Sunday 31 July 2011

Sunday 31st July

Rather a miserable day over here, not a lot of rain but enough to keep you inside, although some folks over on holiday no doubt would just enjoy the stress free, away from the day job and no mobile phone......Net result is that I have done no birdwatching today, although I did see some 3 Stonechats at different places round Loch Gorm. I went over to catch up with James instead and got some more bits and pieces in place ready for the Bird Fair, just think 3 weeks time and it will be all over, so will get some pieces of the jigsaw in place over the next couple of days, rather than a mad rush in the final few days! Oh, by the way, James had a count of 115 Greylags in a grass field just below his house this afternoon.

Saturday 30 July 2011

Saturday 30th July

Another month almost in, not quite but not far away.... This morning Mark had a Bullfinch over on the reserve at Gruinart, and he thought there were more Wheatears around, is this the first of them moving South already? Down on one of the lochans beside Loch Gorm, this afternoon there was a count of 60 Greylags, we also saw a ringtail Hen Harrier further on, again beside Loch Gorm. Over one of the barley fields, the Sand Martins were swooping low, busy catching the insects.

Friday 29 July 2011

Friday 29th July

Yes, summer is back again right enough. George had 10 Greylags in one of his field this morning, in a field next to his was a single Raven, back at his house the House Martins have been busy feeding their brood, as have the Swallows in his garage. James saw a Corncrake on the track down to the hide at Gruinart, out in front of the hide were 2 Greenshank, and down beside the hide there were 2 Roe bucks having a bit of a go at each other, finally up at his road end there was a Sparrowhawk. My contribution for today was a Golden Eagle sitting on top of a dyke above Loch Gorm catching the evening sun, unfortunately too far for a decent image for to share with you all, sorry folks....

Thursday 28 July 2011

Thursday 28th July

Yes, the weather turned better again today, not a scorcher but it was still quite acceptable.... Up towards Ardnave this morning there were a couple of families of Meadow Pipits flitting between the fence posts on the roadside. Further on a Buzzard took off from where it was perched on a straining post and on the road round Ardnave Loch there were 28 Sand Martins on the track itself. No sign of the Rosy coloured Starling today, but it is quite mobile, in fact there was no sign of any Starlings around. On the guided walk at Gruinart this morning Mark had a ringtail Hen Harrier, Sedge Warbler and commented that there were more Greylags to be seen. Coming home we saw a male Hen Harrier close to Loch Gorm while round at Ballinaby, in some of the fields there were several small groups of up to 10 Greylags.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Wednesday 27th July

It had to happen sometime, yes the weather has broken down, but "normal service" could restart as early as tomorrow. It is damp outside, enough to lay the dust down and that's about it, although the top of the crag is shrouded in a low mist. I have been doing other things today rather than thinking about birds here on Islay, cutting the grass, outside painting (before the weather went awol), checking out some odds and ends for the Bird Fair....not a lot but getting there, wherever that is! Looking outside to the trees round about, and hey presto most of them are all green again. The Rowans have some blossom on them, so will we get some berries later on? Similarly the Brambles have got blossom too, so again we may get some brambles in the Autumn, usually I think of early to mid September in a normal year, will keep you posted on that front later on. The old Apple tree which had so much blossom the first time round, has no sign of any blossom this time round.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Tuesday 26th July

A late entry I know, but just back in from an very interesting talk down at INHT given by Brian Nelson on Dragonflies and Damselflies. Apologies for my entry last night to Andrew and Bob, as I misunderstood the message about the Manx Shearwater, there were quite a few flying past while they were there, but Andrew's first! Mary on her way home this evening to Portnahaven had seen 9 Golden Plover in a flock of between 70 - 80 Lapwings at Lossit Farm. Earlier on, she had a good sighting of a Short eared Owl with a vole on top of a fence post, before it flew off with its' prey. Mark on the guided walk down on the Oa today saw the following, Red throated Diver, Kestrel, ringtail Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle, Chough, Twite, Linnet, Wheatear and Gannet out over the sea.

Monday 25 July 2011

Monday 25th July

The sky was overcast this morning, but the sun broke though and it turned out a not bad day, so I should not complain! Bob had been down at Frenchman's Rocks yesterday with Andrew Stirrat who has been visiting Islay over the last few days. They had a Manx Shearwater pass by while they were there. Later on, Andrew had a Short eared Owl and also a Hen Harrier. Today, Bob had a Treecreeper over at Ardtalla and at Ardistillery Bay he had a Greenshank. Andrew had been down at Gartbreck and saw a Whimbrel. Another visitor over for the week had heard a Corncrake calling in the dunes behind Machir Bay yesterday

