Monday, 30 April 2012

Monday 30th April

Another month almost in, another sunny day again, the temperature was in double figures this afternoon, and this evening as I look out there is blue sky and not a cloud to be seen! Earlier this evening, Mary had seen a male Sparrowhawk nobble a Wheatear, after flying back here for the summer, well I ask you... Yesterday Carl had 17 Whimbrel down at Port Bhan between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich. At Loch Skerrols, there were lots of Sand Martins around and several Blackcap singing away there too. Today, a Cuckoo was seen again on the reserve at Gruinart and the Hampshire birders had 28 Whimbrel close to Gortan and 2 Sandwich Tern at Bruichladdich.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday 29th April

Armin Grewe sent throgh this image of some Sanderling on the wing while he was on the walk out past Killinallan during Walkislay the other week. Armin writes a worthy read each night! The Argyll birder has now headed home, and back no doubt to work tomorrow, so we thank Jim Dickson for his input and also his images. During his week's visit Jim had 114 species in total. The Hampshire birders are here for another week, and yesterday had the Pink footed Goose at Ballymeanach, just out of Portnahaven, up close to Cultoon, a male Hen Harrier was out quartering along the roadside verges. From Port Charlotte, over Loch Indaal, they saw 2 Great Northern Diver and also 2 Guiilemot. Up at Ardnave Loch, 6 Tufted Duck and 2 Red breasted Merganser were present, beyond the loch 150 Golden Plover were in the adjoining fields as well as a couple of Black tailed Godwit in summer plumage. Round Ardnave Point itself, they had 3 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 7 Dunlin in summer plumage, 7 Bar tailed Godwits on the rocks and 3 Little Terns overhead. On their way back to their car they saw 14 Chough. Yesterday, James had a Cuckoo on the reserve at Gruinart, also a Peregrine and also lots of Sand Martins, while on Friday he had 7 White Wagtail, 120 Barnies and 4 Pale bellied Brent Geese. James said that one of the Barnies had a orange "darvic" ring on its' left leg but was unable to read it. A visitor reported in this morning to say that he had seen a Lapland Bunting over towards Coull Farm. Dave and Bonnie had seen the 2 juv White tailed Sea Eagles this afternoon in the same area as we had seen them earlier this week.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saturday 28th April

The Argyll birder had been out armed with his camera again yesterday and caught this Sandwich Tern down at Bruichladdich, he saw 2 down there, at Craigfad on the road to Portnahaven he counted 37 Whimbrel and up at Ardnave he had 8 Black tailed Godwit. Malcolm yesterday had 17 Whimbrel at Gortan. Today on the reserve at Gruinart, James had 4 big Canada Geese, 3 male Gadwall , 4 Pintail & 4 Whoopers. At Gortan today Carl counted 28 Whimbrel, another 4 at Briabruich and a few round at Saligo. A Common Sandpiper was at Gortan and another seen at Shorefield. A Redpoll was also at Shorefield while a Reed Bunting was at Briabruich. At Saligo some Redshank were seen too. This evening round Loch Gorm, there were 4 different groups of over 12 Greylags, one at Rockside and the others round at Ballinaby. On the piece of moorland, on the edge of the reserve at Gruinart that was burnt earlier this month, we saw a pair of Stonechats carrying food back to their fledglings and here at home the Swallows were back in the shed this afternoon with another pair back at the nest in the garage.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Friday 27th April

Another great image sent through by the Argyll birder of some Bar tailed Godwits taken earlier this week. Yesterday morning he had bee out with Bob and they had seen 5 Whimbrel, and Peregrine out towards Laggan Point. They also had 2 Sandwich Terns at the top of Loch Indaal, round at Gruinart the Glaucous Gull was still present, along with 6 Gadwall and 1 Black tailed Godwit.There were another 8 Blackwits at Lossit Farm down on the Rhinns. The Hampshire birders yesterday had 2 pr of Eider at Uiskentuie, and 3 Red breasted Merganser. Over at Avonvoggie, they saw a female Merlin chasing a lbj, not sure of the final outcome! From the hide at Gruinart, 2 Barnies, Gadwall, 3 Whooper Swan, 3 Pintail, and 4 Shoveler. From the new hide, there were 2 Chough directly outside on the cattle droppings! In the evening at Ballinaby, there were 100 Golden Plover and 40 Linnet in the same field. In the adjacent field were 3 Whitefronts, 6 Greylags and a single Barnacle Goose. On to today, the Pectoral Sandpiper was still to be seen out from the new hide, while down on the Oa, Dave had 2 Golden Eagle and 2 Hen Harriers. Bonnie, Dave's wife had 4 Little Terns on the Strand. Back here at home, there has been a Woodpigeon for the last couple of days

