Sunday 31 January 2010

Sun 31st Jan

We were having a look at some of the images of the Eagles taken on Friday and Saturday with James this afternoon. On closer inspection, James reckons that the Friday birds were an adult pair, whereas the 2 from yesterday were immature birds going by the different wing markings. James himself had done a quick scan of one of the fields beside the steading at Gruinart yesterday, and had counted 133 Skylark, 103 Chaffinch and 14 Fieldfare.
Later on this afternoon, and in between the dirty sleet showers we took a quick run round Loch Gorm, there were a few Fieldfare in some of the fields. A sight that I had not seen before was the Barnacle Geese up on the hill at Ballinaby, rather than in the fields where they normally are. I noticed yesterday that there were a lot of geese resting up on Loch Indaal with the tide being out. Possibly with the full moon and clear sky, the geese had been eating through the night. We also saw a Merlin today and there were 4 Whooper Swan on one of the lochans beside Loch Gorm.
Also this afternoon, we carried out the "Big Garden Birdwatch", but you will have to be kept in suspense until tomorrow night!

Saturday 30 January 2010

Sat 30th Jan

Some visiting birders who are over for the weekend have been well impressed with our Islay birds. They had the good fortune to see the Gyr Falcon down at Portnahaven, over at Gruinart they saw the Lesser Canada Goose, hutchinsii on the flats on the reserve. Up here at Kilchoman, they had seen a couple of Golden Eagle and a Peregrine. One of the Eagles was later getting mobbed by a Raven. This image is one of these sub adult birds on the wing. For a few moments it was on the ground, those images I took were not that great!

Friday 29 January 2010

Fri 29th Jan

Coming out of Bowmore this morning and looking out onto Loch Indaal we saw a small group of Pale bellied Brent Geese close to the shore, just past where Islay Farmers once traded from. Further on, at Blackrock, and there was a larger group, about 20 geese, again at the water's edge.
At Sunderland Farm, there were a couple of Golden Eagle, one soared past us and out over the hill, while the other bird decided to get the geese up in the air, before it too headed out to the hill. It was rather cool today to be birdwatching, and we had a few dirty showers of both hail and snow this morning.

Thursday 28 January 2010

Thurs 28th Jan

Yesterday, a visitor to our house commented on how nice it was to see some cock pheasants out on the grass. I do not know what he would have said today, as at one point when I did a head count, there were 14 hen pheasants along with 6 males! The most I had seen so far this winter was only 6, will they still be here, come the weekend in time for the "big garden birdwatch"? Probably, some of the pheasants were reared birds, but it was still nice to see that they have made through to now. The other day I saw my first Red legged Partridge for quite a while up at the top of the drive, but probably not a released bird.
This morning as we were going down the road, we had a great sighting of a male Hen Harrier out hunting, not more than 30 metres from us, at one point as we drove along!
James had seen the Lesser Canada Goose, hutchinsii again on the flats at Gruinart.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Wed 27th Jan

An e mail came through from Tracey today with the figures for last week's International Goose Count. The tally was 32,583 Barnies and 5,067 Whitefronts, a drop of over 10,000 in overall total since the International count back in December. It would be interesting to see where they have gone, Kintyre could have some, possibly Ireland or even some may have headed up to Tiree. Yet again, many thanks to Tracey and the team for the figures.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Tues 26th January

Today, James managed to slip out of the office and escape down to the hide. He was well rewarded with the Little Egret out on the floods directly in front of him, and also there were some Bar tailed Godwits on view too. Last night, he had a Barn Owl out hunting over the reserve.
Down at Gartmain this afternoon, there were 54 Mallard, 20 Wigeon, 12 Pintail, 32 Lapwing, some Oystercatcher, a single Redshank, and also a solitary Curlew. At the harbour in Bowmore were a pair of Goldeneye, a dozy Heron with its head tucked in, on the breakwater, and 22 Turnstone between the harbour wall and the Distillery. They were busy feeding on the water's edge.

Monday 25 January 2010

Mon 25th Jan

Apologies for not putting any entries on for the last couple of nights, Saturday I forgot to do it, and last night was spent doing other things and the evening ran away from me, no excuse really.....
The other day coming back from Bowmore, the tide was good and there was a lot about on the foreshore, there were 2 separate groups of Bar tailed Godwits close to Gartmain both with over 30 birds each, a few Redshank, a few Ringed Plover, some Oystercatcher and Curlew. Round at "smelly corner" there were some Pintail along with Mallard, Wigeon as well as some Shelduck and Teal. It was great to see both the waders and Duck out and about after the frosts. Where have the geese been? Lately, there have been large flocks both next door at Rockside, but also along at Sunderland Farm too.

