Friday 30 September 2011

Friday 30th September

Mary saw 35 golden plovers near Saligo as well as peregrine around Ballinaby fields chasing a flock of starlings. She also had a red-throated diver at Bruichladdich pier and hen harrier at The Oa. Mark and Michal, while doing guided walk, had male and female hen harrier and couple of peregrines hunting in front of the hide at Loch Gruinart Reserve. There was also 12 ruff, several snipe and redshank put up by the activity of the raptors. On the saltmarsh there was 77 barnacle geese, 247 brent geese, 96 greylags resting and 64 lapwings scattered around and feeding. On the mud there was flock of 350 dunlin, 20 oystercatchers, 1 grey plover, 30 curlews as well as 6 knots. Crystal saw couple of arctic terns at Portnahaven. Bob saw 8 twite, sparrowhawk and female hen harrier outside his garden as well as flock of about 30 redpolls. George had 94 wigeons and 95 bar-tailed godwits at Carnain.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Thursday 29th September

This morning as we were coming back round from Saligo, and just before we reached the sand pit close to Coull roadend, we saw a large charm of Goldfinches, there were at least 80 birds present, as large a number of Goldfinches together that I have ever seen. Bob had been up in the trees at Gearach and had a mixed flock of around 50 birds, comprising of Goldcrest, Long tailed Tit and Coal Tit. He has been seeing some more Stonechats recently too. On the barley stubble beside his house, Bob had 15 Golden Plover. Over on the salt marsh at Gruinart today, Michal counted 150 Pale belied Brent Geese and also the Peregrine sitting around, having time off... On the flats on the reserve, 19 Ruff were present.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Wednesday 28th September

Last night I was told that Gordon Langsbury had passed away suddenly on Sunday. Gordon had visited Islay many times and was a true friend to us all. Gordon was well pleased to see Islay represented at the recent Bird Fair held down at Rutland Water and he kept a watchful eye on us while we were there. You will be missed Gordon.

Yesterday down at "Smelly Corner" Carl had 200 Teal and along at Gartmain, Carl saw a Wheatear. Over at Gruinart this afternoon, Michal had counted 277 Pale Bellied Brent Geese on the Loch, on the flats there were 70 Barnies and there was also a Peregrine finishing off its prey, possibly a wader...

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Tuesday 27th September

Bob had 4 Redwings fly over his house this morning, the first Redwings that I have heard of this Autumn here on Islay. Along at Bruichladdich, George had seen a couple of Swallows on the wing, and 14 Pale bellied Brent were present on Loch Indaal. On the reserve at Gruinart today, James had good time with a Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Merlin and 2 Hen Harriers.

Monday 26 September 2011

Monday 26th September

Nick Wilkinson who is over working on the RSPB reserves here on Islay at present had seen 3 Little Stint on Loch Gruinart on Saturday. Yesterday, Carl had several Arctic Terns out over Loch Indaal, and also half a dozen Gannets fishing off Port Charlotte. Carl also had a Peregrine flying through his garden in Port Charlotte followed by 2 Jackdaws in hot pursuit. Round at Ballinaby he had a count of 20 Lapwing and at Blackrock 13 Pale bellied Brent were present. James, first thing this morning had counted 200 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Gruinart and also 65 Barnies. Later this morning with some more Brents arriving, Bob counted 300 and also 50 Black tailed Godwit, there were also another 4 present in a mixed flock of Ruff, Golden Plover, Lapwing and Starlings. Yesterday, James had counted 25 Ruff on the flats as well as 98 Brent Geese on the saltings. Tomorrow night, (Tuesday) is our monthly meeting of our local bird club here on Islay, a completely informal meeting of heads, no chairperson, just us, so if any visitors are out there and wish to come along, we will be in the Islay Natural History Trust at 8pm. We will be moving along the street to the local for a pint afterwards..... anyone is made welcome!

