Sunday 31 May 2009

Sun 31st May

James was on the phone earlier with some sightings over the last few days. On Friday, he had 28 Arctic Terns on Loch Gruinart itself, and last night once the wind had calmed down, (around 11pm I am told), James went out round the reserve to count any calling Corncrakes. He managed to hear 8 in all and a further 4 birds next door on Craigens. He also heard a Water rail in front of the hide, and down in the wood at Erasaid there was a Tawny Owl calling. While he was out he also saw 2 Barn Owls hunting for prey.
The good weather continued on today, and James saw some Painted Ladies and also some Highland Darters out on the wing. JRH

Saturday 30 May 2009

Sat 30th May

Another nice sunny day over here, although there has been quite a wind blowing for most of the time, at least it seemed to be a bit warmer.
A Grey wagtail had been seen on one of the burns on the Rhinns the other day. Back here at home, the elusive Corncrakes are still calling well, but proving hard to see. It does not help that the cover of Nettles and flag iris has grown quite a bit recently. Some of the flag iris has just started to flower too. Instead of catching a glimpse of a Corncrake, we just had to make do with a flypast by 10 young Chough.

Friday 29 May 2009

Fri 29th May

After a misty start to the day, the weather has picked up, the mist burnt off, and it turned out quite warm, although it was quite windy. Some folk on the guided walk at Gruinart were actually seen putting on sun cream!
Changing the clock back to this morning, I had the good fortune of seeing a Gannet diving at close quarters in the bay down at Port Charlotte.
One of our visitors who is interested in trapping moths, managed to catch a Puss Moth in his trap last night, so was well pleased with that. His total for the fortnight has not been as good as in previous years, but the weather has not been so kind.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Thurs 28th May

Watching BBC Springwatch tonight, I noticed that they want Cuckoo sightings to be sent in, so will try to remember and get this one logged in!
I was speaking with Michal earlier on today, and the tally for the Corncrake survey carried out last week, and the figures are similar to the count of the first survey last year. I think that we may be due another count possibly later next week, weather permitting.
I went out for a quick run to Bridgend this evening, down on a recently sown field at Rockside there were 32 Ringed Plover. Along the road, at Sunderland and there were 70 Greylags on a barley field! Down at Carnain itself, I managed to spot the proud Mute Swans out with their 5 young cygnets as they moved between pools.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Wed 27th May

As I write, the cuckoo is calling outside!
James has just been on the phone with some sightings over the last couple of days. Yesterday, in front of the hide there were 2 Otters, one of the Mute swans was out with 6 cygnets, 37 Dunlin, 2 Gadwall and a single Whooper swan. Down at Carnain, on the pools, the Mute swan was out with her young. It will be interesting to keep an eye on them to see how many they eventualy rear, as last year, if memory serves me right they finished up with only one. Today, James counted 83 Ringed Plover and 245 Dunlin on Loch gruinart itself. JRH

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Tues 26th May

Margaret was fortunate to get this image of a Cuckoo this afternoon when she was out in the garden. There had been 2 males calling, with only one female responding. Earlier on in the month, here at home there had not been much activity of any Cuckoos compared with other areas of Islay, but it appears that catch up time is here!

Rory, while on the RSPB guided walk on the Oa this morning had seen 2 separate Golden Eagles, and also a close sighting of a Gannet as it flew over the heads of the group!

Monday 25 May 2009

Mon 25th May

Want the good news, or the bad news first. Well, I think we really should start with the good news, this morning down at Carnain on the water, was a Shelduck with her brood. The bad news was that seconds before, I had just seen a Gull carrying off one of the ducklings, with the other Shelduck trying to mob the Gull, but to no avail.
Back at home and the Cuckoo has been calling for most of the day in and around the wood, with the female returning her call from time to time.
I had a chance meeting with Trevor Guy the other week who was over here on holiday. Trevor writes and has some cracking images, well worth a look at.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Sun 24th May

Another busy day work wise, but not much bird wise. Yesterday I was never away out at all, with being at work with the cottages, and today has not fared much better. Yesterday it was wet, but today it has been dry, although not as warm as Friday was, so I have the jersey back on!
There was a Cuckoo getting chased away out of the wood by 3 small birds, and I spotted the same happening down towards the lochans near to Loch Gorm. Last night, one of the Corncrakes just had to keep on calling, it was calling when I went up to bed just around 11.30, and still at it 3am, what it did in between times I am not sure, but I did get to sleep!
A friend staying down at Carnain this week saw some Sanderling down on the shoreline, and has just seen a male Hen Harrier upsetting some Terns!

