Friday 31 August 2012

Friday 31st August

I hope that you have not been expecting to find a wealth of knowledge on the blog tonight, well forget it... The weather today has put paid to that. It has not been bucketing down, yes, it has been damp and dreich with mist down over the crag, but there again the evening plane did make it in which I did not think it would. So, the entry for the blog tonight, is about the young Fulmar from the crag. It happens every year, a young Fulmar launches itself from the crag hoping to make it out to the sea, most years we have been fortunate to see the grounded youngster as they cannot get off the ground to fly on again. The plan is really simple, catch the same bird put in a box and take down to the sea, but the try not to get spat upon by the darned youngster... Got it caught okay and took it down and released down on Loch Indaal. No doubt it will lose some weight and be able to fly and live to a ripe old age.... End of the tonight's entry...

Thursday 30 August 2012

Thursday 30th August

One or two birds from earlier this week that I forgot about...coming home on Monday evening we had a Barn Owl close to Sunderland Farm. Andy Robinson who works with RSPB had been over on Islay briefly on Tuesday and Wednesday, Andy saw 2 White tailed Sea Eagles over towards Port Askaig. Some you may remember that Andy was one of the "Islay team" down at the Bird Fair at Rutland earlier this month. Yesterday Carl had seen a Swift along with other hirundines over the barley fields at Rockside. We saw a few Wheatears yesterday on our way out along the side of Loch Gorm and there were a couple more there this morning, one of which looked like the larger Greenland Wheatear. Yesterday, John Lee had been over towards Bunnahabhain and had seen a Golden Eagle, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 2 Turnstone, 1 Great Northern Diver and a Kittiwake. Between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich, John had 2 Buzzards and also 50 Curlews. This morning, Bob had an Osprey out over Loch Gruinart and saw that it had a BTO ring on its' leg. There were 6 Sanderling down at Blackrock this afternoon and also a family of Stonechats between Coulererach and Torran over towards Saligo.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Wednesday 29th August

Yesterday, Mary had her own "raptor trip", while trying not to outdo Louise! Up at Ardnave, close to the lobster ponds, Mary had a juvenile Merlin, a ringtail Hen Harrier at the farm steading, and a male Kestrel at Loch Langadale. Later on, while driving home, Mary had a Sparrowhawk by Gruinart House. James had been out yesterday doing a count of 1277 Greylags on the "run" round Gruinart which he normally counts while goose counting for SNH. Over at Killinallan, James also had 2 Peregrines. Back on Monday, the "vols" at Gruinart had seen an Osprey at the head of Loch Gruinart. Also yesterday, there was report by visitors of seeing a Marsh Harrier between Loch Indaal and Loch Gruinart, but I have not heard anything further, another visitor told me that he had seen a Golden Eagle out over the crag here at the weekend. Also yesterday, Bob had the Sparrowhawk swoop through his garden, and this morning Bob counted just short of 300 Greylags out in front of his house. He also saw a Merlin and a Kestrel. As I write this entry, just before 6pm there is a Peregrine up on top of the crag, watching all that is around.... 

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Tuesday 28th August

Louise phoned over today from Jura... on her journey down from her house at Gatehouse, up past Craighouse down to the ferry at Feolin, she had a "raptor road trip". 4 Buzzards, 5 Hen Harriers, 2 Peregrines, 2 Short eared Owls and then a White tailed Sea Eagle over the Sound of Islay while she was waiting for the ferry! One of the Peregrines flew from Jura over to Islay. John Lee, a visiting birder over here for the week had seen the following today. 40 Curlew at Port Charlotte, a Razorbill on Loch Indaal off Port Charlotte, around 60 Chough, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier and a Buzzard all at Ardnave. Yesterday off Port Charlotte, John had several Kittiwakes.

Monday 27 August 2012

Monday 27th August

A mixed day with heavy squally showers with the odd glimpse of sun, and also another rumble at 13.58, was it yet another earth tremor close to Islay? As the weather has not been good for birding, John Lee sent through some sightings from yesterday. Over Loch Gorm, John had an Osprey, 2 Twite at Sanaigmore, also 2 Chough at Sanaigmore, at Saligo 3 Fulmar were seen and also 6 Sanderling. Down close to Port Charlotte, John had a count of 20 Curlew. Thanks John.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Sunday 26th August

