Friday 31 December 2010

Friday 31st December

Just a short entry to wish all our readers a "Happy New Year". I would also like to thank everyone who has contributed entries to me for inclusion on the blog, it certainly makes my life a lot easier! James too has been a tremendous help, especially in looking after the blog when I escape to warmer climes. Thanks to you all, wherever you may be, and enjoy 2011 when it comes along.

Thursday 30 December 2010

Thurs 30th December

Yesterday, James had been down at Bruichladdich and had seen 3 Otters out in Loch Indaal, and later they were around the rocks, there was an adult and 2 large pups. Later on, he had been up round Ardnave, and saw 2 Great Northern Divers and 3 Red throated Divers. Just at the darkening at home he had a Tawny Owl. Also yesterday, a visitor had seen a Red Kite over at Machir Bay.
Today, James was back down at Bruichladdich, and saw 9 Purple Sandpipers. Out on Loch Indaal, he had a count of 2 Great Northern Divers, 4 Red throated Divers and 2 Slavonian Grebes.
Back here at home, the other day when we still had frost and snow, I forgot to say that we had a Brambling in amongst the birds at the feeders.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Wed 29th December

Yesterday, Bob had been over at Bunnahabhain and had seen the Iceland Gull. This morning, back at home up the back of Port Charlotte, Bob saw a Red Kite flying over towards Octomore. He was sure that it did not have any wing tags on, the plot thickens...
Down at Rockside this morning there were around 150 Lapwings, and further on, down at Bruichladdich, there were another 50+ flying offshore on Loch Indaal. Closer to Bruuichladdich, in a tight bunch were 34 Pale bellied Brent right on the shore line, also present were a few Greylags.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Tues 28th December

Louise left a message on the phone this afternoon to say that she had just seen a Waxwing in Craighouse over on Jura.
This morning, I saw the Red Kite here at home again, just wish it perch up for a moment or two to allow me to see if it had any wing tags... tomorrow is another day, so fingers crossed!

Monday 27 December 2010

Mon 27th December

The weather over here today has been miserable, no snow, but what I call a wetting smurry rain which seemed to persist all day, so I did not venture far today...
Looking back to the other day when we had the snow, and at one time I looked out towards the bird feeders, there were 15 Blackbirds present. The other morning, up in the field beside the sheep shed I counted 27 Red legged Partridge, no doubt all released birds from Rockside!

Sunday 26 December 2010

Sun 26th December

What a difference a day makes, the temperature has risen a few degrees, net result is that most of the snow has gone, but no doubt some folk will now have problems with burst water pipes, whereas before they simply had no water because it was frozen!
Last night between going out and returning home from Bruichladdich, via Gruinart and Coull, we saw 8 different Owls on our travels, 5 Barn Owls and 3 Tawny Owls. The Barn Owls were all separate birds, but there were 2 Tawny Owls together on a telegraph pole and the another one later on. I doubt if any will seen this evening as it is now raining!

Saturday 25 December 2010

Christmas Day

A very Happy Christmas to all of you out there that follow the blog. I do realise that this is not a Robin, a bird we always associate with snow and Xmas. It is a Tufted Coquette which we saw on holiday, a mere 7 cm in size and a very active bird, always on the move.

Friday 24 December 2010

Friday 24th December

Yes, it is Xmas time already if you live slightly East of here, bet you some of those places do not have the snow though!
Talking of the cold, James was still up at 1pm earlier today, trying to sort out problems with his water supply, and was surrounding by 21 inquisitive Red Deer, mostly stags. Later on this afternoon, he had 36 Whooper Swans down at Bowmore and also a pair of Gadwall as well as 3 Slavonian Grebe on Loch Indaal.
Speaking with Bob and James, there is a possibility that there have been 4 different Red Kites seen this month on Islay. We had another Kite today here at home, no camera or bins to hand, so I could not see if it had any tags on.
Also mid morning, on the way over to the cottages I found 2 dead Woodcock on the drive, both were in very poor condition. Later on this afternoon, just after Rockside road end, there were 4 Barnies on the verge of the roadside and also a Whitefront along with them. Further on, I was taken aback by the sight of 2 folk out walking on the ice on Loch Gorm especially as there was quite a rise in temperature today, back above zero for a while, with some ice giving too.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Thurs 23rd December

Yesterday Peter had a Brambling on his feeder down at Bruichladdich. He commented that "the usually dominant and outnumbering Starlings are having to play second fiddle in the pecking order to Rooks and Jackdaws coming into the garden looking for scraps. These in turn over the last couple of days are now second in line to Black headed Gulls deferring to Common Gulls which now move aside for occasional visits from Herring Gulls. The smaller Gulls are even poking under the hedge for scraps where I put tit bits for the more shy Blackbirds and Robins, both of which have become virtually hand tame". Today Peter had popped over to Bunnahabhain with Pia, in the hope of finding some Otters, no joy! But they did have and an adult Golden Eagle soaring overhead and heading over to Jura. Down near to the Distillery were 4 Bullfinches, and at the Distillery itself was an adult Iceland Gull, possibly the same bird that has been present there in previous winters.
Although they did not see any Otters at Bunnahabhain, back home in the warmth of their lounge, they had an Otter out in front of the house! It was actively fishing, catching prey and bringing it to the rocks to devour!!!
George today had been over at Loch Skerrols and counted 20 Whooper Swan, 5 Mute Swans, 2 Coots, 70 Wigeon, 40 Teal and 1 Pochard, all on a piece of water that was not frozen. Back at home he had a couple of Song Thrushes on his bird table. George commented about the lack of Sparrows.
All I can offer for the blog tonight was a Red Kite which I saw from the back door here at home, it flew over the top of the cottages, and then veered up over the old church. A few moments later it came back into sight with something in its' talons followed by a few Jackdaws. I saw one later on nearer lunchtime down over the glen and saw it had a blue wing tag on its' right wing, but I did not have my scope to read the letter.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Wed 22nd December

Many thanks to James for looking after the blog while I was away on holiday to Trinidad and Tobago. We left when the snow started, we got caught up in Gatwick being shut, so had to divert through Miama down to Trinidad, a journey in itself, but we made it! Full credit to BA in finding us alternative flights. Our stay was really good, the guides who we had were excellent. Their ability to see birds without bins was something else, and they had the ability to imitate various bird calls to great effect, no tapes etc here boys! Full marks to Dave Ramlal on Trinidad and Newton George on Tobago. On our return, we were the last plane back into Gatwick on Saturday before it shut down because of the snow. To cap it all, on Monday, the flight back home in the evening was cancelled. Still we got home, I will expand on the birds over the next few days as our local birds are having a tough time with this cold weather.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Tues 21st December

Still very cold as you can see, in fact yesterday it was -9.5C on the reserve. A count of Loch Gruinart revealed good numbers of birds using this mostly unfrozen habitat. Shelduck 113, wigeon 67, teal 132, pintail 19, oystercatchers 288, grey plover 4, lapwing 232, dunlin 178, bar tailed godwit 383, curlew 111, redshank 24, turnstone 29, greenshank 1, and a peregrine in the middle of the Loch. George has reported redpols, siskins, goldfinches, goldcrests, woodcock and snipe from Bruichladdich. Today I had 4 different hen harriers 1 male and 3 females at RSPB Loch Gruinart and received reports of a snow bunting on the Gruinart road and at Saligo, very seasonal.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Sun 19th December

I'll let the pictures do the talking

Friday 17 December 2010

Fri 17th December

White is the colour. I know whites not a colour, its a shade, all the same Islay has gone white today. We have had a snow day, with the schools and airport all closed due to snow. I can not remember having so much snow on Islay since the winter of 2000, when we had a good coating. Needless to say I haven't seen many birds through the blizzards, but thats because I have been sledging and snow balling. Taking advantage of the moment. I did however see a very cold looking grey wagtail feeding on the ground uncovered by our dodgey sledge.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Wed 15th December

Red is the colour. Especially when it comes in the form of a kite. Red kites are an uncommon visitor to Islay, but in the last few days I have received lots of sighting from around Islay. Yesterday a blue tagged bird was seen near the Saniag turn on Loch Gorm (presumably the bird seen on Colonsay). Also on Tuesday Bob reported an untagged red kite and a goshawk over Rockside. Then today Bob also found another red kite at Ardtalla. It looks like there are at least 3 red kites on Islay at the moment.
Other bird records include 2 bullfinches and goldcrests at Lorgba, over 1000 twite and 2 merlins at the Oa and another merlin at Loch Gruinart.

