Saturday, 31 May 2008

Sat 31st May

Forgot to mention yesterday, that while we were out listening for calling Corncrakes, that other birds could be heard too. Grey lag Geese were out and about, as was a very noisy Grasshopper warbler, Snipe could be heard drumming, a few Curlew were calling close at hand and an Oystercatcher was heard down at Machir Bay.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Fri 30th May

After an early start yesterday with the Shelduck, it was a late night out and eventually getting to bed after 1.30 am, no not socialising or partying, but just helping out with the first of this year's Corncrake counts! The number here on Islay for a good few years was down in single figures, in fact it was as low as 4 calling males one year, but more recently with the "Corncrake scheme", numbers have increased. If memory serves me correctly there were almost 60 males calling last year. Although we were not able to cover the whole of Islay last night, we were almost on last year's total, and we will obviously get a better picture as further counts are carried out over the next few weeks. IKB

Thurs 29th May

As forecast yesterday, the Shelduck took their young from the nest this morning, so it has been a long day for us. Margaret was up at 3.30 am to check if the male bird was still guarding the entrance to the nest, which he had been faithfully for at least 14 hrs. Finally at around, 5.30 am, the female emerged with her brood of 7 or 8 ducklings, the exact number we were not sure of, as they were always in a very tight group, proving difficult to get an exact number as it is not easy to use the scope and try to get images at the same time! The whole family group were soon on their way, and this year reverted back to their usual route of turning left on emerging from the nest and heading out towards water. For those who remember, last year on Springwatch, they turned right and went overland to Loch Gorm and wrong footed us all! This year, in just under half an hour they were heading down towards the dunes and the sea at Machir Bay about 3/4 of a mile. No mean feat for youngsters, so young! MAB
Another visiting birder got in touch to say that he had seen the Osprey over Loch Gorm, just as I had thought that it had flown off somewhere else! There was also the the sighting of young Chough emerging from their nest for the first time today. Over in the verge at the side of the road at Coull this afternoon, I saw my first hen Pheasant out with her brood of 10 young. Meanwhile, James had 24 Arctic Tern, 4 Little Tern and a Manx Shearwater up at Ardnave, as well as an Eider out with her brood. Back on the RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, Michael had a Spotted Flycatcher, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and a Whitethroat all calling, while we were on the usual Thursday guided walk. Corncrake were also heard, and one was seen from the Visitor Centre on our return there. James contacted me this evening to say that he had seen Short-eared Owl on the reserve earlier on in the day. JRH
Overall it has been a busy day, with a lot of different birds emerging with their young, and the day is not over as tonight/ early Friday morning is the first count of the year for the Corncrake survey!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Thurs 28th May

Here on Islay, the weather has finally broken down with us getting some rain and low cloud over the crag. We were at the launch of a new whisky today, Black Grouse, which is a blend of Grouse whisky along with several Islay whiskies. For every bottle sold, a donation will be made towards habitat improvements on key RSPB reserves. Two visitors reported in to say that they had seen 2 separate Barn Owls at different places on the High road while returning from the Ceilidh at Laphroaig last night.
Here at home today, the Shelduck of Springwatch fame last year, have been quite agitated today, so we have been expecting them to leave their nest anytime, so Margaret has been keeping a close eye on them! At Carnain, on the top of Loch Indaal, there appears to be only be 4 cygnets remaining with the Mute Swan, originally there had been 7, but I will double check the next time I am passing by. The main problem is that where the Swans are, it is not very easy to park up at! IKB
Over on Jura today, Louise had seen 4 different male Hen Harriers out quartering their territories as she made her way down to the ferry. Back at her home, a Grasshopper warbler has been heard quite a lot recently. LG

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Tues 27th May

A visitor called in this evening, to say that he had seen 8 Crossbill at Gearach Forestry on the Rhinns, are these some of the birds that were at Avonvoggie through the Winter and in the Spring? Earlier on he had heard a Wood warbler in the woods around Kildalton.
Back here at home there was a pair of Grey Wagtail down at the burn, and this evening in the wood, the Cuckoo was calling for quite some time! IKB

Mon 26th May

Michal had been staying out in the caves at Bolsa overnight on Saturday and his way up there he had seen several different pairs of Yellowhammer round Gortontoid, as well as a Redpoll there too. Needless to say the Rock doves were to be found in the caves , with Fulmar busy nesting on the cliffs, while on the beaches, Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover were noted. On top of one rock arches, there was a Great black backed Gull with three young, around about a week old. MS

