Wednesday 31 October 2007

Tues 30th Oct

The late sightings of the Hobby continues, with it being seen this morning, having a tussle with a Ringtail (female Hen Harrier), before flying off into the shelter/protection offered in some trees. GDY

Down on the guided walk at on the RSPB reserve on The Oa, the bird watchers were graced with 6 Merlin, 5 Golden Eagle, several chough and the sighting of a pod of Bottle Nosed Dolphins. RAS

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Mon 29th Oct

On Islay recently, there have been more numerous sightings of Merlin. A Golden Eagle was observed being mobbed by 2 Buzzards, before flying off. IKB & RAFOS
There was another sighting of a possible Hobby this afternoon, possibly the same bird that was seen over at Port Ellen last week. RAFOS
126 Whooper swan were at the head of Loch Gruinart, while inland, also at Gruinart there were 2 Lapland Bunting. Also there have been several small groups of Whooper flying south to Ireland, the largest number being 20 offshore at Machir Bay. JRH

Sun 28th Oct

Another week on Islay is past, so here are few notes....
Possibly the highlight of the week was this Little gull, a 1st winter bird heading south along the shore at Bruichladdich on Thurs 25th.
Barnacle geese appear to have had a reasonable breeding season, with around 11% of the flock being juvenlie birds, enough to give a small increase in numbers. Some intresting rings observed through the week, more than usual from both Ireland (caught by David Cabot on the Inishkea Islands) and Sutherland (caught by Carl Mitchell & the Highland Ringing Group at Durness), would indicate a good number of "passage" birds present on Islay. No new Svalbard birds this time but a couple of the regulars from there that seem to have moved permantly to the Islay population.
The number of White-fronted geese are low, are they possibly still in Iceland? No collars were read at all.
Canada Geese, at least 5, have been seen at various locations throughout the island.
An Arctic Tern was seen offshore from Bruichladdich on Monday 22cd, and also 3 Swallow heading south at Port Ellen. A Siskin was over at Coullabus on Tues 23rd, and there was 2 separate sightings of Golden Eagle, one an immature, the other an adult bird at different locations.
The Bar- headed goose was with the Barnacle Geese over at Finlaggan on Wed 24th. Also that day was a late Greenland Wheatear at Gruinart. SP

Sunday 28 October 2007

Fri 26th Oct- Sat 27th Oct

Over at RSPB, Loch Gruinart reserve here on Islay, the following birds were seen, 2 Hen Harriers, 1 Merlin, 20 Pintail, 2 Pale Bellied Brent Geese, 153 Golden plover, 205 Lapwing, 302 Fieldfare, 357 Whitefronts and 1 Polecat ferret! Off reserve, and a Barn Owl was seen out hunting. JRH
A Little Gull was seen off Bruichladdich and whilst scanning through the numerous Barnacle Geese, 7 Canada Geese were spotted, 6 Hutchinsii and 1 Parvipes which was along with 2 Hybrids. The Bar headed Goose is still around, having been seen at the top of Loch Indaal and more recently at Finlaggan along the other geese. There have been several other sightings on the mainland, are they all escapees or what? SP

Friday 26 October 2007

Tues 23rd Oct - Thurs 25th Oct

Around 100 Golden Plover and about the same number of Lapwing (Green Plover/Peewit) were over at Killinallan on Monday. MMcC

On Tuesday over at Ardnave, 7 Purple Sandpipers were noted, along with 1 Bar tailed Godwit, 10 Turnstone, 25 Chough, 60 Herring Gull, 60 Common Gull, 10 Eider and 15 Teal.
The influx of Fieldfare and Redwing continues, now on the West of Islay, but not on passage or in such numbers as reported previously. MS

On Monday, there were 5 Swallow over Kilnaughton Woods, and there was a bird of prey over the wood possibly a Hobby in company with the swallows. The bird was very vocal and the features noted could point to a Hobby, has anyone else seen it? There was a male Grey Wagtail feeding on the edge of a silage pit at Claggan Bay. On the way home , 17 Whooper swan were at Gartmain.
Tuesday, on the sea off Saligo there was a single Long tailed Duck, while up at Ardnave Loch there were Pochard and Goldeneye along with the Tufted Duck.
Wednesday produced 52 Teal down on the lochans beside Loch Gorm. There were also 2 Pink footed Geese amongst the Barnacle Geese at Kilchoman. Also noted were a pair of Whooper with 4 juvs. There was a dead juv whooper under the power lines at Rockside.
Late entries on Thursday included Jack Snipe and 2 separate sightings of Treecreepers, all in the Kilchoman area. C & TJ
Thursday produced 2 Little Stint at Carnain while inland a lot of Siskins have arrived. RAS

