Saturday 28 February 2009

Sat 28th Feb

Another month almost in...
Catherine had been on the phone earlier with figures from a count carried out on Loch Gruinart at the start of the week. 218 Bar tailed Godwit, 365 Oystercatcher, 85 Herring Gull, 13 Red breasted Merganser, 12 Turnstone, 12 Sanderling, 58 Common Gull, 11 Greater black backed Gulls, 151 Wigeon, 16 Mallard, 209 Curlew, 17 Redshank, 9 Ringed Plover, 256 Dunlin and 88 Shelduck in total. CF
We had been out yesterday afternoon and saw a pair of Golden Eagles soaring on the thermals, and soon afterwards, fairly close to where we saw the Eagles, a male Hen Harrier crossed the road about 30 metres ahead of us. Anyway the camera was not to hand, needless to say!

Thursday 26 February 2009

Thurs 26th Feb

An all action image taken down on the floods in front of the hide at Gruinart. The 2 Whooper swans in the foreground had just landed on the water when one of the resident Mute swans decided that it does not want any unwanted visitors round about! It certainly had the desired effect with the new arrivals moving further away smartly, although they did not actually fly off.
There have been small numbers of Whoopers down on Loch Gorm the last few days, possibly some of them starting to return North again.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Wed 25th Feb

This afternoon and evening have been spent attending an International workshop on the Greenland White-fronted Geese being held down in Bowmore. There were speakers from all over, Denmark, covering the Greenland aspect, Iceland, Ireland and Scotland. The World population is now down to only 23,200 at the last count, infact there were over 7,000 alone on Islay, in the International count just carried out the other week. I had not realised that in actual fact that Scotland and Ireland overwinter most of the Geese, with only one site in the North of England with a mere 20 birds, and also a small flock in another site in Wales. It will be interesting to hear, what the final comments are tomorrow.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Tues 24th Feb

James was in touch this morning with some sightings since his return. On Sunday, he saw a Golden Eagle over the RSPB reserve at Gruinart, a flock of 125 Linnet and noticed lots of Frogs on various ponds when he was out. Refering to Michal who spotted frog spawn on Sunday, looking back and I noticed that Stacey had frog spawn on the 18th of February last year (2008) down in Glen Astle on the Oa!
Back to James again, and he had a count on the floods on Monday, which reads as follows,
1 Merlin, 1 Hen Harrier, 938 Teal, 191 Wigeon, 54 Pintail, 72 Shoveler, 2 Red breasted Merganser, 727 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank, 2 Gadwall and 1 Whooper Swan. The tally for the Lapwing was a good count for Gruinart at this time of year. JRH

Monday 23 February 2009

Mon 23rd Feb

One of our visiting birders that were over last week was Steve Percival who was over for the half term break. Steve was out faithfully most mornings, looking for some of the Barnacle Geese which he has rung over the past 20 years or so. He managed to spot over 800 birds that had rings on. It was not only Steve that was involved each day, but his father Albert and also his elder daughter Emily was out too, and Emily is not 6 years old yet..... Another birder in the making?

Sunday 22 February 2009

Sun 22nd Feb

It's the weekend, and that means that Michal has had some time out with his camera. So, here is a Roe deer caught in camera. Also today, Michal had seen some frog spawn while he was over at Loch Gorm.
James had 385 Skylark in one flock over at RSPB Gruinart reserve, a good number, but he has had larger flocks at other times. There were also 32 Twite, which for Gruinart is quite a high figure, not like Louise count of 190- 200 had on the Oa as reported earlier on this week.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Sat 21st Feb

Certainly no Owls out hunting this evening, but with it being mild and damp, not wet mind you, there were several frogs to be seen in the headlights on our return home! Earlier on there had been 4 Herons down on the Pine trees, surely they are not thinking of nesting yet, possibly just out checking on what's what!

Friday 20 February 2009

Fri 20th Feb

James is back from a few days break on the mainland, and managed to get out of the office for a wee while today, and had seen the Canada Goose which is still around, as well as a Black tailed Godwit on the floods in front of the hide at Gruinart. JRH
Back here at home, there has been a Song Thrush out in the wood the last few mornings, giving air to his vocal chords, to good effect! Also, down over the dunes at the back of Machir Bay, there were 20 Chough out on the wing along with some Jackdaws. Yesterday, near to Saligo Bay, there were several Skylarks singing away to their heart's content. Coming home last night from Port Charlotte, a Barn Owl was out hunting down at Foreland.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Thurs 19th Feb

Louise had a flock of around 190 -200 Twite down at Killeyan on the RSPB reserve on the Oa the other day. LG
Back here on this side of Islay, there were 120 Lapwing along with a few Golden Plover in the stubble turnip field round at Ballinaby, while down at the former Coastguard Houses at Machir Bay there were 55 Twite on the overhead cables on our way in at lunchtime today.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Wed 18th Feb

