Another month almost in, and by the looks of things, another dry month. Having said that, any rain we have had has always come at the right time and surprisingly enough there appears to be little signs of grass being "burnt" off due to a lack of water, although one of the Distilleries did admit that their supply was as good as dry, and was going to shutting production down for a couple of weeks for annual boiler maintainence....By the way it has started to rain here now and according to the weather, it is going to wet tomorrow, will find some inside jobs to do... Bob had a Sparrowhawk swoop through his garden after I dropped him off last night after the Bird nerds meeting. Here at home the Swallow that had laid a late clutch of eggs, well they all hatched and fledged with another clutch now laid. The young Swallows certainly do not waste any time in moving away from the nest!
Tuesday, 30 July 2013
A bit of a latish entry tonight as I have been out at the Bird nerds monthly meeting, tonight we were out at Gartbreck down below Bowmore on Loch Indaal. At the start we had some rain then it brightened up a beautiful rainbow then the sun was out for the rest of our time there. We had over 170 Dunlin, 2 Red breasted Merganser, 3 Eider, 3 Sandwich Tern, 1 Arctic Tern, 1 Heron, ringtail Hen Harrier, male Hen Harrier later on, 1 GND, Ringed Plover, Redshank, 35 Greylag. The Greylag will no doubt be seen more often now as the young are starting to fly, ratyher than lurking around in the rushes! The other positive aspect about tonight was that there were no midges out, which could have spoilt our time out!
Monday, 29 July 2013
A quieter day again in some ways... I awoke this morning at the back of 4 o'clock and smelt burning, it was like grass/ heather burning, but could not see anything out and about. When I did get up after 6 am, the smell was not as strong but still lingering in the air. I spoke to a friend in the Fire service later on and he knew nothing about a fire... so am a bit puzzled about that!!! Yesterday evening, up on the garage that we are getting built, there were over 50 Starlings on the roof couples and also a few House Sparrows having a look around as well. Today on the overhead wires, 24 Swallows were perched up, youngsters out and about no doubt. Today, the weather has been sunny and really heavy showers thrown in for good measure. Dave down on the Oa has still got a Corncrake calling away in his garden, out on Loch Kinnabus Dave had a Tufted Duck with 3 ducklings. On one of the silage fields on the reserve, there was a flock of 60 Twite.
Sunday, 28 July 2013
Just noticed that I forgot to write an entry for the blog last night, oops, a bit of an oversght, sorry about that, when in a hole stop digging..... Stephen Welch from the Lothians headed home yesterday, from the ferry between Port Askaig and Kennacraig, he had over 1,000 Auks, roughly 85% Guillemots and 15% Razorbill. Also from the ferry, Stephen had a Porpoise just South of Jura and 2 NW of Gigha. On Friday, Stephen had 12 Sanderling on Machir Bay, a ringtail Hen Harrier at the head of Loch Gorm and another over beside the Machrie on his way back to Port Ellen. Bob today had 9 Greylag fly past his house. On a walk along the road up towards Kilchiaran, Bob counted 72 House Martins and 6 Mistle Thrushes and heard Whitethroats, Linnets, Redpolls and Stonechats calling away.
It is that time of the month again, well almost, the Islay Bird nerds will be meeting down at Gartbreck which just out from Bowmore at around 7pm on Tuesday, any visitors who are over are welcome to come along
Friday, 26 July 2013
Dave saw 2 Tree Sparrows and he heard a Corncrake at in his garden Kinnabus on the Oa yesterday evening. Wednesday evening, Dave had a Peregrine , 2 Chough, 2 Golden Eagles and also 8 Black Guillemots down on the Oa. Bob yesterday counted 19 Mute Swan and 2 cygnets along with 2 Dabchick on Loch Skerrols. Along the track leading to Knockdon, he saw several groups of young Willow Warblers and also young Blue Tits.
