Saturday 31 October 2009

Sat 31st Oct

Had an e mail through from Paul Kenyon who was over on Islay last week. Paul was fortunate to see both the Cattle Egret and the Little Egret. On Loch Indaal, he also had 4 Long tailed Ducks, 3 Velvet Scoter as well as 5 Slavonian Grebe. Thanks for that info Paul.
I think that the Little Egret has moved on as I have not heard about it since last Monday, and possibly that the Cattle Egret has moved through as well, as it has not been seen since Wednesday, as far as I know.

Friday 30 October 2009

Fri 30th Oct

This a "Darvic" ring which is put on the right leg of the Barnacle geese when they are rung. It is basically a 3 letter sequence of letters which can be read fairly easily, the rings are about 3.5 cm long and the lettering about 1.5 cm tall. Over the years Steve has built up quite a lot of knowledge from the various sightings. He actually saw 2 of the geese that were rung yesterday, again today. Will ask Steve for an update on the above bird, so will keep you posted once the info comes through.
What with the rain and wind today, the birds have been keeping a low profile!

Thursday 29 October 2009

Thurs 29th Oct

An image taken a few years ago of the "Goose team" in full swing. This morning we were able to carry out the job for this year. We managed to catch 40 birds in all, of which 3 were retraps from previous years. Steve has been carrying out this work for25 years now and reckons that he has rung over 4,000 birds in all. There are still some of the birds that he rung 20 years ago still around. This year's geese also have a red ring on their left leg along with the BTO ring, so allowing the year of ringing to be seen quicker!
Also today, I got the first tally of the present Goose counts carried out by SNH here on Islay. The figures were 39,783 Barnies and 1,740 Whitefronts, the Barnies are only slightly down on last years' figures in October, but the Whitefronts numbers are well down. Could this possibly be due to milder weather, and a possible reason for them not coming here yet? Thanks to Tracey and the team for the figures.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Wed 28th Oct

James was on the phone with some interesting bits and bobs.
A pair of Whooper Swans and their cygnets had been seen at Gruinart on the 20th October, and departed on the 21st, last Wednesday, and were seen at Martin Mere on Friday 23rd October. The adult birds had leg rings on.
Still on a similar ringing theme, 2 young Chough that were raised this year and rung on the reserve at Gruinart have been seen over on Oronsay. James said that there have been only a few recorded Choughs that have moved to Oronsay from Islay.
Yesterday, James had counted 280 Greenland Whitefronts on the reserve, also present were 11 Redwing and 13 Fieldfare. I saw 6 Redwing over at Coull this morning. A Green winged Teal was seen on the floods at Gruinart today, and the Cattle Egret is still here!

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Tues 27th Oct

The other week, the topic was the arrival of the Geese, last week Whooper swans, and of late the Cattle Egret, and yes, it is still here, in the same field along with the sheep! I wonder how long it will remain here, time will tell.
The other day, we had a couple of small groups of Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal, the group that has overwintered in previous years has not shown up yet. They used to be anywhere between Bowmore round to Blackrock and on round to Bruichladdich.
There have been a few Fieldfares seen again, we had 25 over towards Ballygrant earlier this week, and this morning there were a few down at Rock Mountain. Further down the road was a close sighting of a Sparrowhawk.
The first of the Goose counts took place today, with other counts being carried out tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see what numbers are in at present.

Monday 26 October 2009

Mon 26th Oct

Another image of the Cattle Egret, taken by Mike Anderson who originally saw the bird on Friday. It was still present this morning in the same locality, although the Little Egret was seen flying around Port Ellen Harbour, just as the ferry was docking around 9.30 this morning! I was told yesterday that this was actually the 7th sighting of a Cattle Egret in Scotland, not the 5th, apologies! Still a 1st for Islay and Argyll...
One of our visiting birders who is over for the week and who saw the Cattle Egret on Saturday, told me this afternoon that he had a Brambling over at Coullabus.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Sun 25th Oct

Well, as promised we went out this morning, on the search for the Cattle Egret. There had been a report of another Egret seen last night, so were there 2 out there?