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Sun 21st Oct - Mon 22nd Oct

25 Whooper Swans were seen flying south from the Loch Gorm area early Sunday morning. There was a further 26 on the spit at Gartmain, with several other small groups scattered around Loch Indaal. The 13 Pale Bellied Brent Geese are still to be seen at Blackrock.
There was a single Shelduck along with 12 Pintail at Bridgend.
A Merlin was seen over the head of Loch Gruinart while there were 52 Rock Doves on a ruined roof nearby. On the shoreline on the east side of Gruinart there were 185 Golden Plover, 38 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin and 10 Ringed Plover. At Bun-an-Uillt there was a Long Tailed duck offshore.
Back at Loch Skerrols there was a Mute Swan with 4 juv.
On Mon. at the head of Loch Gruinart a single Grey Plover was seen amongst Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Redshank. The sight of thousands of Barnacle Geese coming in to roost at Gruinart was a sight not to be missed.
2 Mute Swans with 2 juv. at Bunnahabhain were seen at mid day. C.&T.J.

Sunday 21 October 2007

Thurs 18th Oct - Sat 20th Oct

This is an image of 2 Whooper Swan,taking off from Loch Gorm. Unfortunately, I was unable to get an image of the group of 150 over at Gruinart before they left! MAB

An otter was obseved at Bruichladdich, the first since the 1st of August. Out on the Loch there were 5 Red throated Divers, while inland there were 8 Snipe and 4 Teal on the Pools. GJ

A brief summary of the Corncrake survey for 2007.......
The survey of Corncrakes on Islay in summer 2007 showed a further increase in numbers from previous years. This year, the total number of calling males was 69, which is 10 more than 2006, and 17 more than in 2005. The majority of the calling males were found on the Rhinns of Islay, with the highest concentration of calling males was again on Gruinart Flats, there were 16 calling males on the RSPB Loch Gruinart Reserve.
Thanks to the Corncrake Initiative Scheme and the willingness of the farmers, most of the silage fields adjacent to where calling corncrakes were heard, were either cut after 1st August, some of them even after 1st September, with most fields being cut in a corncrake friendly manner, i.e. from the centre out, rather than from the outside in. By cutting in this way, this should help the survival of the chicks as they would tend to go to the outside edges of the field being mown, which hopefully will increase the number of corncrakes on Islay in future years. MS

A Merlin was seen over the moorland on Friday, with a single Snow Bunting also seen in the same location later on that day. MS

On Saturday morning there was another noticeable passage of around 4,000 Fieldfares over the South East of Islay, while over on the East we are only seeing the odd one or two, as well as a few Redwing. RAS

Thursday 18 October 2007

Wed 17th Oct

A day of blue skies and towering white clouds over a turquoise sea with views over to Colonsay and Mull with Ben More in the distance. 16 Golden Plover flew over with Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone and Oystercatcher along the shore at Ardnave.
Kittiwakes and "Comic" Terns flew by with Shags and the occasional Gannet. Off Ardnave Point a Great Northern Diver flew in with a group of 5 soon after. A Red Throated Diver was also off shore.
3 Snow Buntings were in the dunes, and further on a flock of around 60 Twite.
Out over Nave Island a group of about 50 Swans (probably Whoopers) flew south.
In one bay where the seaweed was piled high, numerous birds were feeding on insects - 24 Chough, 40 Twite, and 50+Starling. On the edge of the tide were 6 Redshank, 1 Bar-Tailed Godwit, 10 Ring Plover, and 20 Oystercatcher.
5 Snipe were seen in the marshy area behind the dunes.
All through the walk Chough and Raven were seen and heard.
On our return, thousands of Barnacle Geese were out on the Flats at Gruinart, but best of all, at least 150 Whooper Swans. C & TJ.

