Sunday, 22 April 2018

Sunday 22nd of April

Today, Peter had seen an Arctic Tern off Bruichladdich Pier. Visitors, Tim & Em had heard a Whitethroat singing up  behind the cottage where they are staying, Another returning visitor, Pauline Greenhalgh, had seen a flock of Golden Plovers on a ploughed field close to Loch Gorm.

So if you around on Tuesday evening, feel free to come along to the Bird nerds meeting at the old hide at Gruinart at 6.30pm...All welcome!!!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Saturday 21st April

Another wee cracker of a day with the weather, but for how long, well that could be a different matter

Peter had seen a pair of Little Terns at the top of Loch Indaal, round towards Bridgend.. Pia had heard her first Cuckoo calling at  Foreland on Thursday. Tim and Em Halliday are back over for another Islay fix...and saw  a pair of House Martin in the air at Ardbeg and also heard a Cuckoo calling away  up behind the cottage where they are staying in, Fairy cottage out towards Ardtalla.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Friday 20th April

While I remember, our monthly meeting of the bird nerds will be on Tuesday evening at the South (OLD) hide at Gruinart at 6.30pm, so if you are around, James will be there to meet and greet..

Spring has arrived, James this morning e mailed through to "confirm" this... a flood of Willow Warblers all singing away, a Chiffchaff as well, 2 House Martins, 8 Blackwit all seen / heard at Gruinart. James also saw 10 Whoopers flying North...
Lesley had some Sandwich Terns and also 2 Common Sandpipers, down at Kilnaughton Bay, with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler heard calling in the Cairnmor Woods behind the bay. Lesley also heard a Cuckoo calling, and said that the Skylarks are in full song with the better weather now.
Forgot to mention that Gary had heard a Cuckoo while doing his WeBs count yesterday, out over the moor beside Gartbreck.
James , late afternoon had been out on reserve and counted 2,640 Barnies still present, 27 Blackwit, 440 Dunlin with a Peregrine out over the flats.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Thursday 19th April

Gary sent through a list of birds seen this morning while carrying out his WeBS count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck....22 GND, 17 R B Merganser, 2 Cormorant, 23 Shag, 1 Common Guillemot, 6 Tysties, 99 Eider, 48 Common Scoter, 28 Mallard, 16 Wigeon, 15 Oystercatcher, 21 Curlew, 10 Redshank,  130 Ringed Plover, 20 Dunlin, 1 Turnstone, 93 Lapwing, 29 Common Snipe, 61 Golden Plover, 17 Whimbrel, 1 Osprey, 36 Shelduck, 1 Common Sandpiper, 60 Barnies, 12 Sandwich Tern, a Razorbill, 10 GBB Gull, 10 LBB Gull, 125 H Gull and 76 Common Gull. Other birds seen on shore was a small flock of 11 Twite, 7 Linnet singing on territory, 3 Yellowhammer singing, loads of Pied Wagtail, 6 White Wagtail, and 2 Sedge Warbler heard on the Moss Road.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Wednesday 18th April

Some sightings through from Kendall and Kendall Clark who are visiting Islay for a few days from the States. Along the High road they had seen some Lapwings showing off their acrobatic skills...They also had seen some Whitefronts while driving along the High road as well. Down off the pier at Bowmore, GNDs were seen, with Little Terns seen feeding along the shore towards Lagavullin. Before they arrived on Islay, they had Eider and Tufted Duck present at Kennacraig.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Tuesday 17th April

Rather blustery, all over the country today, with a fair bit of rain thrown in for good measure...

Today, Mandy had heard a Willow Warbler at Carnduncan. Gary saw a Common Sandpiper up at Bunnahabhain and then he had seen some Swallows at Finlaggan. This morning, we had a female Blackcap out in the garden, so possibly a pair as a male has been seen here on Sunday and also yesterday. The Chiffchaff has been very vocal again outside today as well.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Monday 16th April

Today, James had seen the Green winged Teal out from the north hide at Gruinart... This afternoon, I saw one at Aberlady as we were walking out over the wee creek there. There was Little Grebe seen there as well with a lot of Skylarks singing away good style. Back at the cottage, a Blackcap was on the feeders this morning, a pair of Siskins and then Margaret saw a Chiffchaff out on the bushes, late afternoon. so perhaps spring has come, at long last.....

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Sunday 15th April

Peter sent through some sightings from today...
Around midday off Bruichladdich pier, there was a feeding frenzy by gulls on some tiny "sprat like fish". Gulls seen by Peter were Herring Gull, Gbb Gull, Lbb Gull and Common Gull as well as a nice adult Iceland Gull.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Saturday 14th April

Rather a bad hair day today, not that I am a bad loser but on 2 counts today it seemed that way.. Firstly I do admit to be a supporter of Aberdeen FC, and well they got knocked out of the Cup today, and then to make matters worse, the Melrose Rugby Sevens tournament was on the TV...and Melrose RFC got beaten by Watsonians RFC. In that game I suppose I should be pleased regardless of who won, say no more...
On the bird front no real news from Islay, but on the Lammermuir hills, we had really close sightings of some Red Grouse. Up near the top of the hill, there was a reported sighting of 7 Ring Ouzel back on Monday, but no joy on seeing them. Coming back we had a large flock of around 300 Fieldfare on the wing, close to Gilston.....and the weather was quite good for once, dry for the whole day and warmer than previous days, not that that would be hard to do!!!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Friday 13th April

Some sightings through tonight from Mike Peacock... Yesterday, Mike had seen a Magpie along with 5 Mistle Thrush down at Easter Ellister. Out on Loch Indaal, from Easter Ellister, he saw 4 Sand Martin and also a Swallow. Today, Mike has been seeing 4 Sandwich Terns for most of the day over Loch Indaal, from Port Charlotte. Up off Loch Gorm House, Loch Indaal, the Glaucous Gull was still present. Mike had a flock of 65 Golden Plover at Rockside and then he saw a Wheatear down at Machir Bay.

Thursday 12th April

A bit a late entry, but at least better late than never..
Susan Parr and her sister are over on holiday, staying over at Kilnaughton Bay at Port Ellen. They had seen a pair of White tailed Eagles fly over and also commented on seeing some of the wild goats  and with kids down on the Oa.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Wednesday 11th April

Today, David Clugston had seen a Hawfinch down in Port Wemyss. Louise had a Bonxie out from Saligo Bay, 5 GND, 2 Tysties and also saw 7 Common Scoter there as well. All I can offer you is a Magpie here at home. I remember the last time seeing one on Islay, it turned out to be a bit of a twitch then, again here at home... a Magpie was seen last Saturday over on Texa last Saturday, and then Mark saw the one at Gruinart yesterday, so one wonders if it was the same bird that we all saw!!!
The weather has not ben too bad, so I took the chance and rotovated the ground again, in the hope that we will be trying to knock the heart out of the couch grass....

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Tuesday 10th April

Jeff Duncan is back over at present for another Islay fix...Yesterday, Jeff had seen GND, Slavonian Grebe and Sandwich Terns off Bowmore on/ over Loch Indaal. Round at Carnain, he had Sand Martins, House Martins and also Swallows. In the evening he saw a female Hen Harrier and about 30 minutes later a male Hen Harrier, both seen from the kitchen window from where they are staying! Also yesterday, Mark had seen a Glaucous Gull at Gortan.
Today, Mark had a Magpie on the reserve at Gruinart. Bob was speaking to some visiting birders at Gruinart this morning and they told him that they had heard 3 Willow Warblers earlier on, on their way down to the hide. On my way back from Bowmore at lunchtime, I saw 6 Pale belied Brent  at Blackrock. James reported though a count of 4,375 Barnies and 117 Whitefronts on the reserve at Gruinart... He also saw 2 Ruff while out in front of the hide. Visiting birders came to visit us today while I was out, but Margaret spoke with them and they saw a Redpoll, and 2 Greenfinch along with other birds around here at home. This afternoon, the Yellowhammer was still around. Later on, a Sparrowhawk zipped through, spoofing all and sundry. It flew past and returned to sit on top of a fence post for the best part of 5 minutes before flying off, still hungry!!!!

Monday, 9 April 2018

Monday9th April

A mixed day with the weather out here today, it started off with fog which eventually did clear and mid afternoon it was raining, but now it is turned out quite sunny... And no snow!!!
Yesterday, Gary had seen 4 Hen Harriers while driving up to Bunnahabhain, a male and female sky dancing and shortly afterwards, another 2 out on the wing, yes, sky dancing too, great to watch... Down towards Caol Ila, he heard a singing Yellowhammer. Finally, over the pools behind Carnain, he saw 3 Sand Martins. Also yesterday, Dr Neal Vaughan-Jones, one of the our local GP team, had seen 2 Swallows on the Eastern side while down on the Oa. He also had a male Hen Harrier there as well with some GND heard out on the water of Loch Indaal. This afternoon, we watched for a wee while, a Yellowhammer out on the feeders at home, earlier on in the rain (it was dry when we started out!) while walking back home through the dunes behind Machir Bay, my sister and I saw a cracker of a Wheatear and also close range views of the local Choughs. On the edge of the large pool in the dunes, we saw an Iceland Gull along with the other gulls there. Margaret counted 46 Goldfinches on the feeders today, no wonder I am kept busy buying niger seed!!!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Sunday 8th April

A great day with the weather out here today folks, the temperature even creeped into double figures and that is on centigrade not fahrenheight scales..
Merja and Bjoern Olsen are back for another visit. Yesterday they had seen several Buzzard  at Bridgend, Port Charlotte and Kilchiaran. They also had a Peregrine out over the hill at Kilchiaran. Out from Kilchiaran, over the sea, they had several large groups of Gannets flying past. They also had a Grey Wagtail on the wee burn leading down to the bay at Kilchiaran.. Near Bridgend, they had a Sparrowhawk with 2 Barwits  seen nearby. Back on Friday, they had seen an Iceland Gull, in a field out towards Claddach. Yesterday, Pia had heard a woodpecker drumming while she was in at Loch Skerrols
Bob, this morning had a count of 400 Fieldfare between his garden and the adjacent field. Martin was over at Rockside visiting Distillery Dave this morning, and had seen several Goldcrest and some Goldfinch in the trees there. This afternoon, up towards Borichal Mor, we had  seen a Golden Eagle and a White tailed Eagle getting higher and higher on the same thermal, great to see them together for comparison, boy the White  tailed Eagle makes the Golden Eagle look so small. We also saw several small groups of Redwings as we drove around.... Peter this evening had seen 7 Pale bellied Brent on Loch Indaal out from his house in Bruichladdich
On a foot note, this evening, I went and gave a Distillery Dave a helping hand to rescue a ewe that was well and truly stuck in a muddy hole. Boy, was I glad to have a shower when I got home....the combined smell of mud and an old ewe is not too pleasant, trust me!!!!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Saturday 7th April

A not bad day with the weather out here today, and as I write this entry a nice looking sunset to finish the day off..
Martin Armstrong had seen a couple of large Canada Geese flying past the singing sands over at Port Ellen this morning. A friend who lives over close to Ballygrant was on the phone today, saying tat he has had 12 Yellowhammers in at his feeders. Gary had seen a flock of around 500 Redwing out at Finlaggan today, and I was well pleased just seeing a few passing over this morning... Possibly birds are on the move now!!!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Friday 6th April

Sorry folks, no birds today as the weather has been not very great. To put it politely, rather wet, could even think of a stronger adjective to use but decided not to use it!!! The best part of an inch must have fallen, a steady fall, rather than a downpour. It did eventually fair up around 6pm. Coming back from Distillery Dave's a wee while ago, the Hares were out and about as usual, as well as a few Frogs seen in the car headlights on the road, a sure sign that it is not too cold outside...

