Saturday 31 March 2012

Saturday 31st March

We all hear about grass being tinder dry after a dry spell, well today there have been 2 large fires on Islay, both on the West of Islay. One was right on the edge of the RSPB reserve at Gruinart, fortunately the wind was kind to us which in some ways contained it but the main saving grace that Scott Brown the head keeper with Islay Estates came over with his "argocat". On it there is a water tank and pressure hose, so Scott and the firemen put the fire out, and left the rest of us to put out any smouldering spots. Eoin, Scott's brother came along with an ATV with a flail mower and cut a swath out through the vegetation which also helped the fire being contained. The other fire was not far away, and took in a large area and as I write (9pm) is still burning away. Basically the hill out behind Sunderland Farm out towards Kintraw and over to Conisby caught the brunt of it, access to try to get to the front of the fire is the big problem. Earlier on it appeared to be coming down into Glen Osamail. All 3 fire engines on the island have been out, and possibly stood down for tonight, the boys will no doubt be well tired. I know I am but I was only out for a short time. Will give a further update tomorrow.

On the bird front Bob had a Merlin from his house today, and this evening when I was round at Bob's, a male Hen Harrier was seen further out.

Friday 30 March 2012

Friday 30th March

Certainly back to wearing another layer of clothing to keep warm today, to think that less than a week ago I cut the grass, several of our Spring migrants have been seen already. On the positive side of it all, at least it has been dry and the ground is drying up and the farmers are getting a chance to get the ploughing done. Earlier in the week, Bob had walked in to Loch Cam and Feur lochans and had seen 1 Goldeneye, 8 Teal, 10 Mallard, 2 Snipe (one of which was chipping), 10 Lapwing, 12 Oystercatcher, several singing Skylarks, Meadow Pipits singing too, 30 Common Gull on nesting territory, 6 Greater Black backed Gull, a "murder" of 20 Ravens. He also had 21 Whoopers flying North up Loch Indaal. Back at his home, Bob had 4 Linnets, the first he has had for some time.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Thursday 29th March

Before Neil and Elaine left on Manday, they managed a few more sightings for us...A Merlin at Kilchoman, a strong passage of Gannets moving South off Machir Bay with several Fulmars seen too. 6 Stonechats round at Ballinaby, another Merlin at Sanaigmore. 6 Wheatear were seen around too. A 2nd year Glaucous Gull was at Craigens, as well as a singing Chiffchaff and a Hen Harrier. The Green winged Teal was out in front of the hide, as well as 4 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, another Hen Harrier and 4 Whoopers. Over at Keills they had a Yellowhammer, and single Grey Wagtails at Bridgend and also over at Port Askaig. From the ferry, they had 2 Golden Eagles and a Peregrine over Islay. In Loch Tarbet, birds included were 28 Red throated Diver, 30+ GND, a drake Common Scoter, 20 Red breasted Merganser and 3 summer plumage Slavonian Grebes. Once again thanks sharing your sightings with us.

Today, down on the reserve on the Oa, Dave and the team had carried out a early season survey on the cliffs of early nesting species, highlights were as follows, 3 Peregrines, 2 male Hen Harrier, 6 Chough, 415 Fulmar, 13 Black Guillemot, 17 Wheatear, 1 House Martin and 1 Snow Bunting. Back to this side of Islay, and this afternoon there was a leucistic Barnacle Goose amongst the flock down at Rockside, could this be the Ardnave bird or another one? Further along a Kestrel was out on the wing.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Wednesday 28th March

The good weather continues, although I believe that Jura could not be seen from Bunnahabhain this morning! Talking of Jura, Neil and Elaine McMahon, who had been up last weekend from Northants, had visited Jura on Monday. Overall they had 8 raptors, White tailed Sea Eagle, Golden Eagle, 6 Hen Harrier, around 20 Buzzard, 3 Merlin, 2 Sparrowhawk which were displaying, a female Goshawk, and a male Peregrine. They had 20 Great Northern Diver, 2 Black throated Diver, 10 Red throated Diver,12 Black Guillemot, 12 Red breasted Merganser, 20 Canada Geese, a Yellowhammer which was singing away, as was a Chiffchaff. Also seen were 15 Stonechats, 5 Wheatear, 4 Crossbills, several Ravens, 20 Hooded Crows. 19 Whoopers flew up the Sound of Islay. Also seen were 21 Turnstone, several Rock Pipits, 9 Golden Plover, and a few Ringed Plover. 3 Otters were seen at Craighouse along with around 20 Common Seals in the bay. Back on Islay, 3 Iceland Gulls were at Bridgend as well as 2 Glaucous Gulls. A Golden Eagle was seen from Jura over Islay! Many thanks to Neil and Elaine for their sightings. The birders from Lancashire had been over on Jura today and had some new sightings for them this week, a female Bullfinch, 2 Long tailed Tits, Yellowhammer at Lealt, Willow Warblers singing down along the River Lussa and a male Hen Harrier "sky dancing"

