Wednesday 30 July 2008

Wed 30th July

Donald James MacPhee was on the phone to me at lunchtime today to say that he had seen the Osprey earlier on this morning flying away from Loch Gorm, carrying a fish and being mobbed by a black backed Gull! A quick look at the top of Loch Indaal this afternoon produced 9 Turnstone.
Malcolm had spent Sunday and Monday with some visiting botanists, carrying out a survey of the plants of wetlands along the line of the old river on RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. Apart from the plants, they saw 3 Hen Harriers in the air at the same time, many frogs and a few toads. Up to 50 Green-veined White butterflies could be seen at one time, many in mating pairs, together with a few Small Whites, also Small Copper, Common Blue, Ringlet and Meadow Brown. 2 Marsh Fritillary caterpillar webs were found. Common, Blue, Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflies were frequent and there were several sightings of Common Hawker Dragonfly and one of Common Darter.

Tues 29th July

Michal had been out at the weekend on one of his walkabouts and had been over on the shore at Killinallan and followed it round to Gortantaoid, and managed to get this Ringed Plover en route. Michal commented that bird wise, things were a bit quieter, as obviously the breeding season is now past, although he did see and hear Pipits, Skylark, Stonechats, the odd Hoodie Crow and a few Herring Gulls. MS

4 Sand Martins were seen flying South over Kinnabus. RAS

Here at home, later on Sunday evening there were 73 House Martins and Swallows on the 'phone wires, but on Tuesday, there were certainly not so many to be seen, so that could possibly have been the first of them moving South. Round Loch Gorm we counted 253 Greylag, in 5 different sites, with 134 on silage aftermath at Rockside. Down below the coal yard at the head of Loch Indaal there were 2 Turnstone. Flying South towards Bruichladdich was a group of around 20 Knot, while on the rocks there were 40 Eider mainly in eclipse plumage. MAB

Monday 28 July 2008

Mon 28th July

This image of a Golden Ringed Dragonfly was taken this afternoon as we were out for a short walk in the sweltering heat along the banks of the River Sorn! We were also fortunate to see a Kingfisher briefly as it flew past. IKB

A visitor reported into the Islay Natural History Trust today to say that they had just seen 2 Harbour Porpoises off the peir at Port Charlotte.

In the evening, last night Andy had been out to the Irish Otter Reef which is about 2 - 3 miles off the Oa, and had seen 2 Sooty Shearwater, 20 Storm Petrel, 3 Pomarine Skua, 4 Bonxies and over 4,000 Manx Shearwater. Back on land, down at The American Monument on the Oa, his son, Luke saw 2 Peregrine this morning. RAS

Sunday 27 July 2008

Sun 27th July

With this good weather, it is not just us humans that want to loaf about in the water, but also the Seals down at Portnahaven this afternoon, were not very active either!

With James back, and after clearing his desk, and answering all those e mails, he has had some time for seeing a few birds through the week. Earlier in the week, he had 35 Chough up at Ardnave, at Gruinart reserve itself, he had 2 Hen Harriers, Whinchat, Wheatear, which are now on the move. Later on in the week, he saw the Peregrine out and about, and also 2 Redpoll. He also saw lots of Ringlet butterflies, and also Painted Lady butterflies too, as well as a Lizard, all making the most of this spell of warmer weather. JRH

Here at home, we noted observing a couple of Tiger Moths out in the sun yesterday, while in the afternoon there was a Peregrine overhead.

Saturday 26 July 2008

Sat 26th July

Not too clear an image of a young Corncrake, as it was taken through the kitchen window of one of the cottages this morning.

On Thursday, on the way down to Bruichladdich I noticed 3 Rowan trees at Foreland laden with red berries, is this early, or is it possibly a sign of an early/ hard winter to come?

I forgot to write an entry from James before he went on holiday, whilst going over to Oronsay, he had seen 10 Manx Shearwater in the Sound of Islay, and also 3 Storm Petrel between Islay and Oronsay. JRH

Thursday 24 July 2008

Thurs 24th July

Well, not really an entry from Islay tonight, but still one from James How who has just returned from a fortnight on holiday, spent down on The Isles of Scilly. The weather certainly had not been too good, one day there was even a flood alert, but apart from that James still managed 64 different species. Most of them we get here too, but the species that he saw down there which we do not get very often here on Islay included Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Swift, Puffin, Manx Shearwater, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler. The Little Egret was of note to me, as we saw one over at Loch Gruinart in April last year. We had also seen them while down in Jersey in November where we also saw several Marsh Harriers coming into their roost at the darkening.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Tues 22nd July

