Sunday 30 June 2013

Sunday 30th June

One of the 7 Shelduck ducklings which someone,(no names here Paul), kindly gave us a fortnight ago. The 7 of them were abandoned down on Machir Bay, with no sign of any parents around, the only thing that perhaps saved them from being devoured by predators like Gulls was probably that the beach was busy with folk and there were a few dogs running around. The same ducklings are much bigger now, doubt if they would sit on your hand now, but might try and catch one tomorrow for another image....
At lunchtime today, Peter had a Sandwich Tern feeding just off Bruichladdich Pier. This afternoon coming home from Gruinart, we had 3 different Hen Harriers, a male close to Grainel, a ringtail further along the road towrads the former Kilchoman School and off reserve, below Culbuie towards Grulinmore, another ringtail. We saw a Buzzard further on, just before the turn off leading to Sanaigmore, and finally another Buzzard over the reedbed at the Coastguards' houses.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Saturday 29th June

Peter this morning had walked along the track between Octofad and Ballimony. At the start while going through the fields, Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Skylarks were seen. On entering the plantation, birds changed to Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Robin, Great Tit and a few Goldfinches. A Crossbill was added to Peter's birds as it flew overhead, calling away. Here at home, at one time today there was a total of 11 Greenfinches on the nut feeders, and waiting to go on the feeders, definately a couple of family groups with the youngsters being show how to be fend for themselves. Also saw a young fledged Sand Martin later this afternoon, down towards the Coastguard cottages.

Friday 28 June 2013

Friday 28th June

Mary was shown this image of an Owl taken last week over on Jura, the folk that took the image were unsure of its' id thinking that it was possibly a Snowy Owl, but Mary reckons that it a leucistic Short eared Owl. I wonder if this was the same owl that someone had seen earlier and also thinking of a Snowy Owl too? Today Peter had heard several Grasshopper Warblers singing away down at Foreland. He also had seen a Spotted Flycatcher on the fence there too and there were plenty of Redpolls calling as well. 

Thursday 27 June 2013

Thursday 27th June

Rather a dreich sort of a day outside. It started of with rain through the night and wet first thing this morning, then it stopped and then it became misty or was it a haar rolling in from the sea? The crag came into view for a while, although the tops were still shrouded, as I write this entry at around 9pm I cannot see any of the crag at all.... Luckily for you folk out there, I had forgotten to put on some birds through from Carl last night! Along at Crosshouses, Carl had seen some newly hatched Moorhen chicks. Back outside the Distillery at Bruichladdich, he spotted 2 broods of Eiders, and on Loch Indaal  off Port Charlotte a GND was present in full summer plumage. We saw a pr of Shelduck with 9 ducklings on Loch Indaal, just as we came into Bruichladdich yesterday evening. Bob had not seen the Sparrowhawk of late, but on Tuesday had seen it devouring a House Sparrow with a ring on its leg, one of possibly Euan's birds caught and rung last July!

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Wednesday 26th June

Back to a more normal time for writing the blog, thank goodness. Having said that, around 3 am today, that pesky Corncrake was calling good style close to the garden again, really should learn to shut the bedroom window....Nick has been over again, carrying out survey work on 3 different tetrads around Islay. The main highlights were as follows, in the tetrad North of Bunnahabhain had a male Yellowhammer, several Linnet noted, Black Guillemot on the Sound of Islay, with Redpolls displaying just before entered his survey area. The area round about here at Kilchoman had some Redpoll fly over the whins in the "glen" in the glen itself, Sand Martins were seen at the nest sites there, Sedge Warblers present  in the reed beds, Corncrakes and Chough both heard! Over at Sanaigmore, a pr of Twite were seen, pr of Snipe noted, plenty of Lapwing, Oystercatcher and also Curlew. There was also a pr of Redshank up in the fields there too, while down on the shore, Ringed Plover and a Heron were added. A juv Stonechat and also a Wheatear were seen as well away from the shore. Some Linnets were around too.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Tuesday 25th June

