Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Mon 28th/Tues 29th May 07

Monday, I was foolish enough to climb two of The Paps of Jura and I am still recovering. Not much birdlife to be seen but Common Sandpiper, Dipper and 4 Heron were observed. There were 2 ravens flying above us when we were on the top. There was also growing on the top small clumps of Sea Pink!! I.K.B.
Tuesday, over at Gruinart there were 57 Bar Tailed Godwits and 16 Arctic Terns. C.F.
The first of the corncrake surveys has taken place with over 35 calling birds heard.
The B.B.C. Springwatch programme has now started with good footage of Islay's wildlife.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Sun 27th May 07

Out this morning up the back of Port Charlotte, and observed 4 Chough, 2 Snipe a male Hen Harrier out quartering the ground. Later on in the day, there was a single Great Northern Diver at the top of Loch Indaal, a Golden Eagle over above the Glen Road, as was a male Merlin. In the woods around Bridgend there were 2 Treecreeper, while a Grasshopper Warbler was heard. J.H.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Sat 26th May 07


This is one of the Barnacle Geese that have not yet returned to Greenland, amongst the sea pink at R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart Reserve. M.S.
A Short Eared Owl was seen carrying food back from Jura to Islay across the Sound of Jura. N.C.S.
Out for our last walk before going home, round Loch Gorm, 3.5hrs walking, and Hen Harrier, Sand Martin, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Common Sandpiper Heron, Oystercatcher, Curlew, and Reed Bunting were all observed and numerous Brown Hares were also seen. D.S.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Fri 25th May 07

The first of our swallows have hatched their clutch of eggs which is early for Islay. Yesterday,
over at Gruinart we were fortunate to see the Green winged teal again, a pair of Moorhen with chicks at foot and Heron fishing for eel. Later on there was a heron being mobbed by 3 Lapwing for being in the wrong place! Another Heron in flight was being mobbed by 2 gulls in the hope of the Heron dropping its food! A pair of Shoveller and also some Shelduck were also observed. The Mallard that hatched eggs in early April was spotted with her 3 large ducklings swimming along behind, no doubt the predators had not noticed them before now! Later on, in the evening, there were a couple of Red Deer Stags coming down off the hill.
In the early hours of Friday we were out doing the first of the corncrake counts, but we will let you know the figures once we collate them together next week. A Water Rail was heard and also 3 Spotted Crakes over at Gruinart. M.A.B., J.R.H.
3 Barn Owls and 2 Tawny Owls were also heard whilst out doing the Corncrake count in the wee small hours. M.S.

Thurs 24th May 07

There have been some late sightings of a pair of Barnacle Geese at Blackrock, and a further 4 over at Ardnave. Also out and about Snipe have been heard drumming, with the number of Greylags around Loch Gorm increasing. Several sightings of the ring tail (female Hen Harrier) out hunting, indicating that some of nests could have hatched. Whitethroat out singing too, while a Wood Warbler was observed. A Short eared Owl was seen over the moorland, while over the hills a Golden Eagle was seen. J.H.
Another Wood Warbler was seen on the other side of the island, singing its head off. R.A.S.
Breagha (Gaelic for beatiful!), the Barn Owl, ( Gaelic Cailleach- Oidhche) to be seen at the Islay Natural HistoryTrust web cam, now has got 5 got chicks, 2 large and 3 small. M.R.L.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Wed 23rd May 07


Most of today was taken up with the exploits of the pair of Shelduck taking their brood of ducklings from their nest in an old burrow to the water. The ducklings themselves could not be more than a couple of days old. This year for some reason the adult birds took a right turn on leaving the burrow and headed inland with 7 ducklings. Around 3 hours later, and about 1.5 miles on, they got to the water minus one of the brood. The going was certainly hard, across tussocky grass and even through long heather, but it was heartening to see them swimming off at the end. We reckon that this is about 15 days earlier than previous years. After all the drama, when we returned to the burrow, young Ravens were to be seen along to the left, possibly the reason why the Shelduck had taken the long way out to water. I.K.B.
There have been several different sightings of Pheasant with young at foot, again a good fortnight ahead of sightings in other years. J.A.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Tues 22nd May 07

More work on Ringed Plovers and nothing really new to report (unless I have missed it!) The "candidate" pair of plovers for filmed stardom suddenly seem not to be doing very much at all. Typical!! J.S.A.
3 Little Terns were seen over in the Gruinart area. M.S.
2 Water Rail were heard calling at the weekend over at Gruinart, and the pair of Garganey are still to be seen at the R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart reserve. J.R.H.
The White-tailed Sea Eagle that was seen on Sunday, was seen again yesterday, this time over the back of Bowmore/ Bridgend area. I.B.
With this recent spell of good weather (for Islay!) quite a few adders have been seen! C.F.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Mon 21st May 07