Friday 22 May 2009

Fri 22nd May

The Corncrake count was carried out last night as planned but when I speak with Michal, I will be able to update you on the numbers. Certainly the tally, on the patch we covered was up on last year, and a Spotted Crake was heard calling down towards Machir Bay. James did the reserve at Gruinart and also had 3 Barn Owls and 2 Water rails.
While doing his survey work this morning, James had 3 Grasshopper Warblers, 8 Whitethroats, 7 Whinchats and a Common Lizard out sunning itself, it's okay for some, loafing about in the sun that is!
A visitor was telling me earlier on this evening, that he had an Artic Skua up at Sanaigmore this afternoon, and yesterday they had been watching a male Hen Harrier attempting to catch a hare, obviously with no luck as they more often prey on Meadow Pipits.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Thurs 21st May

Well, Michal has been on the phone, requesting help for the Corncrake survey tonight, hence the reason for an early entry on the blog, as once I have finished this, I hope to put my feet up for a wee while before going out! A friend phoned me earlier this evening to say that he had one close to his house which will be a new bird for Michal.
Last night Michal had heard a Spotted Crake just up from Bridgend, and Jack Fleming from RSPB had seen an Osprey yesterday at the head of Loch Gruinart, is this the same bird that we saw often last year?

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Wed 20th May

Whilst out showing our friend from Oz round Islay today, I was fortunate to capture this Arctic Tern down at Claggain Bay. Also on the shore were several Oystercatcher and a few Ringed Plover. Out on the bay were 2 male Eider Ducks, a Cormorant and 2 Mergansers.
Over at Gruinart this evening Rory had a Corncrake walk, we heard 2 separate birds calling, and it was not until we were returning to the Visitor Centre that we were fortunate enough to actually see one.
On the flats yesterday, James had 3 Greenland Whitefronted Geese and 2 Whimbrel. Today he reported that there were 9 Corncrakes calling in total on the reserve, and that he had a Water rail and later on a Barn Owl. Michal told me that there have been over 30 birds heard on Islay so far, and hopes to commence an Islay census within the next few nights. So not much sleep for some, as it is done after midnight through to 3 am on a calm night! JRH & MS

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Tues 19th May

It's not often that Armin beats me to putting his entry on his blog, but he has done so tonight!
It was great to see today that the Lapwings across the field had hatched her clutch of eggs, the question now arises as to how many will be successfully reared and not predated. The Cuckoo could be heard further out this afternoon while Corncrakes were closer to hand, and the male Siskin was on the feeders. The Mute Swan down at Carnain appears not to have hatched any cygnets so far this year.

Monday 18 May 2009

Mon 18th May

Over the weekend we have been noticing more activity with the Shelducks out on the crag. We initially thought that all we had, as in previous years, was just the "Springwatch" pair, but there have another pair flying around and inspecting various different possible nest sites, so could this be another pair thinking that this could be a good place to set up home?
Remember back to last Monday when I wrote about the Ravens, well I think that the young have now fledged as there certainly has been quite a bit of activity over in the gully.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Sun 17th May

This morning on the flats over on RSPB Gruinart reserve, James had a Wood Sandpiper, the first for this year. Looking back and one was seen last year on the 15th of May!
James was telling me this afternoon, that through the week that he had found a tree on the reserve that had recent activity by a Woodpecker. Could this have been done by the same bird that we have had through the winter, or could there possibly have been another bird here at the same time?

Saturday 16 May 2009

Sat 16th May

It's Saturday again, changeover day with the cottages, so I have to work with not much time for bird watching. The RAFOS group have left to go home now, and I believe that they had seen over 120 species for the week when they were here, but that is from Kennacraig and back to Kennacraig, not solely here on Islay! One late addition for them was a Spotted Flycatcher in the woods over beside The Woolen Mill. With the RAFOS group away, we have some other birders in now for a week, so all going well I can speak to them for some updates!
This evening, the wind has picked up and it is still dry outside, infact down at the Coastguard Houses, there is a ploughed field that was sown with grass seed today, and tonight it is like a dust bowl, even although it was rolled in behind the seed drill.