Monday 13 December 2010

Mon 13th December

Some records came in today from Ian and Debbie Landucci and Andrew Budd, who obviously had a good week birdwatching at the beginning of December, 27th Nov to 3rd Dec. Some of their highlights included: tawny owl at Bridgend woods, a black throated diver, a red throated diver, a group of pale bellied brent geese and 5 purple sandpipers around Bruichladdich pier, 253 scaup on Loch Indaal, white tailed eagle and a snow bunting at Claggain Bay, 2 kestrels and a tree sparrow at The Oa, 2 slavonian grebes off Bowmore Pier and a greenshank at Loch Gruinart. Thanks for the records.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Sun 12th December

I was at the RSPB Christmas party last night which was great, fantastic food and a late night for me. So not to much to report this weekend (i wouldn't trust my counting anyway).
The weather was beautiful again today, clear and sunny- warmed by the sun. I went for a stroll through the woodland, the floods having frozen again last night. Lots of woodcock again, 5 today at Gruinart in one small area of wood, also a treecreeper and more interesting a wren pretending to be a treecreeper. Interesting behaviour for a wren, I can't help wondering if it may have been learnt behaviour from the treecreepers. As I walked home had good views of a male hen harrier hunting chaffinches around my house.

Friday 10 December 2010

Fri 10th December

I caught this in the house this morning.
Not really. This is a four toed elephant shrew from Tanzania, sent in by Peter, back from his latest trip, with the comment "leopards and lions are so passe' don't you think". I agree.
Anyway now to the matters at hand -the birds. I did a goose count on the reserve today, I haven't added it up yet, but did see some other good birds. Three different hen harriers one male and two female, a merlin, 3 sparrowhawks all around the reserve and in front of the hide a little grebe and a black tailed godwit. A few ducks have returned with the melting of the ice. I also had a report of a short eared owl north of Loch Gorm, short eared owls are much less common on Islay in the winter than through the summer.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Wed 8th December

I will keep it brief tonite as this is my third attempt to put on a posting, but my Avanti satellite broadband must have a small cloud blocking it or something.

I thought I had done well with one red kite yesterday, but I received an email from Mike informing me that there had been 2 on Oronsay and 2 on Colonsay yesterday. One had wing tags, blue tag left and red tag right, apparently a bird tagged in Perthshire.
Other records today include a merlin at Gruinart, a peregrine and 3 fieldfares at Kilchoman and Louise reported 3 jack snipe, 2 around Loch Gorm and 1 at Gruinart.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

More Tue 7th December

Well, I just logged in to put on post and I see Ian and Margaret have already posted for the day, beat me to it again!
I was in the office today thinking I must get out in the sun and see some wildlife and put on a blog post, when all the trusty Islay spotters started to report in sightings.
Yesterday Carl had lots of snipe between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich, 2 Great northern divers showing well and a few red throated divers. George reported a goldcrest, bullfinch feeding on the willows and 10 siskins on the alder seeds in Bruichladdich, also 25 common scoter off the the pier and 7 greylags and 9 pale bellied brents on the shore. At Loch Skerrols, Peter just back from sunnier climes had a count of 45 whooper swans and 12 mute swans, (so 100 whoopers have moved on somewhere). An interesting record- is that one of the whoopers had yellow legs rather than black! He also saw 20 greenfinch and a brambling.
I did get out, and while checking the water and sheep at Kilchoman a red kite flew over resting briefly on the hill fence before flying on.

Tuesday 7th December

Trinidad Calling!!! Really Ian & Margaret...
Sitting on the veranda in a tropical rainstorm as we write but the birds are all still singing in the bushes. On our way this morning to see the Oilbirds in Dunstan Cave, we encountered a Feur de Lance one of the most poisonous snakes on the island. Our guide removed us to a safe place and sent for the "snake man " to remove it. The birdwatching is fantastic as are the guides, with the rum punch served every evening helping to round off another perfect day.
Humming birds are fanning their tails enjoying the shower anyway, a couple of Kiskadee on a branch less than 10 feet away, what else do we need? We would certainly recommend a visit to Asa Wright to anybody reading the blog...

Sunday 5 December 2010

Sun 5th December

I had a stroll around the reserve today the sun was out and the air crystal clear. The Floods in front of the hide are still frozen , but the roosting geese have thawed one small area in which a group of pintail, mallard and teal are hanging on. In the woodland I surprised a sparrowhawk having a bath in the stream. Two treecreepers and 12 long tailed tits flitted from tree to tree. As I walked up to the house I flushed 2 woodcock and counted a flock of 58 chaffinches and a grey wagtail.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Sat 4th December

Not much to report today as I have spent most of my time trying to get my frozen water system to thaw out. Success came this afternoon thanks to a milder spell of weather. While travelling up and down to my water pump I did see a surprising number of birds, including several hen harriers, 2 woodcock and a snow bunting.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Thur 2nd December

Thanks for the dunnock picture Carl (this is the first pic I have managed to upload onto the blog hurrah)

Wow what a cold night. I am not sure what the temperature was, but Loch Gorm froze. A few records to report from yesterday, George counted 130 whoopers on Loch Skerrols and Carl had seen a chilly chiffchaff at Lorgba. Today at Gruinart I had 8 whoopers flying south, a merlin and a red grouse.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Wed 1st December

A lovely day on Islay, very cold, clear and with sun. You could see the mountains of Mull and the main land all cloaked in snow. It is hard for us to comprehend the snow on the mainland. I guess the birds know how snow covered the land to the east is, because we're getting greater numbers of snipe and woodcock arriving every day.
Best bird report of the day was a Red Kite over the north west of Islay.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Tues 30th November

It's almost another month in, at least I am saying that as since I emptied the rain gauge out the other week as it was almost full, there has not been any more, and no snow either, so November rainfall was only 4.75"..... Just the frost to contend with!
James had the Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp on the reserve at Gruinart today and also a Barn Owl too. He was speaking to a visitor who had seen 2 Snow Buntings over at Ardtalla.
George had a flock of around 80 Golden Plover in his fields today and Bob had seen around 30 Woodcock at the darkening the other evening.
James will be looking after the blog for the next few weeks as we head off to warmer climes, all going well I might be able to send in the odd entry if we can find broadband connections...

Monday 29 November 2010

Mon 29th November

Sorry to say that this image of a couple of Crab Plovers with a Heron in the background was not taken on Islay today. No, it has come through from Michal in Aldabra. I bet he does not have his central heating on to prevent burst water pipes. Michal has sent some more images through for us to envy as we shiver, but more of them another day...
On the reserve at Gruinart yesterday, James had a Golden Eagle and also a Merlin. Today round at Saligo he had a count of 50 Blackbirds.
When James was round yesterday, we were looking back the International Goose counts and James commented that the figures for the Barnies was well up on the year as was the count for the Whitefronts.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Sun 28th November

This image of a Barnacle Goose was sent through tonight from Steve Percival. It was taken yesterday morning on a beach on The Bronx, New York by Shari Zirlin. The Goose itself was one rung by Steve back in November 2002, and was last seen on Islay in 2005, but Steve assures me that its mother and some of its sibling are still up at Ardnave! Must have taken a wrong turning somewhere and not returned to Islay... Possibly prefers city life to here!
Carl yesterday had Woodcock at Octofad, Snipe at Lyrabus Croft and Loch Gruinart, a male Hen Harrier at Rock Mountain. Down at Bruichladdich, Redshank, Purple Sandpiper and Ringed Plover were present. Back home at Port Charlotte, a Sparrowhawk was seen eating a male Blackbird!
Apologies for the late entry, but better late than never!!!

Saturday 27 November 2010

Sat 27th November

We are still being fortunate that we are not catching the snow which is catching the east of the country, although there is an edge to the wind. Outside tonight the stars are shining brightly, and no light pollution either....
Yesterday James had done a goose count on the RSPB reserve at Grinart, the "scores on the doors" were as follows, 11,297 Barnies, 513 Whitefronts, 67 Greylags, 1 Pink footed Goose and a Peregrine Falcon.
Today James had 3 Woodcock, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Treecreepers, 12 Blackbirds and 6 Song Thrushes, again all on the reserve. The Blackbirds and the Song Thrushes were all together.
Coming home at lunch time, we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, just before we came to the Coastguard cottages.

