Monday 31 January 2011

Monday 31st January

Another month in and what a finish it turned out to be with a visiting birder seeing a Kildeer Plover down on the South west of Islay. Several of us went in the hope of seeing it, but did n't, but I have just been told that we were looking in the wrong place!
The figures came through from SNH for the International Goose count carried out earlier on this month. There were 35,898 Barnacle Geese and 7,428 Whitefronts.The Barnies are down from December, but the Whitefronts are up by over a thousand. Having said that both counts are higher than in January 2010. I wonder if there is anywhere else that counts the geese, so we could "track" the missing Barnies and where have the extra Whitefronts come from? Many thanks to SNH for providing us with these figures.

Sunday 30 January 2011

Sunday 30th January

Carl had been out "Curlew counting" today. Over along the side of the Uiskentuie strand where Calum has been spreading some of the cattle dung, Carl had a count of 100 Curlews present, and in the field beside the Port Charlotte lighthouse he had a further 50 Curlews.
It was that time of year again this weekend, with the Big Garden birdwatch.... James was round, so he can verify our numbers! 68 Chaffinch, 9 Greenfinch, 4 Goldfinch, 2 House Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 1 Great Tit, 3 Blue Tit, 7 Jackdaw, 15 Starling, 22 Pheasant, 1 Robin, 2 Blackbird and 20 Red legged Partridge. The Partridge as I have said before are no doubt released birds from Rockside, but the Chaffinch number is high too. Possibly this is also reflected in the high counts seen around Islay of late. I note too that the Jackdaws have not been seen in the last 2 years here!

Saturday 29 January 2011

Saturday 29th January

The other day we took a quick run up to see what was on Ardnave Loch. We were not to be disappointed as there were 11 Whooper Swan, 2 Mute Swans along with a few ducks, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and some Tufted Duck too. Also present on the loch were 46 Greylag Geese. Coming back over the hill from Gruinart and the flock of around 30 Reed Buntings were still to be seen, just below the hut circles.
Today, in one of the fields close his house on the reserve at Gruinart, James saw the Canada Goose hutchinsii sp

Friday 28 January 2011

Friday 28th January

Malcolm kindly sent me some rainfall figures comparing the totals for the Airport and here at Kilchoman. Here at home, our figures may be a bit rough and ready, but here we go anyway!At the Airport, the 2010 tally was 42.1" while we had only 40.0", the previous year (2009) we had 57.5"and the Airport figure was 56.4". I wonder if anyone else records here on Islay, say even at Bridgend, or Port Askaig where the effect of the Paps would have an effect I would think. Many thanks Malcolm for providing these figures.
I was speaking to Albert Percival, Steve's father, earlier on this evening. Albert was saying that the Barnacle goose that was seen in the Bronx in New York became a big twitch in the States!
Down towards the road end to Rockside this afternoon, we saw a Merlin being chased by a couple of Jackdaws, the jackies eventually gave up and the Merlin rested up for a few moments on a telegraph pole. Also yesterday, over at Gruinart a Blackbird crashed into a bush, calling out loudly, and seconds later a Sparrowhawk emerged out of the bush, but with no Blackbird. We had not actually seen the birds "enter" the bush, but we did hear the noise of something crashing into the bush....

Thursday 27 January 2011

Thursday 27th January

Andy Schofield has now left Islay to take up another post within RSPB, with the net result being that Catherine has had a sideways shift from Gruinart to look after the reserve on the Oa. So, we wish them both luck in their new jobs.
Catherine had 12 members with the Mid Nene RSPB group down on the Oa today and they had seen 15 Brambling, 2 Chough, 2 large flocks of over 200 Chaffinch and 200 Twite, 2 Golden Eagle, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, and several Ravens. Many thanks to the visitors for their input and trust the weather holds good for them while they are over for a few days.
Will Miles who is a "vol" with RSPB on Islay at present, had a Lapland Bunting at Saligo, and back on Sunday had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle and also a Golden Eagle over at Bunnahabhain. Both were 1st year birds. On Loch Indaal, Will had a count of 24 Slavonian Grebes.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Wednesday 26th January

