Monday 31 December 2012

Monday 31st December or "Auld years' night"

What a difference a day makes, the weather remained dry for most of the time and here we go for a bumper final entry for 2012. Yesterday, James had a Golden Eagle from his kitchen window at Grainel, and in one of the fields along from his house, he had a Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp. There were 14 Red legged Partridges at his road end the other day too.  The Barn Owl was present in his shed last night, becoming quite a regular! Paul Graham yesterday thought he saw the elusive Red breasted Goose over at Eorrabus in the fields opposite Esknish Farm. Paul also had a couple of Barn Owls out hunting, one at the Ballymartin roadend and the other along at Red Lodge the other night. This morning, from the new hide at Gruinart, Bob had a count of 670 Golden Plover and 800 Lapwing. At the top of Loch Indaal, he had 150 Wigeon and a count of 54 Pale bellied Brent Geese. This afternoon up at Loch Gearach, Bob had 2 Whoopers, 220 Teal, 167 Wigeon, 12 Mallard, 1 Kestrel and on his journey there and back he also had 6 Buzzard, 1 Fieldfare, 2 Stonechat and 14 Pheasants! Carl today had a small flock of Redwing up towards Cultoon. Pete Clement who is over staying with Peter and Pia had a Golden Eagle at Kilchiaran, on Loch Indaal between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich, a count of 9 GND and further round Loch Indaal, off Uiskentuie, Pete had a Long tailed Duck. 
At this point, I would like to thank all the folk that have sent in their sightings throughout the year, it just great to get an email through or a message left on the phone, makes it all worth while. I think the highlight for me was at the Bird Fair when the Islay stand won the 3rd in the "Tourism sector". I thought it was a wind up, not often that I am stuck for words. Better still we were all like Cheshire cats! And yes, Islay will be returning again to Rutland for their 25th Bird Fair in August. All the best for 2013 to you all, and hopefully see some of you around Islay or at Rutland for some of our hospitality!!!! 

Sunday 30 December 2012

Sunday 30th December

Thankfully the winds never got up to speeds that the forecasters were predicting although one time through the night there was a noisy hail shower with the hail stones clattering against the window. Dave sent through some sightings from the Oa. Yesterday Dave had a small flock of 30 Fieldfare on the reserve and  2 Whoopers on Kinnabus Loch. He also had a Sparrowhawk flying alongside doing 40 kph into a strong head wind! On Friday Dave had a raptor day, with 2 Golden Eagles, a Merlin, a Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard. This afternoon round at Ballinaby, I had around 400 Greylags together in one group, in another field saw 16 of the Whitefronts with their neck collars on, and then in a third field some Barnacle Geese. Further on, below Carnduncan, there was a mixed flock of Starlings and the odd Fieldfare, in total 30 birds. The weather has not helped the birding over the past few days, no I have not  changed the blog to "Islay weather blog" yet!

Saturday 29 December 2012

Saturday 29th December

Almost a repeat of the entry from last night, not a lot of birds been sent through. James has had a Barn Owl roosting up in his outbuildings along with around 200 Starlings, odd they share the same building so readily. Down below us here, towards the Machir Bay, Sandy has had a Barn owl sharing along with a pair of Chough. Have heard of that combination a year or two back at other locations on Islay. Tonight the wind has picked up again, there was a gust of 43mph just before 7 pm on Mike's weather station. The wind did drop down through the night and there was no disruption to the ferries at all, infact quite a good day it should be said, a lot better than I thought it might be!

Friday 28 December 2012

Friday 28th December

Sorry folks, nothing to report on the bird front today. Perhaps the Fulmars were correct again as last night there was a reading of 40 mph on Mike's weather station, just down the road from here, click on the link to get the latest! There was another gust of the same earlier this evening... and as I write this entry the winds are rolling around and by the looks of the forecast for the next few days we could be in for a rough ride. We have one saving grace that at least we do have 2 ferry ports here on Islay, so the ferry sometimes cannot attempt to dock at Port Ellen but can do so at Port Askaig. But then again the wind speed is increasing so that the choice of ports will not be an option as the ferry itself may not sail... read the blog for an update tomorrow, might even be back on about our feathered friends!!

Thursday 27 December 2012

Thursday 27th December

When we were over in one of our cottages this morning, Margaret looked out the kitchen window, what was  flying across the field but a male Hen Harrier, in no hurry just taking its' time as it "quartered" back and forward, great to see especially as we had time on our hands.! Later on, this afternoon there was a raft of Scaup down past Blackrock, they have been seen there quite often of late. Changing the subject somewhat, just been watching a program on BBC2 by Cameron McNeish on the new "Scottish trail" from Kirk Yetholm in the Borders, finishing up at Cape Wrath, a whopping trek of over 470 miles, just wish I was a few years younger. Saw some parts that I had walked along many years ago... the second program is on tomorrow night, a bit more of a challenge that section would be!

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Wednesday 26th December or Boxing Day

Forgot to mention yesterday that in the morning, the Fulmars were back on the crag, they are away now, no doubt the wind is due for a bit huff and puff soon, having said that there was a gust of 40 mph on Mike's weather station just after midnight this morning. Really think that the Fulmars were in for the stronger winds forecast for later this week!!! Whilst having their festive fayre yesterday, Tom and Jo saw a White tailed Sea Eagle fly past and spook a flock of around 1370 Barnies over close to Mulindry. Along at Neriby, they had seen 46 Whitefronts, 2 Bullfinches, 2 Reed Bunting and a Merlin. Today at Neriby amongst the Barnies present, they saw a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp, down at Bridgend, 11 Pale bellied Brent and 30 Dunlin. Along at Bowmore, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 20 Common Scoter, 5 Goldeneye, and family of 4 Whoopers (?possibly the family that have been seen at Gartmain/ Pennycraig). Down off Ardbeg, Tom and Jo saw 6 GND, 1 Tystie and a Slav. Grebe and finally close to Kildalton 11 Yellowhammer were seen. Yesterday James had a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp amongst the Barnies on the reserve at Gruinart. Today he he saw 3 Hen Harriers, a male and 2 females. out on Loch Gruinart James had a count of 150 Golden Plover, around 400 Lapwing and 95 Barwits this afternoon. Peter has today been out looking for the Red breasted Goose, still no luck, but had a flock of 108 Rock Doves up at Sanaigmore. Back at Bruichladdich, Pia had a small raptor zip through the garden and zap a bird of the feeders, one less to feed tomorrow! We had a Woodcock close to Sunderland last night and tonight just at the darkening another 2 but at different places as we came back from Gruinart.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Tuesday 25th December, or Chistmas Day

A really early entry for once as I am going out, round to friends to enjoy some food along with something to wash it all down with, and to enjoy the craik too...
Yesterday Tom and Jo saw 2 White tailed Sea Eagles down close to Bridgend, one of them had just caught a goose and they were taking turns feeding on the goose, all unfolding at less than 40 metres away, who needs a telescope, let alone a pair of bins at that range!  Later on they saw another WTSE up at Gruinart, and on the estuary there were 4 Grey Plover and 90 Golden Plover. On  Ardnave Loch they saw 10 Whoopers and 7 Goldeneye. Last night, down at Glenegedale Bob had a Tawny Owl, and Peter saw another Tawny Owl up at Bridgend. Today Peter and Pia had gone over to Bunnahabhain, looking for the Iceland Gull, no sign of it, but he managed to spot an Otter there! While they were out, they had gone scout about, trying to see the Red breasted Goose with no joy, hope those pesky WTSE are not to blame for the goose not being seen of late!!!

Monday 24 December 2012

Monday 24th December

Yet again, I have been proved wrong as the green colour over Islay must have meant to show the green colour of our grass not heavy rainfall, as today turned out to be a good day, although there had been a little rain through the night, but not a lot! Mary, on her way to ferry out of Port Askaig on Saturday morning had seen a Stoat in its' ermine coat at Ballygrant, it had just caught a mouse! Tom and Jo yesterday had 2 Golden Eagles over towards Mulindry, at  Loch Gorm they had a count of 127 Whitefronts, down at Machir Bay they had 2 Sanderling and a flock of 11 Twite, and going home at Blackrock they saw 4 Pale bellied Brent Geese. While down at Machir Bay, Bob had seen a Peregrine and also a count of 180 Lapwing, back at home he had a large female Sparrowhawk. Looking out from Bowmore today, over Loch Indall, Peter and Pia had 5 Long tailed Duck, 4 Slavonian Grebes as well as Common Scoter, Red breasted Merganser, Eider and Goldeneye. This morning from the old hide at Gruinart, James counted 48 Pintail, 12 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall, while along beside the new hide he saw a juv. White tailed Sea Eagle. 
Wishing you all a Happy Christmas, no doubt some of our followers could already be on Xmas day already!

Sunday 23 December 2012

Sunday 23rd December

A better day today, but do not speak too soon as tomorrow looks like a wee cracker, the weather map tonight shows Islay covered in green... something to do with a lot of rain for those of you who do not receive our weather forecasts, predicting a lot of rain, so it will not be a white Christmas after all! Peter had been round Loch Gorm this afternoon. Over at Ballinaby, in the stubble turnip field opposite to where the Whitefronts were caught the other week, Peter counted over 300 Greylags and also saw 23 out of the 31 Whitefronts that had neck collars fitted to them. Due to the strong winds, he could not manage to read the actual collars as the car was getting bounced about by the wind! Peter also had 50 Lapwing and a Sparrowhawk there too.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Saturday 22nd December

Another cracker of a day, like the rest of the country, it has been wet for most of the day, just as well we live up a hill... Tom and Jo are back over for a few days to visit family for Christmas. Yesterday afternoon they had a count of 55 Whitefronts at Claggan, just past Blackrock, close to the shore on Loch Indaal, they counted 144 Scaup. Along at "smelly corner" 135 Barwits and 50 Dunlin were present. On Loch Indaal from Bowmore, they had 9 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 27 Common Scoter, 10 Goldeneye, 1 Smew, 4 GND and a Slavonian Grebe

Friday 21 December 2012

Friday 21st December

A better day with the weather over here today, perhaps just a wee lull until we get the next rain front and its' associated wind coming through tomorrow!! Here goes, birds etc from earlier in the week... James had seen a Stoat along the flats at Gruinart, but not in its ermine coat!!! On reserve he also had seen 2 Tawny Owls over towards Erasaid and also 2 Woodcock. Mary yesterday had Jack Snipe up on the moor at Gruinart. Fiona McGilvray saw 2 Barn Owls the other night on her way home, one at Erasaid and the other at Woodside. James last night had one at Grainel, sheltering from the rain and another out from the Visitor centre, we had another Barn Owl also last night along at Sunderland, do n't often see them out in the rain! When Mary was out goose counting at the start of the week, she had a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp along the flats at Gruinart. Back on Tuesday, Bob had seen 12 Fieldfare feeding alongside 70 Golden Plover at Ballinaby, on Wednesday down at Lossit Farm on the Rhinns, there were 40 Fieldfare feeding  with 130 Golden Plover. 

