Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Hogmany , 31st December

Well that is another year almost in, only a few hours to go, although some of our readers/ followers may well be in 2015 already, have a great time wherever you are!!! Many thanks to visitors and also from the many other contributors who send in their sightings to me for using on the blog. The other day, James had been over on Jura where he saw a White tailed Sea Eagle and also 3 Otters while over there! There were 16 Goldfinches in on the nyjer seed today at home, word gets around and they are not long in coming back! Down at "smelly corner" there were a few Shelducks , while over at Gartmain, Wigeon, some Mallard were seen while coming back at Blackrock there was a raft of Scaup, close inshore.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Tuesday 30th December

The other day, George saw a White tailed Sea Eagle down at "smelly corner". Today Bob had been on Bolsay Moor up behind Port Charlotte where he saw 2 Red Grouse and a Golden Eagle overhead. On his way off Bolsay Moor, he spotted another Eagle, although Bob thought there was a fair chance that it was the same bird. Bob sent some images through for the blog, but for some reason I could not download them, sorry folks! Today at home a couple of Buzzards were overhead, calling away. The birds were not wasting much time in clearing the food that was put out for them, a possible sign of a change in the weather... Looking out to the sea late morning a large Oil rig was being pulled by a tug taking it down to Belfast... another piece of useless information is that the plane this morning came from Prestwick, rather than from Glasgow!!!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Monday 29th December

Definitely a day for spotting a Hen Harrier, there was a ringtail here at home which swooped past the house and away over the garden and on its way... Going down to the airport, there was another just before we came to Duich Farm and then coming back home, just before Bowmore another one. Out on the food on the ground where I have been putting their food, there was 38 Chaffinches eating away. I put the nyjer feeder back on the pole yesterday and counted 7 Goldfinches there today! Another cool day, disruption with the plane today due to the fog in Glasgow with the plane returning to Prestwick and no plane coming over this evening. Mind you, I think most of the West coast flights were cancelled out...

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sunday 28th December

Yesterday, Peter, Pia and their visiting friends had a count of 27 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Gartmain. Today over at Bunnahabhain, Peter saw an immature White tailed Eagle fly over and on towards Jura. Down on the Sound of Islay, Peter had an Otter and finally at Ballygrant on his way home a Peregrine was present. Been another good day, and something which we do not see often, was a gritter putting grit on our roads as we do not often have frost, but this morning there certainly was frost on the windscreen of the car...

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Saturday 27th December

It may have been relatively dry over on the West coast of Islay, it certainly was not very warm with the frost alarm going off as we drove along, and it is usually triggered when the temperature is 3 degrees or less. The Paps of Jura had a white cap on their summits with Mull looking like have had a lot more than Jura. Here on Islay, there was just a dusting up behind Bowmore towards Ballygrant and nothing worth speaking of down the Port Ellen end of Islay! So, off we ventured for a short walk along the River Sorn from the Woollen Mill up towards East Lodge. After saying that we had no Greenfinches here at home yesterday, well today on the feeders at the Woollen Mill, Margaret spotted a pair of them there! The feeders there are well fed by Gordon there with quite a few Blue Tits seen as well. A Wren was spotted in the undergrowth as we walked along with the odd Robin seen as well. Mind and watch the National Geographic channel tomorrow (Sunday) at 6 pm and watch "Wild Scotland" and you should see the final program with some footage from here on Islay along with some well known faces....

Friday, 26 December 2014

Friday 26th December, Boxing Day

The birds have been busy today eating the food that has been put out for them to eat, with a good number of Chaffinches present, no Greenfinches have been seen for a wee while. As the weather has been windy of late, I have just been placing the food on the ground rather than using the actual feeders which could be tossed about and no doubt blown down on to the ground and possibly broken or damaged at least. The one good thing with not using the feeders is that it has given me the chance to give them a really good thorough cleaning!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Xmas Day

Not much to report today, as most of us out here, including myself, have just been lazing about having some time off with family and friends.... Eating too much leads to inactivity as well, I know for one that I tend to graze and eat little and often when the food lies around, biscuits and cheese... fatal! Malcolm had been out walking his dog Merlin along the top of Loch Indaal when Merlin flushed a Jack Snipe from the Marram Grass just beside the spit that leads into the Loch. Weather been not too bad, although Clark this morning was caught out in a dirty shower while he was out on his bike over at Coull.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Wednesday 24th December

Isla Mckechnie and her granny had seen a Little Egret on the merse at Bridgend the other day, from her Granny's house just outside of Bridgend on the way to Bowmore. By the way, I believe that Isla is still at primary school at Keills! Yesterday, James had been in his Land Rover bird watching and listening to some music , with the window open as one does... along came a Barn Owl and James had to shield the open window, as he thought the said Owl was going to come in... wonder what the tune was??? Today, James had a couple of male Hen Harriers "talon grappling" and also a Sparrowhawk on the reserve at Gruinart. Today Peter and his friends had been over at Gruinart where they saw 220 Lapwing and around 850 Golden Plover around the 2 hides there. Ken Reeves said that we should listen to Radio Leicester at 12.20pm tomorrow, so tune in, wonder what Ken has in store for us to hear... A Merry Christmas to all our readers and followers. Some of you may already be enjoying Xmas day already, wonder if anyone will be having a White Christmas? Anyway wherever you are, have a great time with your friends and families around.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Tuesday 23rd December

The weather has been a lot calmer today, the wind has dropped a lot and hardly any rain to speak of either... Mary had seen a Mistle Thrush along with many Wrens while walking the Woodland trail at Gruinart, there had even been a Wren in the kitchen at Bushmills as well!!! From the old hide, she had a count of 73 Pintail along with a large mixed group of Shoveler, Teal and Mallard, but only saw one Wigeon and one Merganser there! From the North hide (new hide) there was a large flock of around 400 Lapwings, with around 100 Dunlin and some Golden Plovers seen there too. Down on the strand at Uiskentuie, Mary had seen 2 Snow Buntings, 1 Cormorant, 2 Rock Pipits, 3 Meadow Pipits, a Stonechat and 4 Oystercatcher. Along at Carn out of Port Charlotte, on Loch Indaal 7 GND and 2 Eiders were added to her sightings. Finally, down at Ellister she saw a large Peregrine sitting on the turf before it took off and flew off over the house. Today as well, Peter had been out with visiting birders/ friends who are over here for a few days. Out from Bowmore on Loch Indaal, 4 Long tailed Ducks were seen while from the pier at Bruichladdich they had a count of 95 Eider and on the rocks, there were 7 Purple Sandpipers were present.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Monday 22nd December

I heard this morning that the plane last night did not take off because of technical problems but give them their due, a replacement aircraft was flown over and they flew out around 8pm. Today the plane was late in coming and late again this evening, but I did not hear whether yesterday's problem had been sorted or not. Today going in traffic to Bowmore there were some Whooper swans at Gartmain, but later on coming back from Bowmore, this time no traffic, but only 2 Whoopers were spotted, the others possibly had flown on to Ireland.... No Brent geese were seen there either today!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sunday 21st December

As we headed down to the airport late afternoon, in the failing light, we noticed the Pale bellied Brent Geese at Bowmore, still never managed to get a count, tomorrow is another day... the pilot on the plane reassured the passengers, by saying that air traffic control would not normally have allowed the flight to come, but he reckoned there could have been a riot by the passengers from Port Ellen. Another person waiting on his passengers was like us a bit doubtful if it would come, but like us glad to see his family safely home for Xmas once the plane did come!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Saturday 20th December

Forgot to mention last night that yesterday afternoon while coming back from Ardbeg and the Xmas lunch/dinner party with RSPB, we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier just after Laphroaig Distillery with another being seen on the low road close to the road leading down to the Machrie golf course. Today, coming out of Bowmore and just before Pennycraig, there were a few Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal, how many we could not get a count of as we were in traffic and could not slow down...

Friday, 19 December 2014

Friday 19th December

Been a rather blustery day here today along with some dirty showers in the mix as well. The wind outside is rather noisy at present as I put this entry together... Louise had been round Loch Gorm this morning and had seen a total of 5 Snow Buntings, 3 Whooper Swans, a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp and a Glaucous Gull on her travels. Morvern had given me through the figures from the International Goose count carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The tally was 39,185 Barnies and 4,772 Whitefronts. The figure for the Barnies was up on the last December, but down on the rolling average for the past 3 years, and again the Whitefronts were down, both on last year and also the 3 year average as well. Thanks to Morvern and the team from SNH for these figures.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Wednesday 17th December

Yesterday, Carl had a Jack Snipe at Briabruaich. Today at Lorgba (Carl's home in Port Charlotte), he saw a pair of Bullfinches as well as a Goldcrest. Along at Bruichladdich, Carl spotted 2 Dunlin. Today over at Gruinart on the reserve, James had a Merlin, a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier, a Kestrel as well as a Barn Owl. Late afternoon I had a couple of Whooper Swans over at Coull.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Tuesday 16th December

Another stinker of a day, although having said that, it was flat calm this morning and I had good bonfire, an event I have been waiting since the start of the month to have.. Looking around later on and another 2 folk round the loch were up to the same ploy... On the bird front, Ed had a possible Jack Snipe close to Glenegedale. As you may have gathered, not a day really for birdwatching, just another day to get a soaking doing outside work!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Monday 15th December

Another "hooley" tale tonight about birds in the wrong place... Yesterday, Mary had spotted 3 pairs of Eider ducks on Claddach Loch down at Portnahaven, normally they are on the sea at this time of year.. they all took off and were blown towards Portnahaven and Port Wemyss rather than the "short" flight down on to the sea. Another squally day with some dirty showers thrown in for good measure...

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Sunday 14th December

Mid week when it was blowing a hooley, James saw a Red throated Diver over Grainel, well off course at we do not "normally" expect to see them over land. Today, between Grainel and the head of Loch Gorm (while in his car), he had a Sparrowhawk. Carl today had been out on is bike, braving the elements and round at Ballinaby, he had a Merlin. The wind has picked up again this evening with the ferry diverting to Port Askaig .

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Saturday 13th December

Not to nice a day here again, but Bob and Pat had the courage to brave the elements and carry the survey from Bowmore along the shore down to Gartbreck, so here are the scores on the doors... 7 Cormorant, 31 Shag, 154 Barnies, 32 Whitefronts, 22 Pale bellied Brent, 1 Shelduck, 265 Mallard, 380 Teal, 570 Wigeon, 10 R B Merganser, 6 Pintail, 173 Oystercatcher, 200 Curlew, 6 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 130 Dunlin, 28 Turnstone, 21 Golden Plover, 23 Ringed Plover, 22 Lapwing, 4 Gbb Gull, 43 H Gull, 20 C Gull 30 Bh Gull and 2 male Hen Harriers. Thanks to Bob and Pat. This morning, Margaret had a male Hen Harrier over at Ballinaby. As the wind is picking up again, the evening ferry is being diverted to Port Askaig.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Friday 12th December

Bob today had been out and about and sent through the best of his sightings. Down on the Oa, at Kinnabus, Bob had a male Hen Harrier with a ringtail seen as he headed towards Gartbreck at the "Moss road" just after Rannochmore. On Loch Tallant, Bob had a count of 800 Teal. Back over at Grainel at Gruinart, he had 320 Fieldfare along with male Hen Harrier while another ringtail was seen at Balllinaby. Close to the Coastguards, Bob had a Peregrine with a Golden Eagle spotted at Sunderland. Finally on Loch Indaal, at Blackrock a White tailed Sea Eagle was present.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Thursday 11th December

Forgot to mention on Monday's entry when talking about the Little Egret at Gruinart, well David Formby had seen one on Sunday on West Loch Tarbert as he headed down to Kennacraig to catch the ferry back to Islay. No word of the said bird at Gruinart today! The weather has let up a bit with the plane coming in today and the ferry resuming its' job this afternoon, not that I would fancy being on it as it can take time for the swell to calm down... Might even be a bit of a rammy at the Co-op this evening when the food starts to re-appear on the shelves!!!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Wednesday 10th December

Well if you logged on to find some new bird sightings, well I am sorry to say there is not a lot to report due the lousy weather which we have had today, certainly not a day for going outside unless you were prepared to walk about at a funny angle. Because of the wind, which reached 77 mph over at the airport, we only got 71 mph at 10.50 this morning on Mike's weather station along the road, bird watching news was minimal... Ed had seen some Barnies trying to fly over Loch Indaal from Laggan Point to Port Charlotte, well a bit like the Jura ferry in the sense they "crabbed" their way over, rather flying in a straight line! Only other piece of news that I have changed my e mail address again, but beware the number 14 refers to this year, not my date of birth, let alone my age, so if you need to get in touch, it is all up on the link top right! By the way no ferries nor any planes so no post or papers, and no doubt panic buying in the food lines in the Co-op in Bowmore, the morning boats are already cancelled, but the midday ferry sailing will be reviewed midday...

