Thursday 31 December 2009

Thurs 31st Dec

Another image sent through by Richard Bonser who was over here on Islay the other weekend. He saw this vagrant Canada Goose in the middle of a flock of Barnies.
Back to today, and Eion Brown the Farm Manager for RSPB at Gruinart had seen the Little Egret, so it is still with us. It has been here all month, and back into November too, so probably making it the longest staying Little Egret on Islay!
The poll closes at midnight in the 2009 awards, so if you have not voted yet, time is running out on you! All will be revealed's great for the bird blog to be a finalist!
At this point, before signing off tonight, I would like to thank the many folk here on Islay who have contributed through the year, especially James How who looks after the blog while I am away, but also thanks to the visitors who have sent their sightings and images through to share with us all. All your contributions large or small make it all worthwhile, thanks again to you all.
Wishing everyone a Good New Year and all the best for 2010

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Wed 30th Dec

Another cold night, with the result that most of Loch Gorm was frozen over, and when we went out at the back of lunchtime it was still quite impressive to see. But the best was still to come as at the edge of the ice was a White tailed Sea Eagle complete with its' yellow wing tags, too far away to read, but at least it was a 2006 bird! There were a few Curlew at the top of Loch Indaal, and when we arrived at our friends' house at Mulindry, there was a Coal Tit on the feeders, a bird that is not that common to us here at home.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Tues 29th Dec

An image of an adult Iceland Gull taken by Richard Bonser over at Bunnahabhain last weekend. While he was over Richard, had a couple of Pink footed Geese in amongst our winter visitors, as well as the male Green winged Teal over at the reserve at Gruinart. James had also it today, as well as a Golden Eagle fly over. He also had 83 Golden Plover in one flock on the reserve and commented on seeing other smaller flocks off reserve.
Malcolm had a visiting birder call to say that there had been a probable sighting of a Long billed Dowitcher over at Loch Gruinart. They also had seen the Little Egret lurking in some of creeks over at Gruinart, so it has not left us yet! The Tree Sparrow was also spotted by them down on the Oa.
Many thanks to various visiting folk for sharing their sightings with us.

Monday 28 December 2009

Mon 28th Dec

Margaret took this image this afternoon when we were out. There was another Red Deer stag close by, with a better set of antlers, but it proved to be difficult to get an image for you! As you can see, we still have some snow around although the hard frost has given, net result, quite a few burst water pipes....
Bird wise it's been quieter today, although there were 7 Chough in a noisy flypast just around 4pm and a flock of just over 30 Lapwing were on the wing just after lunchtime, here at home.
There has been no sign/ reports of the Little Egret since this cold snap come in, so perhaps it had the sense and flew off in the hope of finding somewhere a bit warmer!

Sunday 27 December 2009

Sun 27th Dec

Malcolm had a Woodcock in his garden today down at Bruichladdich, only the second one in the garden, since he came to live on Islay.
James had a few birds between his house and the main steading on the reserve at Gruinart. There were 12 Golden Plover,15 Fieldfare, 7 Blackbird, 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Woodcock and 72 Skylark.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Sat 26th Dec

Down at Bruichladdich today, Malcolm had 18 Pale bellied Brent Geese, and on the foreshore there were a few Purple Sandpiper and some Turnstone.
This morning, we took a run round the far side of Loch Gorm, there quite a lot of Golden Plover about 140 in all, the largest group had 83 over at Ballinaby, there were also a few Lapwings to be seen but all just in small groups. Also at Ballinaby were a few Redshank and further on a ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the road ahead of us. There were 7 Whooper Swan down Loch Gorm itself, and coming home, at Coull Farm there was a family of 4 Whoopers, 2 adults and their 2 cygnets. We also saw a few Snipe when we were out

Friday 25 December 2009

Chrismas Day

Just to carry on, yet another image from here on Islay and again no birds! It was great sunset the other evening over Loch Indaal, too good for not to share with you all....
Malcolm earlier on today had 13 Whooper swans flying South down Loch Indaal past his house in Bruichladdich.
As I write tonight, the frost has given, and at present it has just started to rain!

Thursday 24 December 2009

Wed 24th Dec

Just to carry on the wintry theme, here is one that James took of the snowman outside his house....
While most of us were winding down for Christmas, James has been busy doing various counts over the past few days. On the floods on Tuesday, which were and still are mostly iced over, the scores on the doors were as follows, 678 Teal, 59 Pintail, 67 Shoveler, 16 Mallard, 29 Greylag, 25 Curlew, 11 Redshank, 3 Lapwing and 1 Black tailed Godwit. Wednesday, on Loch Gruinart, the tally read as follows, 309 Bar tailed Godwit, 444 Dunlin, 1 Otter, 1 Greenshank,3 Grey Plover, 105 Shelduck and 1 Gadwall. Today, an easier day, 2 Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier and 30 Golden Plover.
Another hopeless plug, yes it is the ForArgyll Awards time again, and the blog has been nominated and are in the final run in, so if you have time look at their web page and cast your vote as you see fit. There is only a week to go until the poll finishes.
Finally may I take this opportunity to wish you all out there, a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Wed 23rd Dec

Not exactly an image of some birds, but I thought this one of the Paps of Jura with a good covering of snow would do. Another beezer of a day here, like everywhere else, but the grass here at home this morning was white with frost, which is not that common here.
I saw a Collared Dove round at Rockside this afternoon, I have seen them previously down at Bruichladdich, but not at Rockside. With this colder snap here, I am glad to report that more birds have been in at the feeders, with quite a few Greenfinches to be seen.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Tues 22nd Dec

Tracey from SNH sent me out an e mail today with the figures for the International Goose Count carried out last week. In total there were 40,727 Barnies and 7,079 Whitefronts. Many thanks to Tracey and the team for these figures through the year.
Another e mail that I received the other day was from Michal out in The Seychelles. If you recall Michal worked with RSPB here on Islay, and provided many excellent images for us all to admire. Well, when Michal first went out to Aride in The Seychelles, it was for a 3 month spell and he should have been returning home by now. But by a "turn of luck", just before he was due to leave Michal heard that Denis Island was looking for somebody to help oversee the conservation project there, mainly involved with the Seychelles Magpie Robin, a similar role to what he carried out on Aride. Needless to say Michal got the posting, and will be out there in the sun for Xmas and be there until February/ March. Just think of the tan he will have by then!

Monday 21 December 2009

Mon 21st Dec

There are two halves to Islay today, here on the Rinns/ Western half of Islay, there is very little snow, while the other side or the Eastern half is covered in snow, more so on the tops of the hills. Jura itself, is like a picture postcard. Enough of the weather, and no travel disruption either, no tunnel to worry about!
James had been doing a scan over Loch Indaal today from Blackrock, and had a new tick for himself on Islay, a Velvet Scoter. He also had the following, 3 Common Scoter, 2 Long tailed Duck, 3 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Red throated Diver, 510 Scaup and 14 Eider. Thanks James.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Sun 20th Dec

I managed to get this image of a Heron along with the Little Egret down at Carnain the other day, just as the light was beginning to fade!
James had seen the Green winged Teal down on the floods in front of the hide on the reserve at Gruinart yesterday. He also had a pair of Hen Harrier flying together although they were not displaying. Today, James had a Water rail crossing over the track leading to his house.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Sat 19th Dec

Another cool day outside, so there is nothing much to report today as I made a start to revamp one of the rooms in one of the cottages. I was in the mood to make a start, and when I do it I feel it is easier done rather than trying to do it when not in the fettle, so sorry no birds today folks!