Thursday 20 December 2012

Thursday 20th December

Another dreich day here again, but at least we have not had it as wet as other areas, no flood warnings here as far as I know and the ferry was back on timetable, not like the poor folk in Shetland with the possibility of no ferry until Boxing Day, hope Santa was not due to use their ferry... Earlier on this week on Tuesday, James had carried out a count on the reserve on Gruinart with a total of 5,985 Barnies, 445 Whitefronts and 37 Greylags. On the floods his tally was as follows, 279 Teal, 3 Red breasted Merganser, 2 Heron, 4 Wigeon, 5 Whoopers, 41 Pintail, 53 Mallard, 2 Redshank, 529 Lapwing, 3 Black headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 36 Curlew, 2 Moorhen, 3 Mute Swan and 7 Gadwall. While he was out James also had a male Hen Harrier over the reserve and 7 Grey Plover on Loch Gruinart. Tracey from SNH sent through the figures from the International Goose count carried out on Tuesday, the totals were 45,670 Barnies and 5,321 Whitefronts. The count on Wednesday was cancelled out due to poor weather. Thanks Tracey for the figures.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Wednesday 19th December

Rather a miserable sort of a day over here today, think the word "dreich" describes it, mind you we have winds too, but the ferry came back this evening.... wonder if it brought the papers! George had been up the East side of Loch Gruinart earlier this week, and had seen an immature White tailed Sea Eagle. It was seen to be chasing after one goose, and shortly afterwards paid its' attention on another goose, both the times the goose managed to outwit the youngster! Back at home, George had a Sparrowhawk, his first for some time. He also had seen a flock of 20 Lapwing while on his bird table, of late there has only been 1 Greenfinch. Yesterday, I counted 35 Lapwing as they flew over the garden. Later on along at Sunderland, down "The hedges", we saw a Stoat run across the road, wearing his full ermine coat and black tip to its' tail.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Tuesday 18th December

Mary and Natalie carried out a count at Gruinart yesterday, with "the scores on the doors" being as follows, 3 GND, 3 Shag, 8 Heron, 2 Goldeneye,  2 Shoveler, 210 Shelduck, 15 Mallard, 347 Wigeon,  6 Greylag, 12 Red breasted Merganser, 159 Oystercatcher, 5 Turnstone, 412 Dunlin, 498 Golden Plover, 226 Barwits, 49 Blackwits, 2 Knot, 2 Greenshank, 32 Sanderling, 42 Redshank, 77 Curlew, 8 Lapwing, 9 Grey Plover, 19 Ringed Plover, 9 Black headed Gull, 12 GBB Gull, 24 Herring Gull, 149 Common Gull and 3 Otters. Up at Ardnave Loch they counted 8 Lapwing, 14 Whooper Swan, 2 Mute swan, 5 Goldeneye, 88 Teal, 17 Wigeon, 7 Tufted Duck, 1 Oystercatcher, 20 Greylag, 2 Common Gull and 2 Mallard. Natalie is a new member of staff, based here on Islay and takes over from Crystal who now works down in Dumfries and Galloway with RSPB, in charge of Wood of Cree reserve, Loch Ken reserve, Mull of Galloway reserve and also Ailsa Craig.   

Monday 17 December 2012

Monday 17th December

Yesterday, Malcolm had been out round at Ballinaby, on the lookout for the Whitefronts that were caught and rung last week. Malcolm managed to see 30 out of the 31 geese that were rung, the exception being 2HX. By the sound of things, they were all together in the same stubble turnip field as last week! Peter and Pia had gone out yesterday afternoon on the hunt of the elusive Red breasted Goose up in the Gruinart area, but no joy...but did have good numbers of  Barwits, Wigeon, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Redshank, and some Curlews. At Craigens, they had 2 Whitefronts with neck collars on, not from last week, but rung in West Greenland back in 1997! They were regularly seen on the Mull of Kintyre up to 2007/ '08 and since then winter visitors to Islay, not so far to fly! Up on Ardnave Loch itself, they had 15 Whoopers and 12 Goldeneye and counted around 54 Chough close by. Back down at Gortan, there was a total of 17 Pale bellied Brent feeding there. Today down in the woods at Bridgend, they had Siskin on the feeders at The Woolen Mill and also several Goldcrest in the trees. Back at Bruichladdich this afternoon, Peter and Pia had Eiders catching Crabs, the Eiders themselves in turn were being pirated by gulls! Also present were some Mergansers and Shags with 2- 3 GND further out on Loch Indaal. 

Sunday 16 December 2012

Sunday 16th December

Yesterday, Paul Graham saw a White tailed Sea Eagle over the other side of Islay, up behind Ballygrant on the Glen road. This morning I was out as Bob's secretary, as it was time to do the count down from Bowmore to Gartbreck. Before I met in with Bob, I saw a Kestrel down towards Sunderland Farm, a Sparrowhawk at Foreland, a small flock of 10 Pale bellied Brent at Gortan, 4 Whoopers at Pennycraig and just out of Bowmore, a Merlin sat up a telegraph pole. From our walk, the following was the tally, 1 Pale bellied Brent Goose, 3 GND, 3 Heron, 11 Shag, 7 Shelduck, 97 Mallard, 443 Teal, 323 Wigeon, 17 Red breasted Merganser, 6 Eider, 6 Goldeneye, 4 GBB Gull, 80 Herring Gull, 1 BH Gull, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 65 Turnstone, 26 Oystercatcher, 17 Curlew, 8 Bar tailed Godwit, 4 Redshank, 224 Dunlin, 1 Grey Plover, 47 Lapwing, 5 Ringed Plover, 4 Mute Swan and an Otter.

Friday 14 December 2012

Friday 14th December

I know I really should have shared this image earlier on with you, of a couple of Bottled nosed Dolphins taken by Mike Anderson from Edinburgh. Mike took the image from the ferry on his way over to Islay just off McArthur's Head in mid October when a lot of folk were reporting in sightings of the pod there. Thanks Mike, better late than never.. This morning, just after the track leading down to the edge of Loch Gorm, Margaret thought she saw a couple of cats in the grass field directly opposite, but as we got along the road a bit closer, she realised that she was mistaken. No, not 2 cats but in actual fact 2 Otters running down beside the stone dyke. As as it was so miserable, weather wise, the camera was sitting at home, so you will just have to take my word for the sighting!

Thursday 13 December 2012

Thursday 13th December

Yesterday down on the Oa, Michal had a Golden Eagle and also a count of 60 Fieldfares. Michal was told me that someone had been saying to him that the other day down close to "smelly corner" that he had seen a big brown bird with yellow legs, could it have been one of the White tailed Sea Eagles? Today down at Rockside, there were around 150 Greenland Whitefronts on one of the grass fields. Round at Ballinaby, I had quick look through the Whitefronts present and saw 2 with neck collars on, but stupid me had forgotten to take my scope with me to allow me to read the said collars... Bob had 2  small flocks of Pale bellied Brent Geese down close to Gortan totalling 60 birds in all. He also reported through to say that he has been seeing a Golden Eagle recently close to Port Charlotte, spoofing the geese present there. James returned from the mainland this afternoon, and had from the ferry, a Golden Eagle flying from Islay over to Jura. Back here at home, and the birds have been busy eating away at the food put out for them, so much so there were around 40 Chaffinches there this morning along with the others... Certainly as large a number of Chaffinch that I can recall here at one time

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Wednesday 12th December

This afternoon, I had a phone call from Malcolm with a simple request to help out with the ringing of some Greenland Whitefronts that hat had been canon netted over in a field at Ballinaby, so off I went. The actual canon netting and ringing of the said geese was carried out by Carl Mitchell from Kingussie and Larry Griffin who both work for WWT and their work covers monitoring goose populations. Carl is based up at Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands while Larry lives near Dumfries and based at Caerlaverock. I had not realised before I went to help that this infact was only the 3rd time of ringing Whitefronts on Islay, with a total of only 30 geese being rung prior to today when a further 31 were caught and rung with BTO leg rings, davic rings on the other leg and also a neck collar to aid id. The last time ringing took place was in 1991 I believe. As part of Carl and Larry's work, 2 of the geese were fitted with radio transponders so their position can be logged every 4 hours. Once I have more information to hand, I will post on the blog for folk to follow their travels.  Malcolm and Peter were also there helping out too. As a point of interest, James had 5 Whitefronts with collars earlier in the Autumn at Gruinart, and all these geese were rung at Loch Ken  last year by Larry!

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Tuesday 11th December

Another frosty night last night coupled with the brilliant starry skies and more of the same again tonight by the looks of things. Malcolm on his way home last night from Bowmore had a Barn Owl beside the Auction market at Bridgend and just along the road at the entrance to Whinpark, he had a couple of Woodcock in the car headlights.This afternoon down towards Sunderland Farm, a Sparrowhawk took off from a straining post on the fence line. Just coming into Bruichladdich, there was a small group of  11 Pale bellied Brent Geese on the edge of Loch Indaal. Earlier on, back at home we had our first Siskin of the winter on the bird feeders, I know they are seen often over at The Woolen Mill, and also in the trees around Ballygrant, but over here it was great to see one.

Monday 10 December 2012

Monday 10th December

Who needs "Dark skies" as they often write about... The skies outside tonight and several nights lately have been something else for star gazing, Armin you should be here with your camera, a wee bit cool, sub zero temperatures but you would have got some great images if you were here! As you may have gathered bird wise, it has been quiet today, very quiet! We had a Barn Owl out on the phone wires this evening, down close to Rockside road end which was nice to see. Just before lunchtime on my way back  from Bridgend,  at Blackrock there were some Pale bellied Brent Geese and Wigeon present, not a lot, and as I was driving and paying attention to the road I did not manage a head count! On the lochans beside Loch Gorm, there was a Heron on one of the small islands, as clear as could be, as were a small flock of 4 Redwings flying past as I came up through the Machir up the hill. Now I know why they are called Redwings!!