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Tuesday 27th March

A late entry, sorry folks... Had 3 Magpies today, sorry wrong place as that was in Glasgow... Back to Islay and its birds. This evening was the monthly meeting of the "bird nerds", we had 15 folk there including 5 visitors. Louise had 70 Whoopers flying up the Sound of Islay this morning, and she has seen 3 different Short eared Owls of late on Jura. Visitors told me this evening that they had a flock of 200 Golden Plover round on the ploughed field at Ballinaby, and at the other end of Islay, down at Kildalton they had around 50 Fieldfare together. Other visitors had seen 2 Crossbills on the pine trees at Sunderland Farm along with a mixed group of Redpolls, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and also some Siskin too. Bob had a female Sparrowhawk at home today. Back on Saturday morning, David Formby had a Kestrel mobbing some Meadow Pipits as the ferry left Kennacraig. Carl had a Wheatear at Carrabus, a pair of Reed Buntings at Lyrabus and 18 Whoopers at Gruinart. There was a Swallow seen down on the Oa today and this evening on his way to the "nerds" James had a Sand Martin.

Monday 26 March 2012

Monday 26th March

As I write it is around 19.45 and it is still daylight outside, now that we have changed the clocks what a difference it makes, mind you personally I would not thank you for the clocks not going back as talked about not that long ago. In my student days in Aberdeen, a long time ago, it was tried then and it was long dark in the morning, almost 10 o' clock before it became light, no thanks... Yes, like everywhere else, it has been a great day, outside working in my shirt sleeves, no jersey and it is only March, yesterday I even managed to quickly cut the grass, think that is only the second time in living here 12 years that it has been cut in March!!!

On to birds. Last week on the 20th & 21st the International Goose count was carried out by the team from SNH, the figures tallied through at 46,412 Barnies and 4,309 Whitefronts. The Barnoes are up I think while the Whitefronts are down. Thanks to the tem for their figures. Talking of geese, the Pink footed Geese were seen this morning along at Sunderland again. Steve and the visiting group from Speyside Wildlife headed back to the mainland this morning. Yesterday they had a few Golden Plover on the Rhinns, a small flock of 20 Fieldfare in the Loch Gorm area, and this morning off the ferry had a Black throated Diver amongst the Great Northern Diver coming up the loch into Kennacraig. An Iceland Gull had followed the ferry out of Port Askaig as they left... Steve had been speaking with a lady birder on the ferry and she told him that she had seen a Swallow on Islay yesterday, but she had not told him where it was. Many thanks to Steve for being in touch with his sightings. Our birders from Lancashire saw a Sand Martin at Ardnave today and a Sandwich Tern offshore. James had 18 Whoopers on the flats on the reserve today.

Sunday 25 March 2012

Sunday 25th March

Back on Friday, James and the team at Gruinart had carried out the Red Deer count on the reserve with a tally of 95 Red Deer counted, a figure similar to other years, and in line for the number required for management purposes. Whilst doing the count, some birds were seen too, a total of 7 Hen Harriers (4 Male & 3 Female), 2 Red Grouse, a Golden Eagle up at Ardnave. Back at Gruinart, there was an adult Glaucous Gull and a 1st winter Iceland Gull. A Lizard was also seen out sunning itself. Yesterday, James had 39 Whoopers flying over his house heading North.

First thing this morning, visitors from Lancashire had been up at Sanaigmore and had seen an Otter chasing a rabbit, across the dunes, down a rabbit hole, out again and away they went, possibly it was a young Otter which could tie in as an adult Otter could have difficulty getting in and back out of a rabbit hole! The Northants birders had a Goldcrest in the wood here again today and also a Goldfinch on the nut feeders at the back of the house, it's the first Goldfinch that has been around for a while. Down the road, they had 70 Golden Plover, a Pink footed Goose at Sunderland Farm. Close to Bridgend, there was a 2nd Yr Glaucous Gull eating at a dead Seal, with a Grey Wagtail on the Sorn. On Loch Indaal, off Bowmore, 2 Great Northern Diver and also 4 Red breasted Merganser. At Port Ellen, a male Sparrowhawk was seen, down the Oa, 2 adult Golden Eagles were seen mating, a Kestrel, and male and female Peregrine, Male Hen Harrier, 40 Twite, 2 Rock Pipits, 1 Wheatear, 1 Stonechat, 1 Chough. 3 Fulmars and 3 Gannets were also seen. On the "high road" between Port Ellen & Bridgend, a male Hen Harrier and 5 Stonechats. In the afternoon, 4 Crossbill were seen flying East at Finlaggan. They had also seen 3 Treecreeper while they were out today at different locations. Dave from down on the Oa has returned from his holiday out to South Africa, and today on the River Sorn up behind Bridgend had a Grey Wagtail and also a Siskin. Over at Port Askaig, Dave had an adult Iceland Gull.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Saturday 24th March

