Saturday 31 December 2011

Saturday 31st December

Another miserable sort of a day over here, the ground is very wet, it will be interesting to see what the tally for both the month and the year turn up! Personally, I feel it has been as wet a December that I can recall in the last 12 years... The Guillemot was still in the garden this morning, but it flew off later on once daylight came in, a good sign. Later on, between Whin Park and Bridgend there was a Cormorant walking about on the road looking a bit lost, but otherwise okay! So, to end the year, may I thank all the folk who have contributed in their sightings for the blog, and it is great to get the input from visitors to Islay as well, much appreciated. So to all our readers and followers, have a good New Year when it comes along.

Friday 30 December 2011

Friday 30th December

David Willis, who has been over for a few days, saw 2 small Canada Geese over at Eorrabus yesterday, and today Peter saw one up the Mulindry road at Ballitarsin. At Gartmain this morning, Peter had a count of 53 Pale bellied Brent Geese, along with 8 Long tailed Ducks, around 12 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Black throated Diver and 10 Common Scoter. This afternoon, he had a male Merlin up at Ardnahoe and saw the Iceland Gull at Bunnahabhain. Today the weather has not been great, no sun, but plenty of the wet stuff, rain, rain and more rain, how much can we take? Out on the bird table today there were 3 House Sparrows, after saying a couple of days ago that I had not seen any for a while! This evening out in the garden there is a Guillemot on the grass, now about 30 minutes later it is looking a bit more alert, sitting up and preening itself!

Thursday 29 December 2011

Thursday 29th December

The wind has dropped and the temperature too, some dirty showers passed through, but at least some birds have been seen, so here goes.... Yesterday Bob had 5 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal just outside Bowmore, round at "smelly corner", he had 10 Shelduck and 15 Pale bellied Brent. Bob also had a Merlin on the low road down close to the airport. Peter has been trying without luck to see some of the Canada Geese, but had 2 Pale bellied Brent amongst the Barnies up at Neriby, which is about 2 miles from Loch Indaal, later on at Cluanach which is just along the road, a Pink footed Goose was with the Greenland Whitefronts present there. Today, Peter still was on the lookout for the Canada Geese, but found the "scruffy looking" Snow Goose in a field at Newton. Later on in the Ballygrant valley he had a White tailed Sea Eagle and further on a pair of Golden Eagles. He also had a 1st Year Golden Eagle up behind Loch Skerrols. We had a Merlin up at Lyrabus, and a visitor told me he had 35 Chough at Ardnave. Just been watching the first of the Earthflight programs on BBC, I believe that later on, there is footage taken on Islay, so keep watching...

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Wednesday 28th December

Hope you are not looking for many sightings from Islay tonight, as the weather has been against us and the birds too, lots of Greenfinches on the bird table today, no Goldfinches, plenty Chaffinches, no Siskins, but the odd Starling seen, a single Robin, single Coal Tit, Great Tits and a few Blue Tits to report. Come think of it there have no been many House Sparrows around for a few days... The weather today, well, no ferries, no planes, no post, and for an hour this afternoon, no electricity. It was an experience trying to stand while watching the big seas down at Machir Bay, and you had to keep a hold of your hat!!! The blog has been done before the power goes down again as the lights are flickering a bit...

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Tuesday 27th December

Peter forgot to say, (not me for once!) that they had seen 3 Greenshank over on the Killinallan side of Loch Gruinart yesterday. Today we had been down in Bridgend woods, and had a couple of Treecreeper, a Coal Tit, up at The Woolen Mill on the feeders there, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, and Chaffinch were present but no sign of any Siskins. Down closer to Bridgend there were quite a few Snowdrops out, with many others just waiting to burst out into bloom. James had been down at Kintra and had a Great Norhern Diver close in, and later on a pair of Chough were seen . As I write, the wind is starting to growl a bit outside, just increasing ready for tomorrow's blow, Calmac put out an amber warning in anticipation mid morning today....

Monday 26 December 2011

Monday 26th December

A few sightings through from Peter & Pia, yesterday over at Ballinaby, they had a male Hen Harrier. Today Pia had a juvenile Golden Eagle near to Gruinart Farm, and later on while looking through the Barnacle Geese flocks over at West Carrabus for Cackling Geese, but with no joy, they came across a "scruffy looking" intermediate Snow Goose which they watched for some time before the scaring gun/ device went off, and the whole flock took off!!! Before I forget, the "bird club" meeting will not be on tomorrow night as quite a few of us are on holiday, others have folk staying with them, so it is not on....

Sunday 25 December 2011

Sunday 25th December

Happy Christmas to all our readers, and due to all the jovialities that go with it, no bird watching has been done. The only birdwatching today has been watching Happy Feet on the TV....Tomorrow is another day, so we might venture out with bins round our necks, but tonight we are going out for Dinner with family and good friends to enjoy the evening, perhaps some might not feel too good tomorrow after all.....

Saturday 24 December 2011

Saturday 24th December

So, what this motley group got to with with Islay birds, you may well ask. Well if the truth be told, it is just some of us being sociable after one of our hectic meetings. The 3 on the left are Badger, John and Ewan who came along when they were birding here on Islay at the end of last month. After that, the one with no hair is me, Ian. Next to my left with the hair is James, then there is Bonnie and David, David is the new site manager for RSPB on the Oa reserve, and finally on the right is Margaret. To cut a long story short, now you now know who some of us are.....Thanks to Badger for his image.... Today Peter and Pia had been over to Bunnahabhain along with a friend who is visiting Islay for a few days. Over there they saw the Iceland Gull, the first report of it being present this present winter. They also watched an Otter there too. We were down at Portnahaven, the weather was poor, the waves were big and the birdwatching was poor, or non existant if the truth be told! Only thing seen was a few Seals on the wee sandy beach over on Orsay, sheltering up!

Friday 23 December 2011

Friday 23rd December

The weather has been a bit mixed here today, but certainly a lot better than it was a year ago when we were all shivering away, trying to cope with snow and icy roads and frozen pipes in some cases...Today, Bob had a female Merlin at the mouth of the River Sorn, a Goosander along at Uiskentuie, in Bridgend Woods 6 Siskins were present and a few Bullfinches seen at the Community garden. Back over towards Port Charlotte, a female Hen Harrier was out. We went over to Kildalton ourselves and in a grass field beside Kintour there was a mixed flock of around 20 Redwing and 30 Fieldfare along with some Starlings. Returning home there was a male Hen Harrier and also a Merlin above Glenegedale. On the Glen road to Ballygrant, several groups of Red Deer were close to the road.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Thursday 22nd December

Yep, it's sure is that time of year again, when all us humans migrate to be back home to be with friends and family. Here on Islay, or Kilchoman to be exact, we have the house full with Margaret's sister over from the Scottish Borders, and tonight Andrew, our son came home for a break along with his other half Amelia. Amelia's mother is here too, but all the way from Adelaide and also here is Mardi, one of Amelia's friends from down under but now works in London, so we are going to be eating, drinking and enjoying ourselves. Some of the local birders are away so the blog may be a bit light in bird content... This afternoon before the gang arrived, out on the back bird table there were 10 Chaffinch, 8 Greenfinch, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Great Tit, 1 Blue Tit and on the ground there were 28 Chaffinch picking on the spilled food. Must try to get a count of both the feeders at the same time...Might even have Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Robins or may be a House Sparrow to add!

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Wednesday 21st December

Yesterday James had done a goose count on the reserve at Gruinart, with the numbers as follows, 4,833 Barnies, 376 Whitefronts, 89 Greylags and 1 Canada hutchinsii sp This morning George had seen 2 White tailed Sea Eagle in the Sound of Islay. Carl had a count of 50 Curlews at Uiskentuie today, with 20 Shelduck at Carnain ("smelly corner" as we sometimes call it!) Carl also seen a Barn Owl there and another at Octofad. Back here at home, there was a pair of Buzzards out over the crag along with a single Peregrine. The other day day, the birds on the feeders moved off quick style as a Sparrowhawk sped through, but did not get anything, although there was some feathers below the feeders this morning when I was putting more food out. You can't win them all!!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Tuesday 20th December

Mary And Crystal carried out a count on Loch Gruinart today, with the scores on the doors as follows, 3 Shag, 1 Heron, 157 Shelduck, 94 Wigeon, 79 Mallard, 1 Eider, 1 Goldeneye, 5 Red breasted Merganser, 41 Shoveler, 14 Pintail, 189 Oystercatcher, 11 Ringed Plover, 12 Grey Plover, 297 Lapwing, 71 Sanderling, 370 Dunlin, 524 Bar tailed Godwit, 166 Curlew, 130 Redshank, 36 Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, 211 Common Gull, 20 Herring Gull, 4 Great Black backed Gull and 1 Common seal. The count for Ardnave Loch was 2 Mute Swan, 9 Whooper Swan, 3 Mallard, 7 Goldeneye, 9 Wigeon and 4 Tufted Duck. James had done a count on the floods at Gruinart yesterday with his highlights being 157 Greylag Geese, 4 Little Grebe, 67 Mallard, 57 Pintail, 77 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 1,116 Teal, 19 Shoveler, 3 Greenshank, 800 Lapwing, 58 Golden Plover, 15 Mute Swan and 13 Whooper Swan. The count of Lapwing was a high count according to James. Down on the Oa yesterday David had a Golden Eagle, Merlin, Woodcock and Snipe on the reserve.

