Wednesday 31 December 2008

Wed 31st Dec

Sorry, not much birding done today, no sign of the Woodpecker, but the Trecreeper was seen along with over 60 finches in and around the feeders at midday. They were mainly Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. The Coal Tits are still visiting the bird table regularly. I cannot recall seeing a Blackcap so far this Autumn, other years there has usually been a single bird for a few days. Come to think of it, no sign of any Siskins either.
On that point, I am going to sign off for 2008, and I wish you all a good New Year when it comes. I would also like to thank all the folk out there who have sent me in their sightings throughout the year, be it residents here on Islay, or from visitors over here on holiday. Thanks must also be given to James How at RSPB Loch Gruinart who does the blog whilst I am off Islay, and also to Michal for his images which have been included through the year.

Tuesday 30 December 2008

Tues 30th Dec

Not everyone is on holiday here on Islay, with James and Catherine being no exception....
Catherine had done a farm bird survey, and her highlights were 47 Skylark, 16 Rock Doves, 24 Reed Bunting and also a Red legged Partridge.
James had been out for quick sortie on the reserve at Loch Gruinart and had seen 2 Golden Eagles, 6 Whooper Swans on the floods, along with 3 Black tailed Godwit and also a flock of 28 Shoveler all in one group. He also had a Barn Owl, while out on the salt marsh there was a Peregrine Falcon resting up.
This evening I am glued to the TV, watching the series "The Life of Birds" which was first shown a few years ago.

Monday 29 December 2008

Mon 29th Dec

Yes, after claiming twice to have seen a Great Spotted Woodpecker, today it was seen again. This time for quite a while, and I even managed to get an image of it to share with you all! It sure was enjoying pecking rapidly on a dead branch. We take it to be a female as there was no red nape which the male bird has. Also an adult bird, as juvenile birds have a red crown.
Whilst out yesterday, I noticed several groups of Curlews at different places round Islay, with all the groups being of at least 30 - 40 birds.

Sunday 28 December 2008

Sun 28th Dec

Outside tonight, as I write the blog, the stars to be be seen are something else, no clouds and no light pollution just a blanket of stars to be seen all around. It was the same last night and then we were fortunate to see a shooting star earlier in the evening and a further two later on.
Malcolm has returned from his trip to Antarctica, and e mailed in at lunchtime to say that he had a couple of Whooper Swans flying high, up Loch Indaal, and another six later. James had also nine at Ardnave yesterday, while I had the family group of 4 on Wednesday. Surely these are not birds returning from Ireland already!
And now for a harmless plug, checkout and if you look at the section relating the For Argyll Awards 2009, you can vote away in the various categories. Any votes much appreciated by those involved....

Saturday 27 December 2008

Sat 27th Dec

On our way over to Gruinart at midday today, we had a really good view of a Merlin, armed with the camera I was determined to get an image of it. But it thought differently, when you followed it along the road and about 20 metres away, van stopped, window down, camera out, almost done, the bird had flown on along to another perch. The joys of photography....
On returning home later on, we took a walk out onto the crag and up to the "sword makers" house, and dropped down onto the Machir bay below the 3 gates, returning home by the Coastguard cottages. It was a grand walk and with the light being good in the late afternoon, we could see over to Donegal and up to Mull. Just before we got home there was a flock of Chough returning to the roost, just as the light was starting to fade.

Friday 26 December 2008

Fri 26th Dec

Too much food yesterday and hence no entry for Xmas Day, was it too much Turkey?
I forgot to say the other day that there had been 2 adult Whooper Swans along with their 2 cygnets on one of the small lochans at the roadside over towards Glenegedale.
Tony Johnson who was over in late October, and has just had the report back from BTO on a dead Guillemot that he had found on Loch Indaal on the 29th of October. It had originally been rung earlier on this summer, on the 21st of June at Castle Craig in the Highland region, around 258 km from here.
Today, whilst on a run over to Bunnahabhain, we had a good sighting of 2 Sea Eagles over the Sound of Islay. The were initially ahead and relatively close to us, but as we got closer they flew out over the Sound and away from us. We were able to note that they both had yellow wing tags, but we were unable to actually read them. Also on our way there, at Carnain, there appeared to be a few more Shelducks to be seen.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Wed 24th Dec

Whilst going over to the Airport earlier this morning, we had a tremendous sighting of several thousand Barnacle Geese still on the roost at the top of Loch Indaal, and by the time we returned about 45 minutes later, the vast majority had flown off. Also seen on our way to Glenegedale, was a male Hen Harrier out on an early morning flight at about 08.45.
This afternoon we went up to see what was on Ardnave Loch. We were not to be disappointed as amongst the Tufted Duck, there was a Goldeneye and also a scruffy looking Long tailed Duck.

Monday 22 December 2008

Mon 22nd Dec

James had been out this afternoon and carried out a Goose count on the reserve at Gruinart. The scores on the doors were as follows, 5,246 Barnies and 323 Whitefronts. He also saw a Greenshank, 2 Peregrine Falcon and a Hen Harrier.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Sun 21st Dec

A 'phone call this evening, from a friend over on the other side of Islay who had been out for a run in his car this afternoon, and at one point they had been watching Sea eagles, not one, not two, but SIX in total. Oh, this drink is a powerful thing. Some of the birds had wing tags and I will try and check tomorrow as to their ages.
Yesterday, while going out to get the papers there was a Peregrine out hunting, and on our return there was a Sparrowhawk at a different place. Nearer to home, there was a flock of around 100 Lapwing flying between Coull Farm and Rockside.

Friday 19 December 2008

Fri 19th Dec

It may have been dry for a short time this morning, but then on came the rain and the wind picked up too. The surprising aspect about today is that we have been fortunate that there has been no disruption to the ferry crossings, although it was diverted and used Port Askaig rather than Port Ellen. We are certainly lucky in have the option of 2 ferry terminals here on the island.
Back to the birds, and Tracey forwarded me on the figures from last week's Goose count which totaled up to 33,521 Barnies and 5,943 Whitefronts. Thanks to Tracey and the team for the stats.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Thurs 18th Dec

James has just been on the 'phone with some figures from through the week. On Tuesday, he had done a count on Loch Gruinart itself tallying out at 305 Oystercatcher, 186 Curlew, 193 Bar tailed Godwit, 360 Dunlin, 27 Sanderling, 16 Turnstone, 1 Great northern Diver, 105 Redshank, 2 Long tailed Duck, 16 Knot, 2 Greenshank and 3 separate Hen Harrier. The sighting of the Long tailed Duck was a good one as they are not often on Gruinart, and more often seen in Loch Indaal when they are to be seen.
Yesterday, Wednesday and a quick trip round Ardnave gave a good count of 29 Purple Sandpiper, a Grey Plover, a flock of 54 Twite and a single Merlin, but no sign of Catherine's Snow Buntings. Again the Purple sandpiper was a good figure.
Today, on the floods in front of the hide at Gruinart, James counted 964 Teal, 145 Wigeon, 54 Pintail, 56 Mallard, 2 Whooper swan, 47 Shoveler and 2 Greenhank. The Pintail figures were a good record too. JRH
Thanks to James, for those figures.

Monday 15 December 2008

Mon 15th Dec

Catherine had been out round Ardnave during the weekend, where she counted 41 Snow Bunting. Meanwhile, I read with interest that Stacey has arrived in Antarctica, you can read her blog on

Sunday 14 December 2008

Sun 14th Dec

The bird table has been busy this morning with Blue tits, Coal tits and Great tits. House sparrows and Dunnocks were seen, as were Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. There were also the odd Blackbird, Starling and Robin as well. Certainly there appear to be more birds in total feeding so far this year. Susan over at Ballygrant has also had the good fortune of having a Goldcrest visiting her table.

Saturday 13 December 2008

Sat 13th Dec

A much better day here, compared to yesterday and no rain thankfully, though the sea was roaring away good style. May be I should not count my chickens before they are hatched, as there were a few Fulmars soaring along the front of the crag this morning. Other times when this has happened, usually it turns out a sign of some stormy weather coming in a few days time.
I saw another Great spotted Woodpecker at lunchtime today, whether it was the same bird as back on Monday 24th November or a different bird I am not sure. The last couple of days I have seen a few "larger" Robins whilst out and about, possibly Scandinavian birds was James's thoughts
James had been over on Jura the other day, and seen an Otter, 3 Hen Harriers, 4 Kestrel, 2 Great Northern Diver and a Woodcock. Also the other day, while checking his sheep he had a large female Sparrowhawk.

Friday 12 December 2008

Fri 12th Dec

It possibly has been catch up time today in the weather front, but honestly there is a happy medium. At least it is dry for a while again this evening, the burns are running full and there was a lot of surface run off from the fields leading to flooding at some places, coupled along with the high tide at dusk.
The figures in from Tracey and the team from SNH for last week's Goose count are just in, giving us 34,148 Barnies and 5,591 Whitefronts.

Thursday 11 December 2008

Thurs 11th Dec

Well, it's been a long week for everyone over here, and it is now time to try to put it all behind us and move on. It will take a long time that's for sure, but with the community here, I am sure we will all rally round and do our best.
I had an e mail through from Tony Johnson, the other day relating to a Whooper Swan that he had seen down beside Loch Gorm back on 26th of October, KS1. This bird was originally rung in August 1999, in Iceland. It overwintered that year at WWT Martin Mere. It put in a brief appearance in Nov 2001 before heading over to Co Monaghan. It was at Martin Mere again briefly in 2002, and since then sightings have all been in Ireland. Infact the time previous to Tony spotting it this year, was back in March 2005.
Louise had seen some Goldcrest as well as several Long tailed Tits in the forestry over on Jura. Not to be outdone, Gordon, her other half, had 9 Short eared Owls last night!