Rather a late entry, in a wee while it could have been an entry for tomorrow, so better press on or it will be...
Tonight was our monthly meeting of the bird nerds here on Islay, we met down close to the airport and then headed down to the Strand and Loch Indaal. We walked along the shore and came across the remains of the Sperm whale close to Knockangle Point. This evening it was up on the beach, when it was first seen it had been on the rocks but with the recent high tides it had shifted. A good selection of birds was seen while we were out. Out on Loch Indaal, GND, Gannets diving, 2 rafts of Eiders in moult around 60 in all, 2 groups of R. B. Merganser, 16 and 26, several Shag. Along the shoreline, there was the Tern colony, with 12 Little Tern and 36 Arctic Terns on nests.Also on the shore were Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and a Dunlin on a rock. 6 Curlew flew overhead. In the back of the shoreline Skylarks were singing away, a distant Wheatear on a fence post, Lapwing on the ground and in flight and some more Oystercatcher seen. Finally there was a Buzzard out as we got  back up to closer to Glenegedale. We had 14 folk out, a good night enjoyed by all. Coming home there were 2 Herons at Gartmain. 

Monday 24 June 2013

Monday 24th June

Today, Mary and Emily had carried a count at Ardnave Loch with the following birds seen, pr of Mute Swans and their 4 cygnets, 8 Oystercatcher, 7 Tufted Duck, 2 Herring Gull, 1 Redshank, 2 Mallard and 3 Blackwits. Down on Loch Gruinart itself, their tally was  1 Heron, 99 Shelduck, 1 Mallard, 36 Eider plus 13 ducklings, the male were all in different stages of moult, 109 Oystercatcher, 11 Ringed Plover, 5 Lapwing, 21 Curlew, 4 Redshank, 32 BH Gulls, 34 Common Gull, 23 LBB Gull, 9 GBB Gull, 57 Herring Gull and 2 Whooper Swan. Over the reserve at Gruinart, this morning Mary had a ringtail Hen Harrier

Sunday 23 June 2013

Sunday 23rd June

Some notes sent in by George from through the week. The Moorhen up on his ponds had got 2 eggs, he has got House Martins, Sand Martins around and also the Swallows in his garage! The Arctic Tern which George can see down on the shore from his house has hatched one of its' eggs, further along the shore he can also see an Oystercatcher sitting on a nest. Going up to Sanaigmore the other day, George heard a Corncrake calling close to the side of the road. Mary yesterday had 2 Golden Plover, and also a ringtail Hen Harrier down at Claddach. There was also a family of 4 Ravens out from one of the gullies. Peter had also been down that way yesterday as well with his visitors. As well as spotting the Golden Plover, they also had hundreds of Gannets flying past Frenchman's Rocks as well as the occasional small group of  5- 10 Manx Shearwaters. Peter's guests have now left, but managed 101 species during their short stay, with the sightings of Sparrowhawk and then later a Merlin, helping to break the magic 100!
Before I forget, the monthly meeting of the Bird nerds will be on Tuesday evening at 7pm. We will be meeting down close to the long stay car park at the airport, to go out for some bird watching and see what we see.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Saturday 22nd June

The weather forecast, glad to say, turned out wrong... it was damp first this morning but by 9 am it had faired up, and apart from another dollop of rain around midday, it has been a good day, this evening blue skies. Also being a Saturday, changeover day here in our cottages, not much time for birds really. After the cottages were finished, some demolition work with the help of James and Henry, in readiness for the builders coming. So the only record that I can give this evening is that while working away, we had 2 Corncrakes calling away, great to hear them. The visitors in the top cottage had seen one of the Corncrakes, out on the grass in their garden yesterday! James learnt a new word today... a dwang, no,  it is not slang, nor a swear word either!

Friday 21 June 2013

Friday 21st June

Another good day with warm weather, but the sting in the tail is here now as early evening, it has started to rain... I did manage to do more than my share of outside jobs before the rain came, so no complaints! Peter had been over at Loch Allan on Dunlossit Estate and had heard Goldcrests, Blackcaps and Spotted Flycatchers all calling away. Peter also saw another dark phase Arctic Skua soaring high up, could this be same bird that he had earlier in the week over on Jura? Finally at Finlaggan, Peter had a Golden Eagle and also a Hen Harrier