Friday 26 November 2010

Fri 26th November

Another cool day over here, but at least we are not covered with snow and severe frosts like some areas, although there was a shower of hailstones at one point and just at the darkening there was a scuff of snow. Coming back down off the cragg then, there were 5 Buzzards circling overhead. With the colder weather, needless to say the birds have been busy on the feeders. I had been speaking to Bob who said that the female Blackcap has moved on. He also commented on seeing some Woodcock of late.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Thurs 25th November

I realise that these are Jackdaws, but they are members of the Crow family, so, as the saying goes
"Three Craws sat upon a wall on a cold and frosty morning...."
And yes, it was cold and frosty this morning. Later on 12 Whoopers flew in from the West and landed on Loch Gorm. This afternoon with the tide being out the top of Loch Indaal was full of Barnacle Geese resting up. It was odd coming home later on to see more Whitefronts than Barnies in the fields!

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Wed 24th November

Today down at Bruichladdich Malcolm had seen a Jack Snipe and on the shoreline there were 8 Purple Sandpipers. We were past there late this afternoon, the Pale bellied Brent were present, a small huddle of Turnstone were on top of a rock, and along the edge of the water we counted 4 Herons at different places.
With the Goose counts having started up for the season, SNH have sent the figures through. The first count done at the end of October tallied up to 37,005 Barnacle geese and 3,381 Whitefronts. The figures through from the latest count, an International count, were 49,918 Barnies and 7,186 Whitefronts. Many thanks to the team at SNH for the information.
Another special day today, as tonight is the 1,000th entry on the blog since we started it all, back in May 2007, so a big thank you to everyone who has contributed over the years and also to all of you out there who read it, I know myself that I have met some of you when you have visited Islay!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Tues 24th November

Bob has had a female Blackcap on his feeders over the past 4 days at his house up the back of Port Charlotte.
James had been down on RSPB Oa reserve today and said that there was a large flock of Twite, somebody the other week also commented on this saying then that there were around 700 birds in all, but James reckons that the flock he saw today was well in excess of this, and when scanning through they were all Twite, and no Linnets. There were also an odd Yellowhammer thrown in for good measure!
Coming home tonight, we saw a Barn Owl on a telegraph pole below Rockside, we also saw one last night in roughly the same area, so possibly the same bird.

Monday 22 November 2010

Mon 22nd November

With the full moon out at night, many of the Barnies are out in the fields eating, with the net result being that through the day they are resting up when the tide is out on Loch Indaal, so here are just a few of them!
Yesterday Malcolm had counted 37 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Bruichladdich, so perhaps this is the 2 groups together, and forming our resident winter flock.
I had been speaking with DJ earlier on who was saying that he had seen 2 White tailed Sea Eagles together over his side of Islay this morning.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Sun 21st November

Just a few of the Whooper Swans present just now on Loch Skerrols. There were a few family groups of Mutes there too, but interesting to see larger family size too, whereas the Whoopers had a smaller % of juveniles. This was also noted on one of the lochans beside Loch Gorm with 21 Whoopers there, but only 4 juveniles. In the above image there are only 3 juveniles with 11 adults. As well as the Swans, there were Wigeon and also some Greylag Geese too.
Down on the fir tees near to Avenvogie, some Siskins were seen as well as the odd Stonechat on our way home. There were also a few Fieldfare at Cattadale. Back at home today, the birds on the feeders have been busy, polishing off the food put out for them. This morning in the garden there were 11 Red legged Partridges, probably birds that had been released for shooting!

Saturday 20 November 2010

Sat 20th November

Not that it has been raining today, but I took the opportunity to empty the rain gauge out, so come the end of the month, I had better remember to add on 5", and not think it has been a dry month.....
Carrying on from where we left off last night, James's counts from yesterday.....On Ardnave Loch he had 12 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 53 Wigeon, 42 Teal, 9 Goldeneye, 8 Mute Swan, 12 Whooper Swan, 1 Long tailed Duck and 2 Dabchick. He also managed a count on the floods, tallying through at 1194 Teal, 4 Gadwall, 3 Dabchick, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Heron, 65 Mallard, 129 Wigeon, 57 Shoveler, 46 Pintail, 11 Whoopers, 5 Mute, 2 Black tailed Godwit, 16 Curlew, 522 Lapwing, 1 Moorhen and 4 Snipe. No doubt he would be counting birds in his sleep last night!
Coming home from Bowmore on Thursday night Malcolm had seen a Barn Owl out over the merse at Bridgend, Carl had seen a Tawny Owl coming back from Portnahaven last night.
Today, George had been up at Loch Skerrols and had counted 130 Whoopers and around 400 Wigeon and at top of Loch Indaal there were 26 Pale bellied Brent close to the coal yard.
When we came back up from Bruichladdich at lunch time we saw a solitary Waxwing at Foreland, our first one this year I hasten to add! At Rockside there was a flock of 70 Lapwing.

Friday 19 November 2010

Fri 19th November

The weather is better again, net result more birds seen...
Malcolm had 14 Pale bellied Brent Geese out on Loch Indaal in front of his house, and a further 23 along below the coal yard. Martin Armstrong had seen the Kingfisher today, but no sign of the Grey Phalarope at "smelly corner". On Loch Skerrols he had 108 Whooper Swans. On my way out this afternoon, there was a Peregrine sitting on the garage roof down at Rockside road end.
On the reserve at Gruinart today James had 1 Peregrine, 1 Sparrowhawk, a male and female Hen Harrier. James also had a count on Loch Gruinart itself, with the highlights being as follows, 30 Shelduck, 25 Red breasted Merganser, 2 Long tailed Duck, 152 Oystercatcher, 70 Ringed Plover, 88 Golden Plover 17 Grey Plover, 196 Lapwing, 4 Knot, 176 Sanderling, 575 Dunlin, 289 Bar tailed Godwit, 167 Curlew, 75 Redshank, 11 Turnstone, Glaucous Gull (early second winter), 2 Greenshank and 20 Chough on the east side of Loch Gruinart. And that was only the best ones!!! More from James with even more sightings tomorrow....

Thursday 18 November 2010

Thurs 18th November

The wind has dropped through the day, the rain has returned, as have the ferries, what else could one ask for...
As you may see that we have a new link through to the blog of the Islay Natural History Trust, a great read, give the logo a click and you're hooked, another favorite!
Slight error from last night's entry, the person who I met up with last night was Dick Hewitt, not Neil Hewitt, my mistake!
Bob was out with Malcolm yesterday on the goose counts, Bob the learner and Malcolm as tutor. They had a Pinkfoot amongst the Whitefronts near Island Farm and another, also with Whitefronts, just outside Bowmore on the Low Road. 2 Pale bellied Brents were with the Barnies at Gartbreck. Malcolm also commented on the counts of Whitefronts, "reasonable numbers in the usual places, but one or two flocks were either missing or reduced. On the other hand, he found over 200 on a harvested turnip field in an area which normally holds rather few".
Today Bob had seen a Grey Phalarope over near the coal yard, possibly the same bird from "smelly corner".

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Wed 17th November

As predicted last night on the blog, the ferry did not sail today, and tomorrow is another day, and the ferry certainly will not be here first thing as the wind huffs and puffs outside!!!
James had been out doing the Goose count from Uiskentuie, Lyrabus, Craigens, Gruinart and Ardnave today, not a great day for it, but apart from the Geese James had 4 Lapland Buntings at Ardnave, on Ardnave Loch itself there were 14 Whoopers. A Ketrel was seen at Kilnave and a Peregrine at Lyrabus. The Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp is still present on the flats.
James, George and myself met in with Neil Hewitt from Elgin who comes over annually to have a look through our flocks of Geese here on Islay, mainly the Whitefronts. He commented on how he felt that he thought that there were not so many Whitefronts present this Autumn, so it will interesting to see what figures come through. He also had seen one with a neck collar on which he reckons is one rung at Loch Ken.
Coming home and at Erasaid in the trees at the roadside was a Tawny Owl.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Tues 16th November

This evening as I write, the wind is starting to increase in strength, and the ferry looks doubtful for tomorrow...
The Grey Phalarope still remains at "smelly corner" and was showing well today, and a Redshank was annoying it no end! Earlier on, along at Uiskentuie there had been 2 mixed groups of Curlew and Oystercatcher, one group were right on the shoreline while the others were in a field just bellow the trig point. The larger group of over 20 Pale bellied Brent geese were on Loch Indaal just below the coal yard and a further 10 were down towards Bruichladdich.
Carl had seen a male and female Long tailed Duck in Loch Indaal just off the harbour in Bowmore, and at Port Charlotte, he had a Great northern Diver. Becky, while she was out goose counting, had seen a couple of Snow Buntings at Sanaigmore today.