Sunday 25 September 2011

Sunday 25th September

Bob yesterday while he was out with Martin lost his hat, so nothing doing today he retraced his footsteps, and hey presto, he found his hat! While he was out there he saw 2 male Hen Harriers and also a Merlin. The other day, round at Killlinallan, Bob had a count of 50 Reed Buntings. Back at home and recently in his garden he has been having a lot of wee birds in at the feeders and the garden in general, up to 200 House Sparrows, with Robins appearing again and also good numbers of Chaffinches too, mainly males. He was also saying that he has been seeing regularly a female Hen Harrier out hunting over the barley field adjacent to his house.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Saturday 24th September

The farmers today have been making the most of a better day with combines out cutting the barley fields and balers following behind baling the straw up when the weather remains good. Today Martin & Bob had been out in the hills up behind Loch Cam and Loch Drolsay, a quiet morning, then it all kicked off with a couple of adult Golden Eagles, followed by a female Hen Harrier and a Kestrel. Later on they saw 2 juvenile Golden Eagles, one of them was getting mobbed initially by 2 Merlin and then by 2 Ravens. Over at Loch Drolsay, a male Hen Harrier was seen and 2 distant Buzzards were out on the wing. Finally they saw another Kestrel. At Gruinart, they saw 20 Ruff.

Friday 23 September 2011

Friday 23rd September

Think I spoke too soon last night about the farmers having their combines out, as a shower of rain put paid to that, although late this afternoon they may well have got cutting again. Needless to say it has been quiet on the bird front, but Mick Durham had seen 5 Pale bellied Brent Geese flying South down the Sound of Islay today. Although the weather has not been great for Mick for getting images of our wildlife, he was saying that he has seen most of our raptors while he has been here apart from Eagles! Many thanks for your sightings Mick over the past foortnight, and your talk last night went down a treat! Yesterday, I noticed that there were more Greenfinches around on the feeders at the house and today more Pied Wagtails were in the fields as well as a few in the garden too.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Thursday 22nd September

A better day today, even managed to cut the grass this afternoon without the lawn mower choking up with damp grass as it often does in late September. The farmers had their combines out trying to cut some of the barley crop when the weather was with them too. Yesterday, James had a Yellowhammer on the reserve at Gruinart, just opposite the Craigens roadend. David one of the vols at Gruinart counted 119 Lapwings along with 3 Golden Plover and 23 Ruff on the flats today. The other vols had carried out a count on Loch Gruinart itself today. Their birds were as follows, 19 Heron, 9 Wigeon, 45 Mallard, 28 Eider, 25 Red breasted Merganser, 8 Shoveler, 266 Oystercatcher,144 Sanderling, 700 Dunlin, 239 Bar tailed Godwit, 429 Curlew, 89 Redshank, 219 Black headed Gull, 139 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black backed Gull, 288 Herring Gull, 312 Greylags, 58 Barnies & 100 Pale bellied Brent Geese.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Wednesday 21st September

Yesterday, Carl had seen "lots" of Terns, probably Arctic Terns on Loch Indaal down at Port Charlotte. Today, the weather has been quite mixed, not much sun, but windy with squally showers, think I have read that before somewhere lately... Mick Durham had ventured out in it though, and up at Sanaigmore Mick had a Merlin chasing after a lot of little brown jobs, later on between Saligo Bay and Coulererach he had another Merlin. Tomorrow night, we have Mick giving an illustrated talk on "Photographing Scotland's wildlife" down at the Islay Natural History Trust in Port Charlotte, wonder if he has any footage from Islay??

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Tuesday 20th September

Bob had seen the Pectoral Sandpiper in front of the hide at Gruinart today, great to hear that it is still around.This evening, James had a Ruff along with some Lapwings in a field beside his house at Grainel. Nick Wilkinson had seen 11 Lapland Buntings over at Killinallan on Sunday, Nick also counted 63 Barnies and 145 Bar tailed Godwits at Gruinart. On Saturday on Loch Gruinart, Nick had a Pale bellied Brent Goose, 3 Grey Plover, 3 Greenshank and 13 Goosander. At Killinallan he saw a Snow Bunting, and another 2 round at Sanaigmore. Up at Ardnave on Friday, Nick had a Ruff.

Monday 19 September 2011

Monday 19th September

This image was kindly sent through today by Mick Durham. It was taken this morning on the flats at Gruinart, the larger bird is a Ruff while the smaller bird is a Pectoral Sandpiper. George had seen a Merlin as well as a Hen Harrier up beyond the locked gate up towards Killinallan. Yesterday, Bob had seen 9 Greenland Whitefronts flying South when he was at Frenchman's Rocks. James thought that these geese could possibly be heading for Ireland as they often get their Whitefronts before they arrive here on Islay. Also seen were 9 Knot, and back at home Bob had 2 Merlin and also a Kestrel.

Many thanks to James for keeping the blog going while we were out of commission, but touch wood all is sorted again, odd it always seems to go awol at the weekend or once the call centre shuts in the evening, and when there is nobody there to help, no comment....

