Saturday, 22 February 2020

Saturday 22nd February

A bit of an early entry, but the power was off again so here goes...

Mike and Lesley made the correct decision in escaping Islay yesterday, with there being no ferries
sailing to Islay today.
"Sadly left the Island now, managed to get on the afternoon ferry. Spent a couple of hours car birding this morning and managed to get absolutely brilliant views of a Golden Eagle that flew over the car as we drove slowly over the moors on the Ballygrant to Bridgend road.
While waiting at Port Askaig for the ferry, an Otter with a fish in its mouth stuck its head about 50 metres from us, a great end to a great week on Islay."

All my other visiting contributors are now away as well, hence the reason for the blog being light on information, but as ever many thanks to you all for sending your sightings through.

Up here that pesky Sparrowhawk came past in an attempt to catch something to eat as the wee birds flew off in an escape mode, to which it failed miserably!! It came back in the afternoon, before the power went off, with the same poor result for it!!! Mind you we have not seen the Sparrowhawk up here, for some time now!!!

Friday, 21 February 2020

Friday 21st February

Mike and Lesley's report through for you  to appreciate...
"We had a great morning at Gruinart yesterday. The sun brought out the birds on the woodland trail so it was nice to record Long-tailed Tit,  Goldcrest and Treecreeper. From the hide there were plenty of the usual ducks, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail plus lots of Curlew and a single Greenshank.
There were a couple of Oystercatchers feeding right in front of the hide when a female Sparrowhawk came hurtling towards one but just missed one and then sat on a fence post right next to the hide for a while. A distant Golden Eagle sitting on top of the hill, before we noticed 2 hunting juvenile White-tailed Eagles on of which downed a Barnacle Goose and began to eat the poor thing while it was still alive!  A very dramatic morning!"

Chris Corrigan's birds were as follows
"The best place today was the back road between Blackpark and Gruinart (B8017). Wonderful views of 2 Golden Eagles north of Lyrabus in the morning and a briefer view of a roadside Merlin in the afternoon. 
33 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Carnain late afternoon.
We also got a free exfoliation beauty treatment courtesy of a horrible driving hail shower!!!"

Garry and Wendy had made to most of yesterday
"What a change to have some bright sunshine. We walked from Ballygrant, up past Lossit Farm to Islay Sound. Our sightings for the day:
Carnain: Barnies, Greylags, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Mute Swans
Loch Lossit: Tufted Ducks
Flanks of Beinn Dubh: Herd of Red Deer
Traigh Bhan: White tailed  Eagle, GN Diver, and 11 Grey Seals"

John Matthews and his friends "The Port Ellen 4", headed home yesterday, but they had sent their final entry for this visit...
"I'm now safety back home after a 7.5h drive.  
Anyway, on our drive to Port Askaig this morning via the back road to Ballygrant we saw another superb male Merlin sitting on a fence post about 1 mile north of Barr.  Great little bird that sat for about 4 minutes before flying off."

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Turday 20th February

Ed Burrell was in touch last night as follows:
"Just to say I've had two new birds for the farm today... A Moorhen and a drake Goosander. Gets us up to 96 now.".. Wonder what will bring the ton up?! Keep it up Ed, and you will get the magic 100 soon...

Gary and Wendy had been out for a wee while yesterday,
"What a miserable day ; definitely not much about. This is what we have seen:
Carnain: Barnies, Greylags, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Curlew,  Chaffinch, Robin and a very smart adult Grey Heron stalking food in the marsh near the cottage. Off Bowmore: Scaup, Eider duck, and Wigeon were present."

"John Matthews and the Port Ellen 4 had been out on their last day of this present visit. 
The Merlin yesterday made our holiday.
Also yesterday, the weather certainly put a damper on the birding and the spirits!
We tried the Oa first & had a very nice male Hen Harrier on the Oa road immediately north of Kinnabus farm.  The "Oa Twite flock" were great but kept their distance and were with about 40 Rock dove.  Sadly, no eagle.
Loch Gorm yielded nothing so we camped in the hides at RSPB Loch Gruinart.  Nice to see 30-40 Bar-tailed Godwits associated with a large flock of Dunlin (200+) on the flats.  Other than that, the "usual suspects" were seen - Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Heron, Oystercatcher, BH gull, Common  gull, Mute & Whooper swan, Shelduck, Barnies, White-faced geese & probably some I've forgotten!

Chris Corrigan e mailed some sightings from yesterday, oddly enough he  commented on the poor weather as well:
"What a day! We resorted to a distillery tour!
Morning - 4 Scaup and 5 Long-tailed Ducks off Bowmore
Late afternoon - the drake Green - winged Teal seen from the Loch Gruinart North Hide late afternoon"

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Wednesday 9th February

"John and the Port Ellen 4" has sent through their birds which they saw yesterday..
"A better day weather-wise and we targeted areas that we thought might yield raptors.  
Area easy of Loch Gorm : WT Eagle (juv) traversing the track between junction of B8017-18 & minor road south of the loch.
Near Grulinbeg (B8018): Peregrine.
Near Garra Eallabus (minor rd to Ardnave Point): spectacular views of a perched Merlin (male) in the low rays of the sun.
Loch Gruinart RSPB : female Hen Harrier
Sadly, no Golden Eagle to make the "Big Five" in one day!
Buzzards everywhere!  Where have they suddenly appeared from? We don't remember there being so many in previous visits.  It's like being at home."

