Monday 28 February 2011

Monday 28th February

I had a report from the RSPB Oa reserve today, 213 white fronted geese, 1 merlin, 124 twite, 96 starlings, 100 rock doves, 2 chough and a barn owl. While on the subject of owls, I had a short eared owl and a barn owl at Loch Gruinart last night. It was a beautiful day today and the lapwing have started to display over the Gruinart flats, there was also a golden eagle at Ardnave hunting rabbits in the sun.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Sunday 27th February

Some really good clear spring weather, in between the heavy hail showers. Many birds are starting to sing now, song thushes, blackbirds, robins and today the ravens at Gruinart were lining the nest. Peter reported a group of 12 crossbills at Finlaggan house, the group included adult males, females and young birds, feeding on insects taken from the mosses and lichens. In the Ballygrant area, Peter also saw 2 white tailed eagles, one an adult with a yellow tag on the right wing, the other a young bird.

Saturday 26 February 2011

Saturday 26th February

Sun and showers today, but warm enough to shed the fleece for a while (at least until it began to hail). Martin had been to the hide at Gruinart, reported loads of teal, good numbers of wigeon shoveler, pintail, lapwing and redshank and also a pair of gadwall and 2 greenshank. A male hen harrier was seen around Loch Gorm hunting the shore in the evening light.

Friday 25 February 2011

Friday 25th February

You can believe spring is on its way there is a smell to the air (could be muck spreading) and the first skylarks are singing today at the reserve. Yesterday a goose count on the reserve at Gruinart revealed 6449 barnacle geese, 273 white fronted geese, 68 greylag geese and 1 Canada goose (small hutchinsii). I also spotted a female hen harrier, a peregrine, and 4 whooper swans. At Ardnave 21 chough, 102 oystercatchers, 37 ringed plovers, 7 great northern divers, 1 black throated diver, 57 twite and 16 whooper swans were reported by Mark and Jamie. They also reported 150 starlings I wonder if these are the starlings that seem to have disappeared from Gruinart farm buildings.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Wednesday 23rd February

James had seen 3 Lesser Black backed Gulls over the reserve at Gruinart today, another sign that Spring is on it's way.
Moira Meldrum had been over visiting her family last week at Ballygrant. She enjoyed listening to the Song Thrush singing its heart out in the morning and again late afternoon from the tallest tree. She also had seen a female Bullfinch in a Blackthorn thicket. They also had a wonderful time listening to 2 Tawny Owls calling to each other on Wednesday which was a perfectly still night with a clear Moon and stars. On leaving Port Ellen on the Friday, about 20 minutes out, they saw 5 Dolphins from the ferry, very close to the boat, and leaping out of the water, and keeping this up for around 5 minutes. Thanks Moira for your sightings.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Tuesday 22nd February

Another mixed day weather wise again, no sun again! On the positive side there were a few frogs out on the road tonight as we came home from Port Charlotte. Why were we out, you may well ask. The reason was that it is the last Tuesday in the month, so some of us meet up have an informal get together over a pint and a blether about birds. I do stress the word informal, and any visiting birder that is over is more than welcome, send us an e mail if you are coming over and we will tell where we are meeting. James and Peter had a quite an interesting discussion on Choughs, it was good to hear of the various trains of thoughts. The goose numbers had an airing too, as had several other topics too. There were 9 of us there, including 2 visitors.

Monday 21 February 2011

Monday 21st February

A mixed day for the weather here today, with no sun shining through... It is only February!
Yesterday James had 2 Gadwall on the reserve at Gruinart, here at home a Sparrowhawk flew out of one of the bushes as we walked back down the drive!
Today, a White tailed Sea Eagle was seen over at Bunnahabhain, the Iceland Gull was there too, and out on the Sound of Islay, a Black throated Diver was present. Back down at Ardnahoe, 11 Red legged Partridges were counted, probably released birds from Islay Estate. Nearer to home a Peregrine was seen up at Sanaigmore. There was also a ringtail Hen Harrier over the reed bed down at the Coastguard Cottages