Sunday 18 September 2011

Sun 18th Sept 2011

Ian still has internet problems so a quick bog from me. Mick Durham has been out and about: had an Osprey yesterday at Loch Skerrols. Today had a ruff on the Gruinart Flats and 22 red breasted mergansers at the mouth of Loch Gruinart. Ian had the peregrine again at Kilchoman and a particularly vocal robin on bird table patrol.
The bad weather from hurricane Katia seems a long time ago as the island bathed in sun shine today, with just the brown trees to remind us of the storm.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Sat 17th September 2011

Ian has got internet problems, so a quick blog from Grainel tonite. A showery day with the hen harriers and sparrowhawk again showing at Gruinart. David phoned in with 2 snow buntings in the Sanaig area.

Friday 16 September 2011

Friday 16th September

Rob Daw was over on Jura yesterday and had a pair of Mute Swans along with 5 cygnets up at Ardlussa Bay. Also there were a couple of Herons, and 2 Red breated Mergansers while further out was a Great Northern Diver. He also saw Dunnock, Wren, Robins, Goldfinches, Goldcrest and a flock of 20 Long tailed Tits. Later on, back in front of the hide at Gruinart, Rob had Swallows and a few House Martins and Sand Martins too. Another visitor had seen an Osprey fly South over the hide. Today another visitor had seen 57 Chough up at Ardnave, a Merlin up there too, while over Nave Island a count of 66 Shag was made. A Great Northern Diver was offshore there too. Carl had 16 Whooper Swans on Loch Gearach today. This afternoon, James had a Golden Eagle fly over his house, and over the game crop 2 male Hen Harriers and also a Sparrowhawk were honing in their acrobatic skills. All I could offer was a couple of Golden Eagles and 2 different male Hen Harriers all out on the wing as we drove round Loch Gorm just after 6pm. The Eagles were far off, but large all the same, while both the Harriers were closer to hand. There were a few Wheatears seen round the loch and a single Whinchat. At Ballinaby there were 9 Golden Plovers. Back at home for quite some time this afternoon, a Peregrine has been sitting up on the crag preening itself and just watching all that is happening all around.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Thursday 15th September

Coming round past Ballinaby this afternoon, Mary saw the above group in one of the fields, note the water still around, there were 5 Dunlin, 1 Black tailed Godwit and 7 Ruff present. Yesterday Mary had been busy down yesterday on the Oa, helping to gather the sheep up, not an easy task with the conditions underfoot hard going too... Round the monument she saw a juvenile and an adult Golden Eagle, 1 Buzzard, 1 Raven, 1 Peregrine and 6 Chough. Later on through the day down there, Mary had a ringtail Hen harrier, 6 Red Grouse, 20 Meadow Pipits, and also a mixed flock of around 60 Goldfinch, Linnet, Chaffinch & Twite. On the Oa last week, Mary had a young corvid with a white wing tip, while up at Ardnave there is a young Starling with a white tail. Bob today had been down at Gartbeck and his tally was 3 Barnacle Geese, 3 Wigeon, 120 Oystercatcher, 300 Rionged Plover, 5 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 18 Lapwing, 6 Knot, 1 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 500 Dunlin, 3 Snipe, 6 Black tailed Godwit, 65 Bar tailed Godwit, 280 Curlew, 8 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 30 Turnstone & 9 Arctic Tern. Resting up on the estuary at Loch Gruinart this morning were 20 Whooper Swan and along the flats, there was a flock of 85 Lapwing. On the guided walk today a flying bat was following insects, and also being followed by a Swallow.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Wednesday 14th September