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Tuesday 9th December

Luckily for you all out there, I kept some of Mary's birds, as I have not heard of any new sightings for today apart from Margaret seeing a hen Pheasant getting blown along at a high speed in the wind... The plane came this morning and again this evening, but we have not had any ferries coming today at all, and already tomorrow's ferries are already cancelled and the schools might even be closed as well. Mary managed to carry out her webs count yesterday, so here are her tallies... Loch Gruinart held 50 Whitefronts, 5 Pale bellied Brent, 215 Wigeon, 10 Mallard, 40 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 9 RB Merganser, 2 Goosander, 3 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 5 Heron, 1 Dabchick, 238 Oystercatcher, 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 228 Barwit, 189 Curlew, 2 Greenshank, 33 Turnstone, 11 BH Gull, 22 C Gull, 36 H Gull, 1 LBB Gull and 4 GBB Gull. On the floods at Gruinart, her count was 7 Whooper, 34 Greylag, 6 Wigeon, 275 Teal, 99 Mallard, 25 Pintail, 11 Shoveler, 795 Golden Plover (+ around 150 in nearby fields), 96 Dunlin (an additional 28 in a nearby field) and a Moorhen. Up at Ardnave, Mary's birds were as follows, 6 Mute, 7 Whoopers, 12 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 17 Mallard, 8 Tufted Duck and 6 Goldeneye. Thanks Mary.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Monday 8th December

Some sightings from last week, sent through by John Harrison last night, thanks John! On Wednesday, he had 9 Whoopers up at Ardnave with a further 12 flying on past. Down at Bruichladdich, John saw 6 Pale bellied Brent and wondered whether these were the same ones that he had earlier on in the week over the other side of Loch Indaal? From Port Charlotte, he counted at least 20 GND and 4 RTD on Loch Indaal, noting it was as many as he had ever seen from one point. On Friday, John had 2 Greenshank and a Little Egret up at Bun an Uillt on the East side of Loch Gruinart. Also on Friday, he had a Woodcock over at Ballygrant, a male Hen Harrier at Persabus with a ringtail at Bunnahabhain. Finally on Friday on his way up the road to Sanaigmore, John spotted 2 Golden Eagles. A great week for John! Today Ed had seen the Little Egret on the floods at Gruinart. Mary had a ringtail over the flats, at the office at Gruinart, a Goldcrest with a Mistle Thrush being chased by a Jackdaw. Stuart, one of the farm staff at Gruinart had an Otter cross the road ahead of him as he drove along on his tractor and then it disappeared into the wood!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sunday 7th December

Brrr, and yes Winter has come. A lot colder out here today, not been out a lot as the weather is not really for birdwatching! Just saw a flash of lightning followed by a clap of thunder, so have gone and looked out the candles in case the power and the lights go off!! Bob this morning had seen 7 Whoopers fly past down at Port Charlotte and then a Woodcock up at Gleann Mor. Mary had braved the weather too and she had 35 Golden Plovers sheltering up in a field at Claddach, a Kestrel found a stoney perch, nearby while on the feeders there a large flock of Chaffinches along with 3 Greenfinches and a Blackbird. I hear that the ferry is diverting into Port Askaig this evening and the same for the first sailing tomorrow morning, the advantage of having 2 ferry ports on one island!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Saturday 6th December

Down on Loch Indaal below the Gaelic College outside Bowmore around midday, Margaret had a count of around 21 Swans present there, a mixed group of both Whoopers and Mute Swans, but as we were in traffic, no real chance to slow down to see exactly who was who... Earlier on on out way out there was a mixed flock of between 50 and 60 Redwings and Fieldfares just as we dropped down to the reedbed and on towards the Coastguards. Today the weather has been, well dreich does not describe it, miserable neither, a pig of a day might be a better. The wind is picking up with the squally showers in for good measure too. The forecast over the next few days does not look too good, with ferry disruption looking possible mid week. Just as well we worked on in the dark last night and backfilled the "grunter wall" when we did!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Friday 5th December

Yesterday evening, Mary had seen a couple of Barn Owls out from Portnahaven, on the "Claddach circuit". Here at home, this morning, the ringtail Hen Harrier flew over and on out over the Machir. Later on, a couple of Peregrines flew over and on above the crag. Been a mixed day with the weather, but it did not deter the builders from back filling a wall outside the house with concrete, to make it even stronger, job finished by 18.25, a good job well done...almost there now!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Thursday 4th December

Yesterday James had a count on the reserve at Gruinart with his tally coming out at 10,294 Barnies, 276 Whitefronts, 81 Greylags and a Pale bellied Brent Goose. He also had 430 Lapwing, 1,265 Golden Plover and 11 newly arrived Whoppers as well as a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier. Been a better day here today, the wind has dropped a wee bit. Here at home at lunchtime for a change the male Hen Harrier did us the honour of his low flypast, just over the fence posts and not much more, and yet we make comments about low flying aircraft.... earlier on we had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle sitting on top of a telegraph pole down close to Sunderland.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Wednesday 3rd December

Yesterday Bob had been out goose counting on the Gruinart patch, up at Ardnave, he had seen a Merlin there as well as a pair of Golden Eagles. Over on Nave Island, a White tailed Sea Eagle was present eating away. Could it have possibly have been devouring a young seal pup or even a goose??? Today at the top of Loch Indaal on the mudflats, Bob spotted another White tailed Sea Eagle while down at Claddach at Portnahaven he saw a male Hen Harrier. Margaret had the ringtail Hen Harrier fly past over the garden (again!) and later on she counted 10 Whoopers as they flew out to the sea and South towards Ireland, quite impressive the colour of the Swans against the grey skies!!!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Tuesday 2nd December

A dry day today out here with an edge to the air again, should not complain, it is Wintertime I suppose...The "local" ringtail Hen Harrier flitted past this morning on its rounds and needless to say it spoofed all the birds on the feeders and just kept on going. David had a count of 20 Pheasants down in the garden at our old house the other day, and that is with getting no feeding! The view up here this morning was great today with the wind whipping up the sea and the white caps on the waves looked fantastic, but it not entice me to for a swim!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Monday 1st December

As promised, here is the tally for November for the rainfall... the rain gauge read short of 6 inches in total, around 5.9 inches or thereabouts, so if memory serves me correctly still drier than last year at the same time! Today, well catch up time for sure as it has been rather miserable with a wetting rain all day, not really a day for going out let alone doing some bird watching... Ed had spotted a rather wet, bedraggled looking Blackcap down in Port Charlotte today. Visiting birder John Harrison had seen 6 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal, just North of Bowmore, he also had 10 Whoopers there too, thanks John. Here at home there were 4 Fulmars along the front of the crag this morning while on the overhead power cables I had a count of 75 Redwings along with a few Starlings. The birds this morning did not waste much time in polishing off the food put out for them this morning!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunday 30th November

Another great day, dry yes although there was a slight edge to the air. You like me will just have to wait until tomorrow to find how much the rainfall tallied out at. I think that we are still drier at present so far this year, compared to last year, then again it could be all changed round by the end of December... Today over at Gruinart, James had a Sparrowhawk on the reserve. Bob out on Bolsay Moor had a Water Rail, a Red Grouse and 2 Woodcock. He also saw 6 Bullfinches there as well. Round at Ballinaby this morning we spotted a group of 6 Whitefronts, 5 of which had neck collars on, but were too far to read. I came home the same way later on with the scope ready to read the collars, but the geese were not there, another day Ed... Sorry!!!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Saturday 29th November

Today, James had a Water Rail on the reserve at Gruinart. Between Rockside and Sunderland Farm, we had a Merlin on top of a fence post before it flitted off and away! Down, coming out of Bowmore, below the power generating station on Loch Indaal, there was a group of 9 Whooper Swans including a juvenile Swan with them. I have not seem any Pale belied Brent for some time now, come to think about it... Another good day for time of year, on Monday, Winter is officially "supposed" to start, and today I was outside in my shirt sleeves, no jumper or jacket...

Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday 28th November

Yesterday afternoon, Bob had headed out to see if he could track down the White tailed Sea Eagle that he had seen earlier on, no joy in that front but he did see a Golden Eagle and also a Peregrine chasing after a Lapwing, the Lapwing evaded getting caught! Another good day again, so no complaints in that department...

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thursday 27th November

James had gone out on the ferry yesterday morning to a RSPB Argyll team meeting which was held up in Oban. On the ferry to Kennacraig, he saw a Black throated Diver and 2 Red throated Divers. Coming back this afternoon, he had a further 2 Red throated Divers and a raft of 24 GND at one point along with several Tysties coming up the Sound of Islay. This morning, Bob had a White tailed Sea Eagle from his kitchen window out over Carn being chased by a Buzzard which in turn had been followed by a couple of Ravens! Here at home, a beautiful ringtail Hen Harrier swooped low over the garden fence and across the grass and out over the other fence.. just great! By the way, another nice dry day outside, not the warmest, but not bad for the last few days of Autumn. I will not complain if we get the same sort of a day tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Wednesday 26th November

A glorious day out here today with a beautiful sunset to round the day off by, another day like that tomorrow would not go amiss... Ed's talk on his work with the Greenland Whitefronts here on Islay was last night at the bird nerds turned out to be very informative with a lot of questions by all of us who attended including visitors Chris and Ann from Wigan. On the way home last night, I had a Barn Owl sitting on on a fence post just after the Coastguards as I came up the hill. Today while Bob was out on Bolsay Moor, a late group of 18 Whoopers flew overhead heading in a Southerly direction. He also had 10 Bullfinches together, not sure of the collective name for Bullfinches!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Monday 24th November

Forgot to mention last night that I saw a Fulmar fly along the front of the crag at Kilchoman yesterday afternoon, not that I really expect the wind to pick up in a few days time after seeing only 1 Fulmar! This morning out on the feeders, here at home, there were 16 Goldfinches. On Bolsay Moor this morning, Bob had a female Red Grouse, close at hand and also 5 Bullfinches also there troo. More sightings as promised last night from John Miles and his son from last week. A Water Rail was seen down in the reedbed between the Coastguards and Machir Bay, a count of over 90 Twite up at Kilinallan, Long tailed Ducks seen on Loch Indaal too with Bottle nosed and Porpoises seen through their stay. A possible Goshawk was seen briefly and from a distance down over the forestry at Kintra. Returning back over on the ferry to Kennacraig, they had a total of 42 GND, with 19 together in one group alone. Thanks for sharing your sightings folks.. Look forward to reading your Islay article in the Birdwatching magazine in the near future! Remember, if you are around, on Tuesday evening at 7.15 , the Islay bird nerds will be meeting at the Gaelic College, just outside of Bowmore when Ed will give us an update about the Whitefronted Geese, see you there!!!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday 23rd November

