Tuesday 29 April 2008

Tues 29th April

Just a few of the group of 37 Whimbrel that were resting up at Gortan on the shore of Loch Indaal this morning.
Michal had 3 Arctic Tern below Kilnave Church on Loch Gruinart. Another 3 folk have been in touch after hearing the Cuckoo, one at Mulindry, another at Ballygrant and the final bird was heard at Foreland, so they are being heard all over the island.

Sun 27th - Mon 28th April

Once again, for some reason or another I was unable to access the web to do the blog, but better late than never!
Over the last 2 days, the migrants are starting to return and stay, rather than just passing through. The Cuckoo had been heard over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve on Sunday morning, as had 2 Corncrake, with the Spotted Crake being heard on Sunday evening. A whinchat had been seen on the reserve also on Sunday. The Barn Owl had been seen out hunting in the dusk on Saturday night. A small group of 9 Whimbrel were up at Ardnave.
On Monday, another Cuckoo was heard over at Carnduncan, while in the afternoon, James heard 2 Grasshopper Warblers when he was at Ballygrant. Michal also heard one, in the evening beside Loch Gorm, he also had a flock of 120 Golden Plover again at Ballinaby. James reported in to say that he had done a count of the Rook nests being occupied on the reserve, with a total of 137 nest sites this year, a rise from 120 in 2007. Back here at home, there were 2 pairs of Swallow that were inspecting nests, possibly returning birds. JRH, MS & IKB

Saturday 26 April 2008

Sat 26th April

Apart from actually seeing the Corncrake this morning, just by chance mind you, quite a quiet day bird wise as we have been busy changing the cottages for another set of visitors. Round at Ballinaby this evening, were 117 Golden Plover on a ploughed field and further on at Lyrabus there was a flock of about 70 flying overhead. In between, there was a female Merlin over the flats at Gruinart.

Friday 25 April 2008

Friday 25th April

Breaking news....
The first Corncrake of the year was heard this morning, here at Kilchoman, and Michael Copleston had a Spotted Crake over on the Flats at Gruinart last night! I later heard that visitor had heard a Corncrake when they went over to Colonsay on Wednesday. This image was kindly sent to me by Gordon Yates, of a bird over here on Islay, the other year. IKB
Michal contacted me this evening of seeing 2 male Hen Harriers at different locations while returning home from working on the Oa. While going out this morning, after hearing the Corncrake, we ourselves had a ringtail (female) Hen Harrier at one place and then a male about 3 miles further on down the road. Certainly the number of sightings are on the up, compared with through the winter. MS

Thurs 24th April

The Black tailed Godwits that James had at Gruinart have moved on, but I found this one along with another bird up at Ardnave Loch. It was clearly showing its colour rings, yellow over green on its right leg and orange with red on the lower tarsus on its left leg. There was no sign of any metal rings, but details have been sent to BTO and hopefully they will be able to tell us more about this bird and where it was rung and when. IKB
Maria saw the Iceland Gull over at Port Ellen when going on the ferry on Tuesday. MMcC
There were quite a noticable increase in the number of migrants both seen and heard whilst helping with the Thursday walk at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. In the woodland itself, there were more Willow Warblers, and some Bluebells to be seen, there was also a Coal Tit. There also appear to be more Sand and House Martins here on the week, but still not a large number of Swallows yet. MAB

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Wed 23rd April

No, not the Red Kite that Michal had yesterday, but one I saw when down in Galloway about 18 months ago at Bellymack where you can see the Kites being fed. This bird had just been eating the food from its talons!
A message from Stacey on Oronsay, saying that the birds are slow in arriving there too, no corncrakes yet, but so far only 1 Swallow, 2 Black tailed Godwits, 6 Whimbrel and several White Wagtail. The Lapwing and Redshank are pairing up and starting to sit.
Back here on Islay, this evening James had 51 Black tailed Godwit on the floods out in front of the hide at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. Meanwhile Louise on Jura has seen the Short eared Owls in about the same area where they nested last year.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Mon 21 - Tues 22nd April