Thursday 4 December 2008

Wed 3rd Dec

With the recent tragic road accident here on the island, there will not be an entry on the blog for a few days, as all our thoughts are with the families concerned.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Tues 2nd Dec

Forgot to mention last night, that the November tally for rainfall was 4", while October was wetter with 5.5". The tally for the year is slightly ahead of last year, so we will have to wait to the end of the year, rather than making any rash predictions!
Yesterday, James had a Golden Eagle up at Ardnave as well as a Kestrel, down on the reserve itself at Gruinart, there was a male Hen Harrier out hunting, while there was a Peregrine on it's prey, a duck! On Loch Gruinart itself, with the tide being out, there were 238 Curlew resting up. In the evening, at home James was greeted with a Barn Owl coming out of one of his sheds.
On to today, and James had the female Hen Harrier out, a Barn Owl at a different location, a Merlin and 33 Red Deer on the reserve. He also had a Canada Goose, which looked like a minima sp. James also noted 9 Blackbirds round at Foreland. JRH
George had been out today as well and had seen a Kestrel, close to where we had seen one last week, and he had seen several Hen Harriers at different locations. GJ
Coming home earlier this evening, we saw a Barn Owl on a fence post beside the road, the sooner this new camera comes the better......

Monday 1 December 2008

Mon 1st Dec

Michal had been out yesterday and got the image of this Barnie getting picked upon by his mates round about him!

Speaking of Barnies, when Steve Percival was over during late October he managed to get another 90 caught and rung, to add to the data base he has amassed over the last 20+ years.

The cold weather continues, and the morning flight was delayed due to ice on the runway here on Islay!

Saturday 29 November 2008

Sat 29th Nov

Must have been in another world yesterday, as I have just noticed that I had entered the wrong date for the entry, but I have amended it now! Still referring back to yesterday, and my comments about the Pale bellied Geese at the top of Loch Indall were blown out of the water today, as there were 35 at Bruichladdich today along with a few Purple sandpipers.... I had also heard that there were some Waxwings over in Bowmore through the week. Meanwhile the hills behind Bowmore and also the Paps of Jura had a good covering of snow, and it is rather cold as I write this entry.
On his way over here this afternoon, James had 17 Fieldfares and 45 Twite at another point.

Friday 28 November 2008

Fri 28th Nov

This afternoon, there were 21 Pale bellied Brent geese down at Bruichladdich, so perhaps theses birds are the ones that overwinter here on Islay, as the other day there was a group of the same number over at Bowmore. Other winters they were seen at Blackrock, as well as down below the coal yard too. There had also been 13 Whooper Swans below Gartmain.Talking of Whoopers, Louise Gregory had seen a "near miss" between 3 low flying Whoopers and a car down at Carnain as she came her work the other morning. Coming back over from Gruinart yesterday, while going round Loch Gorm, we had a close sighting of a Kestrel out hunting.

Thursday 27 November 2008

Wed 26th Nov

Tracey and the team from SNH have sent through the latest goose figures for the counts on 18th and 19th November. The figures were as follows 40,501 Barnies and 5,688 Whitefronts. Thanks again folks for the figures!

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Tues 25th Nov

The Chaffinches may have possibly moved on, at least there is certainly not the large flock that we had at the weekend. On the positive side today, there was a Grey Wagtail overhead, while down in the wood there were 15 Long tailed Tits.
James had done a Goose count on the reserve at Gruinart today, when his figures tallied out at 7,789 Barnies, 359 Whitefronts, 26 Greylags and 1 Canada, hutchinsii sp. One of the Whitefronts had a neck collar on. Other birds noted were a large Sparrowhawk, (not a Goshawk, I was told!),3 Gadwall, 172 Lapwing and a female Hen Harrier.

Monday 24 November 2008

Mon 24th Nov

Talking about the numbers of Chaffinches yesterday, I forgot to say that normally we only have 15 - 20 max. I was just speaking with Andy Schofield, and he too had noticed a big influx of them too. He usually has about 30 birds on his feeders and this shot up to 150 - 160 yesterday afternoon. I was fortunate to get a brief glimpse of a Great spotted Woodpecker this afternoon, and later on James had seen a single Waxwing over at Gruinart.
Tracey and the team from SNH have started the Goose Counts. Just after they arrived, on 22-23 October the tallies were 43450 Barnies and 5665 Whitefronts, the count a fortnight later consisted of 37,602 Barnies and 5780 Whitefronts. Thanks for that info Tracey & co.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Sun 23rd Nov

Michal had been up Ardnave Loch yesterday and got this group of Whooper Swans, there were 7 in total. One day earlier on in the week, he had a tally of 21 there too.
This last week James has been commuting back and forward on and off Islay, so has had some sightings from the ferry, starting off with a Storm Petrel. In the Sound of Islay, he saw a Hen Harrier fly from Islay to Jura. There were plenty of both Red throated and Great Northern Divers to be seen. At Kennacraig itself, there was a 1st winter Iceland Gull, while at Kilmory in Lochgilphead, there were 20 Waxwings. Back on Islay, on the flats at Gruinart, James had the Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp., in amongst the Barnies.
Here at home today, with these cold blustery showers around, there were over 50 Chaffinches on the ground around the feeders.

Friday 21 November 2008

Fri 21st Nov

It's all change time over here at present. We are home now, and Catherine should have made a start to her return from work in St Helena, initially starting back on a 5 day trip to Cape Town. As she too heads home, 2 of our other contributors head South. Malcolm Ogilvie is off on 2 trips to Antarctica, back to back, so Carol is left holding the fort! Stacey Adlard who wrote some entries from Oronsay earlier on, has just left for a 2 year stint in Antarctica. Another move that took place while we were away was that Louise Gregory who used to work for SNH, has now taken a post up here on Islay with the RSPB.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Thurs 20th Nov

Michal has taken pity on me, and sent this image of a Coal Tit while I was without a camera! He was also commenting that he felt there were more of them around this Autumn than last year. Certainly, before we went on holiday there were 2 visiting the feeders, here at home, and they were the first that I could recall. I was glad to notice that they were still here on our return, in fact there are now 4 of them! Michal's feeding station is visited by over 10 birds. Certainly, our feeders were busy with birds this afternoon as the birds try to stoke up with food prior to the forecast of a cold snap coming in. Whilst out on Ardnave doing a Goose count earlier on this week, Michal had seen a group of 5 Snow Buntings, and today on RPSB Gruinart reserve, there was a flock of 40 Fieldfares. MS
This morning, as we were going over to Gruinart, we had a superb sighting of a young Golden Eagle on the ground, we were not more than 30 feet away when it took off, and no camera with us to show you it.... On our return home round Loch Gorm, there was a male Hen Harrier battling its way against the wind.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Wed 19th Nov

Well, that's it for another year, the holidays that is or rather that was. So Margaret and myself have just been sunning it up on The Seychelles, not bad going as it was our third attempt at going. The first time, I chickened out as I thought it might be too hot, then last year, it was me again, health problems, but this time, no stopping us. Apart from getting the cameras stolen, early on, and hence the reason for not many images, it was hot, right enough, not just the air temperature which was up to 34 degrees when we visited Aride, even the water was warm, just great for swimming in, but there again the blighter nicked my dookers too and I am not into skinny dipping so had to get a new pair! Right then, what birds did we see, well on Aride we had Magpie Robin, 6 at one point, and there are only 170 left. We also had the Seychelles Warbler there too, and on La Digue we were fortunate to see a pair of Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher. We had some other great sightings too but more of that tomorrow.
Many thanks to James for his entries while we were away.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Thurs 13th Nov

A big storm on Monday night has reduced many phones and Internet connections to molten plastic, and high winds and rain continued through Tuesday, but yesterday was a great day.
With the weather set fine, I managed a good day counting birds with Michal around Loch Gruinart. A count of the Loch revealed: 241 dunlin, 173 bar tailed godwits, 289 oystercatchers, 195 curlew, 32 sanderling, 141 wigeon, 33 turnstone, 1 grey plover, 3 greenshank, 26 red breasted mergansers and a long tailed duck. On the Floods areas by the hide there was: 1421 teal, 116 wigeon, 28 pintail, 53 shoveler, 3 gadwal and 4 black tailed godwits to name a few. Whilst out and about we had good views of golden eagle, peregrine, merlin, hen harrier and barn owl as well as a great view of an otter on the shore moving through the pools hunting for small fish and crabs.
The weather has closed in a bit today, but just had great views of a golden eagle on the way over here to Kilchoman.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Sun 9th Nov

Not so many records today, as after a fantastic spell of weather it finally broke on Fri. Today the wind is blowing hard and the rain showers are heavy.
On Fri 7th in between showers I spent a good hour in the hide at Gruinart. The wildfowl were showing well on the flooded fields. In addition to the regular ducks: teal, wigeon, mallard, good number of pintail and lots of shoveler there were 4 gadwall and 2 hen harriers.
Yesterday the 8th, there were 2 golden eagles over Gruinart. I had excellent views from my kitchen window. Later around Loch Indaal there appeared to be good numbers of scaup and a scattering of common scoter.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Thurs 6th Nov

A mid week update. I meant to post yesterday, but forgot it was bonfire night, so I was off to see the Port Charlotte fire works. I have had some good records for the first part of the week. On mon 3rd, a white tailed eagle, a goshawk thermalling, a lapland bunting and best of all a parrot crossbill all at the Oa (AS). On Jura a long tailed tit (not common on Jura), 40 greylags and 25 fieldfares (LG). On the hills above Port Askaig a red grouse and redpols (MS).
Today the 6th its been a canada goose morning. I have seen 3 different canada geese: 1 hutchinsii at Loch Gruinart and at Sunderland farm 1 hutchinsii and 1 taverneri (showing a clear throat strap) (JRH).