Catherine and the "vols" over at R.S.P.B. Gruinart reserve carried out a survey on Loch Gruinart the other day which produced the following birds etc.
175 Oystercatcher, 2 Cormorant, 53 Curlew, 3 Red breasted Merganser, 12 Eider, 40 Black headed Gull, 15 Herring Gull, 11 Arctic Tern, 13 Greylag, 7 Shelduck, 75 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, 17 Bar tailed Godwits and 170 Grey Seal. Many thanks to all those involved for these numbers.
Catherine also commented on the apparent lack of Shelduck ducklings, which has been said to me by several different folk this season. CF

Monday 21 July 2008

Sun 20th July

Nothing much to report today as I have become square eyed, glued to the screen watching sport in general, the Golf, Moto GP, World Superbikes, F1. The net result was that the only bird of note seen, was a Siskin out on the feeders.

Sunday 20 July 2008

Sat 19th July

After a mixed week of weather, it has now picked up, although on a different tack there was minor excitement at lunchtime when the power supply failed from the mainland, it also affected Jura too, but after an hour or so we were all re-connected.
Gordon and Pauline Yates have returned home, after a short trip over and managed to put some hours in to get some more images and new footage for his video. Pauline had heard 2 different Corncrake calling down close to Port Charlotte. While out in the hide, Gordon had been watching a nest site of a pair of Hen Harriers, with the male bird kindly obliging by coming in with 9 feed passes in just under 4 hours! Gordon had seen 10 Black Guillemot off Bruichladdich Pier, and also noted 3 young Kestrel fledge from one of the few successful nest sites here on the island. In an Owl nest box there were 3 youngsters, but obviously a late clutch as there were quite a bit of leaving the nest. Gordon and Pauline also had a male Sparrowhawk at 2 different places through the week. GDY

Friday 18 July 2008

Fri 18th July

While in visiting a friend the other day, and over a cup of tea, one tale led to another. One which may be of interest, was that one day last week they had seen an Eagle down on the ground with what appeared to be an Adder. Nothing unusual about that, but the next part was of interest. As the Eagle was on the ground, a Hare appeared, and boldly made up to the bird, and there and then squared up to it and gave it a few jabs. Needless to say the Eagle had had enough and flew off. The whole episode was over in a matter of seconds!
Our visitors down from Shetland commented on Islay's birds and were glad to watch our many finches on the feeders and also the various birds of prey, compared with their population of mainly sea birds. The misty weather that we have had through the week did not deter them!

Thursday 17 July 2008

Thurs 17th July

After another misty start to the day, the mist was burnt off by mid morning giving us all a good day after that.
Over at Gruinart and on the road up to Ardnave, I had a really close viewing of a Peregrine on a fence post, but it was all to aware of me as it had flown off before I managed to get my camera out! Not to be outdone there was a Buzzard on top of a Telephone pole just round the corner. There were quite a few Stonechat out with young looking to be fed, and also some Linnet and Twite to be seen as well. Up at Ardnave itself there were 2 separate hen Pheasant with their own broods, while on the Loch there were 4 Mute Swan and also a few Tufted Duck. There were some Sand Martin out on the wing both over the water and also over the dunes and several Skylark could be heard singing overhead with great gusto. On the guided walk at the RSPB reserve the Ringtail Hen Harrier was out on show. On our way home from Port Charlotte in the early afternoon, a male Hen Harrier swooped down across the road from the moor, how it missed the car I am not sure!

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Wed 16th July

After waiting all day, the weather has now broken down, although it is just a heavy drizzle, just what the midges ordered!
Catherine contacted Margaret this morning, to say that she had seen 47 Chough over at Ardnave. A visitor spoke with us this afternoon, saying that they had had 40 Goldfinch and 10 Siskin on the road between Carnain and Corsapol, coming up over the hill past Carrabus.
When we were out and about briefly at lunchtime, we had a Kestrel, a female Hen Harrier, Buzzard carrying prey in it's talons and later on a Peregrine.

Monday 14 July 2008

Mon 14th July

Apologies for the misunderstanding that I may have caused with yesterday's entry relating to the Peregrine, but I have now corrected it and hopefully it now makes sense!
Back to today, well there was certainly not a lot to be seen here this morning, not even the crag was visible as a low mist kept swirling around, and eerily through it all you could hear the roar of the sea quite clearly. Out in the garage, in the Swallow nest there are now 5 eggs there, although not in the same nest, but in the other half of the semi detached nest which they cleverly built the other year. Out in the dog shed, so far there has been no new eggs laid yet, but there has been some interest in the old nest from previous years in at the back door. This nest was not used, first time round this year. As I write, at present the mist has gone, only to be replaced by a fine smurry rain, so that will probably mean the clippers having an off day tomorrow I would think.
Down at the burn entering Loch Indaal at Glenburn this afternoon, there was a pair of Mute Swan along with a single cygnet, is this the same pair that hatched 7 along at the pool at Carnain, and were down to only 4 young, the last time I saw them?