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thursday 26th April

The Argyll birder kindly sent this image of a Shoveler taken at Gruinart yesterday. Also yesterday he had 6 Whimbrel down at Machir Bay, while at Gruinart he had a House Martin, Glaucous Gull, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 1 large Canada Goose, 132 Ringed Plover, 25 Golden Plover, 29 Dunlin, 1 Pale bellied brent & 69 Barnies.At Gartmain he had a Grey Plover and at Gortan, 6 Turnstone were present. Up at Ardnave, 106 Golden Plover and 22 Chough were seen. Carl had 4 Whimbrel at Gortan yesterday. On the reserve at Gruinart, James saw his first Lapwing chicks of the year, while down on Loch Indaal he had 3 Sandwich Tern. On Tuesday, our Hampshire birders recalled having seen "too many" Wheatears to count up at Sanaigmore, also there was a Common Sandpiper, 8 Whimbrel, 6 Ringed Plover, 10 Meadow Pipit, some Twite and Linnets too. At Ballinaby, they had 2 Whimbrel, Herring Gull with several Skylarks singing away with the good weather! Over at Coullabus, a Mistle Thrush was present. Yesterday they had a female Hen Harrier flying alongside them as they drove along past Rockside. On the River Sorn, they had 2 Dippers while at the feeders at The Woolen Mill, 3 Siskins were feeding. Down at Foreland, a male Hen Harrier flew across the road while at Bruichladdich, 2 Purple Sandpipers were seen along with 2 Rock Pipits, male and female Eider, 3 Ringed Plover and 4 Black Guillemot. Now, on to today, over close to the bonded warehouses at Laphroaig Distillery, there were 2 large Canada Geese along with a single Greylag, but they were all gone about an hour later on. Coming home late afternoon, on the low road, about a mile or so south of Island Farm 2 juv. White tailed Sea Eagles flew across the road, heading inland, just as well nobody was following, as we just had to stop and look as did the car about 100 m ahead of us... James today on the reserve at Gruinart had a Pectoral Sandpiper, Jack Snipe, 12 Whitefronts, 15 Golden Plover & 15 White Wagtails. Round at Ballinaby there were only arond 60 Golden Plover to be seen today. If you click on the link to the INHT blog, you can read all about the dead Ringed Plover which Pia found the other day.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wednesday 25th April

Yesterday evening was the monthly meeting for the Islay Bird nerds, and as it was a nice sunny evening, it was a grand chance to open the new hide on the RSPB reserve at Gruinart, and as well as the local nerds we were glad that we had 4 visitors along to see what a sociable friendly lot we really are! On our way there, a Kestrel was on a telegraph pole, a male Hen Harrier at Culbuie and a Cuckoo on a straining post just after Kilchoman school. Coming home from the opening, we heard a Sedge Warbler calling away down below Rockside. James had another Kestrel at Grainel yesterday with the Hampshire birders having a Common Sandpiper at Saligo. Beki Williams who is over on Islay working with RSPB, had been leading the walk down on the Oa yesterday and had a Golden Eagle, a pair of Chough feeding, a glimpse of a male Hen Harrier. Today, down on the Oa, Dave had a Common Sandpiper and Whimbrel, several pairs of Stonechats and Wheatear carrying nesting materials with Rock Pipits carrying food their young. Round at Ballinaby this evening there was a flock of 200 Golden Plover hunkering down out of the cold wind.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tuesday 24th April

