Sunday 25 February 2024

Sunday 25th February

A cold but sunny and dry day.

Martin Armstrong saw a couple of Red Grouse at the Ard, Port Ellen this morning, while James How reports Golden and White-tailed Eagles at Gruinart, 10 Slavonian Grebes, 15 Long-tailed Ducks, single Scaup and the presence of Common Scoter, Red-throated and Great Northern Divers on Loch Indaal.

I took a walk up to Killinallan this afternoon and noticed 3 White-tailed Eagles together at the north end of Gruinart. All three flew off towards Ardnave as the tide rose and pushed them off the sand banks.

Visitor Valerie Wilson started her visit to Islay well, with the young Glaucous Gull asleep at the top of Loch Indaal, then the Red-breasted Goose on the west side of Gruinart in the afternoon. A little later she was at Blackrock where the Slavonian Grebes were accompanied by a Great Crested Grebe - quite a rarity here. It was rare enough for me to go straight out on receiving the Whatsapp message and go on a "twitch" for it. Unfortunately, despite close scrutiny of the various assembled ducks, grebes and divers there was no further trace of it.

This evening Mary-Ann Featherstone heard a couple of Tawny Owls calling at Kildalton.

Saturday 24 February 2024

Saturday 24th February

A dry, sunny but chilly day.

Jonathan Farooqi reported plenty of activity off Bowmore in loch Indaal this morning, with 20 Slav. Grebes, 20 Red-throated Divers, 15 Great Northern Divers, 1 Black-throated Diver, 25 Long-tailed Ducks, 100 Common Scoters, 100 Eider, 30 Red-breasted Mergansers and a single Scaup. (The Slav. Grebe and L T Duck numbers are quite high counts). 

Jonathan also found the Red-breasted Goose, 2 White-tailed Eagles and 5 Greenshank at Gruinart Flats, a Golden and White-tailed Eagle over the Ballygrant end of the Glen Road, 2 more White-tailed Eagles at Finlaggan and a Dipper at the Woollen Mill.

Louise Muir was on Islay seeing additional White-tailed Eagles at Kilmeny (a young bird) and Gearach (an adult) - so a possible tally today of 5-8 birds?. 

Margaret Brooke is back at Kilchoman where a Hen Harrier flew across her garden.

There was a bit of belated, but very welcome and interesting bird news from Jim Duncan and John Graham who had been on the island recently. They had taken a photo of a collared Greenland White-front that Ed Burrell confirms as a bird caught on Greenland in July 2008 that has been wintering on Islay every year since - a good age for a goose!

John and Jim also sent in a series of excellent photos of a couple of happily boxing Hares, followed by an attempted catch of the two Hares by a Golden Eagle, with an end result photo of a forlorn eagle and two lucky lagomorphs!

Great action photos - many thanks for sending them in - and thanks to everyone for their records which all go to the Argyll Bird Club database and help fill in an overall picture of  what and how many birds are here.

Friday 23 February 2024

Friday 23rd February

Very rainy overnight and into the morning, brightening to a sunnier, dry afternoon.

Martin Armstrong had an impressive count of 4 White-tailed Eagles over in the Cairnmore/Kilnaughton area this morning. 

The young Glaucous Gull was seen again at Bridgend this evening by Jonathan Farooqi.

Ash Cooper had another White-tailed Eagle, plus a Peregrine and 18 Choughs at Sanaigmore. 

Thursday 22 February 2024

Thursday 22nd February

Another day of two halves - this time a sunny morning giving way to a rainy and cloudy afternoon. However, this didn't deter the keener birders from getting out and about.

David Livingstone watched a White-tailed Eagle taking a Barnacle Goose in the air at Kintra this morning.

A Glaucous Gull identified as a 2Y was seen by several observers today at the top of loch Indaal - Steve Lister pointing out that it must be a different bird to the other older immature bird that has been hanging around Uiskentuie for months. Jonathan Farooqi found the Red-breasted Goose again today on the Gruinart Flats this evening. Other sightings include Golden Eagle up at Carrabus, Hen Harrier  near Machrie, 2 Canada Geese at Ardnave and a flock of 40 Ravens up at Laggan Bridge.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Wednesday 21st February

The day started out grey and rainy, but slowly improved with some sunny spells in the afternoon.

Visiting birder and wildlife photographer Ash Cooper sent in a few records from the last few days:

17th: 6 Little Egrets at RSPB Gruinart

18th: a male Marlin nr Ardnave Loch

19th: a flock of c80 Linnet in stubble fields between RSPB and Ardnave Loch, c.15 Yellowhammers near Ballitarsin, being chased by a Marlin and 8 Ravens flying around the American Monument on the Oa

20th: a flock of c.75 Twite in stubble fields nr Sunderland Farm, and a Golden Eagle over the moorland on W side of Loch Gorm. He:took this great shot of a male Hen Harrier up at Glean Mor yesterday.

Also on 20th: Jonathan Farooqi is back birding on Islay and noted a single Pink-footed Goose at Kilmeny and a Carrion Crow at Kintra where he read neck collars ADX, AHD & ADZ on four collared White-fronts. Malcolm O.& David Dinsley confirmed that they were all ringed at Cornabus in winter 2017/18 and have been regularly seen in that area this winter.

Steve Willis had seen a young Glaucous Gull up at the top of Loch Indaal yesterday evening.

Today's news: Val Peacock  watched a male Hen Harrier hunting and displaying out over Ballimony where a Woodcock and a couple of Buzzards were also noted. Ash relocated the Glaucous Gull up at the top of Loch Indaal (photo below - is it the long-staying bird or a different one?), while Jonathan had found a Russian White-front with the Greenland White-fronts at Gruinart and got distant views of the elusive Red-breasted Goose from the RSPB Visitor Centre.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Tuesday 20th February

The day developed into something tolerably pleasant with plenty of sunshine if a bit breezy, and it was good enough to get me out in the afternoon to the Gruinart hides.

Nothing sensational was seen, but it was full of activity with large numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover, smaller groups of Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank and 3-4 Greenshanks showing in good light. The ducks were numerous and a delight in the sunshine. 10 Whooper Swans were pootling about and a Little Egret present.

Monday 19 February 2024

Sunday 18th & Monday 19th February

A grey, drizzly day on Sunday meant very little birding news, though Mary-Ann Featherstone reports a total of 200 Lapwing north of Port Ellen mobbing a Buzzard.

Today was a little bit brighter - mostly dry with a bit of sunshine at times. Gary T. saw a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers towards Lily Loch - always good to receive records of this species to assess how many pairs might be breeding.

David Dinsley saw a Snow Bunting down on The Oa and Steve Williams watched a Golden Eagle over the Glen Road in the afternoon.

Malcolm O. sent in a note to say that 4 White-fronted Geese were caught at Kintra on Saturday and fitted with numbered neck collars. They were seen just a few km away at Coillabus today, but any further sightings of these or any marked White-fronts (including numbered leg rings) would be gratefully received.