Another image through from Michal tonight, taken today when he was over on Jura. What can one say?
George has been on the phone to say that he had 80 Greylags and a Pinkfooted Goose in his fields today, while out on Loch Indaal he had 20 Wigeon, a Great Northern diver and yesterday, there were 2 Razorbill. GJ
Another visiting birder had been in touch with his list from today, consisting of 26 Snow Bunting at Ardnave, 37 Whoopers , 40 Goldeneye on Loch Skerrols, over 50 Ravens up between Storakaig and Barr while on Loch Indaal there were 13 Long tailed Ducks and 5 Slavonian Grebe. On his way home he had a flock of 50 Redwing at Rock Mountain.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Tues 17th Feb

Well, the weather did change last night as we had some rain, the Fulmars left late this afternoon, so look out on Friday for some windy weather to come in.....
Back to the birds again, and an Iceland Gull was seen over at Port Ellen yesterday, and today both the Glaucous Gull and an Iceland Gull were seen at the top of Loch Indaal, near to Glenburn as far as I could make out. There have been more reports of white winged Gulls this year, Malcolm regularly has had an Iceland Gull at Bruichladdich of late, there was an earlier sighting of another at Ballinaby as well as the one at Bunnahabhain, probably the same bird that has been there for the past 5 winters. On Glaucous Gulls, there was an immature bird at Machir Bay last week, and also an adult at the top of Loch Indaal last Wednesday, as well as the regular immature bird along the top of the loch too. I believe that other places have also been observing more birds than in previous years.

Monday 16 February 2009

Mon 16th Feb

The figures are through from Tracey and the team at SNH for last week's International Goose count, and came to 43,669 Barnies and 7,444 Whitefronts. The difference, I am led to believe between the International counts and the "other counts", is that on the International counts, the whole of Islay, totalling 6 separate routes, are all counted on the one day, whereas for the other counts the 6 routes can be done over 2 days. Thanks again folks.
Outside, at present, the sea is making a fair old din, or noise, is it a sign that there is a change in the weather working? We will just have to wait and see......

Sunday 15 February 2009

Sun 15th Feb

An image taken yesterday afternoon of some Brown Hares out larking around down at Sunderland Farm. There are now a few more to be seen, out and about rather than just the odd hare. They certainly were letting their steam off as they raced back and forward across the field.
Also yesterday, the Fulmars were back in, and this morning it was rather spooky as you could hear them calling away, but you could not see them because of the thick low mist that was shrouding the crag, infact almost a sea haar.

Saturday 14 February 2009

Sat 14th Feb

It's the weekend again and Michal has been out with his camera again and got this cracking image of a Treecreeper in the wood at Gruinart today. Also in the wood, there were some Woodcock, while out in the fields there were several Fieldfare along with a few Redwing, 2 Song Thrushes were also seen , and a few Blackbirds were foraging around.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Thurs 12th Feb

A quieter day here today, but all the same I managed to see a Treecreeper out in the wood at lunchtime, truth be told I was really outside hoping to see or hear the woodpecker again! Islay, along with Tiree, topped the Scottish temperature scale today with a balmy 10 degrees, some folk in other areas of Scotland were snowed in!
Tracey and the team from SNH forwarded on last week's Goose figures, totaling up to give 40,971 Barnies and 8,590 Whitefronts. Once again, many thanks for the figures folks.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Wed 11th Feb

Another image of the Great Spotted Woodpecker taken this afternoon. I had not seen it for some time but thought we had heard it on Saturday past. Certainly, I heard again this afternoon, and after having a look around I was able to locate it. Looking back the blog, the last time the Woodpecker was seen , was on the 29th of December, and it was seen a further two times before that.

Our visitors had seen an immature Glaucous Gull while walking through the dunes at the back of Machir Bay today

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Tues 10th Feb

The first of the Spring migrants arrived on Saturday, humans, not birds, as that was our first visitors arriving in our cottages! They had been up for a walk round Ardnave Point in the bitter wind yesterday, and had seen 25 Chough and a flock of 30 Snow Bunting as well as a few Purple Sandpiper.
Louise Gregory, now with RSPB, had 120 Fieldfare at Uiskentuie and 130 Golden Plover down on the Oa. Back home on Jura, Louise had 2 Canada Geese while Gordon her other half had seen several Shelduck on Loch Tarbert.