Sunday 24 July 2011

Sunday 24th July

Yes, I realise this is not a bird, but James sent it through, taken while he was on holiday in The Isles of Scilly. The inquisitive seal was having a nibble at El's flipper.... Over on the reserve at Gruinart today James had a Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, 2 Corncrakes calling, numerous Whitethroats, 2 Treecreeper, 2 Hen Harrier and a Lesser Redpoll.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Saturday 23rd July

Bob had been up at Ardnave today with a visiting birder and had seen the Rose coloured Starling, good to hear that it is still here. While they were up there, they also saw a Peregrine Falcon, 1 Buzzard, 15 Twite, 2 Great Skuas flew in from Eilean Beag, (one of the islands beside Nave Island) . Out on the islands Bob had a count of 380 Greylags, and back on Ardnave Loch, the pair of Tufted Ducks were present with their 4 young. Other visitors who were up there this afternoon had heard a couple of Corncrakes calling. A Corncrake was heard in the dunes behind Machir Bay yesterday, while along at Saligo Bay on a rock was a rather bedraggled Puffin in a sorry state. Back here at home this afternoon, out over the crag were 39 Chough, boy are they hard to count!

Friday 22 July 2011

Friday 22nd July

Sorry to harp on about it folks, but honestly, it has been another great day on this the west coast of Islay. Over at Port Ellen, it was raining today, and has been wet quite often this week when we have had it dry.... This afternoon, there was a Kestrel over the crag and down beside the burn there were 4 young Wrens perched out on the rushes which was nice to see. Visitors in the cottages were over on Jura yesterday and had seen an Otter, one was sleeping along with some seals and it was not until it stood up and stretched itself that they realised that it was an Otter, just great!

Thursday 21 July 2011

Thursday 21st July

The weather continues on, great, dry and sunny, what else do we need.... Bob had seen a Short eared Owl up the back of Port Charlotte yesterday, and also was saying that he seen some more Linnets and Redpolls eating on the seed heads. He also reckons of late that there have been an increase in Whinchats. A visitor had seen the Rosy coloured Starling up at Ardnave again yesterday, and another who had been on the ferry to Colonsay told me that they had seen a few Manx Shearwaters. We had a House Martin here at home late yesterday evening, and this morning a pair were trying to attempt to start a late build of a nest on the house to no avail.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Wednesday 20th July

Another day in, another busy day at that, but all up to speed. Margaret had a Treecreeper in the trees out in front of the house this morning, the first for quite some time. Just before lunchtime I had a count of 34 Chough as they twisted and tumbled as they flew along the front of the crag which was great to see, counting them would be easier if they would fly in a "regular" flight! Going in to Bowmore later on, there was a male Hen Harrier just below Gartloist. James is back from holidays, so it will be catch up time for him, think of all those e mails waiting in the inbox this morning....

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Tuesday 19th July

A better day over here today, perhaps it was a little overcast, but at least it managed to keep dry! Bob had been over at Gartbreck today and had counted the following birds there, 25 Greylags, 20 Shelduck along with 22 young, 65 Eider with 6 young, 12 Shag, 1 Heron, 120 Oystercatcher, 70 Ringed Plover, 45 Dunlin with 5 young, 33 Curlew, 3 Turnstone. Only a few Gulls were seen along the shoreline, but there 200 - 300 following the 2 tractors which were mowing the grass ready for the silage lifting operation. On the Gorse bushes there were plenty of small birds present, Whitethroats, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warblers as well as Reed Buntings and Linnets too. Further on, Bob also saw Hedge Sparrows, Goldfinches and more Linnets with Meadow Pipits present too. At the start of his walk there was a mixed flock of Jackdaws and Rooks mobbing a Golden Eagle, and he counted a total of 4 Buzzards while he was out.

Monday 18 July 2011

Monday 18th July

Well, that's already half the month away, times just flies past you sometimes, other times it just drags. Today has not been that great for birding out here, the sun did peep through for a wee while late afternoon, tomorrow will be better.... George had counted 14 Hares in a couple of fields down beside his house today, Bob had a Peregrine Falcon over the saltings at the top of Loch Indaal close to the entrance to Whinpark, and up here at home there was a family of Pied Wagtails out on the grass. Thinking back to Friday morning, we had 4 young Stoat kits playing on the road just after the sandpit past Rockside road end, it was great to see them as they twisted and tumbled about as they do, no camera to hand either!

