Thursday 31 December 2009

Thurs 31st Dec

Another image sent through by Richard Bonser who was over here on Islay the other weekend. He saw this vagrant Canada Goose in the middle of a flock of Barnies.
Back to today, and Eion Brown the Farm Manager for RSPB at Gruinart had seen the Little Egret, so it is still with us. It has been here all month, and back into November too, so probably making it the longest staying Little Egret on Islay!
The poll closes at midnight in the 2009 awards, so if you have not voted yet, time is running out on you! All will be revealed's great for the bird blog to be a finalist!
At this point, before signing off tonight, I would like to thank the many folk here on Islay who have contributed through the year, especially James How who looks after the blog while I am away, but also thanks to the visitors who have sent their sightings and images through to share with us all. All your contributions large or small make it all worthwhile, thanks again to you all.
Wishing everyone a Good New Year and all the best for 2010

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Wed 30th Dec

Another cold night, with the result that most of Loch Gorm was frozen over, and when we went out at the back of lunchtime it was still quite impressive to see. But the best was still to come as at the edge of the ice was a White tailed Sea Eagle complete with its' yellow wing tags, too far away to read, but at least it was a 2006 bird! There were a few Curlew at the top of Loch Indaal, and when we arrived at our friends' house at Mulindry, there was a Coal Tit on the feeders, a bird that is not that common to us here at home.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Tues 29th Dec

An image of an adult Iceland Gull taken by Richard Bonser over at Bunnahabhain last weekend. While he was over Richard, had a couple of Pink footed Geese in amongst our winter visitors, as well as the male Green winged Teal over at the reserve at Gruinart. James had also it today, as well as a Golden Eagle fly over. He also had 83 Golden Plover in one flock on the reserve and commented on seeing other smaller flocks off reserve.
Malcolm had a visiting birder call to say that there had been a probable sighting of a Long billed Dowitcher over at Loch Gruinart. They also had seen the Little Egret lurking in some of creeks over at Gruinart, so it has not left us yet! The Tree Sparrow was also spotted by them down on the Oa.
Many thanks to various visiting folk for sharing their sightings with us.

Monday 28 December 2009

Mon 28th Dec

Margaret took this image this afternoon when we were out. There was another Red Deer stag close by, with a better set of antlers, but it proved to be difficult to get an image for you! As you can see, we still have some snow around although the hard frost has given, net result, quite a few burst water pipes....
Bird wise it's been quieter today, although there were 7 Chough in a noisy flypast just around 4pm and a flock of just over 30 Lapwing were on the wing just after lunchtime, here at home.
There has been no sign/ reports of the Little Egret since this cold snap come in, so perhaps it had the sense and flew off in the hope of finding somewhere a bit warmer!

Sunday 27 December 2009

Sun 27th Dec

Malcolm had a Woodcock in his garden today down at Bruichladdich, only the second one in the garden, since he came to live on Islay.
James had a few birds between his house and the main steading on the reserve at Gruinart. There were 12 Golden Plover,15 Fieldfare, 7 Blackbird, 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Woodcock and 72 Skylark.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Sat 26th Dec

Down at Bruichladdich today, Malcolm had 18 Pale bellied Brent Geese, and on the foreshore there were a few Purple Sandpiper and some Turnstone.
This morning, we took a run round the far side of Loch Gorm, there quite a lot of Golden Plover about 140 in all, the largest group had 83 over at Ballinaby, there were also a few Lapwings to be seen but all just in small groups. Also at Ballinaby were a few Redshank and further on a ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the road ahead of us. There were 7 Whooper Swan down Loch Gorm itself, and coming home, at Coull Farm there was a family of 4 Whoopers, 2 adults and their 2 cygnets. We also saw a few Snipe when we were out

Friday 25 December 2009

Chrismas Day

Just to carry on, yet another image from here on Islay and again no birds! It was great sunset the other evening over Loch Indaal, too good for not to share with you all....
Malcolm earlier on today had 13 Whooper swans flying South down Loch Indaal past his house in Bruichladdich.
As I write tonight, the frost has given, and at present it has just started to rain!

