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.