Sunday 2 November 2008

Sun 2nd Nov

Hello, well it has not been 33C on Islay, but it has been beautiful. Soft autumn air with no wind and fantastically clear. Great views of Mull from the north of Islay and Donegal from the west. With the air being so still the sound of the geese especially at the roosts, Gruinart and Bridgend has been awesome for want of a better word. Of birds: On Fri 31st Oct there were 2 red kites over the Oa one had a single blue wing tag on the left wing. We think these are Irish released birds. There was also a Lapland bunting over the Oa. (AS). It appears to be a good year for snow buntings with 40 reported at Ardnave and 2 at Killinallen. On Sat 1st Nov there was a jack snipe at Ardnave and at least 5 long tailed ducks visible on Loch Indaal. A tawny and barn owl showing well on a beautiful evening at Gruinart. Today a quick look over the Gruinart floods revealed a huge fall of snipe with loads visible from the hide. (JRH)

Thursday 30 October 2008

Thurs 30th Oct

Although we had frost on some puddles, and on the grass first thing this morning, it has turned out to be a nice sunny day. The Paps of Jura and the hills on Mull as well as here on Islay, are still wearing their snow caps.
With this colder snap, and with the fallen fruit on the ground, Redwing, Blackbird and Fieldfares were making the most of it. Within an hour today, our contributor had seen 7 different raptors, Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Peregrine, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Good going by anyone's books.
James had been doing a count on the floods yesterday and had the following, 2 Snow Buntings, 802 Teal, 148 Wigeon, 58 Mallard, 2 Whooper, 5 Mute, 1 Moorhen, 34 Pintail, 42 Shoveler, 3 Black tailed Godwits, 42 Greylags and 2 Gadwall. On Tuesday he had some time to count the geese on the reserve which tallied at 11965 Barnies, 510 Whitefronts and 2 Canada Geese. He also had 15 Redwing, 1 Kestrel and a Ring tailed Hen Harrier. Out on the saltmarsh yesterday afternoon, James had 2 Buzzards on the ground being quite peaceable, and then along came a male Peregrine which gave one of them a real clout on it's head! JRH
On to migration news now and Catherine has gone to sunnier climes, to St Helena, to do survey work relating to the Wyre bird and Airport habitat mitigation. She should return early in December. We ourselves, are off today to Bird Island in the Seychelles and other islands out there. Trust that there is no frost, it was only 33C on Monday, so I hope the weather has not changed since than. James in our absence will keep you updated what is happened here at home.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Wed 29th Oct

This is one of the Grey Phalarope's that was seen at the weekend. This one was at one location, while another 2 were round at Port Charlotte.
Talking of Port Charlotte, and an elusive Waxwing was seen down there this morning by Jeremy Hastings and Carl Reavey.
Amongst the waders seen at Gruinart today were 2 Greenshank and a flock of around 100 Sanderling flew past. Out from Ardnave point there were a pair of Slavonian Grebes.
Our friends gave me report of their sightings today as follows. "At Saligo there was a flock of over 200 Golden Plover feeding in a wet field together with a large number of Starlings, when they all took flight on the appearance of a ring tailed Hen Harrier. At Sanaigmore, the only bird to be seen was a Great northern Diver. The shore at Bruichladdich, was quiet with only a few Ringed Plover, but just offshore was a Red throated Diver."

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Tues 28th Oct

What a day for October, the gritters have been out, gritting the roads to prevent ice, and plenty of dirty snow and hail showers thrown in for good measure. In fact the snow on the Paps of Jura, and also the hills behind Bowmore had their winter coats on all day, quite often it has gone by lunchtime, on the odd occasion when we get snow.
Michal had been out down on the RSPB Oa reserve today, and had captured this Redwing. There was a flock of around 70 birds there, along with a few Fieldfares. The flock of over 100 Twite still remain, as well as some Linnets. There was both a male and female Hen Harrier out hunting, and also he also saw 2 Golden Eagles and a Peregrine. MS
David Goodwin, a visiting birder who has visited regularly over the past 25 years, e mailed to say that he had seen 2 immature Grey Phalarope in the bay at Port Charlotte on Saturday morning.
While out in Port Charlotte with friends earlier this evening, there was a report of what could possibly be a Red breasted Goose, so something go and look for tomorrow! Coming home, we were pleasantly surprised to see 3 Barn Owls out hunting a different locations. The Swallows were seen in Port Charlotte again today and another couple were seen at Port Ellen too.

Mon 27th Oct

The weather certainly has calmed down although the wind has veered round to the North giving us a colder blast. It certainly has not moved the Swallows away from Port Charlotte as they were still present today. Whether the wind changing direction had much to do with it, but certainly here this morning there appears to be more Redwings around, rather than just the odd bird last week. There are some Fieldfares around now too.
Just after breakfast there was a Golden Eagle being mobbed by Raven, and then later a Buzzard thought it would have a go too, meanwhile a Merlin flew past closer to us.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Sun 26th Oct

Rather a long report from several contributors tonight, due to the fact that I never sat down to write a report last night, still 2 for the price of 1! Here we go then.....
James had been out and about on Friday and Saturday, and while out with Andy Schofield and Michal on the RSPB Oa reserve, they had a flock of over 100 Twite and also 2 Snow Bunting. On to Saturday itself, and on Loch Gruinart, James had 29 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 3 Black tailed Godwits, 19 Whooper swans, 1 Greenshank, a Peregrine and also 387 Lapwing. JRH
A visitor had seen a late Wheatear down towards Portnahaven through the week. On the barley stubble at Rockside, there was a flock of 66 Whoopers at the back of lunchtime yesterday, including 16 immature birds. While speaking with James today, he too had been noticing larger numbers of younger birds in the groups of Swans that he has seen lately, so perhaps they have had a good breeding season.
George had seen a couple of Swallows at Bruichladdich today, and yesterday he had a dark bellied Brent goose along with a pale bellied Brent Goose and was fortunate to get some images of them. George also told me though Malcolm that a Grey Phalarope had been seen, near to the former smiddy between Bridgend and Bowmore. GJ
Our friends from Lancashire had seen a rung Whooper Swan today, the first one here this year we believe. They also had a really view of a dog Otter on the Sound of Islay today.
Other visitors phoned to tell us of a flock of 80 Curlew at Port Charlotte today, they had also seen 2 Swallows still at Port Charlotte, an Arctic Tern, and yesterday they had the good fortune to see a young Golden Eagle on a post at Gruinart. The Snow Buntings were still at Ardnave.
The final comment for today comes from folk from Essex who were on the ferry yesterday afternoon returning home, and they noted that they had seen several Great Northern Divers from the ferry. They too had seen Golden Eagles during their stay here on Islay.

Friday 24 October 2008

Fri 24th Oct

I heard this morning that yesterday's Goose count had to be cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions. The weather calmed down here for a couple of hours at the back of lunchtime, but only briefly. The wind is back up again, and the forecast for the next few days is not too good.
There was a group of over 50 Whoopers down the road this morning, resting up. When scanning through different parties, there appears to be quite a few youngsters amongst them, so I must have a further look over the next few days when we are out.
Our friends called in briefly to say that they had 17 Snow Buntings on the shoreline up at Ardnave earlier on today. I wonder if this is going to be a good year for them, as I recall seeing a larger flock down on the Oa a few years back.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Thurs 23rd Oct

A late entry from our visitors for yesterday, better late than never......
" We forgot to say that we had a "comic" Tern whilst up at Ardnave Point on Tuesday.
The weather was still showery and cold, with the wind not quite so strong.
Whooper Swans have been moving around in general all day with groups coming off the sea and into Loch Gruinart. A ring tailed Hen Harrier was seen round Loch Gorm. Groups of Ringed Plover and Sanderling were along the Killinallan shore, with 23 Golden Plover at the mouth of the Killinallan River. A single Snow Bunting was on the edge of the dunes at Killinallan and 4 Red throated Divers flew into Loch Gruinart. A Peregrine and a Raven clashed at Killinallan Point.
There were 35 Teal on the pools at Loch Gorm, and 18 Whoopers ( 5 of these were immatures) as we came back in the late afternoon." In a lull this afternoon they had 6 Goldeneye on Loch Skerrols.
Today, the wind has certainly got up with the ferry only coming over at midday and docking up overnight at Port Askaig. At least we did not have the rain which was forecast and fell elsewhere.
On the pools down beside Loch Gorm there were 31 Whoopers (9 immature) this morning, and I forgot to include a mention last night of seeing some Redwing, just a few, also a couple of Goldcrest and also 2 Treecreepers.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Wed 22nd Oct

Today is the first of another set of annual Goose counts, so we will get these figures through once they are all tallied up. Whilst out on his route, Malcolm had counted 176 Whoopers on Loch Nigheadaireachd (Laundry Loch I was once told!), this Malcolm reckons could possibly be the largest single flock counted. There have be larger counts, but these have been totals of several flocks in one area on one day. Also present were 230 Greylags and 100 Wigeon. There were a further 26 Whoopers at the top of Loch Indaal. James had 65 Whoopers on the Goose walk at Gruinart this afternoon, while we had 30 flying overhead, here this morning with a similar number this afternoon resting down on the lochans below Rockside. There was a sighting of a possible Arctic Tern over the reserve during the walk, but it was past before a positive id could be done. Here at home there has been a couple of Coal tits on the bird table beside the kitchen window. In fact the birds have been feeding a lot today with more birds coming to the table for food rather than the actual feeders.
The "visiting birder" left a message to say that he had 2 Snow Buntings, a Sparrowhawk, a Peregrine and to cap it all, a Red Admiral butterfly. Possibly, it could be the last butterfly for the year, if the expected weather forecast comes through!