Thursday, 25 July 2013
Visiting birder Stephen from the Lothians sent some of his sighting through. Stephen has been staying down the Port Ellen end of Islay during his stay. Close to his cottage, he had seen a Barn Owl, a Grasshopper Warbler heard close to Cornabus, off Kintra 4 RTD were noted, at Cragabus and further on at Upper Killeyan fledged Stonehats were seen. Highlights from a 3 hour sea watch on the Oa included 590 Manx Shearwaters flying South, 3 flying North, 376 Gannets flying South, 44 North. On the water, 1 Puffin South and 2 North. Today George has seen 4 Moorhen chicks out and George reckons they are around 6 - 7 days old. The Arctic Terns on the shore have moved on but are still to be seen out over Loch Indaal. George also had seen 4 fledged Reed Buntings around his ponds
Wednesday, 24 July 2013
A late entry tonight folks, but been out this evening and did not write the entry for today until now, after 11pm.... James has returned from his hols... Yesterday, he had seen 4 Spotted Flycatchers on the reserve at Gruinart. Just after the heavy rain yesterday, here at home out on the grass out the back, there were 7 Song Thrushes, possibly a family? Today James had seen 2 juv Hen Harriers out on the wing at Gruinart. He also counted 17 Blackwits and 1 Greenshank. Today I have been getting my brain back into gear again thinking about the Bird Fair at Rutland Water next month and what we all need to take, so I will have a quick speak with James and the others for their thoughts over the next few days, not long now, 3 weeks away and we will be on the road heading down...
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
Peter last night, around 6pm, had a couple of Crossbills fly over his house at Bruichladdich. Paul, our visiting birder, had seen a couple of ringtail Hen Harriers on his travels around Islay today, think Paul is heading over to Colonsay for the day tomorrow. Here today, like a lot of other places the weather broke down big style with a good thunderstorm coupled with some heavy rain late morning. It certainly cleared the air and a more bearable temperature in the afternoon...
Monday, 22 July 2013
Forgot to mention in yesterday's entry that we had a male Hen Harrier down at Gartbreck, just as we were doing a tally of the birds seen.... Today down on Loch Indaal at Bowmore, the 2 Whooper Swans were still present, further on, going in to Bowmore itself, a Collared Dove flew across the road in front of us. Here at home this evening, on the bird table there have been a few Starlings visiting all in different attires, the youngsters still in downy plumage and others more smartly dressed. Outside today it has been warm for us up to 23 degrees on Mike's weather station along the road, not as hot as some other places I know, not complaining, honest....
Sunday, 21 July 2013
Visiting birder Paul last night, before hitting the pillow, had heard a Corncrake up the top of the hill. This morning at Sanaigmore he heard a further 2 calling up there, what a way to start your holiday. Up at Sanaigmore he also saw 3 Whimbrel. This morning I went along with Bob and Martin and did the count along the shore from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, the birds were not as numerous as other visits but it is that time of year!! The birds we counted were 40 Oystercatcher, 15 Greylag, 2 Shelduck, 2 Whimbrel, 64 Curlew, 95 Oystercatcher, 9 Redshank, 29 Dunlin, 21 Ringed Plover, 5 Lapwing, 2 GBB Gull, 15 Herring Gull, 20 Common Gull, 14 Black headed Gull, 20 Arctic Tern, 1 Heron and 3 Shag. On the shoreline there was a juv Wheatear, some Rock Pipits and 3 juv Blackbirds. 3 Hares were sitting in one of the fields where we started off from. Earlier on 2 Whooper Swans were seen just as we came in to Bowmore just after the Generating Station on Loch Indaal.
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Another busy day out here, work wise changing the cottages over in that heat, is not to be recommended... Visiting birder Paul, who just arrived this evening, had a Hen Harrier on his way over here after arriving at Port Ellen. As I was speaking to Paul, the Choughs flew past and then the Jackdaws came along as well as a Hooded Crow perched up on a rock on the crag, a good start for the week, and this weather is set for the week too...