The wind has dropped, it is dry again what do you want, some birds no doubt.....Robert Daw, a visiting birder from Bristol, over on Islay for a few days had been down at the hide at Gruinart yesterday and reported to say that there were a few Snipe, Lapwing and Herons present. He also had both male and female Hen Harrier and down at the hide itself, a Swallow flew in one of the windows while he was there, it did get out later on safely! Robert also had a couple of Arctic Skuas flying South while he was at Gruinart. Talking of Swallows, and here at home we have picked up 4 young today, and sad to say they were all dead, whether they had not had enough feeding over the last couple of days or what I do not know. Peter had been down for another 100 minute fix at Frenchman's Rocks this morning, his tally was 895 Gannets (some even were actually fishing!), 743 Manx Shearwater, 5 Fulmar, 202 Kittiwakes, 2 Awk sp, 2 Great Skuas, 1 Arctic Skua, 2 Great Northern Diver and 4 Red throated Divers. Another visitor had seen a Dipper on the Sound of Islay between An Claddach and MacArthurs Head today. Michal counted 45 Barnacle Geese on the estuary of Loch Gruinart today, there had been around 40 on Minister's field at Rockside this morning around 8.45am. James had counted 423 Greylags , 1 Pinkfooted Goose, 2 Ringtailed Hen Harriers, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 1 Little Stint, 38 Knot and 6 Chough on the reserve at Gruinart today. Yesterday he had 5 Curlew Sandpiper on the estuary. This afternoon, Michal saw over 200 Grey Seals and pups on Nave Island.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Tuesday 13th September

Peter Roberts had ventured down to Frechman's Rocks for another "100 minutes" of sea watching this mornng again, bless him, as the saying goes... Peter's birds today were 12 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 724 Gannets (including a higher % of immature birds than yesterday), 544 Manx Shearwater, 72 Fulmar, 1 Leach's Storm ptrel, 2 Arctic Skua, 4 Great Skua, 3 Kittiwake, 6 Arctic Tern and 3 Razorbill. A visitor e mailed through to say that he had seen an Osprey over Loch Skerrols this morning.

Mike Young who lives just along the road from here, at the entrance to Rockside Farm has a weather forecast station which is linked to the net. Mike has kindly allowed us to link his site to the blog, so if you click on the link to the Kilchoman weather, you will see the recent weather that we are having. It is regularly updated, and makes interesting reading, especially the wind speeds over the last couple of days! Thanks Mike.

Monday 12 September 2011

Monday 12th September

As forecasted the strength of the wind picked up, the ferry managed a couple of trips between Port Askaig and Kennacraig, so allowing essential traffic both on and off Islay, meanwhile the Jura ferry never left Port Askaig, at least the kids from Jura that come over to the High School in Bowmore had a day off school... Peter and Pia had done a "100 minute" spell doing some sea watching while the visibility was still good. Their totals were as follows, 5 Red throated Divers (mainly in summer plumage), 442 Manx Shearwater, 25 Fulmar, 436 Gannets (only 8 youngsters), 18 Razorbills/ Guillemots, 2 Puffin, 7 Kittiwake, 2 Great Skua and 6 Arctic Terns. George, just before lunchtime, had a Dark phase Arctic Skua out in front of his house, over Loch Indaal. Down at Port Charlotte there were 3 Arctic Terns over the bay.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Sunday 11th September

The weather out here today has not been top class, nor has it been bottom of the class either as I have seen it a lot worse, all the same it has not been that great, certainly not for going out birding. We had a really heavy shower around 3pm, and the burn has got up quite quickly. Luckily Bob was out yesterday, and had seen a Curlew Sandpiper down on Machir Bay, along with 2 Bar tailed Godwits. There were around 100 Ringed Plover there too, but 80 or so were up on the grass, close to where you can park your car up. On his way home just out of Port Charlotte a Sparrowhawk flew across the road. At Claggain Bay today Bob saw a Great Northern Diver, as I said earlier not a day for seeing much!

Saturday 10 September 2011

Saturday 10th September

James today had a count of the Barnacle Geese on the reserve at Gruinart, as expected there are more arrivals with the total now up to 16, but with the weather forecast over the next few days not looking great, we might not see many more for a few days. Also on the reserve was 1 Greenshank, 3 Pintail and 3 White Wagtails. When going out for our papers this morning, just before we came to Foreland House , there was a charm of around 30 Goldfinches.

Friday 9 September 2011

Friday 9th September

The first of the Barnacle Geese arrived back at Gruinart today, with Bob counting 12 in all, another sign that winter is not far away.... Bob also had a Grey Plover there too as well as a Peregrine preening itself. Jim D. earlier this morning had a Pomarine Skua off Machir Bay while at Gruinart Jim saw 4 Little Stint and 2 Curlew Sandpipers. Yesterday at Gartmain, Bob counted 45 Black tailed Godwit and 200 Bar tailed Godwit as well as 2 Knot.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Thursday 8th September

A better day here folks, in fact almost a dry day if you did not count in the rain that fell through the night..... Yesterday Donald James MacPhee had seen a Magpie up the back of Port Askaig. On the walk at Gruinart, Mark reported through to say that there were 2 Curlew Sandpipers still present. This afternoon James had a Peregrine causing havoc with waders at Gruinart, and later on up on the moor he had a Merlin.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Wednesday 7th September