A cracking good night, it could be said.....6 corncrake and 2 possibly 3 Spotted Crake plus excellent views of a Polecat Ferret. A fine night which turned quite cold eventually, this then being the prelude to a very warm day. BTO Ringed Plover Surveys until mid-morning, which also included trying to find a suitable breeding pair for filming for the forthcoming BBC Spring Watch programme. Watching various pairs is like an ever unfolding episode of Eastenders with love, domesticity, disputes, evictions, agression, the lot! Charming little things! Surprisingly one pair have 3 youngsters already, several others appear to be starting the process and others may have lost their nests due to last weeks high tides and poor weather.
Searched various woodland block for the reported Green Woodpecker of yesterday, but to no avail. A party of Long tailed Tits and one of young Treecreepers seemed early. Views of Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Bullfinch were nice for here. J.S.A.
Marsh Fritillary and Green Hairstreak were seen over near Bunnahabhain. A group of Yellowhammers were also present while out in the Sound of Islay, 2 Great Nortern Divers were observed. B.W.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Sun 20th May 07

Weather has calmed down today and the sun is shining again! In the woods around Bridgend, a woodpigeon was seen, we have more resident Rock Doves on Islay than Woodpigeon. Also on the River Sorn there was a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher. S.McG.
A White-tailed Sea Eagle was seen being mobbed by Crows before flying off. S.C.
Quite a few of the shore nesting birds, like Common Gull and Ringed Plover appear to have lost their nests after the high tide coupled with the strong winds on Friday night. M.A.B.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Sat 19th May 07

Big waves, big troughs and high winds overnight and until lunchtime brought the promise of some good seawatching! Unfortunately the wind wouldn't just back round far enough, so whilst there was a good showing of all the seabirds you might expect ( Gulls, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Fulmar, Kittiwake, a few Auks and Terns), a passage of Great Northern Diver and Great Skua. The hoped for Skua passage that had been experienced in the Uists yesterday wasn't replicated, not even to species! Certainly the weather also raised expectations of Leach's Petrel but, again, nothing materialised and now the winds are lessening. Drogba saved the day finally! J.S.A.
A Little Gull was observed off Bruichladdich. J.H.
There were 57 Greylag Geese in one field beside Loch Gorm and several had goslings at foot. C.F.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Fri 18th May 07

A day marred by changeable and extreme weather. Eventually all thoughts of survey work were abandoned so spent the time committing the few observations generated to paper!
Despite this, some nice views of species like Hen Harrier and Chough. Raven and Hooded Crows are noticeably active at the moment and doubtless up to no good! Spent the latter part of the afternoon and evening in discussion with various mainland colleagues about the significance of the wintering Diver populations in Loch Indaal or in the stretch of sea between Kennacraig, the ferry terminal on the mainland, and Islay. J.S.A.
Out and about on the Rhinns, Whitethroat, 2 Cuckoo, odd Whimbrel, Whinchat, male Hen Harrier out hunting and a pair of acrobatic Chough that were very vocal! J.H.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Thurs 17th May 07



Rather a miserable day here, the weather that is!

This heron was seen taking off the other day, it was moving on after having being mobbed for quite a considerable time mainly by Lapwings.

Also witnessed was a Buzzard being mobbed by Jackdaws earlier today. There were a considerable number of Dunlin at the top of Loch Indaal, with several whimbrel being noted round Loch Gorm. I.K.B.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Wed 16th May 07

Some late news from yesterday, as today has been rather wet.
There was a sighting of a Golden Eagle being mobbed by a Buzzard on the Rhinns, the pair of Garganey over at Gruinart were seen mating and a pair of Grey Wagtails were seen on the Sorn at Bridgend, one of Armin's birds from Walkislay in April! R.G.B & C.B.
Over on the Oa, a Carrion Crow was seen with a Hooded crow! M.S.
Peregrine Falcon mobbing a Buzzard over at Gruinart. J.R.H.
There was thought to have been a brief sighting of a Honey Buzzard on the Rhinns. R.R.
Also on the Rhinns, Whitethroat were heard singing, Fulmar were seen, along with Gannets moving south. Also noted were Curlew and Lapwing both with young. J.H.
Meadow Pipits were seen carrying food back to their nest. Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and Greenland Wheater were present around Loch Gorm. Yesterday's Stonechat image was taken then! I.K.B.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Tues 15th May 07