A not bad day out here today considering it is almost the end of November... Bob today had 2 Chiffchaff in his garden, 3 Red grouse were seen on Bolsay Moor as was a ringtail Hen Harrier. Along on the strand/ top of Loch Indaal, Bob counted a group of 30 Turnstone along with 35 Dunlin. John Miles who was over last week sent through the highlights of his stay. Golden Eagles most days along with the odd White tailed Sea Eagle as well through his stay. John and his son had seen the Kingfisher at Bridgend as reported earlier, but they had spotted another up at Loch Skerrols on Wednesday, possibly the same bird, but they had heard a heard a Jay over at Margadale which is in from Bunnahabhain. More of John's sightings will be shared with you tomorrow night...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Saturday 22nd November

Forgot to mention last night... Many thanks to Morven and her team from SNH for sharing with us the stats through for the International Goose count. Today, George had 5 Snipe down at Bruichladdich. There had been quite a few squally showers moving through the night last night, with the burn up a bit this morning. The long range forecast for Friday does not look good, rather wet to say the least, perhaps it is has its' advantages living on top of a hill sometimes!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday 21st November

Morven sent through the figures from the International goose count carried out earlier this week, the figures do not look too good...36,252 Barnies, 5,172 Greenland Whitefronts and 907 Greylags, the comparable count for last year was 46,931 Barnies and 5,888 Whitefronts. Out here on the machir this morning there were 128 Whitefronts along with 48 Barnies. At the same time in and around the feeders in the garden there were around 50 Chaffinches, 9 Goldfinches, 1 Great Tit, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Robin, 1 Blackbird with 3 Pheasants as well. The Fieldares and Redwings appear to be "staying" around a bit longer this Autumn, one welcome sign at least!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Thursday 20th November

Over the last couple of days the first "International" Goose count has been carried out. I have not heard through yet the tally but I heard that 6 Pinkies were amongst the Barnies down at Cornabus valley yesterday. Visiting birder, John Miles had seen an albino Reed Bunting down the same area, so possibly the same bird that Wally and Jude had tried to get an image of, but a van appeared of of nowhere and the bird flew off before Wally had a chance to snap it! Also yesterday, Mary had seen a Bean goose at Lyrabus around 10.30 in the morning before it flew away. Late afternoon another Bean goose (or was it the same one?) had been seen over close to Keills. Amongst the Barnies at Craigens, Mary had a Cackling goose as well as 3 large Canadas. Earlier, she had a huge Peregrine up behind Blackpark and and a dead Buzzard below the overhead wires there too. On her way round Mary also had a Kestrel at Leck Gruinart, 2 Ringtails at Mill cottage and up at Ardnave she counted 14 Ravens. Today beside the coalyard, a Sparrowhawk dropped out of the hedge and then we saw it a few seconds later as it flew past while we came up the road home. If you are around, it is that time again next week, with the monthly "meeting" of the Islay bird nerds. We are meeting centrally at the Gaelic college at 7.15pm when Ed from WWT will be giving us an update on his work on the Whitefronts. Ed was telling me this evening that they have caught and put collars on a further 8 geese along with transponders, so we will here more about them next week. so if you are are over next week, come along... This will be our last get together for 2014 with our next gathering will be at the end of January for a meal to sustain us all somewhere, sometime!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wednesday 19th November

Stop press - I have heard a report that a Rough Legged Buzzard has been seen near Port Charlotte. Keep a look out. That was James earlier on with the message... I have been off Islay down seeing family in Surrey for the past few days, so thanks to James for writing the blog in my absence. Down in Surrey, we had seen Jays, Grey Squirrels, Magpies, 7 together one day we were out. Another trip produced several Coots and Moorhens neither of which are that common to us, Green Parakeets with a lack of wee birds seen or not seen as was the case! The odd Starling was noted and a Robin...Back here this morning, in the machir adjacent to the house there were many Greenland whitefronted Geese along with some Barnies. Going down towards the Coastguards this morning, amongst the mixed flock of Starlings, Fieldfares and Redwings there was a leucistic Fieldfare. Armin spotted a ringtail Hen Harrier at the top of Loch Gorm with another over at Gruinart. On Monday evening, just at the darkening, he had an Otter over at Saligo Bay. This afternoon, a low flying fighter jet screamed over and put all the geese up and followed soon after by another, and they wonder how they get bird strikes!!!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tuesday 18th November

Another great day - Mary was goose counting all day around Gruinart and Ardnave got a few birds. Hen Harrier and Sparrowhawk at Gruinart, another Sparrowhawk at Lagstoban. At Ardnave - a Merlin, 50 Shags and 2 Cormorants. Last night at Gruinart a White Tailed Eagle and 2 Barn Owls on the Flats.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Monday 17th November

I have heard that a pod of Bottle Nosed Dolphins were in Loch Indaal yesterday afternoon chasing mackeral. Apparently putting on a good show. I have had a few sightings in from John and Ewan Miles on the 15th - off the Ferry they had 15+ Great Northern Divers, 15 Red Breasted Mergansers, 40+ Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, 2 Golden Eagles and 2 White Tailed Eagles 1 an adult with yellow tags. On the 16th (yesterday)- A Brambling Nr Bunahabhain, 2 Black Throated Divers, an juv White Tailed Eagle and a Minke Whale off Rubha Mhail. At Keills 140 Chaffinches and a Yellowhammer and at the head of Loch Indaal a Kingfisher and a male Merlin chasing a Meadow Pipit. At Gruinart today I have had 10,920 Barnacle Geese, 287 White fronts and 112 Greylags, as well as 2 Hen Harriers, 3 Black Tailed Godwits and a flock of 175 Lapwing.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday 16th November

Another beautiful day in paradise- I have just returned from a sit at the hide at Gruinart, great views of a Hen Harrier chasing the ducks about and resting on the islands in the flood. Three Little Grebes bobbing about in front of the hide. Dave P. has been out enjoying the sun and birds - yesterday 18 Pale Bellied Brents at Bruichladdich and today- 8 Whooper Swans at Cornabus Fields, 2 Red Breasted Mergansers and a Great Northern Diver at Kilnaughton and 25 Common Seals, 3 Red Breasted Mergansers, 1 Great Northern Diver, 50 Curlew and a Rock Pipit at Seal Bay nr. Ardbeg.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Saturday 15th November

Lots of bird records for yesterday- apologies for not putting them up yesterday, I was just a bit tied after Kayak Club. Anyway, Mary was up at Ardnave and had 2 Snow Bunting, 8 Goldeneye, 5 Tufted Duck, 33 Teal, 14 Wigeon, 2 Mute Swans, 7 Whooper Swans, 2 Little Grebes and a Coot on Ardnave Loch. 54 Shags and a Cormorant on Nave Island and 2 Grey Plovers and 44 Turnstones at Traigh Nostaig. On Jura Louise had 3 juv White Tailed Eagles together over Craighouse. At Gruinart Dave P. and I had a Sparrowhawk sitting on the hide window ledge, 19 Snipe (at least) and a White Tailed Eagle fly past. There was also 2 Barn Owls on the Flats latter on. Dave P. had seen a Golden Eagle nr. Kilnaughton on Thursday. Now we have caught up- Today Mandy, at Ardnave was pleased to get good views of 3 Snow Bumtings and another White Tailed Eagle. A great weather day and the forecast is good for tomorrow, but I did empty my rain guage today which was showing 5 Inches for November so far.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Thursday 13th November

Wild weather continues, with a bit of wind and a bit of rain. Not too many birds to report today . Mary had 2 Tawny Owls at Portnahaven last night, one alarm calling at her dog, and also 4 Pale Bellied Brents at Bruichladdich this morning. Louise reported a Snow Bunting near Loch Gorm.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Wednesday 12th November

Not the best of days out here today, with blustery, squally showers coming out of nowhere... Tomorrow the forecast not good either with the first 2 ferries already cancelled, the sheep sale which should have taken place tomorrow has been postponed until Monday!!! So what about the birds then.. so here are the counts from the "vols" from yesterday, done on the floods at Gruinart. Birds seen were 6 Mute, 5 Whooper, 76 Greylag, 91 Wigeon, 215 Teal, 140 Mallard, 71 Pintail, 31 Shoveler, 1 Heron, 3 Dabchick, 120 Golden Plover, 479 Lapwing, 4 Snipe, 1 BH Gull, 36 C Gull and 5 Herring Gull. Today down close to Rock Mountain a Merlin zipped across the road in front of me, putting up all the wee birds off the fields. At Sunderland, a couple of Herons were standing in the middle of a stubble field, looking a bit out of place! This side of Sunderland, a Peregrine was seen climbing away after possibly an unsuccessful stoop into a few Rock Doves! Coming back up the road past the Coastguards, there still appear to be quite a good number in the mixed flock of Redwings and Fieldfares, possibly sheltering up before this wind picks up!!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Tuesday 11th November

Just as well that I kept some sightings back from yesterday, as the weather here today has not been that great, although some hardy souls may well have been out... Down on the Oa, Dave and his team had been out carrying out webs counts as well as Farmland Bird surveys as well. Highlights were as follows, 540 Twite, 120 Rock Dove, 40 Fieldfare, 1 Goosander and also 51 Teal. Also seen were a Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, 2 Hen Harriers, 3 Buzzards and also 2 Golden Eagles. Over on the Rhinns, up Glen Mhor, Bob had a female Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Golden Eagle, male Hen Harrier, an adult Rough legged Buzzard being mobbed by 3 "local" Buzzard and then it was pursued by a pair of Sparrowhawks! Yesterday the "vols" at Gruinart had carried the webs count on Ardnave Loch with the scores on the doors tallying through at 2 Mute Swan, 3 Whoopers, 51 Wigeon, 70 Teal, 2 Mallard, 7 Tufted Duck, 6 Goldeneye, and a Dabchick. On Loch Gruinart, they had 6 Whoopers, 4 Greylags, 54 Shelduck, 202 Wigeon, 10 Mallard, 17 RBM, 1 Cormorant, 1 Shag, 10 Heron, 155 Oystercatcher, 1165 Golden Plover ,297 Lapwing, 90 Sanderling, 20 Dunlin, 30 Barwit, 325 Curlew, 1 Greenshank, 178 Redshank, 5 Turnstone, 2 BH Gull, 19 C Gull, 25 LBB Gull 4 GBB Gull and 12 H Gulls. Here at home this morning a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past putting up all the of the birds on the ground up in a flat spin... This afternoon, the Jackdaws were mimicking the Starlings with a synchronised flypast, not quite as nimble as the Starlings but quite impressive all the same...

Monday, 10 November 2014

Monday 10th November

Yesterday up at Ardnave, Carl saw around 20 Snow Buntings as well as a Stonechat with 6 Red breasted Mergansers offshore. Along the flats at Gruinart, there were many Fieldfare while over at Neriby, there were hundreds of Redwings and finally back home in Port Charlotte, Carl saw a Grey Wagtail. Also yesterday down at Octofad, Liz Hathaway had a large mixed flock of Redwings and Fieldfares. This morning, Bob had a female Blackcap in his garden. On our way out this morning, just after the quarry between Rockside and Sunderland Farm, there was a flock of 10 Long tailed Tits, great to see.. Further on, down at the coalyard on Loch Indaal, 2 Whoopers flew South, no doubt on their way to Ireland... Mary today had a pair of Bullfinches next to the office at Gruinart, down on Loch Indaal she counted 25 Pale bellied Brents, 3 Grey Plovers, a drake Long tailed Duck, 2 Great crested Grebes, several RBM, a raft of Eiders and also a good number of Wigeon. Back up at Craigens, a male Merlin flew away from a fence post with a Sparrowhawk spoofing a mixed flock of Redwing, Fieldfare and Starlings. Later on, while on her way up to Ardnave, a Kestrel was seen.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday 9th November

Nothing much to report here today with all the visiting birders having moved back to their respective homes...There were still a few Redwings and Fieldfares out on the machir outside here this morning and James counted a flock of 102 Redwing and 58 Fieldfare over in one of the fields at Grainel on the reserve at Gruinart. He was saying that the floodwater is receding now with the road along the flats open again although there is still some some water in the fields. Clark had been telling me that we have almost had as much rain so far this November as we had in total for the whole of November last year... better not look at the weather forecast for Tuesday...