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Thursday 5th April

Yesterday, Mandy had seen 2 Wheatear close to Mulreesh and this morning she had a count of 17 Whooper Swans on Loch Gorm. Gary today, had seen a Grey Wagtail and also a singing Dipper on the burn at the back of Ballygrant, close to the small hydro dam. Later on , while out with clients, he saw a pair of Bullfinch on the hedges leading up to Persabus. Here at home, as it was dry for most of the day, I took the opportunity and planted some more willow whips, which hopefully should take... This evening, out on the crag, we saw a pair of Buzzard mating.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Wednesday 4th April

Today, the weather has not been that great for the time of year, this morning it was damp and windy with the temperature not great either.. tonight, a great sky with a beautiful sunset on the cards, the mercury on the thermometer might have moved but only a wee bit, still not Spring!!!
Al Hart, yesterday had seen 2 Sandwich Terns down at Portnahaven. Today, here at home the feeders have been busy with many birds including Yellowhammer and Siskin present. A wee run out and about this afternoon produced a Merlin at Coull, a large flock of Golden Plover on a ploughed field at Ballinaby, a ringtail Hen Harrier seen out below Culbuie, several Lapwing and Redshank on the flats at Gruinart, 2 distant Golden Eagle  were out way over Borichal Mor. Back here at home this evening, there were 5 LBB Gulls flying around, a sure sign that lambing is in progress. The Chough, around 30 in number eventually appeared and "very vocally" went to bed. Another bird seen high up over the crag was a Peregrine.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Tuesday 3rd April

Yesterday, Brendon and Charlotte had counted 16 Tysties at Port Askaig as they waited for the Jura ferry returning back from Feolin. They saw their first Wheatear of the year, just as they headed out from Feolin towards Craighouse.
Back on Islay, they saw a male Hen Harrier as they were coming back down the rod from Bunnahabhain. It appeared to be gaining height all the time before peeling off its' ascent and flying over to Jura. Then, out of the blue, from where they were parked up, a Golden Eagle appeared at a low height being mobbed by a Peregrine! Further on down the coastline, high up, a second Golden Eagle was seen, with it being mobbed by a Buzzard!!! Up past Carrabus, on their way over to Gruinart, they had  another male Hen Harrier. In the dunes at Ardnave, a mixed flock of Chough and Jackdaws were present with a small flock of Twite  there as well. Finally, back at Bruichladdich, they had 6 Pale bellied Brent Geese, opposite the mini market. Thanks folks for your sightings, much appreciated...
Here today, the weather has been rather miserable, and that is being polite about it, not a day really for outside work, and certainly not a day for lambing sheep outside...all the same "usual birds" were in at feeders, the  30+ Goldfinch, other top birds included a pair of Greenfinch as well a pair of Siskin. Along towards Sunderland, I counted 3 Pairs of Reed Bunting

Monday, 2 April 2018

Monday 2nd April

Yesterday, Brendon and Charlotte had headed over to Jura... They saw a ringtail between Feolin and Craighouse and then a male was up past Lealt, beyond the end of the public road.. They also had seen an Otter close to the ferry at Feolin and from a boat trip up to the whirlpool at Corryvreckan, 2 White tailed Eagles were spotted. Before heading over to Jura, they had seen 4 Tysties at Bruichladdich and also the "usual" 4 Purple Sandpipers.
Today, we may have been lucky with our weather, windy and cold yes, and the small amount of rain we had, did not come until around 3 pm... Al Hart had seen an Iceland Gull at Blackrock, a ringtail Hen Harrier up towards the reserve at Gruinart, with a mixed Thrush flock with some Fieldfare and Redwing seen up towards Sanaigmore. Here at home, there was a Yellowhammer out below the feeders again... later on a Sparrowhawk flew through the garden, putting everything up, but to no avail!!! With this cold spell just now, the birds have been tucking into the food that we put out for them.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Sunday 1st April

Well that is another month in, and I have just realised that I forgot the rainfall tally for February as I was not here, so the combined figure that I have is for February and March comes to 5.1 inches...

Yesterday, Brendon and Charlotte had seen a pair of  Golden Eagle from the hide at Gruinart, over the hills behind Gortantaoid. From the hide, they also had a Greenshank. Charlotte had seen a Merlin as Brendon was driving their car across the flats at Gruinart. Round towards Saligo, they had a large flock of Golden Plover. Down at Bruichladdich Pier, 3 Tysties were present, and then a GND was seen over at Kilchiaran Bay.
Al Hart today had spotted a Common Lizard out sunning itself at Port Mor, out of Port Charlotte. Earlier on, he saw "plenty of Skylarks" while walking up towards Cladville, but no Wheatears.. As the weather was not that bad, I had the tractor out again, and rotovated the ground where we are going to sow the cover crop for the birds, in an attempt to knock the couch grass out of being so strong. Distillery Dave was round for a catch up this afternoon, and saw a distant male Hen Harrier away out over the crag.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Saturday 31st March

Yesterday was Andy and Martin's last day of their visit. They saw a House Martin over the pool at Carnain. Beside the pool on the left of the road as you head to the airport, after Duich, they saw a possible Marsh Harrier. Out below the airport on Loch Indaal, but really close to the shore they saw a pod of Bottle nosed Dolphins. Up at the Woollen Mill, they had some Long tailed Tits on the feeders and then a total of 3 Grey Wagtails were present on the River there.
Today was Richard's last full day of this visit... Up on the beach at Sanaigmore some Ringed Plover were seen and then coming back from Sanaigmore, a ringtail Hen Harrier was spotted.  Over at Finlaggan, he saw a White tailed Eagle and also a total of 7 Crossbills. At Ballygrant Hall, Richard had 2 Bullfinches and then down close to Avonvoggie, another ringtail Hen Harrier. Up on Ardnave Loch,  he saw a female Goldeneye and on his way back down to Gruinart, a male Hen Harrier. As ever, many thanks to Richard, Andy and Martin for sharing their sightings with us.
Al Hart is back over for the week with his family. This morning, on Loch Indaal, out from the Coal yard, he saw the second year Glaucous Gull. Also present were 2 Sandwich Tern and also 6 Pale bellied Brent Geese with some Skylark. Back down at Bruichladdich, the 4 Purple Sandpiper were still present. Here at home, I had our wee tractor out, making the most of the dry spell of weather, and made a start to working the area of ground where we hope to sow a crop for the birds to feed on in the Autumn. This evening we counted 31 Chough as they flew into the roost..

Friday, 30 March 2018

Friday 30th March

Visiting birders, Brendon and Christine arrived on the ferry yesterday... Up at Bunnahabhain , they saw a White tailed Eagle flying South, in at Finlaggan, they saw a RTD out on the loch, and on Loch Indaal they had a Glaucous Gull. It was there again this morning, along at Bruichladdich, 4 Purple Sandpiper and they had good viewings of the Crossbills in at Finlaggan. Richard today had a Merlin on the moorland at Gruinart. Down at Bruichladdich, he had the Purple Sandpipers as well as a Ringed Plover and also a Turnstone. Out off the pier, 2 Tysties, 3 GND and also some Eider were present. Out on the trees beyond The Gearach, a pair of Crossbills, while a short distance out of the plantation, towards Kilchiaran, Richard had  a Redwing with a small flock of 8 Song Thrushes, all on the ground. After that, he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier. Finally, down on Claddach Loch, he saw 2 Whooper Swans. After picking some parcels from the local carriers, we too were in at Finlaggan seeing a Slavonian Grebe on the Loch, further out on the water a large number of Barnies resting up and then 2  White tailed Eagles away out over the far hills.. coming back out a male Hen Harrier flew across the road as we approached Mulreesh. Late afternoon, we had a cracking, really colourful Yellowhammer out on the ground below the feeders, but the camera was not to hand...

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Thursday 29th March

Today Bob had seen 2 different pairs of Hen Harriers while out round the Rhinns, great to watch. Here at home, we have been watching some of the local Choughs who have been regularly been seen out in the garden probing around in the newly worked ground. Margaret saw a pair of Linnets out on the fence out in the garden today as well. Richard had gone over to Jura for the day. From the ferry as he crossed across the Sound of Islay, he had 2 Tysties and 2 GND as well. He saw a ringtail Hen Harrier just after he left Feolin and then a Golden Eagle was seen just as he approached Craighouse. Further on, he saw another ringtail as he came to Evan's way, the path that leads you over to Glen Batrick and Loch Tarbert. Back on Islay, at Finlaggan, he saw some Crossbills. Finally, Richard had an Iceland Gull and also 2 Glaucous Gulls on the head of Loch Indaal. Back here at home, there are 22 Greylags out on the grass in the garden as I write this entry.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Wednesday 28th March

Can' t take much more of this, another day and another meeting,it is a bit like waiting on a bus, you wait for ages and then 2 come along together... just getting past it!!!
Last Friday, on the 22nd of March, Paul Hathaway heard a Cuckoo calling down in Port Charlotte and then the following day Cathy Woods heard one calling down close to Octofad Farm. Today Peter Roberts had seen 2 Sandwich Terns down at Bruichladdich. Richard Belter saw 2 Ruff out from the South hide at Gruinart, a quick visit at Ardnave produced 2 Goldeneye along with several Chough. At Sanaigmore Bay RTD and also GND were present while down at Machir Bay, he had seen 8 Tysties. Andy and Martin along with their wives had been in for a natter today and while they were here, there were 3 Greenfinch, 2 Siskin out on the feeders, and then who was on the garden wall for a brief showing, a Wheatear. The Fulmars were wheeling about along the front of the crag showing us how they make flying look easy... Coming home this evening we spotted a Barn Owl I the headlights as we approached Springbank.  