Sunday 9 December 2012

Sunday 9th December

A great day over here for December, the main thing about it was that it stayed dry! Yesterday, down at Blackrock where Carrabus Burn enters Loch Indaal, 6 Pale bellied Brent Geese were seen. Coming back up the road a wee while later on, there was a Kestrel sat up a pole at the side of the road along  by Loch Gorm. Possibly the same bird that Bob had the other day, and also the same bird that I have been seeing quite often lately in the same locality. This morning Peter and Pia had been down on the Machir Bay walking their dog, and had seen 70 Curlew. Later on, Carl also had been down at the Machir Bay seeing Merlin, Turnstone and Sanderling and an increase in Curlews present, around 200 when Carl was there.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Saturday 8th December

A dreich sort of a day out here, but on the positive side of things, it was not so cold but.... Back on Wednesday evening had seen a Barn Owl  sitting on a fence post beside the road at Gortan. He was also telling me that he found the remains of a dead Barn Owl in one of his fields at Bruichladdich. The owl by the looks of it had been dead for quite some time. Bob had seen a Sparrowhawk carrying its prey, what looked like a Blackbird when he was out goose counting earlier in the week. Later on the same day, he had another Sparrowhawk, further on during the goose count. Yesterday, Bob had a Kestrel down beside Loch Gorm and then over the crag at Kilchoman, a Golden Eagle.

Friday 7 December 2012

Friday 7th December

James had carried out a count on the reserve at Gruinart on Wednesday, the highlights being 9,910 Barnies, 423 Whitefronts, 41 Greylags, 1 Hen Harrier, 53 Pintail and 426 Golden Plover. Also on Wednesday, down on Loch Indaal, James had 24 Common Scoter, 2 Great Northern Diver, 3 Red throated Diver, 3 Slavonian Grebe and 2 Long tailed Duck. Here at home, the other day with the cold weather around, the bird tables had been busy, at one time I counted 40 birds there, mainly Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Blackbird, Starling, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, House Sparrow, Dunnock and the odd Pheasant on the ground hoovering up the spilled foods. Nothing out of the normal but what a sight! Last time it was like that was around the same time in December a few years back and that was again 40+ on the feeders at Asa Wright in Trinidad, it was cold here in the UK then, but not in Trinidad!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Thursday 6th December

Yes, the band of rain certainly did come in from the West...a steady rain, not a downpour, but all the same we did get the best part of an inch of rain or thereabouts!  Forgot to put on last night's entry that Mary had seen a Barn Owl on her way into work yesterday down close to An Gleann and also a few Woodcock at various places along the road. Back last Friday, Dave had 2 late Chiffchaffs down on the reserve on the Oa. On Tuesday, Dave had a Jack Snipe, 2 Red Grouse and also a Woodcock. Yesterday, he had 2 Golden Eagle and a Snow Bunting, again all on the reserve.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Wednesday 5th December

The weather has been a bit on the cool side over here today, at least it kept dry, but by the sound of things it will change through the night with a band of rain coming in from the West... Mary had been out and about between Gruinart and Ardnave today, so here are some of her sightings. At Grainel road end there were 17 Fieldfare present, up at the former lobster ponds at Ardnave, Mary had 17 Ringed Plover and a solitary Sanderling as well as 2 Ravens. There were a further 23 Ravens counted over on Nave Island, while at Ardnave point another 65 were seen. Back down at Garraeallabus, Mary had 23 Rooks and 24 Hooded Crows. Thanks Mary. A visiting birder had a count of 57 Chough up at Ardnave the other day.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Tuesday 5th December

A senior moment last Wednesday when I wrote that Bob had a count of 400 Ravens, it was 400 Rooks, perhaps my shorthand was not up to scratch...Today was another goose count, and Malcolm had been doing the run along past Port Ellen out to Claggain Bay and then out to the Oa, quite a stretch. Apart from the geese he had seen 5 Whoopers Swans down close to Laphroaig and a male Hen Harrier later on over at Risabus on the Oa. Back on Sunday James had a Treecreeper on the reserve at Gruinart, and today James had 7 Gadwall on the floods and also 10 Fieldfare in the field next to his house. Anna, who has recently come to work here on Islay, had a dog Otter in Loch Indaal at Port Charlotte, on her commute to work in Bowmore this morning!

Monday 3 December 2012

Monday 3rd December

Not much to report from Islay tonight, there have been the odd shower of rain around today, the best part of half an inch of rain since this time last night, most of it through the night. Back on Saturday evening there was a Barn Owl out on a fence post down close to Sunderland Farm and later on another at Erasaid over at Gruinart. Coming home from the walk with Bob yesterday, I had a Merlin just this side of the wee memmorial stone to the Kilchoman Bards down beside Loch Gorm and earlier on  just coming out of Bowmore there were 8 Pale bellied Brent Geese, the first I have seen for some time, must get out more often!

Sunday 2 December 2012

Sunday 2nd December

One of the set of images sent through from Armin of a tussle that took place a week ago while he was over here on holiday. For a fuller description, click on the link to islayblog  on the right and look at the entry from the other night...Thanks Armin.
This morning I was out with Bob for a walk from Gartbreck along the coastline to Laggan which is out on Loch indaal. The weather stayed dry although a bit cold some times, not bad really for Demember! By the end out our time out and got home I had a list of just short of 50 species seen. Out on Loch Indaal we had a raft of 120 Common Scoter, a Razorbill there too and several different GND close at hand and great to see. I am sure that there were other birds missed, but species missing that could have been seen were some waders that were absent, no Mute Swans on the "Laundry Loch", although 4 Whoopers were seen there. A pair of Chough were out near to Laggan Point too as were a few Fulmars which were wheeling around.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Saturday 1st December

Right enough as predicted last night, no more rain so the total here for the month was a mere 4.3" compared with 5 inches or thereabout last November. At present we are still drier than this time last year but December can turn out to a wet month too...
Some comment through our "holidays" down in Dumfries and Galloway, what did we see there that we don't get here on Islay, or at least not that often??? Great spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Magpie and Red Kites on the bird front for starters. The Red Kites were over 12 miles away from the feeding station at Bellymack close to Lauriston.  Mammals, well signs of included activity of Moles, in the form of molehills, seeing both Red Squirrels and also Grey Squirrels too. One of the Red Squirrels had great delight in going into a feeder, with the lid shutting behind it. Apparently one of its' mates takes great delight in coming along and sitting on the lid just to annoy the said squirrel inside the feeder...

Friday 30 November 2012

Friday 30th November

Almost another month away, and by the look of things a drier month than the November last year, bet not many places can say that! Today Bob had a Brambling in his garden, and he saw a House Sparrow with white feathers in the cap of its head and also a pink beak! The other day, Bob had been looking for that elusive Red breasted Goose, but no joy, but on the floods at Gruinart he had 168 Teal, 8 Goldeneye, 85 Wigeon, 4 Whooper Swans, 200 Greylags along with 60 Whitefronts. The Barnies were resting up out on the estuary itself, as they are doing at present at the head of Loch Indaal, with the full moon they are mostly eating through the night. Yesterday at home Bob had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier out quartering and later on a Short eared Owl also out hunting.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Thursday 29th November

Another great day out here, it may be a bit cool, but I really should not complain as long as it stays dry. Come to think of it more dry days already back on Islay than I had in total in my stay away.... James yesterday had 2 Yellowhammers on the reserve at Gruinart and a count of 515 Lapwings. He also carried a goose count for the reserve with scores on the doors tallying at 13,825 Barnies, 377 Whitefronts, 27 Greylags and the Red breasted goose was present too. The figures from the goose count earlier this month were the 3rd highest Barnacle Goose count since 2000, but again the Whitefronts appear to be low, but early days yet as I believe they can peak a little later in some years. Coming back home last night, there was a Barn Owl out hunting in around the same place as the other evening, along this side of Sunderland Farm. Today, over at Gruinart, we had a Sparrowhawk fly off with its prey in its' talons, a lbj, sorry folks to end on a sad note to tonight's entry.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Wednesday 28th November

Last night was the monthly meeting of the Islay Bird nerds, so managed to get a few sightings through from those there of sightings that had not come through earlier. Down at Bruichladdich, George had seen 2 Otters the other day. Paul B. had seen 2 Golden Eagles down on the Oa on Tuesday, and up at Craigens he had 3 Brambling amongst a mixed flock of finches. This morning, before he left for home, Paul had an Otter about 30 yards from where he was standing along with his dog, the Otter was quite unfazed! Mary, back from her holiday on Tobago, had 3 Barn Owls down towards Portnahaven. Up in one of the fields beside his house, Bob had a flock of around 400  Ravens earlier in the week. Many thanks to Paul Beresford for sharing his sightings with us and see you again next year!

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Tuesday 27th November

Yesterday the figures came through for the goose count carried out earlier this month on the 13th and 14th, the scores on the doors were 52,964 Barnies and 5,259 Whitefronts. Not sure if these figures are up or down but will let you know once I find out. Thanks to SNH for these figures. I also heard that there was a "goose strike" with our service plane at the end of last week, on Friday I believe. The return flight back to Glasgow had to be cancelled until it was checked over.. the plane was checked not the poor goose!!!  Coming home at the darkening this evening, there was a Barn Owl just seen at the edge of the car lights down towards Sunderland. Earlier on, on our way out, we had a single Buzzard, then another 2 Buzzards within 200 yards or so, as well as a Kestrel on the telegraph pole at the side of the road, just before Len's cottage where the peat stacks are down close to Sunderland. Along at McNichol's croft, there were 2 Red Deer Stags just over the dyke with a further 2 Roe Deer just along the road. 

Monday 26 November 2012

Monday 26th November

Paul Beresford from Nottingham had been down at Gruinart yesterday and had the Red breasted Goose and also a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp amongst the Barnies present. Paul also had a female Hen Harrier, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine and a Woodcock there too. He also had a Waxwing in the garden of Woodside Cottage. Today, Paul had been over on Jura and had 2 White tailed Sea Eagles, while he was watching the eagles, 11 Waxwings drifted past!!! Martin yesterday was busy in his garden over at Glenegedale and managed some bird watching there... 15 Coal Tits, 6 Blue Tits, 3 great Tits, 30 House Sparrows, 4 Hedge Sparrows, 23 Chaffinches, 3 Greenfinches, 2 Robins, 2 Reed Buntings and 3 Blackbirds. Highlight for the day was a new garden tick, 6 Waxwings on the top of the trees! He also had a small mixed flock of Fieldfare and Redwings fly over. Back on Saturday while going over on the ferry to Kennacraig, Dave Woods had a Long tailed Duck. At Port Ellen itself there was an Otter, and going up West Loch Tarbert to Kennacraig, another 3 Otters were seen.
Many thanks to James to keeping the blog going in my absence, Ian is back in residence again!!! 