This image of a Grey Wagtail was sent through to me this evening by our "Argyll birder". He was fortunate to take it down at The Woolen Mill, as ever please note the blue sky! Today up at Ardnave, he had 44 Golden Plover at Ardnave, 27 White Wagtails, 15 Tufted Duck on the loch along with 8 Black tailed Godwit on edge of the loch. At the top of Loch Indaal, he counted 82 Black headed Gulls, the pair of Grey Wagtails were at The Woolen Mill. In Bridgend Woods, along the River Sorn he had several Blackcaps and Chiffchaff as well as Goldcrest and Siskin. Finally at Portnahaven, he had 2 Pink footed Geese & 12 Blackwits. Our Hampshire birders yesterday had heard the Corncrake at Rockside road end, on Loch Indaal, a pair of Red breasted Merganser, and on Loch a'Chnuic, beyond Ardbeg, a further 8 Merganser were counted. Along at Claggain Bay, another pair of Merganser, Wheatear, 2 Shag, 2 GND and 2 Gannets offshore.At Sgeil Dubh, both Eider and Whimbrel were seen. A Cuckoo was heard when they were at the Kildalton Cross. On their way home at Cruach they had a flock of over 30 Linnets, while at Pennycraig, 2 Rock Pipits, 4 Ringed Plover and 4 Common Gull were noted. Once again, many thanks. Back on Saturday, Dave saw 15 Botlled nosed Dolphins off the Oa.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Monday 23rd April

Earlier this evening Crystal heard a Cuckoo at Creagmhor up towards Ardnave. The Argyll birder had been out and about today, his sightings included 2 Little Tern at Loch Gruinart, another 2 on Loch Indaal, 2 Sandwich Tern at Kilnaughton Bay, 5 Velvet Scoter and a Slavonian Gebe also on Loch Indaal. On the Oa, a Golden Eagle was seen, the Green winged Teal was on the floods at Gruinasrt, a 2nd winter Iceland Gull was at Ballinaby, 1st winter Gaucous Gull at Loch Gruinart, 3 different Cuckoos were seen/ heard on his travels. 4 Black tailed Godwit were on Ardnave Loch, with another 4 at RSPB Gruinart as well another on Loch Indaal. 1 Greenshank was also at Ballinaby, a total of 11 White Wagtails were seen, 1 Pink footed Goose was at Portnahaven, as well a a few Whitefronts and Barnies still around. More Swallows and Sand Martins were also noted. 11 Turnstone were seen on the rocks down beside gartbreck. He also saw a few Lapwing chicks out today, and a Stoat carrying one in its' mouth at Leorin! Yesterday the Hampshire birders had been busy too, at Cnoc Fada they had Goldfinch, Stonechat & Twite. On the reserve at Gruinart, Willow Warbler, 2 Barnies, Black wits in summer plumage, 1 Ruff, Redshank, Shoveler, Wigeon, Snipe, Teal, 3 Whoopers, Dunlin, Gadwall & Pintail. At Uiskentuie, GND and male and female Eider. At the Woollen Mill, on the feeders, Siskin & Coal Tits, while on the Sorn they had a pair of Grey Wagtail. Down below the Woollen Mill in the fields they had a count of 40 Linnets on bushes, and 8 Shelduck in the fields themselves. Coming home, at Blackrock, 11 Red breasted Merganser and 4 GND and finally off Bruichladdich Pier they saw a Shag, 2 Razorbill and 2 Black Guillemot.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sunday 22nd April

Visitors from Hampshire were greeted by a Swallow yesterday as they arrived, and then soon, after a Chough was seen. In the evening, round Loch Gorm they had Stonechat, Whinchat, Lapwing, Pied Wagtail and Twite. They also counted a flock of over 200 Golden Plover at Ballinaby where they also had a Barnie along with some Greylags. Other visitors, this time "locals" from Argyll arrived today. On the crossing from Kennacraig a 1st winter Glaucous Gull, 47 Great Northern Diver and 6 Harbour Porpoise were seen. In the Sound of Islay, 11 GND as well as 26 Tystie most in courtship, a Kestrel and a Swallow were noted too.At Loch Skerrols, 4 Sand Martin and a Goldeneye were present with a Chiffchaff singing. From Bruichladdich, on Loch Indaal 61 GND were counted and also 12 Red throated Divers and 2 far out flocks of Common Scoter totalling 155. Finally there were 2 Common Sandpiper, 6 Swallow and 12 Manx Shearwater down at Portnahaven. Thanks for your birds folks.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Saturday 21st April

A few sightings in from yesterday, James first! On the reserve at Gruinart, James had a count of 205 Barnies, 2 Pale bellied Brent and the Canada Goose hutchinsii sp, 6 Whoopers flying North up Loch Gruinart, in the woods a Chiffchaff was calling, and a Whimbrel was also seen.Crystal had a Quail calling on the reserve too. Also yesterday, down on the Oa reserve, Dave had a male and female Hen Harrier, Peregrine, 2 Buzzard, 4 Chough, 4 Swallows and 6 Wheatear. Here at home , late afternoon, there were 3 Swallows flying over the cottages, and for most of the day the Great Tits in the wood have been singing away good style! Last night, just on the darkening there was a Pipistrelle Bat over the wood. Mike, a visitor who had been over on Jura the last couple of days, had seen a food pass between 2 Hen Harriers, and later on 8 Goldfinches. Many thanks to Gordon & Pauline Yates as well as Ken & Karen Graham for their sightings last week.
Apologies in the slight delay with tonight's entry but the power was off for a wee while, but we are up connected again now...

