Tuesday 31 March 2009

Tues 31st March

The month is certainly going out like a lamb, ending on a beautiful Spring day, I even felt the heat on my head during the afternoon!
The Lancashire lads had a good day, top of the list was a Green winged Teal over on the floods at Gruinart, also there were 3 Moorhen. Down at the council dump at Gartbreck, they had another Iceland Gull, 4 Slavonian Grebe on Loch Indaal. This afternoon, in Bridgend Woods they had a couple of Treecreepers, a Goldcrest and a Dipper on the Sorn, and also 3 bats in flight. They also had seen 2 Sand Martins and a few Wheatears as they travelled around.
Our birder from Aberdeenshire had his first Chiffchaff of the year, singing in the trees at Loch Skerrols, and later on he had a pair of Grey Wagtail along at The Woolen Mill.

Mon 30th March

Almost another month has past, and with the wind going round to a Southerly later this week, some of the Geese may try their luck and fly North. Talking of Geese, and Tracey and the team e mailed last weeks figures through and they added up to 37,033 Barnies and 5,908 Whitefronts. Thanks again folks.
The weather here today has been a bit mixed, with the sea haar coming and going, having said that, one of our visitors had seen Long tailed Ducks on Loch Indaal and a Slavonian Grebe in summer plumage. Over a Coull Farm, he had a large flock of Golden Plover. The lads from Lancashire had 10 Wheatear, and the previous evening had a Barn Owl out hunting.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Sun 29th March

Yes, it is that time of the year when the cock pheasants have a go at each other, caught in camera by Michal when he was out this morning.

Our visitors, up from Lancashire, also had a good day, 2 Snow Buntings at Killinallan, a flock of 100 Sanderling at Gruinart, 19 Whooper Swans flying over Ardnave, a 1st winter Iceland Gull amongst a group of Herring and Common Gulls at Machir Bay. Down at Easter Ellister and they had a Swallow, a Pinkfooted Goose amongst Greylags, near to Bruichladdich, a passage of Manx Shearwater from Frenchman's Rocks. Not bad going lads!

Saturday 28 March 2009

Sat 28th March

We have waited patiently since the end of November, for this day to arrive. Yes, the Woodpecker has finally given in and twigged that there is food to be had in the feeders. The other great bonus is the trees are not getting decimated now! The bird itself appears completely unaware of our presence as we sat for almost an hour in the van, which acted as a hide!

James had been down at Bruichladdich today, and had seen 6 Purple Sandpipers on the shoreline while out on Loch Indaal itself there were 4 Razorbills, 4 Red throated Divers in summer plumage and lots of Great Northern Divers. JRH

Friday 27 March 2009

Fri 27th March

With the wind veering round into the North, the birds in at the feeders have noticably increased, with a lot more Greenfinches, 25 at one time, and also Goldfinches around too.
James yesterday had carried out a Goose count on the reserve at Gruinart and had 4,741 Barnies, 127 Whitefronts and 1 Canada Goose. The other birds of note that he saw were as follows, 6 Gadwall, 2 Red legged Partridge, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier carrying nesting material and a Peregrine. JRH
I was speaking with Jack Fleming this evening who told me that he had not seen the Swallow today, has it headed back South, or what?

Thursday 26 March 2009

Thurs 26th March

Last night I had an e mail from Alistair MacCormack who works over at Craigens Farm . Yesterday, Alistair had seen a Lapwing with an egg while he was working out in the fields. Thanks for that info.
Also yesterday, James had seen 3 Hen Harriers "skydancing" over the reserve. He also had a Peregrine too. Today, James had a White wagtail and saw the Swallow at Jack's house. There was also a possible sighting of a House Martin, possibly early, but there was a confirmed one seen in Iceland already, the earliest there for over 20 years! JRH
This morning, while going over to Gruinart we saw a Red Grouse, the first I had seen for a while.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Wed 25th March

Another quiet day, but possible the lull before the storm, so we will just have to wait and see....
Back to birds again, and Jack Fleming had seen a Swallow this morning at his house over at Gruinart. I bet the Swallow wishes that it had stopped off further south for a few days, although I did notice some insects on the wing last week when the weather was kinder!

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Tues 24th March

Rather a miserable day outside, definitely a backward step from last week!
Michal had seen a couple of Woodpigeons in the wood opposite his house over at Gruinart, and to us over here they are quite rare, we see more Rock doves!