Monday 15 November 2010

Mon 15th November

Another great day here, not much warmer, at least it stayed dry!
Carl on his commute to Bowmore today had seen a Grey Phalarope feeding at "smelly corner".
Yesterday when I was briefly at the hide at Gruinart, I saw obviously the Heron and also Mute Swan, 2 families of Whooper Swan, Barnacle Geese, Whitefronted Geese, Pintail, Shoveler, Teal and Dabchick. The light late afternoon was great. On the way back up to the car park, 2 Roe Deer were watching my every move!
Bob was out with Martin in the morning, and as well as their Long tailed Duck, on Loch Indaal they had 2 Slavonian Grebe, 6 Great northern Diver, 1 Black throated Diver, 1 Black Guillemot in winter plumage, 2 Purple Sandpiper amongst some Turnstone, 2 Goldeneye and a good showing of Ducks with Loch Indaal itself being flat calm.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Sun 14th November

A great day over here as shown by this mirror image of a Heron taken this afternoon from the hide at Gruinart, mind you it was only 5 degrees centigrade but...
Martin Armstrong who only came to live here on Islay recently had seen 68 Whooper Swan along with 15 Mute Swan on Loch Skerrols yesterday. This morning he was out with Bob Davison and had seen a Long tailed Duck in the harbour at Bowmore. Some visiting birders who are over for only a few days had seen it too. They had also had 33 Chough together, so were well pleased with Islay's birds so far. The Geese to them was another story!
George this morning had 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal. Up at Sunderland there was around 50 Whitefronts along with a single Pink footed Goose. Out on Loch Indaal below his house, George saw an Otter, the first he has seen there for a while.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Sat 13th November

We are not half way through the month yet, but the rainfall already this month is over 4", so perhaps it is catch up time with a wetter than average month! Today, the wind has dropped away, it has been dry but certainly not a heatwave, with the temperature not even into double figures.....
George had a count yesterday of 80 Curlew in the fields up behind his house, and in his trees he saw a group of 8 Long tailed tits. On the road going through the wood George came across a dead Salmon, with a bite out of it, probably the work of an Otter!
Michal has "emigrated" off to warmer climes again for the winter, he is in The Seychelles again and this time he is going to be working on Aldabra. Last winter he worked on Aride and later on, he was working on Denis Island. Certainly the weather will be a lot warmer..... Just hope he keeps an eye out for any pirates!

Friday 12 November 2010

Fri 12th November

Just a few of the Greenland Whitefronted Geese that were present in a field down below Carnduncan yesterday.
Today the weather has been a repeat of yesterday, although the wind blew all night and through this morning, it has now calmed down. The few remaining roof trusses on the former Kilchoman Church were victim to the gale. The only "blessing" was that the timbers fell into the ruin of the church, rather than out onto the surrounding gravestones.
Back to birds, and Louise saw a juvenile White tailed Sea Eagle over Small Isle Bay on Jura on her way over to Islay this morning. The Golden Plover were still to be seen in the same field at Rockside this morning.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Thurs 11th November

This family of Whooper Swans were caught on camera down below the Coastguard cottages this morning. What is not so clear is that the wind was already quite strong and if you look more closely, the feathers are quite ruffled, also the water getting splashed about too! The wind since then has certainly increased. Both Machir Bay and Saligo Bay had some "white horses" on the waves this morning, but around 4pm, all that could be seen was just a mass of "white water". Just as well Calmac cancelled the ferries out! There were also 2 large flocks of Golden Plover later on, down in the same field as the Whoopers had been in this morning.
Yesterday, down at Bruichladdich, Carol Ogilvie had counted 21 Pale bellied Brent Geese, and Malcolm at 8.30 am today counted 10, which were 6 adult and 4 juvenile birds. I counted 21 this morning getting buffeted about between Uiskentuie and "the spit", no wonder some folk refer to them as "storm geese".
Margaret Formby had seen a couple of Waxwings on her way home yesterday, eating some berries at "Puddlehole", on the road between Bridgend and Mulindry.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Wed 10th November

Just some of a small flock of Scaup that were close to the shore just outside Bowmore yesterday. Margaret had a count of 91 in total.
There was also a few Pale bellied Brent Geese on our way into Bowmore, but on our way home I did not notice them. Whether they are our flock that overwinters on Islay round the head of Loch Indaal, or whether they had flown on over to Ireland I am not sure!
This afternoon as I went up to the shed at the back of the wood, I noticed that there was a group of Rock Doves on the wing, moving along nicely, as the saying goes, "what's the hurry?" Well, following up behind was a Peregrine, not that he managed to catch any of them!

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Tues 9th November

A better day weather wise, no wind and no rain, a good day for November. The entry for Thursday might read completely the opposite!
James had done a count round the reserve at Gruinart today, and the "scores on the doors" were as follows. 13,965 Barnacle Geese, 607 Whitefronts, 70 Greylag, 1 Pale bellied Brent, 1 Canada hutchinsii sp, 16 Whooper Swan, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin and 2 Gadwall.
Andy Ferrier who works on the farm side of the RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, well Andy's dad was walking along the River Sorn on Sunday and had seen 2 Kingfisher flying past together.

Monday 8 November 2010

Mon 8th November

Well, it was just a well that Megan our dog was sleeping in the porch at the back door last night, as when I looked out into the garden this morning, her former "kennel" was now a designer flat pack, surprisingly the window was not broken! No, I am not intending to rebuild the same kennel.... Having said that the wind had dropped down, and down came the rain too, the best part of an inch in all, not the best of days for bird watching.
I was speaking to a couple of visiting birders who managed to see a male Hen Harrier, a new tick and on their wish list for the week. They had been up at Ardnave yesterday and saw the Choughs up there, the weather had not at least put them off. They had also seen the seals along with their pups over on Nave Island.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Sun 7th November

As I write this entry the wind is picking up and forecast to blow up to 60 mph, the coal bunker lid is banging away already, fortunately we live down in a hollow so we should not get the full blast, will tell you tomorrow if anything else happens. The power dropped for a short time mid afternoon, so better keep a torch handy......
Mike Bell from Dunblane was over last week and had seen a Wheatear up at Sanaigmore on Wednesday, and on the same day had 23 Grey Plover on Loch Indaal. Earlier in the week he had a count of 225 Tufted Duck on Loch Gorm. On Thursday he had seen 8 Bullfinch over at Bunnahabhain. He too had seen various flacks of Redwing and also smaller groups of Fieldfare as they moved through.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Sat 6th November

Peter Clement who was leading a tour for Naturetrek on Islay and Jura last week was in touch last night with some of their sightings. They had seen the Green winged Teal at Gruinart, and while they were there had seen a group of Long tailed Tits. Later in the week they saw another group over at Ballygrant. When over on Jura, both Golden Eagle and White tailed Sea Eagle and also Sparrowhawk were added to their list. In Small Isles Bay at Craighouse, 4 Great northern Diver and a Dipper were present while a flock of Lesser Redpoll were seen at Craighouse itself. A male Bullfinch was seen at Inver with a Barn Owl out hunting over the moor. Some Brambling were seen through the week and a few Siskin too. 2 Kestrel and a Merlin were noted from the "Glen" road after Ballygrant. A great week enjoyed by all despite the weather!
RAFOS departed this morning, with over 100 species on their list, wonder who won the sweep and had to buy the customary round of drinks??? Albert and Hazel Percival also headed home today and their only regret was not seeing a Golden Eagle this visit..... It's not easy pleasing everyone!
Carl had been out on his bike today. He had a single Purple Sandpiper along with Turnstone and Ringed Plover at Bruichladdich and a Slavonian Grebe off the Uiskentuie Strand. A Stonechat was at Lyrabus Croft and there were 3 family groups of Whoopers in front of the hide at Gruinart along with Pintail, Shoveler and a single Dabchick. On his way home Carl had a huge flock of Redwings at Octomore which he estimated to be over 1,000 birds. There were also a few Fieldfare present too. There was also a Great northern Diver on Loch Indaal off Brybruaich Farm.