Yesterday, Michal had a count of 11 Mistle Thrushes and also a Buzzard down at Foreland. Michal saw another Buzzard later on over towards Finlaggan. The "bird nerds" met up this afternoon over at Gruinart led by Michal as James is off colour. Bob, George, David Formby our local dentist, myself plus Allan and Fiona from Edinburgh and also Alan and Jane from Southampton made the group up. Michal took us out past the sea wall on Loch Gruinart which allowed us to see more of the birds on Loch Gruinart itself, sorry Tom nobody did an actual count! The highlight was the sighting of 2 Ospreys, one was in the air for quite some time while the other bird was content to be sitting on one of the sand bars. We were down there for the best part of 2 hours and the Osprey on the ground was there all the time! On another sand bar there was a Peregrine, while overhead we had a couple of Buzzards calling away. There were plenty of Curlews out towards the mouth of Loch Gruinart along with some Oystercatchers there too. Close to where we were positioned were a few Ringed Plover. There were some Knot, Sanderling and Dunlin on the wing as another Peregrine flew up the loch. Redshank, and a few Godwits were also noted too. Coming back home there were a few Stonechats along the bushes on the roadside round Loch Gorm and later on when I was up looking the sheep on the crag around 25- 30 Rock Doves flew off in different directions.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Saturday 25th August

An e mail through from Dave from the Oa with some highlights on Oa reserve this year include 60 breeding species, 8 fledged Chough from 3 pairs, 2 calling Corncrakes and 6 Cuckoos, 8 different species of wader bred round Loch Kinnabus, 1 pr of Hen Harrier fledged 2 young despite the female bird dying before the chicks fledged. This was the first pair to breed on the reserve for a few years. Yesterday morning, Becky Williamson had an Osprey at Uiskentuie, it came off Loch Indaal and flew up towards Loch Gruinart. Paul Graham had a male Hen Harrier fly past Bruichladdich, also on Friday morning. This morning, Bob had down a count on Loch Indaal between Bowmore and Gartbreck with the tally coming through at 360 Greylag, 3 juv Shelduck, 2 Mallard, 36 Oystercatcher, 58 Curlew, 2 Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 9 Knot, 3 Bar tailed Godwit, 19 Sanderling, 60 Dunlin, 1 Turnstone, 35 Ringed Plover, 2 Heron, 28 Shag, 38 Twite with a large juv. Peregrine watching all that was going on!
On Sunday, at 12.30 the "Bird nerds" are holding their monthly meeting, a change from the Tuesday night slot as the weather is not looking too good, so if you are around, meet up with us at the Visitor centre at Loch Gruinart when we hope to do some wader watching and see what is happening on Loch Gruinart itself.

Friday 24 August 2012

Friday 24th August

Down at Bruichladdich on Wednesday, George saw a pod of 6 Dolphins following one of the boats close to the pier. Later on at home he had a Sparrowhawk. The same day, James had 1 Greenshank, 1 Ruff,  9 Snipe and a family of Spotted Flycatchers on the reserve. On Loch Gruinart itself, he had a count of 148 Redshank, 140 Knot, 3 Black tailed Godwit and he also saw a Wheatear. Yesterday, Michal had a flock of 500 Starlings close to Loch Gorm and also a Swift flying past in the same area. Today, James had a Green Sandpiper on the reserve at Gruinart.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Thursday 23rd August

Bob sent through this image of a young Sparrowhawk taken the other evening just as the light was starting to fail, better still it was taken through his kitchen window! Yesterday over at the hide at Gruinart, Bob had mixed flocks of House Martins, Sand Martins and Swallows. He also had lots of Meadow Pipits along with a few Reed Buntings. Further out he had a count of 250 Greylags, 20 Teal, 1 Snipe, 2 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 1 Grey Plover flying along with 50 Curlew and also 3 White Wagtails at the hide itself. On reaching home, there was a female Sparrowhawk in his polytunnel! This morning Bob was down at Frenchman's Rocks for an hour and counted 25 Shag, 2 Razorbill, lots of Manx Shearwaters, 50 Fulmar, 50 Kittiwake, 2 Greater Black backed Gull, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Sandwich Tern, 6 Oystercatcher, 1 Knot, 22 Redshank and 4 Turnstone. This morning, Mary had a Whitethroat just behind the RSPB office at Bushmills, Gruinart.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Some sightings from Monday from Nick, on Loch Gruinart, in the morning, he had a count of 43 Black tailed Godwits while in the afternoon, over the top end of Loch Indaal, Nick saw an Osprey. Back to last Wednesday, Bob and myself  saw 8 Basking Sharks off the ferry, 3 at Port Askaig at Freeport and the others as we went down the Sound of Islay on the Islay side. On Thursday, visiting birder, Alistair Hart had seen an Osprey over towards Loch Gorm, at Sunderland there 4 fledged Cuckoos. Alistair also spent some time doing a bit of sea watching down at Frenchman's Rocks and had Gannets, Manx Shearwater, Fulmars and Kittiwakes. Back to today, and Michal had seen 2 Golden Eagles down on the Oa and a survey tallied through at a total of 17 Chough present there too.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Tuesday 21st August