We caught up with Tony, one of the vols from RSPB who was on the lookout too along with his 2 colleagues, only to be told that we had all just missed them, but there were certainly 2 birds! Patience is a great virtue, and not many minutes later and Tony had located the Cattle Egret in beside some sheep! Not long after that, and a second Egret landed in the same field, and this one turned out to be a Little Egret. The Little Egret was quite aggressive to the Cattle Egret!

Saturday 24 October 2009

Sat 24th Oct

This is a first for Islay, and only the fifth record for Scotland of a Cattle Egret, if accepted.
I was out yesterday afternoon, but I was left a note about the bird by Michael Anderson from Edinburgh, who was over on holiday. Chris and Tony Johnson who had been over for the last 2 weeks, and who had contributed their sightings to the blog, had also seen the Egret on their way to the ferry this afternoon. The bird was also seen by some new birders arriving here today for a weeks birding. This image was taken by James How, later this afternoon when we were able to catch up together with George Jackson. Hopefully the weather tomorrow might be a bit kinder to allow us to get some more images to share with you.
Many thanks to Michael initially for letting us know that the Cattle Egret was here in the first instance.

Friday 23 October 2009

Fri 23rd Oct

Must have Whoopers on the brain, there had been a flock of around 50 birds on Loch Gruinart, first thing this morning. James had been over towards Ardbeg and Ardtalla this afternoon, and had seen an Otter, and similarly commented on not seeing as many Fieldfares as earlier on in the week. George had seen over 200 Scaup on Loch Indaal as well as a Great northern Diver. Our friends had seen a Greenshank on the reserve at Gruinart today. Another visiting birder was well pleased yesterday, having seen 6 different species of Geese in the one field, Barnies, Whitefronted Geese, Greylags, 3 Pink footed Geese, the lesser Canada Goose as well as a single Brent Goose, all over at Rockside!

Thursday 22 October 2009

Thurs 22nd Oct

More Whoopers coming through again today, 34 adults on Ardnave while down on one of the lochans at Loch Gorm, there was a group of 25, comprising of 16 adult and 9 youngsters, and on the other lochan were 2 adults and 4 young.
Back to Ardnave, and our friends had 1 Dabchick, 2 Pochard, 12 Tufted Duck with a ringtail Hen Harrier over the back of the loch. At Traigh Nostaig, there were 90 Twite, with a Great Northern Diver offshore. Back onshore were 4 Bar tailed Godwits along with Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Turnstone. Later on and they had 36 Golden Plover down at the coal yard. I forgot to say that they had seen a Treecreeper in Ballygrant Woods and also down at Kildalton, also at both places, Long tailed Tits had been observed.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Wed 20th Oct

More Whoopers have been in today, there was a brief stopover of 11 this morning on one of the stubble fields at Rockside, and also another 9 including 5 cygnets in the afternoon in the same field. Over at Gruinart there were 59 in one group on a flood out to the right of the Visitor Centre, over towards the raised beach. The birds left around 5.30pm only to be replaced by another 20 who had just come in!
Our visitors had seen a female Goldeneye on Loch Gorm, and 3 great sightings of a male Hen Harrier out hunting through the day at different places. They also commented and asked about the Redwings and Fieldfares that had been seen a few days ago, as there do not appear to be as many around now, so have these initial birds passed through?