Friday 18 December 2009

Fri 18th Dec

Yesterday, there was a probable sighting of a Gyr Falcon seen in the Loch Gorm area. The area round here is quite large with a big tract of land where there are no roads, so it may well be a good few days before the bird is seen again, but we will just have to keep an eye out for it!
This afternoon, James had a White tailed Sea Eagle fly over the reserve at Gruinart, it had yellow wing tags, which indicates that it would be a 2006 bird. Rather than a letter on the tag, it had a dot, so we will try to find out more information on this bird.
On the way out to Bowmore at lunchtime, there was a Peregrine sitting on top of a telegraph pole, and later, on our return a Merlin flew across the road in front of us.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Thurs 17th Dec

Another cold day, but there appear to be some more birds back on the feeders! I thought that I heard a couple of Long tailed Tits but did not see them.
Dave, one of the volunteers at RSPB had seen some Long tailed Ducks down on Loch Indaal the other day, so he was well pleased as that was a new bird to him. He also had Great Northern Diver, Red throated Diver and some Slavonian Grebe as well as Common Scoter.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Wed 16th Dec

Perhaps it has been cold today, but at least it has stayed dry, and the sky as I write is full of stars, another plug for Dark Skies!!
On our way out Bowmore yesterday, at Bunanuisg (opposite where Islay Farmers once traded from), there were 45 Pale bellied Brent Geese, probably the same geese that we had seen the other day, but over the far side of the spit on the Strand. There were also a few Turnstone to be seen. Further on, close to Carnain, and there were some more Shelduck around.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Tues 15th Dec

Here is an image of the Little Egret, taken this afternoon down at Carnain. It was in the water earlier, and with the help of the bins, you could see it disturbing the mud with its' feet, presumably trying to move anything lurking under the surface of the mud.
Today was the first of the 2 day International Goose Counts, no doubt some of those out counting said a few choice words as a couple of low flying RAF jets screamed down past, even the sheep were spooked and ran into a huddle!
Last weeks figures are through from Tracey, in total, there were 39,029 Barnies and 5,623 Whitefronts. Thanks again for the figures.
Malcolm on his way to start his count this morning, had counted 485 Scaup at the head of Loch Indaal, just after Blackrock.

Monday 14 December 2009

Mon 14th Dec

Malcolm sent me in a late entry for Saturday after I had done the blog last night. He had 24 Pale bellied Brent Geese beside the spit on the Strand, and the Little Egret was still to be seen on Saturday morning down at "smelly corner". It was there again this afternoon. Down at Sunderland Farm today, there were a few large groups of Geese to be seen, mainly Barnies, along with a few Whitefronts, and a flock of over 100 Greylags on another grass field by themselves.
It was interesting speaking to a visitor on Saturday, from close to Newcastle, who commented on seeing Stonechats, a rarity to himself, but common to ourselves here on Islay.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Sun 13th Dec

Another dry day, but to put it politely, it has not been the warmest...... So first thing this morning I spent some time filling up the bird feeders. Personally, I feel that we have not got the same numbers at the feeders that we had last winter. So far there is no sign of any Long tailed tits, or of a Woodpecker, but then again last year was a first for both here in the garden, so possibly I have set my target a bit high!

Saturday 12 December 2009

Sat 12th Dec

Apologies for not putting an entry on last night, but it was one of those days yesterday with the time running away from me.
James noted the return of the Shelduck yesterday, with 111 being counted on Loch Gruinart itself, he also had 9 Black tailed Godwit and a Peregrine Falcon. On the floods there was a Moorhen and 2 Whooper Swan. From his house at Grainel, in the flock of Barnacle Geese was the Canada Goose, hutchinsii again.
This morning, the volunteers had seen a Golden Eagle at James' road end. Also this morning, we had a Sparrowhawk on top of a fence post round towards Saligo, and here at home there was a large flock of Rock Doves on the wing around 50+ in number. Later on, there was a Peregrine having bit of "fun" with the same Rock Doves, but not with any success!

Thursday 10 December 2009

Thurs 10th Dec

The weather has been kind to us over the last couple of days, no rain to speak of for a change, and last night when I had a look outside around 10pm, the stars all around were a sight to be seen. Our house is down in a hollow, there are no visible lights to be seen, hence no light pollution at all, perhaps Islay should think of the "Dark Skies" similar to what has happened in Galloway and link into it for Astronomy!
There were a few Fulmars in at the crag today, 8 Whooper Swans flew out and over the sea to Ireland and later on there was a small group of Rock Doves. I heard and saw my first Chough since returning home, so perhaps they have been elsewhere recently.
I read in the last edition of "The Eider" about Nuthatches being seen this year on mainland Argyll. It was of interest to me, as when we were away on holiday, we saw them in all 3 areas that we were in, Wood of Cree and Dalbeattie in Galloway, and also over in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. I cannot recall seeing as many the last time we visited a few years ago.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Tues 8th Dec

Tracey e mailed me through the figures for last week's goose count, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, in total over the two days there were 35,462 Barnacle Geese and 6,111 Grennland Whitefronted Geese. Many thanks to all those involved.
George had seen a female Kestrel near to his house at Bruichladdich this morning, while down at the waters edge on Loch Indaal, there had been 18 Pale bellied Brent Geese.

Monday 7 December 2009

Mon 7th Dec

This is an image that I took when I was on holiday last month. It was taken down at Gretna Green just as the daylight was starting to fail, of the amazing sight put on by Starlings just prior to them going into roost. A friend had told me about it and we arranged to meet them there to see it. Initially there were a few Starlings starting to gather, and then some more and so it went on. It was a fantastic experience as the birds twisted and turned, we were really fortunate with the weather that day, one of the few dry days we had! It was well worth the effort, so if if you are ever near to Gretna, go and enjoy. I believe that it is the second largest showing of Starlings in the UK, the exact number I am not sure of.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Sun 6th Dec

An image of a group of 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese, sent in by Malcolm Ogilvie. Malcolm took it this morning. This evening, the wind is up, the ferry has been diverted to Port Askaig from Port Ellen, at least it has come and not simply cancelled! Come to think of it, back on Friday I did see a Fulmar flying past the crag (honest)!
Yesterday, James had a Woodcock on the reserve at Gruinart and 13 Whooper swans came in from the sea. Today, the Little Egret was up at the reserve (it was there yesterday too) along with 2 Little Grebe. On his way out this afternoon, James had a Merlin at Lyrabus.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Sat 5th Dec

Apologies if in last night's entry that I might have misled some of you in relation to the counting of the Geese when counts are carried out by the various teams for SNH. Infact all the geese are counted regardless as to whether they are in fields, or if they are roosting at either the head of Loch Indaal or Loch Gruinart. Sorry about that!
At lunchtime, as I went out to feed the dogs, there was a bit of excitement in one of the willows between a Blackbird and a Sparrowhawk, the Blackbird got away okay, with the Sparrowhawk flying off to find another source of food. Earlier this morning, just before we got down to the coal yard, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew across the road just in front of us, and on the way home a Merlin was seen on a fence post before it flew off.

Friday 4 December 2009

Fri 4th Dec

Another good day weather wise, a slight edge to the wind, but at least it stayed dry!
The Little Egret was seen down at Carnain again today. With the weather being better, James and carried out a count on the reserve at Gruinart. 10,265 Barnacle Geese, 423 Greenland Whitefronts, 34 Greylags, 1 Canada (hutchinsii), 2 Hen Harrier (1 male and a female), 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 275 Golden plover and 5 Fieldfare.
The figures are not through from Tracey yet for the Goose count carried out earlier this week yet, but it will be interesting to see them as the weather was not great when they were carried out, also there has been a full moon this week, and often when that occurs the geese eat through the night and roost up through the day, as so possibly are not seen on the fields to the same extent.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Thurs 3rd Dec

A better day for a change, weather wise, no rain but we did have a shower of hail stones briefly this morning!
James saw 20 Woodpigeon yesterday afternoon at the reserve at Gruinart, the largest number there that he can recall. The Little Egret was down at Carnain again today. James was discussing with me about the Egret this morning, as the one that was with the Cattle Egret earlier on, was last seen over at Port Ellen and "disappeared" for a while and then this one came, coinciding with a sighting of one up in Oronsay, so possibly this is a diiferent bird! 3 Whooper Swans flew over our house this afternoon, no doubt heading out and over to Ireland.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Wed 2nd Dec

Apologies for nothing being entered last night, but the broadband connection was playing up yesterday.....
To start the month off, look backwards to the rainfall in November and we only had 9", but the total for the year so far is 3" more than we had in total last year!
In between the showers and the wind I had to go out briefly, but I did manage to see a Merlin over at Grainel yesterday. Today, down at the top of Loch Indaal, there were 2 groups of Pale bellied Brent Geese, one of 40 birds, the other only 5 birds, and they possibly would join up together later on as they were quite close to each other. Further on, down at Carnain, (or "smelly corner" as we call it), the Little Egret was present again. Coming home at around 4pm, and there were 39 Shelduck present where the Little Egret had been earlier.

