Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Wednesday 20th February

Yesterday, up here (Getting forgetful???) we had 3 Fulmars soaring along the front of the crag, net result today the wind has been blowing away strongly and a good few dirty showers in the mix as well...Mind you there was no disruption with the ferry!!!
This morning out on the patch of ground where we sow the bird seed crop, there were a couple of Hares running around, boy they were covering the ground really fast. There has been no sign of the Sparrowhawk at the feeders today, but it was down on the wall beside the ditch. A ringtail Hen Harrier flew past looking out for anything to eat!!! The Rochdale birders had a Hooded Crow carrying a frog away to eat later on.. 
Chris Corrigan had seen a Barn Owl at 8.15 am, between Uiskentuie and Blackpark. From the South hide at Gruinart, Chris had the Green winged Teal and also saw the Little Egret. Back up at the car park at Gruinart, he had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier. Up towards Keppols, 2 Chough were present and then at Bunnahabhain, Chris had seen an Otter. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Tuesday 19th February

Forgot to mention that last night Margaret had seen a Barn Owl as she was driving along the road towards Blackrock back from the meeting in Bowmore. Yesterday afternoon, I saw a Raven flying up to its nest site carrying materials for its' nest...
This morning Chris Corrigan had seen a White tailed Eagle out from Bridgend on the mud flats there when the tide was out.. Round off Bowmore, he had 8 Scaup, 15 Common Scoter, 22 Eiders, 5 GND and a RTD. Also today, Ken Reeves along with 4 members from Burbage bird club had been down at Bowmore in the morning where they saw 9 Scaup, 50 Eider, 17 Common Scoter, 3 Slavonian Grebes, 8 GND,  70 Ringed Plover, 60 Dunlin, a Pale bellied Brent Goose, 160 Wigeon and out on the estuary over 10,000 Barnies. Up at Gruinart, from the South hide, the Green winged Teal was present as were 15 Whooper Swans and finally they had 4 Tysties down at Bruichladdich. The weather out here this afternoon has not been good for birdwatching...

Monday, 18 February 2019

Monday 18th February

Ken Reeves along some members of the Burbage birders are over on Islay for a few days to catch up on the birds that we have...Great to see you all earlier on this evening... Yesterday, when they came over on the ferry, they had seen 10 GND, 1 RTD, 7 BTD, over 30 Guillemots, 10 Black Guillemots, 9  R b Merganser, 40 Kittiwake, 4 Goldeneye, 12 Eider and 3 Fulmar. On Islay, at Bruichladdich they had 2 Ringed Plover.
Another visitor who is over for a few days is Chris Corrigan who has kindly sent some sightings through... Yesterday, he had 8 Scaup and 7 Common Scoter off Bowmore out on Loch Indaal. From the South hide at Gruinart, Chris had a Greenshank, 5 Whoopers and also the Little Egret present there as well. Ardnave Loch held 22 Whoopers with 6 Choughs close by.
Today, Chris had 7 Common Scoter and a RTD off Bowmore.  Down on the Oa, in horrible weather, he had a Golden Eagle, and a male Hen Harrier. At Upper Killeyan he had a count of at least 100 Twite. Coming back along the low road from Port Ellen, he saw another male Hen Harrier close to the airport.
Up here, similar weather to Chris, a pig of a day, but that did not deter the Sparrowhawk from causing havoc with the wee birds, still as I said in an earlier entry, not to worry it has to be a bit better at catching the wee birds, all it is good at present, is  as  a "bird scarer".
This evening, The Islay bird nerds had a meeting with Bill Dundas who is the chair person on the Islay Goose Scheme. He kindly  gave us an outline about the scheme in general and was able  to answer most of our questions. "A right good meeting", thanks to James for chairing it!!!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Sunday 17th February