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Tues 20th Oct

A few reports of some Whoopers seen today, Malcolm had 7 in Loch Indaal this morning, flying low down close to the surface of the water, one of our visitors had 3 on Loch Skerrols and a further 8 over at Gruinart while James this afternoon had a group of 23 fly past his road end.
Our visitors had been out and about today, a male Kestrel was seen hunting over towards Carnduncan, further on at Coullabus, a Merlin flew low and fast over the road . On at Loch Skerrols there was a pair of Mute Swan plus a juvenile along with 4 others, also on the water were 15 Teal and 2 Dabchick. A male Bullfinch was in the woods as were 3 Goldfinch, 2 Yellowhammer and a flock of around 100 Chaffinch. Up at the Woolen Mill was a Dipper and a Grey wagtail. On the way home, round at Saligo/ Ballinaby, there were 166 Golden Plover and 22 Lapwing. 2 Snipe took off the verge side there too. They also reported having seen a few ringtail Hen harriers on their travels today.
James had 6 Bullfinch over at the Lily Loch on Dunlossit today.
George had 40 Whitefronts as well as 40 Barnies in the fields at the back of his house, with some Teal and Mallard on his pools. Some of the Barnies have got down to Port Ellen now, with 50 out at Ardtalla.

Monday 19 October 2009

Mon 19th Oct

This in an image of a Brindled Ochre Moth, sent in by Danny Arnold who was staying in the cottages last week. Danny was one of our "visiting birders" who gave me some of his sightings while he was here. He caught a total of 12 different species of Moths in his Moth trap during his stay. Thanks for that Danny.
Last night just at the darkening, there were 8 Red Deer at Sunderland in a grass field alongside the road. Later on, while coming home there was a Barn Owl perched on a fence post further along the road. Today, there were 18 Goldfinch down near to the old lime kiln below Foreland House.
This afternoon, James was up at Ardnave and had a total of 110 Greenland Whitefronts arriving in 3 separate groups in off the sea. He also had 3 groups of Whoopers too, 11 on Ardnave Loch, 20 on the reserve at Gruinart and a further 9 flying over his house. Also on Ardnave Loch were 3 Pochard and a Goldeneye, while on one of the beaches there were 9 Chough and 35 Twite.
Catherine just phoned in with a Barn Owl at Woodside at Gruinart this evening, while this afternoon she had a Golden Eagle between the Kilchoman School and Loch Gorm.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Sun 18th Oct

I thought that I was doing okay with my sightings from the hide on Friday evening, but I think that James capped it all yesterday, with the following raptors seen through the day, all in the same field below his house. He had a Merlin, a Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, 2 Buzzards and a male Hen Harrier, not bad going!
Also yesterday afternoon, some you may have noticed on the comments that Carl Reavey had 6 Snow Buntings up at Saligo. Thanks Carl.

Saturday 17 October 2009

Sat 17th Oct

Another great day weather wise. Thinking back to yesterday, and late afternoon we went down to the hide at the reserve at Gruinart. We must have spent almost a couple of hours, the light was fantastic, and how can you describe the birds? It was all there for us to see, Barnies, Greylags, Whitefronts, with Godwits and Snipe directly out in front of the hide, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Mute Swans and Lapwing were present too. Thrown in for good measure was a Peregrine and also a ringtail Hen Harrier, which needless to say woke the ducks up for a few moments. The Geese were all up in the air several times, and what a sight and sound that was! It certainly was a great experience.
There have been a few Whoopers passing through the last few days, James had 6 fly past him yesterday, there were a few at Rockside this morning and Malcolm heard some flying over Bruichladdich this morning while it was still dark.
Talking of birds on the move, some more small groups of Redwings have been seen, and today DJ's wife Isobel had 40 Fieldfare in tucking in to the berries. There had been quite a lot in the Ballygrant woods this afternoon eating away good style.
One set of visitors yesterday were fortunate to see 2 Golden Eagles and then later on 3 Otters, and today other visitors told me of a close sighting of less than 20 feet away of an Eagle, and of another 2 Otters, infact one of the Otters was actually swimming with their dog! All these sightings had been at different places round Islay, not at the same place

Friday 16 October 2009

Fri 16th Oct

One of our visitors in the cottages gave me the following birds that they had seen yesterday. Near to Ballinaby they had a female Merlin. On Traigh Nostaig at Ardnave they counted 56 Teal, 28 Chough, 58 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 40 Oystercatcher, 1 Heron, 14 Ringed Plover and a single Dunlin. A single Great Northern Diver was seen off Nave Island, while near to Ardnave Point there was a flock of over 40 Twite. Back at the car park at Ardnave, and there were a further 12 Chough. On Ardnave Loch itself, there were 12 Tufted Duck, 7 Whooper Swan, and also 3 adult and 2 juvenile Mute Swan.
By the way the weather has been tremendous out here today, a white Egret sp was reported to have been seen flying down the Sound of Islay this afternoon.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Thurs 15th Oct