Whilst out doing some survey work on the moorland at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve on Monday, Michal had a Red Kite. A Red Kite had been seen one day last week, so is this the same bird that has been seen? There have also been several sightings of small numbers of Whimbrel passing through. James had 67 Barnacle Geese drop in at Loch Gruinart this evening, possibly birds from Ireland as they came in from quite high up in the sky. Similarly, I had 8 Whitefronts today over at Ballinaby amongst a few Greylags. There were also 3 black Rabbits further along the road! Back at the reserve James commented on more Swallows and Sand Martins to be seen, with some of the Swallows perched on the overhead wires. Here at home, in the garden this afternoon, there was another Willow Warbler, with the change in the direction of the wind we may now get a few more migrants in!

Sunday 20 April 2008

Sun 20th April

While returning home last night from a meeting in Oban, George saw the Iceland Gull from the ferry at Port Ellen. On his ponds, he had the sighting of a Mallard with 8 ducklings on Saturday 12th April, but today, sadly it is now down to the adult bird and only 1 duckling. What has predated them we are not sure. GJ
Here at home, there was a brief sighting this morning of 7 Swallow over the trees, possibly getting some food on the wing before moving on.

Saturday 19 April 2008

Sat 19th April

An image taken by Michal, over on the Flats at Gruinart of a Lapwing sitting on eggs with a few of the remaining Barnacle Geese that were still here yesterday morning.
I heard today, of Chough taking food into a nest site, a sure indication that young had been hatched.
Perhaps the cold wind from the East has dropped, but the main thrust of migrants in numbers has still yet to happen.

Friday 18 April 2008

Fri 18th April

Just 2 late entries for you tonight, Gus contacted me to say that on his walk on the Oa on Tuesday for Walkislay, that the walkers were fortunate to see Chough, Peregrine Falcon and a Golden Eagle. AK
Catherine phoned in a count from earlier last week on the floods at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, 111 Wigeon, 2 Gadwell, 196 Teal, 11 Mallard, 4 Pintail, 3 Shoveler, 2 Red breasted Merganser and 1 Moorhen. CF
Today, over at Port Ellen, Andy had a Magpie, was it the same bird that was around Ardbeg on the weekend of the 22nd of March? RAS

Thursday 17 April 2008

Tues 15th - Thurs 17th April

Apologies for not putting any entries on the blog for the last 2 days, but I have been busy with Walkislay, the walking week here on the island.
Tracey and the team from SNH forwarded on the final numbers for the year of the count which took place on the 3rd and 4th of April. The tally was 46,515 Barnies and 6,101 Whitefronts, just as well they were counted then as almost all the Geese have flown North, with the last big group moving out on Tuesday night. It was odd for a few days to have the Geese still here while we had the arrival of some of the Spring migrants. Many thanks to everyone involved in the Goose Counts and to SNH for providing the data to me.
There are now a lot of Wheatear and Willow Warbler to be seen round the island, and we even noticed them over on Colonsay when over doing the walk yesterday with Walkislay. I spotted my first flowering Bluebell of the year in a sheltered spot on our way to Kiloran Bay. Also, at the Pier there were several Great Northern Diver, as well as some Eider in the bay. Back here on Islay, was my first House Martin down over the reedbed at the Coastguard Cottages. IKB
Andy reported in to say that on Tuesday, the first winter Iceland Gull was still over at Port Ellen, and there were 7 Sandwich Terns seen over Port Ellen Bay. Up at the Woolen Mill at Bridgend, 2 Dipper were on the River Sorn. On Wednesday, Andy had 2 House Martin at home, 12 Sandwich Tern in Port Ellen Bay, while Gus had a Common Sandpiper at Stremnish on the Oa, as well as a Great Skua. John had 2 Chiffchaff in Bridgend Woods. On to today, Thursday and Andy had 2 common Sandpiper at Seal Bay down beyond Ardbeg, and 3 Swallow at Carnain. This afternoon, he had 25 Golden Plover along with 2 Dotterel in a ploughed field at Ballinaby. The birds had previously been flushed out of another field by a Peregrine. RAS, AK & JSA
On the guided walk at RSPB Gruinart reserve, this morning there were 3 Dunlin in summer plumage as well as 6 Black tailed Godwit, but surpisingly no sign of any Pintail, and only the odd Barnie seen flying away, and no Whitefronts at all. JRH
Breaking news, as I write, Gus reoprted in to say that a Male Goosander had just flown in at Loch Kinnabus. AK

