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.