Sunday 28 February 2010

Sun 28th Feb

This is another great image taken last weekend by Dan Brown, this time of a Greenland white-fronted Goose in flight.
Last night, James had a close encounter with a Barn Owl as he went to shut his hens in. As he opened the top half of the stable door, the Barn Owl flew out, a near miss by all accounts!
Over the last fortnight, our visiting birders, and friends who gave me their sightings were Albert and Hazel Percival from Cambridge, and also Gordon and Pauline Yates who also contributed quite a few of the images of late. Many thanks for your assistance and sharing them with us all.

Saturday 27 February 2010

Sat 27th Feb

This stoat in it's ermine coat was taken last weekend by Dan Brown. We do not often see many of them, here on Islay.
Malcolm had seen a couple of Barn owls in different places on his way home from Bowmore the other night.
Our other visitors, had seen 2 Peregrine Falcon yesterday, again at different places.
This morning, round at Ballinaby, there were 110 Lapwing and a large flock of over 400 Golden Plover all together in one field, with some starting to get their summer plumage. There were 2 Whooper swans down on the lochans at Loch Gorm, and at Blackrock there was a family of 7 Mute swans, 2 adults and 5 young.

Friday 26 February 2010

Fri 26th Feb

Catherine has had a busy week counting birds, she had two days back to back helping out on the Goose count and then another day carrying out a count on Loch Gruinart. As well as counting numerous geese, she also had 2 Golden Eagles high up in the air, up behind Ballimartin.
The tally for Loch Gruinart was as follows, 200 Curlew, 164 Wigeon, 355 Oystercatcher, 55 Redshank, 29 Turnstone, 39 Sanderling, 57 Ringed Plover, 43 Herring Gull, 26 Mallard, 404 Bar tailed Godwit, 6 Snipe, 20 Common Gull, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Heron, 792 Dunlin, 207 Shelduck, 14 Black headed Gull and 23 Lapwing.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Thurs 25th Feb

Another image of a Greenland White fronted Goose but with it facing into the driving snow which persisted for most of yesterday. Today it has been slightly warmer, so it was rain, but this evening it is falling as sleet!
Our friends had a count of almost 400 Golden Plover in 3 different fields this afternoon between Coull and Ballinaby, including a few with black chest/belly to be seen.
With this prolonged cold snap continuing, the bird table has been busy, still no Siskin, although friends up the back of Bridgend had seen one at their feeder at the weekend and there was 4 seen today at another garden set of feeders not far from where they live. This afternoon, there were 14 Pheasants out on the grass here at home.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Wed 24th Feb

This image of a White tailed Sea Eagle was taken on Sunday by Dan Brown who was over for a few days, his first visit to Islay and by the sounds of it, it will not be his last! Dan originally saw the bird up at Ardnave and then followed it down and took this image of it on the reserve at Gruinart. It is marked O on yellow wing tags. James was in touch with Dave Sexton who is with RSPB on Mull. Dave was able to confirm that this was a 2006 Mull bird, and the children from Lochdon Primary school had called it Oatie. Oatie's brother, Haggis is still around and was seen on Mull last week! Many thanks to Dan for your image, and to James and Dave for their input too. The birds in the foreground are Curlews!
Another visitor yesterday, had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier at Gruinart as well as around 600 Dunlin on Loch Gruinart itself. Later on he had seen a Goldcrest.
I was speaking to George last night, and he was saying that he had a couple of Otters in front of his house at Bruichladdich on Loch Indaal yesterday. Bette Bell also told me that she had seen 3 Otters on Loch Indaal from her house in Port Charlotte.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Tues 23rd Feb

These 7 Whooper Swan were caught on camera by friends who took the image round at Ballinaby today. The question then is, are these the same 7 that James had at Gruinart yesterday?
Our friends also had seen 29 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal, a flock of between 150 - 200 Twite down on the Oa and also 50 Chaffinch at Ardbeg.