Tues 21st Oct

Another entry for the blog from our visitors,
"A colder day, but still windy with showers. At first light, small groups of Whooper Swans were moving, and as usual thousands of geese too. Later, down at Machir Bay, 3 dead gannets had been washed in, whilst a Peregrine flew over carrying its prey. The tracks of an Otter could be seen, coming down from the dunes and into the sea.
As we drove past Loch Gorm, a male Hen Harrier was out hunting while over the road near to RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, a Sparrowhawk flashed by. Up at Ardnave, there were 24 Whooper and 5 mute Swans on the loch. A group of Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Turnstone along the Gruinart shore which was sheltered from the wind. The highlight of the day were 5 Snow Buntings near to Ardnave Point itself.
Returning to Kilchoman, in the late afternoon, a large flock of Golden Plover and Lapwing was near to Rockside, with a group of Twite sheltering behind a dyke on the roadside. The final birds were another 14 Whoopers flying over with their lovely contact calls." Thanks for that folks.
Another visiting birder contacted me to say that he had the Crossbills down at Avonvogie again, and also that he had seen 2 small groups of Whoopers, one of 16 and the other of 18 heading down Loch Indaal out towards Ireland.
Michal had a count of 689 Whitefronts out on the reserve and also 122 Lapwing on one of the fields below the visitor centre along the flats. MS
George had 4 Swallows down at Port Charlotte today. GJ

Monday 20 October 2008

Mon 20th Oct

Another entry from one of our visitors,
"Another very windy day with heavy showers, encouraged us to take to the woodlands. As we were leaving Kilchoman, a Raven was feeding on a dead Pheasant on the roadside, and a single Fieldfare was blown overhead.
Down on the River Sorn, 8 Long tailed Tits were along with Blue, Great and Coal Tits with a Heron close by.
Later at Ballygrant, 3 Little Grebe and 5 Mute Swans were on the Loch. On our way home, we stopped at a woodland where lichen encrusted hawthorns were full of ripe berries. We were rewarded with views of Chiffchaff, Fieldfare, Goldcrest, a pair of Stonechat, and many other common birds".
Another visitor had the good fortune to see an Otter eating its prey over at Lagavullin, and then later on watching 2 separate male Hen Harriers battling against the wind. They were also fortunate to observe a Kestrel as well as 2 different Sparrowhawks.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Sun 19th Oct

Today has been a day of strong winds and heavy showers, but still birds were seen. The morning ferry was cancelled, with the evening ferry diverted to Port Askaig, as happened last night too.
4 Pink feet were along with the Barnies, White Fronts and Greylags down at Rockside. There was a Black Guillemot and a Red throated Diver on the edge of Loch Indaal, with Turnstone, Oystercatcher and Common Gull being buffeted in the wind.
In Bridgend Woods, a Dipper was seen near the Woolen Mill, and a Treecreeper along with Coal Tits and Goldcrests in the alders on the edge of the River Sorn.
A Kestrel tried to hover in the gale near to Foreland, and an immature Golden Eagle flew across the road at Saligo. A small flock of Golden Plover were feeding in a field near Saligo, while small numbers of Gannets flew South off shore. On the edge the edge of a stream there was a male Stonechat which was with Pied Wagtails and Pipits. On the shore, 2 Chough came down to turn over patches of sea weed searching for food. Many thanks for that entry from folk from the Manchester area. Our previous contributors from Cheshire were Chris and Ray Bertera, again thanks for all their sightings while they were here.
Another visitor told me of having seen 4 Swallows at Port Charlotte today, and later on, possibly the same immature Eagle, in a different location, but still in the same area.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Sat 18th Oct

Michal has been out and about on the RSPB reserve at Gruinart this afternoon and managed to get this cracking image of a Goldcrest.
Speaking around today, and nobody appears to have seen any Swallows for a few days, no Whinchats or Wheatears either. Come to think of it, the Osprey that has been around quite a lot this summer, no mention of it either. Possibly they have got the right idea and all headed off for warmer climes!

Friday 17 October 2008

Fri 17th Oct

Michal is back with his camera again, with this image of a Greenshank.
Earlier on today, he had busy doing counts out on the floods in front of the hide. The tallies were as follows, 6 Mute Swans, 41 Greylag, 137 Wigeon, 7 Pintail, 670 Teal, 9 Shelduck, 50 Mallard, 55 Lapwing, 1 Gadwall, 1 Water Rail, 2 Litle Grebe and 3 Heron. Up on Ardnave Loch, there were 19 Whoopers, 4 Mute, 21 Wigeon and 8 Tufted Duck. This was the first of the returning Shelduck to be seen this Autumn at Gruinart reserve. There were certainly not as many Whooper Swans to be seen around today, with our fiends only reporting 4 seen down on the stubble at Rockside. They also counted 570 Scaup in Loch Indaal in 3 separate groups.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Thurs 16th Oct

Although some Whooper Swans have already been seen already, certainly there were larger numbers passing through and on the wing. While going over to Gruinart this morning we had 3 groups in all totaling 56. Our friends, also in the morning had 8 over Machir Bay, 74 in Loch Gruinart, and 19 up at Ardnave Loch. After lunch they saw 16 down on the lochans beside Loch Gorm, and 51 resting up in a stubble field at Rockside. They also had a male Pochard and 4 Tufted Duck at Ardnave. On Loch Indaal, at Bruichladdich there were 6 Common Scoter, and just before returning home they had a really close sighting of a male Hen Harrier out quartering its ground.
The past few days, James has been over on Oronsay, and he was in touch earlier this evening with some sightings. Today, he had been having Whoopers flying South towards Islay, a group of 16 and another 9 later on. Also seen flying towards here were several Greenland Whitefronts, a Merlin and some Redwing. Earlier on in the week, James had 8 Great Northern Divers calling to each other, 2 Red throated Divers, a Sparrowhawk and 23 Golden Plover. He also had a good view of an Otter catching and later eating a fish close at hand. On Oronsay, he had 40 Grey Seal Pups on shore and reckons that there are around 300 pups over on Seal Island just off Oronsay. JRH

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Wed 15th Oct

Today our friends went down the bottom end and went past Ardbeg and out as far as Claggain Bay where they saw a Peregrine, a Red throated Diver and also 2 Black Guillemots. Near Ardbeg itself, they had a really good sighting of a female Merlin perched on a fence post. On their way home they had a male Hen Harrier close to the Airport and 22 Brent Geese on Loch Indaal. At Loch Gruinart they also saw a female Hen Harrier and a further male out on the wing beside Loch Gorm. They also had in the wood a Treecreeper along with Long tailed Tits before it got dark last night. The Long tailed Tits were still here this morning.
At tea time tonight, there was a brief shower of hailstones.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Tues 14th Oct

Guess who came to the bird table this morning, yes, a Common Gull caught on camera by Malcolm. He said that he often has the odd Herring Gull visiting, but a Common Gull does not frequent his bird table that often!
Yesterday, Malcolm had seen 4 Arctic Terns, 40 Common Scoter, ( there were only about 20 a fortnight ago), 3 Great Northern Diver and a single Red throated Diver. MAO
Also yesterday, Catherine had 50 Whooper Swan in total, flying over Gruinart on their way South.
Another entry from the Cheshire folk who are making the most of this spell of better weather. They had been out looking over Loch Indaal today and saw 4 Great Northern Diver, 5 Red throated Diver, 7 Slavonian Grebe, 5 Brent Geese, 18 Whooper Swan, 26 Common Scoter (off Blackrock), 25 Scaup (Blackrock too), a group of around 300 Golden Plover that were flying around, and only 2 Arctic Terns at Bruichladdich. In the Bridgend area they had a Canada Goose fly over, and up at The Woolen Mill on the River Sorn they had a Dipper. They did not see any Swallows at all while they were out today.
Back here at home this afternoon, they had 12 Long tailed Tits in the wood along with both Great and Blue Tits on the feeders.