Thursday 20 June 2013

Thursday 20th June

Yesterday, James had been up at Ardnave and had seen 4 Eiders with creches of young ducklings, 2 had only 3 but there were another 2 females, each with 11!!! Also at Ardnave, he had counted 6 Common Terns, 22 Arctic Terns and 4 Little Terns. Offshore he saw 4 Manx Shearwater, passing Gannets and also a Tystie. Back down on the reserve at Gruinart, James had seen 2 young Red Deer calves, the first of the year. Armin yesterday afternoon had a Snipe on top of the post out in front of the old hide at Gruinart. This morning Peter had been up at Sanaigmore and counted around 40 - 50 Guillemots on the ledges, and noted plenty of Fulmars as well as a few Razorbills present there too. This afternoon at Craigens, Peter saw a Peregrine stoop and kill a Rook which was on the ground which he had not witnessed before! From the old hide, good numbers of young Lapwing, Redshank and ducks were seen, including a Shoveler with 8 young, and also 3 drake and a female Wigeon. Finally a Swift flew over the visitor centre at Gruinart shortly after 7pm.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Wednesday 19th June

Peter had been over on Jura today, his main birds were as follows. 5 different singing male Whinchat, 1 south of Feolin with the others all beyond Lagg. 2 Short eared Owls were seen, one  below Feolin and the other past Lagg. Hen Harriers, both females/ young males seen below the ferry and also past Lagg.  A dark phase Arctic Skua seen flying over the hills past Inverlussa, raising the question could they still be breeding on Jura? Finally at Lussa itself a Spotted Flycatcher was seen. Back on Islay Peter saw a Dipper on the River Sorn close to the Woolen Mill. Mid afternoon, we had a ringtail Hen Harrier out at Mulindry.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Tuesday 18th June

Another great day out here (heard that before somewhere!), so been busy outside for most of the day. In the afternoon one of the Corncrakes was calling away for some of the time and he was not that far away, they are so secretive, hearing them is one thing, trying to actually locate them and see them is something else. At least I did get my sighting of one the other day! A Cuckoo was calling away up the glen before lunchtime and on the bird table there have been young Starlings, Greenfinches and House Sparrows hanging around expecting their parents to feed them... Over in the reed bed the Sedge Warblers have been calling away for most of the day, can't exactly say they were singing, rather they were making a racket!

Monday 17 June 2013

Monday 17th June

Yesterday, Martin took his birdwatching to a new level, canoeing from Arbeg round to Port Ellen, what a great day to do it on! On Texa, he had seen nesting Shag, as well as Razorbills nesting there too along with a large colony of Gulls. On Texa itself, Martin had seen loads of Greylags along with goslings, but had seen 2 goslings being taken by some of the black backed gulls! Other birds seen on his trip were Arctic Terns, Buzzard, Raven, Black Guillemot, Eider, Mallard, Gannet and Oystercatcher. They also had a an Otter swimming close to the canoes! Visiting birder Viv, had seen a Puffin in a poorly state up at Ardnave yesterday, perched on a rocky outcrop.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Sunday 16th June

Another great day again, perhaps we are in for another wee spell of better weather, fingers crossed.. This morning I was Bob's secretary as he carried out a count along the shore from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, so here are the scores on the doors...7 Dunlin, 3 Redshank, 11 Ringed Plover, 1 Golden Plover, 6 Lapwing, 30 Oystercatcher, 9 Curlew, 1 Barwit, 11 Eider , 3 Red Brested Merganser, 1 Mallard, 13 Shelduck, 1 GND, 2 Greylag, 1Cormorant, 2 Shag, 4 GBB Gull, 8 B H Gulls on nests and another 4, 17 Common Gull, 22 Arctic Tern and 2 Sandwich Tern. Away from the shoreline there were a lot of young fledged Starlings to be seen and heard, Meadow Pipits and Rock Pipits were also seen in good numbers with a few Skylarks up in the air.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Saturday 15th June

After the rain, a great day came along, what else do I need to add but some birds.... Martin had been down at the carcase of the rotting Sperm whale at Knockangle point on the Big Strand. There were a good lot of birds their for some eats.... Martin's tally was 16 Gbb Gull, 2 Lbb Gull, 1 Black headed Gull, 8 Herring Gull, 1 Arctic Skua, 15 Dunlin, 40 Sanderling, 5 Common Sandpiper, 6 Turnstone and 6 Ringed Plover.

