Monday 31 December 2007

Mon 31st Dec

Just an image of a Robin over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, to keep you all in festive spirit!Another misty morning again, but once the mist had lifted there were good sightings of Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, as well as the usual Geese. We also saw a female Hen harrier out quartering, looking for prey, all on the reserve. Down on the shoreline at Loch Indaal there were a few Turnstone, and further along 12 Pale bellied Brent Geese, I thought that they were all through by now as I had not seen any for a few days. In at the lochans beside Loch Gorm there were 8 Whooper Swans, and on the hedgerow on the roadside there was a male Stonechat. The birds in the garden at home are fairly polishing off the food on the table and from the feeders. I forgot to mention yesterday that there were 16 Chough flying here at the house late afternoon.
At this point as I sign off for 2007, I would like to thank everyone, including visiting birders who have contributed their sightings to me, as without their help, it would not have been possible to keep this blog going. I would like to especially thank James How (JRH) for his help when I was stuck off Islay as your Paisley correspondent, and also when I was on Jersey soaking up the sun in November. To all of you out there, have a great New Year and we will try to keep you up to speed with what's going on, here on Islay. IKB
A late entry from James, who had quick walk round Ardnave Point this afternoon, turning up a Snow bunting, 4 Purple Sandpipers, and a single Red throated Diver off Ardnave Point. Common seal at the mouth of Loch Gruinart with Grey seals round towards Nave Island. On the shore, some dead Triggerfish were seen. Back on the reserve at Loch Gruinart there was a Sparrowhawk and also a Merlin. JRH

Sun 30th Dec

Once the early morning mist had cleared it turned to be not too bad a day, weather wise that is!
The conditions later on, gave a good chance to do a quick count on Loch Indaal of 850 Scaup, which is a normal count for time of year, along with 19 Slavonian Grebe and a pair of Long tailed Duck, all far out in the Loch. MAO

Saturday 29 December 2007

Wed.26th Dec - Sat.29th Dec.

Over at R.S.P.B. Gruinart Reserve there were 67 Twite, a high count, normally only in single figures. J.R.H.

A trip to the south east of the island produced several good sightings of Red Deer stags close to the road, a few Fallow and Roe deer were also seen. On the bird front some Long Tailed Tits were seen in the woodland at Kildalton, 2 male Goosanders were at Claggain Bay along with a Great Northern Diver was also present. On the way back to Port Ellen, a Golden Eagle was seen soaring over the hills and a Sparrowhawk flew across the road in the woodlands. On returning to Kilchoman, 2 Buzzards and another Golden Eagle were soaring over the cragg. On the lochans there were 8 Whooper Swans. M.A.B.

The Yellowhammer is still present on the R.S.P.B. Oa Reserve. A.K.

Wednesday 26 December 2007

Fri 21st- Xmas Day

Well, I am sorry to report that not much has been reported, as we have all been busy doing other things with the run up to Christmas rather than being out with the bins trying to see birds for the blog. I had meant to put this up for to wish you all a Happy Christmas, but I could not get online to do so yesterday, so bettere late than never. I hope that you did not eat and drink too much and are now feeling the side effects....
Over here this morning it is rather windy, mind you the fulmars were in the last 2 mornings, will the ferry come in later on is doubtful, could be a bouncy crossing!

Thursday 20 December 2007

Wed 19th - Thurs 20th Dec

Yes, the Bar headed Goose ( or the Braehead Goose as some call it), that was initially seen back on the 8th of October has been spotted again today, Thursday. It was in amongst a field of around 2,000 Barnacle Geese over at Cornabus at Port Ellen, grazing away quite contentedly! It was good to hear that it was still around as I had recently asked through the blog if anyone had seen it lately. The last sighting was at Finlaggan by Steve Percival at the end of October, so where has it been for the last 2 months? Also seen yesterday were the Crossbills , 1 Red and 3 Green, over at Avonvogie in the Pine trees, only 4 this time whereas there were 5 earlier on in early November, or were they different birds? MAO
The Goose count at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve on Tuesday, gave us the following figures, 6,059 Barnacle Geese and 412 Whitefronts which is a high figure for the reserve. Also seen were 31 Meadow Pipit, 76 Sanderling (another high count), 1 Sparrowhawk and a single Black tailed Godwit. 4 Hen Harriers were also seen on Monday, while this afternoon there were 2 Greenshank down at the hide, and 20 Twite were noted, again a high figure for the reserve. JRH
A Short eared Owl was seen over the moorland at Gruinart, a late bird as they are not normally here at this time of year. A Golden Eagle and a female Hen Harrier was also also noted at the same time as was a single Jack Snipe. CF
I have just received a copy of "Birds of Argyll" written by the Argyll Bird Club, a well written book by several contributors which will keep me reading for a wee while. IKB