Update from Jura , sightings this past week have included a Short Eared Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Song thrush in full song, single Magpie (rare bird over here!), Eider Ducks are building in numbers.
A Mute Swan was seen defending territory against Greylag Geese, Eider and Shelduck!
On the bird table, there now appears to be a dominant pair of Siskins. With more Swallows around, there were 7 pairs all trying to establish nests in a barn!
There was also a really close sighting of a Great Northern Diver, but needless to say no camera to hand! Stonechat and Wheatear were observed all around. L.G. & G.M.
A day spent out doing BTO survey work, either Ringed Plover Surveys or WeBS counts. The latter were completed over the Outer Loch Indaal in near perfect conditions given the very light winds and excellent visibility. Great Northern Divers are still hanging on, a few parties of Common Scoter were evident and small numbers of Guillemot were using the outer reaches but, strangely enough, no Razorbills were present on this occasion.
Many of the waders now appear to have passed through (unless they were part of the "first wave"). Remnant numbers of dunlin, Turnstone and Whimbrel apparent, but "Arctic" Ringed Plovers appeared to have left. However, from past experience, there's three weeks left for more to pour through! J.S.A.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Mon 14th May 07

An Osprey was seen with a fish, at Loch Gruinart in the late afternoon. C.F.
The Lesser Yellowlegs, Garganey and Green Winged Teal can still be seen at R.S.P.B. Gruinart reserve. At the top of Loch Indaal, there was a good showing of Dunlin in summer plumage.
Corncrakes are to be heard at more locations around the island. House Martins are straight back into nest building while there appears to have been a further rise in Swallows over the weekend. I.K.B.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Sun 13th May 07

Some late entries from last week.
The Green Winged Teal was observed over at Gruinart on Friday. G.J.
Also on Friday, 3 Canada Geese and a single Black tailed Gowit were seen. C.F.
Late Friday evening at Gruinart, 2 Spotted Crake and 7 Corncrake were heard, and another single Black tailed Godwit was seen. J.R.H.
Today, several Gannets were fishing in Loch Indaal close to the rocky shore line below Port Charlotte. Later on 30 chough were flying in the Machir Bay area. On a previous occasion some of the chough were seen mobbing a Buzzard! I.K.B.
Also today, in Bruichladdich, there was the return of a "tame" Lesser Black-backed Gull which feeds off the bird table, absent for over a year at least! G.J.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Sat 12th May 07

The Lesser Yellowlegs and the Garganey are still to be seen at Gruinart. All our Barnacle Geese and White-Fronted Geese have now gone. There were 17 Arctic Tern on the spit on Loch Indaal, while over 70 Dunlin were at the top of the Loch along with 10 Sanderling mostly in summer plumage apart from the odd one or two. Two Turnstone were also seen with them. There was a good sighting of a group of 15 Great Nothern Diver off Bruichladdich Pier. Around Loch Gorm, there was the flock of 18 immature Chough out flying around before going back to the roost. The first Stonechat family were seen, both male and female along with 3 recently fledged young. There were two different groups of Whimbrel, one of 11, the other 25. A Grasshopper Warbler was observed and heard, while a pair of Twite were also seen as well as a pair of Whinchat further along the road. R.G.B. & C.B.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Fri 11th May 07

Time for reflection with our garden birds, on the bird table especially. During the winter months more was seen of Great, Blue and Coal Tits, not in such numbers now, but still getting up to 8 Goldfinches in at one time, along with the odd Greenfinch and Chaffinch mixed in too. There are still the regular 4 Siskins, while the Goldcrest and a Treecreeper were both seen the other day.The Blackcap that was here through the winter has not been seen for a few weeks. Newcomers to the table now are a pair of Collared Doves while the House Sparrows have now mastered the nut feeder! S. McG.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Thurs 10th May 07

The Lesser Yellowlegs along with the Garganey were still to be seen at Gruinart today. Corncrake now arriving in numbers, up to six calling males heard at Gruinart, with two at another location, and another four nearby, and then there are the single calling birds round Islay above that! R.A.S.
Noticable passage of Gannets observed off the west coast, probably birds from Ailsa Craig. R.G.B. & C.B.
Loch Indaal had a pod of 16 Bottle Nosed Dolphins, up as far as Port Charlotte. K.W.
There was a further 3 BND observed by the children from Port Charlotte Primary school when they were busy doing their beach clean! E.H.H
There were 82 Whimbrel, 8 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling also in Loch Indaal, mid afternoon. M.A.B.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Wed 9th May 07


Yes, it's that time of year again with all the birds starting to pair up again, to mate and lay another clutch of eggs. Several pairs of Ringed Plovers have been seen sitting already. This bird was taken down on the foreshore in Port Charlotte, last year, completely ignoring all that was going on all around her!
Meanwhile on the Barn Owl monitor in the Islay Natural History Trust Visitor Centre in Port Charlotte, the third egg hatched today. There are 7 eggs in total in the clutch, but I will keep you updated as to how they get on. I.K.B.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Tues 8th May 07