Monday 30 November 2009

Mon 30th Nov

Firstly, many thanks to James for writing the blog while we were away on holiday, that's it all done and dusted for another year. Who suggested staying in the UK in November, it certainly was n't me! On a positive note though, not trying to blow ones' own trumpet, but certainly I felt that here on Islay, there are more birds to be seen, but again that's only my view..... We did have, as James said, Nuthatches, Jays, and also Squirrels which we do not have over here, and also the sight of many mole hills. The moles perhaps got drowned out with all that rain!
Back to yesterday, and James saw an Otter and her 2 cubs from the ferry, on the rocks at the mouth of Loch Tarbert. James was saying earlier this evening, that the Little Egret was still around down at Bridgend. Also yesterday, Carl Reavey had a white winged gull down towards Portnahaven, but was not close enough to get a positive id. Carl also had a Merlin at Rockside and lots of Redwing over at Lyrabus Croft. Coming home tonight from work, and he had a Barn Owl at Springbank.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Friday 20th November to Tuesday 24th November 2009

I have not managed to write a blog for a few days, because I have been busy sun bathing, or at least I would have been if the rain had stopped and the gales hadn't blown away my deck chairs. The weather has been stormy making wildlife watching difficult, however looking at the records I have; everyone must have been busy in the good spells.
On the 20th a Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Woodcock were all seen at Gruinart. On the 22nd there was another Woodcock and 2 Hen Harriers a male and female seen again at Gruinart. The 23rd was clear enough for a belated Webs count at Gruinart, the highlights included:
1360 Teal, 294 Wigeon, 4 Little Grebes, 2 Gadwall, 92 Shoveler, 40 Pintail, 6 Whooper Swans, all on the flooded fields.
137 Oystercatchers, 161 Curlew, 332 Bar Tailed Godwits, 74 Ringed Plover, 220 Lapwing, 690 Golden Plover, 99 Turnstone, 670 Dunlin, 5 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Greenshank, 40 Redshank and 4 Great Nothern Divers on the Sea Loch.
Also reported on the 23rd was an Arctic Skua on Loch Indaal (a late migrant) from Bruicladdich and also at Bruichladdich 100 Curlew and 6 Common Scoter (GJ).
Today 24th, a goose count on the reserve at Gruinart revealed 7,395 Barnacle Geese, 434 White Fronted Geese and 24 Greylag Geese on the reserve as well as a Merlin and a Kestrel. On Jura a Brambling was reported from a garden north of Craighouse.
Some intersesting late records include:
A Whooper Swan that was seen with a group of 7 at Ardnave, which had a ring U3X, this bird had been ringed in Iceland on the 29th July (thanks to Tony for this record).
On the 15th Novemebr 30 Whooper Swans at Loch Skerrols, 340 Golden Plover and 15 Pale Bellied Bents at Bridgend (GJ).

Thursday 19 November 2009

Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th November 2009

With wet and windy weather heading in, there seems to have been a small movement of birds in from the north. On the 18th, 40 Whooper swans were reported from Loch Gorm and another 8 flew through Gruinart, as well as lots of Redwings in the gorse bushes around Loch Gorm. Also from the north 14 Snow buntings were reported at Ardnave (CF)- there were 52 Twite by the shore at Gruinart- and just to add that Mediterranean touch, in very un- Mediterranean weather the Little egret was seen from the hide at Loch Gruinart. The rain came down on the 19th, but through the mist a Greenshank could be heard at Gruinart. Records from the sun seekers in the rainy south, included: Dippers, Nuthatches, 1 Magpie, Jays and Red Squirrels (Dumfries and Galloway)

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Sunday 15th November to Tuesday 17th November

First, I have a confession to make, which also answers the comment on the last post. In my haste to get to market and shinty on Saturday I assumed the egret at Bridgend was still the cattle egret. Thankfully I have since had a couple of reports which confirm that the egret is a little egret. So for all those interested in the cattle egret, I have had no reports.
I have also received a report of a Kingfisher again at the mouth of the Sorn at Bridgend. Another report on email concerned some interesting behaviour, seen on the 4th November, at Gruinart. A visitor to Islay noticed a buzzard lift off from the ground in the woodland area, on investigation they found a half eaten barn owl.
Recent records include: 5 Gadwal, 32 Pintail, 1 Sparrowhawk and Otter from the hide at Gruinart on the 15/11. On the 16/11, Little grebe, male Hen harrier and Woodcock again from Gruinart. Today the 17/11 there has been an international goose count, watch the blog for the results. Although a Hutchinsii lesser Canada goose was noticed again at Gruinart.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th November 2009

Like everywhere in Britain the weather was not the best for wildlife watching today, which was lucky because I spent most of the day watching primary school shinty (it was nail biting stuff). It was worth going to the shinty as I happened to see the Cattle egret at Bridgend on the way to shinty via the sale at Bridgend. On the way back we flushed a Woodcock at Gruinart.
Friday the 13th was thankfully a lucky birdwatching day with sunshine and crystal clear air, giving the birds a crisp appearance through the scope, a really good west coast day. At Gruinart there was 1 Brambling, 372 lapwing, 1,295 Golden plover (I couldn't find any American golden plover amongst them), 220 Bar tailed godwits, 1 Greenshank and 2 grey wagtails.

Thursday 12 November 2009

Thurs 12th Nov

Tracey e mailed the totals for last weeks Goose counts. The Barnies tallied at 50,145 and the Whitefronts at 5,464. The Whitefronts have certainly come in since the previous count, and there appear to be higher percentage of juvenile birds along with them compared to previous years. Thanks Tracey for the figures. While Malcolm was out on the count yesterday, on the Ardtalla/ Oa route, he had seen several groups of 100+ Redwings.
Our visiting birders had gone over to Jura today, and had seen a couple of Swallows down beside the distillery at Craighouse. Malcolm told me last night that the latest record of a Swallow been seen on Islay was on the 24th of November in 1989, although there have been later sightings than this on mainland Argyll.
I shall be away on holiday for the next fortnight or so, so James will be looking after the blog while I am away. Margaret and myself are going to Dumfries and Galloway at the start, so hope to catch the sighting of the Starlings going to roost at Gretna. We may be even see the Red Kites at Loch Ken, and everyone talks about the geese, a bit of a busman's holiday..... We also hope to catch up with relatives and friends while we are there too.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Wed 11th Nov

Remember the poser about the snails yesterday, well one of you readers out there reckons that the collective name for snails is a "rout", any other suggestions?
Some birds news now, I have not heard of any recent sightings of the Cattle Egret since Albert and Hazel Percival saw it last Friday, but there again it disappeared for a few days before showing up again.
James had a couple of Brambling yesterday on the track leading to his house at Grainel. Also yesterday afternoon, and also on the reserve, a visiting birder over for the week, had seen the Taverner's Canada Goose, and was well pleased. He had spent a lot of time scanning through numerous flocks of Barnies! Today, down at Bruichladdich and George saw a late Swallow in the morning, as well as a few Woodcock.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Tues 10th Nov

I took this image of some snails the other day, thought it might amuse some of you! I am not sure of the collective name for such a "gathering" is, answers on a postcard...
Back down on Loch Indaal and there were 24 Pale bellied Brent Geese down at the spit on the Strand, and another 4 at Bowmore, possibly the small group that overwinters with us is here! Also on the foreshore were a few Turnstone, and some small groups of Eider offshore.

Monday 9 November 2009

Mon 9th Nov

Remember back to the other day, when I was talking about having seen the Cattle egret and the Little egret together, and how it was good being able to compare the two birds. Well, tonight I was speaking with some friends, when the topic came up about Eagles, and one of the friends said that they had seen a Golden Eagle and also a White tailed Sea Eagle, and again they also commented about comparing the birds when they are relatively close to each other.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Sun 8th Nov

Danny Arnold who was up for his 3rd visit of the year last week, had seen 6 Barn Owls throughout his visit, including 3 on his journey to the 7am ferry on Friday! Danny was fortunate to see the 7 Otters on one day on his visit, and gave us images of Moths earlier on in the year.
Another visitor today had the good fortune of seeing a male Hen Harrier seeing a Buzzard off, also an Otter in Loch Indaal out in front of Bowmore Distillery, and commented on the large flocks of Geese present.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Sat 7th Nov

James was in touch with some sightings from the past few days. On Thursday, apart from the Cattle Egret at Blackrock, he had a Coot on the reserve at Gruinart, perhaps common on the mainland, but not that common here. James also had 64 Whoopers passing through.
On Friday, James carried out a goose count on the reserve, 12,880 Barnacle Geese, 775 Whitefronts and 31 Greylags. The count for the Barnies was quite high, while the whitefronts were almost 100 up on last year at the same time, with more juvenile birds to be seen, so perhaps they have had a better breeding season this year. On the mud flats there were 665 Golden Plover.
Today in the wood beside Gruinart Farm, James had a Chiffchaff, a Treecreeper, a Woodcock and 2 Mistle Thrush.

Friday 6 November 2009

Fri 6th Nov

Only a brief entry tonight to say that the Cattle Egret is still here, back in the field where it was first seen a fortnight ago! The blog is light as I have been busy doing books on the computer and have not been in touch with any of the others! Sorry folks, but....

