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.