Another late entry, sorry folks, but sometimes just seem to keep on going at evening meetings all night long...Not much about birds tonight, but outside the stars are something else, just need Mark to get his Star gazing club up and running so we could all learn a bit more of what's out there! No light pollution here, especially as the lights outside outside the cottages are switched off at present......
The birds at the feeders over the last few days have been doing a quick shift on the food on offer, just getting them trained to the food so we can have a good count for the "Garden birdwatch" this weekend!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Tuesday 25th January

The other day, Bob had a flock of around 1,000 Chaffinches down at Gartbreck, just outside of Bowmore. Yesterday David Formby, our local dentist had a Long tailed Tit in his garden while today James had a count of 272 Shelduck at the head of Loch Gruinart. All I could offer today was seeing a Sparrowhawk, flying right past the house and further out up and way out over the gully was a Peregrine.

Monday 24 January 2011

Monday 24th January

Here at home, the first sign of Spring is here, no it not the birth of the first lambs, but down in a sheltered spot beside the burn, the first Snowdrops are out. I always remember, years ago when I was a youngster (back in the 20th century) that we always had a rule of thumb guide to Snowdrops, that the first were normally out by the 21st of January, and it usually holds true, easy to remember as it was one of my sister's birthday too!
On to birds, and Paul Graham had been over towards Bunnahabhain this afternoon, and had seen 3 White tailed Sea Eagles tumbling about in the air.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Sunday 23rd January

George had been over at Bunnahabhain this afternoon and had seen the Iceland Gull. On his way home at Loch Allan, he counted 22 Tufted Duck. Back here at Kilchoman, and just at the darkening, Margaret saw a Bat fly along the front of the cottages.
Mick Durham, the wildlife photographer from Galloway e mailed through this evening to say that he had a flock of 18 Great Northern Divers close in on the Solway Firth this afternoon, a sight of so many and so close....

Saturday 22 January 2011

Saturday 22nd January

Sorry folks, but nothing much to report today as the mist has kept in for most of the day, rising and falling, in fact for quite a while we could not even see the crag, rather a miserable, damp day, although it was not wet as such.
James this afternoon was saying that he too had noticed the Lapwings like Campbell's comments on yesterday's entry. James reckons that the larger flocks could possibly be mainland birds coming here in the hope of avoiding the cold on the mainland!

Friday 21 January 2011

Friday 21st January

Campbell from Port Charlotte was up yesterday giving me a hand with some fencing, and during the conversation he started to describe this bird he had seen down at Foreland on his way up here. After a bit of coaxing and prodding, by Campbell's description, I reckon that it was one of the Red Kites he had seen! Another topic that came up through the day, was that the Ravens are starting to pair up and it will not be that long before they are nesting again. Another interesting point from Campbell was that he had noticed quite often before we get cold weather, the Lapwings flock together.
James had done a Goose count on the reserve at Gruinart today, with the "scores on the doors" coming through at 9,555 Barnies, 226 Whitefronts, 1 Canada hutchinsii sp, 42 Greylag and a Peregrine out on the salt marsh. James said that the figure for the Barnies was a high count, especially with most of the geese roosting up after eating through the night with the recent full moon. It will be interesting to see the figures through for the International count carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Thursday 20th January

James had a male Peregrine over the reserve at Gruinart yesterday, and today he had a count of 27 Reed Buntings at the hut circles, again on reserve. James also sent through the figures from a count at Gruinart earlier this week. The tallies were as follows, 2 Great Northern Diver, 4 Shag, 2 Heron, 131 Shelduck, 99 Wigeon, 13 Mallard, 4 Goldeneye, 4 Red breasted Merganser, 2 Shoveler, 4 Mute Swan, 261 Oystercatcher, 8 Grey Plover, 159 Lapwing, 52 Sanderling, 112 Dunlin, 54 Bar tailed Godwit, 273 Curlew, 64 Redshank, 31 Turnstone, 3 Rock Pipits, 6 Hooded Crow, 3 Raven, 4 Greenshank, 8 Black headed Gull, 163 Common gull, 83 Herring gull and 3 Great black backed Gull.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Wednesday 19th January