Monday 19 December 2011

Monday 19th December

Back to normal tonight, doing the blog at a more sensible hour of the day.... Mike from Bird Quest had left a message on the phone last night with highlights of their 3 day stay over here, 9 Slavonian Grebes in Loch Indaal off Gortain, a Canada Goose Hutchinsii sp was up the back of Bridgend on Sunday, and also another Canada, Taverner's sp up at Cennacroic on the way to Mulindry. At the head of Loch Indaal, there was a group of 19 Pale bellied Brent with another 8 also seen. A pair of White tailed Sea Eagles were seen over at Killinallan, male Hen Harriers were seen at Loch Gorm, Bunnahabhain and another one at Cennacroic. A ringtail was seen South of Port Charlotte while a Short eared Owl was seen on a fence post in the dark as they were coming up from Portnahaven. A Peregrine was at Gruinart and 4 Greenshank were out the front of the hide. Over at Bunnahabhain, 2 Guillemots and 9 Black Guillemots were seen as well as an Otter! A Tree Sparrow was at Blackrock while along at Loch Gorm, a pair of Chough, a flock of Reed Buntings and 3 Yellowhammers were seen. Today off the ferry as they headed back to Kennacraig their tally read as follows, 60 Kittiwakes,10 Razorbills, 20 Great Northern Divers, half of which were flying West. A Puffin was at the mouth of West Loch Tarbert, while in West Loch Tarbert, 7 Black throated Divers, 10 Red throated Divers. Many thanks for sightings folks. Today on Bob had a small Merlin at home, just the size of a Mistle Thrush . Later on there were several Snipe and Woodcock coming in to feed on the barley stubbles with around 300 Whitefronts coming in to roost. Mary had seen a Water Rail crossing the road at Easter Ellister as she came to work this morning. The figures came through from the team at SNH for the December International Goose count which was carried out last week, the scores on the doors were as follows, 42,595 Barnies and 4,670 Whitefronts. Many thanks for these stats.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Sunday 18th December

Bob had been out over at Gartbreck, down below Bowmore this morning, and had the following count, 25 Mallard, 300 Wigeon, 120 Teal, 1 Goldeneye, 21 Red breasted Merganser, 16 Eider, 4 Shelduck, 4 Mute Swan, 121 Curlew, 45 Oystercatcher, 300 Dunlin, 20 Redshank, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 32 Knot, 90 Bar tailed Godwit, 73 turnstone, 26 Ringed plover, 350 Lapwing, 800 Golden Plover, 2 Grey plover, 1 Cormorant, 57 Shag, 6 Great Northern Diver, 2 Slavonian Grebe, and along at Gartmain 2 Little Stint along with 50 Dunlin. This afternoon here at home, out with birds on the feeders on the back garden was a Brambling. Yesterday Carl had a Merlin at Port Charlotte, and later on 20 Fieldfare were counted up at Octomore. Sorry about the late entry tonight, but more to come tomorrow!

Saturday 17 December 2011

Saturday 17th December

This Snow Bunting was taken by Mary this morning down at Portnahaven, after it had been in for a feed at the bird table. It has been present since the gales last weeks coming in with the Chaffinches to be fed! Mary had a count of over 5,000 Barnacle Geese on the reserve at Gruinart through the week, along with 300 Greenland Whitefronts and 150 Greylags. The leucistic Barnie is still up at Ardnave, over at Killinalan the numbers of geese were not as many but Mary reckons that there has been a juv. Golden Eagle over there! On her way to work, most mornings she has been seeing a Barn Owl out hunting, just she was coming out of Portnahaven. Yesterday, Mary had carried out a farmland bird survey and noticed more Blackbirds around, the largest flock was 13 along with 3 Redwing. Quite a lot of Reed Buntings were seen too, the largest count being 23 at Moulin. Today James had 7 Whoopers at Gruinart, and also 3 different Hen Harriers, 2 females and 1 male. Below the visitor centre there were 14 Long tailed Tits present, as were 4 Red Deer stags. Peter had a Slavonian Grebe in Bowmore Harbour, almost in summer plumage and a further 6 out on Loch Indaal itself. Yesterday Malcolm had a 1st winter Iceland Gull over on Jura.

Friday 16 December 2011

Friday 16th December

Today down on the Oa, David had seen 2 Hen Harriers, 5 Skylarks, 1 Sparrowhawk and a Mistle Thrush. Earlier this week, he had 4 Golden Eagles, 3 Hen Harriers, 2 Buzzards, 1 Peregrine, 1 Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel all on the same day on the reserve. Today George had 2 Herons, 1 Moorhen and 4 Mallards on his ponds, out on Loch Indaal a Great Northern Diver was present. On the bird table George had his first Reed Bunting for the winter, 5 Goldfinches, 15 Chaffinches, 4 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Dunnock and yesterday a Coal Tit was present too. At present Bird Quest have a tour over Islay, based at Port Charlotte. Down on the Oa they had a Golden Eagle, around 30 Fulmar were on the sea. Back on land, 5 Snow Buntings were present, along with around 100 Twite, 3 Skylarks and a Great Tit. Down the low road, a ringtail Hen Harrier was noted. 25 Great Northern Diver were counted between Loch Indaal and Port Ellen Bay, and between Bowmore and Bridgend 15 Pale bellied Brent. Over at Bruichladdich, the 8 Purple Sandpipers were still there along with some Ringed Plover.

Thursday 15 December 2011

THursday 15th December

Peter and Pia have returned from their travels, Peter was leading back to back tours to Brazil and on down to Antarctica, and then to come home our recent windy spells..... Over at Bunnahabhain, they had seen 10 Bullfinches in one flock, with an Otter offshore in the Sound of Islay. Back home at Bruichladdich, they counted 8 Purple Sandpipers on the shore. James had a phone call to rescue a Great Northern Diver at Uiskentuie that had got blown off Loch Indaal and was caught in a fence. James came to the rescue and got it out of the fence, he later released the bird up on Loch Gruinart and it swam off none the worse of its' earlier mishap! I was saddened to hear earlier this week that there were only 4 pairs of Hen Harriers that reared young in England this year, questions need to be asked somewhere. Similarly, an egg thief who got a 6 month sentence this week for his collection of over 700 eggs, and it was not his first conviction for egg collecting, but it was the maximum sentence the judge could impose...

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Wednesday 14th December

Normal service again out here folks, the wind has dropped down and the sea is relatively quiet. Needless to say, the water on Loch Indaal itself was rather dirty in colour and had thrown a lot of sea weed up round the edge of the Loch! By the looks of the forecast for Friday it is down South that may catch the brunt of the weather that day, and we look like getting another good day, great!! Today Bob had counted 1,000 Starling on the flats at Gruinart, also present were 1,200 Lapwing, 500 Teal and one group of 60 Redshank. Further on down at Traigh an Luig on Loch Indaal, there was a Knot, 8 Turnstone, 20 Oystercatcher and a poor looking Cormorant. At the weekend, Carl had a small group of 8 Long tailed Tits on the roadside below Rockside. This afternoon, the single Whooper Swan is still present at Sunderland, and it appears to be okay.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Tuesday 13th December

If you wonder why the blog entry is light with bird entries tonight, this is the reason, the strong winds... This was taken down at Port Charlotte mid morning, and that was before the winds really picked up. Last week Port Charlotte was relatively calm but the wind direction was round a few points. We had a gust at 2pm of 70 mph on Mike's "Kilchoman weather" link. The only birds we saw on our way down to Port Charlotte, were a few Fieldfares at McNichol's croft at Foreland. On a positive note, at least we have had no snow with the wind...

Monday 12 December 2011

Monday 12th December

Bob had been over at Gartbreck this morning and had seen the following birds over there, 30 Chaffinches, 15 Pheasants, 20 House sparrows, 3 Dunnock, 15 Skylark and 6 Blackbirds. Later on back at home, Bob noticed that the geese were very unsettled, flying around a lot more and he wonders whether that this was another "sign" of the wind getting up again? Certainly later this afternoon, the wind has picked up and the temperature has dropped a few degrees. Last week I even noticed that the gritter had been up our road which is a bit of a rarity as we do not often get frosts... May be it was going to be frosty in Oban!!!

Sunday 11 December 2011

Sunday 11th December

Not much going on the bird front today, today has been a bit of a catch up day, getting odd jobs done that did not get completed before now. Net result, not much birding as I have been inside for most of the time, although looking out of the kitchen window at one point, what flew past, a Fulmar. Armin, please note.... Come to think of it, the weather forecast for Tuesday is not looking too good with strong winds forecast again!!! Talking of weather, we have already had 3" so far this month, there certainly is no drought conditions here compared with Essex and other Southern counties. I was speaking with a friend from Rutland and he assures me that he could walk across his fields in his shoes, not the case here Paul!

Saturday 10 December 2011

Saturday 10th December

Some birds through from David down on the RSPB reserve on the Oa, 1 Snow Bunting, 25 Chaffinch, 5 Reed Bunting, 3 Hen Harriers, 1 male and 2 different ringtails, and 2 Golden Eagles. Here at home the bird table had been busy, so much so that we got an another order through from our suppliers to keep the birds well fed over the festive period...