Friday 15 May 2009

Fri 15th May

Forgot to say that the image of the Corncrake yesterday looked as if it was a bit squint, well actually the poor bird was leaning into the wind! The weather has turned colder here today, and as I write it is raining outside, the first rain of the week, not like last week!
Not much of a day for birding really, but James had 2 Garganey on the floods at Gruinart today, and speaking to some of the RAFOS group, and they had a Dipper on the Sorn. Earlier on in the week, some of the group had been out in the hills one morning with Donald James MacPhee and were fortunate to see a Ring Ouzel, a good sighting for Islay.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Thurs 14th May

Not another Corncrake, no it's just possibly the same one that posed the other day, but this time at 8.15 in the morning! He was calling away looking for a mate. Last night when he was quiet, I put it down to being rather windy, but this morning it was as windy, so that knocked the idea on the head that they are normally quiet when it's windy!
Catherine gave me some figures from a count that she had done on Loch Gruinart on Tuesday, all done on the west shore, 234 Dunlin, 49 Ringed Plover, 57 Whimbrel, 8 Arctic Terns and 3 Turnstone. Catherine also said there more Terns further out but positive id of them proved difficult. Over on Nave Island, there were 7 Brent Geese and also 2 Barnies seen. Along the road between Gruinart and Ardnave, she had seen the following raptors, Kestrel, both male and female Hen Harriers as well as Buzzards. CF

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Wed 13th May

Michal sent me through this image of a pair of Treecreepers which he took at the weekend. Also through the weekend, he had been over at Bunnahabhain where he had seen a Yellowhammer, and also a male Bullfinch as well as some Redpolls in the forestry.
Round at Ballinaby tonight, there were 24 Dunlin and 8 Ringed Plover in a ploughed field that is waiting to be sown yet. There had been 18 Ringed Plovers in another field over there last night.
Some of the RAFOS group today had been watching Otters over at Claggain Bay, while other members had seen a few Red Grouse near to Beinn Bheigier.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Tues 12th May

A new kid on the block tonight, a new photographer that is... This image of a Whimbrel with it's beak open was sent through by James How! Was it feeling the heat one asks?

James also sent some sightings through at the same time. He had 70 Lapwing on the reserve yesterday, along with 10 Black tailed Godwits and also 5 Moorhens. Today, he had 11 Whimbrel, 1 Peregrine and 119 Bar tailed Godwits.

The RAFOS folk had been commenting on the Cornrake calling at night, but the other morning, some of them had an early morning call at 5 am with the Cuckoo in the wood, not much sleep for some that night!

Monday 11 May 2009

Mon 11th May

As we were coming home this evening, I managed to spot this Corncrake by pure chance and was able to take this image of it. Whether it is a coincidence or not, but there appears to be a few more birds having arrived over the last few days. As Michal is in charge of the Corncrake Count this year again, I will try to get an up to date figure from him tomorrow if I can catch up with him.
Some Grey Wagtails were seen by the RAFOS guys today, and just before tea time we all saw a Buzzard being chased off by a pair of Ravens. Possibly the Ravens were clearing the air space close to their nest, in readiness for their young which will be fledging any day now. The poor Buzzard thought it was out of harms way, when a Kestrel started to mob it. Life can be tough sometimes!

Sunday 10 May 2009

Sun 10th May

What a difference a day makes, after writing the entry last night, I headed over to the cottages to meet this weeks guests, members of the RAF Ornithological Society (RAFOS), but before actually seeing any of them I heard a Corncrake calling, and so did they as they got out of their cars! Better still tonight, rather than listening to it calling, we were all fortunate to watch it for about quarter of an hour, unfortunately the sun was behind it, so we were unfortunate not to get any decent images. So for the majority of the RAFOS group present, it turned out to be a new tick on their list, perhaps they had heard one before, but now they have all seen one in the flesh! The weather too has been a lot better, with more Swallows and House Martins here at home today, and there have been Whitethroats seen down at Loch Gorm and also over at Gruinart, James had 3 at the reserve today while Michal seen several over at Bunnahabhain. James had heard 2 separate Cuckoos, and also 6 Grasshopper warblers, while some of the RAFOS group had heard some singing down beside Loch Gorm. James also had seen a male Red Grouse and a Peregrine. Another of the RAFOS group had a pair of Dunlin up at Ardnave on the Loch, where there was also a couple of Whooper Swans. The RAFOS folk also reported several groups of Whimbrel being seen at different locations.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Sat 9th May

As the "constant" rain has stopped, Michal ventured out this afternoon and got this image for us of a young Robin demanding to be fed! Perhaps, we should think back to May last year when we were in the middle of a dry spell that lasted for 7 weeks with some of the distilleries actually stopping production due to a shortage of water!
Back to birds though, and we saw an Arctic Skua down between Bruichladdich and Gortan as we returned from getting the papers at lunch time. Back at home later on this afternoon, the Cuckoo was calling again in the wood, after being absent for a few days. With this cold, wet snap around, the Swallows and House Martins do not appear to be here in such numbers as last year. I had been hearing that the Corncrakes have not been heard as much this year either, early days yet. It is not only here on Islay, but on Colonsay and also on Coll and Tirree too.