Thursday 24 December 2009

Wed 24th Dec

Just to carry on the wintry theme, here is one that James took of the snowman outside his house....
While most of us were winding down for Christmas, James has been busy doing various counts over the past few days. On the floods on Tuesday, which were and still are mostly iced over, the scores on the doors were as follows, 678 Teal, 59 Pintail, 67 Shoveler, 16 Mallard, 29 Greylag, 25 Curlew, 11 Redshank, 3 Lapwing and 1 Black tailed Godwit. Wednesday, on Loch Gruinart, the tally read as follows, 309 Bar tailed Godwit, 444 Dunlin, 1 Otter, 1 Greenshank,3 Grey Plover, 105 Shelduck and 1 Gadwall. Today, an easier day, 2 Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier and 30 Golden Plover.
Another hopeless plug, yes it is the ForArgyll Awards time again, and the blog has been nominated and are in the final run in, so if you have time look at their web page and cast your vote as you see fit. There is only a week to go until the poll finishes.
Finally may I take this opportunity to wish you all out there, a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Wed 23rd Dec

Not exactly an image of some birds, but I thought this one of the Paps of Jura with a good covering of snow would do. Another beezer of a day here, like everywhere else, but the grass here at home this morning was white with frost, which is not that common here.
I saw a Collared Dove round at Rockside this afternoon, I have seen them previously down at Bruichladdich, but not at Rockside. With this colder snap here, I am glad to report that more birds have been in at the feeders, with quite a few Greenfinches to be seen.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Tues 22nd Dec

Tracey from SNH sent me out an e mail today with the figures for the International Goose Count carried out last week. In total there were 40,727 Barnies and 7,079 Whitefronts. Many thanks to Tracey and the team for these figures through the year.
Another e mail that I received the other day was from Michal out in The Seychelles. If you recall Michal worked with RSPB here on Islay, and provided many excellent images for us all to admire. Well, when Michal first went out to Aride in The Seychelles, it was for a 3 month spell and he should have been returning home by now. But by a "turn of luck", just before he was due to leave Michal heard that Denis Island was looking for somebody to help oversee the conservation project there, mainly involved with the Seychelles Magpie Robin, a similar role to what he carried out on Aride. Needless to say Michal got the posting, and will be out there in the sun for Xmas and be there until February/ March. Just think of the tan he will have by then!

Monday 21 December 2009

Mon 21st Dec

There are two halves to Islay today, here on the Rinns/ Western half of Islay, there is very little snow, while the other side or the Eastern half is covered in snow, more so on the tops of the hills. Jura itself, is like a picture postcard. Enough of the weather, and no travel disruption either, no tunnel to worry about!
James had been doing a scan over Loch Indaal today from Blackrock, and had a new tick for himself on Islay, a Velvet Scoter. He also had the following, 3 Common Scoter, 2 Long tailed Duck, 3 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Red throated Diver, 510 Scaup and 14 Eider. Thanks James.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Sun 20th Dec

I managed to get this image of a Heron along with the Little Egret down at Carnain the other day, just as the light was beginning to fade!
James had seen the Green winged Teal down on the floods in front of the hide on the reserve at Gruinart yesterday. He also had a pair of Hen Harrier flying together although they were not displaying. Today, James had a Water rail crossing over the track leading to his house.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Sat 19th Dec

Another cool day outside, so there is nothing much to report today as I made a start to revamp one of the rooms in one of the cottages. I was in the mood to make a start, and when I do it I feel it is easier done rather than trying to do it when not in the fettle, so sorry no birds today folks!

Friday 18 December 2009

Fri 18th Dec

Yesterday, there was a probable sighting of a Gyr Falcon seen in the Loch Gorm area. The area round here is quite large with a big tract of land where there are no roads, so it may well be a good few days before the bird is seen again, but we will just have to keep an eye out for it!
This afternoon, James had a White tailed Sea Eagle fly over the reserve at Gruinart, it had yellow wing tags, which indicates that it would be a 2006 bird. Rather than a letter on the tag, it had a dot, so we will try to find out more information on this bird.
On the way out to Bowmore at lunchtime, there was a Peregrine sitting on top of a telegraph pole, and later, on our return a Merlin flew across the road in front of us.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Thurs 17th Dec

