Monday 31 August 2009

Mon 31st Aug

Another month almost in, and just to keep you all up to speed on the rainfall, well I am sure that this has been the wettest August since we came to live on Islay almost 10 years ago. If memory serves me correctly the November in 1999, we had the best part of 10", so possibly this is the second wettest month, say no more.
George phoned to say that he had seen a Little Auk on Loch Indaal this evening. When I met up with George, the loch itself was flat calm, the only problem was that the dreaded midges were out! Undeterred, we managed to locate the bird again, well out in the loch and swimming along quite quickly allowing for it being a relatively small bird. There were also some Razorbills off the pier at Bruichladdich, half a dozen Scotor on the loch too and George had 2 Red throated diver earlier on today. Down on the shoreline, not far from the coal yard there was a Whimbrel, a couple of Knot, 6 Ringed Plover and 22 Turnstone. There was a Gannet out fishing further down on the loch too.
Back home this morning, there was a male Blackbird with a rather tasty bramble in his mouth.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Sun 30th Aug

Rather a miserable evening outside at present, the plane would have got in earlier on but certainly not now with cloud/dank mist and drizzle shrouding the crag, almost Autumn weather. On a more positive note, the combine was out at Rockside yesterday and made a start to the harvest before the rain in the evening!!!
James had some sightings from over on the reserve at Gruinart, mainly a lot of Dunlin on the estuary, just short of 2,000, well up on the previous count of over 1300+. There was a single Turnstone seen amongst the Knot that are still here, as were 53 Redshank. From his own house, he had seen 3 separate Hen Harriers out hunting, and had another male bird further over on the reserve later on. On the "game" crop he had 35 Twite, and this afternoon when over here at his sheep, he had another 33 on the wing.

Friday 28 August 2009

Fri 28th Aug

It is odd that often you drive along a road and not notice everything round about you, today coming home back up the road from Loch Indaal, it was really the first time that I realised how many berries were on both on the Rowans and also on Hawthorn, possibly it was because the bright red of the berries were standing out in the sunlight against a dark sky! The question then comes to mind, is this a sign of a cold winter to come?
Clark was up on his quad bike this morning and told me that he has had 7.5" of rain so far this month, and still a few days left..... Incidentally, the wind last night dropped as quick as it had started out.
There do not appear to be so many Swallows or House Martins around, so some more of them could have flown South, having said that the nest in garage still has the young there.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Thurs 27th Aug

With Rory now having left Islay, James drew the short straw and did the guided walk at the reserve at Gruinart this morning. The highlights included a count of 82 Knot over the loch and the Peregrine was seen again. James and Catherine led a "Barn Owl & Bat walk" to over 30 folk last night, a great time by all accounts, not sure what they saw!
The wind outside has fairly picked up since tea time. It was odd this morning in that while I was out at the poly tunnel, I noticed that the leaves on the trees have had a burning with the salt wind from the blow the other week.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Wed 26th Aug

Late morning, and right on time the rain stopped. Later on I glanced out of the kitchen window to see a rather fat Fulmar glide past and just make it over the brow of the hill beside the War Grave cemetery. Thinking back on this, and I am sure that it was probably one of the young Fulmars fledging from the crag. In previous years, we have had the odd one stranded in the garden and also out in the fields, as once they "crash land" they are unable to fly off, and the most successful remedy was to catch them up and take them directly down to the sea!
James had a Great Skua fly past at Gruinart this evening, and a couple of Hen Harriers over the reserve earlier on, while there was a Peregrine over the saltings at the head of Loch Gruinart.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Tues 25th Aug

The weather is holding out, although there were a few spots of rain at lunchtime, having said that I managed to catch up with cutting the grass! Coming home this evening after a meeting, there were plenty of moths on the wing, do not ask what species, as I cannot answer that one! There was no sign of any Barn Owls out hunting, but there was a leveret on the road in the car headlights, eventually it jumped into the verge out of my way!