Yesterday evening, we had our monthly meting of the Islay bird nerds, with 21 folk coming along. It proved quite a long but interesting meeting, the main thrust being about the Barnacle Goose cull that has been taking place here on Islay over the past few years. Dave Wood also spoke of the forthcoming surveys taking place this summer, so hopefully most of our resident band of "happy helpers" will be getting some more info from Dave of what is all involved.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Tuesday 27th March

This morning out on the feeders, Margaret saw 3 Greenfinch, 30 Goldfinch with numerous Chaffinch and a short time after a male Reed Bunting was there as well. James reported through a sighting of a Pectoral Sandpiper seen out from the South Hide at Gruinart.
Philip and Helen Mugridge had been over last week. On Sunday 18th, they saw a White tailed Eagle close to the South hide at Gruinart. The next day, they had a Greenshank on Ardnave Loch, and top birds round Ardnave included a Snow Bunting, 2 Wheatear, 30 Sanderling, 7 Barwits and also 4 Purple Sandpiper. On Friday, over on Jura they saw a Merlin, a pair of displaying Hen Harriers and a Mistle Thrush. Back here on Islay they had 11 Pale bellied Brents on Loch Indaal.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Monday 26th March

Back on Saturday, Peter had been over on Jura along with some visiting friends. They witnessed a "good showing of Hen Harriers" with 2 different males displaying to a total of 3 females.. They also saw 4 Canada Geese,  just out of Craighouse. Up past Lealt, at the end of the public road on Jura, a Yellowhammer was spotted. Back on Islay, they had a count of 18 Tysties at Port Askaig. Yesterday they walked round Ardnave Point with impressive numbers of Lapwing and Skylark displaying and calling away. They also had 2 Wheatear and a total of 8 Snipe. Back at Bruichladdich, they saw 2 Razorbill at the pier.
Visitor Richard had seen an Iceland Gull on Machir Bay this morning, and commented on seeing several Chough there as well. Down on the Oa, Richard had a mixed flock of Linnet and Twite. He also had Raven, a few Chough and also Fulmars. Down at Kilnaughton Bay, 2 Rock Pipits were seen with some Eider and a GND present out on the water. Over at the "Singing Sands" he saw a Stonechat. Over past Ardbeg, on Claggain Bay, he had a RTD and  2 GND. Other visitors, Andy and Graham along with their wives had seen 2 Yellowhammers and also a small mixed flock of Linnet and Twite close to their cottage at Kilchoman.
Tomorrow night, at  the Islay bird nerds will be meeting at 7pm in the Gaelic College for our monthly catch up, so if you are over on Islay at present, you will be made most wlcome. There will be a small charge to help pay for the rom hire, so hopefully see some new/ old faces along...

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Sunday 25th March

A tremendous day with the weather, and really not that bad a day for some birding either.. Over at the Woollen Mill, we saw a Dipper on the water with Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Chaffinch seen on the feeders there. Along the road towards Keills, while having a catch up with some friends, a quick look at their feeders produced 6 Yellowhammer, 2 Reed Bunting, a female Bullfinch, Great Tit, Robin and Chaffinch. Back at home, we had 3 Greenfinch out on the feeders, and a pair of Fulmars cackling away over on the crag. Down on ground level, 7 Hares were playing around. I saw 25 Whoopers flying in from the South this morning, they landed down on the water o LochGorm to rest up before flying North again mid afternoon. Yesterday, Distillery Dave had a Yellowhammer down on some gorse bushes on the track leading to Laggan. He also saw a Barn Owl perched onto of a fence post alongside Loch Gorm. Along at Foreland, a Woodcock was seen. Lesley Silcock has now got 2 pairs of Siskin along with Goldfinches on her Niger feeders over at Kilnaugton Bay. Andy Mortimer and Martin Gooch, returning birders from last year Spring had seen a Merlin along at Rockside...Richard Belter also came back for another Islay fix. On the ferry coming over Richard saw RTD, GND, R b Merganser, Guillemot, Tystie, Razorbill, Eider and Shag. In at Finlaggan, he had a large flock of Barnies with a few Crossbills present at the big house at Finlaggan. Finally, Richard had 2  Slavonian Grebes out from Blackrock. Distillery Dave this evening saw a Glaucous Gull on the ploughing at Sunderland.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Saturday 24th March

Earlier on this week on Thursday, visitors Dave and Jean Killick had seen a Glaucous Gull down at Machir Bay. Yesterday, Mike Peacock saw an Iceland Gull on a dead Seal, also on Machir Bay....  Yesterday, also was the Horwich birders last full day for this stay... From the South hide (old hide) they saw an excellent mix of waders and ducks.. Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon and Mallard were noted along with a Snipe, a flock of around 200 Golden Plover, 4 Greenshank, Redshank, Lapwing, Mute Swan and Whooper Swan. A female Hen Harrier was seen out quartering her patch. A hen Merlin then shot past. On the path leading through the woods, they saw Treecreeper, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and also Coal Tit. Up, out in front of the new hide a drake Gadwall was present.. Over at Bun an Uillt, they saw a male and also a female Hen Harrier. Out on Loch Gruinart, 3 GNDs were seen on the water. Many thanks to our visitors and their sightings...

This afternoon, we saw a male Hen Harrier, at close range, as it flew across the road down at Foreland.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Friday 23rd March

After a damp start, the weather picked up and what a beautiful sunset to end the day with. Morven kindly sent through the figures for the International goose count carried out here on Islay on Tuesday and Wednesday. The tally came to 34,750 Barnies, 4,422 Whitefronts and 483 Greylags. Many thanks to Morven and the team from SNH for these figures.
I also recently a couple of e mails through from visiting birders who have been over on Islay recently.. Derek Stanyard along with his colleagues have been coming over to Islay for a short 5 day visit normally in February/ March since 2010. This year they had seen 86 species , a few down on previous years but the weather kept them in for one of their days. By the sound of things, it was Derek et al who had seen the Sandwich Tern down on Machir Bay last week.... The other person who sent through an e mail was Philip Cohen from Dundee. Philip was over last weekend from the 16th to 19th March and saw a total of 78 species with another 3 heard but not seen. A great list for only one set of eyes to see in such a short spell, and especially as it was Philip's first visit to Islay, hopefully not your last!!!... So many thanks for your birds to you both, as ever, much appreciated.
The Horwich birders had seen a Black tailed Godwit out from the South hide today.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Thursday 22nd March

Yesterday and this afternoon, the weather out here has not been that great, especially if you are visiting to do some birdwatching...The Horwich birders had braved the elements with a wettish trip over to Ardtalla and Ardbeg before getting a good soaking... They counted 16 Ringed Plover and 7 Canada Geese feeding in a field at Ardtalla. Further along the coast, they had seen a pair of Mute Swan and shortly afterwards, a juvenile White tailed Eagle while along on the water at Claggain Bay a GND was seen. Back at Kilnaughton Bay, 4 Eider were present with a single Buzzard over the trees there. James has counted 37 Whoopers up at Ardnave yesterday. Peter, yesterday, had a 2cy Iceland Gull down on Machir Bay, along with 32 Chough. Over at Ballinaby, Peter counted a flock of 250 Golden Plover and later on he had seen 6 Purple Sandpiper at Bruichladdich. This morning before the rain set in Gary had done his WeBS count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck. His count was 9 GND, 1 RTD, 31 R B Merganser, 6 Cormorants, 43 Shag, 1 Tystie, 1 Razorbill, 76 Eider, 10 Common Scoter, 17 Mallard, 35 Teal, 46 Wigeon, 1 Tufted Duck, 3 Mute Swan, 83 Oystercatcher, 3 Curlew, 4 Redshank, 70 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, 48 Lapwing, 1 Grey Plover,  16 Snipe,19 Gbb Gull, 154 H Gull, 18 B h Gull, 1 Glaucous Gull, 1 Iceland Gull, 83 Whitefronts, 9 Pb Brent and 931 Barnies. Here at base camp, there have been a couple of Fulmars floating along the front of the crag, seen often over the past couple of days. The 2 Greenfinches were seen again this morning as well.
Before I forget, the next indoor meeting of the "Islay Bird nerds" will be held on Tuesday 27th March at 7pm in the Gaelic College, Bowmore. There will be a small charge to help pay for the room hire, just come along with your hard earned money....

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wednesday 21st March

Back on Monday, Bob and myself carried out the WeBS count from Port Charlotte back to Blackrock. The birds seen and counted were as follows 7 GND, 1 RTD, 7 Shag, 16 Cormorant, 25 Barnies, a single Greylag, 14 R b Merganser, 48 Eider, 2 Shelduck, 4 Mallard, 24 Oystercatcher, 18 Ringed Plover, 1 Curlew,7 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 1 Purple Sandpiper1 Snipe, 2 Tystie, 2 Gbb Gull, 4 Lbb Gull, 32 H Gull, 59 C Gull, an Iceland Gull. We also noted a Pied Wagtail, 5 Redwing, a male Stonechat and a Song Thrush , while on a field at Coultorsay with 92 Greylags were  resting up. Yesterday the Horwich birders top sightings included a pair of Crossbills at Finlaggan, a Hen Harrier seen at Ardnahoe,  a Grey Wagtail were present at the mouth of the Margadale River at Bunnahabhain with a pair of Mute Swan and a Tystie out on the Sound of Islay. On Loch Skerrols, they saw 6 Tufted Duck. Also yesterday, James had been out of the office and had some birds for us... A Wheatear was seen up at Ardnave with some Gannets also seen there offshore, on reserve at Gruinart, 14 Whoopers were present. Along at Erasaid, James counted 57 Ravens while down on the Uiskentuie strand, 2 large Canada Geese were seen.
Just the back of 6am today, there were 45 Greylags out on the Machir just over the garden wall from our house. There were a pair of Greenfinches on the feeders, a bird that is not that common nowadays here on Islay.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Tuesday 20th March

The Horwich Birders yesterday had seen a male Wheatear up at Traigh Nostaig. On their way up to Ardnave, they saw 4 Reed Buntings and a male Stonechat. On Ardnave Loch, 3 Goldeneye, 6  Tufted Duck, a Mute Swan and 2 Whoopers were present. Off Nave Island, they saw 6 GND, 20 Wigeon with 2 Gannets fishing. On Loch Gruinart, there was a pair of Merganser. Between Ardnave Point and Traigh Nostaig, they had a Sanderling, 12 Barwits, 6 Ringed Plover and 12 Chough. Finally down at Machir Bay, they had 56 Ringed Plover, 30 Chough and 2 Buzzard with a female Merlin flying past as they returned up past the Coastguards. They also had seen an adult Golden Eagle and then later on a juv Golden Eagle being mobbed by 2 Buzzards. They also commented on seeing many Lapwings displaying while out on their walk round Ardnave.
Today, Phill had seen the following birds down on the Oa, 2 Golden Eagle, 2 Chough, 2 Whooper Swan, 1 Woodcock, 2 Curlew, 5 Snipe and 8 Lapwing. Gary, today had seen a female Hen Harrier fly past as he drove up to Bunnahabhain. He had 2 White tailed Eagles displaying over the Sound of Islay. Back down round and at Finlaggan, he saw a Sparrowhawk displaying, a juvenile White tailed Eagle harassing some Hooded Crows and also the geese that were present. Gary also counted 17  Crossbills there as well.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Monday 19th March

