Saturday 29 November 2008

Sat 29th Nov

Must have been in another world yesterday, as I have just noticed that I had entered the wrong date for the entry, but I have amended it now! Still referring back to yesterday, and my comments about the Pale bellied Geese at the top of Loch Indall were blown out of the water today, as there were 35 at Bruichladdich today along with a few Purple sandpipers.... I had also heard that there were some Waxwings over in Bowmore through the week. Meanwhile the hills behind Bowmore and also the Paps of Jura had a good covering of snow, and it is rather cold as I write this entry.
On his way over here this afternoon, James had 17 Fieldfares and 45 Twite at another point.

Friday 28 November 2008

Fri 28th Nov

This afternoon, there were 21 Pale bellied Brent geese down at Bruichladdich, so perhaps theses birds are the ones that overwinter here on Islay, as the other day there was a group of the same number over at Bowmore. Other winters they were seen at Blackrock, as well as down below the coal yard too. There had also been 13 Whooper Swans below Gartmain.Talking of Whoopers, Louise Gregory had seen a "near miss" between 3 low flying Whoopers and a car down at Carnain as she came her work the other morning. Coming back over from Gruinart yesterday, while going round Loch Gorm, we had a close sighting of a Kestrel out hunting.

Thursday 27 November 2008

Wed 26th Nov

Tracey and the team from SNH have sent through the latest goose figures for the counts on 18th and 19th November. The figures were as follows 40,501 Barnies and 5,688 Whitefronts. Thanks again folks for the figures!

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Tues 25th Nov

The Chaffinches may have possibly moved on, at least there is certainly not the large flock that we had at the weekend. On the positive side today, there was a Grey Wagtail overhead, while down in the wood there were 15 Long tailed Tits.
James had done a Goose count on the reserve at Gruinart today, when his figures tallied out at 7,789 Barnies, 359 Whitefronts, 26 Greylags and 1 Canada, hutchinsii sp. One of the Whitefronts had a neck collar on. Other birds noted were a large Sparrowhawk, (not a Goshawk, I was told!),3 Gadwall, 172 Lapwing and a female Hen Harrier.

Monday 24 November 2008

Mon 24th Nov

Talking about the numbers of Chaffinches yesterday, I forgot to say that normally we only have 15 - 20 max. I was just speaking with Andy Schofield, and he too had noticed a big influx of them too. He usually has about 30 birds on his feeders and this shot up to 150 - 160 yesterday afternoon. I was fortunate to get a brief glimpse of a Great spotted Woodpecker this afternoon, and later on James had seen a single Waxwing over at Gruinart.
Tracey and the team from SNH have started the Goose Counts. Just after they arrived, on 22-23 October the tallies were 43450 Barnies and 5665 Whitefronts, the count a fortnight later consisted of 37,602 Barnies and 5780 Whitefronts. Thanks for that info Tracey & co.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Sun 23rd Nov

Michal had been up Ardnave Loch yesterday and got this group of Whooper Swans, there were 7 in total. One day earlier on in the week, he had a tally of 21 there too.
This last week James has been commuting back and forward on and off Islay, so has had some sightings from the ferry, starting off with a Storm Petrel. In the Sound of Islay, he saw a Hen Harrier fly from Islay to Jura. There were plenty of both Red throated and Great Northern Divers to be seen. At Kennacraig itself, there was a 1st winter Iceland Gull, while at Kilmory in Lochgilphead, there were 20 Waxwings. Back on Islay, on the flats at Gruinart, James had the Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp., in amongst the Barnies.
Here at home today, with these cold blustery showers around, there were over 50 Chaffinches on the ground around the feeders.

Friday 21 November 2008

Fri 21st Nov

It's all change time over here at present. We are home now, and Catherine should have made a start to her return from work in St Helena, initially starting back on a 5 day trip to Cape Town. As she too heads home, 2 of our other contributors head South. Malcolm Ogilvie is off on 2 trips to Antarctica, back to back, so Carol is left holding the fort! Stacey Adlard who wrote some entries from Oronsay earlier on, has just left for a 2 year stint in Antarctica. Another move that took place while we were away was that Louise Gregory who used to work for SNH, has now taken a post up here on Islay with the RSPB.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Thurs 20th Nov