Monday 14 April 2008

Mon 14th April

Here is an image of a Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp, kindly sent in by Steve Percival who was over last week. As some you may recall Steve did his PhD thesis on Barnacle Geese here on Islay, and has returned annually to ring more Geese and to monitor them.
The weather remained dry, cold but sunny today, allowing the folk taking part in Walkislay to enjoy some more walks here on Islay, infact we were only 1 short of 70 folk walking at the same time. Good going, with many new faces, one from Canada, no not the Goose, another from Holland as well as some new walkers from around the UK ,along with several returning folk mixing in the ones participating from here on Islay itself.

Sunday 13 April 2008

Sun 13th April

The man from Morven returns, JRH that is, and while coming into Port Ellen last night, he had the Iceland Gull from the ferry. This morning on his way over to visit us here, a Yellowhammer was seen.
Susan was taking her walk today, for walkislay, down the River Laggan and they saw 2 separate sightings of Hen Harrier, a female and later on a male. Just below Laggan Bridge on the High Road they had 7 Sand Martin out on the wing. After her walk Susan saw, a male Hen Harrier giving some Gulls a good chase.
Back here at home, there was a Willow Warbler in the garden this morning, while last night when coming back from DJ's around 6pm there was a Buzzard being harassed by a Peregrine.

Sat 12th April

After some initial teething problems, the Owl Cam is up and running at the Islay Natural History Trust down at Port Charlotte. Last year, it could only be viewed at Port Charlotte, but this year it can be seen on the web on www.realmalt.com/owlhtml . At present she is sitting on a clutch of 6 eggs, last year she successfully reared 5 young.
Today is the first day of "walkislay" our annual walking week here on Islay, and Donald James MacPhee had 37 folk on his walk, and they were fortunate enough to see 2 seperate Golden Eagle. When going over to DJ's house in the afternoon, I was fortunate to spot a female Bullfinch.

Friday 11 April 2008

Fri 11th April

Michal had a good couple of hours out bird watching today, a pair of Hen Harrier, 3 Buzzard, a female Peregrine Falcon, and at end of his stint, a male Merlin. While trying to out do Michal, all we could do was to offer 5 Buzzard soaring all at the same time and then later on a single Golden Eagle. Perhaps tomorrow will turn something different up!

Thursday 10 April 2008

Thurs 10th April

Today, is the day for the guided walk over at RSPB Loch Gruinart, and the following were some of the birds seen. Peregrine Falcon, Buzzard, Chough, Raven, Rook, Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Barnacle Geese, Whitefronted Geese and also Oystercatcher out on the estuary. On the way home, there was a male Hen Harrier out quatering over his patch of ground. One gets the impression that some of the Geese have left, as there appears to be fewer around, and also there have been small groups of Pale bellied Geese to be seen on Loch Indaal. MAB
Visiting wildlife photographer, Mick Durham gave an excellent illustrated talk down at the Islay Natural History Trust this evening, covering some of the local wildlife back home and also from his trip to Norway last June.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Wed 9th April