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Saturday 8th November

Yesterday Bob, David Formby and myself carried out the survey from Bowmore down along the shore to Gartbreck, unfortunately somebody with 3 dogs was ahead of us which caused some of the birds to fly away before we got a chance to count them!!! So here is the tally for what we did get! A female Merlin, 56 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 2 Mute, 3,000 Barnies, 80 Whitefronts, 4 Greylags, 6 Mallard, 272 Wigeon, 152 Teal, 3 Eider, 7 Red Breasted Merganser, 2 Goldeneye, 40 Oystercatcher, 68 Curlew, 1 Barwit, 30 Dunlin, 15 Redshank, 10 Turnstone, 125 Lapwing, 208 Golden Plover, 45 Ringed Plover, 21 GBB Gull, 50 H Gull, 10 BH Gull and 20 Common Gull. On the fields as we went along, there were many Redwing, Fieldfare, Starlings and Skylarks and also some Rock Pipits along the shore with 2 Ravens on one of the small islands/ skerries. Michael Bell headed home today, but on his way to Port Ellen and the ferry, he had seen 60 Redwing and around 100 Fieldfare down at the Coastguards' with a further 100 Redwing at Leorin. Top bird today was a White tailed Sea Eagle which came down on to the merse at the top of Loch Indaal, no doubt looking for its' breakfast! Down closer to Port Ellen, Michael had 3 Golden Eagles out over the hills. From the ferry, he saw small numbers of Kittiwakes flying South/ South Westerly along the coast, around 43 were spotted within 2 miles of leaving on the ferry. Thanks to Michael, Paul Beresford from Nottingham and also Ken Chapman's party from Sandwich Bay for sending in some of their sightings. Today around midday, Peter had a Blackcap in his garden in Bruichladdich. Up here at home, early afternoon, around 100 Fieldfares flew South, possibly the birds that Michael had earlier this morning.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Friday 7th November

Back on Wednesday, James had carried out a goose count on the reserve at Gruinart, with his tally coming out at 23,970 Barnies, 610 Whitefronts, 119 Greylag, 1 Pale bellied Brent and a Canada hutchinsii sp. The figure for the Barnies was as high as James has had on the reserve for time of year. Yesterday on the reserve, James had a Barn Owl, a Tawny Owl and also a Goldcrest. Paul B yesterday had seen 2 White tailed Sea eagle at the top of Loch Indaal, one an adult, the other a youngster! Michael had a Golden Eagle, 4 Buzzards, 2 Ravens and 2 Peregrines out over the crag at Kilchoman at first light. Down on the "duck pond" behind Machir Bay, he counted 220 Teal, 20 Wigeon,and 25 Mallard. Down on the reedbed at the Coastguards' he had 40 Redwing with a mixed flock of around 95 Linnet and Twite. Over at Gruinart, well after all the rain, what could one say, it was flooded out, but all the same 7 Whoopers were still around as well a couple of Hen Harriers....At Coullabus, a first year Golden Eagle was seen, while down on Loch Indaal, 81 Scaup were counted. Along past Blackrock towards Crosshouses there were 170 Fieldfares present in the morning with the numbers up to 470 in the afternoon. Cluanach held a further 50 Fieldfare along with 2 distant Golden Eagles, Avonvoggie 54 Fieldfare and at Cattadale, 320 were counted with a further 70 flying South. Up at Storakaig an amazing count 2,400 Fieldfare along with 100 Redwing another 2 Golden Eagles, a male Hen harrier and a Peregrine. Keills held a male Hen Harrier along with 20 Fieldfare and 14 Redwing, 130 Fieldfare were flying South there too. The fields around Ballygrant held another 40 Fieldare while another 40 were seen flying South at Skerrols. Round the top of Loch Indaal, at the coal yard, 47 Ringed Plover and 9 Turnstone were present. Up at Outback Art in the fields, there were 70 Redwing and 7 Song Thrushes, with a GND in the bay itself at Sanaigmore as well as a distant Golden Eagle. Down at Ballinaby, 70 Redwing, 3 Fieldfare and a single Mistle Thrush. Finally there were 630 Greylags in the fields close to the Coastguards. By the way, we at least 2.5 inches of rain, little wonder that the "flats" at Gruinart were flooded...

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Thursday 6th November

Not the best of days out here today, the wind has dropped a bit with ferries sailing from 13.00 onwards, and oh yes as forecast the rain has been falling all day, there had been quite a lot overnight, over an inch and it just keeps coming.. The windows, looking out at one point was just like a fishmonger's window of old with the water streaming down!!! Yesterday the weather was kinder and some sightings through for you. Paul had seen a Slavonian Grebe and 5 Long tailed Ducks from the Power station first thing. Later on along the shoreline, south of Bowmore, he saw a Snow Bunting. Ken and the his group had made the most of the good weather and had headed over to Jura. Their top sighting was a Snow Bunting along the shoreline at Feolin. Michael had a good morning's walk into Killinallan, the first time he has done it... He has a great list of birds for us, 11 Whitefronts, 135 Greylags, around 2,600 Barnies resting on the shore, 2 Mallard, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 120 Lapwing, 4 Snipe, 4 Curlew, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Sanderling, 40 Common Gull, 5 Herring Gull, 6 GBB Gull, 35 Rock Dove, 14 Skylark, 4 Rock Pipit, 4 Pied Wagtail, 2 Pheasant, 7 Red legged Partridge, 3 Wren, 3 Dunnock, 1 Robin, 14 Stonechat, 1 Blackbird, 175 Redwing, 7 Chough, 23 Jackdaw, 4 Hooded Crow, 7 Raven, 190 Starling, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting and also 16 Reed Bunting. This morning looking out his cottage window, Michael spotted a Siberian Chiffchaff sheltering up. This morning also, Martin, been parked up for a few moments close to Kilarrow at Bowmore and a quick look out on Loch Indaal produced 8 Red breasted Merganser, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Long tailed Duck, 1 Eider and a GND.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wednesday 5th November

Some more sightings through from yesterday to start this evening's entry.. Mary had seen 2 Bullfinches on the "woodland trail" at Gruinart. Later on Mary had seen a young Barn Owl on her commute home to Portnahaven, must be winter right enough!!! Paul had seen a pair of Slavonian Grebes from the Power Station outside Bowmore. Later on, Paul had walked from Ballygrant to to the Sound of Islay. His highlights included a ringtail Hen Harrier and and then a imm. White tailed Sea Eagle. In the woods around Ballygrant Loch, Siskins, Redpolls, lots of Redwings and some Song Thrushes. He also had a Yellowhammer and a Grey Wagtail present there too. Over at Blackrock, Paul had been watching the raft of Scaup there when an adult White tailed Sea Eagle soared past causing mayhem, it soon moved over the Barnies that were at the top of the Loch! At Gruinart, there were 15 Whoopers, another ringtail Hen Harrier and at least 500 Golden Plover. Ken yesterday along with the birders from Sandwich Bird Obs had started their day off down on the Oa where they saw a Peregrine,2 Fulmar, many Twite and also 2 Golden Eagles. Also there were lots of Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds, all very jumpy, obviously new arrivals! In the afternoon, over at Claggain Bay, over 40 Gannets were offshore along with a winter plumage Black Guillemot. Today Michael had an imm Golden Eagle out over the crag close to where he is staying. On his way out, he had 150 Redwing and at least 200 Fieldfare between Coastguards and Rockside road end. There were also 75 Golden Plover in the fields at Coastguards as well. Machir Bay, 2,500 Barnies were roosting up on the shore and 37 Curlew were also there. Over at Craigens a Grey Wagtail was present as was a small flock of 20 Chaffinches. On the estuary at Gruinart, 136 Wigeon, 27 R B Merganser, 46 Shelduck, 42 Pintail, 92 Sanderling as well 2 Greenshank were counted. Michael then counted over the top of Loch Indaal from Port Charlotte round to Bowmore, his tally came through at 51 RTD, 64 GND, 49 Slav. Grebe, 1 Great crested Grebe, 12 Mute, 9 Whoopers, 8 Pale bellied Brent, 303 Wigeon, 270 Teal, 66 Scaup, 5 Goldeneye, 13 Long tailed Duck, 154 Eider, 113 Common Scoter and 99 R B Merganser. Thanks Michael! Just before lunchtime, there were 5 Herons on the wee island on Loch Gorm, probably the same the same ones we had seen the other day at Sunderland but then there wee 6, possibly the other bird was lurking around the other side out of my view! There was a Brambling amongst the Chaffinches at the feeders here at home.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Tuesday 4th November

A wee mistake by me last night, I could make my scribbles out about some of Michael's birds... On Loch Gorm he had seen 3 Goldeneye and a Great creasted Grebe, apologies to Michael, my bad hand writing, or was it my eyes??? Yesterday, Paul from Nottingham had ventured out down towards the Oa, bad move as it turned out to be "almost a washout", Paul's words not mine! First thing on Loch Indaal, from Bowmore he had 3 GND, a Red breasted Merganser and a female Long tailed Duck. On the Oa, a Golden Eagle while on the road going there was a reluctant Woodcock not wanting to move from the road to allow him to go by, it was not until he got out of his his car that it flew off....Ken and his group had seen 2 White tailed Sea Eagles over at Bunnahabhain, as well as an Otter there. Off Bowomore they had also seen the Long tailed Duck and also a Common Scoter. A walk through Bridgend woods produced 4 Treecreepers and also Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Bullfinch with a Dipper seen at The Woolen Mill. Michael today started off with 2 Peregrines chasing a Raven and then out over the crag appeared a couple of Golden Eagles.. Later on on the barley stubbles at Rockside, the flock of Rock Doves were being chased by 2 Peregrines, possibly the same 2 up to no good! Along close to Sunderland Farm a juv. Golden Eagle soared out, and up at Sanaigmore another 2 were seen while at Bunnahabhain he saw his sixth for the day! At Lossit, there was a flock of 140 Redwings, with a further 35 at Storakaig along with 17 Fieldfare. Michael was also saying that he had seen more Blackbirds around today while driving around. At Cluanach over at Mulindry, he saw 6 Bullfinches. A male Hen Harrier was at Loch Tallant with 2 ringtails seen over at Erasaid and also another male at Sanaigmore. Late afternoon, the Peregrine was having a go at the flock of 95 Redwings close to Kilchoman as he headed back to his cottage. There were over 30 Chough out over the crag here at home this afternoon.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Monday 3rd November