Sunday 25 November 2012

Sunday 25th November

Another good day on Islay- beautiful skies especially as the sun went down.
Michal had a long walk at Killinallen, saw a good flock of 60 sanderling. Other birds around Gruinart included a male hen harrier and a brown male hen harrier. The kestrel was hunting along the Ardnave road again today. As the day ended there was a red stag in the field below the house, very atmospheric.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Saturday 24th November

A good day on Islay, plenty of sun and good light as well as a fantastic sun set. Paul Beresford was out and about around the Island and got some good records. First on Loch Indaal - 42 pale bellied brent geese, 107 scaup, 13 long tailed ducks, 17 Slavonian grebes and 5 common scoter. Then at Gartbreck, 1 hen harrier and 11 twite. A hen harrier over Loch Gorm and finishing with the red breasted goose outside the new hide at RSPB Loch Gruinart and a waxwing on the woodland trail.

Friday 23 November 2012

Friday 23rd November

Today I travelled to the RSPB reserve at the Oa. First thing I noticed was the number of fieldfares and redwings, loads more than there are on the Rhinns. Other birds included 300 plus twite and a male hen harrier. Also received a report of a black throated diver and 2 great northern divers at Bunnahabhain.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Thursday 22nd November

More whooper swans moving through today- 22 moved south through Loch Gruinart and Malcolm reported some past Bruichladdich.
Earlier in the week a count of Loch Gruinart revealed - 421 lapwing, 176 golden plover, 188 oystercatchers, 53 ringed plover, 126 sanderling, 42 dunlin, 385 bar tailed godwits, 110 curlew, just 8 redshank, 46 turnstones, 38 pintail, 31 shoveler, 95 shelduck and 96 wigeon.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Wednesday 21st November

I met Bob today who had a few records for the blog.
From Sunday 18th a count between Bowmore and Gartbreck: 2 shelduck, 350 wigeon, 380 teal, 140 mallard, 3 eiders, 17 red b. mergansers, 1 gtr. n. diver, 13 cormorants, 64 shags, 1 heron, 98 oystercatchers, 10 ringed plover, 44 golden plover, 66 lapwing, 59 dunlin, 3 bar wits, 97 curlew, 19 redshank and 24 turnstones. On monday a count on the Uiskentuie strand produced, 45 turnstones, 32 dunlin and 24 whooper swans heading south.
Today Bob reported - at Uiskentuie, a peregrine and 30 whooper swans heading south. At Loch Grinart, on the Floods 23 pintail, 400 teal, 160 wigeon and 1 hen harrier. At Ardnave Loch, 8 goldeneye and 4 whooper swans, no sign of the red breasted goose, although there were lots of barnacle geese flying around.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Tuesday 20th November

The rain eased off and we had some sunshine!
I was working on the reserve (Loch Gruinart) adjusting water levels after the rain. It always gives the opportunity to see a few birds, and today was a real treat: as I was working in a sluice, a juv sea eagle came down and attacked a barnacle goose on the Loch shore. Other birds included 2 greenshank, a sparrowhawk and 7 whooper swans.

Monday 19 November 2012

Monday 19th November

A really wet and wild night- more than an inch of rain. The view from my kitchen window over the Gruinart Flats was an extremely moist scene.
Still more whoopers moved through the reserve, with a total of 23 split into 2 groups. Also on the mud were 120 golden plover all huddled against the wind.
Dave sent me through a report from the Oa (thankyou)- a Glaucous gull, 330 twite, 2 golden eagles, a ringtail hen harrier, 5 goldeneye, a red breasted merganser and several groups of fieldfares and redwing.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Sunday 18th November

There is still plenty of birds migrating through. I was feeding cows this morning - but noticed 10 whoopers on Loch Gruinart, later another 17 came through honking loudly.
I had a quick look at the floods later and noticed 5 gadwall and a peregrine.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Saturday 17th November

A lot colder today with some sun - but heavy showers of rain and hail. Not much chance for birding. The field below the house was busy with chaffinches and redwings, until a hen harrier chased them all away.

Friday 16 November 2012

Friday 16th November

A really wet day, so not much birding today- although I did see a water rail, running across the road on the Flats at Gruinart.
Yesterday a count of the Gruinart Floods in front of the hide produced: 76 mallards, 12 mute swans, 4 whooper swans, 7 wigeon, 215 teal, 1 heron, 20 pintail, 2 little grebes, 1 moorhen and 45 lapwing.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Thursday 15th November

A still day - with little wind or ocean roar, the geese filled the air with their chattering.
The juv white tailed eagle was seen again at Gruinart this morning plucking at a goose.
Barn owls seem to be very active, with 3 reported in the Gruinart area by Mark and Sally. They also reported on seeing the white tailed eagle at Gruinart on Monday, again tucking into a barnacle goose.
I have just come in from locking up the chickens- as I was about to shut the shed door out flew a barn owl!

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Wednesday 14th November

Another day of goose counting for me. As part of the International count (I was counting the Gruinart area again). It was a better day, cloudy but clear and calm. We had a total of 18,989 barnacle geese, 818 white fronted geese (all in the Gruinart area), 2 lesser Canada geese hutchinsii on the reserve and best of all, I finally got to see the red breasted goose at Ardnave.
The birds of prey were evident all day, drying their wings from the over night rain. A young white tailed eagle over Corsapol, a merlin further along the road, a hen harrier at the RSPB hide, a kestrel and peregrine at Ardnave and a golden eagle at Killinallen.
Another report from Ken and friends : Yesterday they had - 3 red throated divers, 42 common scoter, 13 long tailed duck and 7 Slavonian grebes on Loch Indaal. A big count of 117 curlew at Port Charlotte, 1 golden eagle, 21 fieldfares and 7 redwing at Finnlaggen. The Iceland gull was at Bunnahabhain again. On the Gruinart Flats 85 meadow pipits and 1 sparrowhawk and finally an otter and 5 purple sandpipers at Bruichladdich.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Tuesday 13th November

Hello, Ian is away so it is the assistant blog master for a few days. I have been out counting geese all day in the Gruinart area as part of the international goose count. A long day and a lot of geese: 18,638 barnacle geese, 967 White fronted geese, 122 greylags and 1 lesser Canada goose hutchinsii. I also saw 655 lapwing and 25 golden plover on the reserve and 34 turnstone, 1 purple sandpiper and a chiffchaff (tristis) at Ardnave.
At Ardnave I met Mike Reid and Friend who had seen the adult Iceland gull at Bunnahabain (back again for another winter).
I have some records in from Ken Reeves and colleagues (thanks again) :
On the 11th on their way over to Islay they had: 31 great northern divers, 5 red throated divers, 1 black throated diver, 50 red breasted mergansers, a golden eagle and white tailed eagle. when they arrived on Islay at An Innis, they managed to see 2 brambling and a short eared owl. On the 12th they had a good day with 6 whooper swans and 17 twite at Ardnave, 11 pintail, 1 greenshank, a hen harrier and whimbrel on Loch Gruinart. A golden eagle at Saligo and a yellowhammer on the Kilchoman road.

Monday 12 November 2012

Monday 12th November

Carl yesterday had seen some Long tailed Tits while he was out over at Laggan Bridge. Along the strand at Uisnetuie he had 4 RTD, 2 Dunlin, and a few Turnstone, along at Blackrock, there was a flock of 130 Scaup. Coming home there was an Otter showing well at Gortan, Paul and Joan Graham had also seen the Otter there for around 10 minutes, munching away on its' prey! Back home in Port Charlotte, Carl had 9 Waxwings, a flock of Redpolls, 4 Coal Tit and a Goldcrest.  Alan from Surrey, the other day had a Golden Eagle down past Kildalton, with a Buzzard close by, making a good comparison. Alan also had another Golden Eagle up behind Loch Skerrols.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Sunday 11th November

Yesterday Bob had a Sparrowhawk in his garden, over Loch Gorm he saw a White tailed Sea Eagle and down at the reedbed at the Coastguard cottages, 12 Redwing were present.  Today, up behind Port Charlotte, Bob had 20 Reed Buntings, 4 Goldcrest and his first ringtail Hen Harrier for some time. Similarly on his feeders, he had his first Coal Tit for a while. Along at "smelly corner" there were 20 Ringed Plover, 34 Dunlin and some Oystercatchers. Further out at the head of Loch Indaal, 70 Pale bellied Brent Geese were present. Coming home at Bruichladdich, an Otter was seen close to the shore.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Saturday 10th November

Yesterday morning , Peter had a new "tick" for his garden list at Bruichladdich, 6 Long tailed Tits. Michael on had a quieter day yesterday, his last day here, but up over Gruinart he had 3 Golden Eagles, 2 adults and a immature bird. Later on he saw another Golden Eagle, this time up towards Sanaigmore. He also had a male Hen Harrier there too, out quartering its' patch. James had a Brambling in his garden this morning while Michal had been doing some sea watching, no Shearwaters or Albatrosses but plenty of Kittiwakes off Coull Point!

