Friday 30 April 2010

Fri 30th April

Yes, I realise that this is not a bird, but on consultation with Danny Arnold, I am reliably informed that it is a female Emperor Moth seen along in front of the cottages today. A Small Tortoiseshell was seen up at Shepherd's cottage and also 7 Twite in the garden.
Another piece of good news today is that the Barn Owl on the "Owlcam" at the Islay Natural History Trust laid her first egg last night, spotted by a lady in the Scottish Borders who e mailed through at 04.33 to tell me so, not that I was up!
A great day for birds one way and another, John Molloy one of the visitors returned home tonight, but had seen some Little Terns at Ardnave yesterday. At Gruinart, 3 calling Corncrakes were heard this morning and the Garganey was still present, but no sign of the Little Egret. The flock of Golden Plover were still present between Coul and Rockside, and the 2 Pink footed Geese were at Rockside with 12 Whitefronts.
Along at Sunderland, the Hares were out boxing in several of the fields this morning, and there this evening we had 36 Whimbrel in one group. Down at Bruichladdich were a few Purple Sandpiper, some Rock Pipits and 28 Turnstone, needless to say no camera.... Later on we were fortunate to see a Short eared Owl, and then a Cuckoo close at hand and finally we saw 21 Red Deer together in an inbye field, down grazing instead of being on the hill!
6 Sedge warblers were heard down in the reed bed at the Coastguard cottages.

Thursday 29 April 2010

Thurs 29th April

A Ring necked Duck was seen today in amongst the Tufted Duck at Loch Ballygrant.
Yesterday, over at Gruinart, James had 11 Pale bellied Brent Geese and a male Garganey. Today, James saw his first Lapwing with young for the year, the Corncrake was heard again on the flats, 4 Sedge warblers were seen as was a Water rail.
There were over 40 Sand martin in the air over at Ballinaby, 20 Whimbrel were at Sunderland Farm and there was a flock of over 200 Golden Plover between Rockside and Coul. Each time they tried to land they were chased off by a different Lapwing. I watched this happening on 5 occasions!
A visitor reported in seeing 78 Scaup off Blackrock at the head of Loch Indaal. They had a good day birding with 76 species seen today alone!
George had a male Hen Harrier at the back of Bruichladdich today, and also a few Great Northern Diver on Loch Indaal. George also was saying that his Swallows are back, with some looking at the garage already!

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Wed 28th April

A visitor handed me in some sightings that he had seen today. Over at Ballinaby there were 152 Golden Plover, 8 Dunlin and a Ringed Plover, while round at Rockside there were 22 Barnies, only 2 Whitefronts and 2 Pink footed Geese. The Greylag hybrid was also to be seen again. The reserve at Gruinart had only 2 Barnies and 8 Whitefronts. Also at Gruinart were 28 Black tailed Godwit, while in the wood a couple of Treecreeper were present. 2 different male Hen Harrier were seen at opposite ends of Loch Gorm, one at Saligo and the other along at the phone box! Down at Bruichladdich they had 2 Arctic Tern, and at Port Bhan another 4 Terns.
Another visitor had a Blackcap over at Kildalton and also 2 House Martins at Lagavulin.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Tues 27th April

The weather has not been that great here today, in fact it has been raining for most of the day, it had to come I know, but it could have waited...
I was just speaking to a friend from Oxfordshire who commented on the fact that migration this year appears to be slow.
On that note, Grasshopper warblers have been seen and heard today at Loch Tallant and also at Springbank. James had his first Whitethroat of the year in his garden at Grainel, and had 3 male Hen Harriers at Gruinart, while on the flats a Corncrake was heard the first on the reserve for 2010.
Down on the lochans beside Loch Gorm, there were 29 Whitefronts, a Canada goose, a Barnacle and also a Pink footed goose. Yesterday in one the adjoining grass fields we saw the Greylag hybrid, remember the image of it taken a wee while ago. It was paired up with another goose, so we will have to keep an eye out for them.
There were 21 Whimbrel at Gartmain today, and on the bird feeder at Bridgend Store were 4 Siskin. The feeders here at home had 14 Goldfinch and a couple of Collared Doves were on the trees. Other visitors seen a few Purple Sandpiper at Bruichladdich,12 Whimbrel at Port Bhan and few Dunlin at the coal yard. Another visitor had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle perched on top of the War memorial at Port Bhan!
Carl had also seen some White wagtails on The Strand at the top of Loch Indaal, and on Loch Indaal itself were still some Scaup present while he had a Sandwich Tern from the Power station on his way into Bowmore.