Ther was a sinlge Greenshank on the left hand flood in front of the hide at Gruinart. G.J.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Sun 14th Oct- Tues 16th Oct

Sunday, in the afternoon, briefly, I was kept out of mischief, and from doing much work as the others helped to sort out the sheep and tag them.

There were several movements of Brent Geese, albeit in small numbers! On Loch Indaal, there were 32 Grey plover, 121 Bar-tailed Godwit and just over 200 Turnstone. Down on the Oa, there was a probable sighting of a Gyr Falcoln. RAS

A drive up the Glen road on Tuesday morning, with stops for walking and birdwatching, produced Crossbills, Siskins and Coal tits in the mature conifers with their prolific cones. Further on a ring tailed Hen Harrier was hunting, being watched by a Buzzard. Across the valley a Merlin was being harassed by a Hoodie crow. Later on a Golden Eagle was tucking into a rabbit, whilst a juvenile tried to get in on the act. When the juvenile took to the wing, it was dive bombed by a group of Buzzard. Stonechats were along the roadside, with a Kestrel overhead and finally 30+ Fieldfare flew in, looking for invertibrates in the field.
Later on on Ballygrant Loch, there were 6 Dabchicks and 4 Mute Swans. In the woodland, a flock of Siskin and Redpoll were feeding on the alders, and a pair of Bullfinches were also noted. Finally 2 Golden Eagle were seen from near Port Askaig across on Jura, whilst a late Arctic Tern flew down the Sound, where Shags, Eiders and a few Awks were also seen. C & TJ

Monday 15 October 2007

Fri 12th Oct - Sun 14th Oct

The spell of good weather continues, but for how long we all ask, as long as pay back time does not come too soon....

On Friday, at Loch Gruinart reserve, there were 16425 Barnies, 216 Whitefront, 43 Pale Bellied Brent, 10 Whooper, 242 Lapwing and 30 Snipe. JRH
There were 28 Whooper on Loch Gorm. IKB
While on Saturday, over at Lossit Loch a group of 14 Long tailed Tits were seen. There have been several other sightings of Long tailed Tits recently at various different locations through Islay but this has been the largest in number so far. SMcG
Also on Saturday, at Ardnave there was a group of 25 Turnstone observed on the foreshore. MS
Ardnave, turned up trumps again on Sunday, with a Snow Bunting, a female Greenland Wheatear, while out at sea there were a pair of Long tailed Ducks. Back on Ardnave Loch itself, 3 Slavonian grebes were present. Down offshore at Saligo Bay, several groups of Gannets were flying South . C & TJ
Meanwhile at Machir Bay, 3 dead Triggerfish were found, where their source of origin has yet to be established. JB

Friday 12 October 2007

Wed 10th Oct - Thurs 11th Oct

Quite a lot of birds to report, so here goes.....

We can start off with the monthly Webs count, from over at Loch Gruinart, covering the whole estuary. 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 19 Shag, 1 Heron, 68 Wigeon, 1 Eider, 36 Red Breasted Mergansar, 255 Oystercatcher, 61 Ringed Plover, 149 Bar Tailed Godwit, 295 Curlew, 31 Redshank, 34 Turnstone, 33 Common Gull, 107 Herring Gull, 2 Greater Black Backed Gull, 1 Cormarant, 227 Dunlin, 4 Black Tailed Godwits, 8 Mallard, 16 Lapwing and 11 Grey Plover. Many thanks to Catherine and her counters for that information. CF

There was a flock of over 600 Golden Plover down at Portnahaven, while up at the head of Loch Indaal there were 300 Dunlin, 9 Little Stint, 1 White Rumped Sandpiper, 12 Bar Tailed Godwit, 120 Ringed plover, 50 Turnstone and 3 Snipe. RAS

Over at Loch Gruinart RSPB, there were 13,385 Barnies, 118 Whitefronts, 1 Canada (Hutcinsii), 6 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Merlin, 2 Mistle Thrush en passage. There were a lot of Blackbirds and Robins on the move too! The reason for the drop in Barnies is that they have already started to go in to groups round the island. JRH

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Tues 9th Oct

Forgot to put in Monday's entry that there were 22 Whooper Swans on Loch Gorm, sorry! MAB