This is an image sent to me this evening from Euan Ferguson from Aberdeen who was over on Islay last week on holiday. Many thanks for this one and the others that you kindly sent over.
The Morvern correspondent, aka JRH who is over there on holiday this week, phoned in to say he had Pine Martins in the garden, several Tawny Owls calling and also a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Andy also had had a good day, with hearing 4 different Willow Warbler at RSPB Loch Gruinart and also seeing a Swallow at the hide! He also had a Merlin over the Flats. On his way home, he saw 6 Wheatear between Uiskentuie and Port Ellen, in the Bay at Port Ellen there were 2 Sandwich Tern, while at the ferry terminal there was a 1st year Iceland Gull. RAS
As promised from yesterday, Michal's figures were as follows, round Loch Gruinart 214 Oystercatcher, 71 Common Gull, 56 Curlew, 70 Redshank, 17 Eider,10 Merganser, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Mute Swan, 51 Bar tailed Godwit, 39 Black headed Gull, 6 Greater Black backed Gull, 210 Wigeon,177 Shelduck, 1 Cormarant, 4 Mallard, 7 Ringed Plover, 7 Turnstone, 5 Lesser Black backed Gull and 50 Sanderling. On Ardnave Loch itself there was the following, 4 Mute Swan, 1 Whooper Swan, 6 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Gull, 3 Mallard, 1 Goldeneye, 3 Redshank, 10 Oystercatcher and 17 Teal. In a field, on the way up there had been a flock of 129 Golden Plover along with a few Lapwing. Michal also noted seeing 40 Skylark at Grainel whilst out sorting a dyke.
Our intrepid visiting birder had seen the Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp, today over at Gruinart.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Tues 8th April

Quite a lot to report tonight, so here goes...
George phoned in today to say that he had a Green Sandpiper down at Bruichladdich, the first for this year, while off the pier at Bruichladdich on Loch Indaal he had 3 Razorbill and on the shoreline a pair of Shelduck, are they looking for a nest site? GJ
Andy had 12 Slavonian Grebe in summer plumage and 20 Great Northern Diver between Bowmore and Bruichladdich on Loch Indaal itself. There were also a small group of 8 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Blackrock, possibly the first of them starting to move through. RAS
Mick Durham saw a first summer male King Eider, in a group of 20 Eider on the Sound of Islay, and another visiting birder contacted me to say that he had the Green winged Teal over at Loch Gruinart reserve on Sunday.
Here at home there was Buzzard sightings, one of a pair mating while earlier on today the Raven came off it's nest and defended its territory, chasing the Buzzard away! Michal has sent me in a survey that he carried out, but I will give you his figures tomorrow.

Monday 7 April 2008

Mon 7th April

Catherine had 3 Black tailed Godwits from the hide at RSPB Loch Gruinart, as well as a single Greenshank, several Pintail along with Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal. Last week, when she was up on Egilsay in the Orkneys, she had 22 Snow Bunting and 15 Purple Sandpiper. Signs of Spring on Egilsay included Fulmar on their nest, Snipe drumming, Lapwing displaying and also Black headed Gulls starting to nest. CF

Sunday 6 April 2008

Sun 6th April

The other day when we were out, we went over to Loch Skerrols and to the River Sorn. There were a pair of Grey Wagtail down on the water's edge just below the Woolen Mill.
Over at Loch Skerrols, on the Loch itself there was a group of 20 Goldeneye and 2 Mute Swan, while Buzzard flew overhead, as did a Heron later on.
Several Great Tit and Blue Tit were heard in the trees, close to where we were parked.
As I write this, the cold snap continues with a Northerly wind which has produced the odd snow shower, I bet those early migrants wished they were still in the warmer climes of Africa! MAB

Sat 5th April

Back to work again, that is changing the cottages over for another week with new visitors coming in, so not much time for actual birdwatching today, but this afternoon whilst out at the washing line in the garden, there was the Peregrine. Not just one, but two, and to cap it all a Golden Eagle too. What happened was, a Peregrine came in view from the left and as it flew to the right, and it was met by the second Peregrine flying right to left. The second bird flew on past and towards an Eagle that had appeared, and it started to mob the Eagle, and the net result was that the Eagle just soared away. Was this possibly the same Eagle that Michal had seen in the morning down beside Loch Gorm?
There were 16 Whooper Swan down on the small lochan at Rockside before Loch Gorm itself. I did try to enter this last night but access to the site was denied!