Monday 26 April 2010

Mon 26th April

Robert Davison, as new resident on Islay was in touch today to say that he had seen 3 Sandwich Tern over Loch Indaal.
James had 4 Grasshopper Warbler, a Water rail, a Whinchat and 2 Toads on the reserve at Gruinart today, while Mike Peacock had his first Corncrake of the year over on Oronsay.
Visitors had been watching the Hares today, there were 16 in one field along at Sunderland at lunchtime. Over at Loch Ballygrant, on the cones of the Scots pine trees they had 3 Crossbills, and found 4 flowering Lesser Twayblades, later on down towards Mulindry they had seen a Sparrowhawk and a short while later, a Hen Harrier.
Other visitors had been in Bridgend woods, and had heard 3 Chiffchaff and saw 4 Redpolls. Down at Rockside they had 15 Barnacle Geese, yesterday they saw 43 Red breasted Merganser on Loch Indaal. Today on Loch Indaal, Malcolm had 15 Great northern Diver "milling around, very close together as if in some display"
As I write this evening, the Cuckoo is calling away in the wood again. Down at Gartmain at lunchtime there was a flock of over 200 Bar tailed Godwit and also 31 Whimbrel.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Sun 25th April

Definitely, the day of the Cuckoo, Carl had heard one over at The Kilchoman Schoolhouse, and not to be confused, we also heard one here at home this afternoon, at least 4 miles apart! Howard McDonald, the visitor who told us about the Mallard with the ducklings on the River Sorn, had also heard one up the back of Port Charlotte on Thursday. By all accounts, Howard had enjoyed his stay here on Islay. Carl had also seen the large flock of Golden Plover over at Ballinaby today, along with 6 Barnies and a Whitefront. The Geese that were down on the lochans at Rockside yesterday appeared to have moved on, as there was no sign of them earlier this evening. but there were 5 Red Deer on the top side of the road just as the daylight was starting to fade tonight. There were 20 Whimbrel in a field beside Sunderland Farm.
Over in front of the hide at Gruinart later today, and James had the Green winged Teal. Nobody has seen the Littlle Egret for a few days. There appears to be a few more Wheatears in, as well as some Swallows.
This morning Rory Crawford, who worked with RSPB on Islay last summer, had seen a Hobby just past Gruinart Farm on his way up to Ardnave. While down on the Oa on Friday, Rory had seen a Great Skua.

Saturday 24 April 2010

Sat 24th April

These were just a few of the Golden Plover that were seen around today by our friends. There was a flock of over 500 over at Ballinaby, a small group of 13 at Rockside, and a further 71 down at Claddach at Portnahaven.
Other friends had seen a few Turnstone at Bruichladdich, while up at the platform overlooking the floods at Gruinart, they had seen some Twite and coming home tonight they had a female Hen Harrier out on the wing.
At home this afternoon, I went back up the burn to close to where I had found the dead Mallard, as I had seen a hen Pheasant come away from a nest with 15 eggs in it. I found the nest right enough, but no hen, let alone no eggs, but definitely where the nest once was. So was it the Otter at it again?
Down on the lochan below Rockside this morning were 2 Mute Swan, 30 Whitefronts, a few Greylags and some Mallard.