Yesterday when leaving Port Ellen on the ferry Richard and Hilary had seen a Razorbill, so their tally for their stay  came to 107 birds seen when they were here..
This morning, Martin had seen 5 male Bullfinches just down from his house over at Glenegedale. He has also seen Frog spawn, and also mating frogs in the marsh there as well. This afternoon, Bob and Lesley had carried out the WeBS count from Port Charlotte, back round to Blackrock.. Their tally for birds seen were as follows...43 Herring Gulls,  GND, 3 GBB Gulls, 10 Cormorant, 7 RTD, 2 Snipe, 1 B h Gull, 16 Common Gulls, 1 Slavonian Grebe,1 Purple Sandpiper, 4 R b Merganser, 14 Ringed Plover, 4 P b b Geese, 43 Oystercatcher and also 12 Eider. Gary and Sam saw a male Hen Harrier up flying, behind their house over at Ballygrant.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Saturday 16th February

Yesterday was Richard and Hilary's final day of their 10 day trip to Islay. Their day started off  with seeing a ringtail Hen Harrier as they drove from Uiskentuie  up to Gruinart. From the North hide at Gruinart, they were fortunate in watching the birds getting moved on by the incoming tide.. Birds seen there were as follows... Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Curlew, Barwit, Shelduck, R b Mersganser, Barnacle Geese, Mipits, Pied Wagtails, Common Gull and also B h Gull. From the hide, they saw 2 new ticks for their stay, a Blackwit and also a Grey Plover. Over at Finlaggan, they had seen a male Hen Harrier as they approached, several Buzzards, a Golden Eagle as well as another tick for their list, a Red Grouse, making it a total of 106 different species when over here, a great total for the time of the year...
Speaking to Mandy today over a welcome cuppa, she had seen an Otter just opposite the Ramsay Hall in Port Ellen the other day with a Golden Eagle was out on the wing over close to Balole, later on in the week.
Distillery Dave had counted 8 Turnstone down on Machir Bay this morning. Shortly afterwards, he had a Merlin in his garden up at Rockside, then this afternoon, he saw a juv. White tailed Eagle down at the road end/ entrance to Rockside.
Late afternoon up here, the hen Sparrowhawk visited us again, with a fly past the big gable end windows, no cameras needed !!! Earlier on, we saw a male Sparrowhawk fly through the gardens down at the Coastguard cottages.
Forgot to mention last night that I took a daft turn and cut the grass up here at home in the afternoon, it does look a lot tidier now!!!  It is the earliest thatI have ever cut grass .. global warming???

Friday, 15 February 2019

Friday 15th February

Regular contributors this week, Richard and Hilary had been out and about yesterday .. Down on the Oa, they had seen a Golden Eagle, 4 Buzzards, a large flock of Twite seen on a stubble field behind Upper Killeyan. A walk out to the American monument produced Fulmars and a Gannet both seen well out to sea. Up at Bowmore, looking across Loch Indaal towards Bruichladdich, they saw 4 Long tailed Ducks. A female Hen Harrier was seen as they drove up the road towards Mulindry, while at Knocklearach they had had a Merlin fly across the road.
Some sightings through from Mandy, the other day she had seen a pair of Ravens displaying.  Later on the same day, she had a pair of  Hooded Crows displaying as well. Mandy's only comment was that she felt that the male Hoodie was not so good as the male Raven in its' display flying antics. Yesterday, as she was walking up the track to Carnduncan, a Sparrowhawk flew across the track, just ahead of her, almost too close!!! She wondered whether it had been hiding by the bank at the side of the track.
Today, The Rochdale birders had seen a male Hen Harrier over at Gruinart with a ringtail seen at Sunderland. On Ardnave Loch, 9 Whoopers were present. Down at Carnain, they had 2 Golden Eagles with  another one seen away out from Storakaig.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Thurdsay 14th February

Richard and Hilary had seen Teal, Wigeon, and Mallard and also close sightings of 2  Golden Eagles while in at Loch Skerrols yesterday. Later on, they had Whooper Swans, Teal, Wigeon, R b Merganser, Skylarks and a ringtail Hen Harrier at Ardnave Loch, while a walk round Ardnave produced Ringed Plover, Dunlin, 2 Barwits, 4 Purple Sandpipers, Rock Pipits, Mipits, Tysties, Bh Gull, Redshank, Wigeon, GND and also Chough.
Yesterday, on checking out our cameras late evening, the footage showed the Sparrowhawk up to its' antics 4 times yesterday with another 3 shows again today, but with no kills at all!!!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Wednsday 13th February