Monday 23 March 2009

Mon 23rd March

Birding has been a bit quieter today, especially with the sightings last week of the first of our Summer visitors starting to be seen, along with the Gyr Falcon. Having said that, a visitor here for the week had seen 2 different male Hen Harriers while he was out on the Rhinns today, and he was equally impressed with the wind speed and the swell on the sea!
Back to birds, or rather geese and Tracey forwarded me the tally for the International count done last week, totaling through at 44,896 Barnies and 6,429 Whitefronts. Thanks again to Tracey and the team for that.
Jim Dickson who had been over on Sunday, forgot to say that he had seen a flock of around 240 Golden Plover flying NW over Rockside and also that there had been 12 Ringed Plover on the same pool where he took the image of the Whooper swans on yesterday's blog.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Sun 22nd March

These were a few of the Whooper swans over at Ballinaby this morning, taken by Jim Dickson who had come over from the mainland in the hope of seeing the Gyr Falcon! Yesterday, on our way out to get our papers there were only a couple of Whoopers to be seen down on the lochans beside Loch Gorm, but on our return, about 20 minutes later, another 23 had dropped in for a rest on their journey North. Talking of the Gyr Falcon, and as far as I know, it has not been seen today, but thinking back to the last bird here, a few years ago, it too proved an elusive bird to find, missing for a few days before reappearing briefly and then off again. Although Jim did not see the falcon, he did have a Sand Martin down at Canain, and off the ferry yesterday on his way over, he had 60+ Great northern Diver, 26 Black throated Diver and 19 Red throated Diver. Many thanks for your input Jim.
Last night, I was speaking with Kevin Wiggins who had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle down between Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte, but not the same bird that had been up near Saligo earlier on in the week, as it had wing tags on, and Kevin's bird had none. Just prior to talking with Kevin, I saw the Bar headed Goose down with the feral geese at Braibruaich, but today it was not to be seen, perhaps it was away with the Barnies again. Malcolm had also seen it there on Friday.

Saturday 21 March 2009

Sat 21st March

Breaking news...
As I went out for the papers this morning, just along the road from here at home, what do we get, but this Greenland Falcon sat on top of a telegraph pole. Unfortunately the light was not too good, but what can one say....
As promised, I have entered another 2 images of the bird in flight, just to show that is was not jesses on it's feet, as it sat on the pole.
Is this the same bird that was reportedly seen up at Ardnave the other week, it certainly is here now! James had seen it later on, mid afternoon over at Gruinart, again on a post, before it took off and headed back over the Loch Gorm area, and come to think of it, the last bird that was seen a few years back, tended to favour Loch Gorm!
Luckily, first of all, I had my camera with me, secondly, it was on my lap, and finally it was already switched on, so no fumbling about trying to find it and trying to switch it on!
Further on down the road a Merlin shot across in front of us.
At lunchtime, when James came over, after working on the sheep, we had the Greater spotted Woodpecker out knocking nine bells out of some of the trees. The Choughs meantime were flying overhead, noisy as usual.
Our new visitors to the cottages, who arrived today were not too impressed with the Woodpecker, common birds to them, but the Choughs arrived on cue, tomorrow they can go and try to find the Falcon!

Friday 20 March 2009

Fri 20th March

James had done a count of the birds on the floods in front of the hide at Gruinart, earlier on this week. The following were seen, 1065 Teal, 1 Moorhen, 2 Heron. 2 Red breasted Merganser, 164 Wigeon, 6 Mute Swan, 67 Shoveler, 51 Pintail, 18 Mallard, 68 Redshank, 83 Lapwing, 16 Curlew, 5 Gadwall, 2 Shelduck and 1 Cormorant.
Also this week James had seen 5 Hen Harriers at the roost, consisting 2 males and 3 females. Round at Erasaid, just down from Gruinart, there was a Tawny Owl calling/ hooting. JRH

Thursday 19 March 2009

Thurs 19th March

Michal was up early this morning to take this image of the Geese leaving the roost and heading out round Islay. Needless to say, most of us were probably still in bed! During his working day, Michal had heard a Chiffchaff calling near to the viewing platform as you go down to the hide at Gruinart. We, ourselves saw our first Wheatear this morning over at Saligo
At this time of the year, the Estates both here on Islay and Jura, usually carry out a count of the Deer. Donald James ("DJ") MacPhee had been speaking to me earlier on this evening, and had seen a White tailed Sea eagle while helping doing the count over Islay Estates' land, while Gordon Muir, Louise's other half reported in to having seen some over on Jura, when out counting over there.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Wed 18th March

Another sign that Spring has arrived here on Islay, Becky Williamson and Kevin Wiggins had seen a Wheatear yesterday over at Ardnahoe on the way up to Bunnahabhain while out Goose counting! Catherine had also seen one this afternoon up at Ardnave.
Back here at home, I saw my first Bumble bee of the year, and come to think of it, the grass might need cut soon....