Late last night coming home from Port Charlotte, we had a Barn Owl on a fence post at the roadside. It's great to see them close at hand, and really quite unfazed by you being so close. Thinking back to one night last June when we out listening for calling Corncrakes, and that time one flew along side us as we drove along. We actually thought at one point that it was going to come inside the van, so we hurriedly closed the window up a bit!
Last night too, and George was saying that he had 6 Long tailed Tits in his trees, and a few Greenfinches at his feeders. Greenfinches are not that common to George.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Tuesday 11th January

When I was out filling the feeders this morning for the garden birds, I looked over to the crag and the Fulmars were in again, there 19 in total, yesterday it was in single figures, here is hoping that the wind is not to pick up again later this week. Most of the Fulmars were on the ledges on the crag, but some were wheeling about on the wing, a really graceful sight to see. But that was not the end, as a lot higher up in the sky were 3 Peregrines, and a few moments later 2 of them landed on the top of the crag, but not in the usual spot, so possibly "new" birds.... Yesterday in the walled garden there were 19 Red legged Partridges rooting around at the base of the willows.

Monday 17 January 2011

Monday 17th January

Debby Reynolds e mailed through some sightings from yesterday. Up at Ardnave they had the good fortune to see the 2 Lapland Buntings. Over on the other side of Islay, at Loch Allan they had seen 6 Siskin, at the Lily Loch a female Bullfinch, in the same area they also had a White tailed Sea Eagle. Down at the Jura ferry they saw a Glaucous Gull. Many thanks to Debby and her friends who were over for the weekend.
Tracey from SNH gave me through the figures for the December International goose count, the tallies were 44,843 Barnacle geese and 6,384 Whitefronts. In 2009 the comparable count was 40,727 Barnies and 7,079 Whitefronts, in 2008 it was 41,613 Barnies and 6,783 Whitefronts while back in 2007 it was 44,529 Barnies and 6,617 Whitefronts. Many thanks to SNH for these figures.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Sunday 16th January

For those of you who did not know, here on Islay, over at the head of Loch Gruinart at 10.45 pm on Friday, we had a small earth tremor only measuring 2.1ML. We thought that it was a peel of thunder as we heard here at Kilchoman, it certainly rumbled away for a good few seconds. It was not until later last night that we were told otherwise!
Debby Reynolds had been over for the weekend and forwarded through some sightings from yesterday. They had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier at Loch Gorm, and over at Gruinart they had a flock of 50 Twite, a drake Goldeneye, 25 Bar tailed Godwits and a Sparrowhawk. Thanks for that Debby.
Today James had been up at Ardnave and had counted 12 Goldeneye. All I can offer today was a ringtail Hen Harrier. It flew over the garage at home and then along the front of the cottages.
The wind has kept up today, and it has at least been dry....

Saturday 15 January 2011

Saturday 15th January

Well, the Fulmars have proved us right again, as it has been a pig of a day, between the rain and the wind. The ferry sailed in and out of Port Askaig all day, one of the joys of having 2 ferry ports here on Islay! The only other bit of news was that a residential caravan along the road which only came over recently, well it is now flat pack, as it had not been securely tied down...
James had ventured down to the hide today his highlights were 32 Pintail and 4 Whooper Swans.

Friday 14 January 2011

Friday 14th January

Forgot to say, back on Wednesday that there were a few Fulmars back on the crag, a sign that possibly the wind is about to pick up again...

There were a few dirty showers floating around from midday onwards, and the wind at that time had an edge to it, as we used to say, a lazy wind, one that went straight through you rather round you! With the rain through the night, the burns are running full, and that is before the rain forecast for

Thursday 13 January 2011

Thursday 13th January

Today, I received an e mail through from Tim Cleeves who we met up with at Asa Wright last month. Although Tim and his wife Ann have never visited Islay before, they are old friends of Peter Roberts. They were over staying with Peter for a few days at the end of last week. So here are some of Tim's comments...
"On our travels, we stopped several times to comb through flocks of Barnacle and Greenland white fronted geese, indeed in one field, I saw more Greenland whitefronts than I had seen in my entire life!"
Further on Tim wrote,
"More geese and close to home too, and we watched 30 pale bellied Brent geese, resting and swimming along the west shore of Loch Indaal. More walks and more great birds- whooper swans, 2 golden eagles, a flock of over 120 Twite, and always the sound of geese. I realised that wherever we were on Islay, we seemed to hear the sound of wild geese, usually the high yelping barnacles, but sometimes greylags and whitefronts, if I close my eyes I just might bring the sound of Islay back...."