Thursday 5 November 2009

Thurs 5th Nov

James had spotted the Cattle Egret again this morning on his way down to Port Ellen, down at Blackrock, but when he came back the bird was not to be seen. Undeterred, we went down later on, and took a different tack and had a look from a different viewpoint, and after looking around for a few minutes, hey presto, the Cattle Egret was in a different field. It was still there late this afternoon, where it has been since last Wednesday I do not know, but it is still here for sure!!!
Malcolm had an e mail through from Clive McKay who used to work at RSPB Loch Gruinart. Clive had seen on the WWT website about tracking the Whoopers, and that one had left Iceland at 15.00 and was on Islay the following day before 12 noon! Another Whooper tale was by Andy Schofield on the Oa, who had seen the Whoopers fly past the other day, as did the Golden eagle who was a bit hungry and had a go at trying to catch one of the juvenile birds, but with no joy!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Wed 4th Nov

This Redwing was caught in camera this afternoon below James's house at Grainel. I was on the lookout for the 3 Yellowhammer that were close by earlier on, but no luck! James had counted 365 Golden Plover and 520 Lapwing resting up on the mud on Loch Gruinart shortly afterwards, and the Green winged Teal was seen on the floods today by one of the vols.
Malcolm had 13 Pink footed Geese at Rockside while carrying out the goose count round Loch Gorm. They were in 3 different groups, rather than all together.
Several different groups of Whoopers have been seen today, the largest in number being 35 flying down Loch Indaal around 15.30, seen by Malcolm's wife, Carol. These were possibly the same birds that were seen earlier, on Ardnave Loch at lunchtime.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Tues 3rd Nov

One of our visiting birders last week had a good sighting of a Merlin, the downside was that it was eating its prey at the time, a Meadow Pipit. Another regular visitor yesterday had seen 7 different Otters while he was out and about yesterday! Back to today, and the weather has been a bit mixed with squally showers, with a definite drop in temperature too. There have been some more Whoopers on the go again, but not as many as yesterday. Today was the first of this week's goose counts, so it will interesting to see if any more Greenland whitefronts have arrived.

Monday 2 November 2009

Mon 2nd Nov

Thank goodness the rain did stop, we had 1.75" up to 9 am today. The footbridge across the burn down at the Machir Bay was not to be seen as it was underwater, and today the burn was back down almost to its correct level, with no sign of any damage done, I thought that the banks might have got washed away in places, but thankfully no!
Back to the birds, and a great day for Whooper Swans, just after 9.30 am and we had 83 fly directly over the house. There were several other large groups, James had a total of 81 birds at Gruinart, while Malcolm had 2 groups, 38 just after 1pm, and then 46 around 16.40. James reckons that Malcolm's first group were originally from Gruinart. We had 33 just below the coal yard, and had counted 138 in total through the day along with several smaller groups.
Apart from the Whoopers, one of the vols at RSPB had seen a Kingfisher down at the mouth of the River Sorn as it enters Loch Indaal below Bridgend. One of the other vols had a Brambling on the track leading to Grainel. On the game crop at Grainel, there were 150 Twite and 50 Linnet. There was also the sighting of a Merlin chasing after the Twite! James also had a Taverner's Canada Goose on the reserve at Gruinart today.

Sunday 1 November 2009

Sun 1st Nov

The total rainfall for October here at home was 4.25" in all, it might have been less but I normally empty the gauge out at around 9 am. At that time this morning it was raining quite heavily and had been prior to that time. Since then, there has been 1.5" and it is only gone 6 pm!
Steve Percival was back in touch with an update of the goose ring that was on as an image a couple of days ago, VHZ. This goose was initially caught and run by Steve and his colleagues back on 10th November 2001. It is a male bird and over the years been seen on Islay a total of 95 times, the majority of which were at Gruinart Farm, a few times up at Ardnave and once over near to Loch Gorm. As Steve says, "a very site faithful bird". It was retrapped on 26th Oct 2006, when its image was taken. It was also very faithful to his wife and partner, UNR. Steve had indeed seen VHZ every day last week, through from Monday to Friday inclusive! Thanks for the info, Steve.

Saturday 31 October 2009

Sat 31st Oct

Had an e mail through from Paul Kenyon who was over on Islay last week. Paul was fortunate to see both the Cattle Egret and the Little Egret. On Loch Indaal, he also had 4 Long tailed Ducks, 3 Velvet Scoter as well as 5 Slavonian Grebe. Thanks for that info Paul.
I think that the Little Egret has moved on as I have not heard about it since last Monday, and possibly that the Cattle Egret has moved through as well, as it has not been seen since Wednesday, as far as I know.

Friday 30 October 2009

Fri 30th Oct

This a "Darvic" ring which is put on the right leg of the Barnacle geese when they are rung. It is basically a 3 letter sequence of letters which can be read fairly easily, the rings are about 3.5 cm long and the lettering about 1.5 cm tall. Over the years Steve has built up quite a lot of knowledge from the various sightings. He actually saw 2 of the geese that were rung yesterday, again today. Will ask Steve for an update on the above bird, so will keep you posted once the info comes through.
What with the rain and wind today, the birds have been keeping a low profile!

Thursday 29 October 2009

Thurs 29th Oct

An image taken a few years ago of the "Goose team" in full swing. This morning we were able to carry out the job for this year. We managed to catch 40 birds in all, of which 3 were retraps from previous years. Steve has been carrying out this work for25 years now and reckons that he has rung over 4,000 birds in all. There are still some of the birds that he rung 20 years ago still around. This year's geese also have a red ring on their left leg along with the BTO ring, so allowing the year of ringing to be seen quicker!
Also today, I got the first tally of the present Goose counts carried out by SNH here on Islay. The figures were 39,783 Barnies and 1,740 Whitefronts, the Barnies are only slightly down on last years' figures in October, but the Whitefronts numbers are well down. Could this possibly be due to milder weather, and a possible reason for them not coming here yet? Thanks to Tracey and the team for the figures.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Wed 28th Oct

James was on the phone with some interesting bits and bobs.
A pair of Whooper Swans and their cygnets had been seen at Gruinart on the 20th October, and departed on the 21st, last Wednesday, and were seen at Martin Mere on Friday 23rd October. The adult birds had leg rings on.
Still on a similar ringing theme, 2 young Chough that were raised this year and rung on the reserve at Gruinart have been seen over on Oronsay. James said that there have been only a few recorded Choughs that have moved to Oronsay from Islay.
Yesterday, James had counted 280 Greenland Whitefronts on the reserve, also present were 11 Redwing and 13 Fieldfare. I saw 6 Redwing over at Coull this morning. A Green winged Teal was seen on the floods at Gruinart today, and the Cattle Egret is still here!

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Tues 27th Oct

The other week, the topic was the arrival of the Geese, last week Whooper swans, and of late the Cattle Egret, and yes, it is still here, in the same field along with the sheep! I wonder how long it will remain here, time will tell.
The other day, we had a couple of small groups of Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal, the group that has overwintered in previous years has not shown up yet. They used to be anywhere between Bowmore round to Blackrock and on round to Bruichladdich.
There have been a few Fieldfares seen again, we had 25 over towards Ballygrant earlier this week, and this morning there were a few down at Rock Mountain. Further down the road was a close sighting of a Sparrowhawk.
The first of the Goose counts took place today, with other counts being carried out tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see what numbers are in at present.

Monday 26 October 2009

Mon 26th Oct

Another image of the Cattle Egret, taken by Mike Anderson who originally saw the bird on Friday. It was still present this morning in the same locality, although the Little Egret was seen flying around Port Ellen Harbour, just as the ferry was docking around 9.30 this morning! I was told yesterday that this was actually the 7th sighting of a Cattle Egret in Scotland, not the 5th, apologies! Still a 1st for Islay and Argyll...
One of our visiting birders who is over for the week and who saw the Cattle Egret on Saturday, told me this afternoon that he had a Brambling over at Coullabus.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Sun 25th Oct

Well, as promised we went out this morning, on the search for the Cattle Egret. There had been a report of another Egret seen last night, so were there 2 out there?

We caught up with Tony, one of the vols from RSPB who was on the lookout too along with his 2 colleagues, only to be told that we had all just missed them, but there were certainly 2 birds! Patience is a great virtue, and not many minutes later and Tony had located the Cattle Egret in beside some sheep! Not long after that, and a second Egret landed in the same field, and this one turned out to be a Little Egret. The Little Egret was quite aggressive to the Cattle Egret!

