Sunday, 31 August 2008

Sun 31st Aug

James was over here this afternoon and gave me some sightings of 2 Peregrine Falcons over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve yesterday. He also had a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel whilst he was out. Also yesterday, whilst Janes was passing through Bruichladdich, there was a Carrion Crow. This morning James was up at Ardnave Point and saw 22 Chough, and noted that the Grey Seals appear to be gathering in numbers, a sure sign that they about to give birth fairly soon. JRH

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Sat 30th Aug

The Rose coloured Starling was seen again in Bowmore yesterday when it was in a flower bed beside the bus shelter, not that hard to spot, if you are over, but there again it may have flown on again.
As it was a bit drier later this afternoon, the combine harvester was out next door at Rockside cutting a couple of fields of barley which will be going to one of our local distilleries to produce some local whisky.

Fri 29th Aug

George phoned in this morning to say that he had seen 3 Scoter on Loch Indaal on Thursday, and that he had a Grey wagtail on his ponds. GJ
The Sparrowhawk was on a fly through the wood this afternoon, while down on a dyke near Loch Gorm, a Wheatear was noted. Down at "The Hedges" below Sunderland Farm, there were 7 Pied Wagtail on the road, there have been quite a few around recently.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Thurs 28th Aug

Last Sunday, Andy Schofield had a stint of sea watching, and over a 5+ hour spell he had a passage of 10,000+ Manx Shearwater flying south west to possibly Ireland after returning from a feeding foray into Scottish waters! There were also 3 Sooty Shearwater observed at the same time, all off the south east coast of Islay.
Yesterday, Andy saw a second year Mediterrean Gull at Gruinart, the first for the RSPB reserve, and only the third record for Islay. This afternoon, down at Carnain, he saw an adult Osprey fly over from the head of Loch Indaal, and it continued to fly inland. Is this still the same bird that has been seen quite often over the summer? Also at Carnain, with tide being fairly close in, were numerous waders including Dulin, Knot and Sanderling. There is now one Dunlin less than before, as a Sparrowhawk was seen taking one! Andy also had a further 2 Sparrowhawk at different locations through the day, today.
Finally, Andy has been seeing Crossbills over the last few weeks, over 200+ since mid July. Andy thinks that they are not the same birds, as the group size is not always the same, varying from 3 up to over a dozen, the make up is different too, relating to the adult birds to juveniles and finally their flight pattern varies, some high fliers, and others lower fliers and others on trees too. He was also saying that a visitor had told him of seeing 3 Otters all in the same bay, possibly a family group. RAS

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Wed 27th Aug

The weather this week has not been too kind so far, perhaps it has not been really heavy continuously wet, but it still has had a dampening effect all the same! Undeterred, we went along to the Bat and Barn Owl walk this evening at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. As I have mentioned the weather already, I did not expect a large turnout. When we arrived, there were only half a dozen hardy souls apart from ourselves, for the midges to feast on, but by the top of the hour, there were over 20 visitors. Yes, the midges certainly came out for a wee while, some of us saw the Barn Owl, and Pipistrelle Bats were seen, and heard on the bat detectors. We also saw the Greylag Geese coming into roost at the top of Loch Gruinart. The evening was rounded off with cake and a welcome cuppa, and the midges were soon forgotten about!
Back here at home, a Grey Wagtail was up the burn earlier on this afternoon.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Mon 25th Aug



Some of the flighty flock of Linnets which Michal was trying to capture on camera for us this evening. He reckons there were around about 160 in total in the flock below Gruinart Farm. MS
I forgot to say yesterday, that the Barn Owl which we saw the other evening, was the first one I had seen there since about late May/ early June. Today fairly close to there was a single Wheatear carrying a grub in it's beak.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sun 24th Aug

The other night as we came back from Port Charlotte, there was a Barn Owl on the ground, right in the middle of the single track road, there was also a Hedgehog on the verge side about 4 yards away from it, so had the owl being out hunting and seen the hedgehog, or was it just a coincidence that there were close together? Earlier that evening, we had a Merlin on our way to Port Charlotte. I think that another batch of Swallows and Martins have moved on, as on Friday evening there were quite a lot on the wires overhead and also on the wing, but this morning there do not appear to be so many around. There have been several families of Goldfinches around over the last few days, on the ground, on the niger feeders, on seed heads and also in the trees.
George had seen a group of 170 Common Gulls down at Bruichladdich, but interestingly there were only 3 young amongst them all. GJ

Friday, 22 August 2008

Fri 22nd Aug





Here is the Rose coloured Starling that has been present recently on Islay, caught on camera by Becky Williamson. Definitely no mistaking it with its definitive markings, to those who may have doubted! Becky commented that it has been seen eating peanuts from the ground, and roosts up in a Rowan tree at night!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Thurs 21st Aug