Friday 9 December 2011

Friday 9th December

What a difference a day makes, today here on Islay, blue skies and the sun was shining too, and no wind to speak of. We heard this afternoon that there had been gusts around 90mph down at Portnahaven yesterday. The only damage that I saw was the skin on the polytunnel at Blackrock has gone awol. Several other tunnels around Islay that often catch it, seem have got a reprieve this time round. All in all, we got off lightly although I believe that down below Port Charlotte and in the Portnahaven area folk are still without power. Right back to the purpose of the blog, Islay and its' birds. Danny commented yesterday that he had seen some geese flying backwards... Today before he set off for home, Danny had 2 small groups of Pale bellied Brent Geese, one of 6 and a further 12 both on Loch Indaal just before going into Bowmore. He also commented on a single Whooper down at Sunderland. Thanks to Danny for your sightings this week. We also saw the same swan later on ourselves, and it appeared to be okay, it was up on its' feet and no sign of any wing damage. Down at Portnahaven this morning Mary saw a rather sorry looking Hedgehog, perhaps wondering what yesterday was all about. Up at Uiskentuie, there was a solitary Moorhen, well off course, whether it got swept down the burn is a possibility...Bob this morning had 3 flocks of Lapwing fly past his house, a 20, 30 and also another flock of 50 birds. In the fields nearby were a flock of 30 Fieldfare and also 20 Redwing. Along at Loch Gearach, there were 50 Wigeon, 30 Greylags and also 3 Whoopers. Down at Jimmy's shop at Bridgend, Bob this morning had an immature White tailed Sea Eagle fly over just above the trees! Bob thought that it might have taken off from down on the merse at the head of Loch Indaal and it appeared to be heading inland.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Thursday 8th December

They say things happens in threes, well here is today's set of three from Islay, no ferry, no plane and no post, but I would imagine it would be a similar story across the Western Isles today, at least we have got electricity and hence the blog entry... Danny had braved the weather and had gone out to get some birds for us. There were 21 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal, Danny also managed to see 3 Scaup and further on at Gartmain a small flock of 6 Turnstone being buffeted in the wind. There were a few Oystercatcher sheltering up from the wind at Pennycraig. At Loch Skerrols, there was a pair of Mute Swans along with their 8 cygnets, and a further 13 adult Mute Swans also present. At the top of Loch Indaal just along from Uiskentuie, 20 Oystercatchers were sheltering up. The other day on our way home, on the road below McNicol's croft there was a fresh road kill, a Hare. As we came on it, a Buzzard was on the Hare being watched by 2 Ravens sitting on the fence close by. Normally the Buzzard would have flown off, but it stayed "defending" its' meal and never moved off, no doubt it would have done if I had had the camera out. No doubt the poor bird was hungry with this spell of poor weather. Last night we had a Barn Owl sitting on the fence just after Red Lodge on the High Road.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Tuesday 6th December

Forgot to say the other day that the blog passed another milestone, with the magic 1,400 entries being broken.... Yesterday David had carried out a Farmland bird count down on the Oa which produced the following figures, 510 Twite, 65 Linnet, 12 Reed Bunting, 32 Chaffinch, 6 Greenfinch, 120 Fieldfare, 30 Redwing and 8 Song Thrush. George yesterday had 90 Greylag, 50 Whitefronts and 2 Barnies on the fields up behind his house. An hour later, only the Barnies remained but their numbers were swelled in excess of 600!!! The Heron was present on his ponds too. Danny today counted over 300 Lapwing on the flats at Gruinart.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Tuesday 6th December

Late last night we had a few flashes of lightening and distant rumbles of thunder to go with it. Today there have been quite a few squally showers on the go, here the ground is still green but further over, the hills are white for sure! David down on the Oa had 3 Golden Eagles, 2 Chough and a Sparrowhawk. Danny today had 5 Pale bellied Brent at Bruichladdich, 2 Great Northern Diver on Loch Indaal before he came into Port Charlotte. Up the back of Portnahaven, 50 Fieldfare were seen. At Coullabus, there were 6 Reed Buntings on the roadside, and also a Kestrel. There was another Kestrel over at Sunderland. He also had a female Sparrowhawk on a mission down at Foreland, whether it caught its' intended prey he did not see as it had then flown on out of sight! Finally Danny had 6 Brent Geese over at Bowmore.

Monday 5 December 2011

Monday 5th December

A beezer of a day. Here on the West coast of Islay, just the odd shower of hailstones, but the hills of Mull were pure white, nothing on Colonsay, a dusting of snow on Jura and the same on the hills around Port Ellen. Yesterday Carl had been out round Loch Gorm, at Sunderland there was a Reed Bunting, while on the burn at Rockside a Heron was present, 4 Whoopers were on Loch Gorm, and round at Ballinaby 6 Redwing were seen. At Brybruich, another 6 Redwings were present and also a flock of Curlew. Back at Port Charlotte, Carl had a Siskin, 3 Greenfinch as well as a Peregrine. This morning there was a male Hen Harrier down over the lochans at Rockside and the Heron was still to be seen on the burn. Later on, we had 27 Greylags down at Bruichladdich, initially I thought it was the Brents that are often seen there but on checking them out, they were Greylags! Louise had a Glaucous Gull this morning off Saligo. Danny today had a mixed flock of 70 Golden Plover and 120 Lapwing on the flats at Gruinart, and later on down on the Oa he saw 60 Fieldfare.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Sunday 4th December

Bob yesterday had a Merlin over at Gartmain, today at Bolsay Moor he saw a Red Grouse, and a Woodcock. On the fields coming home he had 20 Fieldfare, and at home Bob counted 12 Greenfinches on the feeders. George today on his feeders had 7 Blackbirds, 4 Greenfinches and 10 Chaffinches. Down on the shore below his house there were 2 Purple Sandpipers and in his fields, 8 Hares were present. James had 2 Woodcock on the reserve at Gruinart, 2 Hen Harriers, a Sparrowhawk and at the hut circles at Culbuie road end, 6 Bullfinches were noted. Danny counted 30 Chaffinches down at the Coastguards this morning. The geese round at Ballinaby were getting spooked by a male Hen Harrier as it kept quartering over them. The same was the story at the hide where 2 Shoveler came in directly in front of the hide only to move on smartly as a Hen Harrier was on the move too. With this colder snap here, the bird feeders have been busy although I have not seen so many Goldfinches around as of late, a couple over at the cottages the other day but none since.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Saturday 3rd December

I know it is December, but all the same it has been a bit parky outside today, it was not that cold at this time last year, but then I was in Trinidad while the UK had the snow etc... Ewan and his friends left Islay on Thursday, but before they left, they managed to get out to Claggain Bay where they had an Otter, and counted 10 Great Northern Divers, 20 Common Scoter and a Slavonian Grebe. At Port Askaig, they had a Golden Eagle over Jura. They had " a great 4 days of birding and certainly we want to return". It was great to meet with them and good of them to pass on some of their sightings. James had 20 Whoopers at Gruinart today and also a Peregrine. There was a small group of 7 Whoopers taking off from the lochans below Rockside, and they appeared to be heading out en route to Ireland, as we headed out for our papers. On our way back there was a Merlin just before Sunderland Farm. Danny who came over yesterday had an Otter at Kennacraig as he waited on the midday ferry. Today on Ardnave Loch, he had 3 Whooopers, on his way there he had a male Hen Harrier on the reserve at Gruinart. At Bowmore, Danny had a couple of Goldeneye, 2 Red breasted Mergansers and a small group of Pale bellied Brent. There were also a few Curlews in a field beside Blackrock.

Friday 2 December 2011

Friday 2nd December

Ewan Urquhart who has been up with his 2 friends, John and Badger, sent in their sightings from Wednesday when they started down on the Oa. They saw 2 Golden Eagles, 60+Rock Doves, 1 male Stonechat, over 100 Twite. From the generating station at Bowmore, on Loch Indaal they had 10 Common Scoter, 4 Long tailed duck (including 2 males), 1 winter plumage Black Guillemot, 1 first winter Scaup which was asleep close to the shore, further out was a large flock which they did not manage to count. Also seen from there, they had 6 Great Northern Divers and 7 Slavonian Grebes. Further on between Bridgend and Port Ellen, there was a count of 3,500 Barnies and the small Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp was with them. Many thanks. Today, David down on the Oa reserve had 84 Rock Dove, 57 Fieldfare, 25 Redwing, 105 Starling and 8 Whooper Swan.

By the way, the wind is picking up and tomorrow's Colonsay/ Oban ferry has already been cancelled...

Thursday 1 December 2011

Thursday 1st December

Yesterday Bob had been up at Loch Skerrols, and had seen 2 female Goldeneye, 16 Tufted Duck, 12 Wigeon and 42 Mute Swan. Down at East Lodge, there were 4 Whoopers and 45 Wigeon, back over above Knockdon, an immature Golden Eagle was out, while round at Gruinart, 17 Whoopers were present and in the "floods" in front of the hide, there "lots of ducks packed into large flocks, making them hard to count." David, yesterday down on the Oa, had a Golden Eagle, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Buzzard, and also 3 Whoopers. On the track leading up to Kinnabus, he had a mixed flock of wee birds consisting of Twite, Linnet, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Brambling. This morning going over to Gruinart, we had a close sighting of a male Hen Harrier as we went over the moor, 20 Whoopers flying South down Loch Gruinart. Coming home the fields at Ballinaby held quite a number of Barnies and further on a Merlin flew across the road in front of us.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Wednesday 30th November

Well, another month almost in, only a few hours to go and we are into December.....Not a bad day here although the wind has picked up again. Some more sightings through from last night's meeting. At Kinnabus on the Oa, David had 21 Whooopers, a flock of around 300 Twite, 10 Linnets and 2 Golden Eagles. There was a group of 12 Whoopers at Rockside while Gruinart had 30. James had a Peregrine coming off Loch Indaal down at Uiskentuie. Bob counted 30 Fulmars round at Kilchiaran and he also had a seen a Sparrowhawk at home. There was the general feeling at last night's meeting that there have been more Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds seen on Islay this Autumn.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Tuesday 29th November

Like the most of the West of Scotland, we caught the rain today, certainly not as much as some areas though! A bit of a late entry, initially I was busy earlier, and then was out at the "bird nerds" monthly meet. It was great to see some visiting birders coming along too, well done to Ewan, John and "Badger" for coming out on such a stormy evening, better still they came over to Port Charlotte from Port Ellen. David travelled even further, coming from the Oa along with his wife Bonnie! Our visiting birders had seen Ringtail Hen Harrier at Eollabus at Bridgend. and in the geese there, they saw a Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp, and also another Canada, parvipes sp. Down at Leorin at Port Ellen, they had a Pink footed Goose. Up at Gruinart, they had another Ringtail, 2 Merlin on their way up to Ardnave, and at Ardnave itself they had 49 Chough. James had a Barn Owl this evening down "the hedges" at Sunderland.