Saturday 24 October 2009

Sat 24th Oct

This is a first for Islay, and only the fifth record for Scotland of a Cattle Egret, if accepted.
I was out yesterday afternoon, but I was left a note about the bird by Michael Anderson from Edinburgh, who was over on holiday. Chris and Tony Johnson who had been over for the last 2 weeks, and who had contributed their sightings to the blog, had also seen the Egret on their way to the ferry this afternoon. The bird was also seen by some new birders arriving here today for a weeks birding. This image was taken by James How, later this afternoon when we were able to catch up together with George Jackson. Hopefully the weather tomorrow might be a bit kinder to allow us to get some more images to share with you.
Many thanks to Michael initially for letting us know that the Cattle Egret was here in the first instance.

Friday 23 October 2009

Fri 23rd Oct

Must have Whoopers on the brain, there had been a flock of around 50 birds on Loch Gruinart, first thing this morning. James had been over towards Ardbeg and Ardtalla this afternoon, and had seen an Otter, and similarly commented on not seeing as many Fieldfares as earlier on in the week. George had seen over 200 Scaup on Loch Indaal as well as a Great northern Diver. Our friends had seen a Greenshank on the reserve at Gruinart today. Another visiting birder was well pleased yesterday, having seen 6 different species of Geese in the one field, Barnies, Whitefronted Geese, Greylags, 3 Pink footed Geese, the lesser Canada Goose as well as a single Brent Goose, all over at Rockside!

Thursday 22 October 2009

Thurs 22nd Oct

More Whoopers coming through again today, 34 adults on Ardnave while down on one of the lochans at Loch Gorm, there was a group of 25, comprising of 16 adult and 9 youngsters, and on the other lochan were 2 adults and 4 young.
Back to Ardnave, and our friends had 1 Dabchick, 2 Pochard, 12 Tufted Duck with a ringtail Hen Harrier over the back of the loch. At Traigh Nostaig, there were 90 Twite, with a Great Northern Diver offshore. Back onshore were 4 Bar tailed Godwits along with Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Turnstone. Later on and they had 36 Golden Plover down at the coal yard. I forgot to say that they had seen a Treecreeper in Ballygrant Woods and also down at Kildalton, also at both places, Long tailed Tits had been observed.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Wed 20th Oct

More Whoopers have been in today, there was a brief stopover of 11 this morning on one of the stubble fields at Rockside, and also another 9 including 5 cygnets in the afternoon in the same field. Over at Gruinart there were 59 in one group on a flood out to the right of the Visitor Centre, over towards the raised beach. The birds left around 5.30pm only to be replaced by another 20 who had just come in!
Our visitors had seen a female Goldeneye on Loch Gorm, and 3 great sightings of a male Hen Harrier out hunting through the day at different places. They also commented and asked about the Redwings and Fieldfares that had been seen a few days ago, as there do not appear to be as many around now, so have these initial birds passed through?

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Tues 20th Oct

A few reports of some Whoopers seen today, Malcolm had 7 in Loch Indaal this morning, flying low down close to the surface of the water, one of our visitors had 3 on Loch Skerrols and a further 8 over at Gruinart while James this afternoon had a group of 23 fly past his road end.
Our visitors had been out and about today, a male Kestrel was seen hunting over towards Carnduncan, further on at Coullabus, a Merlin flew low and fast over the road . On at Loch Skerrols there was a pair of Mute Swan plus a juvenile along with 4 others, also on the water were 15 Teal and 2 Dabchick. A male Bullfinch was in the woods as were 3 Goldfinch, 2 Yellowhammer and a flock of around 100 Chaffinch. Up at the Woolen Mill was a Dipper and a Grey wagtail. On the way home, round at Saligo/ Ballinaby, there were 166 Golden Plover and 22 Lapwing. 2 Snipe took off the verge side there too. They also reported having seen a few ringtail Hen harriers on their travels today.
James had 6 Bullfinch over at the Lily Loch on Dunlossit today.
George had 40 Whitefronts as well as 40 Barnies in the fields at the back of his house, with some Teal and Mallard on his pools. Some of the Barnies have got down to Port Ellen now, with 50 out at Ardtalla.

Monday 19 October 2009

Mon 19th Oct

This in an image of a Brindled Ochre Moth, sent in by Danny Arnold who was staying in the cottages last week. Danny was one of our "visiting birders" who gave me some of his sightings while he was here. He caught a total of 12 different species of Moths in his Moth trap during his stay. Thanks for that Danny.
Last night just at the darkening, there were 8 Red Deer at Sunderland in a grass field alongside the road. Later on, while coming home there was a Barn Owl perched on a fence post further along the road. Today, there were 18 Goldfinch down near to the old lime kiln below Foreland House.
This afternoon, James was up at Ardnave and had a total of 110 Greenland Whitefronts arriving in 3 separate groups in off the sea. He also had 3 groups of Whoopers too, 11 on Ardnave Loch, 20 on the reserve at Gruinart and a further 9 flying over his house. Also on Ardnave Loch were 3 Pochard and a Goldeneye, while on one of the beaches there were 9 Chough and 35 Twite.
Catherine just phoned in with a Barn Owl at Woodside at Gruinart this evening, while this afternoon she had a Golden Eagle between the Kilchoman School and Loch Gorm.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Sun 18th Oct

I thought that I was doing okay with my sightings from the hide on Friday evening, but I think that James capped it all yesterday, with the following raptors seen through the day, all in the same field below his house. He had a Merlin, a Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, 2 Buzzards and a male Hen Harrier, not bad going!
Also yesterday afternoon, some you may have noticed on the comments that Carl Reavey had 6 Snow Buntings up at Saligo. Thanks Carl.

Saturday 17 October 2009

Sat 17th Oct

Another great day weather wise. Thinking back to yesterday, and late afternoon we went down to the hide at the reserve at Gruinart. We must have spent almost a couple of hours, the light was fantastic, and how can you describe the birds? It was all there for us to see, Barnies, Greylags, Whitefronts, with Godwits and Snipe directly out in front of the hide, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Mute Swans and Lapwing were present too. Thrown in for good measure was a Peregrine and also a ringtail Hen Harrier, which needless to say woke the ducks up for a few moments. The Geese were all up in the air several times, and what a sight and sound that was! It certainly was a great experience.
There have been a few Whoopers passing through the last few days, James had 6 fly past him yesterday, there were a few at Rockside this morning and Malcolm heard some flying over Bruichladdich this morning while it was still dark.
Talking of birds on the move, some more small groups of Redwings have been seen, and today DJ's wife Isobel had 40 Fieldfare in tucking in to the berries. There had been quite a lot in the Ballygrant woods this afternoon eating away good style.
One set of visitors yesterday were fortunate to see 2 Golden Eagles and then later on 3 Otters, and today other visitors told me of a close sighting of less than 20 feet away of an Eagle, and of another 2 Otters, infact one of the Otters was actually swimming with their dog! All these sightings had been at different places round Islay, not at the same place

Friday 16 October 2009

Fri 16th Oct

One of our visitors in the cottages gave me the following birds that they had seen yesterday. Near to Ballinaby they had a female Merlin. On Traigh Nostaig at Ardnave they counted 56 Teal, 28 Chough, 58 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 40 Oystercatcher, 1 Heron, 14 Ringed Plover and a single Dunlin. A single Great Northern Diver was seen off Nave Island, while near to Ardnave Point there was a flock of over 40 Twite. Back at the car park at Ardnave, and there were a further 12 Chough. On Ardnave Loch itself, there were 12 Tufted Duck, 7 Whooper Swan, and also 3 adult and 2 juvenile Mute Swan.
By the way the weather has been tremendous out here today, a white Egret sp was reported to have been seen flying down the Sound of Islay this afternoon.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Thurs 15th Oct

Catherine carried out a count on Loch Gruinart earlier this week, and counted the following birds, 330 Curlew, 283 Oystercatcher, 372 Dunlin, 77 Ringed Plover, 56 Herring Gull, 19 Shag, 30 Merganser, 14 Heron, 41 Wigeon, 50 Common Gull, 5 Greenshank, 228 Bar tailed Godwits, 56 Mallard, 14 Knot, 49 Redshank, 1 Raven, 55 Turnstone, 56 Sanderling, 9 Black tailed Godwit, 5 Eider, 45 Lapwing, 42 Golden Plover and 1 Black headed Gull. Thanks Catherine for that info.
Coming back from the guided walk at Loch Gruinart this afternoon, we saw 29 Golden Plover resting up below the coal yard down on Loch Indaal. Nearer to home, at Sunderland there was a Merlin on a telegraph pole, possibly the same bird that has been seen down that way of late. This morning, there were certainly a lot of Geese down on Rockside, mainly Barnies, a lot of Greylags with a few Whitefronts there too.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Wed 14th Oct

Another day in, and James had been busy counting the geese again on the reserve at Gruinart along with one or two other birds thrown in. His totals are as follows, 25,240 Barnacle Geese, 16 Whitefronts, 2 Canada Geese hutchinsii, 1 Pink footed Goose, 2 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 24 Greylags, 1 Peregrine Falcon and a single Ruff.
George had a flock of 30 Golden Plover on his way round Loch Gorm, while at home he had 20 Snipe on his pools.
Visiting birders reported to saw that they had seen a Swallow over at Ardbeg on Monday, and 80 Whitefronts at Rockside yesterday afternoon. Other birders had spotted a female Chaffinch over at the cottages this morning, with a metal ring on one of it's legs, so where has that one come from? They had also seen 17 feral goats along at the Radar masts at Kilchiaran. I forgot to mention of seeing a white duck down at the head of Loch Indaal yesterday, close to where there was one seen last winter. It was seen along with some Mallards, so could it be last year's bird, is it an albino, or possibly an escaped farmyard duck?

