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.

Monday 7 September 2009

Mon 7th Sept

This morning the Peregrine was sitting out on top of the crag again, waiting and looking for the Rock doves to fly past, will they never learn? Down to Bowmore at lunchtime or thereabouts, and at the top of Loch Indaal on the merse at the back of the market, there was a large group of Greylags resting up, how many I could not say for sure. Further on, with the tide being out, there were quite a few Godwits to be seen, while on the water itself there were some Eider duck to be seen coming out of their eclipse plumage. Back over the crag this evening, and there were several Chough out tumbling about as they do in their flight. Later on some of them were flying round about the ruin of the former church, being vocal with it too!

Sunday 6 September 2009

Sun 6th Sept

Times flies, as that is 20% of the month away already. This morning the weather was not too bad, but as the day progressed it has turned out to become rather damp and miserable, not pouring, just a rather fine drizzle, enough to get everything wet through, the combines would not even have started today at all!
On a more positive note, but not here on Islay, I was glad to hear and read on their web page that the first of the new modules have arrived on Fair Isle, where they have already demolished the old Bird Observatory, but hope to have the new obs up and running for next year. I must be one of the few can claim to have been visited the original obs, the second observatory too, and all going well, will go and visit again once the third obs is opened. I am not that old, before somebody comments to the contrary!

Friday 4 September 2009

Fri 4th Sept

For once, at least we can crow about having some better weather, with the farmers here playing catch up with their combines out in the barley fields, and others taking the chance to make a late cut of silage. Not like the folk in the North East of Scotland who have had up to a months' rain in 24 hours, with flooding and damage on top it all.
George had around 50 Razorbills offshore in Loch Indaal this morning, as large a number as he can recollect, there were also a few Gannets fishing there too.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Thurs 3rd Sept

An image through today from James of the juv. Spotted Redshank which he had seen the other day over on the estuary at Gruinart.
This morning, James had a Little Grebe on Ardnave Loch, last night/ late evening he had a Barn Owl out hunting over the flats, and in the afternoon, while he was working on the sluices, he was surprised at the large numbers of eels to be seen, many up to 60cm in size. Little wonder there are often Herons seen down there regularly!
Coming back from Gruinart this afternoon, and we had a really close sighting of a male Hen Harrier close to Donald "Lairds" house, and then further on, nearer to Loch Gorm was a Ringtail Hen Harrier. This morning, there was a Peregrine perched on the crag, perhaps waiting around for another Rock Dove!

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Wed 2nd Sept

Thinking back to my reference about the berries on the Hawthorn and Rowan, well Margaret came out with an old Border expression, " Many Haws, many snaws". Snaw being the Hawick slang for snow!
Malcolm commented on seeing a few Arctic Terns moving South down Loch Indaal over the last few days, with up to 10 this morning. The Greylag geese have taken a liking to the barley field down beside the Coastguard Houses down at the road end. The field is partially cut, with most of the geese on the stubble grubbing around for any grain on the ground while the rest of the geese were actually in the crop that still has to be harvested. There were around 250 geese in total. A Grey wagtail was out on the lawn in front of the cottages just after midday today.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Tues 1st Sept

Just to keep you all in the loop, the rainfall in August certainly proved to be the wettest month over at the Airport since they started recording in 2001, with almost 9", a bit more than here! Thanks for the info Malcolm.
James had been able to escape the office work yesterday, and had seen a Corncrake at his road end, a Peregrine eating a Rock dove and also 125 Linnets on the "game crop" at Grainel. There were plenty of Common Hawker Dragonflies on the wing too. In the evening, he had a Barn Owl out hunting, and later on James heard his first stags of the year roaring. Today, James managed a quick scan round Loch Gruinart and his highlights included 120 Curlew, 122 Bar tailed Godwits, 55 Redshank, 179 Oystercatcher, 6 Greenshank, 326 Sanderling, 74 Knot, 965 Dunlin, 64 Ringed Plover, a single juvenile Spotted Redshank, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and a pair of adult Peregrine together. The count for the Sanderling was a good count.