Gary and Wendy had stayed at home at Carnain yesterday but still managed to see a variety of birds
"Their list today is all around Carnain: Barnies, White fronts, Greylags, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Starlings, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Mute Swan, Pale bellied Brents, mixed flock of Redwing, Fieldfare, two Golden Eagles, and a Hare."

Chris Corrigan and Helen had braved the elements yesterday and "had seen a flock of around 120 Twite in a field at Upper Killeyan. Later on, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Great Northern Divers, 1 Red-throated Diver and the Common Scoters, Eiders, Goldeneyes and Red-breasted Mergansers off Bowmore (but no Scaup). Not easy viewing in the choppy seas!"

Mike and Lesley had also been out and about, seeing the following birds on Islay,
"On the Oa yesterday morning, a ringtail Hen Harrier on the way up sitting on a fence post. A few Fulmar from the Monument and thanks to  Chris Corrigan who showed us the Twite flock  down there as well. Located a Ringed Plover behind the Gaelic Centre at Bowmore. On the Gruniart Road, great views of a Peregrine. At Ardnave Point 30 Chough then back at the car park a flock of 27 Twite. On the road back we passed 'The Port Ellen 4' who were admiring a handsome male Merlin, so many thanks to them for showing us."

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Tuesday 18th February

Gary and Wendy emailed the following to me last night, referring to their change of plans for yesterday,
"The weather turned out worse than we thought it would today and we didn't in the end get to Portnahaven on the bus. Very little to see around Carnain but we did have a visit for about 8 minutes from a ringtail hen Harrier over the pond behind the cottage. Also seen were some Barnies, Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Jackdaw and Blackbird.  A Hare was also seen."
John and the team of the "Port Ellen 4" had ventured out in the atrocious weather and managed to see the following birds yesterday:
"Loch a'Chnuic: Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, R b Mergansers. Claggain Bay: 5 GND & 1 BT Diver, Tysties, Shag, 10+ Oystercatcher & Ringed Plover. WT eagle over woods to the South of Cluanach. Bunnahabhain: 4 GND, Tysties, Cormorant. Caol Ila : Shag.
Obviously the main 3 geese sp, Buzzards, Hoodies, Ravens etc all over."

Chris Corrigan had been out yesterday as well
"A blowy and showery walk round Ardnave today where we managed to see a flock of 20 Choughs
2 Long-tailed Ducks (1 from the Gaelic Centre and 1 from Bowmore) along with Common Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, Eiders and Goldeneyes.  All out on Loch Indaal. Needs to be a bit calmer!"

Mike Russell was in touch last night, again Monday's sightings 
"My partner Lesley and I are on Islay this week, up from Sussex. Today we walked through Bridgend Woods, lots of song, Song and Mistle Thrushes, Chaffinches, Wrens and Robins and we also  heard  a Treecreeper. Really pleased to get a great view of a Dipper as well.
In the afternoon, went to Laphroaig where on the beach had good view of 2 Otters, also number of Rock Pipits."

Many thanks to our visitors for sending their birds through and allowing me to share them with you...

Good friend, Lesley Silcock was in for a cuppa today, and she told me that she had seen a group of  7 Blue Tits together on her feeders at McNichol's Croft. This morning, as she was driving up to here at Shepherd's cottage, Lesley watched a Merlin zip into the verge of the road and emerge out unscathed a moment or two later, with its prey being proof that it had been successful in its acrobatics!!

Monday, 17 February 2020

Monday 17th February

A few birds through from Gary and Wendy, all from yesterday
"Very windy and heavy squally showers today, and nothing much around.Our sightings for Sunday areas follows, Carnain: Oystercatchers, Barnies, Shelduck, Curlew & Blackbird. "

I received a couple of sightings from Chris Corrigan, who I believe could be staying the cottage next
door to Gary and Wendy at Crosshouses...
"Arrived on Saturday, for a week. Looks a bit wild! Staying at Cross House, Bridgend.                      29 P-b Brent Geese down on the shore this morning. A Woodcock on the Loch Gruinart Woodland Trail but nothing else out of the ordinary."

The "Port Ellen 4" had also been out and about in the great spell of weather, we are having at present!! "Quite a bright day considering the rather fresh Scottish breeze (!) making birding a challenge. Sunday's main sightings were - 
Finlaggan woods: Crossbill (only 1) at the Y junction of the track, Coal Tit, Reed Bunting, Buzzard, Skylark on track to woods.
Ardnave: Chough, Whoopers & Goldeneye (we didn't venture to the beach!).
Gruinart RSPB: G W Teal, Little Egret, Pintail, Shoveler, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Buzzard, Wigeon, Whoopers, Mute Swan, Teal, B H gull, Whitefronts & Barnie's.
Nr Lyrabus (B8017): Merlin."