Over at Loch Gruinart Reserve, there was a count of 20605 Barnies, 224 Whitefronts and 2 Pink-footed Geese.On the floods there were 319 Teal, 86 Wigeon, 25 Shovellors, 4 Pintail, 10 Black-tailed Godwits, a Peregrine on a fence post, along with 2 Fieldfares flying overhead. The Barnies are on time, but the Ducks are late in arrival. JRH

Out on the estuary, there was a Curlew Sandpiper, 8 Whooper Swans and a further 14 Black-tailed Godwits. MS

Monday 8 October 2007

Mon 8th Oct

On returning from Port Charlotte this morning, we just stopped for a moment for a quick scan through the geese that were grazing on the stubble field, mainly Barnies and Whitefronts along with the solitary Pinkfoot, and then a double take, what were we seeing? Certainly not a Snow Goose, but indeed a Bar-headed Goose, where it had come from is open to discussion, was it infact a wild goose, or was it one that had escaped from captivity? There is an interesting article about the Bar-headed Goose in the October edition of "Birdwatch" magazine, in which it states that this species is the highest flying migrant as it crosses through the Himalayas on its annual migration. You can see the large wingspan which it has in comparison to the Barnies.

Sunday 7 October 2007

Fri 5th Oct - Sun 7th Oct

The Geese are certainly returning in their numbers, on Friday, at Loch Gruinart there were over 1300 Barnacle Geese, 7 Greenland Whitefronts and 45 Pale Bellied Brent noted. Also seen on Friday were 9 Pintail, a Green Winged Teal, 23 Black Tailed Godwits, 7 Grey Plovers and a Greenshank. A Peregrine Falcon and also a Golden Eagle were also observed. The count at Gruinart at 11am on Sunday was up to 10865 Barnies, 17 Whitefronts, 4 Brent and a solitary Pinkfoot. 22 Whoopers were also on the estuary and a single Redwing was seen. Out on front of the hide 2 family groups of Roe Deer, one of 4 the other 3, were seen grazing quite happily in the sunshine. JRH
Out and about, there was a group 0f 107 Lapwing, quite a few Twite at various locations while at home, Goldfinches were seen on seed heads and a new "house tick" with Long tailed Tits. On Saturday evening there was the sound of the Red Deer Stags roaring down the road. IKB

Thursday 4 October 2007

Tues 2nd Oct - Thurs 4th Oct

Lest we forget, some late sightings, there was a Long tailed Skua on Loch Kinnabus on 19th Sept, while on the previous day 24 Whoopers were seen flying over the Oa (? en route to Ireland), 4 on Aros Bay and a further 12 at Laphroaig, all on the 18th. Also last weekend on Sun 30th Sept there was a srtong passage of Redwings and Fieldfares along the South East coast of Islay.
On Tuesday 2/10 at Loch Gruinart Reserve, there were 62 Brent geese, 38 Black Tailed Godwits, 4 Ruff and 16 Pintail. Today, Thursday from Gartmain on Loch Indaal, 150 Knot, 100 Bar Tailed Godwits and 450 Wigeon. Round at Crosshouses, a Jack Snipe flew across the road, almost giving another kind of statistic...... RAS
Today at Gruinart, the first of the larger flights of Barnacle Geese came in, with a final total this evening of 1340. JRH

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Friday 28th Sept - Mon 1st Oct

The dry weather is still continuing, although the forecasters are predicting rain around the middle of the week.
A few more geese are in, not many though, the Whitefronts were up to 20, while Barnies had dropped to 18, and a sinlge Pink foot! Greylags around Loch Gorm appear to be fluctuating, with over 1,000 to observed on Saturday, while on other days hardly any, less than 100 were seen over the same sites on other days. Are these just Geese moving through, or are they feeding elsewhere on Islay? On Loch Indaal there were 18 Common Scotors noted. G.J.
Whilst out and about on Monday, 3 Greenland Wheatears were seen, and at home there appear to have to have been a movement of Robins. On the lawns there were 2 Yellow wagtails getting grubs just after the grass had been mown. The Peregrine Falcon was up on his perch for quite a while, just casing the joint out, no doubt waiting for some Rock Doves to fly past! Have noticed quite a few Hooded Crows and Ravens. I.K.B.