Friday 5 November 2010

Fri 5th November

One of the many Redwings that were seen today here on Islay. Mary was telling me this morning that were even more Redwing to be seen at Portnahaven this morning. Malcolm had been goose counting down on the Oa and over towards Ardtalla and commented on seeing large flocks there too, but only a few Fieldfares.
RAFOS had turned up Waxwing today at Ballygrant, Ringed Plover on Loch Indaal along with Turnstone, a few Crossbill at Avonvoggie too. There also had been 2 Waxwing at Bowmore, and a further 3 at Port Ellen. There also had a Canada Goose amongst the Barnies at Kintra.
James had a count of 158 Whooper Swans on the reserve at Gruinart this morning, yesterday RAFOS had counted 65 at Gruinart and today there were 2 groups at Rockside, one of 23 and another of 19. Sunderland had 14, and earlier on I saw 17 heading out in the wind towards Ireland, and they had some job ahead!
Dave Beaumont from RSPB came over on the ferry on Wednesday evening as a foot passenger, and when he went to pick up his luggage, a Leach's Petrel was on the deck!
Bob today had 200 Golden Plover at Kilchiran, a flock of 180 Lapwing with a few Golden Plover behind Port Charlotte. He had also seen a Jack Snipe too.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Thurs 4th November

Just a few of the Whooper Swans that were on Loch Skerrols this afternoon, there were 48 present along with 7 Mute Swans. Along at Rockside and there were 3 different groups,11, 14 and 15 , so all in all a good day for Whoopers. One of the members of RAFOS had a count yesterday of 45 heading out over Machir Bay an on down towards Ireland.
Down at Portnahaven this morning, Mary McGregor reported in that there had been a fall of Redwings, with the Redwings all around.
Also this afternoon at "Smelly corner", 8 Shelduck were present.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Wed 3rd November

We heard tonight that a pair of young White tailed Sea Eagles had successfully reared a brood of 2 youngsters here on Islay, the first obviously for a good number of years.
A visitor told me that they had seen a single Waxwing over at Ballygrant today. In the Ballygrant woods they had seen some Siskins as well as a Treecreeper.
Yesterday James had a flock of 250 Lapwing over at Gruinart. On the reserve today, 29 Whooper Swan were present, including 2 family groups with 3 young, and also a pair of adults proudly presenting 4 youngsters. From the viewing platform on the reserve, Mike Peacock saw a Lapland bunting this morning.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Tues 2nd November

Remember the entry the other day regarding the Grey Phalarope, well, delete it as it now turns out to be a Red necked Phalarope. One of the RAFOS members managed to get an image of it, and showed to Malcolm who in turn was in touch with John Bowler who confirmed it.
Other members of RAFOS today had a Swallow and also a House Martin while over at Kildalton.
David Formby, our local dentist here on Islay had 3 Swallows over the water when he was down in Bowmore on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday at home, in his garden David had 5 kinds of thrush, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare.

Monday 1 November 2010

Mon 1st November

Another month in, and only 5.25" of rain to show for it, so we are still well down on the total rainfall for the year.... Mind you we had 0.75" from 11am through to 6pm with strong winds behind it too.
Yesterday Bob had a Red necked Grebe, 5 Slavonian Grebes 4 Great northern Diver and 3 Red throated Diver on Loch Indaal, from the Port Charlotte side of the Loch. Up at Gruinart, Bob saw 20 Whooper swans. On Saturday night in the trees at Kilchoman school, a Barn owl was looking down at us as we drove past.

Sunday 31 October 2010

Sun 31st October

Really going technical with the blog tonight...
This past week, Steve Percival has been over on Islay checking through the geese. Steve has been doing this for over 20 years, and usually ringing some more Barnies each year. The graph above shows us a summary of the Barnie breeding success through from 2000. This year is the third best year since 2000 and well above the 10 year average. The figure for this year given to me by Steve was 13.4% juveniles overall of a sample of almost 15,000 aged. Thanks Steve for this info and some more from Steve tomorrow night.....
The Royal Air Force Ornithological Society (RAFOS) are over for the week, and some of their members saw the Grey Phalarope today up at Traigh Nostaig. While they were there a flock of Turnstones and Sanderling was present. Returning back to their cars, 31 Chough were counted together in one flock.
Two other parties of visiting birders have been over this past few days, and today were fortunate to have Loch Indaal being flat calm, giving ideal conditions for watching various Divers out from the shore. A Merlin flew past too, and down the Oa the other day, a Kestrel was seen mobbing a Peregrine. Also on the Oa they had a flock of over 200 Twite with a couple of Brambling thrown in for good measure!
A Snow Bunting was seen this morning down on Machir Bay.

Saturday 30 October 2010

Sat 30th October

Yesterday, before they left, Gordon and Pauline Yates had seen 6 Yellowhammers over at Ardnahoe on the road up to Bunnahabhain.
James had a Green winged Teal out in front of the hide at Gruinart this afternoon while some visitors James was speaking to, had a Grey Phalarope up on Traigh Nostaig at Ardnave. James also had seen a Canada Goose on the flats, hutchinsii sp

Friday 29 October 2010

Fri 29th October

Just as well that I emptied the rain gauge out yesterday as today there has been 0.75", so not really a lot of birds have been seen today. An Iceland Gull was on the reserve at Gruinart this morning, a Jack Snipe was seen the other day and round at Saligo on Wednesday, a Swallow was seen.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Thurs 28th October

Another mixed day for the weather, time of year for that I heard somebody say.... Do not worry we still have an entry for the blog, even after the power being off for 90 minutes, another excuse for a late entry!
Bob had a count of 32 Whooper Swan on the small lochan after you leave the forestry at Gearach, before you drop down to Kilchiaran. I think that this could possibly be the biggest number so far this Autumn. Over at Gruinart this morning, a couple of Greenshank were seen, and between Erasaid and Lyrabus, there was a Yellowhammer. On our way home this evening a Tawny Owl was in the wood at Erasaid.
Yesterday Carl had been out birding with his Mum and Dad which proved a tall order, was it Mum and Dad or was it that the weather was trying... "The Black Guillemots were at Bruichladdich, and we ran into a nice tit flock in Bridgend Woods containing some Goldcrests and a couple of Trecreepers with some Siskins in the alders. There were 4 Slav Grebes and a few Scaup to be seen through the spume off the Power station, and a Peregrine flew across Loch Indaal in front of us. There was a drake Goldeneye in the inner harbour in Bowmore... They also had a single Pink footed goose along with the Barnies at Finlaggan. A few Dunlin were out on the water's edge at "smelly corner", but there was not a single Teal to seen".

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Wed 27th October

Well, what can you say, but not Waxwings again. These 3 were making the most of the berries in a garden in Port Charlotte today. There were also another small group in a garden in Bruichladdich today as well.
There had been a Kestrel seen along at Rockside. I heard tonight that a Red Kite had been seen over the back of Coullabus.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Tues 26th October

The Waxwings are still here! 10 were present over at the former Kilchoman School, in fact I was told they have been present there for a few days. 39 were seen yesterday over at Port Ellen and today 25 were seen at Bruichladdich.
A male Blackcap was seen in a garden on the way up to Ardnave, a Barn Owl was present at Kilchoman School and another down at Nerabus. 6 Bullfinches were at Bunnahabhain, 3 Swallows were at Bowmore. In the bay at Port Charlotte, a Red throated Diver was spotted.
George counted 11 Heron at the top of Loch Indaal and we had another 5 just as we came down towards Foreland this morning. Finally, there was a family of 4 Whooper Swan on one of the lochans below Rockside.