Monday 13 October 2008

Mon 13th Oct

This is the Canada goose that was down the other day amongst the Barnies at Sunderland Farm.
Our Cheshire birders have been spotting the birds again today for us. They had 3 separate groups of Whooper Swans, a small group of 3 at Rockside and later on, 9 and then a further 19 flew in while they were at Gruinart. Also there were 66 Brent Geese and 45 Golden Plover. Down on Loch Indaal, they had a small group of Common Scoter off Bruichladdich, also there were the 2 Common Tern. They also commented on seeing a few Swallows, 1 at Gruinart and 5 at Loch Indaal. Round at Ballinaby they had their first Reed Bunting while being here this year, it was amongst some Linnet and Twite. Thanks again for that.
We were down briefly at Bowmore this morning, an interesting sight was a Mute Swan seeing off a Whooper Swan, probably trying to defend her cygnet. There was around 180 Scaup offshore from the Generating Station and some small groups of Brent on the shoreline including some at the point at Gartmain, and another group below the Gaelic College. Further round on the mud flats where the River Sorn enters Loch Indaal, we had a tremendous sighting of the Geese resting up and more Geese were coming in while we were there. Possibly the Geese had been feeding in the moonlight last night and hence the reason why they were there through the day.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Fri 10th - Sun 12th Oct

The weather for the last couple of days has been a bit kinder, although initially we had the edge of the rain that caused flooding in the South west of Scotland.
Our friends from Cheshire were really impressed on Friday, as they had 4 species of Geese all in the same field, namely Barnacle, Pinkfoot, Whitefront and Greylag, they also saw a Whitefront with a collar on, possibly the same one that John had seen earlier on in the week, but due to the buffeting effect of the wind it was hard to read the collar. Later on Loch Indaal they had Brent Geese, as well as a few Whooper Swans Yesterday, off Bruichladdich 2 Red troated Divers and 9 Common Scoter were seen. Today, they had a female Hen Harrier over the "Minister's Field", and along with the Barnies and Whitefronts, they had a further 4 Pink footed Geese and a Canada Goose. Over at Gruinart, 7 Brent Geese, 16 Golden Plover were spotted, on Loch Skerrols 3 Little Grebe along with 3 female Tufted Duck, On Loch Indaal itself 5 Whooper Swans, 2 Brent Geese and 160 Scaup. On the way home on Loch Gorm 126 Tufted Duck were counted. Many thanks folks for that.
Malcolm yesterday had a couple of Arctic Terns down at Bruichladdich, and also down on the shore there were some Purple Sandpiper as well as Turnstone. There are still a few Swallows at Port Charlotte, although having said that there were some late birds at Port Ellen last year in November!
Back here at home, recently I have been seeing a Grey wagtail quite often, infact the other day there were 2 birds to be seen.

Thursday 9 October 2008

Thurs 9th October

The only news for toady is that a Bar-headed Goose was seen today along with a flock of Barnacle Geese at Blackrock. If you recall, there was one seen last year, first of all on the 8th of October at Rockside, and it was seen quite often through last winter, mainly with the Barnacle Geese in and around Cornabus. The question is, could this possibly be the same bird or not, certainly last season's bird was at Blackrock at one point through it's stay here.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Wed 8th Oct

Our friends from Cheshire saw the Snow Bunting over at Saligo this morning, just after spotting a female Merlin. On the fields at Ballinaby, amongst the Lapwing, they also had 3 Golden Plover. Down at Bruichladdich, or on Loch Indaal to more precise, they had a Red-throated Diver, was it possibly the same bird that George had a few days ago? At the end of their day they seen 60 different species in all.
Other visitors over on holiday also had seen the Snow Bunting, but had seen 3 Golden Eagle later on.
The weather today has been good, with only the odd rogue shower of rain for a few minutes. As I write, the stars are shining brightly outside, no light pollution to spoil it all!

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Tues 7th Oct

Another miserable day outside again, but certainly not as bad as other areas over on the mainland!
The only bird of note was the sighting of a male Snow Bunting over at Saligo, this is the first report I have had of one here this Autumn. JRH

Monday 6 October 2008

Mon 6th Oct

All good things come to an end, yes, the weather has broken down again.... Yesterday, we had a good day whereas down South it was wet, well today it is a reversal with us having the rain and them having the better weather, but that's the way it goes!
It was interesting to watch the geese down on one of the barley stubbles at lunchtime today, there were Barnies, some Whitefronts and a few Greylags to be seen, and after scanning through for the possible rarity, it was time to head home. Up to that point the whole flock were quite settled and it was not until we started to move that they decide to fly off, but the interesting thing to note was that it was only the Barnies that took to the wing. I feel that this year, the geese have quickly left the head of Loch Gruinart and are out to some of the fields quicker than they have done in previous years.
There were 30 Pale bellied Brent at Bowmore and another flock further out in the loch but a count was difficult due to the swell on the sea, but I reckon that there were another 60 or thereabouts. There were a few Pintail amongst the Mallard and Wigeon at Gartmain and some Eider further on.

Sunday 5 October 2008

Sun 5th Sept

Another great day weather wise, no rain at least for a change!
After the main arrival of the Barnies yesterday, we decided to go over to Gruinart to see all that was there. The spectacle at Gruinart, both on the grass fields and on the mud flats was well worth the trip alone as the geese normally congregate here when they first arrive before dispersing out over the island. James's count today gave 24,555 Barnies and 317 Whitefronts and a single Lesser Canada Goose, a Peregrine Falcon, the sighting of a Sparrowhawk mobbing a Golden Eagle, ( this was also seen by other birders but from a different viewing point!). There was also a Gadwall, 4 Black tailed Godwits, 5 White wagtails and a solitary House martin. The other birders had 4 Swallows on their trip out. Again James's figures did not include the birds at Craigens, solely the birds on the reserve.
Later on while having a blether with James, we saw a Sparrowhawk chasing after a Skylark, but with no success. Believe it or not, all the Skylark could do was to continue on singing while avoiding being caught! An interesting fact came out of the conversation with James is that all the Barnies come first to Islay, and then some return North to Colonsay, others to Tiree and even some to the Outer Hebrides. JRH
While returning home from Gruinart I was surprised to see 2 large flocks of Barnies on the rough heather moorland down beside Loch Gorm, as we would normally expect to see them on grassland, with either Greylags or Whitefronts on the moorland. IKB

Saturday 4 October 2008

Sat 4th Oct

This afternoon the weather has calmed down a bit, and a settled sky showed itself off, not a cloud to be seen over here!

James has been busy counting the Geese, this morning at 10.30am, there were only 2425 Barnacle Geese and 32 Whitefronts, but by 5.30 this afternoon it was a different story. The figures had shot up to 26,625 Barnies, 205 Whitefronts, 8 Pinkfoots, 21 Pale bellied Brent, 2 Canada, hutchinsii sp, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Greenland Wheatear and 32 Pied Wagtail all in one flock. All these birds were on the reserve at Loch Gruinart and James reckons that there were at least another 8,000 Geese at Craigens. I queried James on his geese figures and he assured me that he counts in 5s, so who am I to doubt his figures? JRH

James also said that these figures were a record for the reserve. The vast majority of the birds that came in were coming up from the South, similar to yesterday, and certainly here at home, there were a lot flying up the West coast of Islay. George also had seen a lot of the Geese flying up Loch Indaal. So can we presume that all these birds had overshot Islay with the strong winds of late? James said that there were some birds flying in from the North, from the Colonsay direction. Malcolm e mailed to say there had been a record back in the 60s of a Greenland rung bird being recovered in the Azores.

George also had a Red throated Diver in Loch Indaal off Bruichladdich., and Macolm had a couple of Swallows again in Bruichladdich. GJ MAO

Friday 3 October 2008

Fri 3rd Oct

Well, after all the wind and rain, the weather has calmed down now. I forgot to say that the rainfall in September was 3.75", not too bad although it seemed a lot wetter!
Back to the bird news, mainly from morning counts by James at Gruinart, 1185 Barnacle Geese, 33 Brent Geese, 3 Black tailed Godwits, 75 Whitefronts, more were noted, but this was the largest group, 15 Whooper Swan, 1 Ruff, 1 Jack Snipe, 12 Snipe, 5 Swallow, 1 House Martin and 12 Pintail. James commented on the fact that the Geese arriving at Gruinart were coming in from the South, or Loch Indaal, rather than directly from the North, or even from the West and Loch Gorm direction. Possibly they had flown past Islay and turned back, this has been noted before after a Northerly gale. JRH
There were 4 Swallow at Bruichladdich and a further 7 on down at Port Charlotte. At Rockside there were 4 Whooper Swan on the barley stubble and another 14 on the water in Loch Indaal off Bowmore, and also 18 Brent Geese. IKB

Thursday 2 October 2008

Thurs 2nd Oct

Rather blustery over here tonight, the ferry that crosses over to Jura from Port Askaig had its last crossing at 4 pm, while folk coming over from Kennacraig this evening said that it was not that calm a sailing, enough said!
Our Cheshire birders saw the following birds today, a Jack Snipe while going over to Loch Gruinart, at Gruinart itself there were 11 Pale bellied Brent, 68 Greylag and 325 Barnacle Geese. Down on Loch Indaal there were another 18 Brent Geese, 5 Whooper Swan and 95 Scaup. They also 14 Swallow over Loch Indaal, including 10 at Port Charlotte as well as 3 up at Ardnave.
Round on the barley stubble at Ballinaby this morning, there were 2 small groups of Greenland White-fronted Geese, one of 8 and the other numbered only 5. There were also 10 Greylags and a Sparrowhawk on the ground in the same field.

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Wed 1st Oct

Yes, the Geese are starting to come in now, even although the numbers are low. This morning there were only 18 Barnacle Geese present and 14 Pale bellied Brent, but by late afternoon there was a total of 243 Barnies and 22 Brent, not a lot but a start. Tomorrow may bring more in as there is a Northerly wind, bringing a colder air in too. As well as the Geese, there were 6 Whooper Swans at Gruinart, and 24 Pintail. 5 Twite were also seen on the reserve. Round at Ballinaby yesterday, a single Swallow was observed.

Tuesday 30 September 2008

Tues 30th Sept

The small groups of Pale bellied Brent Geese are still coming through, James had 38 at Gruinart yesterday, while some visiting birders had seen only 23 today and Malcolm had 8 while going into Bowmore this afternoon, on the water below the site where Islay farmers used to trade from. Our visitors also had the male Hen Harrier hunting over one of the game crop strips at Rockside, and a single Wheatear round at Carnduncan. Over at Gruinart today, James had 7 Snipe and had seen 25 Swallows down at Port Charlotte.
While coming home from a meeting at around 10 pm last night, we had a tremendous sighting of an Otter on the road. When we first saw it, from a distance we initially thought it was a large cat and it was not until we got closer that we realised that it was an Otter. When we caught up with it, it stayed on the road for another 20 yards before jumping into the verge and scampering on up the banking.