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Sat 15th - Tues 18th Dec

No, not an Islay Sparrowhawk, but this bird was one that we had the good fortune to observe close at hand when visiting the London Wetland Centre in early November.
Back home here on Islay, we are getting cold easterly winds, in fact there was a hoar frost on the grass this morning which is quite rare here! As it is cold, the feeders are being visited by numerous birds. Out and about yesterday, Monday, produced a total of 12 Buzzards, on a trip down round the Rhinns and back up to Bridgend, quite a lot in a small area really. We also had a Kestrel at the roadside, 50 Lapwing alongside the football pitch at Portnahaven, with 16 Curlew in a field closeby. 7 Whooper Swan were noted flying over Orsay Island en route to Ireland. Up at the top of Loch Indaal there were 34 Pale bellied Brent Geese.
Today, Tuesday morning, on Loch Indaal there were several small groups of Pale bellied Brent, totalling about 50 geese. Down at the lime kiln there was a female Hen Harrier, while at Gartontoid there was a Sparrowhawk. On the way home a Merlin was seen as well as a couple of Buzzards. IKB
On the Goose count last week, the Canada Goose (Parvipes sp.) was noted along with its 2 hybrid goslings, of Barnacle goose parentage. This particular goose has been seen here regularly during the winter over the last 6- 7 years, and hybrid young for possibly the last 4- 5 years. It has always been seen along with Barnacle Geese. MAO

Saturday 15 December 2007

Thur 13th - Fri 14th Dec

On Thursday, this was one of a pair of Yellowhammer that were down feeding in the barley stubbles at the Coastguard cottages at Kilchoman. They were difficult to locate, let alone photoraph, as they were well hidden in the stubble itself. IKB
Friday, and a WeBS was carried out over at Loch Gruinart. On the floods, in front of the hide on the reserve, the following birds were seen, 1085 Teal, 265 Wigeon, 50 Shoveler, 49 Pintail, 105 Mallard, 2 Little Grebe, 1 black tailed Godwit and 44 Curlew. Out on Loch Gruinart itself, there were 15 Red Breated Merganser, 194 Bar tailed Godwit, 130 Curlew, 85 Turnstone, 81 Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 39 Sanderling, 210 Dunlin, 19 Grey Plover, 80 Shelduck, 2 Purple Sandpiper and 1 Peregrine Falcon. High figures for Turnstone and Sanderling. JRH, CF, RAS

Wednesday 12 December 2007

Wed 12th Dec

Out on the International goose count today here on Islay, the only birds of real note were 16 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Blackrock, and another Golden Eagle up at Ardnave, that is apart from the numerous Barnacle and whiefronted geese that were counted. CF
Female Hen Harrier seen at the reed bed beside the Coastguard cottages at Kilchoman, 3 Pale Bellied Brent at the head of Loch Indaal, beside the coalyard, while the 11 Whooper Swan remain at the lochans at Loch Gorm. IKB
Yesterday, again out on the International goose count, there were 13 Pale bellied Brent geese at Blackrock, 2 Pinkfooted Geese, 1 at Coullabus, the other at Ardnave. Also seen were 3 Hen harriers, 1 male and 2 female, 1 Merlin, a Golden Eagle and a Purple Sandpiper. CF & JRH
On Monday at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, there were 2 Greenshank, 1 Woodcock, 1 Peregrine falcon, 1 Goldcrest and 3 Whooper Swan. JRH

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Tuesday 11th Dec

A quick scan over the top of Loch Indaal from Bowmore yesterday afternnon produced 4 Long tailed duck, 12 Great Northern Diver, 3 Red throated Diver, 2 Black throated Diver and 6 Slavonian Grebe.
Today, a Sea Eagle was seen again, while at Claggain Bay there were 6 Great Northern Diver, 4 Red throated Diver, 1 Black throated Diver and 8 Goldeneye. The 2 male Goosanders and 3 Dabchicks (Little Grebe) are still to be seen on Loch Kinnabus. A single Waxwing was seen flying overhead at Lower Cragabus. The Crossbills were heard, but not seen, at Avonvoggie in the same plantation as previously reported back in October. RAS
The latest Goose Count figures for 4th and 5th of December are as follows, 47,926 Barnacle Geese and 6,726 Greenland Whitefronts. Many thanks to Tracey for the update.