Stuart and Jane Kenney who were recent visitors to Islay kindly gave me some of their sightings. When returning from Colonsay last Wednesday, they saw a Basking Shark from the ferry. They had seen the Dipper at The Woolen Mill on the Sorn, and also there in the evening they had Pipistrelle and Daubenton's bats. There were 2 separate sightings of a Treecreeper in the same location while over at Claggain Bay a Red throated Diver was noted. They were pleased to see Brown Hares, which are not common to them at home, as was the case with our numerous Buzzards. Hen Harriers were seen almost every day during their fortnight long stay. Several Sedge Warblers were noticed in the reed beds down beside Loch Gorm. They also noted about the number of Myxie rabbits that were around this year.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Wed 20th Aug



Michal has been out with the camera in hand again getting this all action image of a Turnstone.
He found this one in a group of 15 today, along with 40 Sanderling, 50 Ringed Plover, 2 Knot, 80 Oystercatcher and 2 Redshank.
Perhaps not as high a count for Greylags that James had, but there were over 200 on the North side of Loch Gorm on land and a similar number on the Loch itself this afternoon. The Grey Wagtail was here again at home this morning, while overhead there were 4 Buzzards.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Tues 19th Aug

Just a short entry tonight to say that Angus Keys, the RSPB site manager on the Oa has left the island, and moved down to Wigtown where he will have 4 reserves to look after for RSPB. The reserves are Wood of Cree, near Newton Stewart, Mull of Galloway, Ailsa Craig and Ken Dee below New Galloway. Angus started of as a volunteer with RSPB at Gruinart 10 years ago, he then moved over to Oransay and then returned here to Islay. We thank for his input to the blog and wish Angus and his wife Ruth, all the best in Galloway. Meanwhile Andy Schofield takes over Angus's position and Andy's post is now advertised, any applicants?

Monday, 18 August 2008

Mon 18th Aug



Another cracking image taken by Michal with his new camera.....

While it was dry yesterday, James had a quick look round the Gruinart reserve and counted 1048 Greylag Geese, a Peregrine, a Wheatear, 2660 Dunlin, 118 Knot, 309 Ringed Plover and 25 Sanderling. The Dunlin count was as high as James can remember for Gruinart. JRH

Over at Carnduncan, this afternoon there was a single Wheatear, while this morning there was a Sparrowhawk over the trees at home, this evening the House Martins and Swallows are out on the wing feeding on anything on the move over the same trees.

Sun 17th Aug


Michal got this Sedge Warbler with a Daddy long legs in its beak this afternoon. It was busy along with it's mate feeding their brood of hungry youngsters. Michal also saw 4 juvenile Hen Harriers, were they all out of the same clutch of originally 5 in total? There was also a flock of around 150 birds, mainly Linnnet, but with some Goldfinch and Twite along with them. MS
James had been out earlier on in the week, and had a Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk at Gruinart, and while at Ardnave he saw a Merlin, some Knot, Bar tailed Godwit and Sanderling. JRH

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Sat 16th Aug



No, not the overall Champion at our local show on Thursday, but certainly from the same farm, mainly Ardnave. This was not taken today, as excuse the pun, it has been a pig of a day. Still as the locals say, that after Show day, that the nights are drawing in already......
Somebody else, no names here, contacted me to say that I had forgotten to mention about the various Birds of Prey that were seen on Thursday, but these were one of the attractions at the Show!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Fri 15th Aug

Not much birding was done yesterday, as it was our annual local Agricultural show here on Islay. The weather held out, and although it was overcast with a few spots of rain at lunchtime, fortunately the midges kept away. The only bird reported on Thursday was the Kingfisher being seen on the Sorn again. The weather as forecast has broken down this afternoon, but there were 51 Swallows and House Martin flying around, just after breakfast, and later on there was a female Siskin on the feeders right beside the kitchen window. There were also several young Blue Tits there too, as well as some Great Tits. Talking of youngsters, we saw some young Goldfinches on Thistle heads on Wednesday when going into Finlaggan.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Wed 13th Aug

Malcolm e mailed in to say that somebody from Bowmore had contacted the Islay Natural History Trust to say that they had seen a Rose coloured Starling in their neighbour's garden yesterday, and it was still there today. MAO
I was speaking to Donald James MacPhee yesterday and he was telling me that a colleague of his had seen the Hoopoe over towards Keills one day last week.
After leaving here on Sunday evening, James and Michal had seen a Sparrowhawk, and then later on had a Whinchat and 5 Wheatear on the roadside. JRH
While down in the woods at Bridgend this morning, we were fortunate to see a family of 4 Spotted Flycatchers out on the wings catching their prey, several Coal tits could be heard and were also seen. There was no sign of either the Dipper or Kingfisher today although we were lower down on the Sorn. The Osprey was heard, but we were unfortunate not to see it due to the trees! A Peregrine Falcon was seen on the ground at the top of Loch Indaal, watching all that was around! There was also the odd Whimbrel and Godwit around, but all seemed rather uneasy, although the Redshank appeared to be more interested in feeding. IKB