Friday 8 May 2009

Fri 8th May

Malcolm had seen a flock of around 100 Brent Geese flying south past Bruichladdich on Loch Indaal this morning. Still speaking of geese and one change that has taken place over the last week, is that we are not seeing pairs of Greylags around, but seeing single geese by themselves, so from that one can probably take it that the other bird is probably sitting on eggs on the nest.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Thurs 7th May

I was speaking to James this morning about the Canada Geese that Margaret and myself had seen last night, and he reckons that they could be some of the geese that may have come down from Colonsay. Thinking back, a few years ago we went over to Colonsay one Wednesday and saw a pair of Canada Geese with goslings at foot when we were over at "Pigs Paradise", the large seabird colony on the north west coast, just down from Kiloran Bay.
The Collared dove is still in residence, here at home, and no sign of the woodpecker, so I guess it has gone!

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Wed 6th May

As it was fair this evening, we decided to go out for a run round Loch Gorm. Over on a ploughed field at Ballinaby, we saw these 4 Canada Geese in with some Greylags, further on at the edge of some of the pools of water were some Dunlin, a single Common sandpiper as well as a few Curlew. On the grass fields, there were several Wheatear to be seen, with quite a few Skylark singing away overhead. When we got as further round, the road was flooded, so we had to retrace our way back. On looking back through the Geese, which had moved along with another group, we saw that there was a single Pink footed Goose and also a single Greenland Whitefront mixed through. A male Hen Harrier was seen over the back towards Loch Gorm.
James had been out before the rain came on this morning, and had done the annual count of Rook nests on the reserve at Gruinart, tallying up to 139 in all, an increase of 2 on the year, They appear to be fairly static, although at one point were down to as low as 80 nests. James also noticed that a couple of young Ravens had fledged the nest, early for them he said. He also had seen a Merlin and a Peregrine out on the wing. JRH

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Tues 5th May

Another wet day, with an inch falling in total, the burns are running full, the fields are all awash with the water. No doubt, there may be quite a lot of loss of young birds that could have hatched such as ground nesting birds like Lapwings. Obviously some of the actual nests themselves could be flooded out.
As we came home this evening, there were 3 separate groups of Red Deer down off the hill ground into the in bye fields, one group had 11 deer, another 7 and the final group had 6. Needless to say, they all looked rather wet and bedraggled!

Monday 4 May 2009

Mon 4th May

After a rather miserable day out here with rain in one form or another all day, not many birds around, so I am having to go back to last week!
Last Thursday, at lunchtime, down at Uiskentuie, these Whimbrel were seen, there were 29 in total, so possibly the same birds that Gordon Yates had seen last week round in a field near to Bruichladdich.
Going back to the rain and we have had over 1" already this month!

Sunday 3 May 2009

Sun 3rd May

With April now past, the rainfall for the month was just short of 5" in total, a lot wetter than April last year, infact some of the fields may still not be sown yet.
Back to birds, and James had a Little Grebe down in front of the hide this morning, and he also saw 5 Greenland Whitefronts there too. Earlier on in the week, James had seen a pair of Short eared Owls, as well as a Whinchat.
One of our visiting birders, Gordon Yates has gone home, so thanks to Gordon and Pauline for their input. Another visitor from the Lothians had seen 99 species whilst over for the week, perhaps he got lucky on the ferry to round it up to 100!
Down at the Coastguard Houses, the other day we were fortunate to see a Greenland Wheatear in full plumage, and I have been receiving reports of several more Corncrakes being heard.

Saturday 2 May 2009

Sat 2nd May

As we have been busy today changing the cottages over, there has been precious little bird watching, but this afternoon there were a couple of Collared Doves out in the front garden, not common here at home, although we often see them down at Bruichladdich. No sign this evening of the Golden Plover that were around earlier on this week, but there were 30 Rock Doves down at Rock Mountain.

Friday 1 May 2009

Fri 1st May

This image of a Roe Deer hind and her calf was taken yesterday. A friend later told me that he had never seen a calf as early as this in the year, to the best of his knowledge.
Later on I saw 5 Red Deer hinds on Foreland and they looked massive in comparison!