Sun 13th July

Another great day over here, but for how long as the forecast for Monday is not looking too hot, perhaps the midges will come out for a visit to haunt us...
Down on the Strand at Uiskentuie, we spotted 4 Chough down on the shore, somewhere we had not seen them before. On Saturday evening, while showing in folk from Shetland into their cottage, the Chough were out doing their aerobatics, much to the amusements of the visitors, especially as it was their first time of seeing Chough.
I see that a Peregrine on Fair Isle has fledged young for the first time since 1969!

Friday 11 July 2008

Fri 11th July

Just a brief entry tonight to say that I was woken this morning with the sound of a Peregrine Falcon calling. Weather wise, another sunny day here today, although there was an edge to the wind. With this spell of better weather, all the farmers are getting on with the silage and getting the sheep clipped.

Thurs 10th July

I was speaking to Andy Schofield, who told me that he had seen 2 separate groups of Crossbills, both on the same day earlier on in the week. There were 18 seen near to his home over at Ardtalla, and the other group had 20, but this time at Laphroaig. RAS
A visiting birder contacted me to say that he had seen the Osprey flying over Kilchoman House towards Loch Gorm. Had it possibly been over at Loch Gearach?

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Wed 9th July

While the South of the country is having it's fair share of rain today, here on Islay we have been basking in glorious sunshine, up to 19 degrees or so the weather forecast said at 6pm! No word from James who is no doubt rather wet on holiday on the Scilly Isles.
I was heartened to count 23 Swallows on the electric wires overhead this afternoon, considering that we are certainly down in occupied nests this year. On the positive side also was that the nest in the garage was getting some work done to it in readiness for a second clutch of eggs to be laid shortly. None of the House Martins have left their nests yet, but will be shortly! On the freshly mown lawn there were several young Pied Wagtails out and about.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Tues 8th July

An image sent to me by Michal the other day of a Barn Owl, just as it was out hunting. The young that can be seen on the Islay Natural History's Trust web cam appear to be getting along just fine. Although 6 eggs were laid, only 3 actually hatched and were recently rung at the end of June by Malcolm.
Back here at home, the Siskins that were on the feeders for over a week, have not been seen for a few days, but on the other hand a pair of Collared Doves that have not been seen since late May have reappeared.
The weather here today has been great, making up for some of the poor weather that we experienced last week!

Sunday 6 July 2008

Sun 6th July.

Down at Portnahaven this afternoon, we saw about 60 Gannets fishing off Orsay, these were probably birds from Ailsa Craig. At home this morning, one of our visitors watched a young Cuckoo being fed by what they thought were 2 Meadow Pipits.
On Friday in the sunshine, 2 Golden Eagles were seen soaring overhead in the thermals.

Friday 4 July 2008

Thurs 3rd July

The other remaining Swallows have all now fledged here at home, while over at Gruinart the Swallow that has built its nest at the door at the visitor centre, well the the young only hatched out today. In some ways, the fact that they hatched is amazing in some ways as the Swallow herself had a difficult time incubating the eggs as she appeared to be easily disturbed each time the door was opened! Down at the hide today, there was Greenshank, Redshank, Snipe, ringtail Hen Harrier, Sedge warbler, but I did not hear any Corncrakes calling. One of the Mute swans was proudly showing of her 5 young cygnets.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Wed 2nd July

Over the past week, here at home there has been a single male Siskin on the bird feeders along with the numerous Greenfinches but today there are now 2 male Siskin to be seen feeding! This evening, we saw the Osprey down at Loch Gorm again, if memory serves me correctly it was first reported back on the 17th of May and has been seen quite regularly since then, between Loch Gorm, Loch Gruinart and Loch Skerrols. The light coloured Buzzard was also seen on a pole down beside the road at Loch Gorm on our return.

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Tues 1st July

Whilst returning from checking his sheep last night, Kevin Wiggins saw the Osprey sitting on a telegraph pole on the roadside beside Loch Gorm. Coming home this evening, we had a close viewing of 3 Red Deer stags, no more than 10 metres away, needless to say the cameras were at home and not in the car!
The rainfall finished up at 3.2" for the month, and with this wetter spell recently some of the Distilleries have started production again!