Friday, 20 April 2012

Friday 20th April

Another great day over here, makes up for all the poor days we had back in December and January...
Visitors had been over on Jura and had seen 2 male Hen Harriers about 20 feet apart! A Merlin was seen too, at Tarbet they had a Chiffchaff and the heronry with 5 nests occupied. Back on Islay they had a Woodcock and also a Snipe. On Wednesday, "uncle Sandy" said that he thought that he had heard a distant Cuckoo down at Foreland, today Malcolm heard it there too. Here at home we had our first Swallow of the year, another visitor had a Corncrake down at the reedbed at the Coastguards' this morning. Other visitors had a pair of Tufted Duck on Ballygrant Loch, another pair along at Loch Allan and also a Goldcrest in the Ballygrant woods.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Thursday 19th April

I am glad to say that at least one of you spotted yesterday's deliberate error... The date was horribly wrong as I claimed it was November not April... Some birds from Colonsay yesterday where we were with walkislay.. There was a Cuckoo seen on the phone wires just out of Scalascaig, 3 Corncrakes had been heard but none by us, we all had the Golden Eagle displaying, no need for the bins to see it, there were a few Wheatear seen throgh the day and a Swallow at Scascaig too. Back here on Islay today and Mary had a group out across the moorland at Gruinart, a Sand Martin was seen, 2 Snipe, 4 Chough, a female Hen Harrier, 2 Buzzard, 1 Raven, 1 Hooded Crow, 2 Reed Buntings and several Skylarks. Down on Loch Gruinart itself, plenty of Shelduck still around, a Whimbrel, on the fields 150 Barnies along with the Canada Goose, 3 Wheatear along the sea wall, 3 Whoopers and 3 juv Mute Swan on the floods and a Sparrowhawk close to the hide. The Geese were spoofed by a passing low flying RAF planes and headed towards Loch Indaal, but were seen around 2pm flying up Loch Gruinart, presumably heading home for the summer. There was a solitary Swallow over Ballygrant late this evening.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Wednesday 18th April

Visiting birders had seen a male Hen Harrier and a juv Golden Eagle over at Storakaig. Later on they saw a Golden Eagle up at Bunnahabhain being mobbed by Ravens, and finally they had a Common Sandpiper down on the stream that enters Claggain Bay. Today, up at Ardnave they had 32 Sanderling and they also heard a Corncrake at Rockside. Also today, Peter Gill from Sunderland had 2 Blackcaps in the trees behind "Jimmy's" shop at Bridgend a Swallow over Bridgend Hotel, another Swallow at Loch Allan, a Tawny Owl in the trees at Loch Allan, a Black throated Divers at Port Charlotte this evening and hearing more Willow Warblers through the whole island. Mary this evening had 5 Pale bellied Brent at Gortan.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Tuesday 17th April

An earlier entry for once, Walkislay is going well with an otter seen close to the shore, might get some images from somebody, yes Tam and Neil did promise us an Otter... On Sunday, Peter and Pia had a Purple Sandpiper along with 20 Turnstone at Bruichladdich. Along at Gortan, they had a 2nd yr Iceland Gull in amongst some other Gulls, also there were 4 Brent Geese. The White tailed Sea Eagle was seen over towards Port Askaig. Yesterday the "old Faithful" Iceland Gull was up at Bunnahabhain. Over at Gruinart, 3 Glaucous Gull were present, all seen from the viewing platform. Also, were a small group of Barnies and also the Canada Goose on the flats. Peter reckons that there are around 250 - 300 Barnies in the Gruinart area and another 50 - 100 round by Ballinaby. At The Woolen Mill, a pair of Dippers were seen, and over at Port Askaig 11 Black Guillemots were seen and at Bunnahabhain a further 14 in the Sound of Islay. There were also 6 off Port Charlotte yesterday too. Today, at Port Ellen there were 15 Pale bellied Brent Geese in the edge of the bay, Margaret had a Reed Bunting on her way up to Kilchoman Distillery, and Bob had 4 Common Sandpiper in Kilchiaran Bay

