Monday, 19 November 2018

Monday 19th November

An amazing form of contact, the internet is. When I got my first computer back in the last century, my sister was out working in Mongolia for a year teaching the kids. One night, back all those years ago, she sent me an e mail requesting a recipe for her to do some baking.. Margaret quickly looked through her recipe books and selected one which I duly sent to her that evening. The next morning, I had a reply from my sister thanking me for the prompt reply to her. To think that prior to that when everything was written by hand and posted out a quick turn round would have taken a good fortnight, and I was never too quick to reply to letters!! The long and the short of this story is that I sent the email to himself in Denmark last night about the 5 Greenland Whitefronts that Mark and Sally Johnson  had seen together over at Gruinart. The message back from Tony, this morning, was to say that they were all rung during the winter of 2016/ 17  at Gruinart, and like the most of the geese, have been faithful to that particular area, on their return to Islay each winter.
Before I forget, next Tuesday evening, the Bird nerds will be meeting up for their monthly catch up at 7pm in the Gaelic College which is situated on the outside of Bowmore. David Wood will be giving us a short illustrated talk on his recent trip to Mauritius. So if you are around, see you there, mind and bring your money to help to pay for the room hire...  so please pass the message on to anyone that may be interested...

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Sunday 18th November

Paul and Jill Harris before they left yesterday on the ferry had seen 3 White tailed Eagles, out to the East of Port Ellen. Mark and Sally Johnson have returned back over for another week on Islay. On the way to their holiday cottage, they had seen 4 Whitefronts with orange neck collars fitted and another fitted with what I believe to be a radio transponder fitted. They were all in a group together over at Gruinart on the reserve. I have sent the details, and once I hear back from Tony I will let you know their history.
Armin had been up until the wee small hours trying to get some images of the meteors over Islay, but commented on hearing the geese taking off from Machir Bay around 4 am.... He was down there later on for a walk and saw the large amount of goose droppings on the shore... This afternoon, just after he got up to the North hide (new hide) at Gruinart, there was a bit of a very brief encounter, a small raptor flew past the hide, and a moment later Armin had another visitor in the hide beside him, a Wren, so Armin wondered whether the Wren came in though the open window to evade being caught by the said bird of prey...
Another piece of news is that I read in today's edition of "Scotland on Sunday" newspaper, an interesting 4 page article about "Islay's battle of the Barnacle geese". There are several mistakes in it, but all the same, it makes some interesting reading... Just wish these journalists would get somebody to proof read their articles before going to press. I know that I can and often make blunders often enough, but that is me, a blundering old idiot!!!

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Saturday 17th November


The above image was sent through to me by Armin who had seen these 2 ringtail hen Harriers in the air from the South hide at Gruinart on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier on, when Armin first arrived at the hide, there was a ringtail sitting less than 10 metres away from the hide, but his camera was not to hand, still in his bag...  Earlier, on Tuesday morning, there was a large commotion outside of Armin's cottage by all the wee birds, a quick look around by himself, and he saw the reason behind all the troubles, a Sparrowhawk was sitting on top of a fence post near by!!!
Yesterday was Paul and Jill Harris's last day of their stay. They saw a ringtail Hen Harrier as they drove round Loch Gorm and over on the reserve  at Gruinart they had another ringtail as well as a male Hen Harrier there as well. A great time enjoyed by Paul and Jill , especially seeing the tremendous sunset the other night, a real bonus!!!
This morning, Ron from Islay info had seen the geese chasing after an Eagle at Port Ban.
Armin had 4 Pied Wagtail down at the car park at Machir Bay as he went there for a walk. He also noticed that the Geese up at Coull appeared to be very unsettled for quite some time. I wonder whether the Eagle which Ron had seen at Port Ban was causing the trouble at Coull??? Later on, after his walk, Armin had a  Hen Harrier fly past really close, up at the field gate leading to the War graves Cemetery at Kilchoman

Friday, 16 November 2018

Friday 16th November

Yesterday, a 2CY Iceland Gull  had been seen briefly by David Wood. Distillery Dave,  last night had seen a Barn Owl down at Carnain, Gary from Wild Islay Birding has been seeing a small flock of birds flying between the stubbles fields at Skerrols road end, in the flock there have been 3 Brambling present on a regular basis of late.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Thursday 15th November

Today I received the figures from the Farm Goose count which took place last week, and next week I believe that it will be an International count taking place. The tally came to 36,133 Barnacle Geese, 5,495 Greenland Whitefronts and also 1,419 Greylags. Many thanks to Andrew Kent and the team from SNH for giving these figures to share with you.
The winds today have been up a bit again with a little ferry disruption, so I managed to clean out some of our nest boxes . It has been interesting to note that some of the boxes which were put up for this season, that were not occupied, that it is these boxes that are being examined by the birds at present, so we will just have to wait and see next spring to se who decided to use which boxes...

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Wednesday 14th November

The other week, Ivan & Jenny Harding from Lyme Regis were over on Islay on holiday when they saw 3 barnacle Geese with fitted darvic leg rings on which they managed to read. They sent the info through to me and the other day I forwarded it through to Steve Percival . Steve e mailed through to say that 2 of the birds had been rung in the same field at Gruinart back in October 2013 with other goose being rung by Steve and his family the previous day to Ivan and Jenny seeing it...
Yesterday, Paul and Jill Harris from Yorkshire had seen the Chough coming out from the roost up in the crag, close to here they are staying and counted 25 birds in total. Later on, down on the Oa they had seen a flock of almost 500 Twite at Upper Killeyan. Along at the car park, they had a male Hen Harrier, with another seen at Risabus with a third present at Claggain Bay. Coming back up along the low road and they counted 320 Whoopers at the north end of the airport. Finally at Blackrock, 29 Scaup were present.
Today, Mike P. had seen a 1st winter White tailed Eagle over the raised beach at Gortan. Along at Sunderland Farm, Mike had seen a flock of 200 Chaffinch and also a Brambling was there with them. At Machir Bay, Mike counted 22 Chough and he also saw a Sparrowhawk.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Tuesday 13th November

Bob and Lesley had carried out WeBS count from Blackrock along to Port Charlotte, the scores on the doors coming to... 29 Cormorant, 4 Shag, 13 GND, 4 RTD, 3 Eider, 9 R b Merganser, 21 Oystercatcher, 10 Snipe, 3 Turnstone, 20 Herring Gull and a Gbb Gull. Returning visiting birders with whom I met in with last night had seen 4 Merlin on their travels around Islay as well as 5 Hen Harriers. They were well pleased seeing the Hen Harriers especially as they are not seen very often where they live on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors...Their previous visit to Islay was 15 years ago....Armin is back on Islay for his Autumn fix and also the Islay sessions, a trad music weekend held mainly in Port Charlotte. The other morning, he had seen 10 Oystercatchers and also 100 Herring Gulls down on Machir Bay and then a Buzzard down at the Coastguards. Yesterday afternoon, down on the merse at Bridgend, Armin was armed with his camera, hoping to get some images of the geese on the mudflats , but the tide was in , net result, not many, if any images were taken. By the time he got over to Gruinart, the light was poor... Just as the light was starting to fade, at home we counted 25 Chough going in to the roost....
Today, Mike Peacock had seen 39 Tufted Duck , 149 Teal and 4 Whoopers on Loch Gorm along with a Merlin close by. Val, his wife had been taking a walk down through the trees below Foreland and seen a Greater spotted Woodpecker , a Treecreeper and a Woodcock.