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Sun 25th May

I forgot to say that the rain the other night never came to much, infact so far this month there has only been 3/4" of an inch in total, and we are at present making the most of this spell of warm, dry weather.
Over on the floods at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, the pair of Mute Swan have had 5 cygnets, and the male Garganey was still to be seen out in front of the hide. A group of 7 Hares were seen by James, in a circle having a meeting as is often observed at this time of year! Last night he heard the Water rail and had an Otter was in one of the ditches. Meanwhile out on the estuary, there were 78 Ringed Plover and 170 Dunlin. Some of the Corncrake appear not to be calling, a possible indication that they have mated with the female and she has started to lay eggs. JRH

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Fri 23rd - Sat 24th May

A quiet couple of days on the bird front, but busy work wise. The main talking point was the sighting of a Magpie, it was seen on Thursday evening at the waterworks behind Port Charlotte, and then further up the road at Gearach on Friday itself. There was no sign of it there this evening, but one was seen in a garden in Bunnahabhain! Is this the same bird that was seen over in Port Ellen on the 18th of April, then later on in Bowmore, remember too that Louise saw one on Scarba off Jura on the 8th of May, or is there a possibility of 2 different birds around? MAO

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Thurs 22nd May

Finally this evening, the weather has broken down with the rain coming down as I write, but for how long will it last and how much will it come too?
The Osprey was seen over at Loch Gruinart the other day, again carrying a fish. Earlier this evening I received a phone call to say that a pair of Short-eared Owls have been seen today on the Rhinns of Islay. Also this afternoon I had a Spotted Flycatcher in the woods behind the Woolen mill. IKB
Catherine had noted the following while doing a count on Loch Gruinart, 20 Eider, 1 Common Sandpiper, 207 Oystercatcher, 1 Little Tern, 5 Arctic Tern, 11 Ringed plover, 84 Shelduck, 16 Curlew and 30 Dunlin. She also had a Peregrine Falcon too. CF

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Wed 21st May



After a dull start to the day, the sun came out, which turned out a good omen for Michael Coppleston who was leading a Butterfly walk at Loch Gruinart at midday. Around a dozen folk came along, and an interesting time was had by all those who attended.
Species seen were Small Copper, Small Heath, Cinnabar Moth, Green veined White, Scalloped Hazel and White Ermine. A visitor brought along a Pus Moth and also a Buff tip which he had caught in his moth trap on Tuesday night where he was staying. If memory serves me right, the image is that of a Small Copper.
There was a Grey Wagtail on the burn down beside the Coastguard House here at Kilchoman this morning, while there was a sighting of a Moorhen on a pool beside Loch Gorm. Moorhen are not so common as they once were here on the island. IKB

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Tues 20th May

A friend phoned me up today to say that she had heard from a visiting birded that he had seen a Tree Pipit in the woods up from Bridgend. Here, at home the Swallows are definitely not back in the same numbers as last year, the nests at the front door are not being visited, and also the nest at the back door appears quiet, but on the positive side the one in the dog kennel/shed is being used, as is the nest in the garage, and there are definitely 2 different sites in use up in the sheep shed. House Martin numbers appear to similar to last year. I wonder if the 2 House Martins, that were reared by the Swallows last season, did they return? IKB

Monday, 19 May 2008

Mon 19th May



This is one of the Whinchats that we saw on Sunday evening whilst out on a run round Loch Gorm. Down at Blackrock today, there were 3 Whooper Swan, and further along the road 5 Whimbrel flew past us. MAB
Over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve today, James had a single Whooper Swan, while on the floods, he had 4 Moorhen, a pair of Gadwall and also a male Garganey. Yesterday, 2 Spotted Crakes were heard calling while on Friday, James saw 2 Four Spotted Darter Dragonflies and also noted the first of the Flag Iris in bloom. JRH

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Sun 18th May

After a shower of rain last night, the temperature today has dropped quite a bit and even this afternoon there was a cold edge to the wind even although it was sunny.Whilst working with the sheep, we were fortunate to notice a Golden Eagle out soaring on a thermal, there had also been one seen yesterday too, but I forgot to tell you about it! Round Loch Gorm this evening, there were several Whinchat and Stonechat to be seen on the Whins which are in full bloom. A male Reed Bunting was also seen while several of the male Corncrake were heard calling and a Lapwing with young was seen just below Leek. A male Hen Harrier was out over the moor quartering his patch. I have not seen a Short eared Owl yet, and I have not heard any reports of any sightings here on Islay this year so far although they have been seen on Jura. IKB