Monday, 16 April 2012

Monday 16th April

Walkislay is now in full swing, hence a slightly later entry this evening. The weather has been kind to our walkers with visitors from Scotland and England out enjoying what's on offer, and there are a couple of folk over for a few days from Germany too. Peter Gill who is over on holiday from Sunderland sent through some sightings from last week. Monday at Saligo, he had a Jack Snipe, Tuesday at Bunahabhain, 4 Crossbills were seen, a White tailed Sea Eagle swooped down on a Pheasant, but no joy! On Friday down on the Rhinns, he had a Short eared Owl while up at Knockdon at Bridgend he heard a Willow Warbler, and another over at Gruinart too. The Glaucous Gull was at the head of Loch Indaal and 4 Pale bellied Brent were at Bruichladdich. Today, Peter had 2 Common Sandpipers at Kilchiaran and also 2 Sand Martins there too. Back on Saturday, Carl had lots of Willow Warblers in Ballygrant Woods, pair of Tufted Duck and a pair of Little Grebe on Ballygrant Loch, with Chough at Uiskentuie. On Sunday, up at Ardnave Carl had Merlin, Wheatear, 2 Peregrine, 60 Bar tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Kittiwakes plunge diving, 20 Wigeon, several Skylarks singing, copulating Oystercatchers and also Chough carrying nesting materials. Coming home there was a ringtail Hen Harrier close to Rock Mountain. Today, over Port Charlotte he had 6 Swallows in the wind!!! Have a look at the link to the INHT blog and see some of Carls images from up at Ardnave. Bob had been out and about on the Rhinns yesterday with a pair of Hen Harriers seen, also a pair of Short eared Owls too. Up in the trees at Gearach there were several Willow Warblers and also a Chiffchaff.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sunday 15th April

Think that either last night or earlier today that the most of the geese have flown off, James reckons that there could be less than 300 on the reserve at Gruinart, while George had been round the Craigens side of Loch Gruinart and only counted around 100. By the way, the night sky last night was worth a mention too.

Back on Friday, James had a count on the reserve on the floods, the main sightings of note were, a Mallard with 5 ducklings, the Green winged Teal, 12 Whooper Swan, 94 Wigeon, 350 Teal, 5 Moorhen, Mute Swan building its' nest, Little Grebe, 25 Shoveler, 109 Redshank, 12 Pintail and 8 Gadwall. George on Friday had 2 Sandwich Tern, 1 Red throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver in "almost summer Plumage" all at Bruichladdich. Yesterday, George had a Swallow at Bruichladdich while over on Jura he had a Wheatear, and past Craighouse, 7 large Canada Geese as well as 7 Greylags. At home today, George had a Mallard with 13 ducklings and a male Teal on his pools, 2 Linnets which he has not seen for some time, 4 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Goldfinch and a Buzzard. On the walk down on the Oa today, we were graced with a Golden Eagle climbing and soaring on a thermal for some time. 2 Swallows flew past the American Monument, 2 Wheatear were also seen at different points on the walk, and also 2 Rock Pipits. No geese were seen down the bottom end of Islay at all.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Saturday 14th April

An image sent through from James Deane of some Eiders taken from down at Saligo today, thanks James. Yesterday, Mary had a Swallow at the office at Gruinart, 6 Chough beyond Gruinart woods, up close to Ardnave Farm there were 11 Golden Plover and a further 50 in flight about the farm where they were ploughing. Earlier in the week Mary had done a count on Loch Gruinart and Ardnave. Loch Gruinart held 2 Great Northern Divers, 102 Shelduck, 11 Mallard, 24 Eider, 21 Red breasted Merganser, 237 Oystercatcher, 35 Ringed Plover, 20 Bar tailed Godwit, 34 Curlew, 221 Redshank, 2 Mute Swan, 32 Black headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black backed Gull, 17 Herring Gull, 2 Great Black backed Gull, 1 Glaucous Gull, 1 Peregrine and 3 Common Seals. On Ardnave Loch, there were 12 Oystercatcher, 3 Common Gull, 5 Lapwing, 5 Black tailed Godwit in summer plumage, 2 Mute Swan on their nest, 2 Redshank, 21 Tufted Duck, 6 Mallard Drakes, 1 Heron & 11 Teal.