Friday 9 November 2012

Friday 9th November

Yesterday, David and Jenny had been up the Craigens side (Eastern shore) of Loch Gruinart where they saw several Twite, on the loch itself, Pintail and Shovelor were seen. The highlight of the trip there was a White tailed Sea Eagle being mobbed by a Black headed Gull, with the gull winning the tussle and the big Eagle flying off....Along the flats at Gruinart, they had a Merlin and a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp. Behind Carnduncan, they had a ring tailed Hen Harrier while up at Sanaigmore a juv. Peregrine was having a go at a Raven, outcome not known as they both disappeared from view! A couple of Chough were also seen at Sanaigmore. Alan from Surrey had been over on Jura today had seen several Hen Harriers over on Jura, earlier on he had a Dipper over below Lossit on the Sound of Islay

Thursday 8 November 2012

Thursday 8th November

Martin sent this image of a male Brambling in his garden down at Glenegedale, taken this morning, another tick for Martin's Islay list, let alone his garden list!!! There is also a Coal Tit (enter stage right!) Here at home today, speaking of Coal Tits, there were 2 Coal Tits on the feeders. Bob yesterday while down at Frenchman's Rocks had a Black browed Albatross offshore. Outside his house today Bob had 3 Brambling amongst a flock of around 100 Chaffinches on the barley stubble, another bird seen there was a Sparrowhawk. Later on just up the road from Bob's house he had 2 Goldcrest, 6 Stonechats close together as well as 12 Reed Bunting. Today Michael had a good day seeing a total of 6 Golden Eagles. Down on the Oa, he had a pair with some dislaying, a male and a ringtail Hen Harrier and a Merlin. In Kilnaughton Bay, 2RTD, 2GND, 1 Guillemot, 3 Black Guillemot and 1 Chough were seen.  Over the hills at the back of Port Ellen, he saw another adult Golden Eagle. Up at Storakaig,  2 adult Golden Eagles and an immature bird with them. Michael had a White tailed Sea Eagle over towards Port Askaig. Finally Mary in Tobago, we are noting that you have been reading the blog, hope you are enjoying your holidays, no doubt you are seeing different birds to what we are having here, regards to Newton if you catch up with him!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Wednesday 7th November

Sorry about the late entry, but here goes....Yesterday, David and Jenny had been round at Saligo Bay and had an interesting sighting of a Shearwater, but were not 100% sure whether it was Cory's or a Great, but it was a Shearwater for sure and not a young Gannet either. David realises that it possibly is a bit late in the year but some can occur in November. Answers on a postcard....Today, they were back at Saligo with 60 Kittiwake, a Fulmar and a Gannet. Along at Ballinaby were 80 Golden Plover and a ringtail Hen Harrier, up behind Port Charlotte, a Sparrowhawk was seen. Michael today had 2 RTD, 2 GND,  65 Common Scoter, 1 Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone at Bruichladdich. Along at Blackrock, 18 Turnstone were seen, further on along the top of loch towards Bridgend were a total of 48 Pale bellied Brent Geese. Over at Loch Gruinart, Michael had a White tailed Sea Eagle, 290 Golden Plover, 190 Barwits and 2 Greenshank. Up at Sanaigmore a Peregrine, 2 Chough, and 16 Linnet were counted. Machir Bay held 16 Chough and also the 1st winter Glaucous Gull and back at Kilchoman at the dusk, a repeat of last night again (forgot to mention this yesterday...) a Peregrine flew through the Jackdaws as they came into roost!!! Through the day today, I saw a Coal Tit at the feeders, the first for some time! James had a count of 9770 Barnies, 371 Whitefronts and 12 Greylags on the reserve, 3 Whoopers flew in and also out on Loch Gruinart itself were 255 Wigeon.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Tuesday 6th November

A much quieter day on the bird front today, but possibly the weather has not helped out! Yesterday the Red breasted Goose was seen over on the flats at Gruinart, as was a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp. This morning Carl had 5 Waxwings in his garden in Port Charlotte, down on fallen apples on the ground. Robin from Settle on his last day, had a Sparrowhawk in the trees up near to Ballygrant along with some Chaffinches and Blue Tits seen there too, but no Brambling present! Later on, flying over the market at Bridgend was a White tailed Sea Eagle.

Monday 5 November 2012

Monday 5th November

This morning the weather was not too good, but after midday it turned a great day... Yesterday Michael, a visiting birder over for the week, had started off at Loch Gruinart with 2 Golden Eagle (1 imm.) , 160 Golden Plover, 25 Ringed Plover, 104 Sanderling, 140 Dunlin and 15 Turnstone. Up at Ardnave he had 3 GND and 5 Snow Buntings. Finally down at Bridgend he had a count of 520 Golden Plover. David and Jenny yesterday had a Merlin over at Gruinart and a Golden Eagle as well as a Peregrine at Loch Skerrols. Today, Michael had 21 Whoopers arriving at Gruinart, 1 Peregrine, on the estuary there rather than on the floods, 4 Gadwall, 41 Pintail and 34 Shoveller were present. On his way down to Loch Indaal, at Lyrabus and looking over to Foreland, a ringtail Hen Harrier and a Merlin were seen. On Loch Indaal itself, between Blackrock and round to Bruichladdich, 13 GND, 24 RTD, 1 Black throated Diver, 13 Slavonian Grebe, 114 Scaup (very close to the road giving good sightings), 1 Long tailed Duck and finally off Bruichladdich Pier, 29 Common Scoter were counted. Earlier this morning, George had a count of 21 at Brichladdich. Today David and Jenny had seen 150 Wigeon on Ardnave Loch with around 700 Barnies roosting up on the beach over on Nave Island. Down at Claggain Bay, they had around 80 Meadow Pipits with a fall of 22 Robins! They also had a couple of Yellowhammers along at the Kildalton Cross. A Sparrowhawk was seen on the high road  out of Port Ellen. Peter this morning had a Waxwing fly over Bruichladdich.. Bob today had 220 Whitefronts out on the barley stubble out in front of his house along with some Rock Doves. There was also a imm. Peregrine perched up for ages just watching, then it started to cause havoc with the doves!  High up 7 Whoopers were seen heading South. On Bolsay Moor, Bob had 3 Red Grouse along with a couple of Snipe. Here at home at lunchtime, over the big crag, I had a count of 10 Buzzards all wheeling around, I counted them 3 times and came with 10 each time! Later on closer to 5pm, as the light was starting to fail there were 4 Buzzards out and also a Golden Eagle. Robin from Settle, had done a count down on Loch Indaal at 9am, 17 Slav. Grebe, 8 GND, 6 RTD, 14 Knot and 60 Golden Plover. Bridgend Woods held a Woodcock, a flock of around 100 Chaffinch along with usual Tits and Treecreepers as well. On Loch Gruinart from the Killinallan side, 20 Pintail, 14 Shoveller, 1 male Gadwall, 2 Greenshank, 1 Grey Plover were seen. Out from Port Bhan on Loch Indaal, late afternoon, Robin had 3 flocks of Common Scoter, one with 20 females, and mostly males in the other 2 flocks, totalling 54 in all. Finally back up to Gruinart, but on the reserve this time, Robin had 97 Shelduck, 87 Golden Plover, 32 Whoopers and around 20 red legs.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Sunday 4th November

Another dreich sort of a day again, although late afternoon it turned out to be not too bad... Met in with a visitor from Sussex this morning who has been over on Islay for a few days. The highlight for him was seeing Choughs as well as our splendid scenery. We headed over to Port Askaig on a brief Waxwing search this afternoon, but no joy, should have gone a few days ago!!! Down below Cattadale towards Mulindry there were a few Mistle Thrush on the phone wires, on the barley stubbles were around 50 or so Chaffinches and around the same number of Starlings. Earlier on, coming out of Bridgend in the stubble field there, 6 Wood Pigeon were on the ground tucking into barley where some barley had spilled on to the ground between the combine and the trailer! The geese appeared to be spread out with several large flocks of Barnies seen on several sites as well as some Whitefronts around too. Near to Sunderland Farm a Merlin flew along the road in front of us for a few moments.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Saturday 3rd November

A miserable sort of a day out here today, with squally showers coming out of nowhere and also the temperature not that great either, it's that time of year I should remember....On to more positive thoughts! Yesterday, the Red breasted Goose was seen up towards Ardnave, proving quite a bit of a challenge to be seen! The Waxwings were still present at Port Askaig . David and Jenny round at Coille had the large "finch flock" consisting of mainly Chaffinch with some Twite and a Linnet too, but the 2 Bramblings were seen there too! Further on they saw 2 Golden Eagles up towards Sanaigmore. At Ballinaby, a flock of 30 Golden Plover were present. Over at Gruinart, they had both a male and a ringtail Hen Harrier, a Peregrine, 2 Greenshank and 6 Gadwall.  Michal had Snow Bunting on the track at Saligo.  George had an Otter down at Bruichladdich. Today at Machir Bay, David and Jenny birds included 2 Gannets, a Long tailed Duck, an immature Kittiwake, an imm. Glaucous Gull and a ringtail Hen Harrier. Pia had 6 Waxwings in her garden in Bruichladdich, offshore on Loch Indaal a flock of over 60 Common Scoter were present, and an Otter was seen eating a large crab, not bad going from the house!!

Friday 2 November 2012

Friday 2nd November

David and Jenny on Wednesday had been down on the Oa and had a flock of 200 Twite. Yesterday over at Cluanach up behind Bridgend, they saw 2 Yellowhammer, 50 Fieldfare, 40 Twite and 7 Buzzards. Further on at Storakaig, they had 2 Golden Eagles and up at Bunnahabhain, they saw an Otter. The Bartleys have now headed home, but well pleased with their stay, highlights for them was seeing Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles, the White tailed Sea Eagle as well as Merlin and all the Geese!

Thursday 1 November 2012

Thursday 1st November

A distant image of the blue phased Snow Goose that was briefly on the flats at Gruinart this morning, also in the frame is a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp as well as 2 Barnies in the foreground, good one Steve!! Yesterday along the road, Tom, one of Steve's colleagues who has been over for a few days, had a Yellow browed Warbler at Erasaid, and this afternoon at Port Askaig while waiting on the ferry, he had 8 Waxwings. This morning, Bob had been down doing a sea watch at Frenchman's Rocks where he met in with another visiting birder, Julie from Durham. Their birds seen were as follows, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Turnstone, 4 RTD , 3 GND,  2 groups of Whoopers (12 and another 8), 2 groups of Pale bellied Brent Geese (22 and 2), 17 Barnies, 2 Bonxies, a steady passage of Kittiwakes, around 15 every 10  minutes mostly heading South. Bob also had 6 Fieldfare at the roadside at Gearach, and a flock of around 500 Barnies roosting up on the rough ground towards Claddach. The rainfall figure for October was 6.5" an inch drier than last October, so we are still drier than last year at the same time.... mind you  the Paps of Jura had a white cap well down today eith the far hills behind Port Ellen also wearing a lighter version, more a dusting!!

