, efforts to maintain a fragile breeding population were made by committed generations of landowners, rural communities, dedicated individuals and organisations. Thanks to their dedication, and despite severe threats from egg collectors, poisoning and some modern farming practices, Red Kite numbers are now gradually increasing. In recent years young red kites have been taken from nests on the continent and introduced into England and Scotland. Wales now has well over 600 breeding pairs. How close did the Red Kite get to extinction? It's hard to give exact figures, but from scientific research at Nottingham University we do know that the entire population of kites in 1977 emanated from just one female bird.
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