Monday 25 October 2010

Mon 25th October

Another Waxwing day over here! This is one of the group of 17 that were seen and caught on camera over on Jura today. George had another 6 between Ballygrant and Keills, along with 2 Bullfinches. James had to make do with a single Waxwing in his garden at lunchtime! Mind you he made up with it by seeing a White tailed Sea Eagle over the reserve at Gruinart as well as a Peregrine. One of the visitors had a Barn Owl outside the cottages this evening.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Sun 24th October

A great day over here, not only the weather but the bird watching was too...
Catherine phoned in this afternoon as she was watching 75 Waxwings eating berries at Tarbert on Jura....
One the visitors who arrived yesterday had seen 15 Great northern Diver from the ferry in West Loch Tarbert. Today he had heard a Water rail in the reed bed down beside the Coastguard cottages.
Another visiting birder had seen a Yellowhammer at Ardnahoe, and 3 Whooper Swans on the Loch, further on at Bunnahabhain was a male Blackcap, while he was leaving Bunnabhain there was an adult White tailed Sea Eagle over the pier at the Distillery. Coming back down towards Port Askaig, a male Ring Ouzel was seen, a young White tailed Sea Eagle was over the Sound of Islay and a Swallow was on the wing. After lunch, a Kestrel was seen at Storakaig and also a Peregrine, another Peregrine was down at Avonvoggie later on.
Good sized flocks of Fieldfare have been seen today, Bob had 2 different flocks, one of 30 birds and another of 80 up the back of Port Charlotte, while Carl had a large flock over at Ballygrant.
Another visitor had seen a Golden Eagle and also a male Hen Harrier down on the Oa, both "ticks" for his friends who were with him.
Chris and Tony Johnson from Horwich were one of our visitors who contributed some of their sightings last week, many thanks to them.

Saturday 23 October 2010

Sat 23rd October

A better day once it stopped raining, a great afternoon in fact...
On their way to the ferry this afternoon, our departing friends managed to get some more birds for the blog. Down at Machir Bay they saw 15 Turnstone, several Oystercatcher, some Ringed Plover and a Bar tailed Godwit. In the woods at Kildalton, Siskins were present, 6 Yellowhammer were seen close to Kildalton Cross and 120 Redwing were counted at Ardtalla. An Otter was seen at Ardtalla too, as well as a Great northern Diver at Claggain Bay.
Another visitor told of seeing an Arctic Tern off Ardnave yesterday.
Carl had been out and about today and had seen 3 Swallows at Uiskentuie, lots of Fieldfare at the former Kilchoman School, a small flock of Golden Plover at Ballinaby and finally a Peregrine at Rockside.
Here at home today, there were 6 Long tailed Tits, over 60 Linnets took off from the wood and 8 Whoopers flew low over the cottages as they headed out to sea. Later on, down at Sunderland was a Grey wagtail.

Friday 22 October 2010

Fri 22nd October

Definitely catch up time with the weather today as it has rained for most of the day with over an inch of rain. Surprisingly, the burn here at home did not rise as much as I thought it might have done.
Our visitors had ventured out and got some birds for the blog! Round at Coull they had seen a flock of over 200 Golden Plover, a male Hen Harrier at Saligo. Over at Bun an Uillt on Loch Gruinart, they had a good sighting of a Greenshank. They had also seen 5 Whoopers on the stubble at Rockside.
Other friends had a Kingfisher on the River Sorn below Bridgend, and while they were looking through the ducks on the floods a Peregrine took a fly past and put all the ducks up!!!

Thursday 21 October 2010

Thurs 21st October

Another mixed day with the weather, although there was a beautiful rainbow with the dark grey of the rain cloud behind it at 6pm...
On my way down to Bridgend this morning, I saw a Gull drowning a Teal at "smelly corner". As I was driving, I really should have been paying more attention to the road, but I did notice it happening! Louise on her way down Jura on her commute to Islay had seen a couple of Woodcock and also a Tawny Owl. Yesterday, Gordon her husband, had seen 20 Snow Bunting whilst he was out stalking, as well as a few Red Grouse. These were all on Jura! Catherine had been up at Ardnave and had a Lapland Bunting, a flock of 28 Chough and counted 13 Whooper Swan on Ardnave Loch.
Onto the visitor sightings for today, 3 Snow Bunting were seen at Ardnave, a Siskin was here in the wood, another visitor had seen a Woodcock, 2 different Sparrowhawk, a male and female and also 2 Snipe.
Other visitors had seen a variety of birds of prey, a Kestrel beside Loch Gorm, a Sparrowhawk at Lily Loch, 2 separate Hen Harrier at Loch Gorm, 3 Buzzard together near to Loch Allan. At Avonvoggie there were 20 Redwing, and near to Cluanach they saw a Peregrine twisting with a Buzzard. They had also seen 2 flocks of Long tailed Tit, one at Lily Loch and the other at Caol Ila. On their way home, there was a Goldeneye along with the Scaup present on Loch Gorm.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Wed 20th October

The weather was not so great again with dirty, squally showers from time to time this afternoon. Another apology to make, last night I mispelled the word "leucistic", I checked with someone "in the know", who thought that this is now the correct way this time......
A visitor told us earlier on about seeing a Kingfisher perched on a branch over at the Lily Loch beside Port Askaig. At Loch Allan, 4 Swallow were seen flying past, while at Blackpark they saw a Merlin, and again this afternoon, another one perched on a post with prey at Bruichladdich. It later flew off across Loch Indaal carrying its prey with it.
Here at home this morning, one of our visitors saw a Brambling on the feeder outside their cottage. Later on up at Ardnave, close to Traigh Nostaig were 3 flocks of Twite totalling over 100 birds. Off Nave Island Great northern and Red throated Divers were seen. 7 Whoopers were on Ardnave Loch, along with the ever present family of 8 Mute Swans! They had also seen a Merlin on their way back down from Ardnave, and another Merlin at Ballinaby on their way home. On the flats at Gruinart there were 58 Whoopers present, including 7 young. 2 Roe bucks were spotted in the Rape field at Craigens.
James had seen 3 Goldcrest and 12 Long tailed Tit along from the viewing platform at Gruinart today.
It certainly has been a day for Merlins as we had one down close to Foreland when we went out to a meeting in the early afternoon.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Tues 19th October

Malcolm sent me through this image of the Pink footed Goose along with the Canada Goose. He wonders as to whether the 2 of them have paired up, as they appeared to move through the other geese together. A challenge for the goose counters to keep an eye out for them!
Down at "smelly corner" yesterday, George had been scanning through the Barnacle Geese, and saw a leceustic Barnie, looking at it from the front it appeared to be a normal Barnie, but on viewing it from the side or from behind, the plumage on the upper body was a lot lighter and no real black "barring" showing more just really grey! Another challenge awaits. Off shore on Loch Indaal, he had seen 20 Pale bellied Brent possibly the same ones that had been seen earlier from Gartmain. George has also had the Raven back on his bird table lately!
One of our visitors had a flock of 60 Fieldfare on some Hawthorn at the edge of Ballygrant, in Ballygrant Wood they had a flock of Long tailed Tit and also a Treecreeper. Down on Loch Skerrols there was a mixed group of 30 Whooper and Mute Swan, but mainly Mute. Also present on the water was a Goldeneye amongst the Wigeon.
Another visitor told me this evening of seeing 3 small groups of Whoopers moving through, but not of any larger numbers. I also heard that a Great Skua was seen off the ferry, as they came over on Saturday afternoon.