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Sunday 16th February

The "Port Ellen 4" had seen the following birds yesterday
5 GND along on Claggain Bay. Female Sparrowhawk at the Sron Dubh turn to the standing stones/Enclosure.
Juv White-tailed Eagle at Gruinart + Hen Harriers (2 male + 1 ringtail), 2 Greenshank, Green-wing Teal, Little Egret, Pintail, Shoveler, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser BB Gull & Dunlin.
Male Hen Harrier at Grainel + Dunlin, Ringed Plover & Pale bellied Brents at Blackrock.
The "normal" geese, Buzzards, Mergansers, Tysties etc elsewhere.

A few birds seen yesterday by Gary and Wendy
"What a foul day, but  what a surprise to have 5 minutes of sunshine in the afternoon. Now back to rain. Didn't expect to see many birds today, but this is our list:
Carnain: Barnies, Brents, Oystercatchers. Drive from Kilchoman to Carnain: Mallard, Pheasant
Around Bruichladdich: Pale belied Brent geese"

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Saturday 15th February

Gary and Wendy enjoyed the better weather yesterday, and walked up to Loch Cam behind Scarrabus. Their  sightings yesterday were: Carnain: Barnies, Shelduck, Blackbird, Mute Swan
Walk up to Loch Cam: Buzzard, pair of Stonechat, Song Thrush, Chough, Whitefronts,  Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Bowmore: Wigeon,  Eider 

James returned over to Islay on the ferry , quite a rough crossing by the sound of things,but top birds seen for James were 3 White tailed Eagles seen together when the ferry was coming up the Sound of Islay. Today, he had spotted a Pink footed goose on the reserve at Gruinart.

The Port Ellen 4 are back again - they were here last February, arriving on Thursday

"Had a great 1st day of birding, on Friday.

2 Golden Eagles  - 1 over Dun Nosebridge and 1 in the Storakaig area
2 male Hen Harriers - 1 near & over Loch Eighinn (nr airport). 1 at Grainel Farm.
Long tailed duck, G. N. D., Slavonian Grebe, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Eider, Rock Pipit & R. b. Mergansers - all close from Bowmore Pier.
Scaup, Shelduck, Redshank, Ringed Plover + some of above from the Gaelic centre.
Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Song & Mistle Thrush, Grey Wagtail & Robin from Bridgend woods.
Obviously White fronts, Greylags & Barnies  with Raven, Jackdaw, Rook, Buzzards & Hoodies in various places."  

The wind has been blowing away all day with ferry not coming over, until mid afternoon, quite glad that we were not on it... The wind speed topped at 65 mph on Dr Matt's weather station at 9.30 am. The plane flew in this morning, no bother....   

Friday, 14 February 2020

Friday 14th February

The other day, Albert and Hazel Percival had seen a pair of Golden Eagles, close to where they were walking up beside the former Kilchoman School, no, not next door to here which was the Rockside school... 

Yesterday, Phill Catton was honing in his skills as a shepherd down on the reserve on the Oa.. When they were gathering the heft of sheep off  Glenastle, he had seen a Kestrel and also 2 pair of Red Grouse, the Red Grouse were a really good bird for the reserve, not that common on Islay. Better keep the shepherding up Phill, better than a desk job!!!

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Thursday 13th February

Gary and Wendy had been out 

"The weather has been really lovely here today. Nice to have it so calm, but the wind quite cool. We kept warm walking from Bridgend up around Daill Farm and the ruined chapel. Their bird list was as follows;
Carnain: usual Barnies etc
Bridgend: Greenland Whitefronts, Meadow Pipit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Long tailed Tit, Robin,     Treecreeper and also 6 Song Thrush."

Please note that the weather forecast over the next few days is not so great, the ferry tomorrow morning is already being diverted to Port Askaig, all because of Storm Dennis coming this way...

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Wednesday 12th February

Gary and Wendy have been in touch with their list of birds seen. "It has been extremely rough down  at Carnain over the last two days, but yesterday they had all the Indaal Barnies feeding on the grass next to their cottage for most of the day which was fantastic and at least they were not annoying the local farmers !!  Sightings from Wednesday: Carnain; Little Egret on the pond by cottage, White tailed Eagle flying over them, followed and  being mobbed by a dozen Barnies which they have never seen before, Barnies, Oystercatcher, Greylag, Blackbird, Starling, Jackdaw, Mallard, Mute Swan, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Robin, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Pied Wagtail, Curlew, Shelduck, Rock Pipit and Raven."

Up here at home, a different sort of a day, with the wind being a lot calmer, no need to walk at an odd angle, leaning into the wind.. mid you the temperature was not that warm... Late afternoon, I saw a Raven flying in to its' nest up the gullie from here carrying some nesting material , a branch which I reckon was about 2 feet long. It certainly would not have managed to fly with it the other day in the wind!! There was also Buzzard sitting on the top of the crag watching the Raven as well as me ... I counted a group of 42 Jackdaws having a right good howk  (or digging) down in the field below the crag, a Hare was also seen hopping around in amongst the "game crop" and also 3 cock and 7 hen Pheasants were seen along in the field beside the Hare.