Friday 22 January 2010

Fri 22nd Jan

Not the best, but for the distance it was taken from you will just have to believe me that this is the Gyr Falcon sitting along with 2 Hooded Crows. Earlier on, and further along the falcon was sitting by itself getting dive bombed by black backed Gulls, it took off, and it was followed by these 2 Hoodies. Initially they too mobbed it in flight, but when it landed, they landed alongside! Thanks to Peter Roberts for finding it again, and getting the word round Islay......
James today had to make do with the ever present Little Egret on the reserve at Gruinart, as well as a Merlin. Louise had also seen another Merlin on the North west of Islay as well as a Golden Eagle today. Later on last night, I heard that the Tree Sparrow had been seen down on the Oa yesterday. News from almost all 4 corners of Islay!

Thursday 21 January 2010

Thurs 21st Jan

With the frost away, a lot of birds are on the go again, just do not ask me as to where they were, as I cannot answer you!
The ducks have returned to the floods out directly in front of the hide at Gruinart, and James managed to do a count. There were 427 Teal, 98 Wigeon, 7 Shoveler, 69 Pintail, 1 Gadwall and 36 Mallard. The number of Pintail are up while the Shoveler tally is down. The other day he had seen a Merlin.
Earlier on in the week, George had counted 6 Moorhen up on the water behind Port Charlotte, this pool of water in its' day served the distillery that used in the village.
This morning, in one of the ditches on the flats at Gruinart, we had the Little Egret along with a Heron. There were also 83 Fieldfare and a few Starling in a field along at Sunderland Farm. Catherine commented on seeing more Lapwing around the last few days, not just on the ground, but also on the wing.
Another change with the milder weather is that the shooting ban has been lifted!

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Wed 20th Jan

Apologies for putting the wrong date on yesterday's entry, but I have changed it now, and better still I am sure that this is the 20th. By the way, thanks for pointing my mistake out!
The weather has not been as "Spring like" today, it was quite windy through the night, long dark this morning, rather a miserable day in fact, and then quick dark at the end, net result, I was inside most of the day catching up with paperwork and finalising details for Walkislay in April, still some bits and bobs to finalise, but almost there! Not much birding done....
Yesterday, there had been 38 Pale bellied Brent Geese in several small groups just down below the coal yard on Loch Indaal.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Tues 19th Jan

This image was taken by Keith Betton at the weekend. He took it over at Port Askaig, and the Iceland Gull itself appears to be either up at Bunnahabhain or down at the "Port". Keith was over birding and was fortunate to see the Gyr Falcon as well. Thanks for your image, Keith.
Louise had seen the Little Egret this morning, down at Bridgend. It flew overhead as she was putting fuel in her car, so it is still with us! Louise also had a few Purple Sandpipers on Lowlandman's Bay on Jura yesterday.
Tracey emailed the figures through for the last 2 Goose Counts, the first one carried out on the 7-8th of January tallied out at 32,783 Barnies and 5,517 Whitefronts, while the count on 11-12th January was 37,092 and 6,434. This week there is an International count being carried out, so it will be interesting to see the figures from it. Once again, thanks to Tracey and the team for the stats.

Monday 18 January 2010

Mon 18th Jan

The Great Tit yesterday could have been right, today the temperature got up to double figures, and even the first of the snowdrops are just about to burst their buds down in the woods here at home, must remember to check Bridgend Woods the next time we are going that way.
Yesterday, there were 53 Lapwings round at Ballinaby, along with 35 Golden Plover and 8 Ringed Plover. On the other side of the road were 2 lots of Mallards totalling 20 in all, and further down the field there was a Peregrine attempting a stoop on some ducks but with no joy. Further on round the loch and there was a sighting of a male Hen Harrier, quite close to us.
In the fields down beside Lossit Farm today there was a group of around 100 Starling and mixed through them were 30 Fieldfare and around 20 Redwing.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Sun 17th Jan

Another great day weatherwise over here, Malcolm commented on having a Great Tit singing in his garden, it was almost as if in March not mid January! As it was so good, James had been out round Ardnave Point and had 8 Snow Bunting and also 19 Purple Sandpiper. Also Peter at his house in Bruichladdich was well pleased with over 10 Goldfinches and more than 5 Greenfinches at his feeders today. Peter had gone down to look for the Gyr Falcon at Portnahaven, with no luck, but had met in with another birder who had seen it about 30 minutes prior to their meeting!
By the way, there were a few Fulmars in on the crag this morning, are we due for a change in the weather in a few days time?

