Thursday 31 January 2008

Tues 29th - Thurs 31st Jan

Who needs the weather forecast, when we can really trust the Fulmars to give us an accurate indication the the weather is going to break down. As I write on Thursday lunchtime, the wind has certainly got up, not gusty but just blowing 45mph contantly. The roof on the former Kilchoman Church has been taking the brunt of it where it is situated. The ferry did not come over last night, but made a quick dash to Port Askaig this morning, but is not coming back again this afternoon.
Yesterday before the winds got up, the bird feeders outside were really busy, even more birds than there were on Sunday, and today there was a male Reed bunting sheltering in the bushes. Even as I write this, the feeders in the shelter of the house are being well visited, just as well that we got more food in last week for them!
Down on the spit on the Strand there were over 200 Rooks on the foreshore turning some of the seaweed over looking for food, while further along a Gull was seen to be dropping a shell down onto the stones below in the hope of cracking it open.
The snowdrops are all well out, and down at the burn, sheltered in the wood, there is a single daffodil flowering, which must be early.

Monday 28 January 2008

Mon 28th Jan

Stacey Adlard, from over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, kindly gave me a copy of her sightings of birds seen during the Big Garden Birdwatch, also done on Sunday at almost the same time as our own, bar 10 minutes.
5 Collared Dove, 8 Greenfinch, 8 Chaffinch, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Blackbird, 1 Dunnock, 14 Starling, 1 Goldfinch, 2 Great Tit and 2 Rock Dove. Here again the Starling were the most numerous species. Thanks to Stacey for the list.
7 Whooper Swan were seen down on Loch Gorm today, possibly the same birds that were there on Friday, but not there on Saturday.

Sunday 27 January 2008

Sun 27th Jan

Yes, the weather held out today, and we managed to do our part for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. With the feeding stations filled up, it was just a matter of time before the birds came in! Here is what we got in the hour, 9 Blackbird, 2 Blue Tit, 21 Chaffinch, 2 Dunnock, 2 Great Tit, 14 Greenfinch, 8 Goldfinch, 8 House Sparrow, 2 Robin, 31 Starling, 1 Song Thrush, 4 Pheasant, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Siskin (female). These numbers are the highest total of a species at any one time rather than a total for the whole hour. I usually see the odd Wren and also Pied Wagtail, but neither were seen today. Also seen directly overhead were a Buzzard, 2 Fulmar (apart from those on the cragg) and 2 Chough, but we could not include these as they were flying and had not actually landed in the garden! Think back to an earlier blog when Catherine had a Golden Eagle on the ground in her garden! MAB & EHH
Over in the woods at Bridgend this afternoon, 4 Bullfinch were seen and a Mistle Thrush was heard singing. Both good records as we do not a great number of either Bullfinch or Mistle Thrush here on Islay. MS
Round at Ballinaby, on Friday afternoon, a European White fronted Goose was seen, while on Saturday, over on the floods in front of the hide at the reserve at Loch Gruinart, there were 3 Whooper Swan. JRH & RAS

Saturday 26 January 2008

Fri 25th - Sat 26th Jan

With the high winds all day on Friday, there were not many birds to be seen here on Islay apart from 7 Whooper Swan which were sheltering at the edge of the lochans below Rockside. The winds have been blowing strongly since around about tea time on Thursday, although they did die down briefly on Saturday morning, but now late on Saturday afternoon, it is blowing as strong as ever. The ferry has not been really disrupted, although it has been using Port Askaig instead of Port Ellen, one advantage of having 2 ferry ports here on Islay. This morning, during the lull, the fulmars were back in again!!! Out and about 2 separate female Hen Harrier, and quite a few Shelduck were down at Carnain, were it was interesting to see a lot of seaweed has been brought in with the tide combined with the high winds. Here's hoping that the weather
calms down so we can do the Garden Birdwatch tomorrow!

Thursday 24 January 2008

Tues 22nd - Thurs 24th Jan

On a recent farmland bird survey carried out by the staff at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, a count of 111 Fieldfare were counted in one field , another high figure in one small area. Also noted were 21 Redwing, 67 Twite, and an increase in Skylark numbers, up to 76, with Skylarks starting to move through. A group of 44 Chough were in the dunes at Ardnave. CF
Also on Gruinart reserve yesterday, James did the Goose count, independant of SNH, with numbers of 4,618 Barnacle Geese and 331 Whitefronted Geese. 3 Hen Harriers were also seen out quartering over the reserve hunting for prey. Other raptors seen were a Sparrowhawk and a Merlin, as well as a Barn Owl. JRH