Sat 17th May

As we went out today, we were fortunate to see the Osprey sitting on a telegraph pole which was beside the road. As we came along, we were thinking of another Buzzard, but it was a second or two before we actually realised what we were seeing and so close. it had a fish too, presumably caught in Loch Gorm! Some anglers had been saying that they had seen an Osprey fishing in Loch Skerrols earlier on in the week. The 7 cygnets still remain at Carnain while there are reports of some young Shelduck ducklings out and about. IKB

Friday, 16 May 2008

Fri 16th May

There was a sighting of a Spotted Flycatcher on RSPB Oa reserve on Islay today, with Gus Keys saying that the Ring necked Duck is still to be seen on Loch Kinnabus, and also the Corncrake can still be heard down there, so hopefully it could remain there and attract a mate. GK
Whilst out for a run round Loch Gorm this evening, I stopped to listen for a Corncrake calling, and was rewarded in seeing not one but two birds together, probably a pair, so as the saying goes, watch this space! The Wood Sandpiper has now moved on. A visitor told me that there were signs over at the Airport, warning people about the Adders, at the Airport itself and even possibly in the terminal building too! IKB
James reported to me that he had seen a Large Red Damselfly over at Gruinart. JRH
The "Springwatch" Shelduck is still at the nest, as she is seen daily returning after feeding. There were 11 Red Deer on the road last night as we returned home. MAB.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Thurs 15th May



Another sunny day, here on Islay made even better by the arrival of this Wood Sandpiper on a friend's pond, where it stayed all day feeding. This was the first record of one this year.
A Curlew with young was seen on one of the barley fields at Rockside this morning. MAB.
Over at Loch Gruinart reserve James had a Water Rail and also saw a pair of Gadwall. On the moor Catherine saw a pair of Dunlin displaying . JRH & CF.

Wed 14th May



An image taken today of a Mute Swan along with her brood of 7 cygnets over at Carnain. She should be standing on a sandy spit but instead it is covered by seaweed that has been washed up and trapped there, and as time goes on it starts to rot and then smell, hence the locals call it "smelly corner"!
Catherine reported in to say that she had seen a single Pale bellied Brent Goose up at Ardnave and also that 9 Barnacle Geese are still present over on Nave island. CF
George was on the phone, to let me know that a Corncrake had been heard in Bruichladdich, the first there for about 5 years he believes. I, myself had 3 calling, within 1 mile of each other, while coming home from a meeting late in the evening. GJ

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Tues 13th May



An image for you all, taken on the flats at Gruinart of an Oystercatcher having 40 winks the other day among the daisies, as this spell of good weather still stays with us.

Michal was out on a recce on Monday night, and heard 12 Corncrakes calling, and now reckons the tally so far this year here on Islay is almost 40 calling males. He was going out to another area tonight, to hopefully hear some more different birds. M.S.

Michal, along with James has been checking some of the footage from the cameras on the Lapwing nest sites, not good news I am sorry to report, as there was a cat predating one chick, and a hedgehog seen taking an egg from another nest. J.R.H. & M.S.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Mon 12th May

A first for the RSPB Oa reserve here on Islay, was that of a calling Corncrake heard by Gus Keys. The Ring necked Duck and also the male Goosander are still present on Loch Kinnabus. 3 Canada Geese flew over Loch Kinnabus on Sunday. While down on the Oa today, Michael Coppleston had a Yellow Wagtail, of the blue headed race, there were sightings of a similar bird back in 2005 and 2006 also on the Oa. A.K. & M.C.
Not to be outdone, James had 14 calling Corncrake on the reserve at Loch Gruinart on Saturday night. J.R.H.
There were 31 Pale bellied Brent at Gortan at the head of Loch Indaal this morning and this evening there were 42 Greylag Geese as well as 12 Shelduck on a newly sown Barley field at Sunderland Farm. I heard this evening of a field at Newton at Bridgend where over 40 Shelduck come in most evenings. I.K.B.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Sat 10th - Sun 11th May

Apologies for not having an entry in for Saturday sooner,but the computer was playing up, so here we go.
Michael was out and about on his bike on Sunday down towards Portnahaven, where he saw a female Marsh Harrier. Visiting birders saw the Osprey, while over at Gruinart on Saturday afternoon. Gus phoned in on Sunday night to confirm that the Ring necked Duck is still on Loch Kinnabus, and George, Margaret and myself had a really good sighting of the Iceland Gull which still remains in the Port Ellen area. We went up to look for the Osprey later on, but with no luck, but on the way back, as we were going past a field at Craigens there was a single Black tailed Godwit in the same place as the bird seen there on Thursday. GJ, MAB & IKB
The comment re the Shoveler Duck and its nest on the blog the other day, should be explained as they are quite rare breeders here on Islay, perhaps I had not made it clear! The Corncrake numbers this year are very encouraging so far, with reports of calling birds from new areas.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Fri 9th May



