Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Tuesday 28 September

 Windy day with showers in the afternoon, but bright and sunny for the most part.  First real nip in the air I've felt this season, time to dig the gloves out!

It was the day for the pale bellied Brent geese - Gary counted 5 at Gartmain; Peter and Mark had a high count of 191 at Loch Gruinart with 5 barnacle geese. By the evening they had nearly doubled with James counting 355 Brent there. 

Peter also counted further barnacle geese - 14 at Gartmain and 11 towards Bridgend.   Plus a nice count of 140 skylark feeding in the barley stubble at Craigens.  

Golden plover numbers are rising too - 109 at Loch Gruinart and 19 on the Oa.  Dave also noted at the Oa 1 backcap, one goldcrest and one wheatear.

Visiting birders Mick and Lorraine Highfield sent in their sightings from today - one white-tailed eagle to eat west of Loch Gruinart, then an other 2 on Nave Island. Their walk round Ardnave was rewarded with twite at various points, with their highlight being 40 sanderling and 3 ring plover at the point.  Back at the RSPB reserve walking to the Hide rewarded them with both male and ring-railed hen harrier. 

Monday, 27 September 2021

Monday 27 September

 Thunder and lightening with lashing rain as I write tonight!  Fierce weather as we approach the end of the month.

This morning at Claddach, on the south-west tip of the island, a nicely marked wheatear was on the track when I arrived.  Driving out of Portnahaven a sparrowhawk was hunting on the road near the mast.  When I was driving home I counted 7 swallows at Easter Ellister and a further 12 at Wester Ellister.

Mary-Ann counted 16 red-breasted mergansers at Kildalton. Over on Jura at Gatehouse, Louise had close encounter with 2 white-tailed eagles overhead casting shadows over her!

Mark was out an evening walk near the head of Loch Gruinart this evening and counted 106 pale bellied Brents. 

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Sunday 26th September

Mark Shields and I managed an hour checking for birds at the top of Loch Indaal this afternoon before the heavens opened and the rest of the day continued with a fairly continual downpour of rain.

The main species of interest were a good number of 78 Pale-bellied Brent Geese mixed in with the first large arrival of Wigeon this autumn/winter - 191 in total. These were all feeding in the shallows, whilst further out into open water there was a quite high count of 66 Red-breasted Mergansers. Other species noted were 29 Mallard, 200 Oystercatchers, 56 Curlew, 17 Bar-tailed Godwits, 14 Black-headed Gulls and 166 Greylags.

James How has also been out and about and saw a White-tailed Eagle over Nave Island.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Saturday 25th September

 It was not too bad a day for mid/late September, with little or no rain, light/moderate winds and a bit of sunshine here and there.

The only birds recorded today were from Mark Shields, relayed to me in secret code (aka British Trust for Ornithology species names). He either did it because he assumed I knew what he meant (I didn't), or simply to annoy me. Having now deciphered his message, he reports from a brief look on Loch Gruinart the following:

33 BY (Barnacle Geese); 27 GJ (Greylags); 18 GV (Grey Plovers); 14 BW (Black-tailed Godwits); 86 L (Lapwings) plus plenty of DN, SS, RP and RK. I'll let you ponder what the last 4 are and tell you tomorrow.

Just for the record I counted about 500 SG on the wires by the coastguard cottages at Machir Bay yesterday late afternoon - I'll let you work that one out from the picture below!

Friday, 24 September 2021

Friday 24 September

An other blowy day here today, though dry for the most part.  Still very mild too so a lot of late grass yet -  the mower can be stashed away just yet.

Margaret enjoyed watching a stoat jumping around the garden at Kilchoman, but was disappointed it didn't put the same energy into catching the rabbits there! We only get stoats on Islay, no weasels so there is no confusion. Although if you do want an easy way to tell them apart, weasels are weasel-y recognised and stoats are stoat-ily different. (Sorry).

George had a tawny owl last night just north of Erasaid on the Uskenui-Gruinart road.  First he had a good sighting of it flying from open fields into the shelter-belt of trees, then later he heard it calling from the same area.

David reported a merlin at Kinnabus on The Oa. 

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Thursday 23 September

Nice westerly blast today which brought some activity with it.  Round the village here I watched a merlin harass the starlings, but flew away unsuccessful. Later in the afternoon c.20 pale bellied Brent flew south over the house Port Wemyss towards Ireland.

Ed had a green sandpiper at Cornabus, accidentally flushed from a small pond when walking the dogs. 

Dave had a successful sea watch from The Oa - 1 Arctic Skua, 2 great northern divers, 2 red throated divers, 10 Manx shearwaters, plus razorbills, kittiwakes and gannets. Generally quieter than expected. The highlight was 32 pink feet heading south. 

Gutton for punishment, Pete returned to an other sea watch at Frenchmans Rocks:

" I did another hour crouched in the mist, wind and rain. A total of 110 Auk sp. went by - today the weather was too poor to identify many of them to species, but quite a few were Razorbills. 22 Kittiwakes also wandered eastwards along with 3 Manxies, a single Bonxie, a flock of 12 Turnstones and 2 Curlews. A flock of 22 Barnacle Geese passed overhead. The main interest was a small passage of divers: 26 in all - 5 unidentified, 3 Great Northern, the rest (18) Red-throated. The bulk of the latter came by in two flocks of 9 & 6. The most impressive sight was the continuing presence of 100+ Gannets close offshore, somehow managing to see fish and dive after them in turbulent sea conditions of high, breaking waves, spume and white-horses."

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Wednesday 22 September

As I was putting my daughter on the school bus this morning, a wee snipe flew overhead.  Later up at Claddach, a sparrowhawk followed the wall along the fields near the loch.

Peter braved an hours sea watch at Frenchmans Rocks - 200 gannets feeding, 75 razorbills and singles of manx shearwaters, bonxie, kittiwake and red throated diver. The best sighting was of 2 purple sandpiper passing by.

Mark spied a peregrine at Loch Gruinart along with 31 blacktailed godwits.

The wind dropped away to nothing this afternoon, but it is to pick up again overnight.