Monday 29 September 2008

Sun 28th Sept

James was round this afternoon and he kindly gave some sightings from Gruinart for the last 2 days. Saturday's birds included a Sparrowhawk, 3 Black tailed Godwit and 5 Brent Geese. Today, there were 27 Brent Geese, 1 Barnacle Goose, 3 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Merlin, 1 male Hen Harrier and 2 Grey Wagtail. The sighting of the Wagtail was of particular note as they are not that often seen there. JRH

Malcolm was in touch to say that a visitor had seen 9 Whoopers earlier on in the day, flying south over Port Wemyss. 3 had also been seen earlier in the week. MAO

Coming back home in the dusk, there was a Wheatear in the car lights, at the cairn to the Kilchoman Bards. Earlier on in the afternoon, there was a solitary House Martin flying around looking for its colleagues.

Saturday 27 September 2008

Sat 27th Sept

As forecast, the weather did break down with rain by lunchtime which prevailed until almost tea time, the skies cleared, and this evening the sky is full of stars! On the bird front, the House Martins have flown off, at least there are none to be seen. There were a couple of Swallows down at Port Charlotte yesterday. At home this morning, the Sparrowhawk chased a Thrush out of the wood, but no luck.

Friday 26 September 2008

Fri 26th Sept

After mentioning yesterday that the year was rolling on with the return of a few Geese, tonight and another indicator, was the sound of the Red Deer stags roaring. I had been speaking to several colleagues round Islay on the phone earlier this evening, and we all had the same comment about the stags!
Another friend told me today that this morning, he had the viewing of 3 Golden Eagle, all in the same field of view in his binoculars at the same time, without moving his binoculars at all. Talking of Eagles and James had a single bird soaring over the reserve at Gruinart today, the first he has had there for almost 6 weeks.
A visitor was telling me of their sighting of an Otter the other day when they were down at Claggain Bay. It was first seen less than 30 yards away, and even when it noticed them it was in no great hurry to move away.

Thursday 25 September 2008

Thurs 25th Sept

After the Whitefronts showing up yesterday, well today while on the walk at Gruinart, there was a small group of 10 Barnacle Geese, resting up on the flats. It was good to see them again, but on the other hand, it brought it home to me that it is that time of year again, October next week and so the year rolls on. There were along with around 350 Greylags. On Loch Gorm there were 29 Tufted Duck.
A late message in from John Armitage to say that he had seen the Rose coloured Starling in Bowmore this afternoon. Once again it was at the bus stop, (perhaps waiting for the next bus?), it hopped into the bus shelter to eat a chip that was on the ground!

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Wed 24th Sept

The first of the returning Whitefronted Geese were seen by John Armitage, with a group of 9 on Loch Gorm. JSA
Catherine had a Goldcrest in one of the rooms in her house today, does this qualify as a new "house bird"? On Loch Gruinart itself, the group of 17 Brent Geese were still there. Back on land, and during a farmland bird survey, the totals were 309 Rooks, 106 Skylark, 11 Meadow Pipit, 131 Linnet, 14 Twite, 47 Greenfinch, 2 Red leg Partridge and 30 Reed Bunting. Skylark numbers appear to be up recently, while Meadow Pipit and Pied wagtail numbers are down. CF
The weather today has been overcast and not so warm as yesterday, but still allowing the farmers the chance to get the last of their harvest completed.

Tues 23rd Sept

With the weather being kind to us again, the farmers are doing their best to get the few remaining barley fields combined and also the straw baled. The weather has almost got an Autumnal touch to it, good harvest weather with a hint of ground frost at night. The leaves are starting to fall off the Sycamore trees, they got a burning with the salt air earlier on. The Goldcrests could be heard in the trees again, but due to their size proved quite elusive to see, but perseverance paid off!
Catherine was on the phone to say that she had 17 Brent and 93 Greylag Geese over at Gruinart.

Monday 22 September 2008

Mon 22nd Sept

Malcolm Ogilvie was in touch to say that there had been a small group of 7 Light bellied Brent Geese on the tide line at Uiskentuie Strand this morning.
One day last week, Catherine and Michal had been doing a count on Loch Gruinart which consisted of the following. Cormorant 1, Shelduck 4, Heron 4, Mallard 6, Eider 9, Merganser 41, Oystercatcher 324, Ringed Plover 97, Knot 5, Sanderling 17, Dunlin 212, Bar tailed Godwit 89, Curlew 242, Redshank 23, Black tailed Godwit 6, Greylag Goose 114, Black headed Gull 209, Common Gull 172 Lesser Black backed Gull 204, Herring Gull 204 and Greter Black backed Gull 7. On Ardnave Loch there were 10 Mute swan, 4 Tufted Duck and 1 Heron. CF & MS
Back here at home today, 3 Swallows were seen flying past, and a Grey Wagtail was overhead later on.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Sun 21st Sept

I forgot to say yesterday, that James had an Osprey while he was away, but that was over at Loch Earn!
Back on Islay, James had 2 Barn Owls at Gruinart, and a further one down towards the Airport. Round the other side of Loch Gorm, there were 2 Wheatear. Yesterday up at Ardnave, a Peregrine Falcon was seen. Down at Gruinart there was a ring tail Hen Harrier, a Sparrowhawk, while in the evening there was a Tawny Owl, the first that James has seen there for a while and another Barn Owl. Today at Griunart, James had 15 Pale bellied Brent Geese, a Sparrowhawk. Coming over here this afternoon, James saw a solitary Wheatear, and further on there was a sub adult Cuckoo on a fence post. We had the Treecreeper in the wood, while James was here, along with several Goldcrest. JRH

Saturday 20 September 2008

Sat 20th Sept

George Jackson was on the phone earlier on this evening. George had gone a trip yesterday on the rib, (a high speed inflatable boat similar to an inshore lifeboat), from Craighouse on Jura up to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool and round to Eilean Mor and Eilean Beag. He was saying that even altough the tide conditions at Corryvreckan were not perfect, one could still see the famous whirlpool. He had seen a Bonxie on the way up there, numerous Kittiwakes were perched on Scarba and Seals were seen too. But the highlight of the trip was the sighting of 3 separate White tailed Sea Eagles.
One of the visitors in our cottages had been walking in the woods at Bridgend today and had watched around 20 Long tailed Tits when they were out.
James had been on the mainland earlier in the week and had seen Porpoises from the ferry on his way over to Kennacraig.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Thurs 18th Sept

This cheeky Robin was caught on camera on a Willow down opposite the Generating plant as you come into Bowmore from Bridgend. While speaking of Bowmore, Catherine from RSPB was on the phone to say that the Rose coloured Starling had been seen again in the flower bed beside the bus stop in the middle of Bowmore this afternoon.
The Swallows may have gone from here at home, but there were 17 flying around at Gruinart this morning. Also when going over, there were 7 Mistle Thrush on the wires beside "Canada" field at Sunderland. Coming home and there was a single Wheatear at the steading at Sunderland and another at Rockside road end.
The weather was not too bad in the morning but went downhill rapidly after lunchtime.

Wed 17th Sept

Another good day here today after all the rain that has fallen recently. The Swallows here at home are definitely away although I did see a couple over at Bowmore around midday. On the way down, there was a single Wheatear at Foreland, and another was seen round at Ballinaby on our return. There were around about 50 Linnet also at Ballinaby with a male Hen Harrier over the reed bed down at the Coastguard Houses.
Michal had a flock of over 250 Linnet on the rape/ mustard crop on the Loch Gruinart reserve. On the floods this morning, he had 60 Mallard, 226 Teal, 156 Wigeon, 19 Shoveler, 3 Mute Swan, 1 Heron and 63 Greylag. This evening, he saw 5 Golden Plover and a Sparrowhawk on the salt flats at the head of Gruinart estuary. MS

Mon 15th - Tues 16th Sept

If Sunday was a right off, Monday turned out to be worse, with consistent rain for most of the day and evening, but Tuesday came and we have had a good day.
Paul Hathaway, on his way home from the Visitor's Welcome evening on Monday night, had spectacular sighting of a Barn Owl along with it's prey on a fence post on the roadside.
Back here on Tuesday morning, the Rock Doves flew past at great speed, hotly pursued by a Peregrine Falcon. Still on raptors, the Sparrowhawk chased a House Sparrow against the kitchen window, the Sparrow was shaken but not killed as the Sparrowhawk did not follow into the window!
The resident Swallow population, here in our Summer, appear to have flown off to warmer climes, as there are only some House Martins to be seen, including a brood still being fed on the nest. Also in the bushes and trees in the garden, there appear to be some more Robins around, with some singing away trying to claim territories!

Sunday 14 September 2008

Sun 14th Sept

As I have been busy here at home today, not much birding has been done. Having said that, mid morning there was a Peregrine struggling with a Jackdaw as it flew past, certainly the remaining Jackdaws were not amused about losing one of their mates. Early evening, and a Sparrowhawk did a "fly past" through the wood. There was a Goldcrest in the wood on Friday, and there were 20 Blackbirds down at Sunderland the same day.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Sat 13th Sept

The weather has been a bit kinder today than of late, and the balers were out this afternoon for the first time since Monday. There were a couple of Golden Eagle soaring above the crag this morning, while this afternoon an Osprey was seen by James and Kevin as they were working on James' sheep. Kevin also commented that an Osprey had been seen last Saturday catching a fish in Loch Indaal near Blackrock, possibly a sea trout.