Michal has taken pity on me, and sent this image of a Coal Tit while I was without a camera! He was also commenting that he felt there were more of them around this Autumn than last year. Certainly, before we went on holiday there were 2 visiting the feeders, here at home, and they were the first that I could recall. I was glad to notice that they were still here on our return, in fact there are now 4 of them! Michal's feeding station is visited by over 10 birds. Certainly, our feeders were busy with birds this afternoon as the birds try to stoke up with food prior to the forecast of a cold snap coming in. Whilst out on Ardnave doing a Goose count earlier on this week, Michal had seen a group of 5 Snow Buntings, and today on RPSB Gruinart reserve, there was a flock of 40 Fieldfares. MS
This morning, as we were going over to Gruinart, we had a superb sighting of a young Golden Eagle on the ground, we were not more than 30 feet away when it took off, and no camera with us to show you it.... On our return home round Loch Gorm, there was a male Hen Harrier battling its way against the wind.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Wed 19th Nov

Well, that's it for another year, the holidays that is or rather that was. So Margaret and myself have just been sunning it up on The Seychelles, not bad going as it was our third attempt at going. The first time, I chickened out as I thought it might be too hot, then last year, it was me again, health problems, but this time, no stopping us. Apart from getting the cameras stolen, early on, and hence the reason for not many images, it was hot, right enough, not just the air temperature which was up to 34 degrees when we visited Aride, even the water was warm, just great for swimming in, but there again the blighter nicked my dookers too and I am not into skinny dipping so had to get a new pair! Right then, what birds did we see, well on Aride we had Magpie Robin, 6 at one point, and there are only 170 left. We also had the Seychelles Warbler there too, and on La Digue we were fortunate to see a pair of Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher. We had some other great sightings too but more of that tomorrow.
Many thanks to James for his entries while we were away.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Thurs 13th Nov

A big storm on Monday night has reduced many phones and Internet connections to molten plastic, and high winds and rain continued through Tuesday, but yesterday was a great day.
With the weather set fine, I managed a good day counting birds with Michal around Loch Gruinart. A count of the Loch revealed: 241 dunlin, 173 bar tailed godwits, 289 oystercatchers, 195 curlew, 32 sanderling, 141 wigeon, 33 turnstone, 1 grey plover, 3 greenshank, 26 red breasted mergansers and a long tailed duck. On the Floods areas by the hide there was: 1421 teal, 116 wigeon, 28 pintail, 53 shoveler, 3 gadwal and 4 black tailed godwits to name a few. Whilst out and about we had good views of golden eagle, peregrine, merlin, hen harrier and barn owl as well as a great view of an otter on the shore moving through the pools hunting for small fish and crabs.
The weather has closed in a bit today, but just had great views of a golden eagle on the way over here to Kilchoman.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Sun 9th Nov

Not so many records today, as after a fantastic spell of weather it finally broke on Fri. Today the wind is blowing hard and the rain showers are heavy.
On Fri 7th in between showers I spent a good hour in the hide at Gruinart. The wildfowl were showing well on the flooded fields. In addition to the regular ducks: teal, wigeon, mallard, good number of pintail and lots of shoveler there were 4 gadwall and 2 hen harriers.
Yesterday the 8th, there were 2 golden eagles over Gruinart. I had excellent views from my kitchen window. Later around Loch Indaal there appeared to be good numbers of scaup and a scattering of common scoter.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Thurs 6th Nov

A mid week update. I meant to post yesterday, but forgot it was bonfire night, so I was off to see the Port Charlotte fire works. I have had some good records for the first part of the week. On mon 3rd, a white tailed eagle, a goshawk thermalling, a lapland bunting and best of all a parrot crossbill all at the Oa (AS). On Jura a long tailed tit (not common on Jura), 40 greylags and 25 fieldfares (LG). On the hills above Port Askaig a red grouse and redpols (MS).
Today the 6th its been a canada goose morning. I have seen 3 different canada geese: 1 hutchinsii at Loch Gruinart and at Sunderland farm 1 hutchinsii and 1 taverneri (showing a clear throat strap) (JRH).

Sunday 2 November 2008

Sun 2nd Nov

Hello, well it has not been 33C on Islay, but it has been beautiful. Soft autumn air with no wind and fantastically clear. Great views of Mull from the north of Islay and Donegal from the west. With the air being so still the sound of the geese especially at the roosts, Gruinart and Bridgend has been awesome for want of a better word. Of birds: On Fri 31st Oct there were 2 red kites over the Oa one had a single blue wing tag on the left wing. We think these are Irish released birds. There was also a Lapland bunting over the Oa. (AS). It appears to be a good year for snow buntings with 40 reported at Ardnave and 2 at Killinallen. On Sat 1st Nov there was a jack snipe at Ardnave and at least 5 long tailed ducks visible on Loch Indaal. A tawny and barn owl showing well on a beautiful evening at Gruinart. Today a quick look over the Gruinart floods revealed a huge fall of snipe with loads visible from the hide. (JRH)