Yes, the Islay team did us all proud down at the Bird Fair at Rutland Water, the "undercover judges" were out unknown to us on Friday snooping around. We did not even know there was such a competition, and then on Saturday afternoon, we were "presented" with 3rd prize in the Tourism section. Not bad going as there were around 140 exhibitors alone in this category. The winning exhibit was the Trinidad and Tobago stand, but we reckon that it was drinking our whisky that made Newton, Nigel, Jason & co so laid back.....For those of you out there who do not know us all, in the above image is Bob on the left, Dave from the Oa , then me, Ian holding the certificate and on the right is Andy Robinson who also works with RSPB. We should also like to thank all the Distilleries who kindly donated Whisky and Gin for us to give to folk as tasters, and also Calmac, our ferry operator who provided us with ferry tickets to enable us to attend both to the Scottish Bird Fair and also to Rutland. A special mention is due to our "vols" who I had press ganged to give us some time off, so thanks to John, Dot, Andy, John, Karen, Hilary, Danny & Wanda, much appreciated.
While we there , we saw different species of birds not often seen here, the resident "Rutland water Osprey", Hobby, Red Kite, Tree Sparrows, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Turtle Dove and some Bullfinches too. Even a Nuthatch was on the feeder where I was staying. Back to Islay birds tomorrow night. Thanks to James and Michal for doing the blog while we were away.

Monday 20 August 2012

Mon 20th August

A good day today, sun with the odd shower. The clear air allowed great view of the Gruinart mud which is covered in waders. There has been an influx of waders, especially ringed plover, with a least 200 and maybe as many as 500 on the Loch. Other birds on the Loch included, a group of 119 redshank, 99 knot and 6 black tailed godwits. The waders are really moving through now. A count of the Gruinart fresh water floods produced: 12 herons, 96 teal, 3 moorhens, 1 little grebe, 1 greenshank, 31 mallard, 3 wigeon, 1 golden plover, 2 whooper swans, 29 curlew and 11 mute swans. The day has finished up with birthday cake all round, celebrating Eleanors 13th birthday.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Sunday 19th August

Another decent day, nice and sunny with a bit of breeze just to keep the midges away. Nick has been out an about again and saw 105 knot, 20 blac-tailed godwit, 2 bar-tailed godwit, 1 ruff and 95 dunlin amongst the waders on Loch Gruinart. He also saw a peregrine plucking an oystercatcher  on the saltmarsh. The kill has been later taken over by a buzzard. On Loch Indaal Nick had 54 bar-tailed godwits (including a colour ringed bird) and two greenshanks.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Sat 18th August

A warm day with not as many midges (thank goodness). Nick has been out and about: with 78 knot at Loch Gruinart and 11 ruff, 2 bar tailed godwits, 15 black tailed godwits, 1 greenshank and 7 knot on Loch Indaal.
At birdfair the stall has been busy, all have been enjoying themselves.

Friday 17 August 2012

Friday 17th August

A miserable morning here on Islay with a lot of rain and strong wind turned eventually into a beautiful afternoon and later into an amazing evening. Midges are loving it! During the trip between the reserves this afternoon, towing a heavy flail mower behind a quadbike going barely 15mph, gave me a good opportunity to have a nice close look on a female hen harrier hunting along the road next to Loch Gorm. Just past Ballinaby there was a flock of 50 herring gulls drying their feathers after all that rain and mixed flock of about 80 linnets and twite feeding feeding along the road. James saw a couple of whitethroats along his track, commenting that it had been good few weeks since he saw any on the reserve. The picture below does not show a bird as you would expect for a bird blog but proves the seriousness of the midge situation mentioned above. This is how my windowsill looked like after about an hour when I opened my window. All alive and ready to bite. You can try to count them!