Monday 22 February 2010

Mon 22nd Feb

An image taken this evening on our way home, looking over Coull Point out to the Atlantic. Another cold day, but at least it has stayed dry, there has been just over 4" of rain in total so far this year, I will say no more!
Yesterday, Ewan, one of the volunteers at Gruinart at present, had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle being mobbed by a Golden Eagle over the reserve. James had a count of 305 Skylark on a field beside his house. Today, James had seen a Golden Eagle again over the reserve, and there were 7 Whooper Swan present on the flats this afternoon. The large flock of Golden Plover were still evident at Ballinaby.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Sun 21st Feb

Another cracking image sent in by our friends who are over on holiday for a few days. This time of a Golden Plover, and please note the snow on the ground, something which we do not normally get over here! As well as the Golden Plover they had also seen 120 Lapwing at Ballygrant. At Bunnahabhain, they saw 3 groups of Bullfinch on the heather eating the seed heads, there were 4 in one small group, 10 in another and 15 in the final group. This group had 6 males and 9 females in it.
Other visitors reported in seeing 20 Purple Sandpiper up at Ardnave this afternoon.
Back here at home, there were 10 Blackbirds on the food on the ground today, while earlier on a female Hen Harrier was seen along the bottom of the crag.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Sat 20th Feb

James sent through figures of some birds yesterday. On the floods, there were 4 Woodcock, 4 Red breasted Merganser, 1 Tufted duck and the Little egret. He had managed to do a goose count on the reserve too, with figure tallying out at 4,925 Barnies, 226 Whitefronts, 29 Greylags and 1 Canada goose, hutchinsii. Later on, James a young Golden eagle on the wing and finally James had 2 male Hen harrier. A great day by all accounts.

Friday 19 February 2010

Fri 19th Feb

This image of an Otter was kindly sent in to me today by a visitor over on Islay on holiday. He also said that he had seen the Little Egret on the floods at the reserve at Gruinart, and also present was a Water rail and further on he saw a Woodcock. Down on the foreshore at Bruichladdich, he had seen 6 Purple Sandpiper as well as 6 Snipe.
George had 2 Pochard and 7 Whooper Swan up at Ardnave yesterday, and today there were 60 Scoter in Loch Indaal off Bruichladdich.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Thurs 18th Feb

Well, as promised here is a cracking image that was sent in to me yesterday. It was taken over at Loch Ballygrant and obviously looking towards the Paps of Jura. Many thanks to the anonymous person who took it! The winter views still persist today, and I was really surprised to see how low down the snow was on the Oa.
Birdwise, there was a large flock of Golden Plover with some Lapwing, round at Ballinaby this morning and the Fieldfare were still present at Rockside. Back at home there were a few Redwing to be seen.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Wed 17th Feb

On Monday, I reported that Dolphins were seen off Port Charlotte, well today James was returning home from Edinburgh and from the ferry he had 2 Porpoises. He also saw over 40 Great Northern Diver, 15 Red throated Diver and 5 Black throated Diver while coming over from Kennacraig. He also said that there was no snow to be seen, only on Islay and Jura! More of that tomorrow!
Another visiting birder had seen 12 Bullfinch over at Bunnahabhain, eating on the seed heads of the heather while a different visitor had seen a male Hen Harrier on a fencepost, not far off the road at the other end of Islay. Needless to say that the Harrier had flown off by the time he got his car stopped and the camera out!
George had the Little Egret over on the floods at Gruinart today, and back at home he had 60+ Scoter on Loch Indaal. George also saw his first Otter down there for 5 months. Coming home from Gruinart, there was a Raven acting rather oddly, possibly trying to get nesting material as normally they fly off when one stops to have a look at them, but this one did not.
Finally, at Rockside this afternoon, there were 56 Fieldfare, again rather camera shy. Earlier on there was a Kestrel which flew across the road ahead of us.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Tues 16th Feb

Tracey sent an e mail through today with the totals for last week's Goose count, the figures were 38,847 Barnacle Geese and 6,539 Whitefronts. Once again many thanks to Tracey and the team for that information.
Malcolm had seen 5 Purple Sandpiper on the foreshore down at Bruichladdich yesterday.