Thanks to Dot and Andy Street from Bolton and to Chris Barlow from Northumberland for their sightings this last week.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Friday 13th April

Peter and Pia returned earlier this week, just as the ferry was coming up the Sound of Islay, Pia spotted a White tailed Sea Eagle being mobbed by Gulls, it was leaving Jura and flying over to Islay. Mary sent some sightings through from yesterday, on the regular Thursday walk at Gruinart, they had a Willow Warbler which appeared to be competing with the Wrens for top spot at singing! Later on they had a Golden Eagle rising on the thermals above the Craigmhor area. On her way home, there was a single Whooper on Ellister Loch, with Wheatears busy at Claddach. Behind Portnahaven were a pair of Snipe, as well as a Chough with a seemingly sore throat by the sound of it! Visitors from the Bolton area had seen Little Grebe earlier this week on the Lily Loch, here over the crag at Kilchoman, 17 Chough yesterday, and noting fewer geese as this week has progressed. Up at Ardnave they had 10 Black tailed Godwit along with the leucistic Godwit. Also present were 6 Ringed Plover. Here at home there was a Goldcrest on the old apple tree and our first Wheatear on the crag, both this afternoon. It was Chris's last today, and he had a male and female Hen Harrier over towards the airport. At Gruinart a further 2 Hen Harriers and a Golden Eagle. More Wheatear were seen at Ardnave, with 6 seen and 14 Oystercatcher on Ardnave Loch itself. Down the back of Bridgend he had a Sparrowhawk. Chris also commented on fewer Geese around the island, compared with the start of his visit, Gruinart still seems to be having geese present, but possibly just a gathering point for them before heading off!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Thursday 12th April

No sign of the Arctic Redpoll today, on a more positive note, lambing has started back here at home, not a big job but... A visitor had seen a Heron in the small burn that runs down through the wee wood directly in front of the cottages, how it manages to fly in or out is something else as there is not a clear "flight path" for access, the main garden is a better bet! Chris from Nothumberland had seen the Canada Goose on the flats at Gruinart this morning, and mid morning a juv. White tailed Sea Eagle flew over the reserve and spoofed all the Geese. Later on, up at Ardnave Chris had Wheatear in the dunes, a single Chough and also a Merlin. Over close to Ballygrant, he saw a male and also a female Hen Harrier. This evening there was a female Hen Harrier below Sunderland Farm towards Loch Gorm. James was saying that last night, the geese were making some racket, calling away. He had counted over 9,000 Barnies on the reserve yesterday, they seem to be more up towards Gruinart and Ardnave, possibly they are about ready to fly North.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Wednesday 11th April

A Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll was seen up at Sanaigmore yesterday evening, just heard about at tea time tonight! It was down on the beach, so we wait for tomorrow to see if it is still there...A visitor, fresh off the ferry this morning had a Swallow down at Foreland. James saw the Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp on the flats at Gruinart. On Loch Indaal, George had 30 Common Scoter and 2 Great Nothern Diver, while on the shore he saw an Oystercatcher on a nest. The birder who contributed some sightings over the weekend was Chris Saxton from the Manchester area, thanks Chris for your birds. Another birder, this time from Northumberland had a male Hen Harrier down towards the airport yesterday, a Wheatear at Claddach, a Merlin at Ardnave as well as 12 Chough up there too, all yesterday. Today, he had seen 4 more Hen Harriers out towards McArthur's Head, and a Wheatear. At Proaig, he had 2 Ringed Plover and 4 Turnstone on the beach, while offshore were 5 Mute Swans and 6 Red breasted Merganser and 4 Reed Buntings were close by. 2 Snipe flew out from the adjoining boggy land.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tuesday 10th April

Better day over here, the sun is out again and we have had blue skies, just in time for Walkislay our walking week which starts on Saturday. Although the most of the walks are on Islay we do have a walk on Jura as well as one on Jura, weather and ferries permitting! The weather has been great as I said already, but not many sightings through. On the bird table this morning we had 10 Goldfinches, 4 Greenfinches, 6 Chaffinches and 3 House Sparrows with the odd Starling not far away. The Pheasant numbers are down, there used to be 16 in total including 2 males, but this morning there were only 10 including the "boys". It is obvious who is top dog there, with the dominant male in resplendent plumage with the younger bird being just a scruffy youngster, no doubt his day will come! This evening there was a distant Golden Eagle out on a thermal, I had gone out to look for either a Stonechat or a Wheatear but saw neither so had to made do with the Eagle!!!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Monday 9th April