Another mixed weather day, but at least the wind has dropped a bit... Jim D. had been down at Frenchman's Rocks for a short time this morning and had 3 Leach's Petrels, 1 Bonxie, 5 Sooty Shearwater, 38 Terns, mainly Arctic terns, several hundred Gannets, 2 Whimbrel and a Peregrine. On Loch Indaal, Jim had 3 Scaup, 2 Little Stint and 6 Arctic Terns, while at Gruinart there were 9 Pintail, 29 Black tailed Godwits, 4 Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and another Peregrine. Here at home today, a Sparrowhawk flew over the top of the cottages and on over the fields, over the crag 3 Kestrels, were seen while down at Port Charlotte, late afternoon, 6 Arctic Terns were present, were they the same ones that Jim had in the morning?

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Tuesday 6th September

Forgot to mention last night that Carl had been up at Gortantoaid on Sunday and had seen 25 Sanderling, a Stonechat and a Barn Owl. Today, as forecast it has been windy with the odd squally shower thrown in for good measure, it may have put some of us off, but not so for Jim Dickson who ventured out to do some sea watching down at Frenchman's Rocks. Jim had 7 Leach's Petrels, 3 Storm Petrels, 3 Bonxies, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 380 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Terns, 1 Whimbrel and 5 Purple Sandpipers. Earlier on Jim had seen a Merlin fly across the road in front of him as he drove out of Bowmore.

Monday 5 September 2011

Monday 5th September

Jim Dickson saw the Baird's Sandpiper down at the pool at "smelly corner" again this morning. Yesterday, over the crag here at home, there were a pair of Peregrines flying about and later on in the afternoon a Kestrel was seen too. Today, another day and there were 6 Buzzards out over the crag all at the same time, I had to double check, but sure enough there were definitely SIX. Later on, beside Loch Gorm a male Hen Harrier was out quartering his patch. Down at Gartmain, there 26 Wigeon resting up, and finally when coming home, a Sparrowhawk flew across the road just after Rockside. Visitors had seen 2 Golden Eagles round the other side of Loch Gorm today out on the thermals.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Sunday 4th September

The other night while James was out walking his dog, he heard the Red Deer roaring away. Today down on Loch Gruinart, James had a count of 87 Redshank and later on Jim Dickson who is over for the week, had seen 3 Little Stint, 2 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank and 24 Black tailed Godwit, all on Loch Gruinart. This afternoon over on the reserve at Gruinart, Michal had a Golden Eagle being mobbed by a pair of Ravens, and then a Buzzard joined in to have a go too! Late afternoon, James had an Osprey between Rock Mountain and the turn off at the head of Loch Gorm heading over the hill to Gruinart. Jim Dickson was down at "smelly corner", around tea time and had more luck with the waders today, and had 5 Little Stint and also a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Saturday 3rd September

Another day and another dollop of rain through the night, but at least it faired up through the day itself, that's the way we like it..... A visiting birder had a count of 44 Chough up at Ardnave yesterday, and today another visitor had a juvenile Little Stint down at "smelly corner", and as he was scanning through the rest of the waders a Peregrine flew past causing havoc, net result, not much seen of the other waders there.... This afternoon, James had a Sparrowhawk up at Grainel, and also an Elephant Hawk moth caterpillar.

Friday 2 September 2011

Friday 2nd September

A mixed day weather wise, it was quite wet through the night, dry this morning and then more rain again this afternoon, net result 0.75" of rain, a good steady rain rather than a downpour....

Bob made the most of the morning and at Gartmain had a count of 12 Knot and 200 Bar tailed Godwit. Louise from Jura had been on the phone later last night and she told me that an immature Osprey had been seen on Jura, and Louise herself had seen 3 Golden Eagles up behind Ardfin on Jura earlier on this week.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Thursday 1st September

A better day, folk remembering to get in touch and doing things.... This morning Mark had been leading the guided walk at Gruinart. They saw a ringtail Hen Harrier out hunting, and along the shoreline there was a Greenshank, 5 Redshank, 80 Curlew, and lots of Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover with all the waders nervously watching a Peregrine as it flew past. This afternoon, over the Southern hills on our way out towards Ardtalla, we saw a distant pair of Golden Eagles out on the thermals.