Saturday 16 January 2010

Sat 16th Jan

There was a sighting of a Gyr Falcon today, it was first seen at Killeyan down on the Oa by Andy Schofield, and then later on it was over at Portnahaven and seen by John Armitage.
James had the lesser Canada Goose, hutchinsii , over at Gruinart this morning and also a Peregrine later on.
George had 47 Greenland Whitefronted Geese up on his fields today along with a few Greylags. He had also seen a couple of Goldeneye at Bowmore yesterday, and a further 4 over in the bay at Port Ellen. Also today, George had a flock of 60 Lapwing flying down Loch Indaal, with intent, could they be thinking of heading over to Ireland?

Friday 15 January 2010

Fri 15th Jan

Peter Roberts, who had some of his friends over staying from Kent earlier on during the week, sent me some more sightings of when they were out. Off Bruichladdich Pier the other day, they had seen a Black throated Diver and 6 Common Scoter, and further out on Loch Indaal itself were 5 Slavonian Grebes. Also, when they were down on the Oa, they had also seen a Merlin, as well as a Hen Harrier, while at Upper Killeyan they had a flock of over 50 Twite.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Thurs 14th Jan

Jack Fleming had seen a Water rail over in one of the ditches at the Craigens road end, and Catherine was on the phone to say the the Little Egret was still present yesterday on the reserve at Gruinart.
Back at home here today, the bird feeders have been busy, with a lot more Chaffinches and also some more Blackbirds present, but on the downside fewer Greenfinches were noted.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Wed 13th Jan

Peter Roberts has had some friends over staying with him. While they were out the other day, over at Bunnahabhain, they saw the adult Iceland Gull, and coming back from there they had 2 Golden Eagles as well as 2 White tailed Sea Eagles. They had also gone down on to The Oa and had seen another Golden Eagle as well as a Peregrine.
Malcolm had been out on the Rhinns run of the Goose count yesterday. At Craigfad, there was a Pink footed Goose in amongst 150 Greylags, on the foreshore at Bruichladdich there were 18 Pale bellied Brent Geese, and up at Coultorsay there were 2 Brent Geese in amongst the Barnacle Geese. Malcolm commented that usually Brent Geese that get in with a field of Barnies remain with them.

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Tues 12 Jan

Today, George had 14 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal, just below his house, up at his pools there were 9 Greenland Whitefronts and also a Jack Snipe. Over at Gartmain and George had 20 Pintail, and on the way to Sanaigmore he had a total of 20 Woodcock, just past Grulinbeg. Earlier on there had been 5 Fieldfare at Rock Mountain, and on the road itself a Buzzard was tucking into a dead Hare, and quite unfazed by the presence of 2 Ravens!

Monday 11 January 2010

Mon 11th Jan

James had just been commenting on the fact that the floods out in front of the hide at the reserve at Gruinart were all frozen over, and the net result was that there were no ducks at all. Well, this morning Louise had seen 50 Teal on one of the fields round at Ballinaby, and back on Saturday morning there were 60 Wigeon on the foreshore at Blackrock at the head of Loch Indaal. Today at home there was another Woodcock seen, or was it the same bird as seen yesterday?

Sunday 10 January 2010

Sun 10th Jan

James had been up for a quick walk at Ardnave this afternoon and had seen a total of 42 Goldfinches which were in several groups rather than all together. He also had 5 single Woodcock, 1 Jack Snipe and loads of Snipe, mainly where the small streams were coming out of the dunes and before entering Loch Gruinart itself. Back on the reserve at Gruinart and 3 single Hen Harriers were noted.
Here at home, and 3 new ticks, 4 Common Gulls were in eating at the food on the ground at the bird feeders, a Woodcock in the wood, and lastly 10 Lapwing were down in the fields. All have been seen around before but possibly more evident as the cold weather continues, the saving grace possibly is that we are fortunate not to have any snow to speak of.

Saturday 9 January 2010

Sat 9th Jan

I have just been watching a program on the television by Bill Bailey, it was filmed down on the Solway, and possibly based at RSPB Mersehead, a lighter look at bird watching through somebody else's eyes. Apart from the main thrust down on the coast, there was also footage taken at Bellymack Farm near Loch Ken where Red Kites are fed daily. We visited it ourselves when we were over on holiday back in November, the main difference was that the day the film crew were there, it looked as if it was nice and sunny, not so with us....
Back on Islay not much birding done, but there was ice on Loch Indaal along the front of Bruichladdich, a sight we do not often get!