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Tues 13th Oct

Rather than give you all an update with more goose figures tonight, James has been in contact with a count which he carried out on the floods, so here goes.... 1316 Teal, 244 Wigeon, 35 Mallard, 9 Pintail, 5 Gadwall, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Moorhen, 2 Little Grebe, 13 Mute Swan, 12 Black tailed Godwit, 46 Lapwing, 3 Curlew, 3 Heron, 4 Black headed Gull, 6 Herring Gull and 16 Snipe.
George saw a couple of Arctic terns at Bruichladdich, while Catherine had a Grey Phalarope on Loch Gruinart. All I am contributing tonight is a Hedgehog at the roadside as well as a few frogs out hopping across the road as we came back home this evening!!!!

Monday 12 October 2009

Mon 12th Oct

Well, as one of our neighbours described them, "they just looked like a cloud of midges". The geese, as I have been saying for a few days of late have been in a large flock over on Minister's field. This morning from just after 7am, there was a steady stream of large skeins of geese coming over from the Gruinart direction, with all the skeins flying very high up in the sky. The discussion has now rolled out were these "Gruinart" geese, or were they new arrivals? Certainly those of us who witnessed it think that they were in fact new birds in. Later on, they moved together down onto the heather while others appeared to be resting up on the water on Loch Gorm. We will have to wait to see what's about tomorrow morning!

Sunday 11 October 2009

Sun 11th Oct

Possibly not the clearest of images, but this female Sparrowhawk was momentarily on top of a straining post over towards Coull Farm this morning. You do not always appreciate the size of some birds, and this was no exception in that it was on this post which was not much more than 8" in diameter! It took off after a Pheasant, with no luck!
There was a small group of 22 Whoopers flying West along Loch Gorm, I had expected them to land there but they did not. Onto the lochans at Rockside and they just kept flying, so I thought they might land on the barley stubbles, but instead they kept on going out to the sea and no doubt on directly to their wintering grounds in Ireland. Malcolm yesterday had 17 at the head of Loch Indaal, with the Arctic Tern still present at Bruichladdich itself.
New folk in at the cottages had a Kestrel over Loch Gorm, both Teal and Wigeon on Loch Gorm and the lochans as well as a Rintail Hen Harrier on the wing.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Sat 10th Oct

A better day weather wise, bird wise I cannot really comment on as I was busy with the cottages! One of our guests, who left today, had been over on Jura in the middle of the week and had been fortunate to spot an Otter, close at hand, just North of Craighouse. It was only about 20 metres away and was in a typical Otter pose, on its back eating it's prey. Needless to say our visitors were duly impressed, watching an Otter so close and for a full quarter of an hour! They also commented on seeing some of the many Deer on Jura.
Back home here today, and there were 12 Whoopers in at Rockside, they were new arrivals as we saw them coming in. Perhaps with a lull in the wind, we may see some more over the next few days.

Friday 9 October 2009

Fri 9th Oct

The weather took a backward step today, especially late on this afternoon with really heavy squally showers, should not complain as that was the weather forecast!
Undeterred James set out, in the afternoon, yes he did get wet, but he did get a goose count on the reserve, and as the weather was not so good he concentrated on the Barnies with a count of 22,405 up by 7,000 in the past couple of days! The lesser Canada Goose is still with the Barnies. There were also 8 Whooper Swans to be seen this afternoon too. One of the volunteers at the reserve saw the 4 Redwing today, possibly the first of them coming through.
Earlier on in the week, during a "Farmland bird survey", there were good counts of 65 Linnet and 95 Skylark in one field, another field had 120 Linnet while a third field had 41 Meadow Pipit. These figures came through from Catherine.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Thurs 8th Oct

The geese across in Minister's field last night were certainly having a good blether in the moonlight, still talking between each other late on ....
James was in touch with figures through from yesterday, and these are birds solely on the reserve, so birds on Craigens are not included! The "scores on the doors" came through at 15,130 Barnacle Geese, 38 Greenland Whitefronts, 8 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pink footed Goose, 1 Lesser Canada Goose huchinsii, 1 male Sparrowhawk and a Short eared Owl. He also manged a count of ducks too, 745 Teal, 77 Wigeon, 9 Shoveler and 5 Pintail. James was saying that the geese are still arriving, and commented that we have not had many Whoopers through yet, and also that there are not many Greenland Whitefront here at present.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Wed 7th Oct

As I mentioned in a previous entry, the geese that are here are certainly not staying solely at Loch Gruinart, this morning there were over 2,000 Barnies on Minister's Field, the adjacent field to ourselves over on Rockside. We often see large numbers of geese there but usually later on. Perhaps the geese are making the most of the shed grain and secondary growth too.
We had a Merlin on a telegraph pole at the back of lunchtime and later on there was a Peregrine having a play with the Rock Doves, just up to pure devilment rather than going in for a straight kill!!!

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Tues 6th Oct

Just a few of the Whooper Swans up at Ardnave Loch having a difference of opinion! There were only 14 in total, consisting of 10 adult birds and 4 young, a far better ratio than the group seen down on Rockside last week. I did not manage to see the Snow Buntings, not that I looked that hard mind you!
Coming back home and there was the odd sighting of a large group of Barnacle Geese out on the heather down beside the lochans at Rockside road end! I somehow feel that the Geese are spreading themselves around Islay a lot quicker compared to other years, although they are not down the Port Ellen end yet!!!
This morning Malcolm had a Swallow out in front of his house, and also an Arctic Tern also at Bruichladdich.

Monday 5 October 2009

Mon 5th Oct

George had been up at Ardnave on the lookout for the Snow Buntings yesterday, and had seen a few Reed Bunting as well as a handful of Chough.
Back to today, and this morning James had a count of 14,365 Barnacle Geese on the reserve at Gruinart. Later, on our way down to Bowmore, there was a large flock of Barnies on the water at Loch Gorm, while down on the mudflats at the head of Loch Indaal, there was an even larger flock there. Possibly all the geese were resting up after having made use of the full moon over the past couple of nights and grazing/ eating through the night!
There was a flighty group of Wigeon on the water too, who could not settle for any length of time, as well as few Turnstone at the water's edge. I have not seen any Whoopers over the past few days, or any Brent geese passing through either.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Sun 4th Oct

These are some of the Barnacle Geese resting up at Gruinart, taken on Thursday afternoon.
Today, thank goodness, the wind has died down and it turned out to be quite a decent day, although a bit cooler!
Catherine had also seen 6 Snow Buntings up at Ardnave yesterday afternoon, in about the same time as James was there, but different birds as they were in different places. Today, visitors here for the week had seen a group of 8 at Ardnave, as well as 2 yesterday afternoon on the dunes at the back of Machir Bay. Also later yesterday afternoon, there were a group of almost 50 Chough in the same area. This evening, possibly the same birds were seen heading in for their roost.
James had a Merlin on the reserve at Gruinart this morning and another Merlin close to Blackrock just after lunchtime. A male Hen Harrier was out hunting over at Rockside while a ringtail was out quartering over one of the game crops. There were also a few Goldfinches on seed heads down towards the reed bed close to the Coastguard cottages.