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Wednesday 31st October

Another image of the Red breasted Goose, taken yesterday by Jim Dickson along at Sunderland Farm, thanks Jim! Some sightings through from yesterday, the Bartley family who I met up with at the Bird Fair are over for the week, and while sitting down at Whinpark close to Bridgend, as well as seeing the many Barnacle Geese present, saw the 2 White tailed Sea Eagles there too. The Eagles managed to have a Heron while they were there, a change from a Barnie or the odd Hare you might argue!! Also present down on the merse were some Curlews and Bar tailed Godwits. Further on between Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte, a Guillemot was on Loch Indaal and later on, up behind Rockside a Sparrowhawk and some Chough were seen. Robin from Settle had the Long tailed Duck on Loch Indaal along with 3 Slavonian Grebe. At Claggain Bay, 2 GND were noted. David and Jenny last night had a Woodcock on the roadside going along the flats at Gruinart. This morning, they had 8 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Blackrock and a charm of 20 Goldfinches at the Gaelic College at Bowmore. At Sunderland Farm at lunchtime we had 8 Long tailed Tits. George today had  a GND in summer plumage on Loch Indaal below his house. At his house, 2 Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, several Blackbirds, heard a Fieldfare and up beside his ponds, fresh Otter spraints were seen.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Tuesday 30th October

Bob sent though this image of a Waxwing which he took in his garden at lunchtime today, perched on topof the Raspberry bushes, note the Dahlias out in bloom too.... Earlier on Bob had been down at Frenchman's Rocks and seen several groups of Common Scoter flying South and also a Glaucous Gull. On his way there he had 2 Stonechats as well. Jim Dickson had been over from Lochgilphead for the day. At Sunderland Farm Jim had the Red brested Goose as well as a Golden Eagle there too. Along at Coille, he had 8 Brambling. On Loch Indaal, Jim had a total count of 86 Pale bellied Brent Geese, with 2 White tailed Sea Eagles at the head of the loch, and finally up at Cruach behind Bowmore there was a single Pink footed Goose present. David and Jenny, regular visitors from Staffs yesterday had the following birds, Golden Eagle up towards Sanaigmore, White tailed Sea Eagle flew from Ballinaby towards Gruinart, male Hen Harrier at Ballinaby, a total of 9 Stonechats around Loch Gorm, 180 Greylags on Loch Gorm, 4 different Kestrels round Loch Gorm, 100 Scaup on Loch Indaal, 2 Long tailed Ducks on Loch Indaal, 3 RTD & 8 GND there too

Monday 29 October 2012

Monday 29th October

Pete Thorp kindly sent though this image of a Fieldfare which he took last week while was over. Another visiting birder, Eve James from Cheshire wrote, " I would recommend all birders visit Islay at least once, it is an a fantastic experience and the local birders were very helpful when I met them". Eve also said that "during her stay, Choughs were regular and she had not seen so many Buzzards in a day, on more than one day, the figure was well into double figures". Today Paul G. had seen the White tailed Sea Eagle over the reserve at Gruinart. Has this bird developed a taste for the geese??? Bob saw a Golden Eagle come over the hill up behind Sunderland Farm this morning.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Sunday 28th October

Tony Johnson sent through this image of a Snow Bunting which he took over at Saligo when he was over last week. The clocks changed today and so did the weather, with a lot of dirty showers appearing out of nowhere, at least it has not been as cold as it was a few days ago! New birders who arrived yesterday had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle eating a Barnie over at Gruinart today. From the "old hide" they also had a ringtail Hen Harrier. Up at Ardnave they had Chough,  2 Whooper Swans on the loch and 12 Redwing seen there too. On Loch Indaal, off Port Charlotte, they had a GND still in summer plumage, and also 12  Common Scoter.  Dave, one of the  the "vols" with RSPB had counted 36 Red legged Partridges out in front of the Visitor centre at Gruinart this morning. Back here at home with the weather changing, the birds have been busy on the feeders, especially the Goldfinches on the new nyger seed feeder.... the old feeder was just ignored!! Other visitors to Islay who came off the evening ferry crossing were today were well pleased to see Chough and our amazing scenery all around...and no doubt our squally showers for good measure!!!

Saturday 27 October 2012

Saturday 27th October

A visiting birder from Argyll had seen a seen a Siberian Chiffchaff in Ballygrant Woods yesterday and on Friday a female Blackcap was down at Ardbeg. The Red breasted Goose yesterday was also seen yesterday behind Bruichladdich up towards Conisby. Today it was up towards Kilnave, it does not half get about!!! James today had a juv White tailed Sea Eagle at Gruinart, and amongst the geese he had a Canada Goose hutchinsii sp. Another birder this evening was telling me of seeing the same group of 4 Canada Geese down at Bowmore that Peter Thorp had seen earlier on in the week. The Leigh birders yesterday cracked the 100 species seen during their visit with a Song Thrush...On Loch Indaal, Common Scoter were seen along with the Long tailed Duck. On their way up to Sanaigmore they saw the large flock of Chaffinches and the Brambling was still present with them. It's been great over here this past week with so many visiting birders around, almost like the Bird Fair at Rutland, but not so busy or not even so warm.... Thanks to Lynne and Chris from Bedfordshire, Gordon and Pauline from Rochdale, Chris and Tony from Bolton, Pauline, Ian, David and Anne from Leigh, Danny, Wanda and Peter from Teme Valley and also Andrew Harrop who first spotted the Red breasted Goose if my memory serves me correctly, so many sightings just great, no doubt we will all meet up next year!

Friday 26 October 2012

Friday 26thOctober

Clive Mycroft who lives down on the Oa had seen a Ring Ouzel earlier this week close to where he lives. The Bolton Birders yesterday counted a flock of 60 Twite down towards the Coastguard Cottages. Further on at Saligo Bay they had a Snow Bunting, a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen on their way up to Sanaigmore as was a Golden Eagle. 15 Whoopers were seen flying from Sanaigmore back down towards Loch Gorm. They also had a large flock of Starlings feeding in the barley stubbles at Ballinaby along with Skylarks, House Sparrows and some Reed Buntings. 12 Golden Plover were also close by. Finally at Coull road  end there were 30 Lapwing present along with more Starlings! On Loch Indaal yesterday, we had a count of 12 Herons. The Leigh birders had spent their day down on the Oa yesterday. Their highlights included 3 different  ringtail Hen Harriers, Golden Eagle, Peregrines, Chough, another great day! Lynne and Chris had a charm of 5 Goldfinches up the East side of Loch Gruinart, on the loch itself  2 Barwits were seen and up at Ardnave Loch, 8 Whooper Swans were present. This morning John Johnson who has been over for the week had seen a Yellow browed Warbler in some bushes up behind Port Charlotte. Bob had a juv Golden Eagle down in a field of rape over at Coull. From the new hide at Gruinart today, Mike and Elspeth had seen a Hen Harrier spoof 5 Red legged Partridges, then soon after a White tailed Sea Eagle was seen taking a Hare, but then to cap it all the Red breasted Goose was seen amongst the Barnies there. At lunchtime today, Pete Thorp had counted 72 Golden Plover at Ballinaby. Bob had another juv Golden Eagle from the old hide this afternoon.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Thursday 25th October

This is image was kindly sent through of the Red breasted Goose taken the other day by one of the Rochdale Birders down at Sunderland Farm. There were also 2 small Canada Geese amongst the Barnies present. Today they had a flock of 300 Fieldfare over close to Cluanach. Ballygrant Quarry had 40 Redpoll with a Woodcock seen in the woods there as well. They also saw a Bluebell in bloom!! This afternoon, Danny had 3 White tailed Sea Eagles on the ground over at Gruinart looking at the remnants of a Barnie... Yesterday Mike and Elspeth had a mixed flock of House Sparrows, Linnets, Twite and Reed Buntings round at Ballinaby, also seen there was a male Hen Harrier out quartering his patch. Along at Blackrock there was a flock of Scaup and also some Pale bellied Brent geese and Red breasted Merganser, 1 RTD, 1 Long tailed Duck, and 5 Slavonian Grebe. Up at Sanaigmore, in the afternoon, they had a juv. Peregrine, 2 Chough, 1 Red breasted Merganser and a Ringed Plover on the beach. They noticed that some of the rabbits there had myxi... Down close to the phone box at Gorm they saw a juv Peregrine, or was it the same bird there? Lynne and Chris had seen a juv Golden Eagle up behind Rockside Farm yesterday. The Leigh birders yesterday had a Kestrel flying past the cottage where they are staying, this was followed by a couple of Ravens. On Loch Indaal, they had a great time watching the GND, RTD and Slavonian Grebes along with the Mergansers, 47 Pale bellied Brent spotted too. Round at the pier at Bruichladdich, 2 Black Guilllemots in winter plumage were spotted. Round the Rhinns a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen and shortly afterwards a large flock of around 1,500 Barnies were in 2 adjoining grass fields. On the feeders outside a bungalow, Goldfinches, Greenfinch, Chaffiches and a Brambling were seen. Finally over at Machir Bay a flock of 30 - 40 Twite were seen which were spooked by a male Hen Harrier. Today, Bob had a Wheatear at Coull and also 62 Twite. While he was looking through the geese at Sunderland a White tailed Sea Eagle flew over.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Wednesday 24th October

An early entry for the blog for once! The Leigh birders had split into 2 groups yesterday, David and Anne stayed here on Islay. At Blackrock they had 6 GND, 4 RTD, also 5 Slavonian Grebe, 7 Red breasted Merganser and 23 Eider. Down at Machir Bay they had 16 Chough, and on the "new pool" there, a mixed flock of Herring and Common Gulls, around 200 in all. From there, they also saw  4 Buzzards out, and 3 Stonechats. On Machir Bay itself they had a Greater Black backed Gull along with Oystercatcher and Sanderling.  A large flock of Barnies were in the air over towards Coull Point. Round Loch Gorm they had 5 Golden Plover, 12 Reed Bunting, c200 Starling, many hundreds of Barnies, 90 Greylag and 65 Whitefronts. A male Hen Harrier was seen and then chased on by a gang of Hooded Crows! Pauline and Ian headed back to Jura, towards Ardfin they had a Coal Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit and heard 2 Buzzards calling. A pr of Treecreepers were also seen there. Further on the Rowan berries more Redwings and Fieldfares were noted as well as a further 2 Blue Tits. Up past Craighouse they had 2 Goldcrest, and then more Redwing , Blackbirds and 2 Mistle Thrush on the scrubland. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen over the moor and then a sub adult Golden Eagle close to the road. A Reed Bunting was calling close to one of the cattle grids and a Wren and also another Stonechat seen there as well. Finally up the top end of Jura, they heard a Greater Spotted Woodpecker. Another good day but still missing is an Otter...Danny and his team seen 2 Golden Eagles up towards Sanaigmore today, down in Sanaigmore Bay were 2 GND. At the top of Loch Indaal, they saw 4 RTD, 8 Red breasted Merganser and 2 Cormorants that were actively fishing away. Jura was the destination for the Bolton birders today, before lunch they had a male Hen Harrier on the moor above Lowlandman's Bay and a ringtail later on in the afternoon in the same location. They had another ringtail over the woodland up at Ardlussa, in the bay past Ardlussa, an Otter was seen briefly with 5 Stonechats at Lealt. A charm of 12 Goldfinches were noted on the felled plantation. A large flock of over 700 Fieldfare was seen moving through along with some Redwing and Mistle Thrush. Back on Loch Indaal, on the Bridgend side of Blackrock, 4 Slavonian Grebe were with a large raft of Scaup and a female Goldeneye.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Tuesday 23rd October