Before I forget, the group from Norfolk birding, led by Chris Mills had a total of 110 birds seen when they were over last week, a not bad figure considering the weather and that they left on the Thursday rather than being here another couple of days, but they went back to the mainland early rather than waiting to possibly discover that the ferry might be cancelled. As ever,  many thanks for your birds folks...

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Tuesday 1th February

Here are the figures that Mark, Lauren and Sarah got on the WeBs count on Friday 7th:

Out on Loch Gruinart - E&W
Red-throated-diver 1
Grey heron 1
Shelduck 134
Wigeon 101
Mallard 8
Goldeneye 1
Red-breasted merganser 2
Oystercatcher 144
Ringed plover 18
Lapwing 50
Sanderling 153
Dunlin 119
Bar-tailed godwit 212
Curlew 25
Redshank 30
Turnstone 35
Black-headed gull 1
Common gull 75
Herring gull 46
Great black-backed gull 4
Greenshank 1
Lauren also had 14 Chough at Tayovullin

Ardnave Loch
Lapwing 4
Oystercatcher 7
Mallard 14
Mute swan 2
Little grebe 2
Teal 8
Goldeneye 8

Gary and Wendy yesterday had braved the elements and had a bracing walk from Carnain along to Bridgend seeing Goldeneye, Snipe, Buzzard and also 3 Song Thrushes

The wind steadied up at 65mph today and was quite constant at that rather than being gusty, with the sea boiling again out over the rocks at Coull Point.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Monday 10th February

Gary did his WeBS count from Blackrock back round to Bowmore yesterday. The weather was not as bad as they were making out. Just blustery...

4 GND, 7 Red breasted Merganser, 3 Shag, 3 Slavonian Grebe, 8 Eider, 60 Mallard, 3 Goldeneye, 34 Wigeon, 37 Teal, 50 Shelduck, 17 Ringed Plover, 11 Dunlin, 12 Turnstone, 2 Redshank, 136 Oystercatcher, 55 Curlew, 20 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 29 Bar tailed Godwit, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Golden Plover, 15 Black headed Gull, 61 Common Gull, 53 Herring Gull, 5 Great black backed Gull, 28 Brent Geese, 32 Greylag Geese, 800 Barnacle Geese, 3 Whooper Swan, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier.

Gary and Wendy also been out on Saturday and also briefly yesterday as well  seeing a few birds for us
Sat: Bruichladdich, Pale belied Brent Geese, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant
Sun: Carnain, Pale bellied Brent Geese, Shelduck, Barnies, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin and Grey Plover

Forgot to mention that the wind yesterday at Dr Matt's topped a mere 70 mph  in the morning and this afternoon, it only got up to 67 mph, although there have been quite a few dirty squally showers. The ferry sailed this morning making a crossing in both directions, and the plane came over ... 

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Sunday 9th February

James counted the floods the other morning at Gruinart… This was the first WeBs count which I have received through from this weekends' counts...
Tufted duck 1
Gadwall 1
Golden plover 2
Shoveler 53
Teal 808
Lapwing 575
Mallard 172
Wigeon 109
Curlew 94
Mute swan 7
Little egret 2
Pintail 80
Redshank 1
BH gull 10
Common gull 12
Whooper swan 16
Snipe 1
Heron 2
 And the Green-winged Teal is still present there!

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Saturday 8th February

I received some birds seen on Wednesday and o Thursday from the "2 Steves and Julie". 
On Wednesday at Bridgened Woods saw 2 Dippers, and a  single Coal Tit.  On Jura,  we saw Tystie, 1 White tailed Eagle and really good view of Otter in Craighouse.
On Thursday 6 February, They  had a fine look at 30+ Choughs in glorious sunshine up at Ardnave then on our third visit to the just fantastic Loch Gruinart, amongst the usual suspects, we found a lone Little Grebe, single Greenshank and a couple of Yellowhammer. In the morning, we saw a Gannet and Shag at Portnahaven. As ever, many thanks for your sightings folks, the blog would be a lot "quieter" if folk did not send through what they had seen.... Much appreciated!!! I believe that they had seen 90 species when they were over here for the week.
James on his way home last night had seen 2 Tawny Owls on the reserve at Gruinart.

Chris Mills's sighting of the Fulmar the other day has again proved correct , with it turning out to be rather windy here today, the ferry came first thing this morning, and as I write, it has just set out for another return trip to Islay this evening. The top speed on Dr Matt Jackson's weather station was 67mph at around 16.00 earlier on!!!

Friday, 7 February 2020

Friday 7th February

Yesterday morning, Chris Mills had seen a Fulmar fly away from the crag out towards the sea, little wonder the wind has picked up... In the afternoon, Chris had seen  2 different Golden Eagles soaring away, over above at Coull. They appeared to be taking great delight in spoofing the big group of Barnies....