Saturday 3 October 2009

Sat 3rd Oct

As forecasted, we certainly caught the strong winds and also a drop in temperature too....
James ventured out up to Ardnave this afternoon, and saw 6 Snow Buntings, 2 Lapland Buntings as well as an adult Iceland Gull. There were also 4 Arctic Terns on the wing up there too. George is still spotting his group down at Bruichladdich, while we saw 4 at Blackrock, just after 6 pm tonight, are they the same or different birds? George had also seen the large flock of Greylags round Loch Gorm while amongst the Barnies and Whitefronts at Sunderland, he had a single Pink footed goose.

Friday 2 October 2009

Fri 2nd Oct

I managed to take this image yesterday of Rock Doves on a roof of an old ruined cottage. There were just short of 150 birds in all, and no Peregrines hanging around either!
There was a large flock of Barnacle Geese down at Sunderland Farm this morning, as large a flock as I have seen away from the main roost sites at Gruinart and Bridgend. James's count late this afternoon, on Gruinart reserve tallied out at 7,320 Barnacle Geese, 18 Greenland Whitefronts, 1 Pink footed Goose, 1 Canada Goose hutchinsii sp, 172 Pale bellied Brent Geese and also 11 Black tailed Godwits on the floods.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Thurs 1st Oct

Another month in, on the positive side of things, we have had less than 2" of rain, actually only 1.9" in total, a lot drier than August. Perhaps we never really had a lot of rain but it seemed to be more than that with some miserable days!
There appeared to be more geese in again today, the sight over at Gruinart was quite impressive with most of the geese quite content to be rested up on the estuary as the tide was out. The geese did not appear to be worried about the Peregrine who sitting along side them on the salt marsh! On the guided walk today we also had 8 Snipe fly overhead, a family group of 4 Chough came and landed on a chimney pot at Gruinart Farm, and back down on the estuary there were quite a few Dunlin around. Earlier, on the overhead wires there was a large group of Linnets, possibly the same birds that James had yesterday.
After lunch, Margaret and myself took a quick run up the Craigens side of Loch Gruinart, and further on there were a good number of Oystercatcher, Curlew, Godwits and a few Mallards on the water itself. On the way back, there was a Peregrine on the overhead wires briefly, a sight neither of us had ever seen before! We did not see any Whoopers today at all.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Wed 30th Sept

James's count for today tallied through at 6,695 Barnacle Geese, 185 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 1 Canada Goose hutchinsii sp, 4 Pink footed Geese & 5 Greenland
Whitefronted Geese. Most of the Geese arrived this afternoon, rather than in the morning. The Whoopers that were here yesterday, took off for Ireland this morning, with no new birds coming in. James also had a flock of 265 Linnet, while Jack Fleming, James's boss here on Islay, had 4 Jack Snipe amongst the Snipe on the floods. All the above birds were on the reserve at Gruinart.
Back over this side of Islay, and there were 3 Whoopers in this morning at Ballinaby as well as 11 Whitefronts amongst a very large flock of Greylags, needless to say they all took off before I could get a count of the Greylags! This afternoon, down at Rockside there were 24 Whooper Swan, consisting of 20 adult and 4 young. There were fewer geese to be seen today along at Sunderland. Just at Rockside road end, there were around 150 Linnet and coming back in, at the Coastguard cottages, there were 50 Twite. Back home there was a flock of 45 Rock Doves on the wing.
The 4 Arctic Terns were still to be seen at Bruichladdich, and George has had some Teal returning to his ponds beside his house over the past few days.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Tues 29th Sept

Another month almost in, apologies for no entry last night, but for some reason the computer was playing up, so here goes.
Me first, I was busy at home today before nipping over to Bowmore late in the afternoon. Down on the young grass field at Rockside and I had my first Whooper Swans of this Autumn, 12 in number. Another first, and down at Sunderland there were 45 Greenland Whitefronted Geese, 3 Barnacle Geese along with 55 Greylags. It was good to see all the Geese together, as one could easily see the difference between the Greylags and the Whitefronts.
George had 4 Arctic Terns on the rocks on the shore down at Bruichladdich today, and he also reported in to say that his House Martins are still with him.
Onto James. He beat us all with 43 Whoopers on Loch Gruinart, 1890 Barnacle Geese, 5 Whitefronts and 348 Pale bellied Brent Geese. He also had 23 Black tailed Godwits, a Water rail, a Sparrowhawk, and a single Greenland Wheatear. James also commented on more waders coming in too, mainly flying in quite high.
The weather possibly has not been that great, but certainly it has brought some new birds in!

Sunday 27 September 2009

Sun 27th Sept

James has been away for a few days through the week, down to Dumfries & Galloway. On the ferry, on the way there, he had a couple of Bonxies along with lots of young Kittiwakes as well as Manx Shearwaters. Before he went, he had a Whimbrel fly over his house! While on the mainland, James had a Yellowhammer, a couple of Great spotted Woodpeckers and heard a Nuthatch calling.
Back home today, and on the reserve at Gruinart this morning, James had a count of 208 Pale bellied Brent Geese, a single Grey Wagtail, 205 Bar tailed Godwits, 8 Black tailed Godwits and also a Merlin.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Sat 26th Sept

If you want to know about the weather today, please refer back to Monday's entry as it was similar to that entry! No doubt Michal will not be having the same problem out on Aride in The Seychelles, he certainly will not have the need for turning the central heating on! Aye, the nights are creeping in.....
Coming home from the Indian Curry night at Ballygrant this evening, (a really good night by the way) we had a Barn Owl at Esknish, a couple of Hedgehogs on the road at different places, one of which was a fast mover, getting off the road quick style! Finally, there was a mouse caught in the car headlights before hopping into the verge out of our way.

Friday 25 September 2009

Fri 25th Sept

Forgot to include yesterday, the sighting of 5 Swallows on the overhead wires at the start of the guided walk.
On to today, this afternoon coming back up from Bruichladdich, there was a ringtail Hen Harrier out hunting, putting all the small birds up. Less than half a mile further on along the road and we saw a male Hen Harrier out hunting too. Back home, mid afternoon there was a young Buzzard sitting on the crag, not doing anybody any harm, when along came a Peregrine, and on its second attempt managed to dislodge the Buzzard off its' perch. The Buzzard flew off, and the Peregrine had its' territory back to itself again, no doubt awaiting the Rock Doves to appear!

Thursday 24 September 2009

Thurs 24th Sept

Thursday again, and today is the day we go to help out at Gruinart with the guided walk, and today it was Catherine who led the walk. From the platform we were able to spot around 50 Pale bellied Brent Geese on the estuary, while from the hide we saw a few Bar tailed Godwits, some Mallard, several Heron and a solitary Moorhen as well as a Snipe flying off. Further on and down below Gruinart Farm, we had good sightings of waders fairly close at hand, mainly Dunlin, Oystercatcher, a few Sanderling and some Redshank too. Another group of 12 Brent Geese arrived in as we were there.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Wed 23rd Sept

George Jackson and his wife Megan had been over on Jura today. They had seen 2 White tailed Sea Eagles when looking back to Islay, both birds had yellow wing tags, so probably the same two birds that Donald James had seen last week. Just past Craighouse, George and Megan had an Otter eating a crab close to hand!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Tues 22nd Sept

Another quiet day on the bird front as I was busy at home. The weather turned out better than expected! At the top of Loch Indaal, at "smelly corner" there not so many Teal today, but I did see a couple of Shelduck and a solitary Heron. The Greylags were down in numbers at Sunderland, but there were quite a few coming on to the stubble at Rockside to roost up for the night later on. Back at home and there has been a Grey Wagtail been seen quite often of late. A visitor told me of seeing a pair last week on the River Sorn at Bridgend and also another pair up at The Woolen Mill, again on the Sorn.

Monday 21 September 2009

Mon 21st Sept

The weather has not been that great, we certainly did not have much heavy rain today, but there was a low mist which kept coming and going, along with light rain in the strong wind, not too nice really!
Having said that I had to take a quick run over to Bowmore at lunchtime, the tide was well out on Loch Indaal. I saw 3 Pale bellied Brent Geese just below the Gaelic College, my first this year although some were seen earlier on. Also on the Loch were a lot of Wigeon, and round at "smelly corner" were plenty of Teal. On the estuary itself were plenty waders, Oystercatcher mainly, a few Godwits, Curlew and some Mute Swan on the water too. Back nearer to home and there were not so many Greylags at Sunderland, but there appeared to be more along at Rockside today. The Swallows and House Martins here at home appeared to have moved on although I did see 2 Swallows at Loch Skerrols on Saturday evening.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Sun 20th Sept

I thought I had done an entry last night, but I now realise that I had not done one, apologies....
Down the road last night at Rockside, on the barley stubble there was a flock of around 400 Greylags, and further along the road at Sunderland, there was another flock of about 600, but this time split between the stubble and the neighbouring grass field. Just hope they do not eat all the goodies up before the main thrust of the Barnies and Whitefronts arrive next month!
Donald James McPhee had told James on Friday that he had seen a couple of White tailed Sea Eagles over on his side of Islay, both 2006 birds as they had yellow wing tags in their wings. On Friday too, James had a really close sighting of an Otter when he was working on the sluices down on the flats, not sure who was more surprised of seeing each other at such close range!