Friday 23 April 2010

Fri 23rd April

This is an image sent in last night by visitors who are over for a fortnight. The Hares, I think have not be so active this Spring compared to other years.
Last night at the back of 10pm when I was up looking the sheep, I carried on and went to check out the burn. There was a large splash in one of the pools, and on further examination I found the body of a freshly killed Mallard drake. About 10 yards downstream, there was its' head, and on discussion with friends today, we now think that what I had disturbed was an Otter. I went back this morning and there was no sign of the poor Mallard or even its' head.
This morning before 8 o'clock, Malcolm had counted 282 Pale bellied Brent Geese down on Loch Indaal. He managed to read the rings on 20 different birds and sent these off to the Irish Brent Study Group based at Strangford Loch. Later this afternoon, Malcolm had a response from Ireland to say that some of the birds had actually been seen at 17.40 yesterday at Inner Dundrum Bay in Co. Down and about 100 miles from here!
On the reserve at Gruinart today, James had a couple of Garganey and also an Otter on the floods. Yesterday, here at home, while cutting the grass in front of the house, there was a pheasant egg on the middle of the grass....
Carl e mailed in. "A couple of Shags were down on the rocks at Carn and the odd Buzzard on a pole, but apart from that, very little was moving. The "harbour"seals were enjoying moan fest in the harbour at Portnahaven, but I guess rain is a bit of a non issue if you are a seal! Redshanks were calling at the lochan between Ellister and An Gleann on the return journey, and a few Willow warblers were doing their best to sound cheerful from the forestry. There were a couple of Lesser Black backs with the Common gulls paddling about in the fields at Octofad. Whimbrel were calling over Port Charlotte on my return home."

Thursday 22 April 2010

Thurs 22nd April

Ever felt you are being watched? Michal is back again, and was out early the other morning at the start of the week and caught this Greenland white front before it left. On Tuesday, he had also carried out a count of 3,600 Barnies on the reserve at Gruinart.
Visitors had reported 58 Pale bellied Brent coming in to land below the coal yard first thing this morning. Further on, at Bun an uillt on the east side of Loch Gruinart, they had 46 Turnstone and up at Gortontaoid there were a couple of Yellowhammer. Coming back along the beach towards Killinallan Point, there was a small group of 13 Twite on the shoreline.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Wed 21st April

These are just 3 of the 21 Black tailed Godwit that rested up at Ardnave last night, they flew off North this morning. One of them had multi coloured rings on its legs, so if we find out it's history, we will let you know.
James had carried out a count on the floods yesterday. There were 219 Teal, 38 Wigeon, 11 Pintail, 16 Shoveler, 19 Mallard, 4 Heron, 28 Black tailed Godwit, 12 Gadwall, 2 Red breasted Merganser, 5 Mute Swan, 3 Whooper Swan, 6 Shelduck, 1 Moorhen and 63 Redhank. He also had seen a Jack Snipe and also 10 White Wagtail.
Carl had heard a Sedge Warbler down at Portnahaven on Monday, and Louise had also had one on Jura over the weekend. Back to today, and Carl had 30 Barnies and 14 Greylag at Nerabus, 40 Whitefronts at An Gleann, 2 Swallows at Easter Ellister, a single Stonechat at Wester Ellister and at Heatherfield, he saw a nice Roebuck in velvet.
Last night was the first committee meeting of the Islay Natural History Trust since the AGM, and at the meeting Malcolm had intimated that he was wishing to stand down at chairman. Carl Reavey is our new man in the chair, with Malcolm taking over the post as Secretary, George continues as vice chairman and Margaret as Treasurer.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Tues 20th April

These are just some of the 111 Pale bellied Brent Geese that were down at Gortan on Loch Indaal this morning, Catherine had also seen 42 up on Loch Gruinart. The Barnies are still with us yet, there were quite a few over at Coull and also Rockside this morning, and this evening several hundred along at Sunderland, as were 58 Whitefronts. Carl had also seen 40 Whitefronts still at Octofad today. There were 10 Whimbrel on the Loch Indaal shoreline above Bruichladdich this afternoon.
A visitor staying at Bridgend told me that he had seen a Mallard with 6 ducklings on the River Sorn this morning.