Weather not so good over here today, although it had rained through the night, it started off not bad, but come mid afternoon, it had gone downhill with a few heavy showers around. George had 37 Black headed Gulls and 31 Common Gulls down on Loch Indaal this morning, up at his house there were 3 Willow Warblers, 1 Reed Bunting and a Goldfinch. Carl had been over on Jura today and on his way back from Craighouse had a pair of Hen Harriers and also a Short eared Owl. Dave had a Golden Eagle and a Sparrowhawk on the reserve on the Oa, and yesterday over beside Loch Gorm had seen a Hen Harrier and a Merlin. Today was the last day for our Manchester birder, and down on the Oa he had a Golden Eagle, not the same bird that Dave had, 50 Fulmar, 40 Twite and 2 Chough. At the airport, a ringtail Hen Harrier while at Bridgend, he saw a Sparrowhawk. Back at Bruichladdich, 2 Common Scoter, 3 Great Northern Divers, some Gannets and 5 Pale bellied Brent Geese were all on Loch Indaal.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Sunday 8th April

Along with 2 visitors, I went along with Bob and helped with Bob's count along Loch Indaal towards Gartbreck, we managed to do it before it got too wet! The tally was 5 Mallard, 21 Wigeon, 45 Teal, 56 Eider, 18 Red breasted Merganser, 15 Shelduck, 6 Greylag, 121 Barnies, 70 Oystercatcher, 22 Curlew, 12 Redshank, 33 Golden Plover, 13 Ringed Plover, 1 Bar tailed Godwit, 3 Lapwing, 4 Shag, 2 Great Northern Diver, an immature Greater Black backed Gull, 6 Lesser Black backed Gull, 30 Herring Gull, 20 Common Gull, 4 Black headed Gull, 6 Rock Pipit, 1 Heron & 3 Black Guillemot. George had an Otter on Thursday at Bruichladdich, the first he has seen there since August, and on Monday, he had 4 Shelduck, 4 Black headed Gull and 60 Common Gull. Today George had 3 Sandwich Terns, one with a BTO ring on, 2 Great Northern Diver & 1 Redshank all below Shorefield. The Song Thrush that George had found with a nest must have hatched out as he has seen food being carried towards the nest site. Along at the pier, a Gannet was present. On the old Distillery pond at Port Charlotte, Carl had a Snipe today. Visiting birders had been across to Jura, not a lot to report thanks to the weather, but had seen a few Stonechats, both male and female Hen Harrier, a Short eared Owl and at Feolin had an adult White tailed Sea Eagle with white tags, over the Sound of Islay. Back at Bruichladdich in the morning before setting out, they had seen a Sparrowhawk, and this evening on their return had Red throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and also the 3 Sandwich Terns.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Saturday 7th April

Yesterday Bob had been down at Frenchman's Rocks where there were 200 Gannets fishing, along with a few seals there too. On passage were 3 Manx Shearwaters, also seen there were 1 Common Scoter along with Auks, 12 Black Guillemot, Razorbill and Guillemot, all flying North. On the feeders here at home, there were 7 Goldfinches, good to see them back rather than the odd bird, on the down side I came across a dead Wren out in the field, weighing in at a mere 15 grams. Down at Bruichladdich behind the Gleaner Oil Depot this morning, Carl heard a Willow Warbler. A visitor reported in this evening with a Glaucous Gull at the top of Loch Indaal, an Iceland Gull at Craigens, a Short eared Owl over the "burnt" area of the reserve at Gruinart, round Loch Gorm he had a male and a female Hen Harrier as well as a few Chough. On Loch Indaal, from Bruichladdich he had Great Northern Diver while on the shoreline, Turnstone were seen.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Friday 6th April