Some sightings through from the Bolton Birders. On Sunday, at Bunahabhain they had a female Otter out in the Sound of Islay along with 2 young. Whilst up there, they also had a pr of Golden Eagles along with a juv Eagle. Coming back down the road they saw a Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and a Buzzard. A male Stonechat was seen on the wires too. On Loch Allan, a Little Grebe was present, while 30 Redwing were busy on the Rowan berries close to Loch Allan. Yesterday they had seen 2 Slavonian Grebe along with the Red breasted Merganser off Blackrock on Loch Indaal. As well as numerous Seals over at "Seal Bay" past Ardbeg, a dog Otter was seen. Ardtalla, a Kestrel was seen,  a small flock of 12 Twite were there too and in the bushes close by were 8 Long tailed Tits. There was also a Red throated Diver along at Claggain Bay. Today up at Ardnave they had a flock of 70 Twite , 3 GND off Nave Island, 24 Chough, 8 Golden Plover, and 8 Turnstone. Ardnave Loch held the Mute Swan family and today, 4 adult Whooper with 1 cygnet, again the Mutes and Whoopers clashing!!! There was also a Little Grebe and 20 Tufted Duck present. The pond at the back of Machir Bay had 11 Whooper, 80 Wigeon and 8 Curlew late afternoon. The Leigh Birders had headed over to Jura yesterday, they had a Collared Dove just before Ballygrant. Jura started off well with a Kestrel, Buzzard, the odd Stonechat and a Robin. Further on they had a Sparrowhawk and then out over the open moorland they had 2 Buzzard, pr of Hen Harriers and then a Merlin shot across the road and away. Further on another pr of Hen Harriers and a further male. Finally a flock of around 160 Fieldfare flying high, obviously on migration, and all that before Craighouse! Out in the Small Isles Bay there was 4 Mute Swans and 10 Mallard. Along at Jura Forest, a Goldcrest was heard. Further on Golden Eagles and White tailed Sea Eagles were seen. They were surprised to see a female Sparrowhawk hunting up a burn and away out on to the moor. A Buzzard dived into the trees in one of the plantations, spooking a Sparrowhawk which in turn set some Redwings off... On their return leg another Eagle, probably on of the earlier birds seen, a Wren just outside of Craighouse and finally 2 different Kestrel were seen coming back towards the ferry. Back on Islay they saw a Sparrowhawk close to Avonvoggie. A great day by all accounts! Danny and the team yesterday had a male Sparrowhawk on the flats at Gruinart. Today they had 3 Kestrel while down on the Oa. They counted 5 Canada Geese, Richardson's amongst the geese at the top of Loch Indaal. 12 Wigeon were also seen there too. Further round Loch Indaal, 14 Pale bellied Brent were spotted. Today the Rochdale birders had a female Whinchat down close to the former Machrie Hotel, a Brambling up towards Skerrols, Ballinaby held a mixed flock of 180 Finches including 100 Twite, and over at Ardtalla there was a mixed flock of 100 Winter Thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare. Chris and Lynne who are up from Bedfordshire for the week , it was Chris who initially pointed the Red breasted Goose to me, sent some sightings through.  In the Mulindry/ Cluanach area today they had Yellowhammer, Blue Tit , Chaffinches, Redwing and some Whitefronts. Over on Jura, a mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare. Later on they had 6 Red breasted Merganser and coming back, while waiting at Feolin for the ferry, a GND . Finally close to Blackrock they had 50 Scaup and 2 Long tailed Ducks

Monday 22 October 2012

Monday 21st October

The Rochdale birders yesterday had been a walk round Ardnave Point where they saw a Swallow, Wheatear,  Whinchat,  6 Sanderling,  2 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Twite and mixed flocks of Rock and Meadow Pipits. Back at Rock Mountain they saw a Merlin. Mike and Elspeth from Edinburgh had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier on their way up to Killinallan, also 4 Reed Buntings there too with another ringtail at Gortontoid. They had seen a total of 6 Buzzards, including a juv. bird with a huge rabbit up in the dunes!At the mouth of Loch Gruinart, they saw a Lesser Black backed Gull. The Leigh birders had seen 2 Goldeneye (male and female), 1 ad GND and 2 juv GND, Turnstones, R. b. Mergansers, Eiders, Barnies and Cormorants from the harbour at Bowmore. Amongst the Barnies as they came out of Bowmore, they had a lesser Canada Goose. Below Rockside they had a Merlin, over at Gruinart  a juv Golden Eagle. Up at Ardnave Loch, a pr of Mute Swans with 4 young as well as a pr of Whoopers with 1 cygnet, the male Mute was harassing the male Whooper trying to get it to leave. Also on the loch were 14 Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe. Over the dunes 60 Chough were seen. Heading back round Loch Gorm was a small flock of 18 Lapwing and just before that a count of around 200 Golden Plover. Coming home last night we saw 3 Barn Owls, one close to Sunderland, another further along the road and the final one was seen between Rockside and the Coastguard's. Today Bob had seen 2 Golden Eagle up behind Port Charlotte. Andrew Harrop who saw the Red breasted Goose yesterday had seen it again this morning along at Sunderland, and down on Machir Bay, he had a first winter Mediterrean Gull and round at Toranore beside Ballinaby 11 Lapland Buntings and a Greenland Redpoll were seen. Danny and the team had seen 34 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Blackrock today, and as they came back to the ferry at Feolin on Jura, they had an Otter. Mike and Elspeth had 80 Scaup at Blackrock this morning as well as 5 Slavonian Grebes.  On the Oa they had a Peregrine and also 20 Fieldfare. They counted a further 12 at Cluanach and also commented on the numbers of Stonechats that they have seen so far. On the reserve at Gruinart James had a count of 19,000 Barnies, 516 Whitefronts, 44 Greylags, 7 Pale bellied Brent, 1 Canada hutchinsii sp., 1 Golden Eagle 2nd  yr., 1 ad and 1 juv Peregrine, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Sparrowhawk and 52 Whooper Swans.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Sunday 21st October

An early entry for a change.... The big bit of news is that this morning there was a Red breasted Goose down at Sunderland Farm along with the Barnacle Geese there too. Fortunately a visiting birder showed me where the said goose was amongst the others, easy really when it's like that. I went down early afternoon, but there were not so many many Barnies around nor was the Red breasted Goose either, the Whooper Swans had moved off too, some down on Loch Gorm. On Friday, Andy Greenwood had at least 25 Slavonian Grebe on Loch Indaal, from Blackrock. Yesterday on his way back on the ferry, he had a Bonxie, 2 Arctic Skuas, 2 Kestrel, 1 Black throated Diver and also 10 Fieldfare. David Hardacre from Seahouses, another visitor who went home yesterday had seen 83 species during his trip and was well pleased with his first visit to Islay. Another first timer, Gavin left yesterday too, equally impressed, "seeing Eagles" from the kitchen window, just great!!! On Friday, over at Claggain Bay, he had 8 GND and a Razorbill and yesterday morning down at Machir bay, he counted 39 Golden Plover, 26 Ringed Plover, a Sanderling, a Merlin and also a Snow Bunting. Off the ferry going out in the afternoon, he had the pod of  Bottle nosed Dolphin  round about the MacArthur's head  area. Off Gigha, 5 GND and a RTD were seen as well as an Otter. Many thanks to the above for their sightings through the week. Yesterday the Leigh Birders started their day off with a Stoat running past the patio doors where they are staying on the Oa, every morning they have 3 Hooded Crows coming in to be fed. On the road up to Bowmore, on the "Low road" they had 7 Long tailed Tits, briefly sitting on the bridge before flying off! From the power station, on Loch Indaal, numerous Barnacle geese, 11 Pale bellied Brent Geese, a handful of Barwits, Mergansers, Starlings, House Sparrows, Eider, Dunnock, Goldfinch, 6 Turnstone, 3 Wigeon, Curlew, Common Gulls, Herring Gulls and Black headed Gulls. Gruinart also had 2 Greater black backed gulls, a female Peregrine sitting on the sandbars looking replete and resting up!!!Also seen were 4 Turnstone and a good number of Barwits, up the Ardnave side of Gruinart there was a Wren and also Stonechats seen. Going round Loch Gorm, a male Hen Harrier put a Snipe up, and several Buzzards were seen as well as more Stonechats. Down at Sunderland they had the Whooper Swans and also the Barnacle Geese, Greylags some Whitefronts and a few Mallard. Danny counted 99 Whoopers late afternoon at Sunderland, and had a Pink footed Goose amongst the other geese present

Saturday 20 October 2012

Saturday 20th October

A great day out here, but this evening the temperature is dropping, could we be in for a touch of frost? Highlight for today must certainly be the sighting briefly of a flock of over 20 Snow Buntings up in the dunes behind Killinallan by the Bolton Birders. On Traigh an Aonghais they had 85 Sanderling and also 64 Ringed Plover, back towards the Killinallan gate there were 20 Turnstone, 3 Greenshank along with Oystercatcher and Curlew. Also behind the dunes was a ringtail Hen Harrier being mobbed by 2 Buzzards. The Whoopers were still in the same field down at Sunderland, but not so many, along with a large number of Barnacle Geese. Danny from the Teme Valley arrived yesterday for the week and had a Barn Owl in the car headlights over at Erasaid, this morning over at Ballinaby he watched a Golden Eagle fly along beside above only 50 metres or so up! Tonight, another Barn Owl but over at the former Kilchoman School towards Gruinart. Other new visitors in for the week this afternoon counted 103 Whoopers down at Sunderland, with other birds round Loch Gorm seen were 9 Buzzard, 1 Peregrine, 1 Merlin, 1 female Sparrowhawk and 15 Redwing. James last night had a Stoat cross the road at theGaelic college just outside Bowmore, and today he had 3 Siskins on the reserve at Gruinart. Peter today was commenting on the large group of Greylags loitering around at Gortan at the head of Loch Indaal.  Peter counted 520 in all and wondered whether they were just grouping up  before heading off.. He also had a single red legged Partridge at Killinallan. Yesterday Andrew G from Lancashire had a pr of Pintail at Gartmain, pr of Dipper at The Woolen Mill and a Kestrel at Gearach. Martin had seen a Barn Owl the other night as he was walking his dog down close to the airport at Glenegedale and has seen several small flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare passing through as well as 20 Whoopers flying on towards Ireland. He has also had a Brambling on his feeders! The Stewartry SOC group yesterday had 20 Redwing and 2 Mistle Thrushes close to Finlaggan, a female Kestrel up towards Bunnahabhain with a flock of 60 Fieldfare being flushed by a Sparrowhawk at Cattadale. On Thursday, over on Jura, they saw 2 Golden Eagle, 2 Hen Harrier (1 male and 1 ringtail), 1 Peregrine, 1 Kestrel, 11 Buzzards, "large numbers of Redwing and some Fieldfare passing through", 1 Otter, many Red Deer. One of their group had kept a list of wild flowers in bloom, 37 in all, not bad for late October...Yesterday The Leigh birders had 1 male Brambling along with a female Reed Bunting amongst a flock of Chaffinch up past Avonvogie, with a Coal Tit shortly afterwards. Continuing on along the "Glen road" they had several groups of both Fieldfare and Redwing along the fields on the roadside. A male Kestrel was seen past Heatherhouse on the way to Bunnahabhain where they had some more Redwing and also 5 Mistle Thrushes. Back overlooking Loch Indaal from the power station, 2 GND and 3 RTD were seen as well as 40 Whoopers out on Loch Indaal.