Friday 4 April 2008

Fri 4th April

After a dull start to the day, the weather picked up mid morning, and so allowing this Song Thrush to give us a tune!
I spent some time over at the hide at Gruinart and enjoyed the Pintail doing their synchronised swimming routine, other ducks present were Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Shelduck and Shoveler. A pair of Red breasted Merganser were also seen. Later on a Hoodie Crow was seen briefly before being sent packing by several Lapwing. Around the viewing platform, in the flowering Gorse there were several Robins singing and also Wrens being very vocal too. Up at Ardnave, I had an odd sighting amongst a flock of Barnacle Geese, I had to check twice, but right enough there were 2 Greater Black backed Gull with them. On my return the Geese had flown away, but the Gulls were still there! The Canada Goose was with the Barnacle Geese at the back of the farm steading at Aoradh. While coming home over the moor, we had a really close view of a male Hen Harrier, flying away from us. IKB
George reported in today, having a Goldcrest at his house at Bruichladdich, while Michal had 8 Whooper Swan flying North up Loch Indaal while waiting at the Airport. GJ &MS

Thursday 3 April 2008

Thurs 3rd April

The first Swallow of the year was seen here at Kilchoman this afternoon, while earlier on some birders over visiting Islay with "Speyside Wildlife" had a Lapland Bunting over at Ardnave. MAB
This afternoon James counted 4,916 Barnacle Geese, 104 Greenland Whitefronts and 9 Greylag while he was doing the Goose Count on Gruinart and up to Ardnave. The numbers of Barnies was similar to the previous count, while Whitefronts were down in total, noticably fewer in the fields, but more of them out on the hill ground. The Geese in general are appearing more edgy over the past few days, especially as their food supplies (mainly grass) are in short supply now. Whilst he was there James also had his first Wheatear of the year, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Greenshank, 1 female Merlin, 19 Chough all up round Ardnave. On Ardnave Loch there were 8 Tufted Duck and 2 Whooper Swan. James wonders if the Merlin was the same one that had been obseved taking the Snow Bunting earlier on...
Back down on the flats at the RSPB Reserve at Loch Gruinart, James noted a Lapwing on its' nest/ scrape, about a week later than in 2007. JRH

Wed 2nd April

In keeping with the Estates over here on Islay, James and his colleagues today carried out a Red Deer count on the RSPB Reserve at Loch Gruinart, coming up with a total of 84 Red Deer, a similar tally to that of 2007. Apart from doing the count, birds seen while out were as follows, 3 Water rails, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Merlin, 1 Red Grouse, 11 Whooper Swan, 3 Male and 4 female Hen Harrier. JRH

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Tues 1st April

Yes, it's that time again, as we have the latest figures in from Margaret and Tracey at SNH
for the latest Goose Counts. The International Count held on 18/19 March gave totals of 44,961 Barnacle Geese and 7,086 Greenland Whitefronts. The following count on the 27/28 March were 44,730 Barnies and 6,941 Whitefronts. We only have one Goose Count left and this takes place next week. Thanks again to the team for the figures.
In between the squally showers today, Andy had 4 Slavonian Grebe in full summer plumage in Loch Indaal and also 30 Razorbill. On the weather forecast this evening, it was stated that here on Islay we had the strongest wind speed for the whole of Scotland today, with a speed of 57mph recorded at the Airport. RAS

Mon 30th March

This is one of the 3 Wheatear that were seen down at Machir Bay on Sunday evening. Also on Sunday evening, the Geese appeared to be flying much higher back to their roost. IKB
George reported in saying that he had seen 30 Common Scoter far out in Loch Indaal, whilst at home he had heard the first Blackbird singing this year. GJ