Monday 24 August 2009

Mon 24th Aug

On the crag yesterday, there were 2 Peregrines calling to each other, but I was beaten in trying to locate them, they were certainly there for a while. Further proof was found in the afternoon up beside a rock beside the dam on the burn, with the remnants of a Rock Dove found on the ground. There were a few more Greenfinches on the feeders at the house today. Another positive to be taken from today, and possibly tomorrow is that some of the farmers are trying to get some more silage made before the rain returns on Wednesday!

Sunday 23 August 2009

Sun 23rd Aug

Well, what can I say this evening, apart from the fact that there have been many rather heavy showers of rain here today. On Friday we even had hailstones, along with a clap of thunder for good measure. Talking of measure, and we have had 5" of rain so far this month, with well over half of that in the last week alone!
Enough of the weather and back to Islay birds... George had been up at Gruinart this morning, and had Common Sandpiper, a few Wheatears still to be seen and numerous Bar tailed Godwits and also Black tailed Godwits out on the estuary.
James saw a Corncrake briefly in his garden this afternoon, before it disappeared into the undergrowth! He also had seen an Osprey while returning back from Tayvallich (Argyll mainland) to Craighouse on the rib yesterday.

Friday 21 August 2009

Fri 21st Aug

George had been over at Loch Gruinart this morning, and saw an Osprey which was eating its' prey. There had an Osprey seen here on Monday as well, so was this the same bird or another one?

Thursday 20 August 2009

Thurs 20th Aug

A visitor had reported into the Islay Natural History Trust yesterday, to say that there had been 3 Basking Sharks off Port Wemyss on Tuesday, and there had also been one spotted from the ferry on Sunday.
This afternoon George had seen a Sandwich Tern at Bruichladdich. Earlier this evening, around teatime, James had spotted an immature Golden Eagle being mobbed by a couple of Buzzards. All I can contribute was seeing a Barn Owl later this evening when returning home!

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Wed 19th Aug

There is an old Islay saying which simply states that the weather goes downhill after the Show and also that the days start to draw in. The weather certainly has gone all to pieces, with rain and more rain, you would almost think that we had had a dry spell! Still, while speaking with a former work mate from the Scottish Borders last night, by the sound of it, they are also getting rain too, not exactly harvest weather. With "The Glorious 12th" now past, he was saying that he had heard of one of the Grouse shoots having a bag of over 100 brace of Red Grouse last Saturday. We do not have 100 Red Grouse here on Islay let alone 100 Brace! As the weather has been so poor, obviously not much birding has been done, but there was a Black backed Gull tucking into the carcase of a Seal pup down at Blackrock on the tide line at lunchtime.

Monday 17 August 2009

Mon 17th Aug

This afternoon, James spotted a Hummingbird Hawk-moth on the flower bed outside his house.
Last week, on Tuesday afternoon while going down to help put up the tents for the show, I saw a single Barnacle Goose down on the shoreline at Blackrock, just as the burn enters the sea. Could this be the same solitary goose that has been seen off and on through the summer, it has also been seen over at at Uiskentuie, again where the freshwater goes into Loch Indaal. Certainly the times I have seen it, there appears not to have sign of any injury.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Sun 16th Aug

Show week is now all done and dusted, the show day went well, the weather was dry and no midges, much to everybody's relief. Friday turned to be very wet and windy, over an inch fell, through the week possibly as much as 2" in total. The piece of news from the show was that RSPB won the overall show champion with one of their heifer calves.
Back to the main thrust of the blog and James had been down on Loch Gruinart this morning and has got some wader figures, 14 Black tailed Godwits, 24 Bar tailed Godwits, 2 Knot, 1740 Dunlin, 170 Ringed Plover, 66 Sanderling, 4 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Peregrine Falcon. As James said, the count for Ringed Plover and also Curlew Sandpiper were good for Islay.
With the show now behind us all, we will try to get the blog back up to speed again, but we will be 2 contributors down as Rory has left Gruinart to take up a post with RSPB in Edinburgh while Michal is about to leave too and is going to Aride in The Seychelles to a post there for 3 months. What one does to avoid our weather! Thanks to Rory and especially Michal for his images during his stay over the last few years. As the saying goes, " Gone, but not forgotten"

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Wed 12th Aug

One of the pair of Spotted Flycatchers at Gruinart caught on camera by Michal earlier on today.

