Friday, 23 March 2018

Friday 23rd March

After a damp start, the weather picked up and what a beautiful sunset to end the day with. Morven kindly sent through the figures for the International goose count carried out here on Islay on Tuesday and Wednesday. The tally came to 34,750 Barnies, 4,4222 Whitefronts and 483 Greylags. Many thanks to Morven and the team from SNH for these figures.
I also recently a couple of e mails through from visiting birders who have been over on Islay recently.. Derek Stanyard along with his colleagues have been coming over to Islay for a short 5 day visit normally in February/ March since 2010. This year they had seen 86 species , a few down on previous years but the weather kept them in for one of their days. By the sound of things, it was Derek et al who had seen the Sandwich Tern down on Machir Bay last week.... The other person who sent through an e mail was Philip Cohen from Dundee. Philip was over last weekend from the 16th to 19th March and saw a total of 78 species with another 3 heard but not seen. A great list for only one set of eyes to see in such a short spell, and especially as it was Philip's first visit to Islay, hopefully not your last!!!... So many thanks for your birds to you both, as ever, much appreciated.
The Horwich birders had seen a Black tailed Godwit out from the South hide today.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Thursday 22nd March

Yesterday and this afternoon, the weather out here has not been that great, especially if you are visiting to do some birdwatching...The Horwich birders had braved the elements with a wettish trip over to Ardtalla and Ardbeg before getting a good soaking... They counted 16 Ringed Plover and 7 Canada Geese feeding in a field at Ardtalla. Further along the coast, they had seen a pair of Mute Swan and shortly afterwards, a juvenile White tailed Eagle while along on the water at Claggain Bay a GND was seen. Back at Kilnaughton Bay, 4 Eider were present with a single Buzzard over the trees there. James has counted 37 Whoopers up at Ardnave yesterday. Peter, yesterday, had a 2cy Iceland Gull down on Machir Bay, along with 32 Chough. Over at Ballinaby, Peter counted a flock of 250 Golden Plover and later on he had seen 6 Purple Sandpiper at Bruichladdich. This morning before the rain set in Gary had done his WeBS count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck. His count was 9 GND, 1 RTD, 31 R B Merganser, 6 Cormorants, 43 Shag, 1 Tystie, 1 Razorbill, 76 Eider, 10 Common Scoter, 17 Mallard, 35 Teal, 46 Wigeon, 1 Tufted Duck, 3 Mute Swan, 83 Oystercatcher, 3 Curlew, 4 Redshank, 70 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, 48 Lapwing, 1 Grey Plover,  16 Snipe,19 Gbb Gull, 154 H Gull, 18 B h Gull, 1 Glaucous Gull, 1 Iceland Gull, 83 Whitefronts, 9 Pb Brent and 931 Barnies. Here at base camp, there have been a couple of Fulmars floating along the front of the crag, seen often over the past couple of days. The 2 Greenfinches were seen again this morning as well.
Before I forget, the next indoor meeting of the "Islay Bird nerds" will be held on Tuesday 27th March at 7pm in the Gaelic College, Bowmore. There will be a small charge to help pay for the room hire, just come along with your hard earned money....

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wednesday 21st March

Back on Monday, Bob and myself carried out the WeBS count from Port Charlotte back to Blackrock. The birds seen and counted were as follows 7 GND, 1 RTD, 7 Shag, 16 Cormorant, 25 Barnies, a single Greylag, 14 R b Merganser, 48 Eider, 2 Shelduck, 4 Mallard, 24 Oystercatcher, 18 Ringed Plover, 1 Curlew,7 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 1 Purple Sandpiper1 Snipe, 2 Tystie, 2 Gbb Gull, 4 Lbb Gull, 32 H Gull, 59 C Gull, an Iceland Gull. We also noted a Pied Wagtail, 5 Redwing, a male Stonechat and a Song Thrush , while on a field at Coultorsay with 92 Greylags were  resting up. Yesterday the Horwich birders top sightings included a pair of Crossbills at Finlaggan, a Hen Harrier seen at Ardnahoe,  a Grey Wagtail were present at the mouth of the Margadale River at Bunnahabhain with a pair of Mute Swan and a Tystie out on the Sound of Islay. On Loch Skerrols, they saw 6 Tufted Duck. Also yesterday, James had been out of the office and had some birds for us... A Wheatear was seen up at Ardnave with some Gannets also seen there offshore, on reserve at Gruinart, 14 Whoopers were present. Along at Erasaid, James counted 57 Ravens while down on the Uiskentuie strand, 2 large Canada Geese were seen.
Just the back of 6am today, there were 45 Greylags out on the Machir just over the garden wall from our house. There were a pair of Greenfinches on the feeders, a bird that is not that common nowadays here on Islay.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Tuesday 20th March