Friday 12 September 2008

Thurs 11th - Fri12th Sept

On Thursday, I morning I was over assisting on the guided walk at Loch Gruinart reserve. From the platform, we had good viewings of a ring tail Hen Harrier and Peregrine Falcon as they flew over the floods but not actually hunting for prey as such. At one time they were both on the ground within several yards of each other, and indeed they flew off together after that. Up at Gruinart Farm, there were 2 Ravens and also a Buzzard close at hand while away up at Ardnave some Chough were seen through the 'scope. Coming back along the road, the Swallows and House Martins were on the wing, and we were able to show the folk on the walk, the difference between the 2 birds. In a bush on the roadside there was a Wren, invisible to us, but definitely audible, as it gave us its all! There were also around 70 Teal on the floods.
George Jackson was also with us, and he was saying that he had a brief sighting of a Green Sandpiper on one of his ponds, one day last week.
One of our neighbours had been up at Sanaigmore on Thursday evening and commented on the number of Swallows flying over the fields there, possibly birds gathering before moving south. Certainly here at home, there are not as many Swallows around today. Over at Bowmore today, we noticed that several of the Eiders are coming out of their eclipse plumage. Also there were 12 Turnstone, while below the Gaelic College, was a pair of Mute Swan with a single cygnet, possibly the sole survivor from the 7 that hatched earlier on at Carnain.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Wed 10th Sept

As the weather has broken down a bit here, needless to say we have not been out birding much of late, and most of us have been catching up with paperwork and other inside jobs that need doing from time to time!
But, having said that Andy had a Basking Shark on Monday in Port Ellen bay, between the lighthouse and the green buoy, for those of you who know the bay. On Sunday, over at Ardtalla, he had an Otter and 3 cubs in the bay there, and also a dark phase Arctic Skua. RAS

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Tues 9th Sept

I managed to get this Buzzard on top of a small peat stack along the roadside on Sunday. It had originally been eyeing up a dead hedgehog on the verge!
Louise, when going home last night on Jura had 8 Short eared Owls, and while at the weekend she saw 5 Red Grouse while climbing one of the Paps of Jura. LG

Monday 8 September 2008

Mon 8th Sept

Paul Hathaway from Islay Ales was on the phone this evening to say that he had seen a Grey Wagtail yesterday on the burn that leads down to the Machir Bay, and also a pair of Golden Eagles soaring on the thermals close to his home.
On Friday, James had 15Black tailed Godwit and a Peregrine on the RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart and on Saturday there were 2 Hen Harrier present. Also on Saturday, here at home, there were 2 Peregrine and a Buzzard mobbing each other, I am not really sure who was mobbing who! Today, another Peregrine was having fun flying through the House Martins and also the Swallows, though it never attempted to kill anything.

Sunday 7 September 2008

Sun 7th Sept

Another wee cracker of a Stonechat taken by Michal when he was out this morning. Yes, the sky was wall to wall blue, with not a cloud to be seen, and visibility all around was good with views up to and beyond Mull, over to Donegal, Rathlin and the Antrim coast and in other direction back to the Mull of Kintyre and Arran.
There were several hundred Greylag Geese on the barley stubble on Rockside and down on the lochans beside Loch Gorm this afternoon. A female Hen Harrier was out quartering the ground beside the lochans at the same time and the geese were not put up at all.
We went down to Port Wemyss to hopefully see the Basking Sharks, but no joy, only 54 loafing Grey Seals over on Orsay. Some of the mature ladies amongst them were quite large, as they await the arrival of this years pups any day now! There was a constant stream of Gannets, well over 150 in the time we were there, coming across Loch Indaal, possibly birds from Ailsa Craig. They continued on past us, with only a few returning back the way.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Sat 6th Sept

Whilst out this evening I was speaking to Callum Anderson from Port Wemyss who was saying that recently there have been a few sightings of Basking Sharks down at Portnahaven between Orsay, MacKenzie Island and back to Portnaven and Port Wemyss. There were at least 5 one day earlier on in the week and another one yesterday.
Coming home tonight, there was a Barn Owl sitting on a fence post, while there were 2 Wheatear on the roadside down beside Loch Gorm on our way out, earlier on in the evening.
On the other tack, the weather has been good here today, with a lot us getting our grass cut, and farmers getting on with their harvest, be it combining, or baling the straw or just leading the straw back home, we are all making the most it.

Friday 5 September 2008

Fri 5th Sept

There was a light shower of rain just after tea time, enough to stop the combines from cutting any more barley today. The weather this week has not tremendous, but having said that, the combines having been working most days, mainly from later on.
Away from farming, there was a count over on Loch Gruinart the other day, 4 Cormorant, 1 Shag, 540 Greylag, 2 Shelduck, 26 Eider, 2 Red breasted Merganser, 478 Oystercatcher, 187 Ringed Plover, 4 Knot, 12 Sanderling, 368 Dunlin, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 34 Bar-tailed Godwit, 230 Curlew and 56 Redshank. Thanks to James and Michal for the figures.

Thursday 4 September 2008

Wed 3rd - Thurs 4th Sept

James was in touch today with some sightings over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, and on the estuary itself. There were 14 Wigeon, 2 Whimbrel, 10 Bar tailed Godwit, 20 Sanderling, quite a lot of Redshank and also Oystercatcher too. Overhead there was the Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk was noted, as well as a female Hen Harrier. Off the ferry while going over to Colonsay yesterday, Manx Shearwater and a single Arctic Skua were seen. JRH
Here at home, whilst sitting having my breakfast I saw a female Hen Harrier out of the kitchen window. Later on this afternoon, there was another young Fulmar in the field which had to be rescued, and this time was released into Loch Indaal. On the shoreline where I released the Fulmar were some Dunlin, a couple of Ringed plover and a Curlew. On the way down, there was a single Wheatear on the road and it was rather loathe to fly away off the road. Perhaps it was a bird that had just arrived from the North and was tired out! We also had a really close sighting of a light coloured Buzzard close to the roadside. IKB
A visitor told me this evening, that they had seen the Osprey this afternoon over on the estuary at Gruinart.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Tues 2nd Sept

This flighty Linnet the other day, was proving difficult to catch on camera, but with a little patience, the job was done.
Up at Sanaigmore, in the evening there was a group of over 110 Twite, being very flighty and mobile, so making an exact count difficult to do. Thankfully at that time the midges were not out! There was a charm of 12 Goldfinches feeding on thistle heads at Coille, while down at Grulinmore, just below Carnduncan, there were 18 Pied Wagtail on the road, and on the shed roof.

Monday 1 September 2008

Mon 1st Sept

Well that's another month in, and Christmas is getting closer all the time. Last month our rainfall tally came to 5.75", last year was only 4.5", so was last year dry, or was this year wet? The running total so far this year is around 2" wetter than 2007.
On the bird front, there were 2 Wheatear down at Rockside and there was another one further along the road this evening. Along the crag yesterday there was a total of 17 Ravens, and Michal had a pair of Tawny Owls calling later on last night at Gruinart. Here at home, this afternoon there was a young Fulmar on the ground which obviously had not made the sea on leaving the nest on it's first flight. So, I managed to avoid getting spat upon when catching it and duly took it down the sea before releasing it.

Sunday 31 August 2008

Sun 31st Aug

James was over here this afternoon and gave me some sightings of 2 Peregrine Falcons over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve yesterday. He also had a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel whilst he was out. Also yesterday, whilst Janes was passing through Bruichladdich, there was a Carrion Crow. This morning James was up at Ardnave Point and saw 22 Chough, and noted that the Grey Seals appear to be gathering in numbers, a sure sign that they about to give birth fairly soon. JRH

Saturday 30 August 2008

Sat 30th Aug

The Rose coloured Starling was seen again in Bowmore yesterday when it was in a flower bed beside the bus shelter, not that hard to spot, if you are over, but there again it may have flown on again.
As it was a bit drier later this afternoon, the combine harvester was out next door at Rockside cutting a couple of fields of barley which will be going to one of our local distilleries to produce some local whisky.

Fri 29th Aug

George phoned in this morning to say that he had seen 3 Scoter on Loch Indaal on Thursday, and that he had a Grey wagtail on his ponds. GJ
The Sparrowhawk was on a fly through the wood this afternoon, while down on a dyke near Loch Gorm, a Wheatear was noted. Down at "The Hedges" below Sunderland Farm, there were 7 Pied Wagtail on the road, there have been quite a few around recently.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Thurs 28th Aug

Last Sunday, Andy Schofield had a stint of sea watching, and over a 5+ hour spell he had a passage of 10,000+ Manx Shearwater flying south west to possibly Ireland after returning from a feeding foray into Scottish waters! There were also 3 Sooty Shearwater observed at the same time, all off the south east coast of Islay.
Yesterday, Andy saw a second year Mediterrean Gull at Gruinart, the first for the RSPB reserve, and only the third record for Islay. This afternoon, down at Carnain, he saw an adult Osprey fly over from the head of Loch Indaal, and it continued to fly inland. Is this still the same bird that has been seen quite often over the summer? Also at Carnain, with tide being fairly close in, were numerous waders including Dulin, Knot and Sanderling. There is now one Dunlin less than before, as a Sparrowhawk was seen taking one! Andy also had a further 2 Sparrowhawk at different locations through the day, today.
Finally, Andy has been seeing Crossbills over the last few weeks, over 200+ since mid July. Andy thinks that they are not the same birds, as the group size is not always the same, varying from 3 up to over a dozen, the make up is different too, relating to the adult birds to juveniles and finally their flight pattern varies, some high fliers, and others lower fliers and others on trees too. He was also saying that a visitor had told him of seeing 3 Otters all in the same bay, possibly a family group. RAS

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Wed 27th Aug

The weather this week has not been too kind so far, perhaps it has not been really heavy continuously wet, but it still has had a dampening effect all the same! Undeterred, we went along to the Bat and Barn Owl walk this evening at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. As I have mentioned the weather already, I did not expect a large turnout. When we arrived, there were only half a dozen hardy souls apart from ourselves, for the midges to feast on, but by the top of the hour, there were over 20 visitors. Yes, the midges certainly came out for a wee while, some of us saw the Barn Owl, and Pipistrelle Bats were seen, and heard on the bat detectors. We also saw the Greylag Geese coming into roost at the top of Loch Gruinart. The evening was rounded off with cake and a welcome cuppa, and the midges were soon forgotten about!
Back here at home, a Grey Wagtail was up the burn earlier on this afternoon.