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Tues 17th March

There was a reported sighting of an adult White tailed Sea Eagle over at Saligo this afternoon, while one day last week a visitor had seen a Gyr Falcon up at Ardnave. Both birds were seen by folk by themselves, so sometimes you can be fortunate and be in the right place at the right time!
Another sign that Spring is here, was that somebody has been out in Port Ellen cutting grass!!!

Monday 16 March 2009

Mon 16th March

This morning, on my way down to Port Charlotte, I had an "odd sighting" along Loch Gorm. As usual there were some Buzzards perched on top of the telegraph posts, and as they do, when you come closer to them, the Buzzards fly off and land on another post further down the line. But today, something a bit different happened, in that one of the birds took off and went down the line to perch on top of not another post, but on top of another buzzard which was itself perched on the post, be it for only a few seconds! Something I had not seen before.
The weather forecast was correct today, as it was wet for most of the day, but it did at least fare up late afternoon. Infact we have had over 3" of rain this month, twice as much as February, and we are only on the 16th!

Sunday 15 March 2009

Sun 15th March

It's the weekend again and Michal has been out. He had hoped to get some more images of the Geese before they head off, but to no avail, so instead he sent this one of a Red legged partridge!
Last night George had heard a Whimbrel near to his house down at Bruichladdich, an early one, George says. GJ
This afternoon, we went up to Sanaigmore for a wee while to spectate Eleanor (James's daughter) and 2 of her young school chums, going into the water for a sponsored "dook" for Red nosed day. Rather them than me, must now remember to cough up, and may be ask how much the three of them raised!

Saturday 14 March 2009

Sat 14th March

James had a few sightings off reserve today as he went down to Bridgend. At Lyrabus, he had a Peregrine falcon, coming across the flats he saw a Merlin and also spotted the Canada goose again. Coming home and he was on the lookout for any Greenland whitefronts with collars round their necks, and managed to see 5 in all, 3 at Lyrabus and 2 further on at Craigens. Not bad going, especially as there have only been a few fitted with collars.
On getting home, James had another tale to relate. Basically his daughter, Eleanor, had gone out for a ride on her bike and James had tagged on behind to see that all was okay. She went round the back of the steading on her bike and a Peregrine took off from being on the ground, and then there was a "thump" on the ground. The Peregrine had drooped half a Rock dove back onto the ground!

Friday 13 March 2009

Fri 13th March

As I write, the wind has picked up quite a bit, certainly at tea time the sea was fairly noisy which often indicates that there is rain on the way. I have seen Lapwings with their aerial display several times this week as well as their distinctive call.
It was odd the other day while speaking to a friend on the phone, he was explaining that he had got a pager to alert him of any sightings of birds near to him. As we were talking, the pager went off, and the "twitch" was that there had been a Hen Harrier at certain location, to which I replied that they are common over here..... In a similar vein, the other year when Helen Moncrieff was on her sabbatical year from RSPB in Shetland, she got exited one day early on, after spotting a Blue Tit, as they are not common on Shetland. Similarly, Great Tits are considered rare on Fair Isle, so what I often explain to our visitors, that what is common to one locality may be rare to another and vice versa, just like the Magpie that was seen here a few years back, it was the first to Islay for 10 years.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Thurs 12th March

With this milder weather about, things outside are changing dally, I feel the grass is greening up a bit, in the more sheltered spots, that is away from the geese! On the topic of Geese, here round Loch Gorm, the Greylags are starting to break off into pairs, while I have noticed several of the pairs of Choughs checking out their old nest sites. Yesterday, there was a flock of around 20 Chough flying together out toward the crag, with their tumbling, acrobatic flights it does not half make it difficult trying to count them!

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Wed 11th March

Going over to Bowmore today, it was an odd sighting at the top of Loch Indaal that happens occasionally through the winter. That is, that with the tide out, or even partially out there were a lot of Barnacle Geese roosting up through the day, rather than being away grazing on the fields. The most probable reason behind this, is that there was an almost full moon last night and geese had been grazing through the night, so that their bellies were full and no need to go looking for more food!
Speaking of Geese, and Tracey e mailed in the tally for last week's Goose count, which totaled 36,631 Barnies and 6,521 Whitefronts. Thanks again for the figures folks.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Tues 10th March

What a difference a day makes, it was a Spring day here today, no rain and quite warm for time of year. The birds in the wood at lunchtime had quite a choir singing away to their heart's content.
This evening on the way out to a meeting, there was a Barn Owl out too, and on our return later on there were 3 Red Deer down on the roadside. I was also surprised to see as many hares out, as well as a single rabbit. It was the first I had seen for some time, as we seemed to have lost a lot with myxie. Infact, the other day up at Sanaigmore none were noted, and they are usually there, also another day up at Ardnave and none were to be seen there either come to think on it.
James had a count of 63 Twite in field beside his house today,which was a high count there.