Many more Arctic Terns are around with two "colonies" already busy with display.
At a time when Lapwings are being overtly protective of their newly hatched young, it's a sobering thought to see increasing numbers of "high Arctic" waders arriving, such as Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Sanderling, which have yet to make the exhausting journey northwards to reach their breeding grounds and begin the process of mating, incubating eggs and nurturing young. Having said that, to see the emerging plumage of Dunlin and Turnstone is a real joy and, hopefully, refuelling here will ensure their safe journey to areas most of us will never have a chance of even seeing. J.S.A.
Ballygrant Woods produced a Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher, and also 2 Blackcaps, the lone Whooper still remains, and a group of 25 Whimbrel were seen near Loch Gorm. R.G.B. & C.B.
Last weeks sightings over on Jura, included a Grasshopper Warbler, Snipe drumming, several sightings of Hen Harrier out quartering looking for prey. A Willow Wabler in full song, 6 Yellowhammers and a pair of Siskins at a bird table. L.G., G.M.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Mon 7th May 07


After the excitement of yesterday evening, with the Lesser Yellowlegs at Gruinart, I'd high hopes for today! Such was not to be the case. However, all was not wasted as a good selection of seabirds had been on the move in the morning, the majority of the Great Nortern Divers are in full summer plumage and doubtless will be leaving soon and newly arrived Arctic Terns were in evidence.
After being "mobbed" by a Rook, an immature Peregrine at Gruinart made two half hearted swoops, but then simply flew at the corvid and took it to the ground! J.S.A.
A solitary Whooper Swan still remains in the Bridgend area. J.H.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Sun 6th May 07


This morning at Loch Gruinart, there were 75 Gannets, 5 Arctic Terns, 2 Little Terns, 40 Bar Tailed Godwits, 12 Dunlin and a solitary Whimbrel. J.R.H.
In the early evening, from the hide, a superb Lesser Yellowlegs was observed along with a pair of Garganey and yet another 2 Ruff.
3 corncrakes heard from the hide, more calling birds are now being heard around the island. J.R.H., G.J., M.S., J.S.A., I.K.B. & M.A.B.

Sat 5th May 07

This is an image taken late afternoon on Thursday 19th April. There were over 560 pale bellied Brent Geese in total on Loch Indaal, a record for Islay!
Three rung birds were observed and all traced back to having been rung in Northern Ireland. The following morning, they had all gone, an impressive sight while they were here. I.K.B.
A group of 7 Greenland Wheatears were seen on Gruinart Reserve as well as the Spotted Redshank. At Bruichladdich there were 2 late Purple Sandpipers, a Common Tern and an Arctic Tern. J.R.H. and G.J.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Fri 4th May 07

Many Whitethroats heard around the island today, also a close sighting of a male short-eared owl in the early morning mist. G.D.Y.
A passage of 120 Whimbrel was observed off the pier at Bowmore in the morning, as well as a
good showing of Great Northern Divers in summer plumage in Loch Indaal. R.A.S.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Thurs 3rd May 07

24 Whimbrel at Loch Gorm. At Gruinart, the Spotted Redshank was present again along with Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck and Shoveler. Several Heron were also present along with a Moorhen, Lapwings, Redshank and Mute Swans. A Male Hen Harrier was observed hunting at the side of the road. M.A.B.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Wed. 2 May 07

Little of note over the sea early morning excepts feeding gannets. Still good numbers of Great Northern Diver on Loch Indaal and a few auks. Summer migrants appear to have improved in numbers with Sedge Warbler being more widespread and a few Grasshopper Warblers around. An adult Golden Eagle near Loch Gruinart was mobbed by two Buzzards and provided a fine spectacle for quite a period. The reserve at Gruinart, had one possibly two, Ruff but little else except a male Pintail, a pair of Wigeon and the odd Shoveler. Visits to various woodland showed several Blackcap, a Wood Warbler and even a chiffchaff singing lustily. Spring lambs, butterflies and wild flowers in profusion will most certainly be a memory of 2007. J.S.A.
There was also a good sighting of two Otters in the Bruichladdich area, initially out in the sea and then on the rocks at the shoreside G.J.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Last week

A little egret was seen at Gruinart on Thursday, 26th of May. Also seen at Gruinart on 28th May were two spotted redshanks. Earlier on in the week, there was a strong passage of black tailed godwits along with quite a few whimbrels. Also on the 26th there was a bottle-nosed dolphin observed off Port Charlotte. I.K.B