Monday 9 February 2009

Mon 9th Feb

As promised yesterday, the follow up image from Michal, of the Robin having a go at this poor Pied wagtail. Needless to say the Robin came out tops and the Pied wagtail moved off to a more friendly place! MS
James had been past the stubble turnip field round at Ballinaby yesterday and noted the Golden Plover and Lapwing there along with 11 Ringed Plover. He also saw a mixed flock of Twite and Linnet also at Ballinaby. JRH

Sunday 8 February 2009

Sun 8th Feb

An image sent in by Michal of a Robin flying in to defend it's feeding patch from a Pied Wagtail. I will include the next image tomorrow night, so watch this space!
Michal had been up at Ardnave again looking for any sign of the large numbers of Purple Sandpiper which he had seen last weekend, but to no avail, only 2 in total yesterday! But, he managed to see 25 Redpoll, 70 Oystercatcher on Nave Island itself, 1 Peregrine and also 1 Sanderling.
Back here at home, we heard the Woodpecker drumming on a tree, saw a female Hen harrier, and also the return of a few Fulmars this morning, perhaps an indication of a small storm later on, as there were not many of them!

Saturday 7 February 2009

Sat 7th Feb

Must really go out more often at night, (it's a rare thing!), as we had a Woodcock at the roadside, and a Barn Owl out hunting at 2 separate locations....

Friday 6 February 2009

Fri 6th Feb

Malcolm had been out Goose counting today on the Oa with Morvern Laurie, and had seen a pair of Eagles flying fairly close together, on closer examination one bird was an adult Golden Eagle while the other was an immature Sea eagle! MAO
Coming back home from Bridgend at lunchtime, we came over the hill past Carrabus and past Borichill Mor dropping down to Gruinart. On the way, we noticed several different groups of Fieldfares along with the odd Redwing. At Carrabus, there were 86 in one field, 27 in another 4 in flight, 6 at Coullabus, 23 at Corsapol and just short of 60 on the flats at Gruinart. Further on, in a grass field at Ballinaby there 70 Curlew, while in the stubble turnips in the next field there was a large mixed flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover together. Finally, further round at Coull Farm there were 85 Golden Plover. MAB

Thursday 5 February 2009

Thurs 5th Feb

The Sea Eagle was seen again today at the top of Loch Indaal, fairly close to where it was yesterday. It was seen by Malcolm Ogilvie and John Armitage on their way out this morning to start today's Goose count. The bird certainly did not have any wing tags, and appeared to be eating it's prey, whatever that may have been, but definitely a bird by the sound of things!
George had 140 Greylag geese, 60 Whitefronts and 1 Pinkfooted goose in his fields this morning, but no Barnies! GJ
The lesser Canada Goose still remains over at Gruinart, and James this afternoon had 21 Fieldfare in one of the fields below his house. JRH
Back to Malcolm again, and he had seen an Iceland Gull at Bruichladdich, and later on ,the Glaucous Gull was at Glenburn again. MOA
Jeremy Hastings reported in to say that had seen several Snipe over the last few days near to Gartloist.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Wed 4th Feb

One of our local tradesman, here on Islay, phoned in to the RSPB office at the Loch Gruinart reserve this morning, seeing that he had just spotted a Sea Eagle on Loch Indaal. A member of staff went down and located the bird at the top of Loch Indaal just after Bridgend, down below the former Islay Estate Office.
There must have been quite a frost here last night, as some of the pipes were a bit sluggish initially this morning, at least we have escaped the heavy snowfalls!

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Tues 3rd Feb

Another image provided by Michal, of the flock of Purple Sandpiper that he took on Sunday. There are the best part of 100 birds on this image alone and Michal assured me that there were a further 20 that did not fly off. Malcolm reckons that the previous high for Islay was only 45! Certainly looking through various books they all seem to refer them being seen in small numbers.

Monday 2 February 2009

Mon 2nd Feb

Well, we certainly have been fortunate over here today in the sense that we have not had the snow that other parts caught. Having said that, it was cold enough for frost to form, which is not really that common occurrence over here! The birds on the feeders certainly had their quota of food, as some of the feeders were filled 3 times today. Certainly there were more birds about, but they appeared to be eating for most of the day light hours.....
Tracey e mailed in last week's Goose count figures, which tallied out as follows, 43,875 Barnies and 6,116 Whitefronts. Thanks again for the figures folks.

Sunday 1 February 2009

Sun 1st Feb

Michal had braved the cold today, and took this image of a Purple Sandpiper up at Ardnave. In total, there was a flock of about 100, possibly a new "high" figure for Islay. MS
James had a second winter Glaucous Gull on Friday down beside the spit on Loch Indaal, and at Blackrock today, he had an adult Glaucous Gull.
This afternoon James, had a Woodcock being "stooped" by a Peregrine, but the falcon missed it's prey, so the Woodcock lives on for another day... James also had 2 Hen harriers, also this afternoon. JRH