Monday 19 April 2010

Mon 19th April

The visiting birders spotted a pair of Crossbills over at Avenvogie, a pair of Grey wagtails and a Common sandpiper on the River Sorn as well as a few Merlin on their travels. They also had seen a Little Grebe.
James had the "odd" experience today of watching the Geese on the reserve at Gruinart, and at the same time listening to a Willow Warbler. There were still just a few Swallow to be seen along the flats. Several hundred Barnies were at Rockside this afternoon, a smaller number at Sunderland, and there was a small group of Whitefronts along with them. Down at Blackrock, on the eel grass were 5 Pale bellied Brent.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Sun 18th April

Carl was in touch to say that on his way down to Portnahaven that there was an absence of both Barnies, and of Whitefronted geese although James commented that the Barnies were still at Gruinart, possibly gathering there before heading North. James was saying that there not many Whitefronts with him, so possibly many of them have already left. Carl had noticed pairs of Greylags to the fore in many places on the Rhinns and he had a female Hen Harrier at Octofad.
A visiting birder had a 180 Redshank together on a 40 yard stretch of Loch Indaal at Blackrock, and on the stream at Port Charlotte this morning, he had heard a Common Sandpiper.
Michal had a count of 400 Golden Plover at Ballinaby. They were also seen by the same lads who had the Sandwich tern yesterday, but they had a single Dunlin in the midst of the Plovers. On their travels today, they saw a couple of White wagtails and at Gruinart a Greenshank.
This afternoon, James had 39 Black tailed Godwits, 4 pair of Gadwall, the Little Egret, 55 Golden Plover (not usually seen on the floods) with 3 Pale bellied Brent and 15 Whooper Swan on Loch Gruinart. 4 Swallow were seen over the flats and over a hundred Sand Martin flying there too.
Back here at home, and there appear to a large flock of Linnet on one of the game crops next door on Rockside.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Sat 17th April

Another week in, and some new birders in for the next week too, another set of eyes to look out for birds! After coming off the ferry this morning, they had seen a Sandwich Tern down at Port Ellen, and a wee while later on had a Yellowhammer along towards Kildalton.
This morning, there were 17 Whooper Swan overhead here at home, flying quite low, so they probably were going to Loch Gorm for a rest.
While I was over on Colonsay and Oronsay on Wednesday, I heard that there had been a couple of Spotted Redshank on The Strand, and a Hawfinch had been seen on a feeder on Colonsay itself, the previous week.

Friday 16 April 2010

Fri 16th April

Carl Reavey reported in to say that he had heard Whimbrel calling over Portnahaven today, and our friends who saw a few yesterday, said there were more around today. Carl also had seen a Grey Wagtail at Nerabus on his way down to Portnahaven.
James was in touch to say that he thought that some of the Geese were on their way North.
I heard late last night that a Hoopoe had been seen on Jura on Wednesday, so I will have to do some detective work on that one, once I get a moment!

Thursday 15 April 2010

Thurs 15th April

One of the walks for Walkislay this morning went up to the hills behind the Airport, and a distant Golden Eagle was seen, as was some Red grouse and a pair of Golden Plover.
Other visitors reported in to say they had seen a few single Whimbrel today, and also a pair of Dunlin in summer plumage. When they were out yesterday they had seen 4 Adders sunning themselves.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Wed 14th April

Today, James, Michal and myself helped out with Walkislay, with a walk from Colonsay over The Strand to The Priory on Oronsay. The weather was just right for us, and more importantly the tide was out and so allowing us to cross The Strand. We had an amazing total of 90 folk out in total, I would have been pleased with 60 but words fail me, just great!
Birdwise we all saw a Golden Eagle, there were 3 Swallows at The Priory itself, a pair of Chough flew past on our way back, and off the ferry on the way to Colonsay, a couple of Bottle nosed Dolphins were spotted.
There was also a report of another Corncrake being heard last night.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Tues 13th April