Catherine carried out a count on Loch Gruinart earlier this week, and counted the following birds, 330 Curlew, 283 Oystercatcher, 372 Dunlin, 77 Ringed Plover, 56 Herring Gull, 19 Shag, 30 Merganser, 14 Heron, 41 Wigeon, 50 Common Gull, 5 Greenshank, 228 Bar tailed Godwits, 56 Mallard, 14 Knot, 49 Redshank, 1 Raven, 55 Turnstone, 56 Sanderling, 9 Black tailed Godwit, 5 Eider, 45 Lapwing, 42 Golden Plover and 1 Black headed Gull. Thanks Catherine for that info.
Coming back from the guided walk at Loch Gruinart this afternoon, we saw 29 Golden Plover resting up below the coal yard down on Loch Indaal. Nearer to home, at Sunderland there was a Merlin on a telegraph pole, possibly the same bird that has been seen down that way of late. This morning, there were certainly a lot of Geese down on Rockside, mainly Barnies, a lot of Greylags with a few Whitefronts there too.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Wed 14th Oct

Another day in, and James had been busy counting the geese again on the reserve at Gruinart along with one or two other birds thrown in. His totals are as follows, 25,240 Barnacle Geese, 16 Whitefronts, 2 Canada Geese hutchinsii, 1 Pink footed Goose, 2 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 24 Greylags, 1 Peregrine Falcon and a single Ruff.
George had a flock of 30 Golden Plover on his way round Loch Gorm, while at home he had 20 Snipe on his pools.
Visiting birders reported to saw that they had seen a Swallow over at Ardbeg on Monday, and 80 Whitefronts at Rockside yesterday afternoon. Other birders had spotted a female Chaffinch over at the cottages this morning, with a metal ring on one of it's legs, so where has that one come from? They had also seen 17 feral goats along at the Radar masts at Kilchiaran. I forgot to mention of seeing a white duck down at the head of Loch Indaal yesterday, close to where there was one seen last winter. It was seen along with some Mallards, so could it be last year's bird, is it an albino, or possibly an escaped farmyard duck?

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Tues 13th Oct

Rather than give you all an update with more goose figures tonight, James has been in contact with a count which he carried out on the floods, so here goes.... 1316 Teal, 244 Wigeon, 35 Mallard, 9 Pintail, 5 Gadwall, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Moorhen, 2 Little Grebe, 13 Mute Swan, 12 Black tailed Godwit, 46 Lapwing, 3 Curlew, 3 Heron, 4 Black headed Gull, 6 Herring Gull and 16 Snipe.
George saw a couple of Arctic terns at Bruichladdich, while Catherine had a Grey Phalarope on Loch Gruinart. All I am contributing tonight is a Hedgehog at the roadside as well as a few frogs out hopping across the road as we came back home this evening!!!!

Monday 12 October 2009

Mon 12th Oct

Well, as one of our neighbours described them, "they just looked like a cloud of midges". The geese, as I have been saying for a few days of late have been in a large flock over on Minister's field. This morning from just after 7am, there was a steady stream of large skeins of geese coming over from the Gruinart direction, with all the skeins flying very high up in the sky. The discussion has now rolled out were these "Gruinart" geese, or were they new arrivals? Certainly those of us who witnessed it think that they were in fact new birds in. Later on, they moved together down onto the heather while others appeared to be resting up on the water on Loch Gorm. We will have to wait to see what's about tomorrow morning!