Sunday 17 July 2011

Sunday 17th July

Sounds a bit repetitive, but guess what, it has been damp again, not a lot but wet all the same. At one point I looked out at the bird table outside the kitchen window, and 24 birds were making the most of the food on offer, Starlings, House Sparrows, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and also a Siskin. The Great Tits were the most numerous with several young to the fore. Out on the grass were the "resident" Pheasants along with an odd Jackdaw and a Song Thrush there too. Luckily Peter had been out and about for something different yesterday. Up at Ardnave he saw the Rose coloured Starling, later on at Carnduncan there was a Whinchat feeding young. In the afternoon down close to the American Monument on the Oa, a pair of Wheatears were seen with their newly fledged youngsters. A Golden Eagle was also present on the Oa too. Back at Bruichladdich pier, the Black Guillemots are still active at their nest site, going by the noise and also the changeover of the adult birds.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Saturday 16th July

The day turned out better than expected after a damp start, and through the night we had 0.5" of rain, it will have done some good, as it was a steady rain rather than a downpour. Bob and Martin had been up at Ardnave yesterday afternoon and saw the Rose coloured Starling, and while they were there, a Golden Eagle was seen low over the moor and nearer to hand was a scruffy looking female Hen Harrier. Today at home, Bob saw a Swallow picking up some dead grass and wonders if it was using it for nest material.

Friday 15 July 2011

Friday 15th July

Well, the weather forecast was spot on, with the promised rain coming in on cue. Firstly I managed to finish cutting the grass before the rain started and more to the point the rain is welcome as it saves me having to water the plants in the borders...Yesterday, George heard a Whimbrel calling, he saw a Kestrel south of Carn towards Portnahaven, on the grass fields cut for silage next to his house George had a count of 30 Curlew and also 30 Rock Doves on the aftermath, along the shoreline below his house 5 Greylags flew past. Today at his house there was a family of Sedge Warblers out, one of the House Martins were feeding young while out on Loch Indaal some Gannets were noted. Malcolm had seen a Whimbrel fly past his house at Bruichladdich today. The Rose coloured Starling was seen by George this afternoon when he was on the INHT ramble at Ardnave. James who is on holiday at present down in The Isles of Scilly has seen Sandwich Terns and also a Garden Warbler

Thursday 14 July 2011

Thursday 14th July

Here it is then, the Rose coloured Starling taken up at Ardnave this morning. In some of the other images it appeared to be more coloured. It was as reported before with the flock of Starlings, with the grazing cattle and sheep around it too....Bob last night had a pair of Stonechats up beside his house. When he out for a walk, he saw families of Whinchat, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler. He also had 2 groups of Redpolls, a male Hen Harrier as well as a count of 12 fledged Reed Buntings.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Wednesday 13th July

I feel I am just like an old recording saying the same message, the summer just continues, over 20 degrees this afternoon, but the tape will changing come the weekend as we are forecast to come back to normal.... Mark commented on seeing a marked increase in number of Butterflies being seen over the past few days. On the guided walk on the Oa reserve yesterday, Linnet, Twite and a Kestrel were the highlights with a pair of Chough feeding their young too. This afternoon we took a run over to Bunnahabhain to see if any of the "Tall ships" were sailing up the Sound of Islay, none of the large vessels were seen but several yachts were seen. Bird wise we had a Golden Eagle, Buzzard and a Peregrine Falcon too.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Tuesday 12th July

Words fail me, the good weather continues on, everyone is well pleased..... A short trip down to the Machir Bay last night around 11 pm was good for hearing Corncrakes, 4 at least, 3 round the Coastguards, and one closer to home. I did not go on towards Saligo, nor along to Sunderland as we would normally do, but it was a really calm night and worth the effort! It will be interesting to hear the final count but certainly there seems to be more around this year. 3 Bullfinches were seen down at Bridgend this morning.

Monday 11 July 2011

Monday 11th July

Another great day folks, and we managed to clip Sandy's sheep before lunchtime and then on with routine work after lunch. Peter, the other day had a pair of Common Sandpiper over at Gartmain with their unfledged young, high up on the beach. Yesterday visitors had seen some Crossbills fly over the plantation at An Curran at Port Ellen. They also had a Barn Owl on the roadside coming back from the Oa, while at Imeraval there was a noisy Tawny Owl family! The Rose coloured Starling was still present up at Ardnave this morning. Peter also had a count of 45 Chough at Ardnave today.

Sunday 10 July 2011

Sunday 10th July

As I was about to write the entry this evening, an email came through from Mary McGregor to say that the Rose coloured Starling has been seen in with the Starlings resident up at Ardnave for the last few days. Here at home yesterday and today there has been a very vocal Sedge Warbler out in the back garden, it was great to hear it singing away again. The male Hen Harrier was out quartering his patch yesterday afternoon down towards the lochans at the Rockside road end. On Friday, Mark had a pair of Whinchats down on the Oa. Up at Loch Gruinart, he had the Barnacle Goose and going home the other night he saw another Barn Owl at Lyrabus. The weather is still holding here with the farmers getting on with their silage and now clipping their sheep when the weather remains good.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Saturday 9th July

Another great day again, might even get a suntan at this rate rather than looking weather beaten..... George had new tick at his house yesterday, a Treecreeper. He also had 6 Blackbirds and 3 Song Thrushes, down on the shore there were 2 Arctic Terns. Bob yesterday had seen 2 Tree Sparrows over on Jura, just after leaving the ferry at Feolin. Today a large female Sparrowhawk crashed through his garden after the small birds, but to no avail.... Michael Shields who lives over on the high road had a great week this week past as he has seen 3 different Golden Eagles while he was out and about.