On Thursday, Gary and Wendy Ruffell had seen a Golden Eagle in front of the cottage that they are staying in, when over on Islay, down close to Carnain.
Today (Friday): Carnain,  Grey Plover, Barnies,  Bowmore; R b merganser, Scaup, Redshank, Song  Thrush, Eider, Wigeon. Up at Cnoc Don:  Snipe, Buzzard, Raven and some Greylags were present. Late afternoon, they had a ringtail Hen Harrier fly over the pond behind their cottage.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Thursday 6th February

Some more sightings through from the "Hampshire birders", Gary and Wendy seen yesterday.
Golden Eagle, White tailed Eagle (both on beach at Carnain after killing a barnacle goose), Raven, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Hooded Crow. The following were seen while driving to Bowmore from Carnain; Red throated Diver, R b Merganser, Redshank, Scaup and Wigeon.

Chris Mills  along with his clients from Norfolk birding had been down on the other side yesterday..
At Rockside, they had a Merlin. Over at Kinnabus on the Oa, they saw a flock of 150Twite, 2 Golden Eagles displaying, and also a male Hen Harrier as well as loads of Whitefronted Geese. At Ardbeg, a Grey Wagtail was present as well as a Redpoll, while along at Loch an t Sailein, an Otter was out for a swim.. 2 White tailed Eagles were spotted as they drove out towards Claggain Bay. At Claggain Bay itself, they had 10 GND, 2 Tysties, Common Guillemot, Kittiwake and Gannets seen there. Back along at Callum Sharp's house at Kildalton, they saw 8 Yellowhammers present on the feeders. Finally on Loch Indaal on their way back to their accommodation, they counted 70 Eider, 9 Slav. Grebe, 2 RTD,  Common Scoter, and also 2 L t Ducks

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Wednesday 5th February

Some sightings in from yesterday, from our various different groups of visiting birders who have kindly sent them in for me to use... 

The "2 Steves" and Julie had been out in the strong winds down on the Oa, where they had a small flock of Twite and also a Peregrine. Later on, they had seen  2 juv  Golden Eagles when they were along at Claggain Bay over the moorland. Offshore, a Razorbill was present.

Chris Mills and his clients from Norfolk birding had seen 2 White tailed Eagles soaring past as they were getting ready to go out for the day where they are staying this week. Between Kilchoman School and Grainel, they saw a ringtail HH, only about 10 metres away from Craigens, a male Merlin was present. Down on the head of Loch Indaal, a White tailed Eagle was sitting around... 2 Snipe, 6 Redpoll, 2 Crossbills and also 2 Tree creepers were spotted in at Loch Skerrols. Over at Bunnahabhain, they had another Crossbill, then down at Finlaggan a further 9 Crossbills were added to their list for the day. They then saw 3 Golden Eagles as they drove down the Glen road past Storakaig. On their way past Cash Kelly's house and in the bay at Blackrock, they had seen 6 Slavonian Grebes, 12 GND, 3 RTD, 3 L t Ducks, a Scaup and also a Tystie. To finish their day off,  they counted 20 + Chough flying in to the roost  at Kilchoman.

Returning birders from Hampshire, Gary and Wendy are back over for another trip... Round and about their cottage at Carnain, they had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier, 19 P b Brent Geese, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Shelduck, Snipe and some Dunlin.

Jack Fleming was telling me this morning, that he had been hearing a  Tawny Owl as well as a Barn Owl last night down at his house on the Gruinart Flats... 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Tuesday 4th February

Gary sent through some sightings seen yesterday..
2 Crossbills at the fir trees at Bunnahabhain, two Red breasted Merganser at the mouth of the river.
Up at Finlaggan, a Grey Wagtail at the cattle feeding station and also a Merlin hunting the Willow bushes over the moorland.

Chris Mills and his group from Norfolk birding had seen the following birds yesterday,
W T Eagle in the morning 2 miles West of Kilchoman distillery & 3pm a Golden Eagle same area.
Bruichladdich, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 18 Turnstone, 18 PB Brents
Gartbreck - 3 Purple Sands, Slavonian Grebe, 6 Knot
Bridgend, Loch Indaal - 51 Ringed Plover, 60 Dunlin.
Gaelic centre, Bowmore  22 PB Brents
1 Golden Eagle over the ridge behind Kilchoman House.

Also yesterday, the "Southern migrants" consisting of the 2 Steves and Julie had been out as well.
We saw a little party of Scoters off Bowmore distillery and three male & one female Eider in Loch Indaal after Bruichladdich, on way to Bowmore.
No long tailed ducks yet!!!

I should point out that the weather yesterday was not that great for seeing birds, so well done folks...

Monday, 3 February 2020

Monday 3rd February

Some birds seen by Chris Mills and the guests over from Norfolk birding yesterday..
"Had a cracking day. Started with Male and ringtail Hen Harrier near Saligo, plus 16 Ringed Plover there. Then Gruinart from platform 2 WT Eagles both on the ground , the Drake Green-winged Teal, 2 Greenshank, 2 Snipe, 2 ringtail Hen Harrier, 6 Whoopers, 2 Little Egret, 3000+ Golden Plover & Stonechat. Also out on estuary 10 Grey Plover.
Then Sanaigmore road juv. Peregrine, 2 Male Hen Harrier, 2 Golden Eagle.
Ardnave Point mid afternoon - 36 Chough, imm male Hen Harrier, 40 Twite, a hunting Merlin chasing a Snipe, 7 Goldeneye, 2 G N Diver & an Otter feeding for 30+ mins mid Loch!
A pretty amazing day by anyone’s standards!" 

