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...