Monday 9 March 2009

Mon 9th March

Well, as I predicted the other day when talking about the total amount of rain that fell in February, it did not take long for it to catch up, as already we have had over 2" this month so far. More than there was in total last month!
Back to the bird front, and we had a Grey Wagtail fly past the house the other day, quite a few of the daffodils are now flowering, and others are not far off. The big question is how long will they last with the blustery winds that we had over the last couple of days, and more forecast for Wednesday. Down on Loch Indaal today, and there were 2 groups of Pale bellied Brent Geese to be seen, a small group of 6 at Bruichladdich, and also another of 21 round at Bowmore.

Sunday 8 March 2009

Sun 8th March

The only thing missing today, weather wise, is the sun and a bit of heat. We have had rain, sleet and snow showers through the day with 2 or 3 claps of thunder thrown in. Actually James was out going round Ardnave when the thunder and lightning was rolling about. Having said that he managed to see 6 Purple Sandpipers, some Gannets fishing off Nave Island, 12 Tufted Duck on Ardnave Loch, and a female Hen Harrier out quartering her territory. This afternoon from the hide, James had 37 Redshank, a good count, 2 Whooper Swans and 1 Dunlin. Later on he saw 11 Lesser Black backed Gulls. The Lesser Black backed Gulls have just started to return last week. Another piece of information through from James is that he had news of Hen Harrier which he had rung back in 2007, the same bird had been found dead on the 10th of October 2008 on Mull. JRH

Saturday 7 March 2009

Sat 7th March

Michal finally admitted that it was just a rather dirty Greenland Whitefronted Goose that he had seen the other day, but I am not saying that he went to the trouble of washing it and presenting us with this image tonight. He had been out since before daybreak and had spent most of the morning waiting patiently for the right bird to come along. While he was out he also heard a few Snipe drumming.
As I write this entry, the wind outside has got up along with squally rain showers thrown in for good measure.

Friday 6 March 2009

Fri 6th March

It is odd to mention that the shooting season is now over, but the few pheasants that came down during the actual shooting season were all male birds, no hen pheasants and no Red legged Partridge, but with the closed season now here, hey presto and the hen pheasants and the Red legs are down around the house again, not that we are shooters though! Having said that it is nice to see them out and about again!

Thursday 5 March 2009

Thurs 5th March

After the image from Michal on last night's blog of a Skylark posing as a lbj, tonight has Michal found a new species of Geese? Are there any more out there, and could it all lead to a major twitch here on Islay. We will just have to wait and see.

The weather has not changed much today with dirty snow showers around before lunchtime and better in the afternoon. The only difference was it was us, here on the Rhinns that caught it yesterday, with the rest of Islay faring better, but today it was the reverse!

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Wed 4th March

What do they say about the weather in March, in like a Lion and out like a lamb? In some ways, so far this month, we have had everything, apart from thunder and lightning! Today was no exception with the dirty snow showers appearing just after 7 am, nobody seem to like them and looked miserable. Michal caught this lbj trying to rid itself of snow, George showed us an image of a Roe deer with snow on it's back, while down at Sunderland Farm we saw a Buzzard with a white dusting on it, looking rather puzzled by it all!

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Tues 3rd March

A really great image of the Great spotted Woodpecker taken this afternoon by Margaret. At lunchtime I was out, as it had dried up, and had a close sighting of a Treecreeper, it could not have been more than 6 feet away, no need for the bins for that one, but the camera was in the house! I had not expected to see much today as it had been a foul night with rain and wind, I had forgotten to say the other day that the Fulmars had been in, sorry!

Monday 2 March 2009

Mon 2nd March

There was no sign of any of the Herons when we were out today, but down at Bruichladdich, there were a few Turnstone down on the shoreline and further along the was a small group of Pale bellied Brent Geese. Round at Ballinaby, there were not so many Lapwings to be seen today, but there were 12 Ringed Plover on the edge of a large flooded part in one of the fields.

Sunday 1 March 2009

Mon 1st March

Like as I said last night, another month away, and the rainfall for the month came to only 1.5", compared with 3 times as much last year, but no doubt it will all even itself out by the end of the year!
We had another Barn Owl out when we were coming home the other night, as well as several frogs on the road again. Yesterday, we counted 7 Herons when were out, and today there were a couple of Mistle Thrushes in full song, is Spring round the corner? Certainly, the days are stretching out.