The " Bolton Birders", Chris & Tony Johnson have headed off home now, but yesterday before they left, had been over the Ardtalla end of Islay. At Ardtalla they had an Otter, pr Mute Swans, 6 Ringed Plover, 30 Oystercatcher & 2 Buzzard. In the small paddock beside the house there were 24 Chaffinch, 8 Pied Wagtail & 14 Meadow Pipit. Down at Claggain Bay 2 Great Northern Diver,1 Red throated Diver and another pair of Mute Swans. Along at the Keepers House, just at Kildalton Cross, on the feeders, 8 Yellowhammers, 12 Chaffinch & 25 Rock Dove were noted. Kilnaughton Wood 2 Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit & Chaffinch were seen. A Pipistrelle Bat was out on the wing, flying along the road and through the trees. Later on, down on the Rhinns they had a Kestrel, a ring tailed Hen Harrier as well as 12 Fieldfare and 4 Redwing. Coming home after that they counted 7 Herons along at Sunderland. Today, as they waited at Port Askaig on the ferry, they heard a Chiffchaff. Yesterday was Angela Plumb's last day too and in her "Port Ellen" birders guise had 50 Fieldfare on the road over between Carnain and Coullabus. Many thanks to you all for your sighting this past week, along with Danny Arnold who had seen all those Harriers over on Jura.

On to today's birds. The highlights from the Speyside Wildlife group who are over included a Slavonian Grebe and several Great Northern Diver seen on Loch Indaal from Bowmore Pier. Down at Duich Lots they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, while on the Oa they had 2 Golden Eagles, but only 1 Twite was found! Just after Ardbeg at Loch an- t- Sailein an Iceland Gull flew overhead. This evening, at the top of Loch Indaal as the geese were coming in, a Glaucous Gull and also an Iceland Gull were seen.

Our Northants birders forgot to tell me last night that they had a Green Sandpiper down below the Military Cemetery. Today they have been making the most of the good weather. Round Loch Gorm they had a pr of Stonechats, past Ballinby the 2nd yr Iceland Gull was present. At Loch Gruinart reserve they had the Green winged Teal, 5 Gadwall, 5 adult Whooper Swans, 1st male Hen Harrier, 3 Black tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 9 Grey Plover, 2 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin and 4 Ravens. On their way up to Ardnave, they saw a male Sparrowhawk. At Ardnave itself, a female Merlin, 2 Great Northern Diver, 6 Red breasted Merganser, 5 Ringed Plover, ca 12 Wheatear, 1 Turnstone, 2 Razorbill, 8 Gannets, 25 Ravens, 20 Chough, 2 Rock Pipit & 12 Tufted Duck. At Gortan, 15 Pale bellied Brent were present along with 4 Dunlin, 5 Turnstone & a Ringed Plover. 2 Great Northern Diver were on Loch Indaal off Bruichladdich, on Loch Indaal from Port Charlotte, another G. N. D., a Red throated Diver and a Razorbill. Further down on the Rhinns, they had 2 Short eared Owls and a male Hen Harrier as well as a pair of Golden Eagles. There was a Pink footed Goose along with some Greylags too. Several Ravens and many Hooded Crows were seen down that way too. Other birders, today as they arrived had a White tailed sea Eagle over close to Port Askaig, and here this afternoon a Crossbill in the wood, a new tick for me for my garden list... Bob had 2 Goldcrest and 2 Treecreepers in Bridgend Woods today while George has had a pair of Song Thrushes singing away as well as some Blackbirds being active too at his house.

Friday 23 March 2012

Friday 23rd March

A great image taken of a Shelduck by James Deane. James had been down in the hide at Gruinart, Yes, please note the blue sky....long overdue!!!