Friday, 19 July 2013
Another glorious day, like the most of the country.... George this morning had counted 12 Arctic Terns down on the shore at Bruichladdich. Here at home this evening, the midges are out, but the Swallows are skimming along the top of the trees and catching some of them, thank goodness!! Think the weather has put folk off birdwatching this week, perhaps they have just been enjoying this spell of better weather!
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Sorry folks, rather a late entry tonight but have been out with friends and the craic (blether if you did not know!) just kept going. George this afternoon had seen 2 Ospreys fly from Sanaig over in the direction of Loch Gruinart. This morning the mist was down for most of the time until it burned off and tonight the mist is in the hollows already, would have made a great image for somebody!
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Bob yesterday had counted over 160 Grey seals loafing about up at Gruinart, with this warm weather may be they have the right idea!! This morning, I saw a new bird on the bird table, a Wren. I know we have them here, but as I say the first actually on the table, not that it ate anything! Later on below Foreland a male Hen Harrier swooped low over the road.
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Peter has been seeing the numbers of Starlings on the increase as they come into roost at the pier at Bruichladdich in the evening, Peter reckons that there around 150 birds the past few evenings. Here at home this afternoon there was a large "train" of Jackdaws down in one of the fields, over 60 birds there.
Monday, 15 July 2013
A visitor had been telling George that on Saturday he had seen an Osprey on Loch Gorm, and on Sunday he saw an Osprey fishing on Loch Cor and then flying back in the direction of Loch Gorm. Yesterday on the silage aftermaths next to George's there were 70 Curlew, 35 Oystercatcher and 100 Rooks. The Moorhen on George's ponds is still sitting tight on her clutch of eggs, can't be long before they hatch!! Also yesterday George had a male Hen Harrier at the head of Loch Gorm and later on another up past Culbuie. This morning the Arctic Terns below George's house were agitated whatever the reason. Tom and his family from Edinburgh had walked out to Proaig today where they were rewarded with an Otter in the bay, better still a big helping of ice cream each at Ardbeg on the way home!!!
Sunday, 14 July 2013
This morning we had a male Hen Harrier fly across the road in front of us while we going along past Rockside. Later on, up at Sanaigmore a Corncrake was calling away, as was one here at home last night. Peter this morning had his highest ever count of Black Guillemots at the pier at Bruichladdich, 11 adults in total. Today as I was "in the mood", nothing to do with Glenn Miller I hasten to add, the paint brush was out and getting big licks... am always a great believer if you are "in the mood" you will do a better job, if you are not in the mood, it takes longer and the job does not get done as well....
Saturday, 13 July 2013
The weather has been a bit cooler today with almost a hint of some rain in the air, earlier on this morning the mist/ haar cold not make its' mind up whether it was staying or going, but did depart and left a not bad day behind, certainly more pleasant to work in for sure. As you may have gathered, a day with not much happening on the bird front, been busy with changing the cottages over for new guests arriving in later on. Out in the garden this evening, the young Starlings were making a racket in the willows and far out over the crags the Choughs that were present were tumbling in the sky. Some Jackdaws were perched on the crag watching the Choughs with a Hooded Crow flying past at the same time.
Friday, 12 July 2013
Yesterday , the young Swallows in our back porch flew the nest, great to see the 4 of them out . The nest in the shed fledged 3 earlier in the week while the ones in the garage are quite a bit behind as they have just hatched this week! Also up on the shed in one of the nest boxes, there is a brood of House Sparrows as is another in the nest box outside the garage. Peter had counted around 30 Sand Martins in the wee quarry on the track from Uiskentuie strand over the moor to Lyrabus. This evening Bob had been down at the new hide, and had seen a couple of Roe Deer close at hand, coming home along the flats, there were around 25 Red Deer stags on the flats! This week, I have been noticing more clegs around with odd one outwitting me and biting me rather than me being able to get "rid" of them before allowing them to bite me...