Another dry day here on the West of Islay, although I believe that it had been wet down on the Oa and around Port Ellen, no pleasing some folks...Quite a few sightings , so here we go... Ken Chapman who is over with a group of 36 birders from Sandwich Bay Bird observatory in Kent. On Saturday, they had seen a Cackling goose amongst the Barnies along the flats at Gruinart. 2 Ruff were present at Gruinart with 40 Chough seen at Ardnave. On Loch Indaal from Bowmore they saw 3 GND. Yesterday, they noted plenty of Redwings around the Loch Gorm area and further on as they went round the Rhinns, over 200 at least. They had seen 4 different Hen Harriers. At Sunderland/ Rockside there were 2 flocks of Rock Doves on the barley stubble, several hundred in all. They also saw another GND off Port Charlotte. Returning birder, Paul from Nottingham had seen 10 GND as he came over on the ferry on Saturday and he also had a Sandwich Tern drift past the ferry..Yesterday Paul saw 8 Whoopers and 6 Pale bellied Brents on Loch Indaal from the Power station. Up round Ardnave Point, he had a count of 50 Ringed Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Sanderling, 1 Purple Sandpiper and 10 Turnstone. At the reserve at Gruinart, he had a ringtail Hen Harrier and out over the fields behind Bowmore, a male Hen Harrier. There appeared to be a fall of Thrushes overnight, as there were more Redwings and Fieldfares around here this morning, I saw 2 small groups first thing this morning, one of 25 in the field below the house before they took off flying South and there were a further 15 in the trees. Michael had a count of 55 Fieldfare and 70 Redwings as well as the ringtail Hen harrier as he went out this morning. On a flat calm Loch Gorm, he counted 113 Tufted Duck, 1 Goldeneye and a Coot. Later on at Ardnave Loch, he had a male Hen Harrier while on the water 2 Goldeneye, 6 Tufted Duck, 2 Dabchick, 6 Whoopers and a Coot. Also present were 35 Redwing, and 5 Fieldfare. Up at Traigh Nostaig Michael had 12 Snow Buntings, including 3 cracking males. Also there, he had seen 51 Ringed Plover, 29 Sanderling, 4 Turnstone. He saw a total of 8 GND offshore as he walked round Ardnave Point, a juv Gannet offshore too and a distant sighting of a Pomarine Skua pursuing some Kittiwakes. In all going round Ardnave Point, he had a total of 46 Rock Pipits! On the Gruinart estuary, Michael counted 144 Barwits and also 13 Knot. Down at Blackrock he had a raft of 72 Scaup with a male Long tailed Duck in flight. On his way home late afternoon, at Rockside there were 10 Whoopers including a family group of 2 adults with 4 youngsters. Bob today had a a male Kestrel and wee while later on a Peregrine both in the Kilchiaran area. Around midday we headed over to Tormisdale, we had a Golden Eagle down at Loch Gorm, with a further one close to Tormisdale, a total of 10 Buzzards on the overall trip, 2 Moorhens on the Distillery pond behind Port Charlotte and finally coming up the hill to home, on the fence wires, 16 Goldfincheswhile on the overhead wires around 50 Redwings. There were also quite a few Fieldfares to be seen around as well.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Michael from Dunblane had made the most of some better weather today. He had seen a total of 5 Hen Harriers, a male over near to Port Ellen, 4 ringtails, one at Kilchoman, another at Gruinart, one at Duich Lots and the final one close to Kintra. While going down the Oa, Michael had a femele Peregrine eating its' prey on top of an electric pole! This morning at Gruinart, he had a count of 1720 Teal, 1 Green winged Teal, 71 Pintail, 1750 Golden Plover and a Blackwit. On the woodland trail Michael had 62 Fieldfare with a further 70 over at Leorin, just out of Port Ellen. Also at Gruinart, he had 3 Whoopers and and then a further 5 later on and then another 6. At Sunderland Farm, he saw a Merlin. Margaret, this morning here at home, had 7 Whoopers fly past and then a Peregrine shortly afterwards. Many thanks to Gordon and Pauline Yates, the "Rochdale birders" for sharing some of their sightings while you were over last week. Today, James has been busy helping with a beached Atlantic White sided Dolphin. It was found close to "smelly corner" and I believe they managed to relocate it into the water down at Bowmore Harbour. Wonder what the news will be of it tomorrow...

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Saturday 1st November

Danny sent me through this image of a Bar tailed Godwit which he took last week while he was over, thanks Danny! The weather over here not so good, squally showers kicking around quite a lot.. By the way the tally for the rainfall for October was 6.95", just a little less than last October when we had 7".... Visitors from Edinburgh, over for the weekend were pleased to see the Goldfinches on our feeders this afternoon.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Friday 31st October

Another month almost in, wonder what the tally for the rainfall will come through at, like me you will have to wait until tomorrow...Amanda and Glen Brown who headed home today sent through some more of their sightings. On Wednesday up towards Bunnahabhain they had 3 Golden Eagles with GND seen on Loch Indaal and on a run round the Rhinns, a Peregrine Falcon, a Hen Harrier, Redwings and Stonechats were their highlights. Yesterday, over in the Gruinart area, they had Chough, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Sanderling, Dunlin, 2 Garganey, Shelduck, 2 Golden Eagle with a lone juv Whooper down at Port Charlotte. Later on Loch Indaal, 2 GBB Gulls, Red breasted Merganser, Wigeon and a raft of Scaup were seen. Albert Percival's highlights from this visit was seeing the Lesser Scaup on Ardnave Loch and the Pectoral Sandpipers on the reserve at Gruinart. Thanks folks for your birds. Yesterday, James had a look around the reserve at Gruinart and his tally came through at 9725 Barnies, 566 Whitefronts, 81 Greylags, 1274 Teal, 2 Little Grebe, 93 Wigeon, 172 Mallard, 291 Lapwing, 1410 Golden Plover, 62 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 26 Snipe, 1 Blackwit. He also saw a White tailed Eagle and a Hen Harrier. Today at lunchtime, up behind Port Charlotte, we watched a White tailed Eagle as it soared around, great to watch!!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Thursday 30th October

Rather a dreich, miserable sort of a day. It has not been that wet with a lot of rain, but just a smurry sort of rain off and on. The old computer is working a bit better tonight so I have got an image through from Danny of a Golden Eagle which he took last week...
I have also got a map through from Ed showing the exploits of 3 of his tagged Whitefronts, showing their trip up to Iceland in April, over to Greenland and bang up to date with their return here of late...
As you may have realised because the weather out here today, not much really to report, but the Rochdale birders had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier sat on a fence post round close to Ballinaby. I had one here just after breakfast time when it was out on the wing quartering its' patch. There was also a reported sighting of a Yellow legged Gull down at Portnahaven earlier this week.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wednesday 29th October

Another good day with the weather.... Danny Arnold had been over last week and sent some highlights through. He had a Wheatear at Coullabus, a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen every day from the kitchen window in the cottage where he was staying, Golden Eagles most days, a White tailed Sea Eagle at Loch Gorm on the 18th, 19th and 20th. He was also saying that he noticed plenty of Stonechats around the Loch Gorm area. A Peregrine was seen from the hide at Gruinart. On his way to the ferry on Friday morning they saw a Barn Owl. Yesterday, was Phil and the Heatherlea team's last day. Down on the Oa, they saw a Merlin attacking a flock of around 350 Twite. At the car park there, a male Hen Harrier was seen with a Golden Eagle seen from the American Monument. Later on, at Blackrock a raft of Scaup were present and from the Visitor Centre at Gruinart, Dabchick, Pintail and Shoveler were noted. Thanks to Danny and Phil for your sightings, and tomorrow if the computer is working, some of Danny's images...Amanda and and Glen are over at present with their highlights so far being, 3 Golden Eagles, 2 Peregrines in The Gorm area, on the Oa, Merlin, Hen harrier and Gannets seen while other birds included Ravens, Chough, Twite, Pect. Sandpiper and Redwing. Here at home, out over the crag a Peregrine was out and about as was a ringtail Hen Harrier. Down at the reedbed beside the Coastguard's there were around 100 Twite. The Rochdale birders had gone to Jura today where they saw 15 Turnstone, a male Merlin nabbing a Pipit and plucking it on a fence post. At Feolin, they saw a Dolphin. Back on Islay, a female Sparrowhawk, Loch Gorm area, a male Hen Harrier, at Coull, 72 Curlew. Ballinaby held a mixed finch flock of around 100 birds, up at Ardnave, they counted 68 Chough and finally at PortBhan , on their way back to Port Charlotte, a large female Sparrowhawk was spotted. Ed today had a Golden Eagle a mere 10 yards from his car at Carrabus, 2 Choughs there who got a shock of their lives! On his travels today, Ed had 2 ringtails, one at Machrie, the other at Kinnabus. He also had 2 Pinkies, one at Port Charlotte, the other over at Cornabus. I think that most of the Whoopers must have moved through as I only saw one group of 6 fly past the whole day. One of the fields at Coull, late afternoon, was literally black with Barnies, wonder how many were there all together???

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Tuesday 28th October

The weather here for the past few days has not been that great, but today, somebody turned the switch and hey presto a dry day with not much of a wind either! Janeice and Tim Scott who had been over last week had seen their first Redwing of the Autumn last Wednesday at West Tower down at Bridgend. Earlier, on Sunday they saw an Otter swim past the lighthouse at Port Charlotte. On Thursday, over in the woods near Ardtalla they had a flock of Long tailed Tits along with some Goldcrest there too. In the fields around there as well, a flock of Redwings was present. They also commented on the numbers of Whoopers both arriving and departing. Yesterday, Phil had been over on Jura with his clients from Heatherlea. A Golden Eagle was perched on thier way up to Craighouse. Small Isles Bay, an Otter was seen really close at hand, completely unaware of the group watching it! Also there were, Red throated Diver and Great Northern Diver as well as a Black Guillemot. Back on Islay, top bird was a Pinkie amongst the flock of Barnies near to Ballygrant. Back here at home this morning, we had a distant sighting of a White tailed Sea Eagle out from Granny's Rock. Earlier on I was watching the numerous comings and goings of the geese and the Whoopers as well. From the house I counted 26 different groups of them at one pass as I scanned round, just great living up on top of a hill.... I see that in the current edition of "Nature's home", the RSPB magazine that they have an article on Loch Gruinart reserve. This evening at the Bird nerds meeting down at the hide , Dave Woods had spotted a Green winged Teal. We also had pr of Dabchick close to the hide. Ed from WWT is now back over to do his work on the Whitefronts and was able to tell us us all some history about the Whitefronts with neck collars on, out from the hide as well. Bjorn had seen a Greylag the other day with neck collar N18 round its neck, it turns out that Ed and his colleagues had rung it on Tiree back in July. It's a small world sometimes!!!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Monday 27th October

Yesterday, Merja and Bjorn from Norway had seen a small Canada Goose amongst the Barnies at the top of Loch Indaal. Also yesterday, Phil and his clients from Heatherlea had seen Chough at Kilchoman and also over at Ardnave. On Ardnave Loch, a female Goldeneye was seen. At Mill cottage, a Common Redpoll was spotted. Amongst the geese at Gruinart, several Whitefronts were present with neck collars. Close to Kilchoman, they had a male and also a female Peregrine, the hen bird flushed a Woodcock and almost caught it! At Ballinaby they had 100 Twite, a Sparrowhawk was present at Gruinart, with another on their way back to Bowmore. There were 170 Whoopers resting up at Rockside. Back at Bowmore there were a few Pale bellied Brent, some with leg rings on. Today, the Rochdale birders had been down on the Oa this morning seeing 2 different Merlins, a Peregrine and a Redpoll. Back over at Loch Gorm, a female Merlin was present and at Gruinart, over 1,000 Golden Plover. Steve Percival braved the elements this morning and managed to fire his cannon nets, catching and enabling around 70 Barnies to be rung with BTO ring, Dravic rings with letter combination and also a plain yellow ring to presumably denote the actual year that they have been rung. Remember, if you are over, tomorrow at 16.00 the bird nerds are meeting at the car park at Gruinart and going down to the hides all going well... might see you there!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sunday 26th October

As forecast, not the best of days here today, still we managed to remember to turn the clocks back. No ferry sailed today, so no papers either but not that was not a great loss!!New birders off the block this week.. The Rochdale team had a count of 320 Golden Plover round at Balllinaby yesterday with a further 40 seen down at Claddach. Also at Claddach there were around 500 Starlings being pursued by a female Merlin. Redwings were seen all over. At The Gearach, a male Hen Harrier was spotted and a ringtail seen up at Sanaig. A female Sparrowhawk was seen in Port Charlotte with a male spotted at Foreland. Yesterday, Phil Knott brought a group over from Heathelea and had seen a juv Golden eagle being mobbed by 2 Buzzards at Feolin and shortly afterwards a White tailed Sea Eagle. Up at Bunnahabhain they saw 2 Otters, a great start for both sets of visitors. Wonder what Phil's highlights were for today, apart for getting rather wet... you will just have to wait in suspense until tomorrow night! Here at home this morning, I spotted 6 Whoopers attempting to fly into thehead wind out towards Granny's rock and then they did a quick about turn, what a difference with a tail wind behind them as they came down and rested up at Rockside.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Saturday 25th October