Thursday 16 August 2012

Thursday 16th August

Oops missed a posting yesterday, but a few goodies to report today. The weather has been good with sunny periods and just the odd shower (ok yesterday afternoon got a bit wet). Yesterday morning I was adjusting the water levels in front of the hide at Gruinart. This flushed all the hidden birds and gave me a good, if brief chance to see what was lurking on the wetland : 1 greenshank, 1 wood sandpiper, and 2 black tailed godwit. Also reported from Loch Gruinart (on the 14th) 3 ruff and a whimbrel and at Ardnave on the 15th another ruff. This morning I had 425 greylag geese on my way to work at Gruinart.
Good luck to Ian and the team setting up the Islay stall at Birdfair- make sure you all say hello, if you are at the fair.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Tuesday 14th August

A mixed day out here with some heavy rain showers thrown into the mix, then a few moments later, brilliant sunshine. Round at Ballinaby this afternoon, there were over 200 Greylags on the silage aftermath, and also a few lbj's in flight. Coming along to Coull a Buzzard was on a straining post having a good look at a young rabbit on the roadside. Most of the rest of the day was spent finalising off jobs needing done ready for the big off to Rutland, Dave and Bonnie are on their way with and an overnight stop in Glasgow. There is bound to be something that is forgotten, last year it was water for the whisky....

Monday 13 August 2012

Monday 13th August

It had to come sometime, the rain that is, not that we have had that much, it has not stopped the farmers from their grass silage... On one of the recently cleared fields over at Gruinart, this afternoon there was a large flock of Starlings grubbing around. Earlier on and still on the reserve there was a ringtail  Hen Harrier. Here at home there were over 20 Golfinches out in the trees, and while I was sitting having my tea, I saw a Kestrel out the kitchen window. Talking of rain and there is another warning of a possible landslip regarding the Rest & be Thankful, the main road out of Argyll from Lochgilphead towards Glasgow....

Sunday 12 August 2012

Sunday 12th August

John Cameron from Bowmore kindly sent this image through taken the other day whilst he was out walking in the woods at Bridgend, amazing what you come across sometimes, old saying, right place, right time.... Here at home this morning there were 8 Song Thrushes and also 8 Blackbirds out on the back grass! Back on Wednesday, Bob had a great day, seeing a male Sparrowhawk fly down his drive, a male Kestrel over Bolsay moor, and another over Port Charlotte. Further down on the Rhinns, Bob had an adult Golden Eagle, with another seen later on out "thermaling". Back home Bob had a couple of Ravens calling away directly over his house. Bob also commented on the number of young Buzzards around this year, possibly due to a better success rate this summer.

Saturday 11 August 2012

Saturday 11th August

This morning, Margaret had a Pied Wagtail up on the bird table in the garden, we often have them down on the grass, but on the actual bird table was a first! Yesterday morning, Bob had a female Sparrowhawk  hunting over his hedge, in the afternoon in his garden, Bob had over 20 Whinchats and around 40 Redpolls flew over his house, while in the early evening there was a Short eared Owl flying out over the rushes in the fields close to home.

Friday 10 August 2012

Friday 10th August

Another day like yesterday with blues skies and sunshine, I bet the folk that are over here on holiday are not complaining!!!  I spoke this morning with one family who could not believe their luck with the weather.... Net result not much actual birding done, out and about today I had noticed a few more Greylags to be seen again! This morning I spent some time getting things into place for the trip down to the Bird Fair, not long now, Dave is leaving on Tuesday evening and Bob and myself  leave on Wednesday and meet up with Andy on our way South, so must try and ensure that we have not forgotten anything for the stand.

Thursday 9 August 2012

Thursday 9th August

A glorious day over here, what is so surprising is that the weather held today for the local Agricultural Society Annual Show. Sometime the weather leading up to the Show is mixed, the ground gets muddy and so on, the other alternative is that on the actual Show day, it is wet or equally as bad is that it is muggy and out come the friendly midge!! But none of that this year, wall to wall sunshine, blue skies and warm with it too, and the exhibitors did us all proud, a good number of folk came and swelled the gate as well, well done to everyone...
Net result, not much attention to birds, but Margaret saw a ringtail Hen Harrier as she was driving, close to Foreland. Last night, down beside the airport, the Roper family had seen an adult Otter cross the road in front of them, they stopped to look and the Otter returned back across the road but this time behind the car!!!