Sunday 20 February 2011

Sunday 20th February

There has been no sign of the sun today, but at least it has stayed dry. This evening the wind is picking up and the evening ferry has been diverted to Port Askaig.
Yesterday, George had a Coal Tit return to his feeders at his home, the first of this winter. Later on, George had been out and about and had a couple of ringtail Hen Harriers, just before Rock Mountain.
Our visiting birders today had been out over to Bunnahabhain and had an Otter in the bay there, the Iceland Gull was still to be seen while in the Sound of Islay was a Great Northern Diver. In the trees at Finlaggan, they saw a pair of Crossbills along with 3 young. Back on Loch Skerrols Whooper Swans and also 2 Coots were present.
Back here at home the solitary Siskin was at the feeder at the kitchen window this morning, and again in the afternoon.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Saturday 19th February

Last night for a while, it turned out to rather wet and windy, but today turned out a bit better, although the morning ferry was diverted up to Port Askaig. Even the birds were better...
This morning, here at home we had a Siskin on one of the bird feeders. Later on, after lunchtime we went round Loch Gorm and then up to Ardnave. Just past Coull, on the whins at the roadside was a Stonechat, and further on there was a large bird on top of a straining post, on looking through the bins it was a Golden Eagle. A few moments later on and another Eagle came into sight as it soared past. The first bird took off and both of them on the wing. We watched them for a while before they flew off out of sight. Ardnave Loch had 12 Whooper Swans, a pair of Mute Swans, some Tufted Duck, Wigeon and a few Teal. On the shoreline were 5 Lapwing, a pair of Oystercatcher, and later a pair of Curlew were seen too. Just before the darkening, a couple of Peregrine were sitting on the crag, here at home.
I was speaking with Steve Percival who this morning had seen a Barnacle Goose over at Craigens that was initially rung back as a juvenile bird in Iceland in 1983, so is now 27+ years old....
Another visitor was in touch this evening with their sightings. They had been watching a male Hen Harrier down towards Portnahaven for the best part of an hour, as it quartered back and forward. At same point, they had 3 Buzzard, a Kestrel and later a Peregrine. On their way home they had a Short eared Owl.

Friday 18 February 2011

Friday 18th February

A late entry, sorry folks but it has been one of the evenings with the phone ringing all the time, James can vouch for that as he was here!
A visitor told me of seeing a Bullfinch in the woods opposite the office at Gruinart, and James was also saying that there have more been seen there this winter than previously.
Another visitor had seen a couple of Siskin down on the feeders at the shop at Bridgend, or Jimmy's as we locals call it! The same folk had seen a Stonechat over at Ballinaby and also a male Hen Harrier round there too.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Thursday 17th February

A White tailed Sea Eagle was seen over the Rhinns of Islay today.
Down on Loch Astle, on the RSPB Oa reserve, 20 Tufted Duck were counted, a female Hen Harrier was on the reserve as well as a single Redwing.
On the East side of Loch Gruinart, 2 Greenshank were present, and around Ardnave Point, 24 Ravens were counted, 1 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 3 Grey Plover, 7 Bar tailed Godwit, 14 Ringed Plover, 50+ Twite with 3 Great Northern Diver off shore. Ardnave Loch held a Dabchick and 15 Whooper Swans while up at Sanaigmore a large female Sparrowhawk and at the coal yard 30 Pale bellied Brent Geese were present.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Wednesday 16th February

The weather was a bit kinder to us today, it almost reached double figures at one time, hovering at a balmy 9 degrees. Here at home, this morning there was a mixed flock of Jackdaws and Chough directly over the house, and Margaret had a count of 16 Chough, there certainly were more Jackdaws, but the Chough were what we wanted!
Over towards Loch Skerrols, a visitor had a flock of 100 Chaffinch , and on Loch Skerrols had a mixed group of 77 Whooper and Mute Swan, they were over the far side of the loch and hard to split off. Later on up at Ardnave he counted 50 Twite in one group. He was also commenting about the lack of Stonechats, something which Carl had been speaking about on Monday!