Yesetrday was  John Matthews and team PE4 last full day here on Islay for this present visit.... By the sound of their sightings sent they made the most of it... so here goes with their top birds... Off Bowmore Pier, they had Slav Grebes, RTD, GND, Eider, Common Scoter, Ringed Plover and also Dunlin. They also saw P B Brent geese among some Barnies up towards Mulindry. Down at The Woollen Mill, they saw Goldfinch, Siskin, Coal Tit, Great Tit, House Sparrow and Collared Doves. At Coal Ila , birds seen included Shag, Gbb Gull, Tysties and also Buzzards a plenty on their travels...Their highlight for the day was on the return leg to Port Ellen, about 2 miles down the road from Springbank they had 2 different Merlin sitting on the road side fences, but were only able to stop the car safely for a better view of one of them...  safety first!!!

Peter has had Alan Heavisides staying with him  for a few days.... Yesterday when up at Gruinart they saw a female Hen Harrier take a Teal out of the floods there. It then flew off with its' prey, sitting on it for some time before eating at it for  while, before an attendant Buzzard chased it away from the dead Teal which the Buzard then flew off with and seemed to cache it away in a bush. As Peter pointed out 4 interesting apects to this were, 1, the initial hunting of the Teal did not appear to spoof any of the other duck present on the floods, 2, A Teal is quite a large prey for a Harrier, 3, The Harrier gave its' prey up to the Buzzard without any fight, finally, 4, The Buzzard had no inteest in eating the prey, more interested in hiding it for another meal in the future. 
They also saw 4 Greenshank out from the South hide as well. 

Today, Gary had been out with  couple of clients. Up at Kilchoman, they had seen a juv. Golden Eagle out over the crag. They also saw another juv Goldie being chased by 2  White tailed Eagles close to Ballygrant. Back on Monday, Gary had seen 31 Long tailed Duck sitting in the rocks at Blackrock. He also saw 17 Slav Grebes out on the Loch around Blackrock as well. He is now already hearing Song Thrushes singing in the trees next to his house.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Tuesday 12th February

Yesterday, the "Port Ellen 4" along with team leam leader John Matthews, had seen a large flock of Twite along with over 20 Skylarks close to Kinnabus on the Oa, but sadly no Golden Eagles or Hen Harriers were seen, but they had counted at least 7 Buzzards on their way out to the Oa and on the return leg. While travelling up along the High road and then the Glen road over the top to Ballygrant, they had seen another 7 Buzzards, a Kestrel, Partridge, and Raven, while at Knocklearach, a Merlin was sitting on a fence post, at the side of the road. Up at Bunahabhain, an Otter, GND, Tysties, and also some Shags were present.
Yeterday, Hilary and Richard had seen the Todd's Canada Goose over at Leorin. Over at Claggain Bay they had RTD, BTD, GND, Tysties, Grey Wagtail, and some Shags as well as a small pod of Porpoises. Birds seen while returning back from Claggain Bay to Port Ellen included Yellowhammers, Brambling, Treecreeper, Reed Bunting, Long tailed Tits with a Greater spotted Woodpecker heard druming away. Up at Bowmore on Loch Indaal, they had Barwits, Eider, Common Scoter, Common Gull, GND and also BTD
Up here today, we saw a Merlin fly past out of the wee kitchen window, fly on over the bird cage then wheel down and over the bird seed crop and on its' way. After lunchtime, coming out of Bowmore, just after Pennycraig, another wee Merlin flew off the fence at the side of the road. On the way home, down below the lime kiln, we spoke with the Rochdale Birders who are over for another visit, their first for 2019 , great to meet up you folks... Over at Kildalton, this morning they had 4 Yellowhammers and the close to the airport, a male Hen Harrier was present quartering its' patch.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Monday 11th February