Malcolm and Bob had been out goose counting yesterday on the "Gruinart" run, and had seen the leucistic Bar tailed Godwit along with another 10 normal Bar tailed Godwit up at Traigh Nostaig. Up on Nave Island. there was a flock around 200 Knot, and a solitary Canada Goose which was away from a flock of Barnacle Geese which were there too. The biggest surprise on Nave Island was a Roe Deer, it must have swum over, but how long has it been there? Up at Ardnave Point, a Peregrine was seen, while on Ardnave Loch the Mute Swan was on its' nest. Earlier on at Lyrabus, a Glaucous Gull was there, on RSPB reserve a pair of Hen Harrier were displaying and another male Hen Harrier was displaying over at Killallan. The previous day Bob had been on the Rhinns run and amongst the Greylags at Lossit, there were 2 Pink footed Geese present.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Thursday 5th April

I heard today that 70 Fulmars were counted out at Laggan Point the other day, apparently none were seen there last year, so fingers crossed.. There had been 13 Pale bellied Brent Geese down at Gortan yesterday. Here at home, on the feeders there have been a pair of Goldfinches over the last couple of days, along with other birds they are starting to show their breeding plumage, the cock Pheasant is out strutting around his ground... Over on the Oa today, Dave had an immature White tailed sea Eagle being mobbed by a "territorial" Golden Eagle which successfully drove it off. Also seen on the Oa today were 6 Chough.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wednesday 4th April

Not the warmest of days out here today, but the clarity of the air was something else, going down to Port Charlotte this evening the light was great, no doubt the sunset would have been tremendous, but I was inside, so never saw it. I had been down at the talk at the INHT given by George Robertson, images taken on Islay by him over the years, could have watched more of them, a really easy speaker to listen to. The talk was well attended, with around 85 folk present, including a couple that had been at the Bird Fair at Rutland last August. It was their first visit to Islay, and by the way they spoke this evening, it won't be their last either! Talking of Bird Fairs, James is taking the "Islay stand" to Hopetoun House in May to the Scottish Bird Fair, while I am returning back down to Rutland Water in August. All going well, the format will be along the same lines as last year with some Islay hospitality on offer to those who wish to participate. Sorry, there is nothing on about birds tonight, but I hope I will have a better entry for tomorrow night for you to read!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tuesday 3rd April

Just after I had done last night's entry, I looked up Armin's Islay blog to see that I had missed his spoof that Apple were going to open a store in Islay House Square on the 1st of April 2013!

Back to today, well there has been a cold Northerly wind blowing with some blustery snow showers thrown in for good measure, the hills behind Bowmore had a covering as did the Paps of Jura. From the hide at Gruinart, a visitor had a Greenshank today. Bob had been out too, and had a Little Stint, 2 Ruff, 200 Golden Plover and a male Hen Harrier at Gruinart. On the edge of Loch Indaal, he had an adult Glaucous Gull sitting along with 30 Shelduck, and then a male Merlin flew past. Later on up towards Octovulin, Bob saw 2 Iceland Gulls and finally, further on a Sea Eagle was seen flying through a snow shower. In total, Bob had 62 species while he was out. There were also 50 Golden Plover seen round at Ballinaby, but just as I was getting the camera out, the sheep came forward and the birds took off, the sheep no doubt thought I was going to feed them! Back on Saturday, Carl had a Kestrel down at Ellister and also a Sandwich Tern at Gortan.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Monday 2nd April

I know yesterday was the 1st of April, but as far as I know I have not heard of pranks/ spoofs that were on the rounds, may be I was in the wrong place, may be I did not buy a paper or have the "news" switched, never mind. Down here at the house yesterday, a female Sparrowhawk was causing havoc in one of the bushes, but to no avail, at least that was was what I was told by one of our visitors! Later on he saw a Merlin up at Ardnave. The pair of Buzzards appear to more active of late, possibly they have moved to another nest site and so we are noticing more of them.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sunday 1st April

Better news today was that both the fires that we had yesterday were out this morning, a big relief to everyone. It did not after all come down into Glen Osamail. Thinking back to last big fire on Islay, it was a couple of years ago at least, in May, all the ground nesting birds were on nests, this year in comparison, I do not think that these birds would be sitting, possibly building nests. Also thinking back, although the ground may be look barren for a while it is amazing how quickly it will all green up again. We actually saw a Lizard running over the blackened ground yesterday

The other day George had found a Song Thrush's nest with 4 eggs in it. Yesterday on Loch Indaal down below his house, George had 2 Red throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, a Redshank on the shoreline along with some Rock Pipits too. Today George saw a female Blackbird carrying nesting material and up here the Jackdaws have been at the same ploy of late too. A visiting birder commented last night on the lack of Stonechats around, they are here but not so many about yet.