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Tues 12th Aug

There was a Grey Wagtail in the garden here at home yesterday, but as usual by the time I had got the camera to hand, it had flown on! Over at Ballygrant this afternoon, Susan had a Siskin on one of her feeders in her garden. As it is Show week over here, needless to say the weather has broken down, but going by the weather forecast tonight, we may be lucky and have a better day on Thursday, fingers crossed! There were 58 Greylag geese in a field down beside Loch Gorm.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Sun 10th Aug



Another image through from Michal, taken on the same day as yesterday's entry.

James has been out of the office and managed to get some birds on the move, through to me. On Wednesday, there was a Swift seen off the west coast of Islay, and at Gruinart reserve there were 2 Spotted Flycatchers. Up at Ardnave on Thursday, there was an Arctic Tern, and also an Arctic Skua while back on Loch Gruinart, Knot were seen in red plumage, as were Bar tailed Godwits. There were also 21 Black tailed Godwit, 2 Little Stints, and Sanderling along with Dunlin. On Saturday, up at Ardnave there were 37 Red breasted Merganser, 5 Turnstone, 5 Arctic Tern, 2 sandwich tern and another Swift. JRH

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Sat 9th Aug



Michal had been out prowling again this afternoon and managed to capture this image of Dunlin and Sanderling in flight.
Some visitors with whom I was speaking to, told me of being on the guided walk with Michael down the Oa on Tuesday, and they had seen Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Peregrine, Hen Harrier and Kestrel. They were really impressed with 5 different raptors within a short space of time, along with tremendous views all around, over to Ireland and back to the Mull of Kintyre. Here last night the views were someting else too, with a tremendous view from Bruichladdich over the top of Loch Indaal towards the Paps of Jura.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Fri 8 Aug

After a few days on the mainland, I have not had much time yet to catch up with the others to hear what has been going on when I was away. Andy had a Dipper on the Sorn earlier on in the week, while a friend who was staying with us had seen an Otter track down on the beach, but better still was the close sighting of an Otter the following day at another beach for the best part of half an hour. All I could claim was seeing several Magpies along the Stirling -Edinburgh road!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Mon 4th August

The other day, James had 178 Greylag on the RPSB Loch Gruinart reserve, along with 2 Greenshank, a Peregrine and also 7 Black tailed Godwits. The question is, are these the same 7 Godwits that have been around for the last few days, or are they different birds? JRH
Coming home tonight, 18 Greylag flew over down towards Loch Gorm, and there were 6 Red Deer Stags in a field of silage aftermath. They did not get spooked when we stopped to have a look at them.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Sun 3rd August



Michal had been out on the prowl with his camera and sent me this one of a Dunlin. There were 30 Dunlin in total, along with 13 Common Tern, 8 Redshank, 10 Ringed Plover and 40 Common Gulls.
Today was Stacey's last day on Oronsay and quickly e mailed to tell me that 3 Ruddy Shelduck have been over there for the last 3 days. Next job for Stacey is in the Deep South, Antarctica for the next 30 months or so, non stop, no holidays from there, but not starting until November! Stacey will be doing her own blog from there, so I will try to give you her address later on. In the mean time, thanks for your Colonsay input.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Sat 2nd August

Well, the rain did stop through the night, with a friend catching one of the first Salmon of the year on the Laggan this morning. Another fisherman was over on Loch Gorm, the Osprey! Possibly, finding it a bit harder as the causeway out to one of the small islands is covered in water again, actually the first time for a good number of years that the causeway has been seen so visibly. JSA
Back home and there was a Grey wagtail earlier this evening.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Fri 1st August

There was quite a lot of rain through the night, in fact by the time it finished there was just short of an inch had fallen. The total for July was 3.6", slightly wetter than last July, but the running total so far this year is similar to 2007.
Some friends who are over staying had ventured out in the hills on Thursday and were fortunate to see not only Golden Eagle, but also Golden Plover.

Thurs 31st July

As forecast, the weather has broken down, although the forecasters had been saying it was going to happen earlier on in the week. There is no pleasing some folks! As the weather has broken down, the visible birds have gone down too as most of us find something to do indoors, but James has seen an increase in numbers of Black tailed Godwits from 7, up to 18.
A visitor reported in to the Islay Natural History Trust, to say that they had seen a Basking Shark in the Sound of Islay at Caol Ila.