Monday 21 January 2008

Sun 20th- Mon 21st Jan

On Sunday on a trip to Oransay, the small island south of Colonsay, the following birds were seen between Port Askaig and Rhuvaal, on the Islay side of the boat. 16 Black Guillemot, 22 Shag, 19 Herring Gull, 10 Greater Black back Bull, 4 Heron, 4 Mute Swan, 12 Oystercatcher, 2 Cormarant and 2 Great Northern Diver. The weather was tremendous and a flat calm crossing. Oransay is famous itself for it's shell mounds. MS
Also, at the other end of Islay, at the Machrie golf course a Little Auk was noted flying inland from the sea. AK
The weather here on Monday, has not been much to write about, as it rained steadily until mid afternoon, when it did fair up the birds were busy on the feeders, and the Paps of Jura had a fair covering of snow.
Tracey and Margaret from S.N.H. e mailed last week's Goose figures, 41,991 Barnacle Geese (+1,666 on the week) and 5,662 Geenland Whitefronts (+426). No sign of the Bar headed Goose recently. There have been no sightings of either any Snow Geese, or of any Red-breasted Geese for a few winters of late.

Sunday 20 January 2008

Wed 16th - Sat 19th Jan

On Wednesday, a few Whooper Swans apperaed over at Loch Gruinart, heading South possibly before colder weather had come to where they had left! There were still 3 on Ardnave Loch on Thursday afternoon. Also on Thursday there was a Canada Goose in amongst the Barnacle Geese on the reserve at Loch Gruinart. In the fields there had been a count of 90 Twite, a good count for time of year, other counts produced 140 Common Gull inland, and 60 Reed Bunting. On the flats a Peregrine was seen in pursuit of a Mistle Thrush, but I did not hear who won! The wind that got up briefly on Friday, it reached Force 8 on the Beaufort Scale at around 17.30, enough to cancel the evening sailing from Kennacraig. As I write, my other weather friends, the fulmars are back in again, so winds up again by the middle of the week possibly. It is great to see them soaring on the air currents, and never flapping their wings. A female Siskin was in a garden on the feeders, the first there this year, usually they have been seen earlier on. On other feeders at other locations, they certainly have been seen already. Over at Loch Gorm there were 5 Red-legged Partridge, possibly some of the birds that were released back in 2006 for game, although some do breed. JRH, MS, MAB

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Tues 15th Jan

Well, not the birds of Islay, but I found the notebook, so you can get the birds of Jura instead which were seen on a brief visit on Saturday 12th January....You will just have to take it from my notebook rather than any special order! Lesser Black backed Gull, 4 Heron, 17 Turnstone, 2 Kestrel, Robin, Hen Harrier (1 male & 2 female), Raven, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, 6 Great Northern Diver, Greylag Geese, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Starling, Herring Gull, Hooded Crow, Song Thrush, Woodpigeon, Pheasant, Common Gull, Mallard, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Eider, Merganser, Goldeneye, Cormorant, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Rock Pipit and Curlew. I have not included number for all the birds seen. We also saw numerous Red Deer in differnt locations and on our return to the ferry there was a field with 38 deer in it, infact the deer coming off the hill at the darkening was a bit of a road hazard as I had to pay more attention than usual, and not speed on too quickly. IKB
James was over too, but saw some other species than we did, he was on foot down through the gardens to the shore at Jura House, so in addition he saw Grey Wagtail, Grey Plover, Treecreeper and a Buzzard. JRH
We were talking later on about how that there are not so many Barnacle or Whitefronted Geese present on Jura, as there are similar in bye fields over on Jura that the Geese could be on, as they are here on Islay. We both noted that neither of us saw an Otter!

Monday 14 January 2008

Sat 12th - Mon 14th Jan

Quite a lot to report tonight, which considering the weather here on Saturday night and Sunday is really quite surprising. My own notes of my short visit to Jura which was done on Saturday, cannot be done tonight as I have misplaced my notebook, will find it promise... IKB
A count round the estuary at Loch Gruinart today gave us the following, 368 Dunlin, 258 Bar tailed Godwit, 97 Sanderling, 51 Shelduck, 35 Ringed Plover, 9 Grey Plover, 98 Curlew, 157 Wigeon, 255 Oystercatcher, 36 Turnstone, 78 Redshank, 14 Merganser, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Great Nortern Diver and 1 Greenshank. The count for Dunlin, Godwit and Redshank are high for this time of year. CF
Also today, a count was done on the flats at Loch Gruinart at RSPB reserve which consisted of 1373 Teal, 2 Heron, 2 Moorhen, 1 Tufted Duck, 163 Wigeon, 70 Mallard, 59 Shoveler, 46 Pintail, 6 Mute Swan, 19 Greylag, 142 Lapwing, 2 Whooper Swan, Male Sparrowhawk, 34 Twite and 9 Grey Plover. The Grey Plover could possibly be the same birds on the estuary, but seen twice. The count for the Pintail was a good count as only 7 years ago, 6 Pintail was the number being counted. The Sparrowhawk showed up well in the afternoon light after the rain before lunch time. JRH
The Goose counts done last week were as follows, 40,325 Barnacle and 5,236 Greenland Whitefront Geese. Thanks again to Tracey and Margaret at SNH for the numbers.