Friday 18 September 2009

Fri 18th Sept

Heard the one about the Corncrake? Well today while at the market at Bridgend, I was speaking to one of my farming friends, who had been combining his field of barley, he saw a Corncrake in front of him in the crop, and it made it's way to the edge of the crop and flew off. Later on another Corncrake did exactly the same, but this time a Buzzard captured it, Sounds a bit like the story from Jim Dickson last week with the Barn Owl and a Buzzard! Somebody else had seen the injured Owl later on the same day by the way.
There have been quite a few Goldfinches around of late, almost 50 at the reed bed down at the Coastguard cottages the other day. Similarly small groups of Mistle Thrushes have been seen, 12 on the guided walk at Gruinart yesterday, 6 on the overhead wires between Sunderland and towards Carnduncan and a different group 6 down on the Rowans towards Loch Gorm.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Thurs 17th Sept

This spell of great weather is still with us, so I made the most of it today and cut the grass.....
But, this morning it was the guided walk at Gruinart. There was a large flock of Greylags at the head of the estuary certainly several hundred in all, several large groups of waders, mainly Bar tailed Godwits, Curlew and Redshank. On the floods in front of the hide there were 18 Snipe in 2 groups, while the best find was when James spotted the first of this years Barnacle Geese arriving. There were only 7 in total, but this was the first of them. The other Barnacle goose was seen down at Blackrock this afternoon too.
Louise had seen 3 Golden Eagles on the guided walk on the Oa on Tuesday, so her folk that were with were well pleased too!

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Wed 16th Sept

After a 3 day stint on Oronsay helping Eoin Brown (note the correct spelling this time), I have returned home again. We were both over there helping sort out the sheep on the RSPB reserve, lambs which were going for sale to the market immediately, others to retain as breeding sheep for 2011 and the rest to be sold at a sale over here on Islay later on. We also had to check out all the breeding ewes, so all in all we put in a power of work, more so Eoin rather than me, I was more of a "gofor". A good time was enjoyed by all, the weather held out and there were no midges at all!
I certainly did not have any time for any birdwatching, I took my bins and also the camera, but neither were used! Mike Peacock, the warden on Oronsay saw a Corncrake on Tuesday morning just we started to gather the sheep in. I noted a few Chough, both on Oronsay and later on Colonsay today as we waited for the ferry.

Monday 14 September 2009

Sun 13th & Mon 14th September

Well Ian has gone off to Oronsay for a few days (to do some sheep work!!!)with Iain Brown from R.S.P.B.Gruinart Reserve and has left me do the blog, here goes.
James saw 2 pods of porpoises and lots of Manx Shearwaters from the ferry on Sat, and had a few Brent Geese on Loch Gruinart. On his way to work this morning he saw a Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine. The following records were sent to us by Jim Dickson Argyll Bird Records Committee who was on Islay 5th to 12th Sept.
5th Gruinart Greenshank 4 (with upto 4 seen all week), Ruff1, Peregrine 2 ads (seen all week), Osprey 1 (seen all week and appeared to be unringed), Scaup 1 Ardnave, Tufted 10 Ardnave inc 1 very small juv.
6th Gruinart juv Black Tern flew up to the head of the loch at high tide and then inland in direction of Lyrabus/Loch Indaal, Black-tailed Godwit 24, Knot 22, Shoveler 3, Teal 22, House Martin 40 +, Whinchat 4 Craigens (seen most days), Pied Wagtail 40 + with 6 White Wagtail Craigens.
8th Gruinart Dunlin 580, Barn Owl 1 hunting Gruinart fields at 5.50pm landed on a fence post and was then struck by a Buzzard that carried it off with the owl hanging by its wing before being dropped about 70 metres away. The owl looked stunned/injured and the buzzard landed on the ground a few metres away but kept its distance (in field about 100m SE of the RSPB visitors centre barn therefor not easy for me to reach it... had a look 30mins later and the owl had gone so hopefully it got up and flew or possibly not? (It or another Barn Owl was seen in the fields hunting at 7pm.)
9th Gruinart 4 Whimbrel flying but did not settle, 1 Golden Eagle nr Couliabus.
10th Gruinart P B Brent Geese23, Lapwing 24, L Indaal C Scoter6, Shoveler 2.
11th Gruinart Golden Plover 2, Turnstone4, Ringed Plover 18, big increase in Bar-tailed Godwits, Pintail 1
12th L Gorm Tufted 29, Teal 9, C Scoter 1. Thanks for that Jim.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Sat 12th Sept

While helping to hang the washing out from the cottages this afternoon, we were graced with a juvenile Golden Eagle soaring overhead, and also 4 Buzzards over the big crag. I think that the Buzzards are the family group that reared their brood of 2 young close by. Yesterday the Buzzards were keeping a close eye on the 2 Peregrines which have around for the last few days.
This evening on our way back from Bowmore, we stopped off at "smelly corner" for a quick look around. Apart from numerous Greylag geese that were in at the top of Loch Indaal, on the edge of a group of Black backed Gulls was a single Barnacle Goose, probably the same goose that been seen at Blackrock and Uiskentuie through the summer. Also on the mudflats was a group of 16 Herons, all resting up, I had to double check as I do not recall seeing so many together in one place at the same time. Further on, after Uiskentuie and before the spit a total of 38 Mergansers were counted. On the shoreline, and also along the grass on the Strand were a lot of Pied Wagtails. On the spit itself were 27 Oystercatcher, 2 Bar tailed Godwits and a single Curlew.

Friday 11 September 2009

Fri 11th Sept

A great day, weather wise, out here today, after a heavy dew the sun soon burnt it all away and the combines were out in the barley fields. The last of the silage was lifted today too. Catherine had seen a few more Pale bellied Brent geese in, not a lot though. Coming back from Port Ellen, on the High road, we had a great sighting of a male Hen harrier out hunting, needless to say the camera was at home, I never seem to learn! A visitor reported in to say that he had seen a pair of Red Grouse the other day.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Thurs 10th Sept

Catherine phoned in some entries for the blog this afternoon. She had an Osprey on the ground, at the top of Loch Gruinart yesterday, while one day last week there had been a count of 150 Twite up at Ardnave. Yesterday, on the reserve at Gruinart there had been 250 Linnets and over 200 Skylark, a couple of Peregrine and a Kestrel. Today on the guided walk, there were 12 Pale bellied Brent Geese, possibly the first this year. A female Hen Harrier was out hunting, and a Barn Owl was seen at 10.30 am close at hand from the viewing platform. Later on several Chough were seen too.
As I write tonight's entry, I notice that this is the 600th blog, many thanks to all of you out there who have contributed to make this possible. I have had some great comments back and met quite a few visitors who read the blog, thanks again folks.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Wed 9th Sept

While having a tidy up today, I noticed a young Fulmar down on the ground in the field, so I did my good deed for the day by catching it and taking it down to Loch Indaal to release it. It was most grateful as it never vomited at all which was a relief, as it can be rather pungent!
Some birds through from James, he had counted 504 Greylags, the other day between Loch Gorm and on the reserve at Gruinart. Today, round at Craigens he had 4 Whinchat, and a further 2 up at Killinallan. He had also seen quite a few Wheatear in, and commented on that there appeared to be a few more Swallows to be seen, possibly a combination of better weather, a few more youngsters fledged and also some birds passing through. From his house, he has seen 2 separate juvenile female Hen Harriers quite often of late, and today there was a Sparrowhawk catching a lbj on the game crop!

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Tues 8th Sept

In the wee small hours of the night we had a very large thunderstorm, accompanied with heavy rain and wind as well, but this evening it is all in the past. The only downside is that the "Rest & be Thankful", the A83, our main trunk road on the mainland is closed because of another mud slip!
This morning, round towards Saligo Bay, there was a single Wheatear, and coming home a wee while later on, there was a charm of 18 Goldfinches on the Gorse bushes near to Coull. This afternoon, down at Port Charlotte, there were a few Razorbills to be seen on Loch Indaal, as well as some Arctic Terns on the wing.