Distillery Dave had the really good sighting when out with his dogs, a Merlin screamed past, down at Rockside road end, late yesterday afternoon.

Julie and Steve Corney and their friend another "Steve" sent some of their sightings through seen on Friday and on Saturday. It is their first visit to Islay.
"Just finished second day on fabulous Islay, here are some highlights.
Friday.... Gruinart, ringtail hen harrier, and lovely flocks of white fronted & barnacle geese
Barn owl East Ellister later on.

Saturday,  Red throated diver at Sanaigmore Bay.  At Gruinart 2 whoopers , bar tailed godwit , thousands of golden plover, female goldeneye and an otter!"

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Sunday 2nd February

Yesterday, Chris Mills along with his group of birders from Norfolk Birding arrived on Islay for hopefully a week of great birding here on Islay, weather permitting..

Coming over on the ferry yesterday, they had seen 2 W t Eagles over the Paps of Jura as they ,approached Port Askaig. On Islay, itself they had seen a male Hen Harrier, just out  of Ballygrant. Down on Loch Indaal, they had 4 Long tailed Ducks, 50 Common Scoters, 7 Scaup, a RTD and also 20 P b Brent Geese.  Last night on their way in to Bowmore, they had spotted a Tawny Owl perched on a tree close to the road around Carnain and the further on a Barn Owl sitting on a fence post at the side of the road. Thanks Chris and to your guests for your sightings, keep them coming.

James had seen a Golden Eagle flying overhead at Mill cottage yesterday, hope that it was not having a look at your chickens...

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Saturday 1st February

A much better day with the weather here today, practically rain all with little wind either...

Talking about the weather, well, I have got the rainfall figures for here plus some other from round about as well for January. We had 3.75 inches up here, old friend Clark had 3.5inches down at the croft leading down to Machir Bay and also new contributor Dr Matthew Jackson was in today for a cuppa and he told us that his tally for the month was 2.9 inches. Matthew is one of our doctors on Islay and is George E. Jackson's son and lives down at the road end  leading up to Rockside.

On the bird front, so far, not much to tell you, but the Goldfinches were making the most of the food on offer. "Dr Matt" was well impressed with the number of Pheasants that come to enjoy our food as well....

Friday, 31 January 2020

Friday 31st January

Well in a few hours time that will be the end of January, so I wonder how much rain that we have had in comparison to previous tallies for January, as ever, you will just have to wait in suspense until the blog tomorrow, when all will be revealed..

Gary had faced up to the cooler winds today and in at Finlaggan, he had 7 Crossbills. And then shortly after that he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, 2 Bullfinches and also a further 5 Crossbills along the track up behind Bunnahabhain.

Up here at home the ringtail was present today, again having a meal.. The Barn Owl was seen last night staying there for over 3 hours and has been in already for the best part of an hour so far. No need for the winter watch series on the TV!!!

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Thursday 30th January

Well, the winds certainly picked up with the midday ferry and also the evening ferry from Kennacraig cancelled out.. The sea out over Coull Point has been boiling for the best part of the last 2 days...

Up here at home we have been watching that Hen Harrier making the most of the remains of the Hare. This evening, we have been watching the antics of another "regular", the Barn Owl...All from the comfort of the house, honest, getting a bit  like Winter Watch on the TV!!!

Gary had braved the elements today... Down on the shoreline at Gartbreck, he counted 190 Wigeon, 150 Teal, 33 Mallard and over 100 Dunlin. Between the shore and the refuse tip , he saw 10 G b b Gulls, 89 H. Gulls, 21 C. Gulls, 45 B h Gulls and also 2 Glaucous Gulls.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Wednesday 29th January

Morven was in touch today with the figures from last week's International Goose count which took place on Tuesday and also on Thursday last week... Wednesday had been cancelled because of the poor visibility.. The tally came to...34,795 Barnies, 5,588 Whitefronts and 730 Greylags. Many thanks to Morven and the team from SNH in sharing these figures with us.

Above is an image of 2 of our garden birds, taken this morning before the rain set in !!! Wonder what comment we would have received back from the BTO, if we had sent in on the their big garden bird watch???

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Tuesday 28th January

This is an image of a rather hungry Hen Harrier taken out on the grass today, it was tearing into a dead Hare that I had placed there around a fortnight ago... oddly enough the other day some of the Jackdaws had been in for the odd piece of Hare before but not as much as the Harrier who must have been there for at least 3 hours!!!! There was also a Jackdaw and also a Raven in but neither ventured too close. Finally, a Buzzard came and sat on top of of one of the fence posts.. The image is not that great as the windows were covered in rain...

Monday, 27 January 2020

Monday 27th January

It was dry again today, but a bit on the cool side with the mercury never getting much of a shift in the thermometer...

Not much to report apart from the hooded crow out on the grass again today, later on there was a       buzzard down on the fence line watching what was going on... The pheasants which we have, have taken a great liking to eating into a small bucket of feed, which includes some aniseed...