The "Port Ellen" visiting birders had been over on Jura yesterday and had 2 male and a female Wheatear, just after Feolin, as well as the usual Oystercatchers, a Ringed Plover and a small flock of 5 Turnstone. In Craighouse Bay, they had 2 Great Northern Divers and a Red throated Diver in near summer plumage. They also had the good fortune to watch an Otter for almost an hour too. On the way home they had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle close to Port Askaig. Bob on Wednesday had a Peregrine having a skirmish with a Herring Gull, yesterday he had 2 pairs of Hen Harriers and also a female Merlin on the Rhinns. At Carn, he had a count of 175 Whitefronts. Up beside his house Bob watched about 12 pairs of Lapwing taking up nesting territory, and he also watched a Skylark dust bathing on the track up behind his house. Mary, yesterday had been out Deer counting at Dunlossit, and she had a flock of around 70 Golden Plover at Storakaig, as well as 16 Hooded Crows. While she was out she also saw a very dark mature Golden Eagle. At the end close to Kilbride Farm a flock of over 50 Whooper Swans flew in , heading North West, wonder if they were for an overnight stop at Gruinart? The "Bolton Birders"on Wednesday had single Little Grebes at Ballygrant Loch, Lily Loch, Loch nan Cadhan and another on Loch Allan. There were 7 Tufted Duck on Lilly Loch, 6 on Lily Loch and a further pair on Ardnahoe Loch, also there were 5 Whoopers. 2 Golden Eagles were seen up towards Bunnahabhain with a Great Northern Diver on the Sound of Islay. 2 Long tailed Tits were at the Lily Loch, while Goldcrest were at Ballygrant Loch, Loch Allan & Lily Loch. On the pond beside Carnain, there were 20 Teal and the pair of Mute Swan were also there. Further on, on Loch Indaal, the Canada Goose was in the water. Also at Ballygrant, there was a Mistle Thrush, one in the village itself and another in the woods. Yesterday, they had been up at Killinallan, and in the dunes in a sheltered spot, curled up was an Adder. Along Traigh Baile Aonghais there were 56 Sanderling. At one time they saw 4 Buzzards out over the dunes. Back at Bun an Uillt, mid afternoon, they had 32 Pintail, 12 Shoveler, around 80 Wigeon, 6 Goldeneye, 12 Red breasted Merganser, 50 Shelduck, 1 Greenshank, 16 Redshank, 20 Bar tailed Godwit, 6 Curlew and 2 Great Northern Diver. A pair of Stonechats were seen at Saligo and a male Wheatear at Machir Bay.

On to today now, a visiting birder from Northants had an Osprey fly over Ardnahoe Loch and on towards to Jura and he also had a Goldcrest here in the wood. Out on the Machir towards the War Graves cemetery, he had 4 Wheatear, 7 Chough, and down on the beach were some Sanderling and a few Ringed Plover. Visitors from Lincs had 3 different Golden Eagles on the way up to Ardnave, James had been up that way at the same time and had seen them too and also an immature Golden Eagle too. Finally, some birds in from the group from Speyside Wildlife, who are over for a few days. On a pool at Lyrabus, a Glaucous Gull was seen while on the flats at Gruinart amongst the Barnies, the Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp was noted. A distant male Hen Harrier was seen from the flats. Just up at the car park at Ardnave, a Merlin flew past, over the dunes around 35- 40 Chough were present, 4 Wheatear present and a Raven was seen carrying nesting material.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Thursday 22md March

A great day over here today, I had my first Wheatear down at Sunderland Farm just before lunchtime. Down on the dunes behind Machir Bay another was seen, as was another close to Ballinaby. One was seen over on Jura by a visitor, who later on from the one vantage point had seen a total of 5 male Hen Harriers and 2 females, just stop a moment and have a look around... Back here at home a Chiffchaff was heard at lunchtime today.

Mary had been helping out with the International Goose count held earlier this week, and had on the flats at Gruinart she had a Short eared Owl, a male Hen Harrier and a young Cormorant chancing his luck in the ditches!! Further inland, Mary had another male Hen Harrier and also a male Kestrel. Up at Ardnave Loch, she had the leucistic Barnie. Yesterday, on the flats at Gruinart, Mary had the Canada Goose hutchinsii sp. Round at Bun - an -Uilt there were a large number of Redshank along with 3 Greenshank. In the turnip field at Killinallan, 2 Glaucous Gulls were present. Up off Ardnave Point, a Black throated Diver was noted, in almost summer plumage, a Great Northern Diver was there too and a Kittiwake was seen too. Mary also had a Wheatear up at Ardnave during her travels. Last night on our way back from Port Ellen, we had a Barn Owl on a fence post close to Leorin.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Wednesday 21st March

The visiting birders who are staying over at Port Ellen had an Iceland Gull on Kilnaughton Bay yesterday and they also saw a small flock of 4 Fieldfare on the road leading out to the Oa. The "Bolton Birders" yesterday had an early start with a Peregrine flying off from Kilchoman over towards Coull at 7.30 am. Later on they saw the pair of Buzzards out over the crag. Down beside the lochans at Rockside road end, there was a tussle between a ring tail Hen Harrier and a Raven. 6 Roe Deer were present there too, also 10 Teal were counted on the lochans, while 2 Snipe got up from the ground close to the entrance to Coull. In the afternoon, at Machrie Croft, there was an Iceland Gull and another was round at Ballinaby.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Tuesday 20th March

This morning, Martin saw 2 Pink footed Geese along with some Greylags along at Sunderland Farm. Could they be the same 2 geese that James had along there earlier on this month, Dave and Jeeny also had seen 2 in the same area too when they were over too?