Yesterday, Gary had seen 2 White tailed Eagles up at Bunnahabhain and a Peregrine flying across the Sound of Islay to Jura. Down at Persabus, he saw 3 Bullfinches in the hedge at the roadside. The Horwich birders are back after a few years absence, good to see you back on Islay again. Yesterday, they had been in Bridgend woods noting a Dipper on the Rive Sorn, a Grey Wagtail at The Woollen Mill. Also present on the feeders there,  were large numbers of Chaffinches, Blue Tit and Great Tit along with some Robins and Blackbirds. They also had seen 30 very vocal Redwing in the tree tops. On the new weir which feeds the water for the new small hydro scheme at Ballygrant, they saw another Grey Wagtail.. finally, they saw 160 Golden Plover over at Ballinaby. Also present were a few Lapwing and some Common Gulls.
Today, round at Kilchiaran, Lesley Silcock had seen a total of 4 Wheatears. Down on the Oa, Phill had seen 5 Whooper Swan, a Curlew, 3 Lapwing, 127 Whitefronts, 6 Chough, 2 Buzzard, a Kestrel, a White tailed Eagle and a Snipe. Not the warmest of days again, at least it remained dry, some of the farmers have been out with their ploughs. I took our wee tractor out too, and rotovated the ground where we sow some crops for the birds. I will rotovate the ground again every 10 days or so in an attempt to try to kill off the "couch grass", before sowing it in late April / early May weather permitting.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Sunday 18th March

A bit of a late entry tonight folks, but better late than never. No, my brain has not frozen yet, certainly not Spring weather out here yet, but managed along with good friend Distillery Dave to put up some more nest boxes, so we both will wait in anticipation..
Yesterday Dave and Jean Killick had walked through from Ballygrant to Port Askaig ... Ballygrant Loch held a Kingfisher, 25 Tufted Duck and a Dabchick. On Loch nan Cadhan, there was a drake Goldeneye along with 2 females. Further on, around the Lily Loch, 5 Herons were present. In the fields they had seen several small flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare,  and also a pair of Stonechats. Coming over the "glen road" towards Mulindry, they saw a male Hen Harrier. This morning, Mary Redman had seen her first Wheatear of the year down at Claddach at Portnahaven. She also had a small group of 8 Golden Plovers there as well. Mary also commented on seeing "Gulls being on territory, a sure sign  that Spring is here" not quite agreeing with you on that comment, Mary!!! Last Tuesday, Mary had seen a juv. White tailed Eagle being harassed by several gulls out over the bay.
Today, here at home, there were 29 Greylags and a Barnacle Goose out on the grass around 8 am. Late afternoon, James and Margaret saw a Kestrel flying along the front of the crag, the first seen for a long time.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Saturday 17th March

An even colder day out here today, had to look out a vest to wear to keep me warm, what a big "sap" I must be turning into..
Yesterday, Mandy reported through to say that over on the feeders at her home at Carnduncan, she had a Blue Tit  plus her garden ticks of Dunnock, Wren, Blackbirds, Robin, Chaffinch and Song Thrush plus the regular pair of Great Tits. Today, Mandy had seen a Redwing in her garden, keep it up Mandy!!! Yesterday, Dave and Jean Killock had walked from along the River Sorn from Bridgend up to The Woollen Mill. On the River, they saw a Dipper and also a Grey Wagtail. Other birds of note seen were 5 Siskins and 2 Treecreepers. Over at Eollabus they had 2 Red legged Partridges and a Redwing. Coming back up to our cottage at the dusk this evening, I saw the Hares out again.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Friday 16th March

Another cool day out here again, with the wind upping its' strength, Calmac have already stated that there may be some disruption with the ferry tomorrow... 
Jim Dickson was in touch  to say that there was a "reported" sighting of a Sandwich Tern down at Machir Bay today.  Here at home, the wee birds have been busy at the feeders for most of the day, and we had a Siskin today again. Out on the grass, we had 7 Greylags present in the morning, but by mid afternoon the flock was up to 11 geese, but no collars/ leg rings on...Forgot to mention last night that we saw the Iceland Gull at Ballinaby and on our way home, a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen below  Leek.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Thursday 15th March

Another day when the weather was decidedly cool..
Yesterday Louise had seen a Dipper on the River Sorn in Bridgend Woods. Later on, she saw a Common Sandpiper,  North of Loch Gorm. This morning, Phill had a count of 37 Whooper Swans on Loch Dubh which is on the Duich Moss on the "Low road" between Bowmore and Port Ellen. James had seen Woodcock on the reserve at Gruinart. Here at home this afternoon, we had 20 Greylags down beside the pond, and just before 5 pm, 3 of them browsing around up on the grass around the house..

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Wednesday 14th March

Been a bit on the cool side to call it a "Spring day", and to  cap it all the ferry came and went first thing this morning and decided to call it a day from 1300 hours, so tomorrow the boat will be busy playing catch up, if it comes...
So some catch up and also some sightings from today, so here we go. Back on Sunday evening when we arrived home 3 Hares were outside on the grass, as we drove up towards the cottage, another 4 ran in beside the game crop with a different 3 on the garden grass. I heard this morning that there was a reported sighting of a Wheatear up at Ardnave Point on Monday, if I get any more info regarding who saw it, I will keep you posted. Returning birders, Dave and Jean Killick, yesterday had seen a good number of Common Scoter, over 70 Eider, 10 GND, 2 RTD, at least 10 Slav Grebes and a drake Long tailed Duck out on Loch Indaal. At Finlaggan, they saw an Iceland Gull, 2 Dabchick and a Peregrine. In the afternoon, they walked up from Bunnahabhain in towards Loch Staoisha spotting a distant adult White tailed Eagle, an adult and also an immature  Golden Eagle plus a pair of Hen Harriers. On the trees they saw 2 Crossbills and another 5 mobile birds around as well. They also had a mixed flock of around 40 birds, mainly Chaffinches, but there was a Brambling, 6 Siskins and some  Lesser Redpolls along with them too. At breakfast time, this morning I counted 32 Rock Doves out on the grass, yes, they getting larger in number and possibly size by coming in around the feeders!!!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Tuesday 13th March

It might have been sunny, but the temperature was not that hot, in fact there has been a cool edge to the wind this afternoon, having said that I did some tidying up work outside this morning and then late afternoon, I got the paint brush out and put some preservative on the nest boxes which we received through from good friend Wally last week, so all gong well, if the weather is kind, we should get them up this weekend.
Peter Roberts had seen 4 pale bellied Brent Geese and counted 26 GND out on Loch Indaal from his lounge window in Bruichladdich. Today, James had counted 11,660 Barnies, 169 Whitefronts and 2 Greylags on the reserve at Gruinart. He also saw an Iceland Gull down at Bruichladdich.

Mondaty 12th March

Gary had seen an immature Golden Eagle fly across the Sound of Islay from Bunnahabhain across to Jura, and later on he had a female Hen Harrier fly from Jura across to Islay... He also saw a distant Golden Eagle over the North end of Islay! Down at Finlaggan, Gary had 9 Crossbill in the trees there, with a Glaucous Gull and an Iceland Gull present amongst other Gulls seen there. Along on the short grass beside Finlaggan House, 2 Chough were present. Finally, Gary had a Yellowhammer back at his house.  Here at home, we had 4 Siskin on the feeders amongst the 20 plus clamouring Goldfinches. We also saw a Golden Eagle flying high over the hill behind Sunderland Farm and late afternoon a couple of Lesser bb Gulls flew along the crag. Just before lunchtime I spotted a Fulmar flying along the front of the crag and head on, out towards the sea.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Sunday 11th March

Gary, today had seen 4 Snow Bunting down at Carnain, and he also spotted a White tailed Eagle out on the merse below Bridgend. Back at home, he had 10 Siskins on his feeders with a mewing Buzzard flying overhead. While waiting on the evening ferry to return to Islay, I saw a Redshank and also a Greenshank beside the causeway at Kennacraig. There was also a beautiful drake Teal resplendent in glorious plumage in the failing light. There were also 6 Tysties in at pier head as well.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Saturday 10th March

Quite a few sightings from yesterday which came through after I had done the entry last night...
Fiona MacGillivray had ben down on the Machitr Bay where she saw an injured goose being chased by a Glaucous Gull, then an adult White tailed Eagle joined in the fray, chasing the goose out to sea. The goose drooped down into the water, the W t Eagle cicled, and gave up and flew back towards Coull where it was joined by a second W t Eagle and also a Golden Eagle.
Yesterday was Kathy Evans last full day of her present visit. While having  her breakfast, a Peregrine flew past her window in Bowmore, out on Loch Indaal. Along at the council refuse tip at Gartbreck, Kathy had 2 juv Iceland Gull and her first Lbb Gull for 2018. Down on the Oa, top bird was another Peregrine close to Cragabus. Finaly down at Kintra, Kathy had  a group of  Greylags, 7 of  which had neck collars on them.
Yesterday was also William Earp's last full day as well before heading home. At Bun an Uisg, Bowmore he saw 7 P b Brent Geese with another 4 seen at  Gortan. Along the top of of Loch Indaal, towards Uiskentuie, William saw a BTD and also 3 Slavonian Grebe. Many thanks to William and to Kathy for sharing some of their sightings with us.
James yesterday said that it was a "lovely sunny day, almost Spring like"...  He had a count of  255 Dunlin on the flats, and was saying that the Lapwing present were displaying.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Friday 9th March

An early entry tonight as I am going out shortly..
Mainly,  some sightings through from yesterday. William Earp's top birds were as follows: Off Bowmore he had 7 P B Brent Geese, Ardnahoe Loch held 8 Whoopers including 4 juveniles. Up at Bunnahabhain, a Grey Wagtail was seen while out in the Bay, north of the distillery, an Otter was present. Down at Finlaggan, he had a juv Iceland Gull. Over at Gruinart, he counted 207 Golden Plover along the flats, some of which were starting to wear their summer plumage. From the hide at Gruinart, 2 Greenshank were seen, up at Ardnave, he had a flock of around 30 Chough and finally at the dusk, he had some Woodcock, at Gruinart. Kathy had a male Hen Harrier south of Dunlossit, a pale leucistic Barnacle Goose amongst a large flock of geese North of Cluanach. Down close to Kildalton Cross, she had 3 Yellowhammers and finally along at Claggain Bay, a Long tailed Tit. Peter Roberts had a Razorbill beside the pier at Bruichladdich. This afternoon,  Mandy was in touch to say that she had seen 4 Whitefronts with neck collars fitted in a small flock of around 20 or so geese below Carnduncan.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Thursday 8th March