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Wednesday 8th August

Back to me again, thanks Michal for putting yesterday's entry on. Yes, computers are great when they are working, but when they are down and not working, well a bit like us humans one could argue! This morning I had a new tick for the garden bird list, a young Stonechat was out on the back grass. Certainly I have seen them out on the crag and round about but not down on the lawn as such. This afternoon, James had an Osprey over on Loch Gruinart, it later flew up the loch towards the mouth of the loch at Ardnave. Apart from the computer being out of action, I managed to busy myself with doing some final jobs to be done  for the Bird Fair next week, yes next week and we set out on Wednesday and should be down there Thursday afternoon to set the stand up ready for Friday and all the visitors...Bob is coming down as is Dave from the Oa along with myself and Andy from last year, plus we have "badgered" some volunteers to swell our numbers to help out too over the 3 days of the event!!! Almost forgot, Mary had a Whooper Swan up at Gruinart at the start of the week, and on Sunday in the Sound of Jura while coming back over on the ferry, Mary saw a Basking Shark. A fisherman from Portnahaven had also seen one on Sunday up the West coast of Islay, his first for this year.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Tuesday, 7th August 2012

Ian asked me today to do the entry for him since his computer is saying "NO" again. It has been nice, sunny and still day here on Islay definitely worth to spend it outside. Down on the Oa Dave, Stef (volunteer) and myself (Michal), while building the boardwalk towards the monument, we had five choughs flying overhead. Beki while doing her guided walk had a fantastic view of golden eagle, peregrine and probably the same five choughs as we. Crystal, while doing her survey, had a good view of a pair of golden eagles for about ten minutes. Up here at Gruinart there is large flock of greylags (about 600).

Sunday 5 August 2012

Sunday 5th August

This morning, Becky and Lorna had a Whooper Swan on Loch Indaal swimming in past at Bowmore. Bob and Martin this afternoon had a count of 16 Herons at the top of Loch Indaal close to Bridgend. Also present were 15 Redshank and 30 Shelduck. On Loch Skerrols, they saw a Little Grebe and also 22 Mute Swans. This evening the 2 Buzzards were out on the wing over crag close to the house, and there was a further two far out up the gully, again on the wing.

Saturday 4 August 2012

Saturday 4th August

Just as Michal was leaving the house here last night, we had flock of over 300 Starlings fly past, wonder where they are roosting about? While Michal was here a Peregrine flew past the kitchen window, out to the crag. Late this morning on the overhead electric cables there was a count of 64 Swallows, now this evening there are just a few flying around, so could the majority of them have headed on, no need to fly away from here today, as the weather has been first class, no complaints! Over the crag this afternoon, a couple of Buzzards were calling away as they flew around.

Friday 3 August 2012

Friday 3rd August

Yesterday, Mary had a small group of 20 Redshank flying over Portnahaven from MacKenzie Island, there were also around a dozen Dunlin as well as 2 Ringed Plover with them. Near to Wester Ellister Mary had a male Hen Harrier. Here at home, this morning over the wood a ringtail Hen Harier ghosted past. In the garden this evening, a game of threes, a hen Pheasant with 3 young, 3 Blackbirds and 3 Song Thrushes.While along the track to Grainel, James saw 2 Swifts fly past. 

Thursday 2 August 2012

Thursday 2nd August

Bob had been down at the "old" hide at Gruinart this afternoon, 3 Whimbrel were seen flying over high up, and a further 2 or 3 could be heard on Loch Gruinart itself. At high tide, 3 Greenshank came in and then a low flying Heron flushed out a Wood Sandpiper. On the floods, there was also a drake Wigeon in eclipse plumage. James had seen 2 Whooper Swans  and also a young Buzzard on the reserve today as well.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Wednesday 1st August

Another month in, with the rainfall tally a mere 4.25" for July... Since emptying out the rain guage out before 8 am, there has been a healthy start to August with 0.25".... and now this evening to cap it all we hear that the Rest & be Thankful road on the mainland has been shut yet again because of a landslip, thankfully there is an hour long diversion going round by Dalmally.... Thought this was meant to be a blog about birds I can hear you say... well the rain today has spoilt it as far as any birding could not be done! On the road today down to Port Ellen and beyond we counted 3 fatalities on the roads, all Hedgehogs... back here at tea time and that young aggressive Starling with the ring on its' leg was in good form clearing the bird table so it could get the lion's share of the food on offer, may be it could win a medal at the Olympics but not sure if  it  would be in the featherweight category....perhaps I should stick to the day job!!!