Yesterday, the "Bolton Birders" had seen a Golden Eagle being mobbed by a couple of Hen Harriers while they were round Loch Gorm. They reckoned that it was a first year bird, showing a lot of white on its' wings and tail. They also had a Glaucous and an Iceland Gull with the other Gulls over at Ballinaby. In the woods at Bridgend, a pair of Bullfinches, a Treecreeper along with Blue Tits, Great Tits and also Coal Tits were seen. There were also Blackbirds and Song Thrushes there too, but no sign of any Redwings or Fieldfares.Up at The Woolen Mill, a Grey Wagtail was seen. At Gartmain, there was a flock of around 180 Bar tailed Godwit, while further round on Loch Indaal, below the Coal yard at Gortan, there were 8 Pale bellied Brent Geese and also 2 Turnstone. There have been 2 Pale bellied Brent Geese in with the Barnies up in the Mulindry area of late. Other visiting birders who are staying over close to Port Ellen, had been watching a Glaucous Gull just out of Bowmore yesterday, only problem was that it was feeding on another white winged gull! Over at Saligo they had seen another Glaucous, probably the Ballinaby gull, they also had 2 Stonechats and also a male Hen Harrier nearby.

Monday 19 March 2012

Monday 19th March

This afternoon, we had a pair of visiting birders who just dropped in for a blether, great... they had just seen a Wheatear out on the machir up at the top of the hill. It's good to meet with visitors who are over on holiday, the kettle is usually on, so feel free to drop in when you are over...

This morning just beside Loch Tallant there was a Golden Eagle that was forced down onto the heather by a ringtail Hen Harrier. The Harrier kept on swooping down on the Eagle for some time. Further on there were a couple of Buzzards out on thermal. Earlier on a male Hen Harrier flew across the road close to Island Farm.

Visiting birders from Bolton had been round Ardnave Point yesterday and had 2 Snow Buntings there. They also saw the leucistic Bar tailed Godwit as well as 5 Sanderling at Traigh Nostaig. There were also a further 22 Sanderling up near to Ardnave Point itself. On Loch Gruinart, just down from the parking at Ardnave, 18 Turnstone were seen. On Ardnave Loch, there were pair of Goldeneye, also some Tufted Duck and Wigeon, while there were 4 Redshank on the edge of the Loch and a few Oystercatcher there too. Round Loch Gorm they had 3 pairs of Stonechats at different places.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Sunday 18th March

A great day over here, so good that in between doing other jobs, I even got the whitewash brush out and almost completed the gable end of one of the cottages, the only problem is that the bit that is left is the apex, right up the top, but it will be finished tomorrow if the weather holds good.

Visitors, coming over on the ferry yesterday, had a Peregrine flying over the sea, and it headed off towards Ardtalla. Further on, they saw a pair of Golden Eagles, just after McAthur's Head. Malcolm this morning had a flock of around 25 Whoopers flying North up Loch Indaal past Bruichladdich. Later on there were 12 counted at Ardnave Loch as well as some on Loch Gruinart itself. James had seen Bumblebees out today at Gruinart. There was a Tawny Owl calling away in the trees at Port Askaig this evening.

We had a surfer staying in the cottages last week, who was surfing every day. He commented on how warm our water was compared to the North Sea and the East coast where he usually surfs!!! He had seen an Otter while down at Machir Bay, and another day he had another one along at Saligo.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Saturday 17th March

Mary this morning had a Wheatear down at Claddach at Portnahaven, certainly the first that I have heard of here on Islay this year. Other visitors, of the human species this time, had a male Hen Harrier out down close to Loch Gorm this morning. While waiting at Kennacraig for the ferry at lunchtime, other visitors had a total of 9 Buzzards...Back on Islay and Bob had a male Kestrel chasing a Raven off on the Rhinns yesterday, was it possibly defending its' territory? Along at Loch Gearach, Bob had heard a Water Rail. Today, Bob had a couple of Buzzards and also an Eagle on the thermals above his house. Later this afternoon, he had another Eagle and finally he saw a Short eared Owl out quartering, looking for prey.