On his way home yesterday afternoon, Distilery Dave had seen 2 drake Goldeneye off the mouth of the "Grey River" at Uikentuie. Also yesterday, William Earp had seen a Merlin at Saligo Bay. Along towards Sunderland, William had seen the leucistic Common Gull.
Today, George E.  Jackson and his wife Pat had spent some time up at Ardnave  seeing 6 Mute Swan on Ardnave Loch itself. Up at the mouth of Loch Gruinart, they saw a RTD, a GND, a Red breasted Merganser and also a Tystie. On the shore, the usual birds were present, some Ringed Plover, Redshank, Oystercatchers and a single Turnstone, 4 Rock Pipit were present as well with 2 Curlews noted up in the dunes.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Wednesday 7th March

Some more sightings through from some visiting birders... Yesterday, later on once he was out and about, William Earp had seen an Iceland Gull down towards the refuse site at Gartbreck, and he also had a male Hen Harrier in the same area as well.. At the bottom end of the "high road", he saw a Merlin. Down in the bay at Port Ellen, towards the harbour, he saw 4 RTD and a GND. Over on the Oa, he saw a small flock of 30 Twite sitting on the fence wires close to Upper Killeyan. Coming back out from the Oa, he saw a pair of Golden Eagles mating.  Kathy, today had a great start for her day this morning, spotting 3 female Scaup through her scope set up in her bedroom. shortly after that she had an Iceland Gull flying past. Along at The Woollen Mill, she saw a Dipper on the River Sorn with a female siskin seen on the feeders there.  An Otter was present at Bunnahabhain. Back down at the mouth of the Grey River at Uiskentuie, Kathy had another Iceland Gull. At Bruichladdich, she saw 4 Purple Sandpiper.  Down on the Rhinns itself she saw a pair of Golden Eagle. Gary today had a pair of Chough at Mulreesh and later on a Golden Eagle out from Lagavullin. Pat Jackson saw a Glaucous Gull down on Machir Bay this morning.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Tuesday 6th March

A bit of a late day, but been rather a busy day today. Been a busy day from the birding point of view as well, so off we go..
Yesterday, Distillery Dave had seen a Golden Eagle at Sunderland Farm on his way to work. Also yesterday, David Wood watched a juv White tailed Eagle trying to unsuccessfully catch and drown a Merganser close to the shore at Kilnaughton Bay. Yesterday also, in the afternoon, visiting birder William Earp had a Golden Eagle as the ferry approached Port Askaig. This morning William saw a an Iceland Gull perched on top of the school roof in Bowmore. On the feeders in the garden of where he is staying , a female Siskin was present. Another visiting birder, Kathy had seen 5 Snow Bunting along at Carnain. Over at Gruinart, she saw 2 Ruff in a large mixed flock of Starlings, Golden Plovers and Lapwing as she was driving along the flats, after the turnoff up to Craigens.. She had also seen a juv White tailed Eagle trying to unsuccessfully nobble a goose down over the merse at Whin Park

Monday, 5 March 2018

Monday 5th March

Back on Saturday, Phill had a couple of Crossbills in at Finlaggan. Later on the same day, he saw  2 Bullfinches, a Treecreeper, a Snipe, a Song Thrush and also a lovely flock of Long tailed Tits at Dunlossit. Here at the bolt hole, we had a pair of Siskins on the feeders, the first I have seen since last Autumn...a great sighting !!!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Sunday 4th March

Yesterday, George E. Jackson had commented on the amount of fresh goose droppings that he had seen down on the Machir Bay, presumably barnacle goose dropping after roosting on the bay after the full moon that we have had this week. Beside the pool at the carpark there, 3 Ringed Plover, 4 Golden Plover, (1 complete with black under belly) and also 4 "alba" White Wagtails were seen. On the dunes, there were 3 Lapwing along with 20 Oystercatcher and then a group of 40/50 boisterous Chough. Finally, he managed to flush a Jack Snipe out of the marram grass. In the afternoon returning up from Port Ellen along the high road, he saw 4 Redwing and also 3 Fieldfare. Finally back at Rockside, George had a distant Golden Eagle out over the distillery. Yesterday, Distillery Dave had seen a Snipe and 2 Woodcock down at Cornabus Plantation. Today, down on the "duck pond" behind Machir bay, Dave saw 6 Whooper Swan and counted 36 Chough poking and probing in the Machir itself. Gary and Sam had seen 2 Crossbills in the trees at Staoisha and when returning home, a Golden Eagle flew over Heather house beside Caol Ila.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Saturday 3rd March

Sorry folks, but I have no Islay reports through tonight.. but down here  in residence in our wee bolt  hole, I have been kept out of mischief as I have been busy clearing the snow away. It has been quite bad, and luckily there has not been much wind otherwise we could have had problems with snow drifts.. Having said that, the snow that I have been shifting was at least 16 inches of level snow, quite tiring work when all I had was an "Armstrong loader" and a shovel. On the Bird front in at the feeders, we have had 2 Yellowhamers,  5 Brambling, around a dozen Long tailed Tits, several Coal Tits, several Dunnocks, 3 Bullfinch, as well as other species, including a pair of Tree Sparrows. No sign so far of the Greater spotted Woodpecker that we had seen in previous visits. There were 16 Woodpigeon scoffing the food outside this afternoon, and this morning Margaret saw a Magpie out in the garden!

Friday, 2 March 2018

Friday 2nd March

Back on Tuesday, George E. Jackson had seen a male Pheasant nosing about in the sea weed down at the water's edge along past Ardbeg. He also said there were some Oystercatchers in the same location too. Yesterday, Phill had 12 Ringed Plover down in the bay at Port Ellen. He also saw 12 Oystercatcher and 2 Common Gulls there as well. Distillery Dave saw a Merlin zip across the road in front of him on his way home from Kilchoman.  Today, Gary had a count of 11 Snipe and also 7 Snow Bunting down at Carnain. Gary on his way home had a male Hen Harrier  fly across the road at Keppols just out of Ballygrant. George E Jackson had a count of 24 Whitefronts out towards the War Graves cemetery at Kilchoman with 15 Chaffinch and 8 Goldfinch in at the feeders ..Pat and Angie had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier down towards Gartbreck

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Thursday 1st March

The other day Phill had seen the Todd's Canada Goose down at Kinnabus, and then later on he saw a Lesser Black backed Gull. James had a count of geese on the reserve at Gruinart, with his tally coming to 4230 Barnies and 241 Whitefronts. He also had a Golden Eagle while he was out. Today, Phill had seen a couple of Golden Eagles  at Upper Cragabus, and along at the carpark on the Oa reserve, he saw 6 Golden Plover and also 3 Chough. Out at the American monument, he had a single Snow Bunting while on the cliffs there was a "lost" looking Lapwing. Up behind Bridgend, Pat and Angie had seen a 1st winter Golden Eagle while at Bunnahabhain, they saw an Otter.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Wednesday 28th February

Gary had a juvenile White tailed Eagle over Ballygrant yesterday. Today, he saw a Golden Eagle displaying over Stioasha, along at Finlaggan 5 Buzzards were displaying. Later on, Gary had 2 Snow Bunting down at Carnain. Visiting birders, Pat and Angie Fowler from East Yorkshire sent though some birds they have had so far, on Sunday, they saw an Iceland Gull at West Carrabus and up towards Sanaigmore, a Hen Harrier. Yesterday they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier at Lower Cragabus, as well as  Twite at Kinnabus. A flock of Golden Plover were seen at Leorin. This morning, when he was driving to his work, Phill, had an immature White tailed Eagle flying low across the road at Mid Cragabus.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Tuesday 27th February

James like myself had been busy putting some nest boxes up on the reserve at Gruinart at the weekend. Also on the reserve, on Sunday, James saw a White tailed Eagle and then shortly afterwards a Merlin. Yesterday was Richard Smyth's final day of this present visit... he had a Merlin sitting on a roadside fence post as he drove over to Gruinart from Bowmore. While on the moorland trail at Gruinart, he saw a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier. Finally as he drove over to Port Askaig in the afternoon to catch the ferry back to the mainland, Richard saw 2 White tailed Eagles flying East towards Jura... Hope you made it safely home Richard!!!!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Monday 26th February

Yesterday Distillery Dave along with his wife Ann had seen a couple of pairs of Crossbills when they were going in to Finlaggan. Mike Peacock had a "white wing day",  yesterday, at Machir Bay he had 3 Glaucous Gulls and an Iceland Gull. Round at Ballinaby, 2 Iceland Gulls were present  with another seen at Sanaigmore. At Grulinbeg, Mike had a flock of over 50 Fieldfare and 30 Skylarks present there as well.
Remember tomorrow night, that the Islay bird nerds will be meeting up in the Lochside Hotel at 7.30pm, so feel free to drop by if you are around.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Sunday 25th February

Back on Friday, it was the Rochdale Birders last full day of their present  visit... Over at Finlaggan, they had 6 Crossbills and then at Ardnahoe, a male Sparrowhawk was seen. Another visiting birder Richard Smyth had seen a ringtail while at the RSPB reserve at Gruinart, today.. I see that the Norfolk birding group led by Chris Mills, who were over had seen 106 species while they were here at the end of January/ early February. One or two birds were seen on the mainland, but still a very impressive list of birds...

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Saturday 24th February

Today, I spent some quality time working out in the garden, the main theme was to put our nest boxes up, and with a bit of help from son Andrew, we got the job done, thanks son.... All we need is the birds to come and have a look at their new luxury accommodation palaces...

Our good friends from Bearsden had 10 blackbirds in their garden this morning.

Thanks to our many visiting birders who have contributed their sightings for folk to read about our birds here on Islay.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Friday 23rd February

Yesterday morning as he was driving to his work at Kilchoman Distillery, Dave had a Merlin fly across the road while he was travelling along the south side of Loch Gorm. A short while later on he saw some Redwing in one of the fields beside the road.. At the other end of his day, up at Kilchoman, he watched the Chough going into the roost...Back on Wednesday,  Danny had seen a mixed flock of Starlings, Redwing and Fieldfare when he was up at Sanaigmore.
Just been watching a program on the TV on wildlife cameramen, and it was great to watch and see our friend and colleague John Aitchison

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Thursday 22nd February

Today, Gary had seen a male Hen Harrier and also the Crossbills were still at Finlaggan. This morning,  I was speaking with a group of birders who have been visiting Islay this week, and they had seen 106 species, they had been staying over at Red Lodge on Laggan Estate. Today, the Rochdale birders had 28 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone at the pool beside Machir Bay. Round at Balinaby, they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier and also a female Sparrowhawk. Along at Foreland, 3 Woodcock were seen and further on they saw 3 Hen Harriers going to the roost down on the Rhinns. The Hampshire birders had walked out from Ballygrant, over to the Sound of Islay. They had a really close sighting of a Golden Eagle... Other birds of note seen were a ringtail Hen Harrier, a Peregrine, . Down on the Sound of Islay they saw RTDs, Wigeon , Whitefronts and Barnies with a vocal Raven cronking away...

