Saturday, 22 February 2020

Saturday 22nd February

A bit of an early entry, but the power was off again so here goes...

Mike and Lesley made the correct decision in escaping Islay yesterday, with there being no ferries
sailing to Islay today.
"Sadly left the Island now, managed to get on the afternoon ferry. Spent a couple of hours car birding this morning and managed to get absolutely brilliant views of a Golden Eagle that flew over the car as we drove slowly over the moors on the Ballygrant to Bridgend road.
While waiting at Port Askaig for the ferry, an Otter with a fish in its mouth stuck its head about 50 metres from us, a great end to a great week on Islay."

All my other visiting contributors are now away as well, hence the reason for the blog being light on information, but as ever many thanks to you all for sending your sightings through.

Up here that pesky Sparrowhawk came past in an attempt to catch something to eat as the wee birds flew off in an escape mode, to which it failed miserably!! It came back in the afternoon, before the power went off, with the same poor result for it!!! Mind you we have not seen the Sparrowhawk up here, for some time now!!!

Friday, 21 February 2020

Friday 21st February

Mike and Lesley's report through for you  to appreciate...
"We had a great morning at Gruinart yesterday. The sun brought out the birds on the woodland trail so it was nice to record Long-tailed Tit,  Goldcrest and Treecreeper. From the hide there were plenty of the usual ducks, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail plus lots of Curlew and a single Greenshank.
There were a couple of Oystercatchers feeding right in front of the hide when a female Sparrowhawk came hurtling towards one but just missed one and then sat on a fence post right next to the hide for a while. A distant Golden Eagle sitting on top of the hill, before we noticed 2 hunting juvenile White-tailed Eagles on of which downed a Barnacle Goose and began to eat the poor thing while it was still alive!  A very dramatic morning!"

Chris Corrigan's birds were as follows
"The best place today was the back road between Blackpark and Gruinart (B8017). Wonderful views of 2 Golden Eagles north of Lyrabus in the morning and a briefer view of a roadside Merlin in the afternoon. 
33 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Carnain late afternoon.
We also got a free exfoliation beauty treatment courtesy of a horrible driving hail shower!!!"

Garry and Wendy had made to most of yesterday
"What a change to have some bright sunshine. We walked from Ballygrant, up past Lossit Farm to Islay Sound. Our sightings for the day:
Carnain: Barnies, Greylags, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Mute Swans
Loch Lossit: Tufted Ducks
Flanks of Beinn Dubh: Herd of Red Deer
Traigh Bhan: White tailed  Eagle, GN Diver, and 11 Grey Seals"

John Matthews and his friends "The Port Ellen 4", headed home yesterday, but they had sent their final entry for this visit...
"I'm now safety back home after a 7.5h drive.  
Anyway, on our drive to Port Askaig this morning via the back road to Ballygrant we saw another superb male Merlin sitting on a fence post about 1 mile north of Barr.  Great little bird that sat for about 4 minutes before flying off."

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Turday 20th February

Ed Burrell was in touch last night as follows:
"Just to say I've had two new birds for the farm today... A Moorhen and a drake Goosander. Gets us up to 96 now.".. Wonder what will bring the ton up?! Keep it up Ed, and you will get the magic 100 soon...

Gary and Wendy had been out for a wee while yesterday,
"What a miserable day ; definitely not much about. This is what we have seen:
Carnain: Barnies, Greylags, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Curlew,  Chaffinch, Robin and a very smart adult Grey Heron stalking food in the marsh near the cottage. Off Bowmore: Scaup, Eider duck, and Wigeon were present."

"John Matthews and the Port Ellen 4 had been out on their last day of this present visit. 
The Merlin yesterday made our holiday.
Also yesterday, the weather certainly put a damper on the birding and the spirits!
We tried the Oa first & had a very nice male Hen Harrier on the Oa road immediately north of Kinnabus farm.  The "Oa Twite flock" were great but kept their distance and were with about 40 Rock dove.  Sadly, no eagle.
Loch Gorm yielded nothing so we camped in the hides at RSPB Loch Gruinart.  Nice to see 30-40 Bar-tailed Godwits associated with a large flock of Dunlin (200+) on the flats.  Other than that, the "usual suspects" were seen - Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Heron, Oystercatcher, BH gull, Common  gull, Mute & Whooper swan, Shelduck, Barnies, White-faced geese & probably some I've forgotten!

Chris Corrigan e mailed some sightings from yesterday, oddly enough he  commented on the poor weather as well:
"What a day! We resorted to a distillery tour!
Morning - 4 Scaup and 5 Long-tailed Ducks off Bowmore
Late afternoon - the drake Green - winged Teal seen from the Loch Gruinart North Hide late afternoon"

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Wednesday 9th February

"John and the Port Ellen 4" has sent through their birds which they saw yesterday..
"A better day weather-wise and we targeted areas that we thought might yield raptors.  
Area easy of Loch Gorm : WT Eagle (juv) traversing the track between junction of B8017-18 & minor road south of the loch.
Near Grulinbeg (B8018): Peregrine.
Near Garra Eallabus (minor rd to Ardnave Point): spectacular views of a perched Merlin (male) in the low rays of the sun.
Loch Gruinart RSPB : female Hen Harrier
Sadly, no Golden Eagle to make the "Big Five" in one day!
Buzzards everywhere!  Where have they suddenly appeared from? We don't remember there being so many in previous visits.  It's like being at home."

Gary and Wendy had stayed at home at Carnain yesterday but still managed to see a variety of birds
"Their list today is all around Carnain: Barnies, White fronts, Greylags, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Starlings, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Mute Swan, Pale bellied Brents, mixed flock of Redwing, Fieldfare, two Golden Eagles, and a Hare."