Today, I have been receiving a few reports of young birds being seen out and about already. Michal got this young Lapwing chick a couple of days ago, over on the flats at Gruinart. Yesterday, I heard of the sighting of a Ringed Plover with young already, and today a farmer told me of seeing a Greylag with goslings at foot!
James today came across a Shoveler's nest with 11 eggs in it, and he also saw Grey Plover on the reserve at Gruinart. J.R.H.
The mist has come in this evening, so much so, that I cannot see the crag from the house, at least the rain forecast for today never came!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Thurs 8th May



Big brother is watching you....
This is one of the Lapwing nests on the flats at Gruinart which has a camera on it 24/7. The reason behind it, is to help watch for any predation that may occur at the nest. Once James and the team see anything untoward they will let us know.
Also on the reserve at Gruinart, James had a Barn Owl hunting the other evening at dusk. A few Whimbrel are still moving through yet and a Peregrine Falcon was seen too. JRH
Down on the RSPB Oa reserve, on the other side of Islay, Gus Keys has had a good day with a Shore Lark at Upper Killeyan, a Swift flying by down beside the American Monument, the male Goosander is still to be seen on Loch Kinnabus. This evening a Male Ring neck Duck appeared on the loch amongst some Tufted Duck. A.K.
Around Loch Gorm, there were several fields with small number of Whimbrel, less than 10 in each field. M.S.
The field where the Greylags were yesterday, are now up to 20 Geese on the newly sown game crop! A visiting birder contacted me to say that he had seen 7 different male Hen Harrier at different locations today. I.K.B.
From over on Jura, Louise was in touch to say that she had seen a Magpie on Scarba, a Great Northern Diver in full summer plumage, a White tailed Sea Eagle, a Peregrine Falcon, a Golden Eagle as well as a Buzzard, and on a small island in the Sound of Jura, there were quite a few Canada Geese. L.G.
On another front, Michael Coppleston had an female Emperor Moth in the moth trap at Gruinart last night. Through the day he had seen Marsh Fritillaries out on the wing. Susan McGhie had a Peacock butterfly over in her garden in Ballygrant.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Wed 7th May

George left a message on the phone to say that he had seen the Osprey over at Gruinart this evening. At home, on the edge of Bruichladdich, he had a group of 30 Whimbrel and 2 Common Sandpiper on the foreshore, with 8 Great Nortern Diver off the pier. GJ
Although there have been quite a few reports of folk hearing the Cuckoo recently, it was not until this evening before I heard my first one for the year, down near Sunderland. Also beside Loch Gorm, both Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler were singing away but being secretive to their actual location! Reed Bunting were seen there too, while on a sown field at Rockside there were 14 Greylag Geese. Some more Corncrakes have been heard calling at different locations. I forgot to report that last night at Loch Gruinart amongst the Shelduck, there was a single Pale bellied Brent Goose . IKB

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Tues 6th May


What an evening it turned out to be.....
Whilst resting up at Loch Gruinart, we were all quite content in watching the tide coming in, and the waders coming in to roost at the top of the loch, as well as the Shelduck bobbing about on the water itself. But no, behind us the Corncrake could be heard quite clearly, and then on looking across the loch, what was to top it all, but an Osprey. It was third time lucky for the Osprey, before it managed to catch a fish and then it took off from the loch before landing on a gate post. It must have remained there for at least 20 minutes as we watched expecting it to take off again. Eventually it did leave before heading inland carrying its fish. Was this the same bird that was reported as being seen at Loch Skerrols yesterday? We were also fortunate to hear Whitethroat and Chiffchaff calling. Michal had been out on the saltflats on Monday evening and had 55 Ringed Plover, 330 Dunlin, 1 Grey Plover, 72 Oystercatcher, 36 Shelduck and 3 Whimbrel. This evening there were also a pair of Shoveler on the floods, could they be staying here to breed? MS, MAB & IKB