As today is "The glorious 12th", I doubt very much if any Grouse were shot here on Islay today, I think that most of those folk would be trying their luck with their fishing rods instead. By the way, the plane made it in this morning after a second attempt!

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Tues 11th Aug

The mist has come and gone several times today, the net result was that the plane did not come in either in the morning or this afternoon. One "good" thing was that we got our post earlier, as there was only the mail from the boat!
One of visitors had seen a Barn Owl last night while out with his family looking for shooting stars, and yes he managed to see 2 of them!
The blog may be light this week, as it is the local Agricultural Show here on Islay on Thursday, so it is all hands to the deck helping put up the tents today, other jobs tomorrow, the show itself on Thursday and before we know it the week is past!

Sunday 9 August 2009

Sun 9th Aug

While putting the sheep back out onto the crag this afternoon, after working on them, sorting any foot problems and other bits and bobs, there was a Rock Dove resting up on the ground. As we got closer to it, the bird took off. Unknown to us, a Peregrine was watching on too, possibly the reason why the Rock Dove was on the ground in the first instance! The long and the short was that the Peregrine attempted to catch it but did not succeed, it tried twice but with no joy.

Saturday 8 August 2009

Sat 8th Aug

After commenting on yesterday's entry about the Swallows gathering on the telegraph wires, well this morning, just before 8 o'clock, outside the house there were around 70 Swallows on the wing and within 10 minutes they had all flown off South. There was also a Swift in their midst!

Friday 7 August 2009

Fri 7th Aug

Apologies, if I have caused a major twitch with last night's entry, claiming to have seen Pied Flycatchers when in actual fact it was a pair Spotted Flycatchers. Perhaps it is that age thing after all...
James had seen some Swifts while down on the Oa reserve yesterday, as well as the Tree Sparrows, and close at hand too! Today was the first time that I had noticed the Swallows "massing" on the Telegraph wires.

Thursday 6 August 2009

Thurs 6th Aug

On his way home lat night Paul Hathaway had seen a Barn Owl out hunting, South of Port Charlotte just as the light was starting to fail.
On the guided walk this morning at Gruinart, there were a couple of Pied Flycatcher catching insects on the wing. I have not seen any of the Arctic Terns of late at the head of Loch Indaal, which makes me think that possibly they have started their long migration South again, it does not seem long since they arrived!

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Wed 5th Aug

The day started off well with being able to show some of our visitors in the cottages a Peregrine Falcon sitting on the crag. Later on and this afternoon while going down to Bruichladdich, there was a close sighting of a ringtail Hen Harrier, and then just round the corner, an equally close sighting of a Sparrowhawk, both on the wing, but no need for the binoculars!
One of the other visitors in the cottages had seen an Adder sunning itself on the centre of the road when they were over on Jura today!

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Tues 4th Aug

I was speaking with Malcolm this evening who told me he had another couple of Whimbrel on Loch Indaal at the weekend. This evening, there was a single Sanderling down on the shore just at Bruichladdich. George was also telling me that one of the competitors, in the Half marathon which started from Bowmore on Saturday, had heard a calling Corncrake while running on the race!
Clive MacKay who used to work for RSPB at Loch Gruinart reserve, is back over on holiday for a few days. Clive had a count of 920 Greylags, 1200 Dunlin, 83 Black tailed Godwit and 9 Red Knot, on Gruinart this morning.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Sun 2nd Aug

Yesterday, was changeover day again with the cottages and hence no time to do any birding, I have to work sometimes!
The rainfall for July here was 3.75", and the total for the year so far is 2.5" more than last year. I get the impression that although the rainfall has certainly been greater, I do not have the feeling that it has not been that bad a summer, and have great tan to prove it. Possibly a lot of the rain has fallen through the night.
There are a lot of young birds on the wing, especially noticeable on the road round the loch tonight were Meadow Pipits and also Pied Wagtails. Over at Ballinaby the count of Greylags was 151, and most of them were on a grass field that was recently sown, a worrying sign for the farmer.