Chris Corrigan and Helen had braved the elements yesterday and "had seen a flock of around 120 Twite in a field at Upper Killeyan. Later on, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Great Northern Divers, 1 Red-throated Diver and the Common Scoters, Eiders, Goldeneyes and Red-breasted Mergansers off Bowmore (but no Scaup). Not easy viewing in the choppy seas!"

Mike and Lesley had also been out and about, seeing the following birds on Islay,
"On the Oa yesterday morning, a ringtail Hen Harrier on the way up sitting on a fence post. A few Fulmar from the Monument and thanks to  Chris Corrigan who showed us the Twite flock  down there as well. Located a Ringed Plover behind the Gaelic Centre at Bowmore. On the Gruniart Road, great views of a Peregrine. At Ardnave Point 30 Chough then back at the car park a flock of 27 Twite. On the road back we passed 'The Port Ellen 4' who were admiring a handsome male Merlin, so many thanks to them for showing us."

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Tuesday 18th February

Gary and Wendy emailed the following to me last night, referring to their change of plans for yesterday,
"The weather turned out worse than we thought it would today and we didn't in the end get to Portnahaven on the bus. Very little to see around Carnain but we did have a visit for about 8 minutes from a ringtail hen Harrier over the pond behind the cottage. Also seen were some Barnies, Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Jackdaw and Blackbird.  A Hare was also seen."
John and the team of the "Port Ellen 4" had ventured out in the atrocious weather and managed to see the following birds yesterday:
"Loch a'Chnuic: Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, R b Mergansers. Claggain Bay: 5 GND & 1 BT Diver, Tysties, Shag, 10+ Oystercatcher & Ringed Plover. WT eagle over woods to the South of Cluanach. Bunnahabhain: 4 GND, Tysties, Cormorant. Caol Ila : Shag.
Obviously the main 3 geese sp, Buzzards, Hoodies, Ravens etc all over."

Chris Corrigan had been out yesterday as well
"A blowy and showery walk round Ardnave today where we managed to see a flock of 20 Choughs
2 Long-tailed Ducks (1 from the Gaelic Centre and 1 from Bowmore) along with Common Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, Eiders and Goldeneyes.  All out on Loch Indaal. Needs to be a bit calmer!"

Mike Russell was in touch last night, again Monday's sightings 
"My partner Lesley and I are on Islay this week, up from Sussex. Today we walked through Bridgend Woods, lots of song, Song and Mistle Thrushes, Chaffinches, Wrens and Robins and we also  heard  a Treecreeper. Really pleased to get a great view of a Dipper as well.
In the afternoon, went to Laphroaig where on the beach had good view of 2 Otters, also number of Rock Pipits."

Many thanks to our visitors for sending their birds through and allowing me to share them with you...

Good friend, Lesley Silcock was in for a cuppa today, and she told me that she had seen a group of  7 Blue Tits together on her feeders at McNichol's Croft. This morning, as she was driving up to here at Shepherd's cottage, Lesley watched a Merlin zip into the verge of the road and emerge out unscathed a moment or two later, with its prey being proof that it had been successful in its acrobatics!!

Monday, 17 February 2020

Monday 17th February

A few birds through from Gary and Wendy, all from yesterday
"Very windy and heavy squally showers today, and nothing much around.Our sightings for Sunday areas follows, Carnain: Oystercatchers, Barnies, Shelduck, Curlew & Blackbird. "

I received a couple of sightings from Chris Corrigan, who I believe could be staying the cottage next
door to Gary and Wendy at Crosshouses...
"Arrived on Saturday, for a week. Looks a bit wild! Staying at Cross House, Bridgend.                      29 P-b Brent Geese down on the shore this morning. A Woodcock on the Loch Gruinart Woodland Trail but nothing else out of the ordinary."

The "Port Ellen 4" had also been out and about in the great spell of weather, we are having at present!! "Quite a bright day considering the rather fresh Scottish breeze (!) making birding a challenge. Sunday's main sightings were - 
Finlaggan woods: Crossbill (only 1) at the Y junction of the track, Coal Tit, Reed Bunting, Buzzard, Skylark on track to woods.
Ardnave: Chough, Whoopers & Goldeneye (we didn't venture to the beach!).
Gruinart RSPB: G W Teal, Little Egret, Pintail, Shoveler, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Buzzard, Wigeon, Whoopers, Mute Swan, Teal, B H gull, Whitefronts & Barnie's.
Nr Lyrabus (B8017): Merlin."

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Sunday 16th February

The "Port Ellen 4" had seen the following birds yesterday
5 GND along on Claggain Bay. Female Sparrowhawk at the Sron Dubh turn to the standing stones/Enclosure.
Juv White-tailed Eagle at Gruinart + Hen Harriers (2 male + 1 ringtail), 2 Greenshank, Green-wing Teal, Little Egret, Pintail, Shoveler, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser BB Gull & Dunlin.
Male Hen Harrier at Grainel + Dunlin, Ringed Plover & Pale bellied Brents at Blackrock.
The "normal" geese, Buzzards, Mergansers, Tysties etc elsewhere.

A few birds seen yesterday by Gary and Wendy
"What a foul day, but  what a surprise to have 5 minutes of sunshine in the afternoon. Now back to rain. Didn't expect to see many birds today, but this is our list:
Carnain: Barnies, Brents, Oystercatchers. Drive from Kilchoman to Carnain: Mallard, Pheasant
Around Bruichladdich: Pale belied Brent geese"