Richard and Hilary Pickard yesterday had been out and about with a great selection of birds seen. Up at Ardnave Loch they had seen Whooper Swans, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal & R b Merganser. A walk round Ardnave Point provided 18 Chough, 17 Ringed Plover, Rock Pipit, 3 R b Merganser, B t Diver and also GND. From the South hide at Gruinart, they had seen Greenshank, Peregrine, Buzzard, the Green winged Teal with a male and also a female Hen Harrier seen flying over the Gruinart flats and also over Gruinart House. Back on the feeders outside of the RSPB office at Gruinart, they saw Bullfinch, Goldfinches and a Sparrowhawk chancing its luck. Other "new contributors", The Port Ellen 4. They are obviously 4 of them , staying over at Port Ellen  with their chief man being John Matthews and all from England, so here goes with some of their sigtings so far... 2 Golden Eagles seen out from Kilchoman, at Gruinart they saw the same birds as Richrd & Hilaryas above but had also seen 2 Snipe, Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Pintail, the Little Egret. They had seen 2 Buzzards on the low road, with another 2 when travelling round Loch Gorm and 2 more at Loch Gruinart. Up at Ardnave they saw the following "extra bird" apart from Richard & Hilary... a Snipe. Finally, down off the pier at Bowmore, they saw RTD, Common Scoter, R b Merganser, Goldeneye, Eider, Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover and Shag.

Today, up here at home, the wee birds have been busy on the food on offer, and also that pesky Sparrowhawk was caught on camera again. I am not complaing about it all, as so far I have only seen it being successful once in a kill!!!  Margaret, late afternoon counted 16 Chough flying back in to the roost.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Sunday 10th February

Visiting birdrs Richard & Hilary Pickard have sent me another e mail through with some more of their sightings...Yesterday, at Crosshouses/ Carnain they had a flock of Dunlin and some Ringed Plover and Turnstone in with them. Between the Gaelic centre and back to Bowmore, they saw Scaup, Slavonian Grebe, GND, Pale bellied Brent Geese, Goldeneye and Common Scoter. Up towards Mulindry, they had seen some Reed Buntings and in at Finlaggan, Golden Eagle & Peregrine were noted. Bunahabhain held GND and also Tysties. In at The Woollen Mill, a Dipper was seen on the River Sorn. Forgot to mention that we had a Kestrel sitting on top of the electric pole again, out in the garden, late yesterday afternoon.. A few birds in from Ashley from yesterday afternoon, before leaving Islay.. They saw the Todd's Canada Goose at Leorin again,and along past Ardbeg, 3 Bullfinches and a Treecreper were seen.. 

This morning around 9 am, the pesky Sparrowhawk came flying looking around for a meal, no joy as all the numerous wee birds must have learned to avoid being caught....Mike P had 2 Dippers already paired up while he was out for a walk along te River Sorn. Mike also had a Peregrine out displaying/ caling away over the trees/ woodlands there as well. The wee birds today have ben busy on the feeders with the wind having dropped a lot, so did the temperature!!!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Saturday 9th February

Think by the looks of things that Ashley and his group who have been over from Oriole Birding, that they managed to get off Islay on the ferry which left Port Askaig at 18.00. Also on that ferry were Gary and Wendy Ruffel from Hampshire. Not sure how far that either of them are travelling tonight, but getting over to the mainland, was at least a start!! Many thanks to both parties for sharing their sightings with us when thay have been here.
Ashley, yesterday morning, had seen the Green winged Teal out from the South hide at Gruinart  as well 2 Hen Harriers ( M & F) and a Peregrine there as well. In the afternoon, they had seen the Todd's Canada Goose, amongst some Barnies over at Leorin, close to Port Ellen. 

