Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Wednesday 27th September

Foul weather of wind and rain for much of the day courtesy of Hurricane Agnes somewhere out in the Atlantic. Nothing particularly gale force or torrential, just unpleasant and enough to keep most of us indoors.

George Jackson passed by Uiskentuie and saw the / a Glaucous Gull on the beach. I look every time I go by and I never get that lucky.

Emily McGarva spotted a Little Egret down at Portnahaven - a new location for the species on Islay I think? amazing what a strong wind will do.............

The origin of the neck-collared Greylag I saw yesterday was revealed today via a rapid reply from ringer Bob Swann. The bird was "collared" on Islay in November 2017 and has been seen here in most of the intervening 6 years since.

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Tuesday 26th September

The wind and rain finally gave way in the afternoon to a bit of dry and sunshine.

First bird note of the day came from Val Peacock looking outside of her window on the seafront at Port Charlotte where she photographed a couple of geese:

A single Brent with a lone Pink-footed Goose - the odd couple!

Later, Alan Bowie, newly arrived on the island, whilst watching a White-tailed Eagle down at Gruinart got brief looks at what he reckoned might be a female Marsh Harrier. Down at the opposite end of the island, Ed Burrell had 5 Whooper Swans drop in to Cornabus where a flock of 200 Rock Doves were resting up after eating barley at Ballivicar. Gary Turnbull took a quick look at the top of Loch Indaal at Bridgend noting 3 White-tailed Eagles out on the grassy saltmarsh islands where a Little Egret fed. Down at Portnahaven Mary Redman was counting crows - well Choughs and Ravens to be precise - 5 Chough at Claddach and 2 more on the beach later followed by 11 Ravens over her house at Port Wemyss.

As the sun came out, so did I. A look at Loch Indaal at Gartnatra produced a Greylag Goose with an orange neck-collar that I'll try and find out about in due course. Later up at Gruinart, the S. Hide wasn't too productive, but the N. Hide held 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ruff and 2 Little Egrets seen far out on the flats at high tide.

Monday, 25 September 2023

Monday 25th September

Better weather today - drier, sunnier, mild and less windy. As nice as it was, there isn't much bird news to impart:

Ed Burrell had 6 Pink-footed Geese down at Cornabus/Ballivicar and David Dinsley watched a flock of 18 Chough on The Oa mobbing a Golden Eagle.

Sunday, 24 September 2023

Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th September

Further days of squally, windy, rainy weather, Sunday being the worst of the two days. Nobody ventured out yesterday, hence no blog but cabin fever struck today and I ventured up to the RSPB hides in the afternoon rain. Last time I was up at the hides there wasn't any open water in sight and the whole area was being topped by large tractors. Today it looked back to its good state with masses of water and birds congregating. From the South Hide there were 5 Ruff and 4 Black-tailed Godwit along with a good tally of 40+ Snipe. The North Hide had a couple more Black-tailed Godwits, another Ruff and a Greenshank. Wildfowl numbers were building up with plenty of Wigeon, Teal and Mallard plus about 40 Pintail - but all the ducks are in that drab post-breeding eclipse plumage still. It was far too wet for any sensible raptors to be out and there were no American passerine vagrants on the woodland trail.

Friday, 22 September 2023

Friday 22nd September

A day of fairly blustery NW winds, rain showers and intermittent cloud and odd sunny spells, all caused by something called Hurricane Nigel. While "Nigel" is causing some horrible weather, it is also causing an extraordinary run of rare American vagrants, which prompted foolhardy locals (aka Me) to go looking for some. I went to Frenchman's Rocks for an hour and half of humiliation this morning, dodging rain and wind and seeing almost nothing - even the "common" species were in short supply. The most exciting aspect of the whole debacle was seeing a paltry few Manx Shearwaters flying in the opposite direction to that which they normally do. This afternoon I went way up to Gortantoid to check out the isolated scrubby bit of woodland cover there: as good a place as any for an American warbler or similar to pitch down in. I saw three Chaffinches! In all fairness, there were a lot of migrant Meadow Pipits, White Wagtails and Skylarks, plus 8 Wheatears, but nothing to get the heart racing. While there the news came through of a Baltimore Oriole on Rathlin.................

Apart from my sorry tales, Mary Redman had counted 13 Chough down at Port Wemyss yesterday and a group of 7 Snipe  at Octofad and a White-tailed Eagle at the top of loch Indaal this morning. Up at Gruinart, James How had the first group of Whooper Swans (17 of them) come in to the Flats (not there this afternoon), plus 3 Ruff from the South Hide.

Thursday, 21 September 2023

Thursday 21st September

Another day of mostly rain, cloud and cool conditions.

The weather conditions across the N. Atlantic are blowing exceptional numbers of vagrant American passerines across to the UK, with all sorts of exotic warblers turning up in the usual places. Jim Dickson exhorts us to go and look in every bush as there must be something good lurking here on Islay. Unfortunately unlike  the small, bare islands of Fair Isle, Lundy and Bardsey, Islay is umpteen times larger and covered with lots of woodland, so it is all a bit frustrating and daunting. David Wood took up the challenge and thrashed around every bit of cover on The Oa and found 2 Goldcrests!!

Elsewhere in that part of the island, Ed Burrell had a couple of Whimbrel at Kintra and David Dinsley had a flock of 60 Pink-footed Geese over Kinnabus. This evening down at Gruinart James How had 27 Barnacle Geese, 20 Brent Geese, 59 Pink-footed Geese (could they be the same as those at Kinnabus?) plus 3 Black-tailed Godwits, and single Peregrine and White-tailed Eagle.

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Tuesday 19th & Wednesday 20th September

Yesterday's weather was awful with persistent rain, thus not too surprising that no birds were reported and no blog written.

Today was a little better, but still strong showers at times and a strong wind. James How saw 17 Brent Geese and the first little group of 22 Barnacle Geese this morning at Gruinart, while down at Cornabus, Ed Burrell was watching 2 White-tailed Eagles trying their best to reduce the Greylag Goose population. He also noticed an increase in Snipe numbers.

Jim Dickson wrote in with tales of good seabirds elsewhere on the nearby west coast of Scotland and encourages us to go forth and sea-watch in the next couple of days...........