Monday 28 November 2011

Monday 28th November

Bob had been over at Bowmore this morning and had seen a Slavonian Grebe, a Red throated Diver and Red breasted Mergansers off Bowmore Harbour. Along at Gartmain, 5 Pale bellied Brent Geese were noted, while round the top of Loch Indaal, there were 2 Whoopers and another 12 further on. At Blackrock, there was a small group of Curlews and a single Pale bellied Brent Goose on the surf along the Uiskentuie Strand. Back at home, Bob has seen lots of Fieldfare and Redwing flying South down the Rhinns, a sign of colder weather to come? It was this time last year when the cold snap started to kick off.....

Sunday 27 November 2011

Sunday 27th November

The wind has dropped down a bit, and also it seems a bit colder too, never happy are we? For the most of the day at least it remained dry! Bob had a female Sparrowhawk this afternoon round at Loch Gorm. Yesterday while he was at Rockside helping beat at the shoot there, he had a mixed flock of around 500 Fieldfare and Redwing. David' down on the Oa today, had a count of 385 Greenland Whitefronts, 115 Teal, 1 Goldeneye, 1 Brambling and also a few Fieldfare and Redwing seen as well, all at Kinnabus.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Saturday 26th November

Sorry there is not going to be much on the blog tonight as the weather has not really been favourable for anyone that might have wanted to do some birdwatching, tomorrow is another day..... Thinking ahead, our monthly "meet" of like minded birders here on Islay takes place on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm in the Islay Natural History Trust in Port Charlotte, so if any folk that are over, you will be made welcome. We hold a completely informal meeting, and often adjourn along the road afterwards to the local hostelry, to talk about something completely different!

Friday 25 November 2011

Friday 25th November

Just before we set off for Glasgow, the weather took a nose dive with several spectacular lightning strikes as we drove to the airport, capped with high winds and hail showers, but no panic and the plane left on time. The flight was okay but coming into Glasgow there were a few hairy moments, but we landed fine and got home this evening none the worse..... James returned home today and had a Long tailed Duck and 2 Otters in West Loch Tarbert. There was a hardy group of birders on the ferry who had been plying back and forward all day, and they had 12 Bottle nosed Dolphins in the Sound of Islay as well as a Grey Phalarope while James had 2 White tailed Sea Eagles there too.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Thursday 24th November

Rather a blustery day out here, and give Calmac their due, there was no disruption on the ferries. Bob had seen a Buzzard having a tussle with a Sparrowhawk. The Sparrowhawk had a small bird in its' clutch, so no doubt the attraction to the Buzzard, the Sparrowhawk won and made of with its' prey...There were 60 Lapwing down at Rockside this morning while along at Sunderland there were around similar numbers of Rock Doves on a stubble field. Late afternoon, at Rockmountain, there was a small flock of 18 Fieldfare on the wing. Here at home, the small birds, Chaffinch especially, have been busy eating the food put out for them. There have been a pair of Coal Tits busy taking food away, no doubt storing it somewhere...

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Wednesday 23rd November

Rather a miserable day out here today with plenty of rain, the wind through the night was quite strong too, may be the Fulmars are not that stupid coming in a few days before the wind picks up...Not really a day for going out birding... Bob had a Kestrel out hunting over the moor beside his house today, and he noticed Redwings and Skylarks flying South down the Rhinns of Islay. I was reading an old Birds magazine from 1966 last night and in it there was an article on the Loch Garten Ospreys and saying that all 3 eggs had been blown out of the eyrie in April in "an unusually severe gale that swept north- east Scotland in April" of that year. Another eyrie had its' single egg blown out too, and both nests were damaged. I wonder what numbers overall were lost in the winds that were here at the end of May this year.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Tuesday 22nd November

Yesterday morning, Martin had done a quick garden survey and had the following birds in his garden over at Glenegedale, just above the airport. The tally was as follows, 9 Greenfich, 15 Chaffinch, 3 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 8 Coal Tit, 2 Dunnock, 4 House Sparrow, 1 Robin, 3 Blackbird and 3 cock Pheasant. Thanks Martin, good to hear of some birds from a different area of Islay. This morning, Carl saw 11 Whoopers flying South over Loch Indaal.

Monday 21 November 2011

Monday 21st November

Carl had been over on Jura yesterday, and had seen a Sparrowhawk at Knockrome, a Dabchick and a Great Northern Diver at Craighouse. At Corran Sands, Carl had 5 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin while at Keills Coal Tit and Stonechat were seen. This morning Bob had been over at Bowmore, and in the harbour, he had 2 drake Goldeneye, at Gartmain a male Peregrine was chasing the Rock Doves. 4 Whoopers and 150 Wigeon were also there. Along at Blackrock, 42 Pale bellied Brent were counted. Mary and David Mason had done a count on Loch Gruinart the other day, with the following birds noted. 1 Cormarant, 1 Heron, 40 Shelduck, 46 Wigeon, 38 Mallard, 6 Red breasted Merganser, 327 Oystercatcher, 8 Grey Plover, 551 Lapwing, 186 Bar tailed Godwit, 220 Curlew, 57 Redshank, 58 Turnstone, 36 Herring Gull, 1 Lesser Black backed Gull, and 1 Black backed Gull. On Ardnave Loch, they had 18 Whoopers, 2 Mute Swans, 2 Little Grebe, 3 Goldeneye, 32 Wigeon, 9 Tufted Duck and 7 Curlews. They also had seen 3 Otters feeding at different points on Loch Gruinart. Coming to work this morning, Mary had 2 Woodcock, just out of Portnahaven.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Sunday 20 November

A good day out here, must try and have a look at the forecast for the week as there were a few Fulmars in at the crag this morning. Up at the old church at the top of the hill, just after breakfast time, there was a fair old racket going on with a verbal fight going on between the Jackdaws and the Choughs, the Jackdaws in the end gave up and flew off, with the Chough mostly resting up on the old building...... James had 8 Woodcock on the reserve at Gruinart today. Bob and Martin had been down at Gartbreck and their scores on the doors were as follows, 35 Mallard, 245 Teal, 170 Wigeon, 4 Eider, 12 Red breasted Merganser, a mixed flock of 300 Barnies and Whitefronted Geese, 1 Shelduck, 5 Goldeneye, 126 Oystercatcher, 163 Curlew, 10 Redshank, 236 Bar tailed Godwit, 545 Lapwing, 25 Turnstone, 3 Knot, 13 Snipe, 2 Heron, 3 Great Northern Divers and 38 Shag. The large flock of Golden Plover of over 1,000 were still present but difficult to count as they were in the air.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Saturday 19th November

A fantastic sunset over here this evening, so all going well, a better day tomorrow..... David Wood has sent through some sightings from The Oa today. On Loch Kinnabus there were a pair of Goldeneye along with 190 Greenland Whitefronts. Also seen were 1 Merlin, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Goldfinches, and smaller numbers of Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares on the move through. This morning down at Blackrock on Loch Indaal, 47 Pale bellied Brents were present, around 80 Scaup were seen further on and coming home there were 2 Peregrines sitting on the crag just before Rock Mountain while there was a large flock of Barnacle Geese at Sunderland, and I was not up to counting them!

Friday 18 November 2011

Friday 18th November

Rather a miserable day out here folks, but it is the time of year for it, whether we like it or not! Today, James had carried a count on the "floods" at Gruinart, with the scores on the doors tallying as follows, 1135 Teal, 2 Little Grebes, 12 Gadwall, 64 Shoveler, 55 Pintail, 77 Mallard, 177 Wigeon, 1 Pochard, 4 Greenshank, 3 heron, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 2 Mute Swans, 20 Lapwing, 8 Whooper Swans, 1 male Hen Harrier and a Sparrowhawk. Coming home the other evening, at Erasiad on the edge of the reserve, James had a Tawny Owl.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Thursday 17th November

Well as predicted, the rain arrived, and so it turned out to be rather a squally day with the wind and rain...If you look down our list of "contributors", you may notice a few changes in the names, Catherine Fotheringham has left RSPB, but still is here on Islay, so hopefully we can still persuade her to give some more input! Catherine's post has been filled by David Wood who has come up from Norfolk. Michal Sur's contract with RSPB has ended for this year, and Michal has gone to Aldabra in The Seychelles, to do some contract work out there and to avoid our winter weather and he should get a sun tan rather being weather beaten here on Islay. The post of assistant warden to James at Gruinart has now been filled by Mary McGregor who has contributed to the blog over the last 2 summers. We wish them all well in their respective new jobs.

Today David Wood has managed some bird sightings before the weather closed in. At Risabus, on the edge of the reserve at the Oa, he had seen 8 Bullfinches, and noted several mixed flocks of Fieldfares & Redwings with some Blackbirds seen with them. David also had a Merlin too. Visitors from Edinburgh had a Long tailed Duck off Ardnave Point.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Wednesday 16th November

Another great day out here with the weather, but going by tomorrow's forecast, the rain is coming back.... Today Malcolm had been out goose counting, and on the estuary at Bridgend, at lunchtime, he had a count of 10,800 Barnies along with 4 small Canada Geese, 2 Pale bellied Brent and 1 Pinkfooted Goose. At Ardlarach, out towards Gartbreck, there were around 1,100 Golden Plover and 60 Turnstone. Fieldfares and Redwing were in good numbers all around. On Loch Nigheadaireachd (near to Laggan Point), 25 Whooper Swans and around 200 Wigeon were present. An immature Golden Eagle flew within 20 yards of them when they were out counting yesterday! Bob forgot in yesterday's birds that he had 58 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal. Today, at home, he made up for yesterday's missed Eagle, with one flowing low past his house, almost a "garden bird"! Today from home, he had Kestrel, 2 Hen Harriers and several Buzzards. We were over at a meeting at Gruinart this afternoon, and the geese were a sight to be seen, and at one point they were all spooked together and took off, the sound was something else.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Tuesday 15th November

Well, that's the month half in already, not that I was really here anyway....They always say that time moves quicker the older you get, am I digging a hole for myself ??? Today George had 4 Greenfinches on his bird table down at Bruichladdich, the most he has had there in the past 4 years. Also present were 10 Goldfinches and a Dunnock while up on his ponds George saw a Moorhen. Bob had gone down to the Oa to see an Eagle, but no joy, so he had to make do with a Kestrel close to Kinnabus, on the road there was a Snow Bunting. In amongst the geese at the top of Loch Indaal, he had the leucistic Barnie and also 2 cackling Canada Geese. Up at Loch Cam, Bob had a male and female Hen Harrier. On his travels, they had seen several flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare moving through. Back home at Port Charlotte, Bob had a Merlin on a fence post in the garden. Here at home, the last couple of days we have had a Coal Tit on the feeders, the first for the year. Over the reserve at Gruinart, James today had a Golden Eagle and a Hen Harrier while at Killinallan he saw 2 Merlin. The leucistic Bar tailed Godwit was present at Ardnave. James had a count of 21,713 Barnies in the Gruinart area today along with 883 Whitefronts, 12 Pale bellied Brent Geese and 68 Greylags.