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Wednesday 12th January

The nights are starting to draw out again... it was certainly light longer this evening, but possibly because it was not too overcast. Apart from that they claimed on the weather forecast that we were second warmest place in Scotland today, a heady 10 degrees...
When out with the dog in the garden this morning, a pair of Chough flew past, some Rock Doves took off from the crag, and a few seconds later a Peregrine appeared, and behind a Buzzard was heard calling. Later on there was a Kestrel was seen hovering, a Raven flew past, cronking away, down on the dunes several Chough were seen, some Hoodie Crows were present too and a flock of around 40 Jackdaws were on the wing. Not really that bad a day for not moving away from home!

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Tuesday 11th January

Back on Sunday, Paul Graham from An Taigh Osda in Bruichladdich had been over at The Machrie for a quick round of golf, what flies over but a White tailed Sea Eagle. James was speaking to a visitor today who told him that he too had seen a Sea Eagle on Sunday, in the same locality, but it took a Barnacle Goose... It had a white wing tag on, so probably a 2007 bird!
Yesterday Carl had a couple of Chough at Uiskentuie and a flock of 100 Lapwing at Coultorsay
Peter had been up at Loch Skerrols today and the 6 Coots are still present. In the conifers they also had a pair of Crossbills.
Today George had his first Barn Owl at his house, that was the good news, the down side was that the poor bird was dead, in very poor condition. Possible proof that it was unable to get much food when the weather was so severe last month.
Malcolm had been goose counting with Bob today on the Rhinns, and was in touch to say that down at Portnahaven there were several groups of Fieldfare too be seen. Also at Port Bhan, between Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte, they had seen a Red Kite with a wing tag on. The colour was not easy to see.
Norman, James's father was down at the hide at the RSPB Gruinart reserve today and had a couple of Bullfinches. Later on, James had 5 Woodcock on the reserve, and this evening after dropping Norman off at airport, James had a Barn Owl over there.

Monday 10 January 2011

Monday 10th January

This Goldeneye was down in the harbour in Bowmore this morning along with a few of his mates, unfortunately the light was poor, my excuse for a poor image! I also managed to get an image of a Long tailed Duck on our way out of Bowmore, it was further out on Loch Indaal , but just came out too grainy, bit of a pity as it was a beautiful bird. Other ducks to be seen were some Eiders, just below the Generator station, Wigeon along at Gartmain and a few Shelduck at "smelly corner".

Sunday 9 January 2011

Sunday 9th January

James had been up round Ardnave Point with father, Norman this afternoon. To cut a long story short, it was Norman who took this image of a pair of Lapland Buntings. While they were out, they also saw a Grey Plover, 3 Great Northern Divers and a flock of 70 Twite.
By the way, back home the Jackdaws are back to the feeders again...

Saturday 8 January 2011

Saturday 8th January

Yesterday Carl had a Merlin over at Gartmain, and had Woodcock flighting into the Merse at Bridgend. Further on at Shorefield at Bruichladdich, there were Snipe in the ditches.
Clive McKay who used work at Gruinart with RSPB tonight became our first contributor to e mail in some sightings from when he was over recently by using the new link. His first sighting was at 2am on the 1st of January, of a Barn Owl on the flats at Gruinart, possibly the first sighting this year! Down at Frenchman's Rocks the next day, Clive had a 1st winter Glaucous Gull. He also had 50 Ravens at Ardnave, 250 Barwits on Loch Gruinart, and also a surprise location for a Song Thrush close to Ardnave Point! Many thanks Clive, keep them coming folks!

Friday 7 January 2011

Friday 7th January

Peter has some friends over staying with him for a few days, in fact if the truth be told we met Peter's friends when we were on holiday last month at Asa Wright, bit of a small world really....
Well when they were having lunch down at Bruichladdich, a beautiful male Hen Harrier flew past, great. But more was to come... While Peter took Tim to the dentist in Bowmore later on, they stopped briefly at Gartmain, and just looking down at the mouth of the stream, what was there, but a Kingfisher. The dentist sorted Tim's toothache out by the way, nothing much a pair of rusty pliers can't sort!
Tonight I have added the facility on to the blog so that you can send in any sightings that you may have, if you wish to that is!