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Sunday 26th January

The weather has been a bit cooler today, in fact at one point this afternoon, we were glad to be inside, as there was a right dirty shower of hailstones, clattering against the windows, rather noisy, to put it politely..

On the bird front today, James had seen a couple of Bullfinches over at Bunnahabhain this morning. This afternoon, James was over for a cuppa and we were proud to show him some footage on our cameras of a pair of Barn Owls, and also some footage from a visiting Chough. I know it is early days but here is hoping that either bird would be looking for a prospective nest site... Earlier on, Margaret saw a couple of Hooded Crows out on the edge of the garden. 

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Saturday 25th January

A much better day with the weather, no mists rolling around, possibly the odd spot of rain, but we did manage to see Ireland out on the sky line, the first sighting of Ireland for some time!!!

Mandy was in for a cuppa today, and she told me that she had seen a Barn Owl down at Foreland as she drove home the other night.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Friday 24th January

Another odd sort of a day with the weather, with the mist lifting off and falling down over the crag for most of the day...

Yesterday afternoon, when I was over speaking to Donald Jones over at Coull, a Merlin zipped across the steading.. Today, up here, a Merlin came and land landed on one of the washing line poles, before flying away over the game crop. I am not complaining, nice to see one rather than that pesky Sparrowhawk!!! Early afternoon, out on the feeders, I spotted a Robin with a BTO ring fitted... Jack Fleming had his first Goldfinch, of the season,  on his feeders over at Gruinart today!!

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Thursday 23rd January

A better day with the weather today, I even managed to see the crag today and over to Loch Gorm!!

Better day with the birds as well.. James sent through some of his birds that he had seen while out and about....He had a Peregrine and also a Golden Eagle out over Borichill Mor, over the reserve at Gruinart, a juv. White tailed Eagle was seen, while over Loch Gruinart itself, another Peregrine was seen. On the floods at the reserve, the drake G w Teal was still present and then back at the steading at Gruinart, he saw a Grey Wagtail.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Wednesday 22nd January

Went down to David Wood's talk at the Islay Natural History Trust last night. A very interesting talk/ presentation given by himself on his sabbatical trip to Turkey last September. The main thrust was to help count the many migrating birds of prey, sorry Dave can't remember the figures, but a lot!! The only negative side was that there was a very poor turn out from folk attending the talk....

For the last couple of day up here the mist has been down shrouding the crag, and has been quite thick at times, no visibility to the bottom of the garden for most of the time!!! Mid afternoon out on the feeders and roundabout I counted 36 Goldfinches, but none with any rings fitted... There was a male Chaffinch with one on though!!!

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Tuesday 21st January

When I was speaking to Ed yesterday, he told me that he had seen a Dipper over beside him at Port Ellen, a tick for Ed on his own patch...

This evening I went down to the IHNT's talk which David Wood gave. More on that one tomorrow night.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Monday 20th January

Forgot to mention last night on the blog about a "new" Blackbird that was down on the grass eating up some gingerbread which I had thrown out there earlier on. My description is correct in that it was a "Blackbird". I have seen Choughs down on the grass, Jackdaws are real scavengers, seen every day outside as well as our normal Blackbirds... Sometimes we even have the odd Hooded Crow, but this one was special, a Raven ... James had to have a quick through his bins at it!!!

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Sunday 19th January

An e mail through from Ron who writes the Islay blog
"I couldn't believe my eyes when I returned home from Ardnave early in the afternoon when I spotted a White Tailed Sea Eagle on top of a Barnacle Goose close to the RSPB Gruinart visitor centre. When we pulled over the Sea Eagle flew off, dropped the Goose which escaped, and landed a few metres further on the grass next to another Sea Eagle!! I couldn't believe my luck. I've never seen such a spectacular display of these majestic birds. It's already hard to spot one so close by, now I had two of them on the ground in front of me. After some 10 minutes or so they flew off scaring some more Barnacle Geese further out towards Craigens"

If you go to Ron's blog you should be able to see some tremendous images which he took of the 2 White tailed Eagles.

James up for a welcome cuppa and catch up this afternoon. James had also seen the White tailed Eagles which Ron had seen at Gruinart , with James seeing them this morning. When he was out and about James had also seen 2 Golden Eagles soaring around over Loch Cam. 

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Saturday 18th January

You should know the old saying.. " better late than never".  I was reading elsewhere of a reported sighting of 4 Dark bellied Brent Geese seen last week down at Gartbreck.. so I will await any further news on that one, as ever I will keep you posted on it should I hear any further news about it!!!

Friday, 17 January 2020

Friday 17th January

Possibly the weather has been a lot calmer today, compared to some days earlier on this week, still not that great for birding...

Just before midday, when going in to Bowmore today, I saw a small group of 10 Scaup, close inshore just opposite where Islay farmers once traded from many years ago.

Next Tuesday, I believe David Wood is giving an illustrated talk on his recent trip to Turkey, but maybe somebody can send me more details through and I can share with you... so watch this space!!!

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Thursday 16th January

Yesterday, James had seen 2 Woodcocks on the reserve at Gruinart...