Before I forget the monthly catch up of the Islay bird nerds will be on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm in the Lochside Hotel in Bowmore, so feel free to come along if you are around.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Wednesday 21st February

Gary yesterday had been out with a client and had a White tailed Eagle up behind Ballygrant and then later on they had seen 9 Crossbill at Finlaggan. Today, Gary and Lesley had carried out the WeBs count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, Bob's former patch. Their top birds were 2 Grey Plover, 8 Knot, 3 Glaucous Gull and an Iceland Gull. The Hampshire birders are still here , but have had no internet connections at all for the past 2 weeks.. Up at Loch Cam, a Reed Bunting and also a Grey Wagtail were seen while down at Bowmore,  Eider, Common Scoter and Lapwing were present. The Rochdale birders had seen 10 Purple Sandpipers in total down at Bruichladdich this morning, and were commenting on seeing 5 White tailed Eagles over the past 3 days!! Bob had a Reed Bunting in  his garden today. Here at home, a Siskin was at the feeders with 2 Greenfinch seen on the nut feeders around midday, and a count of 38 Chough going in to the roost just as the light was starting to fail.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Tuesday 20th February

Mike Peacock was in touch this morning to say that the "Iceland Gull" which he had seen down on Machir Bay, turned out to be a leucistic Common Gull. I, last night forgot to mention that Val Peacock, Mike's wife had seen a male Bullfinch over at The Woollen Mill.
An email through from Phill with some sightings seen down on the reserve on the Oa today...  A Cormorant on Glenastle Loch(an uncommon sighting there), 15 Teal, 10 Mallard, 7 Tufted Duck, 6 Oystercatcher, 8 Lapwing, 93 Twite, 2 Goldfinch, 3 Chaffinch, 4 House Sparrow, 885 Barnies, 129 Whitefronts, 26 Greylags, 3 Skylark, 3 Rock Pipit, 50 H Gull, 2 Gbb Gull, a ringtail Hen Harrier, a Buzzard and a Merlin.
James, today,  had carried out his WeBs count today for the flats and the floods at Gruinart, so here is his count: 15 Whoopers, 525 Lapwing, 35 Redshank, 14 Snipe, 46 Curlew, 561 Teal, 1 Greenshank, 2 Dabchick, 4 Heron, 48 Pintail, 8 Shoveler, 94 Wigeon, 1 Tufted Duck, 590 Wigeon, 38 Common Gull, 9 B h Gull, 1404 Golden Plover, 4 Mute Swan and 31 Mallard.
Also today, Louise saw a Bonxie off the pier on Jura. Bob has had some Siskins lately on his feeders and today he had a Redpoll there as well. Here at home, the Lapwings, only 12 today, were flying around very acrobatically. Distillery Dave was up visiting us late afternoon, and watched the Chough flying in to their roost.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Monday 19th February

Rather a misty kind of a day out here on the far west of Islay, but our birders here were undeterred...

Forgot to mention last night that we had a Merlin zip through the garden , boy was it moving along rather smartly... Today we had a flock of 14 Lapwing flying around over the Machir, and then late afternoon, a Fulmar was soaring along in front of the crag. The Rochdale Birders had seen a White tailed Eagle fly from Jura  across the "Sound of Islay" and after a wee while they saw it fly back over to Jura. Later on, while they were driving along the "Glen road" they counted  205 Whitefronts in a field at Cattadale. Another returning birder to Islay, Danny saw a male Sparrowhawk sitting on a fence post over at Coull late afternoon. Mike P. had been down on Machir Bay this afternoon where he had 4 Glaucous and an Iceland Gull, good spotting Mike!! Mark had carried out the WeBS counts at Gruinart today, so here are the birds seen, 2 GND, 3 Heron, 174 Shoveler, 218 Wigeon, 37 Mallard, 3 Goldeneye, 7 R b Merganser, 3 Snipe, 207 Oystercatcher, 32 Ringed Plover, 85 Lapwing, 4 Knot, 30 Sanderling, 57 Barwits, 86 Curlew, 27 Redshank, 5 Greenshank, 45 Turnstone, 12 B h Gull and 177 Common Gull.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Sunday 18th February

This morning, Bob, Lesley and myself carried out the WeBS count from Port Charlotte round to Blackrock round the top of Loch Indaal. This is usually the section counted by Gary, but Bob and Gary have changed routes, with Gary counting the stretch from Bowmore  to Gartbreck, so here are our "scores on the doors".....8 GND, 10 Cormorant, 4 Shag, 5 Curlew, 6 Redshank, 8 Lapwing, 12 Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 15 Common Scoter,  3 Snipe, 3 Shelduck, 2 Mallard, 8 Eider, 5 Goldeneye, 1 Long tailed Duck, 12 R b Merganser, 5 G BB Gull, 36 H Gull, 37 C Gull, 1 Glaucous Gull.  Just as well that we carried the count, early this morning, as the weather turned out in to a miserable, damp, dreich afternoon, just as well too that I spent some time yesterday, tidying up part of the game crop!!! The Rochdale birders had been  out and about, seeing a ringtail Hen Harrier over at Sanaig, up at Finlaggan, they saw a pair of Crossbills. 2 Siskins were present at the Woollen Mill and on their way back to  Port Charlotte where they stay, 8 Purple Sandpipers were seen at Bruichladdich.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Saturday 17th February

Yesterday, Gary had spotted a Gannet off the top of Ardnave Point. Today, he had a Golden Eagle soaring around above Bunnahabhain. Here at home, there were around 40 Chough poking and probing around in the ground out on the Machir. With the weather being a lot better today, I got the wee tractor out with its' topper on and made a start to tidying up the game crop, ready for the plough and reseeding it again for another season for the birds to appreciate, a start in the right direction...
Weather permitting, tomorrow morning, Bob and myself are going to do our WeBs count, but Distillery Dave is out on the mainland, so will not be with us!!!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Thursday 15th February

Not a lot  to report tonight, as the weather out here has not exactly been favourable for birdwatching!!
The Rochdale birders had seen a Raven carrying nesting materials in towards a nest site when they were out yesterday. Today, Bob had seen a Glaucous Gull down on the pool behind Machir Bay.
As the wind never really let up today, I made use of plan "B" when trying to feed the birds, namely put their seed on the ground. Amazing how quickly they adapted to this, perhaps they were just happy that somebody had braved the elements to feed them!!!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Wednesday 14th February

Just as well that I went out in the dark last night and took down our 2 big bird feeders as they might have been down on the ground this morning, smashed to pieces. Yes, it was quite windy. The ferries had ben cancelled this morning with a rescheduled timetable, sailing later on in the afternoon and early evening offering any hardy soul a chance of a bumpy sail across to Islay... Doubt if they sold much food, the chefs would not have been that busy!!!
The Rochdale birders today had braved the elements, up behind Port Charlotte, close to Gearach, they had counted 84 Whitefronts and down beside the War memorial at Port Ban below Coultorsay , over 40 Curlews were present. Mid afternoon as they drove over the hill from Gruinart, between Grainel and the former Kilchoman school, they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier sitting on a fence post.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Tuesday 13th February

The Rochdale birders had counted a flock of 60 Fieldfare over at Finlaggan, and then they had seen over 20 Raven up near to Storakaig on the "Glen road". Finally they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier along the far end of Loch Gorm.  Mike Peacock had seen 2 Glaucous Gulls down at Machir Bay. Our good friend "DJ" had been up the crag behind Kilchoman where he saw the pair of Ravens, a Sparrowhawk and also a male Hen Harrier. All I can add to todays sightings were 3 Reed Buntings seen beside the old church, here at home, seen while I was out "pootering" (not pottering!) around on the wee tractor, boys and their toys...

Monday, 12 February 2018

Monday 12th February

Just to get you all in the mood for tonight's entry, please read the first paragraph of yesterday's blog, as the weather here was similar to yesterday, although I actually met a snowplough / gritter on our road before 9 am!!! The whole of the snowplough looked rather new with its' yellow paint still pristine... Pity they could not sort the potholes on the roads, say no more!!!
The Rochdale birders had ben out again, yes I spotted them. They saw a ringtail Hen Harrier over the merse as they approached Bridgend. Over at Kildalton cross, they heard a Great spotted Woodpecker drumming away on the trees nearby, and they also saw 10 Yellowhammers on the feeders in the middle of the game crop beside Calum's, the head gamekeeper's house just along the road, still on Ardtalla Estate. On their way back home, they saw 2 Snipe at Carnain. Distillery Dave had a ringtail Hen Harrier below Sunderland, on his way home from his work at Kilchoman Distillery.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sunday 11th February

Been a sort of a miserable sort of a day out here today, with plenty of dirty snow showers rolling in off the sea, not a pretty sight.. and not the warmest of days either!!!
Today, the Rochdale birders had been out, seeing the Iceland Gull at Ballinaby. Also seen there was a ringtail Hen Harrier, a flock of over 300 Golden Plover and also 30 Fieldfare. Round at the head of Loch Gorm (East end), over the moor,  they saw a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier. They also had seen another pair flying, over at Gruinart. This afternoon, Fiona and Mandy saw a Golden Eagle eating away on a Barnacle Goose carcase down on the stubbles at Sunderland. The dead goose had been seen by Fiona in the same place this morning...
Here at home, there were over 500 Barnacle Geese plus 30+ Greylags on the Machir towards the war graves cemetery. They were the wrong side of the garden fence, so I could not class them as "house birds"!!! The feeders have been busy as ever, even more birds today with the snow, at one time we had 36 Goldfinches, and also a solitary Greenfinch in amongst the numerous Chaffinches. Skulking around,  making the most of the food on the ground, 22 Rock Doves were counted. 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Saturday 10th February

Yesterday, Gary had seen a Golden Eagle up at Ardnahoe, and then shortly afterwards, he had a male Hen Harrier flying over the bay at Bunnahabhain. Today, Bob and Distillery Dave had spent some time down at the old hide at Gruinart. A great time was had, top bird was a drake Ring necked Duck, out to the left of the hide. They also had seen 4 Greenshank, 5 R b Merganser and counted 38 Pintail. There was a large flock of Golden Plover seen in the air, a few other waders with them. Other returning birders from Rochdale are back for another fix, they had seen  a Sparrowhawk over at Avonvoggie, 2 Glaucous Gulls at Corsapol, the Iceland Gull in the mud at Ballinaby and also a large female Peregrine sitting on top of a fence post close to the road at Coull.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Friday 9th February

The other day, Distillery Dave had seen some wild goats while he was out for a walk up at Sanaigmore. Yesterday, while coming back from a team meeting in Oban, from the ferry coming up the Sound of Islay, James had seen 2 White tailed Eagles. Here at home there have been plenty of wee birds in at the bird food on offer, hope it is not a sign that we are going to get some cold weather coming in...