Monday 14 November 2011

Monday 14th November

Many thanks to James for keeping the blog afloat whilst I was away on "annual leave", nowhere exotic this year, nowhere warm, no complaints. We were up on Skye for a week, Kestrels were common, as were Hooded Crows, we saw Golden Eagles too, as well as the odd Hen Harrier. After that, over to the other side of Scotland to Portmahamock, close to Tain. Different countryside there, but good birding on Loch Fleet, there was a new hide, hidden away, in fact we almost missed it! There was another good hide down close to Nigg which was also great to visit, both hides were great for waders etc with a Sparrowhawk upsetting the waders at Nigg! On to Perth, birdwatching on the back boiler now, and a chance for Margaret to carry some retail therapy out, and for us both to look at some new ideas.... We also caught up with old friends which was great, one of whom I had not seen for almost 40 years, so a lot of catching up there.... On the ferry, we spoke with a lady who we had met on Fair Isle a few years ago and is over on Islay this week to catch the geese, so no doubt will meet up with her before the week is out! Will get back to Islay birds tomorrow, and again thanks to James for holding the fort...

Sunday 13 November 2011

Sun 13th November 2011

Had a trip to Loch Skerrols today, great weather and lots of birds- no American wigeon, 3 pochard and 4 gadwall. At Loch Gruinart a golden eagle flew over the reserve at lunch time.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Sat 12th November 2011

A beautiful day not a cloud in the sky all day, then in the evening that lovely soft silvery Islay sky. I walked around Killinallen and had fantastic views all day. Bird wise- interestingly there was a flock of 29 great northern divers off the beach at Killinallen and on the sand a flock of 64 sanderling. Bob had 9 woodcock up at Rockside.
Last night on the way to Port charlotte there were 3 owls at Erasaid wood, 2 barn owls and 1 tawny, a good start to the evening.

Friday 11 November 2011

Fri 11th November 2011

Not too much to report today - A beautiful morning with a classic sun rise. I spent most of the day at market selling lambs. While I was there the weather gradually moved in, its supposed to be good tomorrow though. I did manage to see 9 gadwall on the floods at Gruinart this afternoon.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Thur 10th November 2011

Sorry I missed a day- a busy day. We had a cloudy day on Wednesday, but its back to sun-shine today. On Wednesday at Ardnave Mary and I counted 21 ravens, 6 grey plover, 3 goldeneye, 50 chough, the leucistic bar tailed godwit and an otter. At Kilchoman later, I saw a male merlin. Bob reported 100's of thrushes at Gleanmore- blackbirds and redwings. On Loch Indaal- 100 mallards, 60 teal, 80 wigeon, 25 shelduck, 350 curlew, 10 lapwing, 8 redshank, 85 oystercatchers and 400 bar tailed godwits.
Today Thursday, Bob had a kestrel, 2 merlin, 1 hen harrier, 3 buzzards, 80 fieldfares and 2 woodcock- a bird of prey festival just west of Port Charlotte. I also had a report of 2 golden eagles from Jura just north of Craighouse.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Tue 8th November 2011

A goose day- Malcolm e mailed with a record of 37 pale bellied brent geese on Loch Indaal near the Foreland road end. At Gruinart, Mary and I did a reserve goose count and found most of the geese in one massive flock. We counted a total of 9588 barnacle geese, 516 white-fronted geese and 50 greylags. Whilst looking for geese, we saw 130 lapwing, 15 whooper swans and a kestrel all at Gruinart.
Blackbirds were everywhere today, in small flocks along all the roadsides, including one unfortunate in the claws of a sparrowhawk.

Monday 7 November 2011

Mon 7th November 2011

Over the weekend at the Oa up to 5 golden eagles, merlin, lots of redwing a few fieldfare, song thrush and blackbirds, 6 chough and a big sun. Over Kilnave a sub adult white tailed eagle.
Another lovely day and at the Oa 450 twite twittered in the fields. On the Rhinns skylarks were on the move, with 120 in one stubble field, watched carefully by a sparrowhawk and a merlin. A kestrel was seen on the Strand. The bright moon and clear skys have allowed the geese to feed all night, so all day the geese have been resting up on the mud. At Loch Gruinart the geese rested with a small flock of 63 golden plover.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Sun 6th November 2011

Sorry I missed a night, it was such a beautiful clear still night I lingered too long watching the fire works to blog. In way of catching up, yesterday Bob had- Great northern diver at Bowmore, sparrowhawk and American wigeon at Loch Skerrols as well as 140 scaup at Black Rock, 15 ringed plover at Bruichladdich and a hen harrier at Geannor house. Today Bob reported that there were still 2 snow buntings at Machir bay and whilst gathering the sheep I had a male hen harrier at Kilchoman. Another beautiful night clear and cold.

Friday 4 November 2011

Fri 4th November 2011

A sunny day at last. Sorry got my report wrong yesterday the redwings and fieldfares were at Kildalton. Today there were redwings and fieldfares all over the place. Out side the house I had one flock 36 fieldfares and at least 45 redwings. Also at Loch Gruinart today a total of 4 pale bellied brents, 92 greylags and 392 white-fronts.
A few days ago you may remember we reported a white tailed eagle with a yellow wing tag which had a 2 on it, with closer examination this bird was found to have a radio tracking device on it, after a phone call or two we found that it was part of the east coast of Scotland reintroduction scheme.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Thur 3rd November 2011

Lots of thrushes on the move. Bob reported fieldfares and redwing at Port Charlotte and at Ardnave there were redwing all along the road side. Golden eagles also featured at Loch Gruinart with the 2nd year bird still putting the geese up, and adult bird at Ardnave.

Don't forget to watch Islay on Autumn watch tomorrow night.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Wed 2nd November 2011

It was a windy day with redwings blown in on the easterly gusts. The geese at Gruinart were moved around by a 2nd cal year golden eagle.

There has been a lot of leucistic birds reported recently and at last, after a few attempts, I have managed to upload some pics:

1. A bar or black ? tailed godwit at Ardnave.

2. A linnet at the Oa.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Mon 1st November 2011

I emptied the rain guage this morning a grand total of just under 9 inches of rain for Gruinart. The Island has been amazing for birds of prey this last month, with all the resident and visiting birds very much in evidence. Carl reported from Port Charlotte a sparrowhawk, a merlin at Ballinaby and a peregrine at Coull all on Sunday. Also yesterday I had a report from visitors of 200 chaffinches at Sunderland Farm. Today at Gruinart there were 20 black tailed godwit, 3 greenshank and 7 pale bellied brents. The American wigeon was still at Loch Skerrols.

Monday 31 October 2011

Mon 31st October 2011

I had to be in doors all day today, but I have had some records from the Oa for Saturday- a male hen harrier, merlin and 2 golden eagles as well as at least 200 twite a few greenfinch, goldfinch, a yellowhammer and a leucistic linnet. At on the Long Strand at the Kintra end a comic tern and long tailed duck and at the Singing Sands 12 chough.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Sun 30th October 2011

A good day for birds of prey records- on the Oa a golden eagle was showing well, plus a hen harrier and merlin, at Loch Gruinart at least one hen harrier, a golden eagle and a sparrowhawk. Early this morning at Gruinart a tawny owl was calling and 2 greenshank were visible from the hide. At Port Charlotte, groups of redwing and chaffinch have been noticed moving through with a few fieldfare, 12 yesterday and 5 today also a merlin and 2 yellowhammers. BBC Autumn-watch have been filming on the Island today and they reported back that the snow buntings were still at Machir bay.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Sat 29th October 2011

A busy day with lots of birdwatchers out and about on the Island, all being rewarded with good birds, as ever. I was out at dawn at Gruinart and watched the spectacle of the geese rising from the roost, as well as 2 greenshank and 9 black tailed godwits. David reported from around Loch Gorm: 6 dark bellied brent and 75 whoopers at Sunderland farm, 8 snow buntings and a peregrine at Machir bay, on Loch Gorm 24 scaup and 300-400 Geenland white-fronts. On Loch Skerrols the American wigeon is still present and at least 2 juv golden eagles.