Friday 16 March 2012

Friday 16th March

Earlier on this week, Mary along with one of the "vols" at RSPB had carried out a count on Loch Gruinart. Their tally was as follows, 5 Great Northern Diver, 5 Shag, 1 Heron, 174 Shelduck, 189 Wigeon, 20 Mallard, 20 Eider, 5 Goldeneye, 17 Red breasted Merganser, 174 Oystercatcher, 12 Ringed Plover, 1 Golden Plover, 4 Grey Plover, 20 Lapwing, 13 Knot, 25 Sanderling, 192 Bar tailed Godwit, 61 Curlew, 24 Redshank, 41 Turnstone, 20 Greylag, 2 Iceland Gull, 2 Glaucous Gull, 93 Black headed Gull, 207 Common Gull, 16 Lesser Black backed Gull, 16 Greater Black backed Gull & 48 Herring Gull. Their tally from Ardnave Loch was, 6 Oystercatcher, 2 Lapwing, 10 Whooper Swan, 2 Mute Swan, 9 Goldeneye, 12 Tufted Duck, 2 Mallard, 6 Teal, 2 Gbb Gull, 2 Redshank & 20 Common Gull with 4 Chough close to the loch too. Thanks to Mary and Steve.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Thursday 15th March

James yesterday carried out a count on the flats. Top bird was a Green winged Teal. Other birds were as follows, 671 Teal, 66 Wigeon, 9 Gadwall, 4 Little Grebe, 53 Mallard, 50 Pintail, 13 Mute Swan, 58 Redshank, 55 Lapwing, 9 Heron, 39 Dunlin, 34 Shoveler, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Moorhen, 8 Curlew, 9 Whooper Swan, 1 Red breasted Merganser, 21 Black headed Gull, 2 Shelduck, 15 Greylag, 16 Common Gull & 4 Snipe. Round at Craigens, the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull was still present. Over on Jura, 10 Pale bellied Brent Geese were seen at Craighouse.

Martin is back from his overseas trip, before he left, he had countless Tits in his garden, especially Coal Tits, but has not seen any at all since his return, but today had 4 Siskins, 6 Greenfinches, 3 Robins and also a Goldcrest. Yesterday, over close to Skerrols House at Bridgend, Martin had 2 ringtail Hen Harriers together. Also there, amongst the Barnies, Martin had a Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp. I was round Loch Gorm this afternoon looking for a Wheatear, but no joy, for once there was hardly anything around, the odd Hooded Crow, some geese at Rockside, Coull, round at Ballinaby and then a large flock at Rock Mountain.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Wednesday 14th March

Forgot to mention last night that Bob had a count of 40 male Eider out on the Balach Rocks which are about 2 miles NNE of Ardnave Point. Bob reckons that there would probably be a similar number of females too, but proved difficult to see in their drab colours.

Here at home today, 10 Chough flew over the house at lunchtime, and later on the Raven and the Buzzard were having a set too again, wonder who end up top gun.....The Lapwings were displaying on territory quite unconcerned. Some of Margaret's frog spawn up the burn have now got tails on already... Changing the subject somewhat, I noticed back on Monday that someone has been cutting their grass down at Bruichladdich.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Tuesday 13th March

Thanks to James for putting last night's entry on the blog as the old computer here at base camp was playing up... Today Bob had gone up to Ardnave in the hope of seeing the white billed Diver, but no joy. Undeterred Bob sent through his birds. He covered from the mouth of Loch Gruinart round to Nave Island itself, and saw 23 Great Northern Diver, 2 Black throated Diver, 2 Black Guillemot, a few small groups of Razorbill totalling 30 birds. Ardnave Loch had 10 Mallard, 42 Teal, 25 Wigeon, 20 Tufted Duck, 9 Goldeneye and 11 Whooper Swan. A White tailed Sea Eagle was seen over towards Port Askaig this morning.

Monday 12 March 2012

Monday 12th March

The mist swirled around, as the morning glow lightened the sky. Sparkling drizzle drifted in a breeze, until eventually the sun burned through the soft air, to reveal the high pressure skies. The first sign of spring this morning was 12 whooper swans sitting on the mud of Loch Gruinart ready to move North. Bob was out and about and had a 1st winter Glaucous gull at Gartbreck and a water rail at Pennycraig. Then latter in Bowmore harbour there was 4 Goldeneye the 2 males busy displaying. On the South Rinns there was a Short eared owl and 2 Red grouse.
An interesting report came through on the internet of a White Billed Diver off the North of Ardnave. So look out for that one!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Sunday 11th March