Friday 19 October 2012

Friday 19th October

As promised the sightings from the Leigh Birders from Thursday. They had been down at the RSPB reserve on the Oa noting the following birds, a Carrion Crow along with Rooks, 2 Redwing, 2 Dunnocks,small flock of Redpolls (all still in summer plumage). 7 Pink footed Geese flew West. At the monument, a juvenile Peregrine flew past as they were sheltered in the lea of the monument, while just over the edge of the cliffs there, they had superb sightings of an adult Peregrine. One of their group had walked round the circuit, rather than going straight out to the monument, and had a Merlin. In the afternoon they headed out from Port Ellen to Claggain Bay with the following birds seen, 8 Red breasted Merganser, 26 Curlew resting up at the high tide line, 1 Oystercatcher  (Pauline doubts this low figure...) 6 Goldfinch, 1 male Bullfinch with 4 Whoopers flying over Lagavulin. They also had seen 5 Red Deer stags and later on a Fallow Deer along with its' calf. Andrew from Lancs birds included 3 Yellowhammer close to Rockside, a Sparrowhawk up at Kilchoman Distillery, male and ringtail Hen Harrier over Loch Gorm with an Otter on the floods at Gruinart. Today George had 10 Curlew, 14 Rock Doves and 1 Reed Bunting down at home at Bruichladdich. This morning, the Bolton Birders had been counting Whoopers, 44 at the pools beow Rockside including 9 juv, Sunderland count was 164 inc 17 juv. Later on a further 20 flew past at "smelly corner". The count at Sunderland late afternoon was up to 195 and a further 8 on Loch Gorm itself. A walk in Ballygrant Wood produced 2 separate Treecreeper and 6 Siskin, at least 30 Redwing feeding on the Rowan berries. They also saw 2 Little Grebe on Loch Ballygrant, another on Loch nan Cadhan and a final one on Loch Finlaggan. Finally they had 2 Red throated Diver off Gortan and another in front of An Taigh Osda at Bruichladdich. Think that is me caught up!!!

Thursday 18 October 2012

Thursday 18th October

Sorry folks, should have done the blog before going out, so here goes, some will be "Extra" on Friday's entry!!! Carl, earlier this week seen a male Hen Harrier at Coull with another round at Ballinaby. At the weekend he had a fall of Goldcrests in his garden at Port Charlotte. This evening he had a couple of Red throated Divers at Gortan with 6  Whoopers out over Loch Indaal. This afternoon we counted  57 Whoopers at Rockside, a Merlin screamed past there too with a further 38 Whoopers along at Sunderland. Coming home, the Sunderland swans remained but the Rockside Swans were all gone, all in about 90 minutes!! The Bolton birders are back, and just before teatime, they had 78 Golden Plover, 20 Ringed Plover, 1 Sanderling and 4 Turnstone down on Machir Bay. Coming over on the ferry on Tuesday, just off MacArthur's Head they saw a pod of  8 Bottle nosed Dolphins out round one of the local fishing boats out checking the lobster pots! Yesterday they had a Dipper on the Sorn with a ringtail Hen Harrier on the reserve at Gruinart, and there today, they had a female Merlin fly up from a fence post post beside the road up and then perch on a telegraph pole.Yesterday the Stewartry SOC team had been out, some up the East side of Gruinart where they had 2 Greenshank, over 70 Redshank, a flock of over 100 Twite. South of Port Charlotte a ringtail Hen Harrier was spotted. The others in the group had seen a "very old (mature)" Golden Eagle out towards Bunnahabhain, several Redwing on their travels, a Grey Wagtail at Bridgend and a male Hen Harrier at Cluanach. Gavin had been over to Jura yesterday with an Otter being the highlight, especially for his 2 young sons! Birds seen included 4 Hen Harriers (2 male and 2 ringtail), a total of 6 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 8 Ringed Plover and 3 Red breasted Merganser.  Have kept the Leigh birders entry on as an "extra" for tomorrow as the clock is ticking away and this will almost be Friday by the time it is posted...whoops...

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Wednesday 17th October

The blog is running late, better late than never, so here goes, another bumper edition mainly thanks to visiting birders! The Leigh birders yesterday had another busy day, 1 adult and 1 juv Great Northern Diver plus several Red throated Divers on Loch Indaal, seen from the power station at Bowmore, a Wren in a garden at the edge of Bowmore. They also had a Wood Pigeon and a Sparrowhawk mobbed by Hooded Crows just after Coille, the Brambling was seen again along with the flock of around 200 Chaffinch at Coille. Further on up on the far coast was a White tailed Sea Eagle, while down at Sanaigmore itself  4 Chough were present along with some Linnets and Pied Wagtails, in Sanaigmore Bay itself there were 13 Ringed Plover. On Loch Gruinart, they had 2 Greenshank and 2 Shelduck, flying South of Loch Gruinart, they counted 18 Pink footed Geese. At the Visitor Centre at Gruinart, 4 Coal Tit and 16 Red legs, some of the group that were mentioned last night possibly. Ardnave Loch held 4 eclipse Goldeneye, 5 Tufted Duck, 6 Wigeon, 2 Little Grebe and 2 Chough were nearby. Close to Kilnave, there were 5 Stonechats, 2 male Reed Buntings and 6 juv Linnet. A White tailed sea Eagle was seen being mobbed by a Buzzard over towards the Sound of Islay. The Stewartry SOC members had a Sparrowhawk at Imeraval, 2 Peregrines on the Oa, a distant Golden Eagle present there too. Over at Claggain Bay, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past. Out on the bay, they had 3 Red throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver. Back in the Bay at Port Ellen 15 Ringed Plover were noted and late afternoon, just North of Port Ellen, a single Swalllow was added to their list. Overall yesterday,  they reckon they had a total of 15 Buzzards on their travels. Bob this morning had a Merlin and 2 Goldeneye at Frenchman's Rocks. Andrew today had been in at Loch Skerrols. His birds included 40 Mute Swan along with Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Dabchick. In the surrounding trees, he had 16 Long tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Bullfinch, 20 Redwing, Wood Pigeon, Mistle Thrush, Siskin and Blackbirds. The Blackbirds, Redwing, Bullfinch were all feeding on the Rowan berries. On his  way home he had a Barn Owl, close to Octomore. Today the Leigh birders had an easier day at home as the weather closed in, but still managed a ringtail Hen harrier, 5 Buzzards, 1 male Stonechat and also several Hooded Crows. Got some info back from James about the Whitefronts, but it can wait until tomorrow's entry, so watch this space...

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Tuesday 16th October

Bob took this image yesterday of one of the 2 Snow buntings that he had seen. Andrew from Lancashire had been up at Gortantoid yesterday, but no joy with either the Firecrest or the Yellow browed Warbler, but the Brambling was still making the most of the Rowan berries! In the sky over Killinallan, he had a juv Golden Eagle, an adult Golden Eagle and 2 White tailed Sea Eagles. Later on in the evening, Andrew had a couple of Woodcock roding over Ballimony on the Rhinns. This week also, a group of SOC members from The Stewartry are over, they sent in some sightings they had yesterday, 7 Slavonian Grebe on Loch Indaal, a flock of over 60 Twite at Saligo, juv Golden Eagle at Sanaigmore, an Otter on Loch Indaal just out from Bowmore Distillery, 1 Brambling amongst a mixed flock of Chaffinch, Twite and Greenfinch close to Coille, 5 Lesser Redpoll near Ballinaby, male Kestrel at Saligo, female Kestrel near Loch na Caiche, below Rockside. They also had a small, performing, mumeration of Starling close to Rockside. They were well pleased with seeing our Choughs and also the sightings of our winter visitors, Barnacle and Greenland Whitefronted Geese. The Leigh Birders, Pauline, David, Ian and Anne also had a great day yesterday starting off with a ringtail Hen Harrier where they are staying down on the Oa. Just after Sunderland Farm as the road drops down towards Loch Gorm , in the scrub there were 8 Long tailed Tits along with Great Tits.Up at Kilchoman Distillery they had a Brambling along with a Greenfinch, down on the "new pond" (after the recent heavy rain!) at Machir Bay they around 200 Common Gull and round there too were 12 Chough with also 5 Buzzards too. Saligo held a female Peregrine with the fields at Ballinaby, 23 Greenland Whitefronts. Heading back up the hedges to Rockmountain a male Hen Harrier was seen. They commented on the number of Stonechats around, a long time missing from their home patch in Lancashire, also the numbers of Robins around...Gavin had watched a Golden Eagle this morning for around 45 minutes, down on the South East coast of Islay. James today at Gruinart had a White tailed Sea Eagle, 431 Greenland Whitefronts and a Pink footed Goose. Andrew from Lancs this morning had 6 Scoter, 52 Scaup, 12 Slavonian Grebe on Loch Indaal from Blackrock. He also saw 3 White tailed Sea Eagles on the sand close to Gartmain. This afternoon, from the new hide Snipe, Ruff and 6 Black tailed Godwit. Later from the old hide, 3 Dabchick, 18 Red legged Partridge , possibly recently released birds, Gadwall, Moorhen, 5 Greenland Whitefronts with neck collars on them, and a Water Rail over towards Loch Gorm. James too has been seeing the Whitefronts with collars, and will find out more details about these birds.