Another cold day, but there appear to be some more birds back on the feeders! I thought that I heard a couple of Long tailed Tits but did not see them.
Dave, one of the volunteers at RSPB had seen some Long tailed Ducks down on Loch Indaal the other day, so he was well pleased as that was a new bird to him. He also had Great Northern Diver, Red throated Diver and some Slavonian Grebe as well as Common Scoter.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Wed 16th Dec

Perhaps it has been cold today, but at least it has stayed dry, and the sky as I write is full of stars, another plug for Dark Skies!!
On our way out Bowmore yesterday, at Bunanuisg (opposite where Islay Farmers once traded from), there were 45 Pale bellied Brent Geese, probably the same geese that we had seen the other day, but over the far side of the spit on the Strand. There were also a few Turnstone to be seen. Further on, close to Carnain, and there were some more Shelduck around.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Tues 15th Dec

Here is an image of the Little Egret, taken this afternoon down at Carnain. It was in the water earlier, and with the help of the bins, you could see it disturbing the mud with its' feet, presumably trying to move anything lurking under the surface of the mud.
Today was the first of the 2 day International Goose Counts, no doubt some of those out counting said a few choice words as a couple of low flying RAF jets screamed down past, even the sheep were spooked and ran into a huddle!
Last weeks figures are through from Tracey, in total, there were 39,029 Barnies and 5,623 Whitefronts. Thanks again for the figures.
Malcolm on his way to start his count this morning, had counted 485 Scaup at the head of Loch Indaal, just after Blackrock.

Monday 14 December 2009

Mon 14th Dec

Malcolm sent me in a late entry for Saturday after I had done the blog last night. He had 24 Pale bellied Brent Geese beside the spit on the Strand, and the Little Egret was still to be seen on Saturday morning down at "smelly corner". It was there again this afternoon. Down at Sunderland Farm today, there were a few large groups of Geese to be seen, mainly Barnies, along with a few Whitefronts, and a flock of over 100 Greylags on another grass field by themselves.
It was interesting speaking to a visitor on Saturday, from close to Newcastle, who commented on seeing Stonechats, a rarity to himself, but common to ourselves here on Islay.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Sun 13th Dec

Another dry day, but to put it politely, it has not been the warmest...... So first thing this morning I spent some time filling up the bird feeders. Personally, I feel that we have not got the same numbers at the feeders that we had last winter. So far there is no sign of any Long tailed tits, or of a Woodpecker, but then again last year was a first for both here in the garden, so possibly I have set my target a bit high!

Saturday 12 December 2009

Sat 12th Dec

Apologies for not putting an entry on last night, but it was one of those days yesterday with the time running away from me.
James noted the return of the Shelduck yesterday, with 111 being counted on Loch Gruinart itself, he also had 9 Black tailed Godwit and a Peregrine Falcon. On the floods there was a Moorhen and 2 Whooper Swan. From his house at Grainel, in the flock of Barnacle Geese was the Canada Goose, hutchinsii again.
This morning, the volunteers had seen a Golden Eagle at James' road end. Also this morning, we had a Sparrowhawk on top of a fence post round towards Saligo, and here at home there was a large flock of Rock Doves on the wing around 50+ in number. Later on, there was a Peregrine having bit of "fun" with the same Rock Doves, but not with any success!

Thursday 10 December 2009

Thurs 10th Dec

The weather has been kind to us over the last couple of days, no rain to speak of for a change, and last night when I had a look outside around 10pm, the stars all around were a sight to be seen. Our house is down in a hollow, there are no visible lights to be seen, hence no light pollution at all, perhaps Islay should think of the "Dark Skies" similar to what has happened in Galloway and link into it for Astronomy!
There were a few Fulmars in at the crag today, 8 Whooper Swans flew out and over the sea to Ireland and later on there was a small group of Rock Doves. I heard and saw my first Chough since returning home, so perhaps they have been elsewhere recently.
I read in the last edition of "The Eider" about Nuthatches being seen this year on mainland Argyll. It was of interest to me, as when we were away on holiday, we saw them in all 3 areas that we were in, Wood of Cree and Dalbeattie in Galloway, and also over in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. I cannot recall seeing as many the last time we visited a few years ago.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Tues 8th Dec

Tracey e mailed me through the figures for last week's goose count, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, in total over the two days there were 35,462 Barnacle Geese and 6,111 Grennland Whitefronted Geese. Many thanks to all those involved.
George had seen a female Kestrel near to his house at Bruichladdich this morning, while down at the waters edge on Loch Indaal, there had been 18 Pale bellied Brent Geese.

