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!!