Friday 8 July 2011

Friday 8th July

Another great day over here folks, as I write the Paps of Jura are as clear as can be.... somebody else can have the rain for a change!!! Peter & Pia along with their friends had made the most of today and went over to Jura. They had seen 2 pairs of Hen Harriers at different places, with both the males carrying out a food pass with their respective partners. Over the hills on the far side of Loch Tarbert 2 Golden Eagles were out on the thermals. A visitor yesterday had a count of 187 Godwits and a Knot at Gartnatra and today down on the Oa had good sightings of Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier and a Peregrine. Mid afternoon they saw a Bonxie flying East. Yesterday Bob had a female Kestrel up behind Port Charlotte.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Thursday 7th July

Mark on his way home last night from the INHT committee meeting had seen a Barn Owl at Lyrabus. Back outside the Visitor centre at Gruinart he had a Swift. This morning on the guided walk, an Osprey was seen attempting to fish on Loch Gruinart, 3 attempts and no luck. Later out on the flats a Corncrake was heard calling away.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Wednesday 6th July

It has been a busy day today out here on Islay, one way another, so I am sorry to say that birdwatching was the last thing on my mind, although at the committee meeting of the Islay Natural History Trust this evening, it was commented on the effect of those winds a few weeks back. Swallows appear to have bred later, some of the adult birds have passed away, both Carl and Malcolm have found dead adults which were in really poor condition. Poor numbers of Stonechats being seen, not good. On the positive side of things, the old Apple tree out in front of the house is starting to put out some new shoots as are the Thorn bushes, the Rowan and Ash were first to produce some new growth, so fingers crossed. So far the Sycamore have done nothing apart from shedding their leaves...

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Tuesday 5th July

Another of the images taken by Mark & Sally Johnson when they were over here on holiday last month. This looks like one of the pair of Black Guillemots down on the pier at Bruichladdich. They were still down there yesterday evening. Today has just been dull, grey with low mist around, not the best of days to see anything, so not much of an entry tonight!!!

Monday 4 July 2011

Monday 4th July

A Rose coloured Starling was seen yesterday over at Laphroaig. Bob had 4 Swifts today at Gartbreck and another one when he returned home late morning. We took a quick run out this evening, the highlight was an Otter on the River Sorn at The Woolen Mill. We must have watched it for almost 5 minutes as it swam about. At one point it had a good look at us, we were only about 10 metres away from it, needless to say the camera was in the van! There were 4-5 families of Long tailed Tits in the trees and on the feeders beside The Woolen Mill were Chaffinch, Great Tit and Siskin. On the river earlier on we had seen a Dipper. On the way out a ringtail Hen Harrier flew across the road at Rockside road end and a few moments later a House Martin was seen too. On Loch Skerrols, the pair of Mute Swans were present along with 8 cygnets and a pair of Tufted Duck were seen there too as well as a couple of Herons.

Sunday 3 July 2011

Sunday 3rd July

Bob kindly sent this image of a Short eared Owl which he had taken earlier this week. Today Bob had seen 2 Swifts down at Frenchman's Rocks. Bob estimated that there were over 1,000 Gannets there too, a similar number of Herring Gulls, as well as a good number of Manx Shearwaters and Guillemots flying past.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Saturday 2nd July

Another great image of a Corncrake taken the other week by Mark Johnson who kindly sent it through today. When we were changing over one of the cottages this morning, what was lurking about in the nettles, one of the Corncrake chicks that had been seen the previous week, needless to say there was not a camera to hand! Yesterday Mary had seen, down between Portnahaven and Claddach, a Buzzard being mobbed by around 15 Terns, 2 Oystercatchers and a Common Gull, bet the Buzzard won't be flying in that area for a wee while! Today over MacKenzie Island, 25 Little Terns were flying around along with 10 Arctic Terns. Mary can't recall having seen Little Terns there before.

Friday 1 July 2011

Friday 1st July

Another month in, or to look at it from at it from another view point, that's half the year past now.... Not much to report on the bird front, but on the weather front, the rainfall figure for the month was 3.75", last year it was only an inch and back in 2009 it was 3". We shouldn't really complain as we have been getting some better days of late. Sorry no birds news but I have been busy in the garden!