Friday 28 October 2011

Friday 28th October

Yesterday Carl had seen a male American Wigeon up at Loch Skerrols and also another one, this time an immature male down between Gartmain and the Gaelic College. Down there too, Carl had 6 Long tailed Ducks, 4 Slavonian grebes and a Goldeneye. On the merse he had around 1,000 Golden Plover. In the woods at Bridgend a Treecreeper was present and up at Coullabus, a Bullfinch was seen. At Gruinart, 22 Shelduck were present along with a Juv. Golden Eagle, ringtail Hen Harrier, 2 Greenshank, 2 Little Grebes and 13 Black tailed Godwits. A Purple Sandpiper was at Bruichladdich and at Port Charlotte, 5 Arctic Terns were seen out on Loch Indaal. Today Carl had the Arctic Terns at Port Charlotte, some more were seen off Ardnave Point. 50 Twite were seen at Ardnave along with 6 Snow Buntings and a ringtail Hen Harrier. Another ringtail was at Port Charlotte while a Merlin was down at Cladville. Visitors yesterday had seen 42 Mutes, 30 adults and 2 groups of 6 youngsters, also on Skerrols were 16 Whoopers, 160 Wigeon , 2 Heron and 1 Dabchick. Loch Ballygrant held 6 Tufted Duck and 7 Mutes, and there was a Kestrel just Ballygrant itself. Just before Foreland house on the verge side they saw 2 Reed Bunting, 5 Yellowhammers along with Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches . There was also flock of 200 Golden Plover over at Coull Farm. Other visiting birders reported in the following today, a pair of Bullfinches up towards Garra Eallabus, the leucistic Barnacle Goose was still up at Ardnave, 4 of the Whooper Swans that were seen with rings earlier on had been rung at Walney in Norfolk, a ringtail from the hide at Gruinart, 160 Lapwings and 15 Black tailed Godwits also at Gruinart. 6 Snow Buntings were seen on a windy Machir Bay!!! 34 Whoopers were on the stubble at Sunderland at lunchtime.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Thursday 27th October

A busy day out here with sightings coming in from a lot of folk, great, so here goes. Carl had been in at Loch Skerrols and had seen the drake American Wigeon, is it the same bird that Peter had first spotted down at Gartmain? A visitor had a count of 92 Whoopers at Coull Farm and a further 27 at Sunderland, both on the barley stubble fields. Becky and Fiona had been up towards Bunnahabhain today and had a pair of Bullfinches, at least 2 pairs of Crossbills, a Barn Owl at Staoisha Earach and also a Blackcap at Bunnahabhain. This morning over the flats at Gruinart, the geese were spoofed by a Golden Eagle, earlier in the week it was the RAF boys that spoofed them! Round above Craigens on the estuary, there were 15 Shelduck. Peter had been up the back of Loch Skerrols and had an immature Golden Eagle, and later on 4 Red legged Partridge were seen too. Another annual visitor from Yorkshire had been in touch with the sighting of 8 Long tailed Ducks on the top of Loch Indaal, along with 7 Slavonian Grebes and 5 Scoter. Up at Ardnave he had seen 4 Snow Bunting. At Gruinart today James had 87 Golden Plover, 8 Black tailed Godwit and 1 male Hen Harrier. We also had one round at Saligo midday today. I had not seen any Buzzards for a few days but we saw 4 yesterday round Loch Gorm at different locations... Today, from his house down at Bruichladdich, George had a mixed group of 70 Gulls, mainly Common & Herring Gulls with a couple of Lesser Blacks too. George also had 15 Arctic Terns, 10 Guillemots and 8 Scoter.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Wednesday 26th October

Today, weather wise, it has possibly been the best day this month, at least the sun was out, there was a blue sky and the mosst important bit was that it remained dry.....

Some sightings first from yesterday, a male Blackcap was seen out in the trees in front of the house here in the morning, Bob had a Golden Eagle from his house, as well as a single Canada Goose in the fields next door. 11 Snow Buntings were counted down at Machir Bay. At the meeting last night, various other sightings were thrown into the ring, 12 Scoter off Bruichladdich, a Purple Sandpiper, also at Bruichladdich, a Swallow over Bowmore. On the walk on the Oa yesterday, Mary had 2 Golden Eagles, a light coloured Yellowhammer, 2 Swallows, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, a Golden Eagle was also seen later with prey. An Arctic Tern was off Bowmore while a Sandwich Tern was off Port Charlotte and a Peregrine was seen eating a Golden Plover. There had been 200 Golden Plover round at Ballinaby. This afternoon, we had a Golden Eagle on a dyke far out on our way over to Gruinart, a couple of Stonechats below Culbuie, round Loch Gorm another Golden Eagle was perched up on a rock on the skyline. A Kestrel was at Coull roadend and 10 Snow Buntings were at Machir Bay today. Over at Lussa on Jura, there were around 350 Fieldfares with a few Redwings .

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Tuesday 25th October

A great night tonight, we had a record turnout at the bird nurds with 20 folk coming, certainly the number was swelled by visitors, but that is what it is all about! Coming home the sky was full with stars and better still were a couple of Barn Owls sitting on fence posts at the side of the road. We had a male Bullfinch just we turned off the road going into Loch Skerrols late afternoon, while Peter and Pia had one just in Bridgend woods up the back of the Hotel. They also had the large flock of Chaffinches in the wood that was present there yesterday, the male Brambling was still with them along with 4 Goldcrest. In the adjacent fields there was mixed flock of around 25 Fieldfares, 65 Redwing and 5 Mistle Thrushes and 5 Song Thrushes. There also saw 40 Brent Geese at the top of Loch Indaal. Visiting birders had seen a female Merlin bathing in a pool beside the "car park" up at Ardnave, while down on the shoreline they had 9 Snow Buntings. Over close to Storakaig they had a mixed flock of 200 Fieldfares and Redwings. Other visitors had a count of 125 Whooper Swans down at Sunderland. Another set of visiting birders had been up at Ardnave too, and had a 32 Chough up towards Ardnave Point itself, along with a flock of 60 Twite. Off Ardnave Point and towards Nave Island they saw 8 Great Northern Diver and 2 Red throated Divers. They had a count of 11 Snow Bunting in a different place to the group of 9. They also saw 3 Bar tailed Godwit at Ardnave Point and also 2 Grey Plover. Down at Traigh Nostaig, 14 Bar tailed Godwit, 4 Grey plover and 12 Turnstone were seen and on their way home they had 2 Hen Harriers close to the former Kilchoman School.

Monday 24 October 2011

Monday 24th October

Before I forget, the monthly meeting of our local birders is tomorrow (Tuesday) evening, held down in the Islay Natural History Trust in Port Charlotte at 7.30pm. It is a completely informal meeting, no chairperson, no talk, but a great chance to catch up with each other. Often we head off the the local for pint afterwards, completely laid back..... any visitors around are made welcome!

Right, back to birds, earlier this evening while we were out, we had a Barn Owl out hunting close to Sunderland Farm and on the way home there was another one sitting on a fence post just after Erasaid heading up towards Gruinart. A visitor had seen 4 Snow Buntings at Killinallan today. Another visitor had 31 Pale belied Brent Geese at Blackrock, a Great Northern Diver close to the shore at Bowmore, 110 Golden Plover in the fields as you go into the golf course at The Machrie, and later on at Ardtalla, a Bullfinch and also a Goldcrest were seen. Another visitor had 85 Whoopers in the barley stubble down at Sunderland, with a further 22 seen on the edge of Loch Gorm, there were 13 adults and 9 young birds present. Down on Loch Indaal, 80 Scaup were noted along with 12 Red breasted Merganser and a Slavonian Grebe at midday. In Bridgend Woods, there were large numbers of Chaffinches moving through the trees and feeding on the track. There were 200 counted at one point, and a Brambling was also present with them. Close to The Woolen Mill, Tits were seen Goldcrest and a Treecreeper too. Mid afternoon at the hide at Gruinart, a ring tail Hen Harrier was present, along with a good mixture of duck and waders present, Pochard, 4 Dabchick, Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Whooper Swan, Lapwing, Snipe, Redshank and Black tailed Godwit. On their way home they had 160 Golden Plover and also the Starling flock round at Ballinaby. Late afternoon they had 4 Snow Buntings at Machir Bay.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Sunday 23rd October

Perhaps the day started off dry, but mid morning it took a nosedive and it has rained and rained and rained again, well over an inch has fallen with obviously flooding with water coming off the high ground... This morning there were around 100 Whoopers down at Rockside and this evening there were around 40 along at Sunderland on the stubble there. The bird table has been busy making the most of the food available. There were a few Golden Plover at Ballinaby earlier on. Not much sign of any Owls out on the wing this evening, with this wet weather, I don't think there would be much prey out anyway!

Saturday 22 October 2011

Saturday 22nd October

Forgot to say the other night that we had a great illustrated talk by Nigel Pope and John Aitchison down at the Islay Natural History Trust, well attended by over 80 folk of all ages. Nigel and John's stories and photography was better than first class.

From the ferry today, a Manx Shearwater was seen off Gigha and in the Sound of Islay, a pale phased Arctic Skua was noted. Today James had a count of 409 Whitefronts on the reserve at Gruinart along with 8 Gadwall, the Canada goose, hutchinsii sp. is still still present on the flats, while on the floods 2 Greenshank were seen. 2 Sparrowhawks and 2 Hen Harriers were also seen at Gruinart. A visitor had seen an Otter fishing in Loch Indaal, close to Bowmore, along at Gartmain a female Sparrowhawk took a Turnstone out of the air. Finally, at the top of Loch Indaal he had a White tailed Sea Eagle was on the merse eating a goose!!!