Friday, 8 February 2019

Friday 8th February

Just as well that I kept some sightings back from yesterday, as the wind has certainly huffed and puffed all day, net result, no ferries came today with the service not resuming until the mv Finlaggan sets sail fom Kennacraig at 15.00 tomorrow.. The wind, here at home, touched 60mph at one time!!!
Yesterday, new contributors, Richard and Hilary Pickard had seen a couple of Chough up behind Kilchiaran. Later on, from the South hide at Gruinart, they saw the Green  winged Teal, a Little Egret, 2 Mute Swan, 6 Whooper Swans and also a juv. Golden Eagle.  Also yesterday, Ashley and his group from Oriole Birding, had a great time birding round Loch Indaal. They started off at the Gaelic Centre , just out of Bowmore, seeing 10 Slav Grebes, 8 Longtailed Ducks, 20 Scaup, and also over 25 GND, all counted from the college. Ashley reckoned that the conditions there were ideal, especially as the sun was behind them, and he never mentioned about the cafe or the toilets there... Over at Bruichladich, they saw 15 Purple Sandpipers. Later on, heading back over to Port Ellen, while on the Glen road, they saw a Golden Eagle as well as a male Merlin, close to Mulindry. Finally they had a male Hen Harrier on the wing beside Coillabus, but still no joy with the Canada Geese seen earlier this week.... Gary and Wendy Ruffel had walked around the tracks at Foreland yesterday where they saw Heron, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Mipit, Buzzard, male Hen Harrier. Later on, back at their holiday cottage at Carnain, they had a ringtail Hen Harrier, Great Tit, Heron, Jackdaw with Oystercatcher also there.... So reading between the lines we might get some more birds through from Ashley as he was "stormbound" as the ferry was not sailing today at all, but all going well, he should get on the sailing leaving tomorrow evening!!

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Thursday 7th February

Yesterday, Ashley Saunders and his team from Oriole Birding had  amazing views of a White tailed Eagle at Gruinart, seen from the South hide there. Earlier on they had counted 26 Chough probing away, loking for food in the fields at Coull Farm. Down on the Oa, they saw  2 ringtail Hen Harriers as well as seeing a Golden Eagle there as well. Also yesterday, Gary and Wendy Ruffell had walked up to the old ruin at Scouller which is in beyond Daill Farm, up past The Woollen Mill. On their walk they had seen a small group of Whitefronts,  a few Buzzards, Rock Doves, Chaffinches, Robin and also Reed Bunting.
Today, we had a male Hen Harrier flying over the garden at around 8 am, boy it was on a mission with its wings being used to power its' flight, rather than just soaring along with not a care in the world to think about.... Mid morning, round at Ballinaby, there were several hundred Lapwings on one of the fields, I have never seen so many together before anywhere... The back of lunchtime, a Golden Eagle was floating about along the top of the crag and finally late afternoon, the Sparrowhawk, cleared all and sundry away off the bird table, not sure whether it caught anything.
The ferries are cancelled for tomorrow, so no newspapers tomorrow, so can catch up with any news off the web!!!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Wednesday 6th February

Yesterday, Ashley Saunders and his group of birders from Oriole Birding had found a Todd's Canada Goose amongst a flock of Barnies over close to Leorin which is over on the High road down at Port Ellen. Needless to say,  today they have had no joy in finding either the Cackling goose or the Todd's ... that's birding for you !!!
Also yesterday, before the weather broke down, Gary and Wendy Ruffel had walked up from Scarrabus and up to Loch Cam. Birds seen included a flock of Fieldfare, Buzzard,  a group of Teal on Loch Cam itself with Raven and also Kestrel

Up here at home this morning, the 2 local young Choughs were back having a nosey around, so fingers crossed that they are here to stay. Late afternoon, and a male Hen Harrier was seen flying over the bird seed crop, and on out over the rushes (next door!!) and away over the machir.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Tuesday 5th February

Well, when I got up this morning, it was dry outside, not that I was up that early..., but by 9am it had started to spot rain and before long it was wet, and got wetter as the day progressed on, not much use for birding really... so what did I do? Only one thing for it, turn on the old pc and put some sightings onto the the spreadsheet and send off the Islay sightings from the blog for Jan 2019 away to himself, job done, mind you I am a great believer in "If in the mood, go and do it" as you tend to do it quite quickly and also fewer mistakes are made!!!!
So yesterday, Gary and Wendy Ruffell had walked up round Cnoc Don and also Loch Skerrols where they saw Buzzard, Rock Doves, Song Thrush and a flock of Fieldfare.  They also commented on seeing fewer birds when out compared with the similar walks there in previous years. Back at their holiday cottage at Cross Houses they also had Collared Doves, Teal, Curlew, Shelduck and also the local female Hen Harrier.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Monday 4th February

Yesterday, Mike and Val Peacock saw 29 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing, a Mistle Thrush, a Greater    spotted Woodpecker and also a Treecreeper, all down at Foreland. Yesterday, Gary Turnbull had seen a nice male Goosander coming to land on the water at the mouth of the Margadale River, over at Bunnahabhain. A  real busy day yesterday, with Gary and Wendy seeing Teal and also some Pale bellied Brent Geese from Carnain. As the light started to fade, early evening, they saw a Barn Owl, over the pool behind their cottage. Here at home, we had a Kestrel on top of the electricity pole.