A funny old day over here today, yes it has been milder but the mist kept coming and going for most of the time... James saw a couple of Pink footed Geese amongst some Greylags along at Sunderland Farm this morning, earlier on he had a Merlin on the reserve at Gruinart. We had gone down round the loop from Port Charlotte to Portnahaven and returning back by Kilchiaran, in the hope of an early Wheatear. No joy, but at Cultoon, there were 3 different male Stonechats. Yesterday, Bob had a pair of Moorhens on the old Distillery pond up behind Port Charlotte, further on along the road he saw 3 Kestrel. Today between Bowmore and Gartbreck, he had a count of 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 34 Shag, 3 Cormorant, 3 Pale bellied Brent, 17 Shelduck, 11 Mallard, 56 Wigeon,80 Teal, 12 Red breasted Merganser, 6 Goldeneye, 160 Oystercatcher, 86 Curlew, 120 Bar tailed Godwit, 34 Dunlin, 4 Knot, 10 Redshank, 31 Turnstone, 2 Lapwing, 52 Ringed Plover, 12 Grey Plover and a female Peregine to finish the day off!!! The Lapwing were displaying away, great to see.

Saturday 10 March 2012

Saturday 10th March

Back to almost Spring again today, a nice comment on the weather for a change, and it is possibly here for a week, great! But, first thing this morning, there were some Fulmars out soaring about, back and forward along the front of the crag. Later on, there were some Lapwings displaying away too, out over the Machir. Down at Portnahaven, Mary saw the Snow Bunting at Claddach, it's been there for a while now. Further round by Claddach Loch, the Skylarks were in display flight and singing away. There were a few more small groups feeding the nearby fields as well. While driving into Bowmore, Mary and Crystal had a Glaucous Gull feeding in a field along with 2 Herring Gulls. Finally, they had 2 Golden Eagles up the North west coast of Islay.

Friday 9 March 2012

Friday 9th March

It has been a funny old day with the weather over here today. It started off with heavy showers around, then later on it turned out misty, and mid afternoon, the mist lifted and it turned out a not bad day, blue skies with the sun shining. Earlier on this morning, the sea itself was roaring away. So as you may gather, not really a day for seeing birds, oops... One or two were seen, some Fulmars were out in this morning, and over the crag this afternoon a Buzzard was seeing a Raven off, or was it the other way round, I am not too sure! Down on Loch Indaal, below George's house there was a Great Nothern Diver. Bob this afternoon had 2 different Short eared Owls about 2 miles apart down on the Rhinns.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Thursday 8th March

There were a couple of Stonechats on the bushes round at Ballinaby this morning. This afternoon, down at the breakwater beside Bowmore Harbour, 23 Turnstone were huddling up, sheltering away from the wind, in the "harbour" itself there were 2 pairs of Goldeneye present too. Apart from the odd bird seen not a lot was done today on that front, but James and myself were discussing plans through for the Islay stand at the forthcoming Scottish Bird Fair which is to be held at Hopetoun House at South Queensferry on 19th & 20th May. By the looks of things it is to be run along similar lines to the Bird Fair held at Rutland Water. Obviously, it is not as large an event with only around 60 exhibitors and an expected gate of over 5,000 visitors. Our stand again will be a joint venture between Islay & Jura Tourism & Marketing Group, RSPB Islay reserves and Islay Natural History Trust, and we hope to build on last year's success at Rutland, so watch this space for more information nearer the time.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Wednesday 7th March

Back on Monday when we were over at Ardbeg, out towards Kildalton, a Long tailed Tit was seen, and today here at home, the Coal Tit was busy on the bird table, the first time there for a few days, may be he has been eating up his stores before they were "out of date".

David and Jenny on their last day yesterday had been over at Claggain Bay and had seen a couple of Great Northern Divers, a Red throated Diver, 2 Shelduck and further out, 2 Gannets. Over at Port Askaig another G. N. D., and also 4 Black Guillemots. It was too wet to see anything off the ferry on the crossing, plus the fact that the outside doors were locked, so one could not get outside! Many thanks to David & Jenny for sharing their sightings with us.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Tuesday 6th March

Bob sent me through this image of a Short eared Owl which he had taken yesterday afternoon, better still, it was at the roadside and Bob had used his car as his hide! James had a Merlin over the flats at Gruinart yesterday. At Ballitarsin, up between Bridgend and Mulindry, visiting birder Richard Drew along his group of 12, had the Canada Goose hutchinsii sp. Another birder from the Lothians had a total of 95 species in the one day, last Wednesday and by the end of his visit he had 109 in total, great...
By the way, weather not too great here today, and yes, around 12.30 there was another wee rumble, only measuring a mere 1.4 this time. It's only the 10th we have had in the last month, or so the experts tell us!