A male Ring necked Duck was seen up at Ardnave Loch today. It had been reported to RSPB at the office at Gruinart earlier this morning and James quickly phoned round us all. This is the first time James has had one on Ardnave Loch in 10 years, although there was one down at Kinnabus on the Oa the other year.
The first Corncrake of the year was up at Kilnave yesterday, and the Cuckoo has been heard at several places including Kilchoman School and Foreland.
George had seen around 1,000 Barnacle Geese flying high on Sunday night. There were large groups at Rockside, Ballinaby, and at Gruinart as well as up at Ardnave today. Also on Ardnave Loch was a Canada Goose, it was present there yesterday as well. On the fields at Ardnave was a flock of 60 Golden Plover mostly in summer plumage. A friend had seen 26 Sanderling while walking round Ardnave this afternoon. Back in Bruichladdich, and George had seen a pair of Bullfinch.
Several pairs of Mute Swan appear to be quite active in their nest building activity over the past few days.
Yesterday, Michal had been helping out Dunlossit and Ardtalla Estates on their annual Deer count. While he was out, Michal had seen a pair of Red throated Diver on one of the high hill lochs, both birds were in summer plumage. On the hills too, Michal had heard Golden Plover singing and also a few Red Grouse.

Monday 12 April 2010

Mon 12th April

Coming home this evening from the Visitors' Welcome Evening, we saw 2 different Barn Owls, one at Bridgend and the other nearer to home. There was a big Red Deer stag at the roadside at one point, so it was just as well I was paying attention.
The Peacock butterfly was taken on one of the walks today. There have been quite a few Common Lizards seen at various places over the last day or two, but no reports of any Adders yet!
Here at home today we had our first 2 Swallows on the telegraph wires, and further down the road towards the Reed bed were 3 Sand Martins.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Sun 11th April

A great day here, especially for the folk over for Walkislay. One of the group of walkers had a great sighting of a Golden Eagle, while the others had to make do with a pair of Yellowhammer!
James came back last night after being away on holiday for the past week, and they had 6 Bottle nosed Dolphin from the ferry.
Carl had a Small Tortoisehell down at Portnahaven yesterday, and at home today in Port Charlotte in his garden, he had Goldcrest, Great Tit and Dunnock singing.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Sat 10th April

Carl Reavey had a Willow Warbler today down at An Gleann on the road to Portnahaven. There was a report of more Sand Martins up at Ardnave and also Swallows at Gruinart , both from yesterday.
Back here at home today, and I saw my first Peacock butterfly on the wing outside this year, and at the same time a Bumble bee flew past. Last night, just after 10pm, there was a Pipistrelle bat out over at the cottages. For the past few days, the Fulmars are back on the crag. It's great too hear them, but I am certainly keeping well out of their range should they decide to vomit...

Friday 9 April 2010

Fri 9th April

Some friends over for "walkislay" (our annual walking week on Islay), had been down at the hide at Gruinart and they were pleased to see the Little Egret out on the floods, they had also seen a couple of Swallow while they were at Gruinart.
Michal e mailed to say that he had Willow Warbler on the reserve at Gruinart today, and also George left a message on the phone to say that he too had Willow Warbler at Bruichladdich.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Thurs 8th April

Coming back from Goose counting today, Malcolm had 15 Whooper Swan resting up on the sand at the head of Loch Indaal, below the Nurse's cottage at Bridgend. Further round at Carnain, the male Mute Swan was starting to bring material in for their nest. Back at Bruichladdich, and Malcolm had 5 Purple Sandpiper.
Today, Sandy MacTaggart from Machrie Croft had counted 45 Whooper Swan flying in from the sea and Machir Bay. They then flew on and headed North to Saligo Bay and further on past in the direction of "The Opera House rocks".
Yesterday George had seen a pair of Shelduck return to their nest site again, and similarly also yesterday, I saw the pair here at home too.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Wed 7th April