Thursday, 11 July 2013
This image was sent through this afternoon of a young Cuckoo being fed by a Meadow Pipit. It was taken last week from the road leading down to Coal Ila Distillery by visitor Ken Willets, thanks Ken!
On Loch Skerrols today, Peter had 21 adult Mute Swans, and also a pr of Mute Swans along with their 2 cygnets. Also present in the trees there was a singing Chiffchaff. Coming home, on Blackrock, Peter counted 65 Barwits. The weather has been great up to 22 degrees around midday, hot for Islay....
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Not so warm today, but a haar rolled in from the sea late yesterday and did not lift until late this morning, it also put the Jura ferry off at 18.30 with some folk stranded on Jura! I forgot to mention that we saw around 50 Sand Martins hawking over on of the barley fields at Rockside yesterday mid afternoon. Mark Shields, Dave's new assistant down on the Oa sent some sightings through. Last Friday, Mark saw a Puffin on the bay below Dun Athad. On Sunday he watched a Golden Eagle being mobbed by 5 Peregrines. Yesterday there were 30 Swifts over the Oa, other groups seen earlier this year have all been small groups. Mark had counted 160 Guillemots including 4 Bridled Guillemots. Peter had heard a Grasshopper Warbler while going down to the Lily Loch the other day. With the haar being in through the night, the sheep were damp first thing, but were dry later on, so finished giving them their annual haircut, job done!!!!
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Last night, later on after I had to "press", Peter had seen 2 Greenshank off the Pier at Bruichladdich. Been another wee cracker of a day out here like everywhere else, so the plan for tomorrow is get up early and finish clipping the sheep. For folk that did not see the series "Hebrides, Islands on the edge", the first time it was on the TV, well it is being screened again on BBC2 at 9pm on Thursday 11th July, on the whole network, not just BBC Scotland. Well worth watching, see if you can spot anyone on it....
Monday, 8 July 2013
Yesterday a visitor had seen a Barnacle Goose on the reserve at Gruinart. Early evening, I had a male Hen Harrier fly along the top of the crag. Later on as it was so calm, and also the sea was relatively quiet, we went out the back of midnight to do the Corncrake survey on our patch. We only heard 6 calling birds, which in some ways can be a good sign as it can indicate that he has found a mate! We also had 2 Hedgehogs, but no Barn Owls. Keith from Glasgow had seen another male Hen Harrier this morning close to Foreland and George had ringtail today down near his house. This evening at Blackrock, Bob counted 26 Arctic Terns and also 26 Barwits there too, a Barnacle Goose was also on the water, the same one as yesterday or could it be a different goose?. Earlier on down at Gortan, a Heron was being mobbed by a Common Gull, perhaps the Heron was too close to the Gull's nest! Further along, towards Bruichladdich, the pr of Shelduck were out with their brood of 7, good to see that none have been predated.
Sunday, 7 July 2013
Peter yesterday had seen 3 Great spotted Woodpeckers flying together over the back of Ballygrant, one was definitely a female, so could this possibly have been another first for Islay, a breeding pr of Woodpeckers?? Coming home Peter counted 50 Barwits at Blackrock. Bob had counted 104 Curlew, mostly juv birds and also 4 Common Sandpipers at Carnain the other morning. He has also had a brood of Willow Warblers in his garden, over at Loch Gorm Bob saw 2 Herons. Here at home there has been a Collared Dove hanging around the last couple of days. No more news of the Frigatebird, sorry folks!