Saturday 12 January 2008

Thurs 10th - Fri 11th Jan

After the high winds of the other night, it was only to be expected that something would turn up, well Andy Schofield, of Springwatch fame, did the trick. On his way over to RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, he saw a Bittern, the first for a few years. As far as I know the bird has not been seen since! RAS
Returning home after work there were 2 separate sightings of Barn Owls hunting along the road verges, and also a solitary Woodcock was flushed. JRH
A single Snow Bunting was seen over at Dunlossit whilst doing the Goose count on Tuesday. CF

Wednesday 9 January 2008

Tues 8th - Wed 9th Jan

After a rather windy night here on Islay, actually a wind speed of 78mph was recorded at one point at the Airport. Needless to say there have been no ferry sailings from the mainland today, Wednesday, although I believe that the plane managed over.
A second dead turtle has been found, but this time not at Ardnave, but at the other end of Islay, at Loch an t-Sailein which is just past Ardbeg Distillery. It was even mentioned on the BBC news! MAO
A single Snow Bunting was seen on the roadside on the moor beyond West Carrabus up towards Borichill Mor. JRH
Tracey from SNH has just e mailed me with Goose numbers from 2 counts that were done in December, International count on 11-12 Dec tallied 44,529 Barnacle geese, and 6,617 Greenland Whitefronted geese. The following week on 19 -20 Dec the count was 43,243 Barnies and 6,735 Whitefronts. For those of you who wonder how Margaret and Tracey arrive at these numbers, well the whole of Islay is covered by several teams of counters and it is the average over the 2 days that I get from them! Thanks for keeping me posted.

Monday 7 January 2008

Mon 7th Jan

The other day I mentioned about seeing some Fieldfares about, but not in any great numbers, rather more odd birds here and there. Well today over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, there was 77 in one group, which I feel was quite a large number for the time of year as they tend to move through quite rapidly in the Autumn. Also at Gruinart, there was a total of 60 Reed Buntings, no Yellowhammers were noted in the usual places and only a low count of Twite. The Snow Bunting was seen in the same place as yesterday, while there were around 80 Ringed Plover up in one of the fields. CF

Sat 5th - Sun 6th Jan

A Goldcrest was present on a bird table at Ballygrant, it had not been seen there since last April, whether it is the same bird or not, we do not know! Also in the trees, a Tawny Owl was heard. SMcG
Meanwhile some entries from visiting birders, a Iceland Gull was seen over a Bunnahabhain and a Water rail was heard over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. Down at the Oa, a 1st year Golden Eagle was noted, and 3 Hen Harriers were seen at different locations. A Snow Bunting, was up at Ardnave, while around 1,000 Scaup were off Blackrock. Many thanks for your input.

Saturday 5 January 2008

Thurs 3rd - Fri 4th Jan

A Loggerhead Turtle was found dead on the shore up at Ardnave by some visitors. It appears to have died quite recently, as it was still in good condition. More about this later.... MAO
Coming home on Wednesday evening, a Barn Owl was seen, the first for quite a while, while through the day another Merlin was down beside Loch Gorm. Through the heavy wintery showers that we had on Friday, there was around about 250 Golden Plover and 100 Lapwing at Coull, an exact count not being done due to the extreme weather. When the weather had eased up, the birds had moved on as there was no sign of them later in the afternoon. IKB
The Lesser Canada Goose was again at Gruinart. With the weather being so mixed this past week, no ringing of the Barnacle Geese was done. Mind you, the Rooks and Gulls eating into the bait did not help! On a positive note, there was the opportunity to get some good records of previously rung birds done. SP

Wednesday 2 January 2008

Tues 1st - Wed 2nd Jan

A Happy New Year to you all, Greetings fom Islay.
There is not a tremendous amount to report for the last 2 days, not that we are suffering from the after effects of alcohol.......
A group of Birdwatchers from Ayrshire had reported seeing 22 Crossbills over at Avonvogie, so we will need to try to have a closer look to see how many more are in the plantation. The same birders also turned up a juvenile female Black Redstart on the dyke at Carnain while up at Ardnave they had seen a dead Turtle. I believe that they had a tally of 110 species on their visit which is not bad for time of year.
2 Separate sightings of Canada Geese, one over at Bowmore on Monday, the other over at Loch Gruinart this morning. SP
On the RSPB reserve at Gruinart today there was a count of 754 Lapwing, and a Moorhen was also seen, as was a Merlin, which has been quite a regular sighting recently. JRH
There were 19 Pale bellied Brent Geese on the water down at Bruichladdich. MAO
There have been several sightings of Fieldfares recently too all around the island. IKB