Today, I saw a House Sparrow outside on the feeders with a BTO leg ring on... Shortly afterwards a colourful wee Blue Tit  was on the suet pellets.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Wednesday 15th January

The weather, needless to say is the top topic tonight, as because of it being such a miserable sort of a day, not much on the birding front tonight... The ferry decided to set out from Kennacraig at 6 pm this evening and should be setting back over to Kennacraig shortly. Apart from the winds, there have been quite a lot of dirty, squally showers in the mix, one late afternoon, well, it was full of hailstones, clattering against the windows, not nice!!!

Bob saw an adult Iceland Gull down at "smelly corner" at lunchtime.

Up here at home, mid afternoon when I looked out at the feeders, there were around 10 Chaffinches and also 10 Goldfinches in and around the feeders, but on closer examination with my bins there were 2 Chaffinches and also 2 Goldfinches fitted with BTO rings on their legs, so must keep an eye out for some more birds with leg rings fitted. Thinking back, the other day there has been a Starling seen quite often lately with some bling  fitted ...

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Tuesday 14th January

I think that I should apologise as the other day when I put the WeBS count through from Mark and Sarah, well for some reason the last column with the birds which they counted on the Floods at Gruinart did not show.... but so here we go with their birds seen the other day..
4 Herons, 105 Wigeon, 189 Mallard, 1 R B Merganser, 675 Lapwing, 82 Barwits, 88 Curlew, 6 Mute Swan, 6 Whooper Swan, 690 Teal,  1 Dabchick, 1 Little Egret, 10 Greylags, 1 G w Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1,005 Golden Plover, 7 B h Gull, 68 Pintail, 48 Shoveler, 3 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe and also 4 White tailed Eagles.  

John Miles e mailed through some final birds seen by the group which he had been helping son John lead last week, Iola Williams was also helping to lead their group... On Thursday, they had good numbers of GND, RTD and a few Slav Grebes seen on Loch Indaal. They also had 8 Scaup, 20 Long tailed Ducks with numerous other birds seen including a Little Egret and also a White-tailed Eagle, both seen at the head of the Loch. On their way round the Rhinns, between Portnahaven and up past Kilchiaran and back down to Port Charlotte, they had 4 different Sparrowhawks present. On Friday, over at Gruinart before heading home on the ferry,  they saw the Little Egret and also the Green winged Teal, and also over at Bunnahabhain they saw 4 Golden Eagles. Thanks to John, Ewan and Iola as well as their team of visiting birders for their sightings when over on Islay.

Remember, that on the entry on the blog yesterday I mentioned about the strong winds, well I received a figure of a 74 mph gust at 1pm yesterday which was recorded by Matt Jackson's weather station down at the Rockside road end. 

Monday, 13 January 2020

Monday 13th January

Bob, yesterday had carried out his WeBS count, but it was not easy with cold wind, rough sea and very bright sun!!! Bob counts from Port Charlotte up to Blackrock.
GND 1, Slav Grebe 7, Cormorant 5, Shag 38, Oystercatcher 34,Turnstone 6, Ringed Plover 28, Dunlin 21, Knot 7, Eider 16, Red breasted merganser 17, Common scoter 13, Long tailed duck   3 Pale bellied Brent 7, Glaucous Gull 1, H. Gull 46, C. Gull 49 and G.b.b. Gull 3.

Think that Bob, like Gary, made the correct decision to do their WeBS count when they did as the weather  with the strong winds would have made it impossible today...

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Sunday 12th January

Gary had gone out today and did his WeBS. Rather cold by the sounds things, but job well done...
Gary's count is from Blackrock back round to Bowmore
GND 11, Red breasted Merganser 18, Cormorant 1, Shag 33, Slavonian Grebe 8, Eider 3, Scaup 12, Mallard 106, Goldeneye 2, Wigeon 16, Teal 31, Shelduck 30, Common Scoter 63, Dunlin 1, Turnstone 8, Redshank 31, Oystercatcher 226, Curlew 145, Grey Heron 2, Mute Swan 5, Black headed Gull 70, Common Gull 145, Herring Gull 259, Great black backed Gull 13.
Barnacle Geese 3510, Brent Geese 52, Greylag 51, Greenshank 1, Little Egret 1.
Male Hen Harrier 1.

Late this afternoon, Peter and Mark were up visiting us and when I was outside with them, Mark spotted a male Hen Harrier drop into the game crop... Peter got his bins on the bird as it flew away shortly afterwards, carrying its' prey which Peter reckoned to be a vole!!

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Saturday 11th January

Here are the results of the WeBS count which Mark and his 2 volunteers carried out yesterday at Ardnave Loch, on Loch Gruinart and also on the floods at Gruinart...

Ardnave Loch
Loch Gruinart





Red Breasted Merganser


Ringed Plover






Bar Tailed Godwit





Common Gull


Herring Gull


Great Black Backed Gull






Mute Swan

Whooper Swan


Little Grebe

Little Egret


Green Winged Teal

Tufted Duck

Golden Plover

Black Headed Gull




Jack Snipe

White Tailed Eagle


A job well done folks, as I doubt if you would have managed them today, or even  over the next few days as the weather is not looking that great here!!!!