Friday 8 January 2010

Fri 8th Jan

Coming back home tonight, there was a Barn Owl which flew across the road in front of us. Earlier on in some trees, a Tawny Owl was present, and it was good to see some Snipe flying away from the verge side ditches as we drove back. This morning, George had seen 9 Whooper Swans at Bruichladdich, flying down Loch Indaal.
The other morning when filling the bird feeders, a couple of Chough flew overhead, which made me think, how do they manage to find enough food when the weather closes in, like at present.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Thurs 7th Jan

Yesterday, James carried out a count of the geese on the reserve at Gruinart, and the numbers tallied through at 6,120 Barnacle Geese, 209 Greenland Whitefronts, 5 Greylags and also the ever present Lesser Canada Goose, hutchinsii.
The Long billed Dowitcher was seen again this morning on Loch Gruinart. George had a Purple Sandpiper on the foreshore down at Bruichladdich today, and on his fields George saw a Curlew, 8 Lapwing, 5 Snipe, 2 Woodcock and also a probable Jack Snipe. George is fortunate that he has a small ditch that runs through his fields which has not frozen over so he has been getting some birds in for a drink of fresh water.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Wed 6th Jan

Catherine had been on the phone this morning to say that the Little Egret was in one of the fields down below the visitor centre over at the reserve at Gruinart yesterday, and had a rather forlorn look about it! Donald James commented to me today that the Woodcock of late have lost quite a lot of body condition, so it is just as well that the shooting ban has come in, especially as there appears to be no let up in this spell of weather.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Tues 5th Jan

Today, James saw an adult Golden eagle when he was up round Ardnave Point, and he also had 10 Snow Buntings up there as well. Back on the reserve at Gruinart and he had seen 2 separate ( 1 Male and 1 female) Hen Harriers. An really early sighting was that of a pair of boxing Hares, it is usually well into February before we normally see them boxing!
Another interesting piece of information from James was about Oran, a 2009 White tailed Sea eagle that was satellite tagged. It has been here on Islay quite a lot of late, it was down on the Oa for 4 days prior to Xmas. From there it was over the centre of Islay for a couple days, up at Gruinart on the 28th, over to Jura on the 29th and 30th. Next stop was Arran on the 31st, and then on the 1st it was on the Mull of Kintyre, could it possibly be the same bird that was on the ice on Loch Gorm on the 29th?
Another piece of interesting news was that Loch Kinnabus is now frozen over, the first time in over 40 years according to one of the locals!

Monday 4 January 2010

Mon 4th Jan

With this cold snap still with us, the birds have been busy out on the feeders, in fact today I fed them twice. One time there was a Blackbird on the table and it managed to eat 15 Suet pellets, shortly after a Starling was on the table, and I thought that the Starling would have a larger appetite, but I was surprised that it only managed 7 pellets!
Over at Coull, and further on round at Ballinaby there were some Golden Plover to be seen, and close to the roadside there was a Redwing with its red feathers very obvious, but no camera, it never fails!

Sunday 3 January 2010

Sun 3rd Jan

The cold weather continues, in fact over here on Islay, perhaps it is only starting to bite in. On the same tack I was reading with interest that BASC has brought out a shooting ban to come into effect from Tuesday 9am. It only comes into play when there has been 15 days of continuous severe weather conditions and basically bans the shooting of all ducks, (including reared duck,) Snipe, Woodcock, Golden Plover, Greylags, Pinkfoots and Canada Geese, but excludes game birds, if memory serves me correctly. The last time this ban was in place was 13 years ago.

Saturday 2 January 2010

Sat 2nd Jan

I almost forgot to tell you all about the rainfall figures for December, we had about 3.75" for the month, and for the year it totalled out at just short of 60", a bit wetter than we normally get. Earlier this morning there was a light shower of rain, which later froze on the ground, great!
Also this morning, when going over to the cottages I was convinced that I had heard the call of a Whooper Swan, but I was mystified as to where it was as I could mot see any sign of any Whoopers at all, a few moments and the problem was solved. Up on top of the bell tower on the former church was a Raven mimicking the call of a Whooper!

Friday 1 January 2010

Fri 1st Jan

A Happy New Year to all you folk out there. To start with we have just heard that the bird blog was second in its' category in the ForArgyll 2009 Awards, great... Between Islay and Jura there were 4 winners and 4 runners up in all the categories, which speaks for itself, many thanks to all of you who voted.
I was looking back at 2009, and noticed that we had done 315 entries through the year, not bad going considering that there were only 365 days in the year!
Today, James had seen 9 Snow Buntings while on a walk round Ardnave Point. He also had an Otter, a Grey plover, a male Hen Harrier and several Chough.
Yesterday afternoon, Donald James MacPhee had seen a couple of White tailed Sea Eagles over on the other side of Islay, and commented on how large they are.