Last night, on the way home from Fiddlers' Bid concert down in Portnahaven, there was a Barn Owl sitting on top of a fence post below Octofad. It was quite unfazed by the traffic and all the headlights! The concert itself was great....
Today, whilst doing a Deer Count on the reserve at Gruinart, Catherine had seen a Swallow and later on while out on the moor, she had a Short eared Owl. Several Hen Harrier were also noted too. Back at home, as it was a good day, it was out with the ride on mower, and cut some more grass, before it gets out of hand!

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Tues 6th April

A mixed day weather wise, out here today. Rain through the night and most of the morning, dry this afternoon, but this evening it is looking like some more rain.
On Sunday, (a better day) Carl Reavey had seen a Sand Martin down at Bridgend while attending the Pie & a Pint event hosted by Islay Ales. Also at the weekend a pair of Short eared Owls were seen and last night, we saw a male Hen Harrier getting blown along in the wind. I should not really complain about the weather but one does tend to have a short memory sometimes...

Monday 5 April 2010

Mon 5th April

The ever present Little Egret was seen out in front of the hide at Gruinart as was a Little Grebe. On the way over to Gruinart this evening, there were 15 Red Deer close to the roadside, and they did not move off as we slowed down to look at them, further on was a Roe Deer.
This evening was the first Visitor Welcome Evening of the year, which was well attended by 42 visitors.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Sun 4th April

Looking out the kitchen window this morning, and Margaret saw the Shelduck return to their nest for the first time this year, so we will keep you updated when we have any more sightings of them.
I heard today that a Swallow had been seen on Friday. Earlier on this evening, I checked up on Tony the Whooper Swan, he is still going in the direction of Iceland, but rather slowly!
The rainfall total for March was just under 4", a total for the year of only 8" so far, dry for out here! Malcolm told me that the Airport had their wettest day, last Tuesday, since mid November!

Saturday 3 April 2010

Sat 3rd April

A visitor who had been round Ardnave this afternoon gave me in his sightings. The highlight was probably 3 pairs of Wheatear, he also had 9 Pale bellied Brent Geese in the lee of Nave Island, 3 Sanderling, 6 Turnstone, 1 Grey Plover and 1 Great Northern Diver. On Nave Island itself, there were 50 Grey Seals while on Ardnave Loch were some Tufted Duck and Mute Swan but no Whooper Swan present.
Another birder had counted 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal, as well as a male Hen Harrier out on the wing.

Friday 2 April 2010

Fri 2nd April

I see that Tony the Whooper Swan has now left Islay and has headed off in the general direction of Iceland.
It was good to meet in with Michal over at Gruinart yesterday, after his 6 month stay in The Seychelles. Michal is to give a talk on his trip at a later date, so it will be great to see his images.
Visitors from Edinburgh have been well pleased this week with several sightings of Hen Harrier, also the Little Egret as well as the Geese. The Geese were not present during their previous visit a few years ago in May.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Thurs 1st April

Well, the weather here today has been a great improvement on the previous day, and more importantly, we have electricity again, thanks to James for writing the entry last night! It was odd how many times I came through and moved the "mouse" to see if there was any new e mails in, it took some time for the penny to drop there was still no electricity. Full marks to the lads who were out giving us power again, be it at just after midnight.
Tracey emailed the figures through for the Goose count carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday, in all there were 30,032 Barnies and 4,359 Whitefronts. The figures are down quite a bit on last week, but Malcolm reckons this due to the weather rather than Geese moving North. Thanks again Tracey for the figures.
Talking of birds migrating, Tony the Whooper Swan, still is here on Islay, and possibly up on Ardnave, at least going by the map on the web, it appears to be Ardnave Loch.
The Daffodils up the drive took a battering with the wind and are looking a sorry state, as are the few Primroses that were out.