Monday 10 December 2007

Sat 8th - Mon 10th Dec

A late entry, just handed to me, was that of a Chiffchaff seen on the 25th of November in the garden at Kinnabus on the Oa. Also on the RSPB reserve on the Oa there were 80 Reed Bunting and a further 74 Rock Doves, large numbers for both species. There was also a solitary Yellowhammer, while this morning 3 Snow Bunting were noted. AK
Still, over that side, but on the south east corner, there was a single Sea Eagle with white tags on, denoting that it was one of this years' youngsters. Possibly trying to out do Catherine's Golden Eagle in the garden, Andy had 8 Coal tits and numerous Siskins on his bird feeders, as well as a Woodcock actually in the garden! RAS
Farmland bird survey, the other day at RSPB Loch Gruinart, turned up a Grey wagtail and 110 Linnets. The windy weather certainly did not help! CF
11 Whooper swan were down at the lochans beside Loch Gorm, different birds from the previous entry on the blog, as they had flown away on Saturday. MAB

Friday 7 December 2007

Tues 4th - Fri 7th Dec

Quite a few bits and pieces to report from round Islay, so here goes...
The leucistic Barnacle Goose was seen again on Tuesday, down at Carnain where it was previously. With another Goose count taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, the counters have not seen the Bar Headed Goose which was seen earlier on. Has it flown on to somewhere drier? Also on Loch na Caiche there were 230 Teal, and on Loch Skerrols 135 Tufted Duck were counted, both higher figures for the respective Lochs at this time of year. MAO
Whilst talking of the odd sighting of a Buzzard with outstretched wings in an earlier blog entry, what about a Golden Eagle in your garden, it was not eating anything, but was quite content sitting on a rocky outcrop! CF
Just at the darkening on Tuesday there were 2 Woodcock, 12 Pintail, 4 Black tailed Godwit over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. 160 Whitefronts came into roost uop for the night before the light failed. On Wednesday, also on the reserve there was a single male Hen Harrier, the first for a while. A juvenile Peregrin was playing havoc in amongst a field of Rock Doves, although not with much luck! A Merlin was also seen later on. JRH
Up at Ardnave, there were several Kittiwake offshore along with 15 Greater Black backed Gulls. 25 Shag were on the rocks and 24 Ring Plover on the shoreline. Everything else was either sheltering or was blown away! Back down at Aoradh, there was a solitary Mistle Thrush. MS
On one of the small lochans beside Loch Gorm there was 7 Whooper Swan, whilst at 3 locations towards Bowmore there was a total of 34 Pale bellied Brent Geese. The Fulmars have proved good indicators of further stormy weather. IKB

Tuesday 4 December 2007

Sun 2 Dec- Mon 3rd Dec

The weather has calmed down here after the wind and the rain that we had on Friday and Saturday, although there were no ferry disruptions as far as I know. After the winds there was a young seal pup up on the shore at Machir Bay, looking a bit lost but at least it was still alive rather than a casuality. Looking back on that bad spell of weather, another odd sighting I had was that of a Buzzard sitting on a fence post, with its wings outstretched, just as cormarants do, presumably trying to get dried off. Not much point really as it was still pouring down at the time.
The birds on the bird table on Monday included 23 Greenfinches and 15 Goldfinches along with the House Sparrows, Blue and Great Tits. Looking out the other kitchen window, there was a Golden Eagle soaring past whilst I was having a cup of coffee.
Margaret and Tracey from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have given me the latest count for the geese on Islay. The count, the other week had 46,949 Barnacle geese and 7,980 Greenland whitefronts, wheras last year at the same count there were around 51,ooo Barnies and only 6,000 whitefronts. The counts so far this year have had over 49k of Barnies, but presumably the "extra" birds have moved on, while the Whitefronts are increasing all the time. There is another count this week so it will be interesting to hear from SNH what numbers we are at now, thanks for the info so far to Margaret and Tracey. IKB
The Hutchinsii Barnacle Goose was noted in amongst the rest of the Barnacle geese on Sunday, while a Merlin was observed near to the hut circles at Culbuie. JRH

Sunday 2 December 2007

Wed 28th Nov - Sat 1st Dec

Well, the solitary Fulmar on Tuesday was certainly correct, as the weather has well and truly broken down with a lot of rain and wind to go with it. It turned out to be very windy on Friday and more so on Saturday. The big question now is, what is ahead of us now as there were 12 Fulmar in on Friday, or are they ahead of the game for the weather down South today!
With the weather being so dreich, there has not been much birding going on, even the birds on the feeders have been loath to come out. Having said that, the male Blackcap has gone, has it moved on, or has the Sparrowhawk taken it. There certainly was a thud on the kitchen window the other day as if the Sparrowhawk had taken something then, also this morning there is a pile of black feathers below the bird table, so are we now a blackbird down? MAB
There are still the odd late birds moving through, with 27 Whooper swan and 4 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal. There were numerous waders to be seen there too, including Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Bar tailed Godwit and Curlew. Further out, on the Loch itself, there were 3 Long tailed Duck. JH