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Tuesday 15th February

Catherine sent some sightings through for the week down on the Oa reserve. A broad spectrum to choose from, 328 Greenland White fronted Geese, 12 Greylag, 2 Golden Eagle, 1 Barn Owl, 13 Fulmar, 1 Merlin, 1 Hen Harrier and a Dunnock.

Monday 14 February 2011

Monday 14th February

George had been down to Loch Skerrols the other day and counted 64 Whooper Swan, 74 Wigeon, 2 Coot and on his way home at the top of Loch Indaal there were 11 Pale bellied Brent Geese. Today there were 11 on Loch Indaal, but just before Bruichladdich, possibly the same geese.
Visiting birders had seen Crossbills at Avonvoggie today, 3 juvenile birds being fed by the female. Proof of them breeding here on Islay....

Sunday 13 February 2011

Sunday 13th February

Visiting birders to Islay reported in this evening to say that they had snow on the "Rest & be Thankful" and on the "Arrochar Alps" on their way to the midday ferry from Kennacraig. At Lochgilphead, they had seen a pair of Crossbills, from the ferry a few Great Northern Divers were seen, and while coming up the Sound of Islay, an Otter was spotted.
Other visitors had seen a Peregrine yesterday and also some Chough, so were well pleased. All I can offer today was a Sparrowhawk which flew across the road in front of us along at Sunderland. I was also told that it had been quite wet and windy last night, but I never heard a thing, out for the count!

Saturday 12 February 2011

Saturday 12th February

A great day over here today, even the birds were singing away in the wood... tomorrow could be different, worse still there were a few noisy Fulmars in. The sea was noisy too.
James was on the phone with some figures from a count he carried out on the floods at the RSPB reserve at Gruinart on Thursday afternoon. The "scores on the doors" were as follows, 1 Little Grebe, 3 Herons, 4 Red breasted Merganser, 563 Teal, 62 Mallard, 53 Wigeon, 19 Shoveler, 41 Pintail, 295 Lapwing, 4 Mute Swan and 9 Whooper Swans.
Yesterday he had been down on the RSPB Oa reserve and had seen a female Merlin.

Friday 11 February 2011

Friday 11th February

Malcolm e mailed through this morning to say that there were 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal just across from the hall at Bruichlaadich. He too had noticed that had they had been seen for a few weeks. On our way to Bowmore at midday, we counted 14 down at Gortan. We also saw a small flock of Lapwing at the outside of Bowmore and coming home there was a flock of around 60 on the wing over Rockside... wonder if this has got anything to do with Campbell's weather prediction, a possible sign of some cold weather to come in a few days time, a bit like me with the Fulmars and stormy weather to follow....
On a lighter note last night I read that BTO had been asking folk about the collective name for Robins, and in the top 10 responses was "reliant", wrong track.....

Thursday 10 February 2011

Thursday 10th February

We really are a fickle lot over here, give us a dry day, not overcast and all is forgiven, it does n't matter that we have had 3" of rain so far this month, so what. What else can we be happy about, well going down to Port Charlotte this morning, there were some Pale bellied Brent Geese at the coal yard, and our way back home there were a further couple just as were coming out of Bruichladdich, the others at the coal yard in the meantime had moved on! Margaret had a Kestrel this afternoon in the wood here at the house. Better not ask for too much as the weather tomorrow is talking of another wet day, normal service will resume again...

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Wednesday 9th February

Another mixed day of weather over here again, certainly no sun to be seen, just grey and overcast with some rain thrown in for good measure. I think that by tomorrow we will have equalled the February total for 2010. We have already beaten 2009 when it was a mere 1.5". As you may have gathered, not really conducive to bird watching, but Bob yesterday managed to see a couple of male Hen Harriers out on the wing. All we need is for the Kildeer Plover to be seen again, even the Red Kites have not been seen lately....

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Tuesday 8th February

Happy birthday Ken, out on the mainland, now you have reached the big 60...
Catherine was on the phone earlier to say that the Tree Sparrow is still present down on the RSPB reserve on the Oa. The large flock of Twite has now split into several groups of up to 200, still a lot of lbjs.... There have also been a few groups of Chaffinches again to 200 birds which good to hear.
Back here at home this morning, I saw a Raven carrying in some nesting material to its' nest up the gully.

