Scottish island reaps financial reward protecting birds

The Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides is making millions by protecting the white-tailed eagle and other birds.

This small island, home to about 2,700 people and 250 bird species, gets 6,000 visitors a year who spend £2 million ($3.3 million). That’s 2.2 tourists and £741 ($1,211) per person.

Well, the people of Mull only get half that; the other half goes to the Mull Eagle Watch, the organization that monitors and helps the birds. I doubt the locals begrudge this ecological sugar daddy a bit of support.

The local community uses the money for education, youth groups, and other initiatives. The folks at Treehugger say this environmental/tourist model works so well in Mull because the community is small and relatively autonomous, so the money doesn’t get lost in some vast, corrupt bureaucracy.

While most visitors come to Mull for its rugged scenery and abundant wildlife, there are also castles, prehistoric ruins, a stone circle, and a local whiskey distillery. As residents celebrate ten years of the eagle project, they can look forward to a strong tourist industry to showcase all of their island’s natural and historic heritage.

The sounds of travel: What to listen to when road trippin’ in the USA

Here at Gadling we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite sounds from the road and giving you a sample of each — maybe you’ll find the same inspiration that we did, but at the very least, hopefully you’ll think that they’re good songs. Got a favorite of your own? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll post it at the end of the series.

“Do you like American music?
I like American music.
Don’t you like American music?

–The Violent Femmes, American Music

For those who are gearing up to travel the vast roadways of America by car, we have here a list of appropriate music to make you feel relaxed, at peace with the road, and good’n American. Though you may be traveling for the holidays, we’ll exclude holiday music. You’ll hear it at every gas station.

The obvious first choice for pulling out of the driveway is America by Simon and Garfunkel:

Even the street on which you live looks a little more ripe with possibility when that song plays.

Once you head out into the amber waves of grain and the fruited plains, it’s a great time for expansive music like that from accidentally Canadian Joni Mitchell. I recommend Urge for Going, Heijira, and You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio. And those are just a couple of her travel-themed hits.

Going through the purple mountains’ majesty? Forests? (Yeah, “America the Beautiful” totally skipped the forests.) Try the soundtrack to Field of Dreams, composed by James Horner. It will fill you with wonder. Here, watch somebody on YouTube play The Drive Home. Want lyrics?

Next, get out some Bob Dylan and play Tangled Up in Blue. Make sure you dig through your classic rock collection. Especially as you pass through strange towns and cities, The Eagles, Guns and Roses, Jimi Hendrix, and Journey all take on a strange, retro-poignance.

Lastly, though it’s downright un-American, The Beatles are great for road trips. Everyone sings along, and if you’re really up in arms about the Britishness, you can get the soundtrack to Across the Universe with all the new covers.

Drive safe!

Click here for previous Sounds of Travel.

Eagle Hatches on Santa Cruz

Man, it seems like Santa Cruz Island
is in the news all the time these days. It’s not like I have a Google alert sending me info about the island, I just
keep finding stories about it. Remember, Santa Cruz is one of several islands that make up the Channel Islands off the
coast of California, about 20 miles from Ventura, and I’ve posted about them several times before
because, well, they’re a great place to go and hang out on a lazy California weekend, and b) the paddling around Santa
Cruz itself is superb. The sea caves there offer one of the best paddling experiences around.

But there is
also some great wildlife there. First, there are feral pigs. Not as many as there used to be
because they just recently hunted many of them down to thin the population, but you know a few hearty souls are still
lurking in the bushes. There are seals and porpoises. And, as of recently, there are eaglets. Yes, according to this story, a pair of bald eagles
hatched a chick on Santa Cruz on Wednesday for the first time in more than 50 years. Biologists say that the last known
successful nesting of a bald eagle on the Channel Islands was in 1949 on Anacapa Island. As most people know  this
is a big deal because the widespread use of DDT almost wiped the birds off the California coast in the 60s. So this is
good news and very cool.