Monday 30 June 2008

Mon 30th June

Michal and his team had done the second count of this year's Corncrake survey here on Islay, and tallied up over 80 calling males, 15 more calling birds than last year. On the overall picture here on the West coast, only Tiree has also had an increase over the year, some of the other places were holding their own but some are definitely down. MS
I was speaking to Louise from Jura on Saturday, and she was saying that she had seen 10 Short eared Owls over on Jura that morning, the figure also included some youngsters too which was encouraging. LG

Sunday 29 June 2008

Sun 29th June

Apologies for not putting on an entry for all this week, but I did return from Paisley on Tuesday, and I have not done it. In my absence, many thanks to James How for keeping the blog going. It may take a day or two for normal service to return. I have had 2 separate phone calls this afternoon asking what was happening, so you will have to bear with me!
Earlier on in the week, James had a Greenshank and 10 Black tailed Godwit at the hide over at Loch Gruinart. Back here at home, one set of the Swallows have already fledged, but return each night to roost, the other nests in the sheep shed and in the garage are not far off flying now too. Even although we are in mid summer, there are a lot of Greenfinches still making use of the feeders along with the other birds that come too.
One big difference that I noticed on my return, was that everything had freshened up as we have had some rain, now almost 3" for June, just in time to bulk up some of the crops for the farmers. Some of us have made a start to clipping the sheep too, when and if one can get a window in the weather to clip the sheep when the wool is dry.

Sunday 22 June 2008

Sunday 22nd June 2008

A wet day at last, the puddles have filled for the first time in ages. I think the grass, the flowers and the birds are all enjoying the ground softening. Not to much to report today due to the rain, other than a female hen Harrier hunting around Loch Gorm. Friday 20th was a good day, a count around the Grunart Flood areas revealed: 14 Lapwing, 37 Mallard, 15 Redshank, 8 Mute Swans, 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Greylag goose, 1 White fronted goose, 1 Moorhen, 3 Shoveler, 5 Grey Herons, 1 Teal. Other reports from the Gruinart area included a Greenshank, a female Shoveler with chicks, Red Throated Diver, several blue tailed damselflies, golden ringed dragonflies, a lizard and a Quail! on the flats.

Thursday 19 June 2008

Thursday 19th June 2008

Some mixed weather so far this week, even a little rain. The wind dropped on the evening of the 17th to enable a quick corncrake count: 10 calling at Gruinart plus a spotted crake, grasshopper warbler, water rail and moorhen. A barn owl was seen on the Gruinart flats and a short eared owl. The rain brought out the toads and seemed to liven up the snipe, with drummers everywhere.
Whilst on the Flats counting corncrakes in the moon light an otter popped out from the ditch and ambled across the field.
Other sightings include, 4 barnacle geese, little terns and arctic terns at Ardnave. A willow warbler standing on the head of a cuckoo chick, feeding it at Kinabus the Oa, a wood warbler at Kildalton area, 32 storm petrels off Skerryvore light house (reported by Port Ellen fisherman) and an Osprey at Loch Skerrols.
The latest update from the Paisley birding hot spot is: a blackbird and two magpies!

Sunday 15 June 2008

Sunday 15th June 2008

The birds are busy and active with lots of fledged young starting to appear. Groups of stonechats, goldcrests and greenfinches, as well as a brood of corncrake chicks at Gruinart, whilst at Kilchoman the starlings are gathering in the willows. The breeding waders at Gruinart mostly have young now and have moved to the very few wet areas. The dry weather forcing the birds to group in high densities around the wet flushes. At night snipe, spotted crake and corncrakes still calling. Also at Gruinart on the 14th good views of male and female hen harrier and a now regular feeding short eared owl.
As for invertebrates the marsh fritillary butterflies are still on the wing and damsel and dragonflies are increasing: with four spotted chaser, large red damselfies and golden ringed dragons all seen on the 14th.
No records from the paisley correspondent due to windy conditions.

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Wed 11th June

As I write this at around 11pm, the Cuckoo is still calling out in the wood at this late hour. Earlier today there were 3 seen, 2 males and a female, with the female making her rather odd sounding call at the time, rather like a water-bubbling chuckle!
By the way I am off again tomorrow to be your Paisley correspondent for a week or two, but I will keep my eyes open for the odd Magpie that could be lurking around, not much hope for hearing any Corncrakes over there!

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Tues 10th June

A visitor to Islay had seen a Red-necked Phalarope and also a Wood sandpiper at Gruinart at the weekend and James had a Greenshank on the floods yesterday. James has been seeing a Peregrine Falcon regularly over the past few days, is this the same bird that was seen around a lot last summer? JRH

Monday 9 June 2008

Mon 9th June

George has returned from his trip to Thialand and reports in to say that he had seen a Shelduck along with 7 young ducklings of only a few days of age, down in Loch Indaal below his house. GJ
Meanwhile Malcolm had been contacted by Richard and Mavis Gulliver who live over at Port Ellen. They had a sighting in Port Ellen bay on Saturday morning of what they believe from their description, of 3 killer whales! Is Islay trying to outdo Shetland as the place to see cetaceans, considering that Basking sharks and a Minke whale have been seen here recently in the past week! Malcolm had a new tick for his garden birds list too, with a Cuckoo which was perched on one of his trees and calling persistently. He has heard them from time to time at Conisby but never that close, nor in his garden. MAO