Thursday 6 January 2011

Thursday 6th January

A bit cooler over here today, with the odd snow shower thrown in for good measure, the tops of the hills have got their winter caps on again!
The other day Bob had counted 12 Goldeneye down in the harbour in Bowmore. Today, while he was out Goose counting, Malcolm had a flock of over 80 Fieldfares over beside Balole which is up behind Scarrabus. We had 17 flying off from the fir trees down below Rock Mountain this morning, and a further 4 down at Rockside this afternoon. We saw a male Hen Harrier today down beside Loch Gorm and back at home on the bird table were 2 Starlings! The Hen Harrier was our first since our return from our holidays a fortnight ago.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Wednesday 5th January

A mixed bag today, especially on the bird table. We had a Reed Bunting in for some food along with a couple of Greenfinches and a few Goldfinches. The House Sparrows were there too, but no sign over the last few days of any Starlings or any Jackdaws. There was a first yesterday, a Rook! At the top of the drive, a couple of Redwings were seen briefly, while over on the crag, there were 3 Fulmars. The Peregrine was seen there this morning too, and at Ballinaby this afternoon, a Merlin was present.
George had his first Greenfinch for a while, on his bird table, but beat me with 2 Reed Buntings! He often gets Rooks on his feeders too! Down on the shore below his house, George yesterday had a count of 80 Lapwing. Today he had a male Hen Harrier beside Loch Gorm, and also a female on his way up to Ardnave. He had 6 Fieldfares up there too.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Tuesday 4th January

Stuart MacDonald who had been over staying at the New Year had seen 2 male Goosanders on the pool just beside Red Lodge on the High road on his way down to Port Ellen and the ferry yesterday.
Today, James had been in at Loch Skerrols and had counted 6 Coots, 29 Whooper Swans, 4 Pochard, 5 Siskin, a Sparrowhawk and commented on the large number of Wigeon present.
I was speaking with James over the holiday period and he was saying that along with Eleanor, they had raised the best part of £3,200 on their epic Kayak across Scotland back in September, so feel free to send any spare cash you may have to swell the coffers even more. I certainly know that they raised far more than they expected, well done to the two of them, and to Sally as back up crew on the ground rather than on the water!

Monday 3 January 2011

Monday 3rd January

A bit confusing all these days off, as I thought it was Tuesday..... not an age thing!
Yesterday, (Sunday!), James had a Barn Owl over on the reserve at Gruinart, and on the flats amongst the Barnies was the Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp.
Today, along at Sunderland, in the field where the Peregrine/Pheasant/Buzzard were yesterday, the Red Kite was present and it flew off with carrying something in its' talons, probably what was left of yesterday's kill. About 3 hours later, on our way home we had probably the same bird on the wing, closer to the steading at Sunderland. The bird had definitely blue wing tags, but what the lettering was I still do not know! Back at home, there were more birds at the feeders today.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Sunday 2nd January

James had been speaking with some visitors at Gruinart today. One family was telling him that they had seen 8 Coots on Loch Skerrols, other visitors had written in the diary that they had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle down at Bridgend. Visitors staying with us in the cottages had seen the Red Kite out over the Machir and commented that they thought this was a different Kite to the one they saw down towards Portnahaven as the plumage was different. They had also seen a Golden Eagle today. All I can add was that we saw a Peregrine sitting on top of its' prey, a Pheasant, along at Sunderland Farm, unfortunately the Peregrine flew off as we got closer to it, and then a Buzzard appeared and laid claim to the Pheasant!

Saturday 1 January 2011

Sat 1st January

A start to a New Year.
Not much much birding done folks, as there have been other things to be done, a bit of greeting and meeting with old friends... The only piece of birding news was that a Red Kite had been seen on the Rhinns yesterday.
Clark brought me up the rain fall totals for 2010, only 40" in all, a dry year for us here on Islay. In 2009, a more "normal" year, and the tally then was 57.5". In the period from April through to the end of June we only had 4" last year compared to 12.5" in 2009! Again in August, there was 5.5" more in 2009 than in 2010. It would be interesting to see the comparison between the tallies for the 2 years over at the Airport.