Saturday, 6 July 2013
Bob sent this image of a juv. Wheatear which he had taken yesterday while he was out over below Gartbreck. He had walked along towards Laggan Point and had seen 22 juv Wheatears as he went along. Other birds of interest included 30 Fulmar on nest sites, around 100 Rock Pipits, 2 Redshank, 4 pr of Ringed Plover, a few Curlew including some juv birds, some Ravens. Out on Loch Indaal, a GND and 14 Red breasted Merganser. Mary forgot to mention to me yesterday that while she was out looking for that Frigatebird, that an Osprey flew overhead, wonder how she forgot to tell me that one! Peter yesterday saw a brood of Willow Warblers out in the Catoneaster hedge in front of his house and wondered if they had just taken up residence there? Jim Dickson had been over on the twitch today, but like everyone else, no joy, but had 5 Swifts down at Portnahaven. Later on he had a distant sighting of an Osprey.
By the way, the Frigatebird increased the number of hits on the blog yesterday with almost 10 times our normal, and even today so far 4 times greater than an average day! Heard that around 30 folk came over on the ferry hoping to see the bird but had no luck, may be made the most of our famed hospitality.
Friday, 5 July 2013
This image was shown to Mary at Gruinart at lunchtime, taken at Bowmore Harbour this morning. Well it is an Ascension Frigatebird, only the second sighting in the UK, the last was seen back in 1953. The image above was taken by Jim Sim and his family from Renfrewshire. The big twitch will now be on to find it as it took off around 9am, in which direction it flew I have not heard...Anyway, if we hear of any further news, we will keep you posted! Late this evening, just had an e mail through saying that the bird had seen at 4pm flying over Carnain. Apologies in putting the wrong date on the earlier entry. I have been out looking for the bird this evening, but no joy, suppose that's birding for you.... The last bird seen was found in a poor state of health on Tiree.
Thursday, 4 July 2013
Yesterday evening, Malcolm had seen an Osprey take a fish out of Loch Gorm, which was more than could be said for the anglers who were also intent in catching a fish too! Today, I have been over on the mainland, no birding done but I did see a couple of molehills in a field, a sight we do not get here on Islay as we have no moles! On our return home this evening, the Swallows in the shed have fledged 3 youngsters. As well as that, numerous e mails waiting in the in box with over 90% getting deleted without ever being opened....
Wednesday, 3 July 2013
Here at home this morning there was a "train" or a "clattering" of around 50 Jackdaws round the base of the bird table! Bob had been driving along the "flats" at Gruinart today, a Peregrine took off from the road carrying a Jackdaw in its' talons, only to land in one of the trees at the farm steading and continue to devour the said Jackdaw. Carl had a Kestrel out towards Craigfad today, he was also saying that the GND which has been hanging around in the bay at Port Charlotte has moved on. Along at Carnain, there was a single Dunlin and at Uiskentuie a family on 4 Chough were present. This evening, as I put the wheely bins up to the top of the hill, our local Chough family of only 3 flew in, noisy and nosey as ever, great to see all the same!
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
I knew I should not have talked about "lack" of rain in last night's entry as it has been a steady rain for most of the day once it started.... Having said that it has not put some of our birders off.... Martin had seen an Osprey come off Loch Indaal at Blackrock and flying on in the direction of Loch Gruinart. Bob, at one point in between showers, saw a Sparrowhawk trying to dry itself off.... He also had a Hen Harrier close to home. Mary had some Mistle Thrushes close to Coullabus . Over on the reserve, below the Visitor centre, there was a black backed Gull out searching the fields for food. Then, along came a Common Gull which was greeted by half a dozen angry Lapwings and a Redshank . Further out a Raven sitting down on the ground and finally close to the RSPB office at Bushmills, on the roadside, 4 Greenfinches were feeding away. Going home, Mary had seen a male Hen Harrier down close to Blackpark.
Monday, 1 July 2013
Another month in, another dry month with only 2.5" in total, half of what we had last year. All we need now is some warmer weather and make a start to clipping the sheep. Some folk have got their sheep all clipped and usually for the few we have, they are all shorn by now, but with the late Spring this year etc the sheep are not quite ready for their annual haircut... As you may well have gathered I have not heard of any sightings today, and hence the ramble and nothing about birds... sorry but that's the way it goes sometimes!