Monday 15 February 2010

Mon 15th Feb

A visitor over on holiday was in touch earlier this evening to say that 4 Dolphins had been seen off Port Charlotte at 8.30 this morning, now I know what the Doctor meant when she commented on looking for Dolphins....
The same visitor had also seen a male Merlin over towards Craigens this afternoon, but the strong wind had prevented him from getting any images as the car was being buffeted by the wind. Further on there was the Little Egret down on the floods at the reserve at Gruinart, up the hill at the Grainel road end, there was a large flock of Skylark and finally round at Ballinaby a flock of over 200 Golden Plover were present.
It now appears that the dead Gyr Falcon, that was found by John and Lindy MacLellan yesterday, is probably the same bird that was seen earlier on several times down at Portnahaven.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Sun 14th Feb

A day of pluses and negatives, this afternoon while I was out up towards the former church at the top of the hill, 20 Chough flew overhead, a great site to see, that was the plus. The negative was in an e mail through from Malcolm that a Gyr Falcon had been found dead on the strand, it was on the lean side and had been dead for a few days. Whether this was the same bird that was down at Portnahaven and the Oa, or was it a completely different bird as there has been speculation of 2 birds being present.

Friday 12 February 2010

Fri 12th Feb

James has just returned from the annual RSPB staff conference which was held at Pitlochry. A great time was enjoyed by all and James met in with some of his former Islay colleagues, Gus Keys who was site manager on the Oa was there. Gus is now site manager based down in Wigtown and looking after Ailsa Craig, Mull of Galloway, Wood of Cree and Ken Dee, quite a spread! Helen Moncrieff from Shetland was down, Helen spent a year at Gruinart while Catherine was up on Egilsay. The other person was Rory Crawford who was on Islay last summer and is now based at HQ in Edinburgh. Back to the birds, and while he was there James had seen a Great spotted Woodpecker, 26 Bullfinch, numerous Long tailed Tits, Treecreeper and some Red Squirrels and a single Grey Squirrel.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Thurs 11th Feb

I had been speaking with Louise the other day just after the "big garden birdwatch", and just generally talking birds. Louise was saying that she has a male Blackcap on her feeders at home over on Jura. At the same, she has not had any Siskins this winter, come to think of it neither have we either, so a wee job for tomorrow is to get in touch with friends that stay up the back of Bridgend to ask if they have any with them. The Robin out in the garden was singing away good style today, we certainly have been having a great spell of weather of late, but for how before it breaks down?

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Wed 10th Feb

Here is one of that Goose again, to the untrained eye (that's me) it looks like 16F, but as we all now know it really was J6F. Malcolm e mailed Tony Fox who co-ordinates the Greenland Whitefront program. Tony was quick to reply. This goose was initially caught and rung in West Greenland in July 2008. It was seen overwintering in the Machrihanish area on the Mull of Kintyre last winter, and this is the first record of it this winter. It was interesting to read through the history of another goose, J3H, it too was rung in July 2008, again in West Greenland, and it overwintered on the Islay last winter. Back in November 2009, it was here again on Islay, down at Cladville at Portnahaven. All that information came through from Tony who is in China, the power of e mails...
Still on Geese, and Tracey emailed the figures for the Goose count carried out last week, there were 43,510 Barnies and 5,625 Whitefronts. Thanks again to Tracey and the team for the numbers.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Tues 9th Feb

We managed to get this image of a Greenland Whitefront with a neck collar this afternoon. When we first saw it, the goose was less than 20 metres away, but got spoofed and flew off before we could read it, and landed further away from us! When it first landed we took several images of it with its' neck erect and we read the collar as 16F, and it was not until we got home and had a further look at the images, to see in fact that it is J6F. To cut a long story short, I have spoken with Steve Percival who does the ringing of the Barnacle Geese here on Islay, and Steve will try to find out the history behind J6F.
John Armitage e mailed through today to say that the Gyr Falcon had been seen on the Oa yesterday. Catherine had the Little Egret on the floods on the reserve at Gruinart again this morning.

Monday 8 February 2010

Mon 8th Feb

This morning the birds in the wood were making the most of almost a Spring like day, most of them appeared to be singing away, quite content. Although we never noticed any Chough up at Ardnave yesterday, here at home over the past few days, there have been some birds seen and needless to say, heard as well! There was a pair of Raven out over the crag this morning, so possibly the first of them starting to think about breeding again.
James had seen 2 Greenshank on the reserve at Gruinart today, and our visiting birders were well pleased with having good sightings of a Golden Eagle.