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Thursday 8th February

The Hampshire birders had a good bird watch along the coast line from Carnain to Bruichladdich. their top birds seen were  Eider Ducks, Purple Sandpipers, Lapwings, Pale bellied Brent Geese, Barnies and also Whitefronts. Today was Steve Holliday's final day for this visit.. Down on the Oa, at Kinnabus, he saw a small flock of over 80 Twite, with Claggain Bay producing 4 GND. Back up at Bowmore, out on Loch Indaal a GND, a Slav. Grebe and 13 Common Scoter were noted with the juv Iceland Gull seen there as well. Up at Gruinart, Steve had 58 Dunlin, 3 Ruff, 38 Redshank, 2 Whoopers and 40 Pied Wagtails and also a large flock of Golden Plover. Round at Coull, this morning, we had a Merlin who ducked and dived through the gorse bushes alongside the road and then just after the cattle grid at Ballinaby, 20 Fieldfare rose off the fields there.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Wednesday 7th February

Apologies to Garry, overlooked your 2 emails that you sent through with a few sightings on them... On Monday, he saw 2 Chough flying by at Kilnaughton during the commemorations there. Later on, he saw a Merlin chasing after some Starlings up at Mulreesh. Yesterday, Gary had 2 Glaucous Gulls down at the refuse dump towards Gartbreck below Bowmore. Also seen nearby was a large female Sparrowhawk hunting after some wee Lbjs... Gary and Wendy, aka "The Hampshire Birders" are back over for another stint on Islay. From their cottage near to Carnain, yesterday, they had seen a male and also ringtail Hen Harrier, a Whooper Swan and 2 Snipe. Along at Blackrock, they saw 18 Ringed Plover, 6 Turnstone, 20 Dunlin, 8 P b Brent Geese, 10 Scaup, pair of R b Merganser and finally in the walled garden at the Islay Community garden, a Grey Wagtail was spotted. Also, yesterday evening I saw a Barn Owl perched on top of a fence post beside the road as I drove over to Gruinart.
This morning, before the dampness set in, Steve Holliday had a count of 8 GNDs, 21 Eiders, 8 P b Brents off Bowmore, with a juv. Iceland Gull on the tideline. He saw the 4 Snow Buntings along between Carnain and Blackrock with a raft of 20 Scaup close in at Blackrock itself. On the floods at Gruinart, 9 Whoopers were present while in the fields behind Machir Bay, 39 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone and also 3 Chough were present. Mid afternoon, Steve "refound" his Cackling goose, this time up at Newton, in the field behind the cottages on the left as you drive towards Ballygrant from Bridgend.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Tuesday 6th February

This morning Bob had seen 4 Snow Buntings along the shoreline between Cash Kelly's and smelly corner. Not to be outdone, Phill saw the Todd's Canada Goose out of the office at Kinnabus. Just before lunchtime, I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier close to Sunderland, and this afternoon, Margaret saw another one up behind West Carrabus. Today, Steve Holiday had a Slav Grebe, 29 Common Scoter, 17 Eider, a Goldeneye and a GND on Loch Indaal seen from Bowmore. Further round Loch Indaal, Steve counted a raft of 20 Scaup. At Gruinart, he saw 3 Ruff, and upon Ardnave Loch, 2 Dabchick, 13 Tufted Duck and 4 Goldeneye were present. Finally, round at Rockside/ Kilchoman Distillery, he had 25 Chough.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Monday 5th February

Yesterday, Matt Bruce and his friends made the most of a great day, not only the weather was great, but their birding was not that bad either!!! 2 ringtail Hen Harriers and a distant Golden Eagle were noted in the air over the reserve at Gruinart. On the floods at Gruinart they saw 2 Greenshank and also 12 Pintail. On Loch  Indaal, they saw "2 BTD amongst the more numerous RTD and GNDs present, but did not manage to see any Slav Grebes or Long tailed Ducks". Yesterday evening as the sun was setting, boy it was good, they saw the Glaucous Gull on Machir Bay with 2 Fulmars seen out over the sea.
Today, some other new contributors to the blog... Steve Holliday and his wife arrived over for a few days birding from Northumberland. They too have had a  great day. They saw 2 juv. Golden Eagles over the Cornabus plantation out of Port Ellen. They also had a White tailed Eagle as they drove up to Bunnahabhain. Mid afternoon, they saw a Cackling Goose, sleeping, amongst the Barnies on the merse at Bridgend. At Kennacraig, prior to the ferry leaving, they had 8 Tysties in summer plumage and during the sailing to Port Ellen, they counted 29 GND.
Down at the Woollen Mill, this afternoon, on the feeders there, we saw the ever present mixed flock of Great Tits, Blue Tits and Coal Tits, but no Siskins were seen...

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Sunday 4th February

Yesterday was the start of a week's visit to Islay by Matt Bruce who along with his friends were the  winners of a holiday in a cottage provided by  and our ferry provider, Calmac giving them tickets to match. On the ferry crossing over to Port Askaig, they had seen 14 GND, 2 RTD, a Tystie, 9 R b Merganser, a few Kittiwakes and 4 Long tailed Ducks. Up at Bunnahabhain, they saw 2 Buzzards having a tussle with a Raven, and also distant views of a Golden Eagle over Jura. Later on, on their way to Bowmore they had a Barn Owl hunting along the verge. They also had a field of around 60 Whitefronts as the light was starting to fail.
This morning, Peter and Pia had seen the Glaucous Gull down on Machir Bay, also present were 45 Ringed Plover and 40 Oystercatcher. This afternoon, James had  a Merlin on the reserve at Gruinart. He also had 2 ringtail Hen Harriers, one at Gruinart and one just after the junction leading   to Sanaigmore, just after the telephone box below Carnduncan. This morning, we had over  30 Goldfinch in at the feeders, great to see and then later on a ringtail Hen Harrier, less than 10 metres away, down close to the Coastguards, right place, right time!!! We also saw another one fly past James's kitchen window while we were in having a cuppa...

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Saturday3rd February

I was speaking with Chris Mills who said that they had seen 104 species when he had been over with the group from Norfolk birding. Many thanks to them with sending in their sightings each day.
This morning, we had a Mistle Thrush out on the garden fence, and also there was a Fieldfare perched on either side of the Mistle Thrush. Later on, just after midday, we saw 2 Golden Eagles , just after we came past Sunderland Farm. Distillery Dave saw another one, late afternoon, down behind Machir Bay which proceeded to spoof some of the geese over at Coull.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Friday 2nd February

Yesterday, Bob had seen an Iceland Gull down at Lossit Farm on the Rhinns. Today was the last full day for the Norfolk birding group who have contributed birds for the blog over their stay.  There was hardly any wind to speak of... On Loch Indaal, they saw 8 Long tailed Duck, 25 Scaup, 30 GND, over 20 Slavonian Grebes and a group of 30 R b Merganser. Later on, they saw the Todd's Canada Goose at Kinnabus on the Oa, a Sparrowhawk also on the Oa, 3 Golden Eagles, a ringtail Hen Harrier and a flock of 150 Twite. Finally, at Blackrock, they had a Pied Wagtail, so think that is over 100 species seen through their stay, not bad going considering the weather that they have had...The weather, today,  has been great out here, so much so that that I was busy doing some work out in the garden for most of the day, no need for a jacket at all!!!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Thursday 1st February

Another day, or another way to look at it another month. Here at home our rain gauge tallied out at 7.85 inches while Marsali's figure for the month came to 9.4 inches, not many dry days in either place!
Today Gary had seen 3 Glaucous Gulls down at Bun an Uisg at Bowmore, a White tailed Eagle up behind Ballygrant, 2 Crossbills in at Finlaggan. On his way up to Bunnahabhain, Gary saw 4 Bullfinches. Today, Chris Mills and the Norfolk birding group had a ringtail Hen Harrier out quartering its patch down beside Loch Gorm. Up close to Kilchoman Distillery, they saw 20 Chough. At Ballinaby, the Iceland Gull was seen and along up past the track to Leek, 20 Fieldfare and 3 Redwing were present. At Gruinart, an adult White tailed Eagle was spotted on the ground before it flew off. Out on the floods, 12 Whoopers were seen, while up the East side of Loch Gruinart they saw 4 Greenshank, 25+ Mipits up past Craigens, 4 Barwits, 30 Turnstone and a Stonechat. Finally, back at Kilchoman they saw 31 Chough flying back to the roost.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Wednesday 31st January

Yesterday, Mike Peacock had seen a 2CY Glaucous Gull and then round at Ballinaby, the Iceland Gull was still present. Also yesterday, Chris from Norfolk Birding along with his clients saw 9 Purple Sandpipers at Bruichladdich. Out on Loch Indaal they had over 200 Common Scoter and 12+ Slavonian Grebes. Back round the top of Loch Indaal and at Blackrock, 2 Golden Eagle were spotted and then finally as the light was stating to fail at dusk, a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at Gruinart. Today, Val Peacock had seen a Merlin out below Bob's house up behind Port Charlotte. Here today, the pesky Sparrowhawk was siting on the top of a fence post watching al1 the world go past. The pair of Ravens out along the crag have been quite vocal today. Wonder how much rain has fallen here in January, only a few hours to go, the suspense is killing me, possibly more than last January, you will just have to patient and wait until you read the blog tomorrow night...

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Tuesday 30th January

Yesterday morning, Chris Mills had seen a couple of Fulmars in, soaring along the front of the crag, this evening the wind has picked up a bit and swirling around, the wind is not too clever tomorrow either ... Bob had 10 Greenfinch in his garden the other day. Yesterday, Bob had 49 Scaup along at Cash Kelly's/ Blackrock on Loch Indaal.
Here at home, on the big bench this afternoon where the wee birds normally feed, well the Sparrowhawk was sitting as if it owned the said bench and on the ground on the other side, a male Pheasant quite oblivious to the Sparrowhawk less than 6 feet away, just as well that the Pheasant was busy looking for seeds on the ground.. and they were there for over a couple of minutes with my camera away out of the way!!! It was the Sparrowhawk who moved away first...and no there were no wee birds around watching!!!