A rather blustery day here today, the ferry battered through and sailed back and forward to Kennacraig, but by the sound of things it did not head to Colonsay due to "technical" problems rather than a weather related cancellation.. it only returned the other day to "break down" today... Yesterday was the Horwich birders last day. In a hedge over at Persabus, they counted 15 Yellowhammers with 2 different Bullfinches as they headed on up towards Bunnahabhain. They also had a flock of 12 Long tailed Tit close to Loch Allan, on Loch Skerrols, some Mute Swans, 1 Tufted Duck and a Dabchick were present and coming back to their cottage, a Merlin flew low over the road at Foreland. Thanks to Tony and Chris Johnson for your sightings. Yesterday was also the Norfolk birders final day. On Thursday, at Bunnahabhain they had a Dipper and at Feolin, a Peregrine was seen. Yesterday, they saw a Merlin close to Lossit on the Rhinns, a Peregrine at Kilchoman and at least 50 Whoopers between Portnahaven and Kilchoman. Again many thanks to Mike, Nick, Margaret and Oksana for your birds, makes it all worth while for me when you share them for us all to hear what is happening over here! Bjorn-Reider Olsson and his wife yesterday saw a Greylag from the new hide at Gruinart with a neck collar, so once we get some information back, I will let you know all about it!! They also had the Barnies there along with Lapwings, Whitefronts and also a hybrid Greylag with a lot of white plumage. Bob yesterday had seen 6 Yellowhammers down the Moss road out of Bowmore. There was also a Female Hen Harrier chasing after some pheasants, but to no avail. Later on at Loch Skerrols, a Golden Eagle was seen, while over at Ballinaby, a juvenile White tailed Sea eagle, a flock of 150 Twite and also 45 Golden Plovers were all present. It is almost time for the monthly catch up of the "Islay bird nerds", so we are meeting on Tuesday afternoon at 16.00 at the car park at RSPB Loch Gruinart and hope to go down to the hides to see what is around, so if you are around, feel free to come along, all welcome.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday 24th October

Gone from one extreme to the other... from an early entry, to a latish entry tonight, only common denominator was that I have been out both evenings...Yesterday the East Anglian birders had been over on Jura with their highlight being the sighting of a White tailed Sea Eagle. The Horwich birders yesterday and had been over at Loch Gruinart and then up to Ardnave later on. At Bun an Uillt, in a field there were 2 Whoopers while out on the estuary there were 34 in one group and 11 in another, both groups resting up. Later on and 2 more groups flew in from the sea, one of 30, the other counted 14 Swans in all. They had a Peregrine down near to Craigens and also a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier out on the wing all morning from Craigens on up towards the locked gate before Killinallan. On Ardnave Loch, thee were both Mutes and Whoopers along with some juveniles and also a few Wigeon, but no Teal or the Lesser Scaup seen! There were 4 GND off Nave Island along with a Black Guillemot while a RTD was seen on Loch Gruinart from Ardnave. They also saw 5 Turnstone feeding amongst the seaweed close to Ardnave Point.. Other waders seen included 3 Ringed Plover, Curlews and Oystercatcher. A Snow Bunting was also seen down on the shoreline too. 15 Chough were counted near to Ardnave Loch and a Merlin was seen closeby. We saw a male Hen Harrier round the far end (East end)of Loch Gorm as we returned from Gruinart yesterday morning. James today had seen 2 Pectoral Sandpipers out in front of the old hide, on the reserve were 1025 Golden Plover, 119 Lapwing, 120 Whooper and a Gadwall. A count of geese tallied through at 13,595 Baries, 687 Whitefronts, 152 Greylags, 4 Pale bellied Brent Geese along with 4 large Canada Geese.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Thursday 23rd October

An early entry tonight for you folks as I am out with friends tonight and I want to write this entry NOW!!!The weather today not so good, the poor folk that are over this week have not seen Islay at its' best, perhaps the Distilleries will be the winners this week, all the same the bird entries are still coming through for the blog! Steve Percival along with his father Albert saw a Lesser Scaup up at Ardnave this morning. Bob, today had a Swallow over at Ballinaby, back home behind Port Charlotte, he had 10 Mistle Thrush together back on Monday. He also has seen 3 different Kestrels at different locations lately. The East Anglian birders had a White tailed Sea Eagle being mobbed by 2 Buzzards up above the airport where they also saw a Peregrine, all yesterday. Dave Protherough had a count of 75 Barwits, 25 Pale bellied Brents, 50 Wigeon and 8 RB Merganser at Gartmain, along at the Power generating station there were 10 Mute and 8 Whoopers. Later on he saw an Otter down at the Maltingsv and also 8 Whoopers flying up "Cornabus valley". The Horwich birders yesterday had been in the Ballygrant woods where they had a flock of Long tailed Tit, Great Tit with some Goldcrest. On Ballygrant Loch they saw 5 Mute Swans along with 2 adult Whoopers and their one youngster. On Loch nan Cadhan there was a Dabchick and a solitary Mute Swan. They also counted a total of 42 Whoopers on the pools below Rockside, there had been 32 up in Minister's field earlier on. Bob counted 15 in the field beside his house today. The Horwich birders had a Brambling on the seed at their cottage along with 15 Chaffinches and a Goldfinch this morning.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Wednesday 22nd October

The wind may have dropped since yesterday, but it is still quite windy, and as far as I know, the ferries resumed their normal timetable again.... Back on Monday, the East Anglian birders had seen 2 Pect. Sandpipers along with some Snipe out from the old hide at Gruinart and yesterday they returned and found another out from the new hide and also there were some Redshank, 6 Greenshank and 8 Pintail. Up at Bridgend/ Blackrock area, 65 Scaup and 2 RB Merganser were present. Yesterday, David Protherough had seen 8 Whoopers over Kilnaughton Bay and up on the reserve on the Oa, a male Hen Harrier while on the loch at Kinnabus, Greylags and Whitefronts were seen while back down at the Maltings at Port Ellen, 2 Pale bellied Brent have been present over the past few days. Yesterday,the Horwich birders had a flock of over 300 Golden Plover over at Ballinaby. Amongst the Barnies out in front of the new hides they managed to read some Darvic rings and Steve Percival duly was able to say that one of the geese was rung 10 years ago, one of a small flock of "wandrers" that are seen around Islay while another one was very "faithful" to where it was seen, being rung 5 years ago, another was quite faithful too but was in Ireland earlier this year! The last goose was only rung 2 years ago and Steve did not have so many sightings of it on his database! Thinking back, I asked Steve about the Barnie that turned up a few years back in New York, it was seen quite often that winter in the States but not seen since! From the old hide the Horwich birders yesterday morning had seen a male Hen Harrier, Peregrine, 5 Whoopers, along with Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Whitefronts, Barnies, Heron, Curlew and Lapwing. From the new hide, they had good close sightings of Whitefronts, Barnies, Greylags, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Wigeon, Curlew and Snipe. A Redwing and 2 Roe Deer were seen along the woodland trail as they returned to their car. Last night as we headed dopwn to Port Charlotte, just before we entered Bruichladdich, a Barn Owl was perched on a fence post at the side of the road, the first we had seen for some time, but then again perhaps we should go out more often, rather than being housebound! This morning in the garden, there was a small flockof 37 Redwings for a short time. Robin this morning had 2 flocks of Golden Plovers over at Ballinaby, each over 200. He also had 2 Golden Eagles between Sunderland and the Gruinart turnoff, one a "well marked" immature Eagle, the other an adult bird. Later on, Robin had a Coot up on Ardnave Loch.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday 21st October

Some sightings for you from yesterday as I do not think there will be many coming in tonight due to the high winds... the ferry never came although the plane through this morning, mind you I do not think it would be a calm flight!! The Horwich birders had seen 11 adult Whoopers along with 4 young down at Rockside. On Loch Gorm they counted 105 Tufted Duck and also a Pochard. A male Merlin was seen over the coalyard. Late morning over at Claggain Bay, they had a GND with 4 Reed Buntings at the Ardtalla gate. On the beach below Ardtalla, 2 Mute Swans were present ,12 Whoopers along with 12 RB Merganser, a Heron and also a Buzzard. Kilnaugton Wood held 2 Goldcrest and 2 Buzzards just after lunchtime. Late afternoon, on the edge of the merse at Bridgend, 13 Pale bellied Brents were seen and finally down on Machir Bay, 35 Ringed Plover, 25 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling and 4 Chough were noted. New visiting birders from East Anglia had been down on the Oa where they counted 350 Redwing together in a flock, 2 Merlin, 2 Hen Harriers, 2000 Barnies, 1000 Greylags, 6 Whitefronts, 2 Chough, 6 Whoopers and 2 Mistle Thush. I also bumped into a group from Speyside Wildlife led by John Picton and Darren Rees who are over for a few days, bet you never made Jura today!!! They had seen a Canada Goose amongst the Barnies down below Rocksidetowards the Coastguards Houses. Today Robin from Malham Tarn had seen some flocks of Chaffinches, after Ardbeg out towards Claggain Bay and he was saying that there had been the odd Brambling in each flock.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Monday 20th October

Steve Percival who is over at present sent through this image of a Canada Goose which he had taken down below Rockmountain at Sunderland Farm. Steve reckons that it is one of the small "Todds" species. Later on Albert, his father was telling me that they had seen a Barnie that they had rung 20 years ago, and a pair that were rung 15 years ago, the pair are very true to their location, being caught in the same field and also seen there too over all their visits to Islay! The Barnie that Andrew and Jane saw last week, Steve had caught and rung back on October in 2008! George Newall from Dunoon was on the phone this evening and said that the day that they had the Snow Buntings and the Choughs over at Ardnave was last Tuesday, we had a good blether great when you folk out there speak rather than just an email! Yesterday the Horwich birders had a Dipper on the River Sorn. From the old hide, they saw a great mix of birds, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe , Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler and Mallard. Good sightings of Barnies and Whitefronts close at hand. They spotted one of "Ed's" whitefronts with a collar numbered 22 there too, if I recall it was caught and rung the last winter. They also saw Mute and Whoopers there as well. Over at Loch Skerrols they counted 24 adult Mutes along with 5 young. 1 Gadwall, 3 Dabchick, 4 Tufted, 8 Wigeon,70 Whitefronts, a Buzzard and 2 Whoopers. Down at Bridgend, on the "pink berried" Rowans had feeding Song Thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare in small numbers. The reason I have put pink berried rather than ordinary Rowans is that back home the birds do not eat them apart from Waxwings when they come. They also saw Siskin and a Goldcrest, Blue Tits, Great Tits as well as some Coal Tits. Martin from close to Aberdeen had a White tailed Sea eagle on Loch Gorm. Emily had 5 Whoopers come in to Gruinart this morning while we had 2 different groups of 6 Whoopers fly over en route to Ireland. Ann and Noel Herd returned home at the weekend after a great week's birding. They had 2 Golden Eagles on Jura, with another 3 around the Loch Gorm area. Where they were staying, they often saw Hen Harriers, a flock of 40 Golden Plover and also the big flock at Gruinart. Merlin were seen a plenty as well as many Chough. In the wee burn going in to Machir Bay, a Grey Wagtail was added to their list. On Loch Indaal, (14th) 4 Slav Grebes, 45 Scaup, RTD and GND were seen, also on the 14th, a Wheatear was seen down on the Oa. 16th, a mixed flock of around 30 Redwings and Fieldfares, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Robins and Stonechats around the Rhinns. The following day down at Machir Bay, 3 Sanderling and 44 Ringed Plover, over on Loch Indaal, 50 Scaup and 40 Eiders were seen. From their cottage they had a count of 145 Twite and also a Brambling. Finally on their way out to the early ferry, they saw 2 Barn Owls! There are some sightings from today which I will keep for you tomorrow as I am getting tired...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday 19th October