Sunday 11 October 2009

Sun 11th Oct

Possibly not the clearest of images, but this female Sparrowhawk was momentarily on top of a straining post over towards Coull Farm this morning. You do not always appreciate the size of some birds, and this was no exception in that it was on this post which was not much more than 8" in diameter! It took off after a Pheasant, with no luck!
There was a small group of 22 Whoopers flying West along Loch Gorm, I had expected them to land there but they did not. Onto the lochans at Rockside and they just kept flying, so I thought they might land on the barley stubbles, but instead they kept on going out to the sea and no doubt on directly to their wintering grounds in Ireland. Malcolm yesterday had 17 at the head of Loch Indaal, with the Arctic Tern still present at Bruichladdich itself.
New folk in at the cottages had a Kestrel over Loch Gorm, both Teal and Wigeon on Loch Gorm and the lochans as well as a Rintail Hen Harrier on the wing.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Sat 10th Oct

A better day weather wise, bird wise I cannot really comment on as I was busy with the cottages! One of our guests, who left today, had been over on Jura in the middle of the week and had been fortunate to spot an Otter, close at hand, just North of Craighouse. It was only about 20 metres away and was in a typical Otter pose, on its back eating it's prey. Needless to say our visitors were duly impressed, watching an Otter so close and for a full quarter of an hour! They also commented on seeing some of the many Deer on Jura.
Back home here today, and there were 12 Whoopers in at Rockside, they were new arrivals as we saw them coming in. Perhaps with a lull in the wind, we may see some more over the next few days.

Friday 9 October 2009

Fri 9th Oct

The weather took a backward step today, especially late on this afternoon with really heavy squally showers, should not complain as that was the weather forecast!
Undeterred James set out, in the afternoon, yes he did get wet, but he did get a goose count on the reserve, and as the weather was not so good he concentrated on the Barnies with a count of 22,405 up by 7,000 in the past couple of days! The lesser Canada Goose is still with the Barnies. There were also 8 Whooper Swans to be seen this afternoon too. One of the volunteers at the reserve saw the 4 Redwing today, possibly the first of them coming through.
Earlier on in the week, during a "Farmland bird survey", there were good counts of 65 Linnet and 95 Skylark in one field, another field had 120 Linnet while a third field had 41 Meadow Pipit. These figures came through from Catherine.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Thurs 8th Oct

The geese across in Minister's field last night were certainly having a good blether in the moonlight, still talking between each other late on ....
James was in touch with figures through from yesterday, and these are birds solely on the reserve, so birds on Craigens are not included! The "scores on the doors" came through at 15,130 Barnacle Geese, 38 Greenland Whitefronts, 8 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pink footed Goose, 1 Lesser Canada Goose huchinsii, 1 male Sparrowhawk and a Short eared Owl. He also manged a count of ducks too, 745 Teal, 77 Wigeon, 9 Shoveler and 5 Pintail. James was saying that the geese are still arriving, and commented that we have not had many Whoopers through yet, and also that there are not many Greenland Whitefront here at present.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Wed 7th Oct

As I mentioned in a previous entry, the geese that are here are certainly not staying solely at Loch Gruinart, this morning there were over 2,000 Barnies on Minister's Field, the adjacent field to ourselves over on Rockside. We often see large numbers of geese there but usually later on. Perhaps the geese are making the most of the shed grain and secondary growth too.
We had a Merlin on a telegraph pole at the back of lunchtime and later on there was a Peregrine having a play with the Rock Doves, just up to pure devilment rather than going in for a straight kill!!!

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Tues 6th Oct

Just a few of the Whooper Swans up at Ardnave Loch having a difference of opinion! There were only 14 in total, consisting of 10 adult birds and 4 young, a far better ratio than the group seen down on Rockside last week. I did not manage to see the Snow Buntings, not that I looked that hard mind you!
Coming back home and there was the odd sighting of a large group of Barnacle Geese out on the heather down beside the lochans at Rockside road end! I somehow feel that the Geese are spreading themselves around Islay a lot quicker compared to other years, although they are not down the Port Ellen end yet!!!
This morning Malcolm had a Swallow out in front of his house, and also an Arctic Tern also at Bruichladdich.