Monday, 29 January 2018

Monday 29th January

Gary today had a Snow Bunting down at Carnain and later on had an adult White tailed Eagle over at Bunnahabhain. Chris Mills along with his clients had a great day as well... Up at Sanaigmore , a pr of Golden Eagles, then in the fields at Carrabus, 2 first winter Iceland Gulls. They saw a juv. White tailed Eagle and also a Golden Eagle up behind Ballygrant, great to see them for showing a comparison in size between them. Shortly afterwards, they saw 10 Crossbills in at Finlaggan.   On their way up to Bunnahabhain they saw  another 3 Goldies as well as a pair of Peregrines and then down at Bunnahabhain, the White tailed Eagle, possibly the same bird that Gary saw. Coming back they saw a Cackling Goose amongst around 1,500 Barnies, close to Eorrabus. The weather has been a lot better here today, Margaret had 3 Dunnocks hopping around under the feeders today and I saw 2 Buzzards being "blown" along the top of the crag in a strong gust at another time!!! Yesterday, Chris had seen a Raven carrying in towards its' nest up on the crag 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Sunday 28th January

Nothing much to report tonight, the weather certainly has not ben kind to us, not much use really for trying to count the birds for Gardenwatch...Chris Mills from Norfolk birding is over this week with a group of  7 clients. They did venture out today seeing both the Iceland and also the Glaucous gull in the field at Ballinaby. They also saw the  Greenshank and Ruff out from the South hide at Gruinart and then up at Ardnave they counted 31 Chough. Here at home, the  Sparrowhawk flew through the garden, earlier on I had spoofed 11 Pheasant out from one corner of the garden, they only flew over 100 metres or so, landing in the game crop a bit further on!!!!

Mind and watch BBC "Winterwatch" with some footage from Islay, not sure what is being screened on which nights....

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Saturday 27th January

Yesterday, Gary had seen 4 Glaucous Gulls and 2 Iceland Gulls amongst other gulls in the fields on the high road, close to the junction that leads to Cruach and Bowmore. He also saw a Bullfinch flying across the road nearby from the plantation over to the scrubby trees beside the River Laggan. Today Distillery Dave had been up for a fix at Gruinart where he had large numbers of Dunlin and Golden Plover as well. Out from the South hide, Dave had 4 Greenshank and also 2 Ruff. On his way home, along the flats at Gruinart, Dave saw a Glaucous Gull. Mid afternoon, we had a Glaucous Gull flying towards us, as we approached Cash Kelly's former house and Blackrock.

As some of the BBC "Winterwatch" is being screened with footage from Islay, we have decided not to hold the "Islay bird nerds" evening out in the Lochside. We will be having it there, the following Tuesday, the 6th of February at 7.30pm when we will put a few pounds on eating some of Archie's finest food... a grand way to spend an evening and catch up with some friends....

Friday, 26 January 2018

Friday 26th January

This morning, I gave Bob a hand to carry out his WeBs count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, so here are the birds which we saw.... 1 Slavonian Grebe, 1 GND, 3 Grey Heron, 15 Shag, 5 Cormorant, 4 Greylag, 999 Barnies, 60 Whitefronts, 9 Shelduck, 12 Mallard, 39 Teal, 80 Wigeon, 5 Goldeneye, 2 Eider, 4 R b Merganser, 25 Turnstone, 85 Oystercatcher, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 202 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 148 Barwit, 3 Knot, 32 Dunlin, 13 Redshank, 23 Ringed Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 40 Golden Plover, 82 Lapwing, 12 Gbb Gull, 12 C Gull, 220 H Gull and 3 B h Gull. Great to see so many Turnstone. It was a great time this morning in flat calm conditions....
Here at home, just after lunchtime, a quick squint out the window and a scan round the air space above the Machir produced a Golden Eagle. Earlier on, just after my return from helping Bob, a Sparrowhawk flew past and through the garden...

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Thursday 25th January

Ed Burrell has returned to continue on with his studies into the Whitefronts. Yesterday, Ed had seen a 1st winter Iceland Gull between Claddach and Portnahaven. He also had seen the Todd's Canada Goose down at Cornabus. Today, Ed had a Glaucous Gull over close to Laphroaig and also some Crossbills at Cornabus. Gary, today had seen 2 Glaucous Gull and an Iceland Gull amongst the large numbers of Gbb Gull, H Gull, C Gull and B h Gull between Bowmore harbour and Bun an Uisg. From the Auction Market at Bridgend down to the mouth of the River Sorn Gary had 18 Long tailed Tits, a Great spotted Woodpecker and also a male Goosander. Late afternoon, here at home, I managed a quick count of the Choughs as they flew into the roost, 34 in all... being very vocal as usual.... Louise, this morning, had an Iceland Gull and also a Glaucous Gull in what was a field of stubble turnips round at Ballinaby, now just a muddy mess...

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Wednesday 24th January

Forgot to mention last night, that we had a ringtail fly past, over the garden, great to watch..
Yesterday evening, Malcom gave an illustrated talk on his recent visit to Tanzania, needless to say it brought some great memories back ...
Today, Mike had been down at Carnain where he saw 5 Snow Bunting, 5 Pbb Brent Geese, 100 + Dunlin, 7 Turnstone, 50+ Ringed Plover, 33 Shelduck and at Blackrock, Mike had a count of 43 Greater Scaup. Gary had been out today as well, spotting the same birds as Mike at Carnain, along at the wee lay by/ carpark beside Blackrock, a Glaucous Gull was picking at a dead Tystie.. From Whin Park, Gary had 150+ Lapwing, 300+ Teal, 2 Dabchick, and another Glaucous Gull amongst the Gbb Gulls. Up at Newton, Gary saw 2 Brambling amongst the Chaffinch flock, and at the Skerrols road end, a ringtail as present.
By the way, today the weather reverted back to a rather miserable day with some dirty hail showers coming through amongst the heavy, windy rain showers

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Tuesday 23rd January

Yesterday, Gary had seen a Glaucous Gull at Bun an Uisg, Bowmore and then shortly afterwards Gary saw another one which was scavenging on a dead Barnie over at smelly corner. This morning, Dave Protherough had another Glaucous Gull, he saw it over at Ballinaby. Here at home, we counted 25 Rock Doves out on the grass in the garden. Mike Peacock did his WeBS count on outer Loch Indaal today, and he saw the following... 26 GND, 13 Shag, 3 Cormorant, 2 R b Merganser, 24 Common Gull, 20 Herring Gull. He also saw a Sparrowhawk as well as a pair of Ravens displaying.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Monday 22nd January

Today Gary had carried out his WeBs count from Port Charlotte round to Blackrock with his tally coming through at 15 GND, 2 RTD, 14 R b Merganser, 9 Cormorant, 18 Shag, 34 Eider, 6 Common Scoter, 62 Oystercatcher, 54 Curlew, 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Turnstone, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 7 Lapwing, 3 Gbb Gull, 38 H Gull, 5 C Gull, 34 Greylags, 1 Pbb Brent, 357 Barnies & 46 Whitefronts.
Bob today down at Carnain had a close fly by of a Glaucous Gull. Along the shoreline, he saw 4 Snow Bunting and a mixed flock of around 100 waders there as well, comprising of Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Turnstone. Along past Uiskentuie, Bob had the spectacular sighting of 200+ Oystercatcher as they flew from the Machir across the road to the top of Loch Indaal.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Sunday 21st January

On Friday, Bob had seen a White tailed Eagle down on the merse at Bridgend and yesterday he counted 7 Snow Bunting at Carnain. Also yesterday, Distillery Dave had seen a Merlin up near to Rockside. Today, here at home, we had a brief sighting of a Glaucous Gull out on the Machir and then out below the feeders a small group of 14 Rock Doves were present.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Friday 19th January

Today, Gary had seen some Snipe down on the seaweed below Carnain. Further round Loch Indaal, he had over 300 Gulls between Gartmain and Bun an Uisg, mainly Common Gulls, Black headed Gulls and Herring Gulls, with a Glaucous Gull seen on the rocks below the Gaelic College. Also today, James had carried out his WeBs count on the flats and floods at Gruinart, with his count being as follows, 1 Ruff, 226 Lapwing, 1 Dabchick, 4 R b Merganser, 15 Shoveler, 115 Mallard, 5 Mute Swan, a Grey Heron, 12 Whooper Swan, 50 Curlew, 5 Redshank, 590 Teal, 99 Wigeon, 9 Pintail, a Tufted Duck. He also saw a Glaucous Gull today on the reserve, as well as a male Hen Harrier and also a Merlin.
Forgot to mention that James had a Water Rail, seen along the flats at Gruinart yesterday

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Thursday 18th January

Malcolm had been out on the Ardtalla and the Oa runs for the International Goose count which has been taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The weather had not been that great with dirty squally showers of hail, sleet and the odd snow shower in the mix as well... Apart from the geese, Malcolm had seen a small Canada Goose at Laphroaig yesterday and a flock of around 40 Golden Plover at Ardtalla, seen on Tuesday and again yesterday... Andrew Kent from SNH sent through the totals of geese counted during the International Goose Count and they came in at 37,487 Barnies, 5,077 Whitefronts and 597 Greylags. Thanks to Andrew and all the team involved.
Today, James had seen a 1st winter glaucous Gull at Blackrock.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Wednesday 17th January

Today, James had ben out helping on the International Goose Count and his patch was the Gruinart stint, with his tally coming through at 12,352 Barnies,974 Whitefronts and 71 Greylags. Other birds seen included a 1st winter Iceland Gull and also 5 GND up at Ardnave. At Gruinart, over the reserve, James saw a Sparrowhawk while at Killinallan, he saw a Golden Eagle. Gary has ben out of sorts with a devilish cold which has proved difficult to shift, but got out for a spot of birding today ... Along Uiskentuie strand he heard Snow Bunting calling and on the merse at Bridgend, a White tailed Eagle was present. Finally Gary saw a Merlin up at Mulreesh

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Tuesday 16th January

Sorry folks, nothing much to report through to you tonight, as I have not received any bird sightings, the weather out here on the mainland has been spectacular in itself with quite a lot of snow falling today. So, it was just as well that we took delivery of some more bird food yesterday, as  I was out in the snow several times topping up the feeders.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Sunday 14th January

By the sound of things, the weather is going to be going downhill for the next few days....Today Distillery Dave had seen a group of 20 Ringed Plover and 8 Turnstone and also some Curlews in the field beside the car park at Machir Bay, up beside the old ruin of the former Kilchoman Church, in the surrounding fields there was a small flock of 12 Fieldfare seen.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Saturday 13th January

By the sound of things, the weather over on Islay today has ben rather miserable, but Distillery Dave braved the elements and from the South hide ( old hide) his top birds seen were 3 Greenshank and a Shoveler was present there as well

Friday, 12 January 2018

Friday 12th January

Yesterday afternoon, Distillery Dave had seen a male Hen Harrier perched on the ground as drove round Loch Gorm, close to Saligo bay. By the sounds of Dave's description it was a young bird coming out of moult.
The ferry has been disrupted again because of the weather, at least it made a sailing and the return trip to Kennacraig before the winds picked up... tomorrow is another day!!!!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Thursday 11th January

Yesterday Bob had a Brambling in his garden, his first this time round, as he did not get to see one in the Autumn... Also yesterday, Bob had been out Goose counting with Catherine, up the River Laggan, past Mulindry on the "Glen road" they saw a pair of Goosander while on Tuesday while out on the Loch Gorm run, with Fiona, they had seen an Iceland Gull over at Ballinaby, a different gull to the one that is down at Machir Bay.