The Horwich Birders yesterday had seen a male Wheatear up at Traigh Nostaig. On their way up to Ardnave, they saw 4 Reed Buntings and a male Stonechat. On Ardnave Loch, 3 Goldeneye, 6  Tufted Duck, a Mute Swan and 2 Whoopers were present. Off Nave Island, they saw 6 GND, 20 Wigeon with 2 Gannets fishing. On Loch Gruinart, there was a pair of Merganser. Between Ardnave Point and Traigh Nostaig, they had a Sanderling, 12 Barwits, 6 Ringed Plover and 12 Chough. Finally down at Machir Bay, they had 56 Ringed Plover, 30 Chough and 2 Buzzard with a female Merlin flying past as they returned up past the Coastguards. They also had seen an adult Golden Eagle and then later on a juv Golden Eagle being mobbed by 2 Buzzards. They also commented on seeing many Lapwings displaying while out on their walk round Ardnave.
Today, Phill had seen the following birds down on the Oa, 2 Golden Eagle, 2 Chough, 2 Whooper Swan, 1 Woodcock, 2 Curlew, 5 Snipe and 8 Lapwing. Gary, today had seen a female Hen Harrier fly past as he drove up to Bunnahabhain. He had 2 White tailed Eagles displaying over the Sound of Islay. Back down round and at Finlaggan, he saw a Sparrowhawk displaying, a juvenile White tailed Eagle harassing some Hooded Crows and also the geese that were present. Gary also counted 17  Crossbills there as well.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Monday 19th March

Yesterday, Gary had seen 2 White tailed Eagles up at Bunnahabhain and a Peregrine flying across the Sound of Islay to Jura. Down at Persabus, he saw 3 Bullfinches in the hedge at the roadside. The Horwich birders are back after a few years absence, good to see you back on Islay again. Yesterday, they had been in Bridgend woods noting a Dipper on the Rive Sorn, a Grey Wagtail at The Woollen Mill. Also present on the feeders there,  were large numbers of Chaffinches, Blue Tit and Great Tit along with some Robins and Blackbirds. They also had seen 30 very vocal Redwing in the tree tops. On the new weir which feeds the water for the new small hydro scheme at Ballygrant, they saw another Grey Wagtail.. finally, they saw 160 Golden Plover over at Ballinaby. Also present were a few Lapwing and some Common Gulls.
Today, round at Kilchiaran, Lesley Silcock had seen a total of 4 Wheatears. Down on the Oa, Phill had seen 5 Whooper Swan, a Curlew, 3 Lapwing, 127 Whitefronts, 6 Chough, 2 Buzzard, a Kestrel, a White tailed Eagle and a Snipe. Not the warmest of days again, at least it remained dry, some of the farmers have been out with their ploughs. I took our wee tractor out too, and rotovated the ground where we sow some crops for the birds. I will rotovate the ground again every 10 days or so in an attempt to try to kill off the "couch grass", before sowing it in late April / early May weather permitting.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Sunday 18th March

A bit of a late entry tonight folks, but better late than never. No, my brain has not frozen yet, certainly not Spring weather out here yet, but managed along with good friend Distillery Dave to put up some more nest boxes, so we both will wait in anticipation..
Yesterday Dave and Jean Killick had walked through from Ballygrant to Port Askaig ... Ballygrant Loch held a Kingfisher, 25 Tufted Duck and a Dabchick. On Loch nan Cadhan, there was a drake Goldeneye along with 2 females. Further on, around the Lily Loch, 5 Herons were present. In the fields they had seen several small flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare,  and also a pair of Stonechats. Coming over the "glen road" towards Mulindry, they saw a male Hen Harrier. This morning, Mary Redman had seen her first Wheatear of the year down at Claddach at Portnahaven. She also had a small group of 8 Golden Plovers there as well. Mary also commented on seeing "Gulls being on territory, a sure sign  that Spring is here" not quite agreeing with you on that comment, Mary!!! Last Tuesday, Mary had seen a juv. White tailed Eagle being harassed by several gulls out over the bay.
Today, here at home, there were 29 Greylags and a Barnacle Goose out on the grass around 8 am. Late afternoon, James and Margaret saw a Kestrel flying along the front of the crag, the first seen for a long time.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Saturday 17th March

An even colder day out here today, had to look out a vest to wear to keep me warm, what a big "sap" I must be turning into..
Yesterday, Mandy reported through to say that over on the feeders at her home at Carnduncan, she had a Blue Tit  plus her garden ticks of Dunnock, Wren, Blackbirds, Robin, Chaffinch and Song Thrush plus the regular pair of Great Tits. Today, Mandy had seen a Redwing in her garden, keep it up Mandy!!! Yesterday, Dave and Jean Killock had walked from along the River Sorn from Bridgend up to The Woollen Mill. On the River, they saw a Dipper and also a Grey Wagtail. Other birds of note seen were 5 Siskins and 2 Treecreepers. Over at Eollabus they had 2 Red legged Partridges and a Redwing. Coming back up to our cottage at the dusk this evening, I saw the Hares out again.