Monday 5 October 2009

Mon 5th Oct

George had been up at Ardnave on the lookout for the Snow Buntings yesterday, and had seen a few Reed Bunting as well as a handful of Chough.
Back to today, and this morning James had a count of 14,365 Barnacle Geese on the reserve at Gruinart. Later, on our way down to Bowmore, there was a large flock of Barnies on the water at Loch Gorm, while down on the mudflats at the head of Loch Indaal, there was an even larger flock there. Possibly all the geese were resting up after having made use of the full moon over the past couple of nights and grazing/ eating through the night!
There was a flighty group of Wigeon on the water too, who could not settle for any length of time, as well as few Turnstone at the water's edge. I have not seen any Whoopers over the past few days, or any Brent geese passing through either.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Sun 4th Oct

These are some of the Barnacle Geese resting up at Gruinart, taken on Thursday afternoon.
Today, thank goodness, the wind has died down and it turned out to be quite a decent day, although a bit cooler!
Catherine had also seen 6 Snow Buntings up at Ardnave yesterday afternoon, in about the same time as James was there, but different birds as they were in different places. Today, visitors here for the week had seen a group of 8 at Ardnave, as well as 2 yesterday afternoon on the dunes at the back of Machir Bay. Also later yesterday afternoon, there were a group of almost 50 Chough in the same area. This evening, possibly the same birds were seen heading in for their roost.
James had a Merlin on the reserve at Gruinart this morning and another Merlin close to Blackrock just after lunchtime. A male Hen Harrier was out hunting over at Rockside while a ringtail was out quartering over one of the game crops. There were also a few Goldfinches on seed heads down towards the reed bed close to the Coastguard cottages.

Saturday 3 October 2009

Sat 3rd Oct

As forecasted, we certainly caught the strong winds and also a drop in temperature too....
James ventured out up to Ardnave this afternoon, and saw 6 Snow Buntings, 2 Lapland Buntings as well as an adult Iceland Gull. There were also 4 Arctic Terns on the wing up there too. George is still spotting his group down at Bruichladdich, while we saw 4 at Blackrock, just after 6 pm tonight, are they the same or different birds? George had also seen the large flock of Greylags round Loch Gorm while amongst the Barnies and Whitefronts at Sunderland, he had a single Pink footed goose.

Friday 2 October 2009

Fri 2nd Oct

I managed to take this image yesterday of Rock Doves on a roof of an old ruined cottage. There were just short of 150 birds in all, and no Peregrines hanging around either!
There was a large flock of Barnacle Geese down at Sunderland Farm this morning, as large a flock as I have seen away from the main roost sites at Gruinart and Bridgend. James's count late this afternoon, on Gruinart reserve tallied out at 7,320 Barnacle Geese, 18 Greenland Whitefronts, 1 Pink footed Goose, 1 Canada Goose hutchinsii sp, 172 Pale bellied Brent Geese and also 11 Black tailed Godwits on the floods.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Thurs 1st Oct

Another month in, on the positive side of things, we have had less than 2" of rain, actually only 1.9" in total, a lot drier than August. Perhaps we never really had a lot of rain but it seemed to be more than that with some miserable days!
There appeared to be more geese in again today, the sight over at Gruinart was quite impressive with most of the geese quite content to be rested up on the estuary as the tide was out. The geese did not appear to be worried about the Peregrine who sitting along side them on the salt marsh! On the guided walk today we also had 8 Snipe fly overhead, a family group of 4 Chough came and landed on a chimney pot at Gruinart Farm, and back down on the estuary there were quite a few Dunlin around. Earlier, on the overhead wires there was a large group of Linnets, possibly the same birds that James had yesterday.
After lunch, Margaret and myself took a quick run up the Craigens side of Loch Gruinart, and further on there were a good number of Oystercatcher, Curlew, Godwits and a few Mallards on the water itself. On the way back, there was a Peregrine on the overhead wires briefly, a sight neither of us had ever seen before! We did not see any Whoopers today at all.