Monday 25 August 2008

Mon 25th Aug

Some of the flighty flock of Linnets which Michal was trying to capture on camera for us this evening. He reckons there were around about 160 in total in the flock below Gruinart Farm. MS
I forgot to say yesterday, that the Barn Owl which we saw the other evening, was the first one I had seen there since about late May/ early June. Today fairly close to there was a single Wheatear carrying a grub in it's beak.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Sun 24th Aug

The other night as we came back from Port Charlotte, there was a Barn Owl on the ground, right in the middle of the single track road, there was also a Hedgehog on the verge side about 4 yards away from it, so had the owl being out hunting and seen the hedgehog, or was it just a coincidence that there were close together? Earlier that evening, we had a Merlin on our way to Port Charlotte. I think that another batch of Swallows and Martins have moved on, as on Friday evening there were quite a lot on the wires overhead and also on the wing, but this morning there do not appear to be so many around. There have been several families of Goldfinches around over the last few days, on the ground, on the niger feeders, on seed heads and also in the trees.
George had seen a group of 170 Common Gulls down at Bruichladdich, but interestingly there were only 3 young amongst them all. GJ

Saturday 23 August 2008

Fri 22nd Aug

Here is the Rose coloured Starling that has been present recently on Islay, caught on camera by Becky Williamson. Definitely no mistaking it with its definitive markings, to those who may have doubted! Becky commented that it has been seen eating peanuts from the ground, and roosts up in a Rowan tree at night!

Thursday 21 August 2008

Thurs 21st Aug

Stuart and Jane Kenney who were recent visitors to Islay kindly gave me some of their sightings. When returning from Colonsay last Wednesday, they saw a Basking Shark from the ferry. They had seen the Dipper at The Woolen Mill on the Sorn, and also there in the evening they had Pipistrelle and Daubenton's bats. There were 2 separate sightings of a Treecreeper in the same location while over at Claggain Bay a Red throated Diver was noted. They were pleased to see Brown Hares, which are not common to them at home, as was the case with our numerous Buzzards. Hen Harriers were seen almost every day during their fortnight long stay. Several Sedge Warblers were noticed in the reed beds down beside Loch Gorm. They also noted about the number of Myxie rabbits that were around this year.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Wed 20th Aug

Michal has been out with the camera in hand again getting this all action image of a Turnstone.
He found this one in a group of 15 today, along with 40 Sanderling, 50 Ringed Plover, 2 Knot, 80 Oystercatcher and 2 Redshank.
Perhaps not as high a count for Greylags that James had, but there were over 200 on the North side of Loch Gorm on land and a similar number on the Loch itself this afternoon. The Grey Wagtail was here again at home this morning, while overhead there were 4 Buzzards.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Tues 19th Aug

Just a short entry tonight to say that Angus Keys, the RSPB site manager on the Oa has left the island, and moved down to Wigtown where he will have 4 reserves to look after for RSPB. The reserves are Wood of Cree, near Newton Stewart, Mull of Galloway, Ailsa Craig and Ken Dee below New Galloway. Angus started of as a volunteer with RSPB at Gruinart 10 years ago, he then moved over to Oransay and then returned here to Islay. We thank for his input to the blog and wish Angus and his wife Ruth, all the best in Galloway. Meanwhile Andy Schofield takes over Angus's position and Andy's post is now advertised, any applicants?

Monday 18 August 2008

Mon 18th Aug

Another cracking image taken by Michal with his new camera.....

While it was dry yesterday, James had a quick look round the Gruinart reserve and counted 1048 Greylag Geese, a Peregrine, a Wheatear, 2660 Dunlin, 118 Knot, 309 Ringed Plover and 25 Sanderling. The Dunlin count was as high as James can remember for Gruinart. JRH

Over at Carnduncan, this afternoon there was a single Wheatear, while this morning there was a Sparrowhawk over the trees at home, this evening the House Martins and Swallows are out on the wing feeding on anything on the move over the same trees.

Sun 17th Aug

Michal got this Sedge Warbler with a Daddy long legs in its beak this afternoon. It was busy along with it's mate feeding their brood of hungry youngsters. Michal also saw 4 juvenile Hen Harriers, were they all out of the same clutch of originally 5 in total? There was also a flock of around 150 birds, mainly Linnnet, but with some Goldfinch and Twite along with them. MS
James had been out earlier on in the week, and had a Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk at Gruinart, and while at Ardnave he saw a Merlin, some Knot, Bar tailed Godwit and Sanderling. JRH

Saturday 16 August 2008

Sat 16th Aug

No, not the overall Champion at our local show on Thursday, but certainly from the same farm, mainly Ardnave. This was not taken today, as excuse the pun, it has been a pig of a day. Still as the locals say, that after Show day, that the nights are drawing in already......
Somebody else, no names here, contacted me to say that I had forgotten to mention about the various Birds of Prey that were seen on Thursday, but these were one of the attractions at the Show!

Friday 15 August 2008

Fri 15th Aug

Not much birding was done yesterday, as it was our annual local Agricultural show here on Islay. The weather held out, and although it was overcast with a few spots of rain at lunchtime, fortunately the midges kept away. The only bird reported on Thursday was the Kingfisher being seen on the Sorn again. The weather as forecast has broken down this afternoon, but there were 51 Swallows and House Martin flying around, just after breakfast, and later on there was a female Siskin on the feeders right beside the kitchen window. There were also several young Blue Tits there too, as well as some Great Tits. Talking of youngsters, we saw some young Goldfinches on Thistle heads on Wednesday when going into Finlaggan.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Wed 13th Aug

Malcolm e mailed in to say that somebody from Bowmore had contacted the Islay Natural History Trust to say that they had seen a Rose coloured Starling in their neighbour's garden yesterday, and it was still there today. MAO
I was speaking to Donald James MacPhee yesterday and he was telling me that a colleague of his had seen the Hoopoe over towards Keills one day last week.
After leaving here on Sunday evening, James and Michal had seen a Sparrowhawk, and then later on had a Whinchat and 5 Wheatear on the roadside. JRH
While down in the woods at Bridgend this morning, we were fortunate to see a family of 4 Spotted Flycatchers out on the wings catching their prey, several Coal tits could be heard and were also seen. There was no sign of either the Dipper or Kingfisher today although we were lower down on the Sorn. The Osprey was heard, but we were unfortunate not to see it due to the trees! A Peregrine Falcon was seen on the ground at the top of Loch Indaal, watching all that was around! There was also the odd Whimbrel and Godwit around, but all seemed rather uneasy, although the Redshank appeared to be more interested in feeding. IKB

Tuesday 12 August 2008

Tues 12th Aug

There was a Grey Wagtail in the garden here at home yesterday, but as usual by the time I had got the camera to hand, it had flown on! Over at Ballygrant this afternoon, Susan had a Siskin on one of her feeders in her garden. As it is Show week over here, needless to say the weather has broken down, but going by the weather forecast tonight, we may be lucky and have a better day on Thursday, fingers crossed! There were 58 Greylag geese in a field down beside Loch Gorm.

Sunday 10 August 2008

Sun 10th Aug

Another image through from Michal, taken on the same day as yesterday's entry.

James has been out of the office and managed to get some birds on the move, through to me. On Wednesday, there was a Swift seen off the west coast of Islay, and at Gruinart reserve there were 2 Spotted Flycatchers. Up at Ardnave on Thursday, there was an Arctic Tern, and also an Arctic Skua while back on Loch Gruinart, Knot were seen in red plumage, as were Bar tailed Godwits. There were also 21 Black tailed Godwit, 2 Little Stints, and Sanderling along with Dunlin. On Saturday, up at Ardnave there were 37 Red breasted Merganser, 5 Turnstone, 5 Arctic Tern, 2 sandwich tern and another Swift. JRH

Saturday 9 August 2008

Sat 9th Aug

Michal had been out prowling again this afternoon and managed to capture this image of Dunlin and Sanderling in flight.
Some visitors with whom I was speaking to, told me of being on the guided walk with Michael down the Oa on Tuesday, and they had seen Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Peregrine, Hen Harrier and Kestrel. They were really impressed with 5 different raptors within a short space of time, along with tremendous views all around, over to Ireland and back to the Mull of Kintyre. Here last night the views were someting else too, with a tremendous view from Bruichladdich over the top of Loch Indaal towards the Paps of Jura.