This morning, we saw a couple of Golden Eagle soaring aroundout over the crag in the beautiful sunrise, with no wing beats to help them to fly.  Bob was up this afternoon, and the Eagles were out again in roughly the same place, but, ( there is always a but!!) there was a Buzzard flying close to them before it peeled off and returned to its' own "patch". James had seen a Golden Eagle over the reserve at Gruinart, and also the Little Egret was still present. Mike and Peter had seen a Tystie in breeding plumage at the top of Loch Indaal, between Blackrock and round to the Gaelic Colege, out of Bowmore. Other birds of note included 15 Scaup, 8 Long tailed Duck, 20 Slavonian Grebe and also 12 Common Scoter.

***  Stop the press, breaking news*
Ashley Saunders is over on Islay this week leading a group from Oriole Birding and had seen a Cackling Goose just at the start of the High road, in from Springbank. Keep them coming Ashley...

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Sunday 3rd February

Yesterday, while waiting start of the rugby game starting on the TV, Mike had counted 3 RTDs,  39 GNDs and a raft of 43 Common Scoter, all out from Port Charlotte on Loch Indaal. Lesley sent some birds which she had seen on Friday and on Saturday. Both days were low on raptors seen, with only Buzzards and Kestrel noted. Her main sigtings on Friday on a walk round Ardnave (Poor weather that day, a bit on the raw side) were as follows, a flock of 49 Twite, plus a few smaller groups seen of around 5 -10 birds. She also saw 42 Chough feeding, over beside the ground beside Traigh Nostaig, she had around 80 Ringed Plover. Other birds seen round Ardnave included 3 male Stonechat plus a female Stonechat, 5 Mute and 5 Whooper Swan on the Loch, also present were  15 Teal. Lesley also saw 10 Reed Buntings.
On Saturday, a much better day with the weather, a walk round Coull Point produced 2,500 Barnies, a flock of 60 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 34 Chough, more Stonechats, more Reed Buntings and a count of 25 Lapwing, some of which were displaying. On both days she had 7 Hares, seen chasing around after each other...
Up here at home this afternoon, James and myself saw a ringtail Hen Harrier fly low over the bird seed crop, down over the reedbed and then follow the dyke along the base of the crag. Great to see, initially less than 20 metres away, no need for the bins for that one!!! 

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Saturday 2nd February

The other evening as he was returning home from Bowmore, DistillleryDave had seen a Barn Owl , down close to the market at Bridgend.

Today, James had seen a White tailed Eagle over at Ardtalla. Also today Gary and Wendy Ruffel had seen a flock of Dunlin, as well as Red brested Merganser, Scaup, RTD, Common Scoter, Eider, Ringed Plover, Wigeon, Great crested Grebe and Redshank, all out on Loch Indaal from Crosshouses.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Friday 1st February

Another cold day again, luckily I left a tap running slowly through the night and the water in the house did not freeze up, having said that the tap over at the garage which is well wrapped up was frozen ... Loch Gorm was frozen over today....
Mandy, yesterday, had 3 Reed Buntings over at her home at Carnduncan, and today she now  has 5 Reed Buntings present there.
Today Gary and Wndy Ruffel had ventured out from Carnain along to Bruichladdich and then back home. Birds seen included Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones, BTDs, and some Ringed Plover. Out on Loch Indaal from the spit on the Uiskentuie Strand, they also saw GNDs and also Great crested Grebes.

As we are now into February, the rainfall in the rain gauge came to a mere 3.4 inches, the driest January here for the past 4 years at least... early days yet...