Friday 21 October 2011

Friday 21st October

Earlier this week, James had carried out a count on the floods on the reserve at Gruinart. The "scores on the doors" were as follows, 509 Teal, 3 Little Grebe, 249 Lapwing, 16 Black tailed Godwit, 2 Moorhens, 138 Wigeon, 35 Shoveler, 2 Heron, 57 Pintail, 12 Mute Swans, 111 Mallard, 1 Red breasted Merganser, 6 Gadwall, 1 Water Rail and 1 Sparrowhawk.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Thursday 20th October

There was a juvenile leucistic Barnacle Goose up at Ardnave today, and the leucistic Bar tailed Godwit was seen again. Round at Ballinaby a flock ogf 220 Golden Plover were counted this morning. Mary this morning had a mixed flock of around 20Thrushes close to Wester Ellister, consisting of Redwing, Song Thrush and Blackbirds. Yesterday, Mary had carried out a count on Loch Gruinart, the totals were 7 Heron, 6 Shelduck, 34 Mallard, 53 Wigeon, 3 Eider, 2 Goldeneye, 3 Scaup, 34 Red breasted Merganser, 106 Oystercatcher, 56 Ringed Plover, 6 Grey Plover, 1 Lapwing, 1 Knot, 45 Sanderling, 169 Dunlin, 364 Bar tailed Godwits, 160 Curlew, 43 Redshank, 2 Turnstone, 1 Snipe, 7 Pinkfooted Geese, 130 Black headed Gulls, 61 Common Gulls, 79 Herring Gulls, 2 Greater Black backed Gulls, 2 Peregrine, 2 Buzzards, 1 Mute Swan, a family of 6 Whoopers and finally a Redwing on the way back up to the office. On Ardnave Loch, Mary had 2 Whoopers, 2 Mute, 10 Tufted Duck, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Herring gulls, 4 Mergansers and 2 Scaup. A visitor had seen a Snow Bunting on the burn as it enters Machir Bay yesterday, and later on a Merlin at Octomore. This evening, just before the darkening, I had to empty the rain gauge as it was up to 5" for the month so far... Glad I stay on the dry side of Islay! One of the gamekeepers told me earlier that this Autumn has been the wettest deer stalking seasons that he can recall.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Wednesday 19th October

Carl in the wee sma' hours early this morning, while he was tapping away on his keyboard, when most mortal folk would have been sleeping, heard Whooper Swans flying over Port Charlotte..... Not to outdone, role reversal, I went down just after 7.30am (Carl might have still be asleep then!) and checked the field at Rockside. Right enough the greatest bulk had gone, with only about 50 Swans remaining between the field and those on the lochans. The Swans that were present were quite unsettled and sure enough they too were all away to Ireland. The film crew had seen them moving off in the grey dark yesterday evening and some sight it was, wonder if they got any footage of the Swans leaving? Today, the field has been taken over by a mass of Geese, a mixture of mainly Barnies along with some Whitefronts there too. The Greylags are around too. The film crew had seen a Golden Eagle out over the Geese on another field yesterday at Rockside, just generally being disruptive and putting the Geese up rather than hunting! The light coloured Bar tailed Godwit had been seen by a visitor up at Ardnave again yesterday.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Tuesday 18th October

Today, James had a count of 101 Whooper Swans over on Gruinart, the large group of Whoopers is still present down at Rockside, and I felt that there appeared to be more birds present, but I did not count them... Mary had led the guided walk down on the Oa this morning, and the weather was not great, but the birds were out in force. 4 Golden Eagles, 6 Golden Plover, 1 Fieldfare, 2 Merlin, 2 Hen Harriers, 18 Hooded Crows (Mary said they could possibly be all young birds), 2 Ravens and 2 Chough. A visiting birder over for the week had 2 Slavonian Grebes on Loch Indaal close to Bowmore, and over at the spit on the Strand at Uiskentuie, they had a Snow Bunting.

Monday 17 October 2011

Monday 17th October

Just as well I have some sightings through from Carl and Peter, as it has not been a day for birding really. We have had steady rain for most of the day, with it drying up around 6pm. Think most of us found inside jobs! On Saturday morning Peter had seen the American Wigeon over at Gartmain, down on the Oa there were 2 Golden Eagles aerial sparring over the cliffs at Upper Killeyan. Up at Lyrabus a Sparrowhawk was chasing after Twite, Linnets, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. Early evening from the hide at Gruinart there were 22 Black tailed Godwit and also 25- 30 Lapwings. Yesterday there were over 80 Scaup off Blackrock, up at Bunnahabhain there were a couple of Red legged Partridges on the foreshore. Down at Frenchman's Rocks, there were a few Gannets, Common Guillemots and Kittiwakes (20-30 of each) in the afternoon. Carl had been over at the Singing Sands on the Oa yesterday, with a good number of Kittiwakes feeding, a Peregrine flew past while he was there too. A few Shags were out fishing , with some very tame Hooded Crows working the shoreline!

Sunday 16 October 2011

Sunday 16th October

We are half way through the month now, and the rain gauge is at 4 inches already for October, with more forecast for tomorrow, at least it is not snow which is predicted up towards Inverness!The visitors from Durham had seen the American Wigeon over at Gartmain this afternoon, there were also 10 Dunlin, 130 Bar tailed Godwit and 6 Turnstone there too. Along at Loch Skerrols, they had counted 46 Whoopers. The Whoopers are still to be seen down at Rockside, and quite often a few take off for the small hop along to the lochans, to return a short while later to the stubble. There was a male Hen Harrier out down at the reedbed at the Coastguard cottages this morning, with a further one out close to Leek over the other side of Loch Gorm from here. Martin had been up round Ardnave Point today ad saw a group of 20 Whimbrels fly past, a Curlew was also seen at the time so Martin had no doubts with comparison in size. Down on the shoreline he had a very light coloured Bar tailed Godwit, while offshore were some Scoters. George had been over on Jura today and had close sightings of 2 Hen Harriers, a male and a female at different points. He also had a Merlin, 12 Raven, 1 Kestrel, 2 White tailed Sea Eagles over the Sound of Islay, 2 Stoenechats, 30 Goldfinches on Ragwort heads and 5 Herons sheltering up in a rushy field beyond Craighouse.

Saturday 15 October 2011

Saturday 15th October

Yesterday when George was out over this side of Islay, he watched a Merlin hunting after a lbj as it ducked and dived for the best part of 4 minutes, the lbj survived with the Merlin going home hungry. Malcolm had seen 2 Swallows down at Bruichladdich. The visiting birders had seen 3 Wheatear and 4 Twite up at Ardnave while down at Machir Bay they saw 2 Snow Buntings yesterday. Today the swans have moved back all together again along at Rockside, and were still there just after 5pm. There were 2 Wheatears on the dyke beside the Coastguards at noon. Bob, Martin & Johno had seen the American Wigeon over at Gartmain along with 50 Wigeon and 20 Pale bellied Brents. Up at Bun an uillt, beyond Craigens on Loch Gruinart, they had 1 Pinkfoot and also a Spotted Redshank. From the hide they saw 3 Moorhens and also 3 Little Grebe. Carl today had 5 Red throated Divers and a Guillemot off Port Charlotte on Loch Indaal. He was also commenting on the length of time that the swans have remained. Round at Saligo, Carl had a male Hen Harrier out on the wing.

Friday 14 October 2011

Friday 14th October

Another not bad day for time of year, even managed to cut most of the grass this afternoon, net result, I did not do much birding for the blog. Peter turned up trumps this afternoon with a drake American Wigeon over at Gartmain. There was also a Cackling goose present there too, as was a Pink footed goose. Peter had a count of 65 Whoopers on Loch Skerrols along with 25 Mute, he also had a further 70 Whoopers in a stubble field up at Cruach, up behind Bowmore. Also seen today by Peter was a small flock of 20 Fieldfare between Mulindry and Knochlearach, and also a pair of Dippers at the Woolen Mill. Yesterday, late afternoon, the Whoopers at Sunderland joined with the Rockside birds with Peter having a count of 303 including 49 young birds. This morning, the swans were split back into their 2 different groups again! All in all there is well in excess of 450 Whoopers on Islay at present. Yesterday Peter also had 5 Snow Buntings on Machir Bay along with 35 Ringed Plover, 15 Sanderling and 5 Dunlin. Up at Ardnave Peter had a count of 45 Chough. Carl had seen the large flock of Swans too as well as 80 Scaup off Blackrock. George also had been over to see the Swans and had a Sparrowhawk up beside McNicol's croft on his way home. The visiting birders from Durham had been over on Jura yesterday and had seen the following birds, 16 Twite on the shore of Small Isles Bay, 2 flocks of Goldfinch, one of 105, the other of 23 near to Craighouse. There was also a large flock of over 400 Fieldfare moving through. James phoned through an update for Gruinart today with a tally of 35,665 Barnies present, 349 Whitefronts, 76 Pale bellied Brent, 13 Whoopers, 326 Lapwing, 7 Canada consisting of 3 hutchinsii sp, 2 parvipes sp., 1 taverna and 1 Cackling sp.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Thursday 13th October

A better day out here today, no rain that I can remember at least... 4 Snow Bunting were seen up at Ardnave, a flock of 250 Golden plover were seen over at Ballinaby along with 25 Twite . The Whoopers were concentrated into 2 groups, one a Rockside this morning had 108 swans while the Sunderland party tallied through 196, wonder how longer they will stay here, I thought that today that they might have moved on with conditions being better! Carl spent a few minutes doing a "birdwatch" from home and saw the following 6 House Sparrows, 2 Chaffinches, 1 Great Tit, 1 Robin, 4 Herring gulls (including 1 immature), 2 imm. Common gulls, 1 Shag, 1 imm. Cormorant, 1 Buzzard, 2 Pied wagtails and a Collared Dove.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Wednesday 12th October

Yesterday on the reserve at Gruinart, there was a count of 34,665 Barnacle Geese present. Carl yesterday had 20 Turnstones at Gartmain, 2 Swallows over Loch Indaal at Uiskentuie Strand, a Red throated Diver on Loch Indaal off the Strand and 18 Ringed Plover with 3 Turnstones at Bruichladdich. The visitors had been down the Oa and had a ringtail Hen Harrier, Kestrel, 2 Chough, a female Merlin at Risabus, 11 Stonechats at various locations, 1 Wheatear at Mid Cragabus, an immature Grey Wagtail at Kilnaughton Bay, 10 Swallows over at Kildalton and a male Hen Harrier at Kintour. Also seen were Grey seals loafing on the rocks at Loch a' Chnuic with bellowing stags heard over the hills. A dog Otter was seen catching a large flounder and devouring it, in front of where they were parked up!!! The weather has not been that great out here with the mist coming and going all day with the odd shower of rain too, but I had a total count of of 239 Whoopers this morning between Rockside and Sunderland, with a large group of 122 present at Sunderland alone. Mid afternoon this group was up to 186 and the various groups along at Rockside giving a total of 293 in all. There was also a Wheatear towards Sunderland too. Coming back home this evening there was a Barn Owl out in about same place just along from the cairn to the Kilchoman bard.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Tuesday 11th October