Monday 5 March 2012

Monday 5th March

Yesterday David & Jenny spent their time on the Oa, with lots of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits & Reed Buntings in a field beside Loch Kinnabus. Closer examination with the scope, and a male Lapland Bunting was present there too! Something spooked the flock and they took off , and although the most of them did return the "Lap" was not to be found again! Also near to the loch were 40 Whitefronts & 20 Barnies. On the loch itself, there were 8 Tufted Duck and pair of Goldeneye as well as a Merlin close by. On the road to the Oa, they had 40 Fieldfare and a couple of Redwing, and at Upper Cragabus they found a Yellowhammer. At Upper Killeyan, David & Jenny had 30 Twite & 4 Linnets. On the cliffs out towards the monument there were around 200 Fulmars.

Today, Bob had a Pectoral Sandpiper along with the Redshank & Greenshank on the floods at Gruinart.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Sunday 4th March

A bit cooler over here today, with the hills over on Mull wearing white caps, here on Islay there has been the odd shower of hailstones, and I heard that the gritters were out on the roads this morning!

Dave & Jenny have moved to stay down close to Port Ellen for their last few days. Yesterday at Claggain Bay they had a Golden Plover, Shelduck and a Great Northern Diver, along at Kildalton Cross, they had around 25 Skylark and a Sparrowhawk, and where they are staying on the road out to the Oa, plenty of Chaffinches are around. They still have not seen a Yellowhammer yet, but there is still time yet...Dave Pitman who was over last week with some birders from Lancs and who was at the "bird nerds" back on Tuesday e mailed through having had a good time. From the ferry coming over, they had 65 Great Northern Diver, 12 Red throated Diver, a White tailed Sea Eagle as well as a Golden Eagle, I was not sure whether they saw the Eagles over Jura or Islay! During their stay they had numerous white winged gulls on their travels around Islay and the Magpie at Ardbeg! On Loch Indaal from Bowmore they had 4 Long tailed Duck and 50 Common Scoter.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Saturday 3rd March

Some more sightings through from David & Jenny from yesterday. From the hide at Gruinart they had 20 Shoveler, 12 Pintail, 7 Gadwall, 1 Little Grebe, 5 Whooper Swan, along with numerous Teal, Wigeon & Mallard. Waders seen were 2 Greenshank, 10 Redshank, 70 Dunlin, 3 Snipe & 2 Black tailed Godwit, a female Hen Harrier was also seen from the hide too. Later on at Saligo, a Merlin was seen and at Ballinaby a Glaucous Gull was present. So in total, that is 100 species this week, time possibly for a few more before they head for home at the start of next week!!!

Friday 2 March 2012

Friday 2nd March

Malcolm had been out on goose counting for SNH today, and at Ballivicar close to Port Ellen, he had a Dark bellied Brent Goose feeding along with the Barnies present there.

Yesterday, David & Jenny had been looking over Loch Indaal from Bowmore. Their birds were as follows, 2 Long tailed Ducks, at least 6 Slavonian Grebe, 17 Goldeneye, 34 Common Scoter, 9 Red throated Diver, 4 Great Northern Diver, a 2nd winter Iceland Gull & 20 Red breasted Merganser. Close to Ballygrant, they had a male Hen Harrier and at Finlaggan they had a Little Grebe and 6 Crossbills. On Loch Gruinart, from the West side they had 3 Greenshank, 4 Grey Plover, 5 Knot, 10 Dunlin, 20 Turnstone, 250 Barwits as well as some Oystercatchers and Curlews. A Merlin was also seen there too. Finally 2 Short eared Owls were seen in the Loch Gorm area.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Thursday 1st March

A great Spring day over here, the birds in the wood are singing away good style, and there were a couple of pairs of Lapwings displaying out towards the War Graves cemetery. At the pine trees down beyond "the hedges" below Sunderland, there were 2 Ravens, 2 Buzzards and a Heron all mobbing each other....I saw a 2 Pied Wagtails this morning at different places round Loch Gorm, a male and then later a female Stonechat. There were 62 Barnies in one of our fields, something we do not many of, and 8 Greylags closer to the house too! The other night, after the "bird nerds" meeting, one of our local farmers was telling me that the geese with him this year were in different places compared with other years, basically there were to be found on the rougher fields.

Following on the "Spring" theme, Bob had seen 2 pairs of Red Grouse, close to where John L. had seen the pair the other day. Bob also had a Meadow Pipit along with 8 Skylarks singing away. He also had seen the Short eared Owl there too. David & Jenny (visiting birders) had seen a male Hen Harrier round at The Gearach yesterday, and had a count of 81 Fieldfare and 10 Redwing there too. They also had a pair of Golden Eagles on the Rhinns. Down at Portnahaven a Gannet and a female Sparrowhawk were present. At Octofad they saw 3 Goldfinch, and later a Merlin on the shore South of Bruichladdich. At Sunderland they had 15 Herons, and at Machir Bay they had 20 Twite fly past