From the ferry yesterday as they returned back to Kennacraig, Andrew and Jane had over 100 Kittiwakes and an Arctic Skua. George Newall had seen 3 Snow Buntings and a count of 52 Chough up at Ardnave, not sure exactly when as I think that George headed back to Dunoon the other day. Visitor Danny had seen 2 Peregrine upsetting the Rock Doves up behind Machir Bay and round the other side of Loch Gorm, close to Ballinaby, a juvenile Golden Eagle. This afternoon we had a few Whitefronts at Ballinaby mixed in with the Greylags, 2 of the Whitefronts had neck collars and another was wearing a transponder, must mind my scope so I can read the said collars Ed! Steve Percival had another one with a transponder over at Gruinart which James told us was one the Ed fitted last winter and was often seen in a tight location throughout, once it had been "fitted". We also saw a few Brent just coming out of Bowmore and the Barnies at the head of Loch Indaal being pushed in with the rising tide.. James saw 2 Pinkies amongst the Barnies on the reserve. Robin from Malham Tarn had see a Merlin from the new hide as well as 2 Grey Plover. Returning along through the "woodland trail" Robin reported the trees were "full of Goldcrest" and he also had 2 Treecreepers there as well. On the Bridgend Flats, Robin saw a further 2 Grey Plover, a ringtail Hen Harrier, Knot around 20 Pale bellied Brents and also Common Scoter.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Saturday 18th October

Yesterday, Andy and Jane from Bowland had their last full day on Islay before heading home today. At Octomore yesterday, they had Redwings, Reed Buntings, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Goldfinches and Chaffinches. Later on from the old hide at Gruinart, they saw 3 Shoveler, 15 Pintail and 12 Snipe and along at the new hide, amongst the Barnies they had a Pinkfoot, several Brent Geese before a White tailed Sea Eagle came along and put the whole lot up in the air. The big bird then flew across the loch in the direction of Craigens. They also had a Barnie with a darvic ring on, so once I hear back from Steve Percival, we will know more about it! On Loch Gruinart itself, they had the large flock of Golden Plover, 30 Sanderling and 3 Grey Plover with Tufted Duck seen on Loch Gorm as well. In all during their stay, Andy & Jane had 102 species seen, thanks for sharing your birds, just great... Today, James returned from his week away, from the ferry in West Loch Tarbert, he saw a Velvet Scoter, an Otter in the Sound of Islay and at Lyrabus a Merlin was seen. Changeover day today, with the birders today, so may well get some new contributors tomorrow...

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday 17th October

Yesterday the " Bowland birders" had been out round the Rhinns, a quieter day compared with their trip earlier on this week, but they still managed to see a Golden Eagle, in the forest at Ballimony, Siskins and Redpolls were both seen, round at Gearach they saw a small flock of 8 Fieldfare. Finally back on the hill at Octomore, 7 Common Snipe, a Mistle Thrush and a pair of Stonechats. Emily last night had spotted an Otter over at Killinallan. Robin from close to Settle in Yorkshire returning for another return Autumn to Islay. Yesterday from the afternoon ferry, Robin had an Arctic Skua. Today at Blackrock, he saw 3 Long tailed ducks, 2 Slavonian grebes and a small raft of 45 Scaup. Over on Loch Gruinart, he had a count of 550 Golden Plover. He also had 2 Pink footed Geese, 3 Greenshank and also 31 Pale bellied Brent. Emily today has been cross eyed counting geese with her tally coming through at 22,908 Barnies, there may have been more as Emily said the geese were quite mobile, moving around... She also counted 164 Whitefronts, 137 Greylags and 16 Whoopers. On the loch, the flock of 550 Golden Plover along with Barwits, Sanderling and Curlew. On the floods there appeared to be a big rise in numbers of Teal and Wigeon today. Mary had seen a Grey Wagtail at the silage pit on the reserve, up at Nave Island a pod of Dolphins and also 50 Twite at Ardnave. At Lyrabus, Mary had 2 Yellowhammers and over 40 Skylarks together in a flock. Emily was also saying that the Geese and Whoopers are still arriving by the day with more Redwing seen around today.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Thursday 16th October

A big bumper edition tonight, so here goes, it's great when you all send in your sightings.. Earlier this week, think it was either Monday or Tuesday, the blog was hit by 414 folk looking at it on the one day....Andrew and Jane (the Bowland birders)Had seen 27 Scaup and a Goldeneye at Blackrock. At Loch Skerrols and the surrounding woods, they had 50 Greenland Whitefronts, 4 Canada (large), 1 Pinkfooted Goose, 3 Dabchick, 4 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 15 Mute Swan, 12 Woodpigeon, 1 Sparrowhawk, 5 Long tailed Tit, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Coal Tit and a Goldcrest. On the River Sorn, a Dipper and a Grey Wagtail were seen with pr of Mistle Thrush nearby. Emily had 3 Golden Eagles down on the Oa on the guided walk on Tuesday, at Kilnaughton Bay, she counted 8 GND. This morning, Bob had a large flock of Redwing up behind Port Charlotte. They appeared to be coming out from roosting in the trees around Gearach, in his garden alone, Bob counted 48 Redwing and 20 Blackbirds! Alan and Jill from Arran who are staying with Carl, had a flock of 600 Redwing at Kildalton and a House Martin at Craigens. Carl himself had 4 Herons at An Toran as well as 7 Whoopers also there. Mary had a Chiffchaff on the Moorland trail, along the flats at Gruinart, 9 Snipe were in a "loose flock". The Brambling was still present amongst the flock of Chaffinches. Going up to Ardnave, a Kestrel, a male Hen Harrier was spotted and 2 Chough were seen soon after. On the guided walk this morning, a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen, 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese with also 15 Red legged partridges (? released birds). On the floods Teal, Wigeon, Pintail and Shoveler were present while out on the loch, a lonesome Black Guillemot was not looking too happy as it was getting surrounded by GBB Gulls and Hoodies, did not hear the final outcome! Here at home this morning, while I was looking out the window, the wee birds, well all the birds cleared off the feeders, and hey presto a male Sparrowhawk stopped by for a few moments perching on top of the small fence less than 15 feet away!!! Coming home from Port Charlotte this afternoon, a Stoat hopped out on the road, saw us coming and did a u turn and jumped back into the verge, it had a lbj (Little brown job) in its' mouth, of the furry kind rather than of the the feathered ilk! Emily was also saying that a juv Golden Eagle has been seen regularly out from the Visitor Centre at Gruinart, wonder if it is keeping an eye on the geese!!! Wally was telling me today of another visiting birder had seen a Kigfisher down close to the mouth of the River Sorn. Wally himself the other day had seen 2 Grey Plover on Loch Gruinart, and he is now up to 98 species seen, wonder if he can get to 100 before he leaves...

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wednesday 15th October

Yesterday the Bowland birders had done the walk from Gartbeck up to Bowmore and then returned back to their starting point. Their tally came through at 50 Lapwing, 30 Twite, 150 Golden Plover, 4 Knot, 12 Blackwits, 50 Barwits, 1 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 6 Turnstone, 1 Jack Snipe, 12 Whoopers, 2 Pale bellied Brent Geese and a Merlin. Earlier on at Gartmain they had seen 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese and 14 Whoopers which included 4 youngsters. There was a small raft of Scaup at Blackrock late afternoon and 7 Whoopers flew in to rest up, and just before we came along to Rockside road end, a Fieldfare flew across the road in front of us

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tuesday 14th October

Another not bad day for time of the year, a bit cooler, but the main thing about today was that it was another dry day.. Back on Sunday, Wally and Jude had a Velvet Scoter off Bruichladdich. They also had a Slavonian Grebe there, as well as 5 GND and a Black throated Diver. Yesterday down on the Oa, he had a close sighting of a Golden Eagle. This morning at Craigens, Wally had a pr of Grey Wagtails and also a Pintail from the new hide. At Gruinart Farm, a Kestrel was seen with a ringtail Hen Harrier being classed as a near miss (to the car!) as he drove round Loch Gorm! Wally and Jude's total is now up to 96 species. The Bowland birders, Andrew and Jane yesterday had 25 Ringed Plover at Bruichladdich, a Black Guillemot in winter plumage and 25 Common Scoter. From Blackrock, 9 Slavonian Grebes, 3 of which were "associating" with a raft of 35 Scaup, 2 male and 2 female Goldeneyes and also 4 Red breasted Merganser. Up on Ardnave Loch, there were 13 Whoopers along with some Mute Swans. 80 Golden Plover, 40 Chough and 50 Twite were also present as well. Up at Ardnave Point, they saw a Grey Plover.. They had no sign of the Snow Buntings there or of any Canada Geese down at Gruinart reserve itself. Here at home, a new garden bird, a Redwing and late afternoon 3 lots of Whoopers 11, 10 and a further 11 flew directly over and out to the sea and they all turned South to Ireland.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Monday 13th October

Another beautiful day, again with a sunset at present to finish the day off, and yes another shirt sleeves day out in the garden. Becky sent through some highlights from George Newall from Dunoon who was over last week. Mon 6th Oct, a Great Skua over Port Ellen Bay, Swallow Ardbeg on Thurs 9th, on Saturday, male Blackcap near Ardbeg , 2 Pochard on Loch Skerrols, Swallow nr Ballygrant. On Sunday, he had over 40 Shag fishing in Kilnaughton Bay along with an Otter! Yesterday George Jackson had a count of 25 Whoopers flying over the land along the coast line, could they have been the same Swans that we saw while doing the count? Today he had a large female Sparrowhawk at home at Bruichladdich. Yesterday Andrew and Jane ("The Bowland birders") had done the loop round the Rhinns from Port Charlotte. They started off at Octomore with a Greenfinch, down at Port Charlotte a Great Tit and a Grey Wagtail were seen, along at Carn, out on Loch Indaal a Red throated Diver and 5 GND. Off Nerabus, there was a Shag and a raft of Common Scoter. At Easter Ellister 3 Wrens, 3 adult Whoopers along with 6 juvs, pr of Wigeon, 2 Chough, Collared Dove, Goldfinch,and 2 White Wagtails. A female Long tailed Duck was seen between Orsay and Port Wemyss with a steady passage of Gannets noted towards Frenchman's Rocks. A female Hen Harrier at Portnahaven, at Tormisdale, a Dunnock and also a Song Thrush were seen. Finally at Gearach, 2 Tawny Owls were spotted. They reckon that they saw between 40 - 50 Stonechats while they were out. Yesterday as well, Carl had seen the Whoopers at Ellister. Today he had a Goldcrest and Grey Wagtail at Lorgba, Port Charlotte and also a Blackwit at Bruichladdich. Bob and Johno had Willow Warbler and a Redwing up on Bolsay Moor, up at Bun an uillt there were 20 Redshank and an Otter. Out from the visitor Centre at Gruinart, amongst the geese, they saw a Pink footed goose. Up at Ardnave Loch there were 18 Whoopers and 50 Wigeon and at the top of Loch Indaal they had a a GND. Tom Morton along with 5 friends, members of the Wigan RSPB members group had done an hour between 5 and 6 pm this evening below Bruichladdich. On Loch Indaal they counted 14 RTD, 3 GND, 1 Black throated Diver, 6 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Long tailed Ducks, 40 Common Scoter, 16 Whoopers and 20 Red breasted Merganser, They also counted around 20 - 25 Pink footed Geese fly overhead. Mary this morning had a count of the geese at Gruinart which tallied through at 16,201 Barnies, 92 Whitefronts, 97 Greylags, 30 Pale bellied Brents. Just after Mary completed her count, 2 juv Golden eagles flew up Gruinart and spoofed the whole lot and they then flew upwards out of eyeshot. Up at Kilnave, Mary had a juv Sparrowhawk with a male Hen Harrier at Ardnave. Back at the visitor centre, a Brambling was seen amongst the Chaffinches present. In the morning too from the old hide, 15 Snipe were seen feeding away and out on the sea wall, a dark belied Brent goose was seen. This evening here at home the Red Deer Stags are roaring away out on the hill...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Sunday 12th October