Monday 7 February 2011

Monday 7th February

Rather a damp night last night with squally showers hitting the windows. We only got 0.75", not a lot compared to other areas on the mainland. So far we have had 2.0" in total this month...
On to birds, and not a lot really, but I was thinking this afternoon, that I had not seen any Pale bellied Brent Geese for a while. Usually there is a small group that can be seen on Loch Indaal, down at Bruichladdich, up at Gortan at the coal yard, along at the spit towards Uiskentuie, further on at Blackrock, or over at Bowmore, but of late I cannot remember seeing any for a while....

Sunday 6 February 2011

Sunday 6th February

Another good day over here, so a day to get on with some of those outside jobs, before the weather goes downhill again. Having said that there was not much time for birdwatching, but I did manage to see a pair of Chough, a Raven flew past cronking away as they do, a Buzzard was calling away as it soared over the crag while further out a distant Kestrel was seen. Not that bad a day for not leaving home!

Saturday 5 February 2011

Saturday 5th February

A better day out here, no wind, no rain, the ferry is back on again with CalMac putting on a couple of extra sailings to get things moving again, well done folks!
With the wind blowing so strongly over the last few days, there have not been that many birds in at the feeders, but today it was back to normal, although there were some more Goldfinches to be seen and also some extra Greenfinches. While out and about today I noticed more Buzzards than of late. In a field at Tallant, there were 2 feeding on a kill, and along at Sunderland on the way home another 2 were also tucking in to another kill. Also along at Sunderland there were 4 Herons out in a different field.

Friday 4 February 2011

Friday 4th February

Sorry folks, there is not much to report on the "bird front" tonight as the wind continues to play games with us. The wind, top speed here, along at one of our neighbour's house was 61 mph yesterday, and only 56mph today, net result another flat pack construction destroyed. This time it managed to clear the road with the debris on the bottom side of the road. The ferry has not come today either, no newspapers, no food, the joys of living out here. No real broadband either come to think on it, not weather related I know, but...
George, the other day showed us some feathers which he had found, and after consulting a book Malcolm thought that they had been from a Water rail.
Today, in the teeth of the wind, there were 25 Shelduck hunkered down at "smelly corner".

Thursday 3 February 2011

Thursday 3rd February

The Fulmars have proved us right again, as the wind has certainly huffed and puffed over the last 24 hours, and as I write this entry it is rather noisy outside. Thrown in for good measure we have had the odd rain shower. As ever before the main thrust of the wind arrives, the Fulmars depart...
As the weather has been so dire, there is not much to report on the bird front, although there were a couple of Fieldfare down in a stubble field at Rockside.
Before I close, just to let you all know, there were no ferries today, with the first ferry tomorrow looking doubtful, next thing will panic buying in the shops...

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Wednesday 2nd February

Catherine had seen a Tree Sparrow the other day down on the RSPB reserve on the Oa. Great to hear that some are still here!
Mark who managed the INHT last summer is a "vol" with RSPB at present, and Mark had a flock of 300 Twite, a Lapland Bunting, a Merlin and a Hen Harrier over at Killinallan, round at Saligo he had seen another Merlin.
I forgot (not again) to mention the other day that the Fulmars were back in, not only here but we also saw them round at Kilchiaran too. Net result, the strong winds that are whistling around outside, the wind has certainly picked up from earlier this evening. Wonder if they saw any Fulmars out in Queensland...

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Tuesday 1st February

Here it is then, the Kildeer Plover in it's glory on Islay, "the best bird so far this year in Scotland". That is what I was told from a person in the know... It has not been seen today, but it has been heard calling...
As we are into another month now, the tally for January's rainfall came to 3.5".
Bob had been round Ardnave Point the other afternoon, and had 45 species in around 2 hours, not bad going. He had a count of 80 Chough, 2 Peregrine Falcons, 1 Kestrel, 1 Black throated Diver towards Nave Island, 8 Ringed Plover and only 1 Skylark.