Sunday 8 June 2008

Sun 8th June

Even although this spell of dry weather continues, it is odd in some ways, in that the knowes have not started to burn off yet, even down at The Strand, the grass is still quite green! A visitor who was over on Jura for the day, commented on seeing Short-eared Owls and Hen Harriers, while in a steel gate post, they noticed that a Great Tit was using it for a nest site!
Many thanks to Gordon and Pauline Yates for their input recently when they have been over, with Gordon been kept busy getting more film footage here on Islay and also on Jura. Gordon had also been commenting on this recent spell of weather!

Saturday 7 June 2008

Sat 7th June

Not exactly breaking news, but some late news from earlier on this week, is that a Minke whale had been seen off Islay, in fact it was seen going round the green buoy beside Carraig Fhada over at Port Ellen!
Away from Islay now, and over to Louise in Jura who was in touch saying that she has been seeing a lot of raptors of late, including a Kestrel in full summer plumage looking rather smart, early yesterday morning. She has not seen any sign of any Shelduck young out yet, but the Mute Swan at Craighouse is proudly showing off 5 cygnets. Out on the Small Isles off Craighouse, there appear to be quite a lot of Greylag with goslings to be seen. LG

Friday 6 June 2008

Fri 6th June

Michal got these young Lapwing chicks, just a few hours old this morning, but for how long will there be 4 of them? MS
The other day, James and Andy had a probable 1st summer, non adult, White billed Diver flying far out off Nave Island. At Ardnave itself, Catherine has been seeing terns, both Arctic and Little and a Sandwich Tern too. There was also a group of 35 Dunlin. Back down on the Reserve at Gruinart, in the new cattle shed at the farm steading, Catherine had a young Tawny Owl. Meanwhile out on the Reserve itself, James has seen another pair of Short-eared Owl, and 2 Redpoll while on the floods there was a Teal out with her brood. The Stoat was in his garden again! James also saw the pair of Spotted Flycatcher in the wood today as well as 2 pair of Goldcrest with young. A male Gadwall was on the floods as were 3 Dunlin. With this good spell of weather recently, the Marsh Fritillaries have been observed over the Rhinns in good numbers. Andy reported in to say that he had heard 2 separate Wood warblers, one at Kildalton Wood and the other in the woodland around Ardilistry. He also had really close views of 3 Basking Shark off Texa this evening, and also he told me that there were a lot of Manx Shearwater flying west at the same time. JRH, CF & RAS

Thursday 5 June 2008

Thurs 5th June

Well the rain came and went but did not amount to much, although there is a dampness in the air this evening, with that, the dreaded midges are out! Earlier on this morning, at 5am there was a pair of Cuckoo in the wood, thankfully they (again only the male calls) only called a few times, so not disturbing my sleep too long! There was a good viewing of a pair of Spotted Flycatcher in the woodland whilst on the guided walk at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve today. MAB
A visitor who I was speaking to this afternoon, told me that he had 6 Crossbill at Loch Allan before breakfast today, and also that he saw 3 Common Scoter down on the Rhinns later on.

Wednesday 4 June 2008

Wed 4th June

This Redshank was sitting on a fence post round towards Saligo Bay, basking in the sunlight on Saturday evening, which it certainly would not be doing tonight as the weather has broken down, but having said that, so far we have not had much rain, just enough to lay the dust though! IKB
Michal e mailed to say he had been checking over the figures back from the Corncrake survey carried out last week, and that he reckons that the tally was 63 calling males, compared with only 49 calling birds heard last year at a similar date. MS

Tuesday 3 June 2008

Mon 2nd - Tues 3rd June

This spell of dry, warm weather continues here on Islay, the rainfall last month did not even add up to an inch in total, add on April's 2" and things start to dry up. Some of the Distilleries are already starting to watch the water levels in the various lochs which supply them. Back here at home, I have just come in from outside and noted that we have 8 House Martin nests, 4 of which are new this year, and there may be more nests yet as they can build them quite quickly. It is only 3 years ago when we had our first House Martins here at our house. On the down side, Swallow nests are definitely fewer, with only 5 in use this year compared with 9 last year.

Sunday 1 June 2008

Sun 1st June

Two for the price of one, as this was a Curlew taken last night near to it's nest and of the Cotton Grass which this year is in abundance all over Islay. James also commented this morning about the Cotton Grass now in full bloom, he also gave me some sightings for the past few days at the same time. He had a Stoat in his garden wall the other day, and he had 2 Ferrets on the flats at Gruinart. On Friday, he saw 2 Corncrake and a single Greenland Whitefronted Goose, as well as a Greylag with young goslings on the reserve at Gruinart, the first for 2 years.Yesterday a Water rail ran across the road in front of him, he also noted his first Roe Deer and its calf for the year, and had 2 Marsh Fritillary butterflies on the wing. This morning, he saw a pair of Short-eared Owls and also a Whinchat with grubs in its mouth. JRH