Another great day with the weather again, if you do not believe me look at our new link to Islay wildscapes where you can see some of the tremendous images that Teresa has taken while she is here. Yesterday Dave had a Slavonian grebe on Loch Kinnabus, it had been there on Friday too. Also yesterday, Dave had seen 3 Brambling and 2 Goldcrest on the Oa. He had also been chasing after a reported Great grey backed shrike, but no joy! This morning, Andy (one of the vols) had carried a goose count at Gruinart, there were 14,178 Barnies, 53 Pale bellied Brent, 53 Whitefronts and 80 Greylags, 41 Whoopers were also present over at Gruinart. This morning I gave Bob and Johno a help doing the count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck with the tally being as follows, 2 Cormorant, 39 Shag, 7 Mute, 38 Whoopers, 675 Barnies, 26 Greylag, 132 Mallard, 40 Teal, 60 Wigeon, 4 Goldeneye, 15 Eider, 10 Red breasted Merganser, 1 Gannet, 86 Oystercatcher, 85 Curlew, 103 Barwits, 18 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 27 Blackwits, 23 Dunlin, 10 Turnstone, 2 Snipe, 78 Lapwing, 210 Golden Plover, 9 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Gull, 15 GBB Gull, 50 Herring Gull, 22 BH Gull and 50 Common Gull. There were also a further 25 Whoopers flying down Loch Indaal on the Bruichladdich side of the loch, these were counted as not in our count area! At home this morning before setting out to meet in with Bob and Johno, I spotted a Blackbird eating some of the berries off one of the bushes that I recently planted, I suppose that was one of the reasons for planting them anyway...

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Saturday 11th October

Another glorious day and what a cracker of a sunset to end the day... Bob this morning had a fall of over 100 Reed Buntings up on Bolsay Moor along with 2 Goldcrest and a female Whitethroat. Up at Corsapol, Bob had a female Yellowhammer, 20 Redpoll and 6 Twite and from the old hide at Gruinart, a Merlin, 20 Pintail amongst the Wigeon and Teal there. Bob reckons that there are around 15,000 Barnies now here, certainly they appear to be arriving all the time...From the new hide this afternoon Bob saw a Peregrine and 2 Pink footed Geese. Down on the Rhinns today, Mary saw a juv White tailed Sea Eagle flying North along the Coast, an adult Golden Eagle and later on a female Kestrel. The Bowland birders, Andy and Jane arrived over for the week today. From the ferry, they saw 3 Porpoises while on Islay itself, they counted 80 Twite on the overhead wires at Octomre and also 2 Moorhen on the "Distillery pond" behind Port Charlotte. Up behind the coal yard at Gortan, around midday, we had a Wheatear. There was a large number of Barnies resting up at the head of Loch Indaal as the tide went out, possibly after feeding under the bright moon last night...

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday 10th October

It was great to meet in with visitor Wally along with his wife Jude who have been visiting Islay for a good number of years. Yesterday, up behind Loch Skerrols they had 16 species of birds, Linnet, Twite, Skylark, Dunnock, Wren, Pheasant, Red legged Partridge, Goldfinch, Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Long tailed Tit, Yellowhammer, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Pied Wagtail and Robin, all in a stretch of around 300 - 400 yards along the road! This afternoon, they had a Sparrowhawk and also a Merlin just after Grainel, on their way over to here. So far they have had 84 species seen this trip, and they only arrived on Tuesday!!! James this morning had a count of 11,905 Barnies and 30 Whitefronts on the reserve. This afternoon, Mary had over 100 Whitefronts. The Barnies were arriving around 200 per hour, in small groups. There were also 5 Pintails arriving behind one of the smaller skeins of 20 Barnies. Up at Ardnave, on the tideline up at the Point there were 5 Snow Buntings eating away. There were also 34 Ravens seen between Ardnave Point and Nave Island. Over on Nave Island, 79 Seal pups were counted. Back on Ardnave Loch, there were 6 Whoopers and 8 adult Mute Swans and also 6 cygnets. Late afternoon, while Wally was here, we saw 20 Whoopers heading out from Loch Gorm out over Machir Bay and then heading South, no doubt they will be in Ireland by now!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Thursday 9th October

David Livingstone kindly sent this image that he had taken earlier this week of some Whoopers flying over Port Ellen. Teresa Morris yesterday had a count of 52 Whoopers flying South out past Saligo. She also had a flock of 28 Chough in the same area too. Back at Craigens, Teresa had 86 Pale bellied Brent being pushed in by the incoming tide. She also had 42 Curlews and 50 Oystercatchers there as well. Today, Louise had a count of 120 Blackbirds all together at Gatehouse on Jura where a White tailed Sea Eagle, a Kestrel and 2 Buzzards, not a bad start to the day! On the North side of Loch Gorm, Ballinaby side, Louise had a flock of 230 Golden Plover and also a Golden Eagle also present! Today on the guided walk at Gruinart, Emily's pick included 4 Pink footed Geese, pr of Bullfinches, Treecreeper, Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Stonechat. Mary had a count of 39 Pinkfeet, 96 Brents, 1 Canada, 12 Whitefronts, 161 Greylags and 5032 Barnies. The count would have been greater but 2 overflying jets spooked the geese before Mary had completed her count... She also commented in seeing more geese arriving through the day as well. Bob had been out and about today. He had 6 Fieldfare at Glenmor behind Port Charlotte. Over Bun an Uillt he had 10 Red breasted Merganser, 5 Redshank and a Greenshank. Up at Killinallan a female Kestrel, 2 Wheatear, 1 White Wagtail along with 6 Pied Wagtail were present. Back down at Craigens, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Mistle Thrushes along with "lots" of Reed Buntings. Over on Loch Skerrols, 3 Dabchicks, 1 Moorhen and 20 Whitefronts amongst the Greylags there. Finally at Gartmain there were 15 Pale bellied Brent and 520 Wigeon. Here at home, we had the sighting of 2 distant Golden Eagles, a good spot with the scope, well done Margaret! Another day out in the garden in the shirt sleeves, not bad for October!!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Wednesday 8th October

Another dry day, but not as warm, so had to look out a jersey to work outside... Yesterday down on the guided walk on the Oa, Emily had seen 2 Golden Eagles including a juvenile bird, 2 Chough, 5 Barnies heading out over to Ireland, 5 Buzzards, juv Peregrine and a Merlin. Dave had been out and about on the Oa yesterday and he saw a juv White tailed Sea Eagle, 3 Golden Eagle, 2 Chough, a Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and 3 Goldcrest. Today Dave had a Brambling down on the Oa. Today, Bob had seen several flocks of Redwing up behind Port Charlotte. 200 Lapwing were seen at Loch Gorm with a female Pintail in front of the old hide, a Pinkfoot and 2 Canadas along the flats amongst the Barnies. James had a count of the Barnies tallying through at 6,530 Barnies, 115 Greylags, 1 Pinkfooted Goose, the large Canada Goose was still present. He also saw a Hen Harrier, a Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine all in flight over the reserve. Forgot to mention the other day that there was a Buzzard being mobbed/ zapped by 2 Peregrines, here at home, coming out from the crag, the Buzzard must have had eyes on top of its' head as several times it dropped a wing to avoid being struck. Eventually it took the hint and flew away from the Peregrines.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tuesday 7th October

What another glorious day it has been, outside in shirt sleeves for a second time in October, not that I am complaining!! Mary this morning, over on the reserve at Gruinart saw over 4,000 Barnies, along with 113 Pale bellied Brent Geese, a Pinkfoot and a small Canada Goose, not the same goose that James had seen as it was a larger goose! Up on Ardnave Loch, Mary had a Pochard. Around midday, Peter had a count of 40 Common Scoter just off the pier at Bruichladdich. As I write this entry, there is a beautiful sunset outside, here's hoping for another sunny, dry day again tomorrow.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Monday 6th October

Emily has been seeing a Tawny Owl regularly close the where she lives at Gruinart. Back On Friday evening, she saw a Barn Owl along the flats at Gruinart. She also saw a hen Peregrine mob a Buzzard, and yesterday a ringtail Hen Harrier struggling to fly into a head wind! Visitor, Teresa Morris yesterday had seen a Snow Bunting up at Ardnave. It appeared rather tired, rather hungry and preened itself for some time. For some great images of it check out Teresa's blog on www.islaywildscapes.blogspot.co.uk Paul Graham had a Kestrel on the high road close to the water works. On the Golf course, Paul had a juv. White tailed Sea Eagle as it followed the shoreline, while he had a Peregrine over the actual course. The birds made up for a poor day with the clubs!!! Carl yesterday had a female Merlin chasing a Meadow Pipit at Port Charlotte, at An Torran, 6 Snipe were seen, on the dunes behind Machir Bay a flock of Twite was present and finally down at Octomore, 2 Swallows were seen. Through the night we had quite a blow, but not much damage done a far as I know. Bob today had a Willow Warbler in his garden, 42 Lapwing flying south and 2 groups of Whoopers heading out to Ireland, 59 in all. At Gruinart, Emily had counted 81 Whoopers in total. Amongst the Barnies were 2 Pale bellied Brent and 9 Whitefronts. Dave today had 21 Whoopers down on the Oa, 2 Goldcrests, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 4 Hen Harriers, 5 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk.Today Paul G had some Barnies on Loch Indaal. Here at home we spotted 25 Whoopers fly directly over the house late afternoon. Earlier on James and Mary had seen 33 Whoopers at Gruinart and a further 20 at Loch Gorm. Certainly been a great day for Whoopers! This evening, there was a small thunderstorm, something that we do not really have here that often!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sunday 5th October

A bit windy over here today with the wind set to increase through the night, the evening ferry this evening, came early and left early but already the 7am ferries to and from Islay tomorrow have been cancelled... On the bird front, Bob had been out and about this morning. On Loch Gorm, he saw a Glaucous Gull, a family of 7 Whoopers (probably the same swans that James saw at Gruinart yesterday), 1,800 Barnies, 3,000 Greylags 300 Tufted Duck, 120 Mallard and 10 Teal. Round at Ballinaby, he saw 2 Greenland Whitefonted Geese, one with a collar on, but could not make out the lettering. At Gruinart, Bob counted around 5,000 Barnies, 100 Pale belled Brent and 14 Whitefronts. Over at Ballitarsin today, David Formby had a flock of 153 Golden Plover, with a few still in summer plumage. Late afternoon, on the reserve at Gruinart, James counted 6,230 Barnies, 88 Pale bellied Brents a Merlin and the Canada Goose (parvipes sp) was also seen. Here at home, there was a mixed group of Chough and Jackdaws "bouncing about" in the wind out around the crag, quite a spectacle!!!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Saturday 4th October

A big change in the weather today, a bit cooler with squally showers coming in off the sea. One of the showers even had hailstones and quite big ones too. We even saw several rainbows too.. it will not be long before the clocks change, only about 3 weeks away, yes, the nights are drawing in for sure... Yesterday down at Claddach at Portnahaven, Mary had a Merlin on the coast, she also saw a Wheatear close to Portnahaven itself, with a male Hen Harrer between Portnahaven and Port Wemyss. This morning Bob had 2 Redwings and also 2 Wheatears down at "The Hedges" at Sunderland. We saw 2 groups of Barnies on Loch Gorm, one of around 25, the other with about 45 Geese. There were also around 50 Tufted Ducks and a large number of Greylags on the water as well. James had a count of 1490 Barnies, 90 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 1 Canada Goose (parvipes sp.), 7 Whooper Swans, 18 Pintail and a Peregrine all over at Gruinart today.