Monday 7 December 2009

Mon 7th Dec

This is an image that I took when I was on holiday last month. It was taken down at Gretna Green just as the daylight was starting to fail, of the amazing sight put on by Starlings just prior to them going into roost. A friend had told me about it and we arranged to meet them there to see it. Initially there were a few Starlings starting to gather, and then some more and so it went on. It was a fantastic experience as the birds twisted and turned, we were really fortunate with the weather that day, one of the few dry days we had! It was well worth the effort, so if if you are ever near to Gretna, go and enjoy. I believe that it is the second largest showing of Starlings in the UK, the exact number I am not sure of.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Sun 6th Dec

An image of a group of 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese, sent in by Malcolm Ogilvie. Malcolm took it this morning. This evening, the wind is up, the ferry has been diverted to Port Askaig from Port Ellen, at least it has come and not simply cancelled! Come to think of it, back on Friday I did see a Fulmar flying past the crag (honest)!
Yesterday, James had a Woodcock on the reserve at Gruinart and 13 Whooper swans came in from the sea. Today, the Little Egret was up at the reserve (it was there yesterday too) along with 2 Little Grebe. On his way out this afternoon, James had a Merlin at Lyrabus.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Sat 5th Dec

Apologies if in last night's entry that I might have misled some of you in relation to the counting of the Geese when counts are carried out by the various teams for SNH. Infact all the geese are counted regardless as to whether they are in fields, or if they are roosting at either the head of Loch Indaal or Loch Gruinart. Sorry about that!
At lunchtime, as I went out to feed the dogs, there was a bit of excitement in one of the willows between a Blackbird and a Sparrowhawk, the Blackbird got away okay, with the Sparrowhawk flying off to find another source of food. Earlier this morning, just before we got down to the coal yard, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew across the road just in front of us, and on the way home a Merlin was seen on a fence post before it flew off.

Friday 4 December 2009

Fri 4th Dec

Another good day weather wise, a slight edge to the wind, but at least it stayed dry!
The Little Egret was seen down at Carnain again today. With the weather being better, James and carried out a count on the reserve at Gruinart. 10,265 Barnacle Geese, 423 Greenland Whitefronts, 34 Greylags, 1 Canada (hutchinsii), 2 Hen Harrier (1 male and a female), 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 275 Golden plover and 5 Fieldfare.
The figures are not through from Tracey yet for the Goose count carried out earlier this week yet, but it will be interesting to see them as the weather was not great when they were carried out, also there has been a full moon this week, and often when that occurs the geese eat through the night and roost up through the day, as so possibly are not seen on the fields to the same extent.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Thurs 3rd Dec

A better day for a change, weather wise, no rain but we did have a shower of hail stones briefly this morning!
James saw 20 Woodpigeon yesterday afternoon at the reserve at Gruinart, the largest number there that he can recall. The Little Egret was down at Carnain again today. James was discussing with me about the Egret this morning, as the one that was with the Cattle Egret earlier on, was last seen over at Port Ellen and "disappeared" for a while and then this one came, coinciding with a sighting of one up in Oronsay, so possibly this is a diiferent bird! 3 Whooper Swans flew over our house this afternoon, no doubt heading out and over to Ireland.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Wed 2nd Dec

Apologies for nothing being entered last night, but the broadband connection was playing up yesterday.....
To start the month off, look backwards to the rainfall in November and we only had 9", but the total for the year so far is 3" more than we had in total last year!
In between the showers and the wind I had to go out briefly, but I did manage to see a Merlin over at Grainel yesterday. Today, down at the top of Loch Indaal, there were 2 groups of Pale bellied Brent Geese, one of 40 birds, the other only 5 birds, and they possibly would join up together later on as they were quite close to each other. Further on, down at Carnain, (or "smelly corner" as we call it), the Little Egret was present again. Coming home at around 4pm, and there were 39 Shelduck present where the Little Egret had been earlier.