Yesterday, Carl had a "comic tern" on Loch Indaal at Gortan. Visitors had been busy too with 2 Black throated Divers, 1 Red throated Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 15 Common Scoter, 25 Bar tailed Godwits and 6 Knot all on Loch Indaal. They had 3 counts of Whooper Swans, 7 flying over Loch Indaal, 6 over Bridgend and a further 22 up at Gruinart. In Bridgend Woods, they had over 25 Robins, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Treecreeper and 10 Long tailed Tits. Thanks folks for your sightings. Today, we welcome back Louise with some birds from down on the Oa today. This morning there had been a count of 47 Whoopers flying out over the Oa heading over to Ireland. Back on land and a Wheatear was seen as were 2 Swallows. 1 Scaup was seen on Loch Kinnabus on the Oa, and a further 37 were seen earlier on Loch Indaal. Louise was telling me that a few weeks ago that a Kingfisher had been seen over at Tarbet on Jura, but she forgot to tell me at the time! This afternoon while we were out we counted 31 Whoopers on the barley stubble at Rockside, a further 36 in the barley waiting to be cut at Sunderland. Over close to Heatherhouse at Port Askaig, a Wheatear was on the roadside, and further on at Ardnahoe there were 12 Red legged Partridges, no doubt released birds! On our way back, in at Loch Skerrols, a Treecreeper was seen and a Kestrel flew overhead. On Skerrols itself there were 27 Whoopers and 23 Mute Swans counted, while on the fields below Octovullin there was a large mixed flock of Barnies, around 150 Whitefronts and a Canada Goose. Back on the Loch, and there was a large raft of Greylags. On one of the trees, a Heron was perched up. Coming back home, the Whoopers were still on the uncut barley field at Sunderland, the lochans at Rockside had 20 and a further 54 were present on the same barley stubble at Rockside. There was a big group of Greylags on the heather behind the lochans at Rockside. There were also some Whitefronts and 7 Barnies on another cut field at Rockside. There was a large number of Barnies present this afternoon at the head of Loch Indaal.

Monday 10 October 2011

Monday 10th October

Another big dollop of rain again last night, what's new? What's new, well today we had the geese arriving in big numbers, Mary was in touch with some scores on the doors for today. The tallies at Gruinart were 22,265 Barnies, 29 Greenland Whitefronts, 28 Pale bellied Brents, 335 Greylags, 2 Canada hutchinsii sp and 1 Pink footed Goose. Mary also said that there were a good number of Lapwings and Black tailed Godwits on both the floods and the flats on the reserve, Crystal had 21 Greenland Whitefronts on Loch Kinnabus on the Oa reserve. A visitor e mailed through last night with having seen a White tailed Sea Eagle in the Port Askaig area, a Swallow over the Rhinns and 8 Arctic Terns on Loch Indaal at Port Charlotte. Yesterday Bob had a House Martin at Port Charlotte and a Greenshank out from the hide at Gruinart. Today he has seen several groups of Whoopers moving through, 28 flying South over Loch Indaal, 9 present at Garmain and also a small family group of 6 at Sunderland. Also on Loch Indaal, Bob and his friend had 47 Scaup, and on Loch Skerrols they had a count of 35 Mute Swans, 17 Whoopers, 3 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall, 9 Wigeon and 1 Little Grebe. Up at Knockdon they had seen a juvenile Golden Eagle, a Coal Tit and 2 Goldcrest.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Sunday 9th October

On Friday, George had a Hen Harrier over at Gruinart at dusk, earlier on at Uiskentuie, he had seen a Swallow. At home today he saw 10 Chaffinches, 2 Greenfinches and 3 Collared Doves in the garden, while down on the shore there was a Merlin. Over at Gruinart today, James's numbers were 3,577 Barnies, 30 Whitefronts, 61 Pale bellied Brent, 2 Canada hutchinsii sp., 1 Peregrine and 27 Whooper Swans. We had a female Peregrine over at Ballinaby this afternoon, and later on a male Hen Harrier at Craigens while we were out looking at the geese. There was quite a lot of rain last night, the best part of an inch, so far this month the total is at 2". With us being away last month, I forgot to put in last month's tally which was 6.75", although we are still drier than last year, the total is catching up!!!On Friday evening Bob went over to Port Askaig to pick up one of his friends from the evening ferry, over there he heard a Tawny Owl and also saw a Barn Owl. Yesterday, they had a Sparrowhawk at home, and also 2 Redpolls as well as a couple of Hen Harriers fly over the garden. In the fields around the house there were 3 Whooper Swans and 55 Lapwing while down at Uiskentuie a Peregrine was present and along at the spit 25 Turnstone were present. From the hide at Gruinart, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 10 Snipe, 300 Teal, 1 female Tufted Duck, 25 Pintail, 15 Shovelor, 20 Wigeon, 2 Little Grebe and 2 Moorhen. This morning down at the hide at Gruinart, they had a female Goosander along with the Red breasted Mergansers, 10 Grey Plover and a mixed flock of Sanderling, Bar tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. While round at Craigens, 15 Whooper Swans flew in. In the Loch Gorm are were 2 flocks of Whitefronts (27 +15), 700 Greylags, 200 Barnies, 60 Tufted Duck on Loch Gorm itself along with 3 Scaup. 2 Arctic Terns were seen on the wing between Bruichladdich and the spit. In the afternoon, on the left of the hide they counted 35 Black tailed Godwit, 20 Snipe, 400 Lapwing, 12 Gadwall, 20 Pintail, 7 Whitefronts and 20 Twite. Back home they had a further 25 Twite in the garden. Over the last couple of days a total of 71 species seen so far!

Saturday 8 October 2011

Saturday 8th October

Michal yesterday had seen 4 Bullfinches in the trees opposite the office at Gruinart, and this morning we saw one down close to Foreland House. Not really been that great a day over here with the weather, we have not seen much of the crag today with the mist coming and going for most of the day, the papers did not make the 7 am ferry, the plane did not come in this morning. Nothing for it but give you James's birds for today then! On the reserve, the birds of note were 3,462 Barnies, 30 Whitefronted Geese, 1 Canada hutchinsii sp., 38 Pale bellied Brents, 30 Black tailed Godwits, 1 Peregrine, 1 Hen Harrier and 1 Little Grebe.

Friday 7 October 2011

Friday 7th October

A Sabine's Gull and also a pair of White tailed Sea Eagles were seen over the Sound of Islay today. On the reserve at Gruinart, James counted 3,246 Barnacle Geese, 51 Greenland Whitefronts, 49 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 7 Whooper Swans, 17 Pintails, 8 Grey Plover, 1 Peregrine, 1 Hen Harrier and the Pectoral Sandpiper. Bob was down at the hide and had seen the following, 6 Ruff, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 10 Shovelor, 150 Teal, 60 Mallard and a Little Grebe all on the floods. Earlier this morning at home he saw a female Sparrowhawk being chased by a Crow, while this afternoon, on a fence post a male Sparrowhawk was present. Out on barley stubbles beside his house, Bob counted 200 Greylags, 20 Lapwing and 500 Starlings. James count for yesterday was as follows, 3,120 Barnies, 280 Pale bellied Brent, 3 Whitefronts, 1 Canada, hutchinsii sp. and also 7 Whooper Swans, all at Gruinart.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Thursday 6th October

The goose invasion continued today as George reported that over 2,000 Barnies were at Gruinart while he was over there. On the guided walk this morning, Michal reported through to say that the Pectoral Sandpiper was still present out in front of the hide, and also 7 Ruff. Many thanks to Michal for keeping the blog going over the past week when I have been away. Not a lot of birding was done but we did see a Nuthatch, 3 Jays in our son's garden this morning, squirrels and a fox there too, numerous Magpies, Parakeets, only one Kestrel, Coots and Canada Geese on the River Thames as well, different birds to us apart from the Kestrel, but still great to see. Woodpigeons were 10 a penny, I know we have some on Islay but not that common. Then there was the traffic, so it back home to this cooler weather again, must remember to find a jersey to wear tomorrow to keep warm!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Wednesday 5th October

A bit wet day today which should keep the water levels on Floods up and ducks happy... Just a quick scan of the Floods and saltmarsh and hardly any greylags or barnies to be seen but 273 brent geese and a male peregrine seen feeding. On the Floods a flock of 180 teal, one black-tailed godwit, one female pintail, 8 ruffs and at least one pectoral sandpiper is still present. In the woodland on the reserve a bullfinch and redpoll was heard. Later in the evening James counted 512 brent geese and about 500 barnacle geese. The goose invasion has begun!

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Tuesday 4th October

Bob did some birdwatching today from the Loch Gruinart hide and he saw 8 ruffs, two pectoral sandpipers, one tufted duck, female pintail, 6 shovelers and about 250 teal. Down at Gartmain he noticed the female pintail was still there as well as the peregrine. At Uiskentuie he saw 32 scaup, there was also a single shelduck on Loch Indaal and a juvenile osprey flew overhead. Back home he had large flock of several hundred finches with 6 brambling amongst them. James had 87 brent geese on the saltmarsh.

Monday 3 October 2011

Monday 3rd October

A bit windier today compared to yesterday. White wagtail has been seen on the Loch Gruinart Reserve. Flock of 60 goldfinches and 20 redpolls were seen feeding on thistles. Down on the floods in front of the hide number of ducks is growing steadily with over 110 teal and 4 shovelers also a pair of mute swans with 7 cygnets. A visitor reported a white-tailed eagle from the top of Loch Gruinart. James had merlin, 4 mistle thrushes and male and female hen harrier on the reserve. Bob saw two different sparrowhawks at Port Charlotte as well as merlin and male hen harrier. Also at Gartmain he had 300 wigeon, 1 female pintail, 2 brent geese, 10 bar-tailed godwits and male peregrine. Visitors reported 30 choughs in Ardnave and male hen harrier at Lyrabus