Monday 18 October 2010

Mon 18th October

The weather certainly has changed over the last week, a lot colder now, in fact I heard that there was a fall of Hail stones up at Sanaigmore this afternoon.
Malcolm e mailed today to say that possibly the Greenfinch had an infection from a papilloma virus, " a warty growth mainly on the legs and feet, and sometimes around the mouth and not always fatal". This morning Malcolm had seen around 320 Golden Plover over at Coull Farm. Other smaller flocks were also seen by visitors, 75 over near to the Machrie Golf course, 70 round at Ballinaby. An Otter was in the bay just after the Dower House at Kildalton, and later on the same folk had 4 Redpoll and 15 Crossbill at Avonvoggie in the trees.
I was shown an image this evening of some Barnacle Geese at Gruinart, and in the same image was a Canada goose and also a Pink footed Goose as well!
Other visitors had seen a Slavonian Grebe on the edge of a group of Scaup on Loch Indaal just out from Glenburn. Further on at "smelly corner" 3 Grey Plovers were seen amongst the flock of Barwits present. Off Gartmain in the choppy sea were 20 Pale bellied Brent Geese. On their way home they saw a Hen Harrier being chased by a Buzzard over at Saligo.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Sun 17th October

One of our visitors in the cottages came over this morning to say that there was a rather odd bird on the feeders outside their cottage. So here it is for any suggestions, a definite Greenfinch, yes, but what was the cause of the growth around its beak? The same folk also had 24 Ravens in a group up at Ardnave later on.
James had carried out another goose count on the reserve at Gruinart today, and he reckons it is as large a count on the reserve that he has ever had. There were 28,072 Barnies, 1 Pale bellied Brent, 1 Pink foot and 6 Canada comprising of 2 parvipes sp., 3 Hutchinsii sp. and probably 1 minima sp. He hopes to get a head count of the Whitefronts tomorrow. He also saw 2 Gadwall, a Peregrine and a Hen Harrier.
Down amongst the geese at the head of Loch Indaal today, Bob saw a Pale bellied Brent, 1 Pink foot and a large Canada, but he was not 100% sure of which species.
Yesterday Peter had been down on the Oa and had a count of over 260 Twite which were active on the seed crop just below the car park. On his travels he had seen a pair of Golden Eagles, initially doing aerial displays and then later on the ground. He also had seen a Peregrine flying up and down and perching close by the Monument. He finally saw 5 Chough dive bombing a Buzzard in the bright sunshine. On Friday,up at Ardnave he had a total of 46 Whoopers, some on Ardnave Loch and the others flying past.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Sat 16th October

Carl was up round Ardnave for a walk today and got these Sanderling along with a few Dunlin as they flew past. On Ardnave Loch were 6 Whoopers and 2 Mute Swan, along with Dabchick, Mallard and Wigeon.There were a good number of Twite in the dunes, feeding on the ground and on the seed heads. A Merlin flashed through the flock causing panic! A few Goldfinches and Linnets were also present.There were plenty of Ravens around, and 3 Buzzards were seen at one point. The overall flock of Sanderling was over 100 birds, Carl reckoned.
James is back from a week over on Oronsay, so straight into counting the geese. His figures at Gruinart this afternoon was 27,230 Barnies, 621 Whitefronts, 5 Pale bellied Brent, 8 Pink feets, 1 Canada parvipes sp and 3 hutchinsii sp. He also counted 3 Whooper Swan, 3 Grey Plover and 3 Black tailed Godwit. James said that his count of Barnies was possibly on the low side as some of the geese were proving difficult to count....
Bob had seen 17 Pintail on Loch Indaal yesterday, just as the River Sorn enters the loch. On Loch Gorm today, he had 5 Goldeneye, 10 Scaup, around 800 Greylag and a male Pochard. 20 Reed Bunting were noted close to the former Kilchoman School. At the viewing platform, there were some Long tailed Tits present, and while he was watching the geese, a White tailed Sea Eagle was seen flying overhead! He also managed to spot the Long tailed Duck up at Bun an Uillt too.

Friday 15 October 2010

Fri 15th October

Well, as expected more of the geese arrived in from Iceland today, the exact number I am not sure about, but certainly at the top of Loch Gruinart was just a mass of Geese. Barnacle Geese to the fore, on the flats itself were some Whitefronts, and an odd Pink foot too. It was a great sight to see, the only downside was that the light was poor! Over in one of the fields at Sunderland we had 120 Whitefronts along with 10 Barnies, while along at Rockside there was a large flock of Greylags along with some Whitefronts and a few Barnies. Earlier on at Rockside there was a family of Whooper Swans, 2 adults and 3 cygnets. Malcolm this afternoon had a group of 8 Whoopers fly south past Bruichladdich en route to Ireland. Certainly so far this Autumn we have not seen any large groups of Whoopers on the move.
While we were up at Gruinart this afternoon, just before Bun an Uillt, we had a couple of Greenshank on the shoreline, but out on the water was a Long tailed Duck, bobbing about on the swell.
George last night had seen a Barn owl at Blackrock on his way home.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Thurs 14th October

This Wheatear was on the dyke just beside the former Kilchoman School this morning on our return from Gruinart. There were also 6 Whooper Swans on Loch Gorm, 6 Collared Doves were perched on the telegraph wires down at Sunderland farm, a few Redwings also at the old Kilchoman School, as well as a Snipe overhead.
Yesterday Louise had been down on the Oa reserve, and had seen a few Brambling mixed in with a flock of Linnet.
Back to today, and Michal had done a Goose count at the back of lunchtime at Gruinart, 5,000 Barnacle Geese were there along with 400 Pale bellied Brents, 40 Greenland Whitefronts and 2 Pink footed Geese. Peter had a count of around 900 Barnacle Geese at the roost at the top of Loch Indaal this evening just as dusk was setting in. At the same time the Greylags were flying off inland to their roosting sites. Peter also had a walk round Loch Ballygrant earlier on and saw a pair of Little Grebe as well as large feeding flocks of mixed Tits, Goldcrests, Thrushes and Treecreepers. Further on, the "Glen road" provided the excellent backdrop for the bellowing of the rutting Red Deer stags. He had also seen a flock of around 150 Golden Plover up there too.
Malcolm had been out along the high water mark of Loch Indaal, from the Foreland turn off along to the Spit, and his dog Merlin had found 6 dead Guillemots and also a dead Herring Gull. All the corpses seemed to be fairly fresh which fits in well with the strong south -easterlies last week. Malcolm also commented that all the Guillemots were adult birds and wondered whether the young were already far enough out to sea.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Wed 13th October

Well, yes another day as predicted on the blog last night, and the first of the Barnies dropped into Loch Gruinart this afternoon. At 3 pm Michal had done a quick headcount and reckoned there was 2,500. I am sure Michal was very relieved as he was due to lead a "Goose walk" starting at 5pm, think he was cutting it a bit fine...
Apart from the Barnies, there were also some Pale bellied Brent, some Greylags and 6 Pink footed Geese to be seen.
George this morning had a count of 80 Scaup on Loch Indaal. Carl had seen 11 Knot and a good number of Redshank just in from Springbank at the head of Loch Indaal. Further on there were 160 Bar tailed Godwit as well as a pair of Gadwall amongst the Wigeon. Earlier, below the lighthouse at Port Charlotte, Carl had seen a female Peregrine sitting on a rocky outcrop.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Tues 12th October

Still no sign of the invasion of Barnacle Geese, tomorrow is another day, we all wait in anticipation...
Michal had carried out a count on the floods out in front of the hide at Gruinart yesterday. The tally was as follows, 381 Teal, 95 Wigeon, 64 Mallard, 23 Shoveler, 2 Pintail, 3 Whitefronted Geese and a Little Grebe. On the flats there was a small flock of 13 Golden Plover, and round at Craigens there were 120 Linnets.

Monday 11 October 2010

Mon 11th October

Another great day, not a cloud in the sky, and it is almost the middle of October, shirt sleeve weather for a second day running!
Malcolm had a Yellow browed Warbler in his garden at Bruichladdich. Martin Armstrong had seen 4 Lapland Bunting at Bolsay today. Yesterday George had seen 2 Wheatear up the back of Port Charlotte, 2 Swallow at Port Bhan, 2 Redwing and a Sparrowhawk. This morning, at home he had 2 Goldcrest, 4 Reed Bunting, 2 Dunnock while out on Loch Indaal, 3 Red throated Diver were present.
Bob had been over at Gartbreck, and had 7 Pale bellied Brent, 3 Pink footed geese flew past, on the mud flats were 3 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 12 Redshank, 1 Knot, 45 Dunlin, 4 Bar tailed Godwit, 60 Curlew, 46 Teal, 2 Wigeon, 27 Red breasted Merganser and 28 Eider.
There were 64 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal below the Gaelic College this afternoon, and on scanning through them, the same goose that we saw last week was seen again. There was another goose with colour rings on too, but unfortunately it went into the water and so we could not read the letters on both legs. A few more Greenland whitefronts are around with 36 seen on Loch Gorm on our way home.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Sun 10th October

Another good day, weather wise here on Islay. The only problem is that the wind is blowing from the wrong direction which not helpful to the Geese who need the wind to swing round behind them for their trip to Islay. It will happen soon......
We went up to Ardnave this morning and there were still 4 Whooper Swans on the Loch itself, along with the resident family of Mute Swans. On the way back there were a pair of Chough on an old ruin, as well as some Stonechats on some bushes at the side of the road. Mary also had been up at Ardnave too, but had ventured off road and saw 5 Lapland Bunting and 4 Snow Bunting. She also saw a Grey seal pup on the shoreline as well as 2 Great Northern Diver on the water. This afternoon, on a dyke at Coultorsay was a Wheatear, Michal had seen 2 yesterday at Saligo. Coming home later on and we had a Merlin down beside Loch Gorm, possibly the same bird that we saw the other day as it was close in location to where we saw it.
Michal had 50 Redwing in the field next to his house today.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Sat 9th October

I was speaking with James late last night, after I had done the blog, and he had seen a Swallow and also a Wheatear whilst he was out and about through the day.
On Loch Gruinart yesterday, Bob had noted 3 Grey Plover and around 30 Knot. Today, Bob had been up around Ardnave. On Ardnave loch itself were 7 Whooper Swan, over on Nave Island 10 Barnacle Geese were present, and a male Hen Harrier flew back from Nave Island over to Ardnave itself. On the water itself, a Black throated Diver was seen. Back on dry land on Ardnave and the Lapland Buntings were still there, and a Merlin flew past too. Down on the estuary were some Turnstone and 80 Sanderling.