Sunday 7 February 2010

Sun 7th Feb

Up on Ardnave Loch this afternoon were 14 Swans, and on checking them through, we noted 5 Mute and 9 Whooper. Also present on the water were some Wigeon, a few Mallard, and a few Tufted Duck also. Further round on the water's edge was a group of Oystercatcher. Not that I looked too hard but there was no sign of any Chough about, possibly further out on the dunes or down on the shoreline. There were quite a lot of Curlew in one of the fields. The Little Egret was present on the floods in front of the hide at Gruinart. There was a good showing of Geese at Coull, but none to be seen round at Ballinaby at all.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Sat 6th Feb

I was speaking to Malcolm this morning, and the topic of the Goose count came up. Malcolm had done the count round Loch Gorm this week, and there had been relatively high figures for Gorm, so the figures will probably balance themselves out with the low count that James had yesterday on the reserve. We will just have to wait on the figures through from Tracey!
Some visiting birders in off the ferry this afternoon had seen an adult Mediterrean Gull down beside McArthur's Head as the ferry entered The Sound of Islay. One of them was well pleased as he saw his first "Scottish" Chough as 4 flew past just when they arrived. There were 13 birds in total going to the roost.

Friday 5 February 2010

Fri 5th Feb

18 Fulmar were on the crag yesterday, a possible sign that the weather is in for a turn, and today they have flown back out to sea again.
Down at Gartmain yesterday afternoon, on the way into Bowmore, there were 105 Sanderling, 48 Oystercatcher, 121 Bar tailed Godwits, 30 Lapwing, 34 Mallard, 2 Wigeon, 7 Common Gull, 8 Curlew and 6 Eider off shore.
Today, there were 3 groups of Pale bellied Brent geese totalling 34 on the way to Bruichladdich and down at Sunderland Farm 16 Blackbirds were in a field.
James had the Little egret out on the floods out in front of the hide this afternoon, and also a Peregrine flew over at the same time. There were 200 Lapwing along with 5 Snipe present. James also managed a Goose count for the reserve, the totals were 3,153 Barnacle Geese, 267 Whitefronts, 22 Greylag and the lesser Canada Goose, hutchinsii. James said it was a low count.

Thursday 4 February 2010

Thurs 4th Feb

The other day when I had my camera with me, I managed to get these Greenland fronted geese as they flew over. Usually it is the Barnacle Geese that are "caught in camera". The light was good, blue skies what else do you want in January?
James had the Little Egret over at the reserve at Gruinart yesterday again, it is good to hear that is still around. He also had a Merlin out too.
Now to look to another island, this time Shetland, and I took an hour off to watch Simon King on BBC2, does Simon always wear a hat?? The program and photography was first class, a great advert for Shetland and everyone involved.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Wed 3rd Feb

Catherine sent me through a count of the birds on Loch Gruinart that she had carried out the other day. 71 Shelduck, 200 Wigeon, 20 Mallard, 1 Goldeneye, 269 Oystercatcher, 4 Ringed Plover, 45 Golden Plover, 9 Lapwing, 3 Knot, 23 Sanderling, 561 Dunlin, 197 Bar tailed Godwit, 217 Curlew, 47 Redshank, 16 Turnstone, 106 Common Gulls, 29 Herring Gulls and 3 Greater black backed Gulls. Thanks Catherine for the figures.
Back here at home, and this morning there were 25 Fieldfare in the trees in the wood for a few moments before they flew off. Might have spoken too quickly yesterday, as today it was rather miserable with dirty showers for most of the afternoon!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Tues 2nd Feb

A great day out here today, nice blue skies with the odd cloud, only downside was the temperature, add on another 20 degrees or so and we would still complain!
Believe it or not although the weather was great, the numbers of birds have not been that good. Down at Bruichladdich this afternoon, there was precious little, a single Redshank, a solitary Turnstone, and a Great Northern Diver. Along towards the pier were 3 Eider and that was about it apart from the odd gull. Sorry folks!

Monday 1 February 2010

Mon 1st Feb

Another month in, January may have been cold and frosty, but it was relatively dry with less than 2" of rain, a dry month for us least!
As promised, here are our Big Garden Birdwatch figures which we carried out yesterday. In all we had 11 species, and the actual birds were as follows. 1 Robin, 6 Blackbird, 7 House sparrow, 3 Goldfinch, 1 Blue Tit, 22 Chaffinch, 1 Great Tit, 5 Greenfinch, 2 Hedge sparrow (Dunnock), 4 Pheasant and 2 Starling. We did our count around the middle of the day, on hindsight if it had done it later, possibly mid afternoon, we could have counted more!