Monday, 5 May 2008

Mon 5th May

Some sightings from through the weekend to get you all started...
George had 30 Whimbrel down at Wester Ellister on Saturday, and heard a Cuckoo at Portnahaven also on Saturday. There was a Great Northern Diver as well as a Razorbill just off thwe pier at Bruichladdich this morning. GJ
Michael Coppleston, who works with RSPB here on Islay had a reported sighting of a Swift over Ardnave Point on Saturday by a visiting birder.
Dave Sexton, the Mull Officer for RSPB, sent me an e mail today with details of the White tailed Sea Eagle that Donald James MacPhee had seen at the end of March. The bird had yellow wing tags, with the letter P on them. Dave confirmed that it was indeed a Mull bird born in 2006, with a bit of history behind it! He (yellow P) and his brother yellow G fell out of their nest when it was blown off the cliff face one night in a gale when they were about 7 weeks old. They fell about 80 feet to the ground, though probably glided a bit, as they could not fly. Luckily a visitor had been watching them in the nest the previous day before the storm, and checked the next day to see that the nest had gone. Dave checked and found the 2 chicks on the ground, looking rather wet and bedraggled. One of the chicks was actually standing under a small waterfall and was very hypothermic, but otherwise they seemed uninjured. A team of RSPB, police and volunteers quickly dried them off, warmed them up and built them a new nest. When Dave and his team felt the chicks were recovered enough, they were placed in their new nest with a supply of food to get them going.
The new nest site was watched from afar for the next few weeks with the adult birds feeding the young, with the youngsters fledging naturally. Obviously, yellow P was seen here on Islay back in March, while yellow G, his brother was seen on Mull during this winter, so they are both surviving yet
Many thanks to Dave for this information and the tale of it falling out of nest.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Sun 4th May

With there being high tides this week, Michal reported in to say that there were a lot of Waders to be seen on Loch Gruinart, mostly, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Redshank, but there were also 2 Pale bellied Brent Geese to be seen as well. On the floods themselves, 9 Black tailed Godwit were resting up. Certainly not the big fall that was noted last year, but they are still trickling through. Michal also heard both Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat calling. James saw a Merlin over at Saligo earlier this evening. MS & JRH
The Barn Owl on the Owl Cam now appears, we think to have hatched 2 of her clutch of eggs, early days yet! The Lapwing out in the field here at home was seen this evening with young around her, I wonder how long it will be before there are predated upon. IKB

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Sat 3rd May

The Owl cam has been interesting viewing, with the Owl herself moving herself and the eggs out of camera shot for the last few days, but she definitely has been more restless. A broken egg has now appeared, so one wonders if that is the first egg having been hatched. For those who have not seen it the link is www.islaynaturalhistory.org compulsive viewing!
Stacey reported down from Oronsay to say that there are 4 calling Corncrake in the farmyard alone and several other further out! Sightings for the week included 4 Dotterel, 13 Whimbrel, 2 Pale bellied Brent geese and a single Carrion Crow. Obviously, for time of year, there are plenty of lambs and calves around too! SA

Friday, 2 May 2008

Fri 2nd May



This image was one of a pair of Yellowhammer, that was taken here on Islay today by Michal while out over at Gortontoid. As well as the Yellowhammer, he had a Common Sandpiper on the rocky foreshore and then later on he was fortunate to see an Otter. He also had a Peregrine Falcon and over the dunes at Gortontoid Point, there were 7 Sand Martin. There was also an adder out sunning itself! MS
There was a phone call in to Margaret today of a Hoopoe, that was seen over at Coal Ila on Sunday and Monday, but it has not been seen since. This is the first Hoopoe on Islay for a few years.
Yesterday afternoon, James had the Green winged Teal and 23 Black tailed Godwit as well as a Stoat on the reserve at Loch Gruinart. Today he had 2 Redpoll, 3 Whitethroats, 9 Grasshopper Warbler and 3 Water Rail. James also reported in to say that he had seen a lot of Drinker Moth caterpillars. JRH

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Thurs 1st May

Believe it or not, Happy Birthday should be the order of the day, as it is exactly a year on since the blog started up. We have had 186 entries over that time which is a credit to all the folk that have contributed sightings to me, and also to James How who kept it going for almost 13 weeks while I acted as the Paisley correspondent and then again in November as the Jersey correspondent, many thanks to you all. IKB
Catherine gave me some sightings that she had during the last few days, 29 Gannet, 145 Common Gull, 11 Greylag, 5 Barnacle Geese and 97 Grey Seal on Ardnave Island. The seals included some of the pups from last year. There was also a group of 36 Eider off Nave Island. In Loch Gruinart itself, there were 4 Grey Plover. Catherine also told me that she had been informed by a friend that there was a Corncrake calling in the rhubarb patch in the garden! CF
On the reserve at Loch Gruinart, James had the following this morning, 3 Whooper Swan, 1 Jack Snipe, 5 Grasshopper Warbler, 4 Corncrake and 2 Water Rail. JRH