Friday 8 October 2010

Fri 8th October

One of the Brent Geese that we had seen yesterday down close to Uiskentuie had coloured rings on its legs, and after a bit of waiting and watching, we were able to read them. We sent off the information and received an acknowledgement back from Graham McElwaine who co-ordinates Irish Brent Goose Research Group. This goose was originally rung on 22nd of May 2005 in Iceland, and has been seen regularly in Ireland, quite often in the Tralee Bay area. It is the first time it has been recorded in Scotland! There were a few Brent over at Port Ellen today, with the bulk of yesterday's Gruinart geese having moved on.
Yesterday Louise had seen a couple of ringtail Hen Harriers and also 28 Golden Plover on her travels.
This morning, Bob had seen 2 Merlin up near to his house, and this evening, around 6 pm he had a female Goshawk up the back of Port Charlotte.
On our way out this evening, there was a Merlin close to the roadside before it flew off, along at Sunderland the 6 Whitefronts are still present, while just at the farm steading at Sunderland, a Great Skua flew past. There were also around 35 Curlew at Braibruich at midday.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Thurs 7th October

James has just been on the phone to say that he has had a count of 570 Pale bellied Brent Geese at the top of Loch Gruinart, I thought I was doing well with a mere 18 on Loch Indaal this morning!
The "vols" from Gruinart had a walk round Ardnave today where they saw an Otter, 22 Pink footed Geese, 37 Redshank, 6 Golden Plover, 26 Ringed Plover and 5 Sanderling. Mary carried out the Thursday morning walk on the reserve at Gruinart, and was able to show her visitors Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and some Black tailed Godwit. There were a few Golden Plover along with the Lapwings, a couple of Snipe, and also Shelduck on the estuary. Back on the floods, in front of the hide were Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Mute swans and Herons.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Wed 6th October

This Buzzard was sitting on a fence post this afternoon, down below the Gaelic College. What I had really stopped to look at was the rock out in front of the College. The tide was in, so there was not really much of the rock showing, but there were plenty birds on it! Knot, Turnstone, Bar tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull and a couple of Pale bellied Brent Geese too! On Loch Indaal itself were a few ducks, Mallard, Eider, Teal and Wigeon. When we left and just before Gartmain, a Sparrowhawk flew past us on the shore side of the road, but it never bothered with the ducks.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Tues 5th October

No rain today , but the wind was blowing good style. The view out towards Coull Point was quite impressive with the waves crashing into the rocks. By the sound of things, more of the same tomorrow. At least I managed to cut some of the grass this afternoon!
No signs of any more geese yet, but today Michal was down on the Oa and had some Chough, and had seen a mixed flock of Twite and Linnet.

Monday 4 October 2010

Mon 4th October

A pair of Turtle Doves had been seen down at Nerabus on Friday, and as far I know they are still in roughly the same area today, up towards Craigfad.
This morning, Michal had 5 Redwing flying over the RSPB reserve at Gruinart. Also this morning, George had a Raven on his bird table, and while he was down at the shop in Bruichladdich itself, a Peregrine flew along the roadside about 2 metres above the ground. This afternoon, Bob saw a single Pale bellied Brent Goose up the back of Port Charlotte, while in his garden, he had a couple of Goldcrest.
Yesterday, Becky had been through Bridgend woods and had also seen a Kingfisher on the river, as well as a Treecreeper on one of the trees. James had been away at the weekend, but had seen a couple of Great Skuas from the ferry on his to Kennacraig, and on his return in the Sound of Islay, James saw a couple of White tailed Sea Eagles. One of the them was an adult bird, the other a juvenile bird.

Sunday 3 October 2010

Sun 3rd October

Another great day, not rained off this morning like the folk at the golf!
Yesterday going up the west side of Loch Gruinart, just after passing by Craigens we had a Peregrine on the wing, further on at almost Bun an Uillt, we saw a Wheatear. The few Greenland Whitefronts were still present at Sunderland Farm on the stubble.
Bob had been down at Frenchman's Rocks and had seen a Purple Sandpiper and several Turnstone. Out over the water, there was quite a good passage of Gannets and also Manx Shearwater. From Port Charlotte, on Loch Indaal Bob had a count of 20 Common Scoter.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Sat 2nd Oct

A better day over here today, no rain and the wind has dropped, almost back to normal!
As it was a such a change, we took a wee stroll along the strath in the woods at Bridgend. At the start we had some Goldcrests, the odd Coal Tit, a solitary Blue Tit. We went down onto one of the bridges across the River Sorn and had a fleeting view of a Kingfisher as it flew past at a great speed of knots, as they do.... Later on Margaret saw a Treecreeper, while I had to made do with a Great Tit. Further on was a Grey Wagtail, not a bad day really, something different, the geese will be here soon! Back at the car park, there were quite a few Goldfinches to be seen and coming home round Loch Gorm there was a Snipe out near Saligo, and 3 different Hen Harriers were out on the wing.

Friday 1 October 2010

Fri 1st October

Just decided to turn the clock back, this was one of the Great crested Grebes that we saw at Kingston on Thames last week!
The rainfall last month was just short of 5"in total, and we are still 13" short on last year according to Clark! Having said that, we have got off to a flying start, with a right pig of a day, wind and rain, oh yes it did dry up a bit before the next blatter came!
I was speaking to a visitor this evening who told me that yesterday, he had a great day seeing Hen Harriers. He had a total of 16 different Harriers at locations around Islay. Up at Bunnahabhain, they saw 12 Dolphins and he has also had good sightings of an Otter from the campsite at Port Charlotte where they are staying while over here on holiday.
James had a Grey wagtail flying over the market at Bridgend as we were waiting to sell our sheep!
Another senior moment, as I forgot to mention that we had a Swallow here at home yesterday.

Thursday 30 September 2010

Thurs 30th Sept

Louise had 4 Snow Buntings over at Saligo this afternoon. All I can offer was a count of 240 Wigeon at Gartmain. There were a few Knot around, some Bar tailed Godwit and Curlew too. At the mouth of the burn at Uiskentuie were 9 Turnstone and also a juvenile Red throated Diver. This evening, James saw a Barn owl in his headlights as he came out. I must ask James about the Greylags tomorrow, as I wonder whether the 2 rafts on Loch Indaal were birds on their move away, as I have not noticed as many Greylags around today.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Wed 29th Sept

Another month almost in, time flies, and yes the nights are drawing in too. Funny that you do not often hear about it being longer dark in the morning.....
I heard last night that there was a reported sighting of a Red Grouse up the back of Port Charlotte. Also yesterday, Louise had seen a couple of Fieldfare over on Jura, close to Camas an Staca down on Ardfin estate.
Peter had counted 800 Greylag and 2 Barnies on the top of Loch Indaal this afternoon. He had a look for the Kingfisher on the Sorn, but no joy! This evening, again on Loch Indaal, just out from the lighthouse at Port Charlotte was a large raft of Greylags, and another slightly smaller raft out from Port Charlotte itself.
On our way going out this evening, we saw a Sparrowhawk perched on a fence post on the roadside, but no Owls on the way home!