Friday 14 June 2013

Friday 14th June

Some sightings through from Mary. Yesterday morning on her way up from Portnahaven, she saw 2 Otters on Loch Indaal off Carn, below Port Charlotte. Along at Whinpark, just after "smelly corner", Mary saw a couple of Bullfinch. Up at Gruinart, on the telegraph wires, she had a House Martin, Sand Martin and Swallow sitting side by side, great for id! Today on the moor at Ardnave, Mary had a pr of Shelduck. Later on a Swift was seen flying along the shoreline there and then finally in a small clump of willow scrub, Mary found a Whitethroat and also a Twite nesting. This morning, it was dry after some rain through the night, but since lunchtime there have been quite a few heavy showers coming out of nowhere. Think the Redpolls here at home have moved on, as we have not seen them for a few days, the Siskins are still present!!!

Thursday 13 June 2013

Thursday 13th June

A visitor earlier on in the week, on Monday, just before midday had seen a possible Black Stork over towards Coullabus. There were 2 different sightings of one on Mull back on the 26th Of May, and another has been seen in the Highland Region since then, so could this be the same bird wandering South again? Today Petere and Pia returned from their trip to China, a great time enjoyed by the sound of things. On their way back though Bowmore they saw a pr of Whooper Swans on Loch Indaal below the generator station. Here at home today, better late than never, the pr of Swallows have got 2 eggs laid now, I had almost given up on them laying eggs this year, lots of activity but no eggs until now! No doubt there will be some more eggs laid. Going round to Gruinart this morning, there was a male Hen Harrier out below Couererach and further round, past Ballinaby another was being chased along by a Redshank.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Wednesday 12th June

After that welcome rain (almost .75" in total), we have had a great day over here again, but the weather forecast for Friday is for some more rain... Today James had a Swift over the reserve at Gruinart, on the ground or possibly on the water he saw a Shoveler with her brood of 14 young. Here at home this afternoon we had the Corncrake calling away with the other one calling up the top, will I get any sleep tonight, better mind to shut the bedroom window before hitting the pillow!!! The young Starlings are out and about, what a racket they make when they are all together...

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Tuesday 11th June

It had to happen sometime, and today was the day that our taste of summer came to an abrupt end. It was just a drizzle first thing this morning, nothing much really but as the day progressed the rain got heavier. Mind you, it's good to have some rain to lay the dust down and it will be welcome by the Distilleries for no doubt some of them will have been keeping an eye on their water stocks! On to birds I hear you all say... Jane Griffiths had a male Hen Harrier out quartering its patch up towards Mulindry yesterday evening. Last night, Margaret heard a Corncrake calling away not that far away from our bedroom window at midnight, easy to hear... it was still going at 3am, mind you I had managed to sleep in between times...Whether it was the male down from up the top I don't know for sure, but there was a calling bird there late afternoon in the rain!

Monday 10 June 2013

Monday 10th June

Bob, Martin and the 2 Daves have returned from helping Crystal carry out a Sea bird survey on Ailsa Craig. The weather had been kind to them and a good time enjoyed by all, apart from the first night over on the mainland proved to be a bit of a tester with plenty of midges around, did anyone count them? Off Gigha they had a Minke whale and also 3 Puffins were seen. Apart from the usual sea birds on Ailsa Craig, they also had a Black Redstart, Willow Warbler and Bob heard a Wren singing away...Yesterday evening back home on the Rhinns of Islay, Bob saw a Short eared Owl, his first for some time and he counted 6 diiferent Whitethroats while he was out. This afternoon, we had a male Hen Harrier out quartering his patch over at Glenegedale.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Sunday 9th June

Danny did not manage to break the magic 100 on his recent trip to Islay,only 95 species noted. He  had not seen Grey Wagtail, Long tailed Tit or Turnstone... roll on next May! Thanks to Danny for sharing his images with us along with his sightings. Jeremy and Kim, the other day had seen 30 Dunlin along at Saligo. Malcolm had heard a Blackcap singing down at the Community Garden at Bridgend early this morning. On our way up to Sanaigmore around midday, we had a cracking view of a Golden Eagle out over the hill behind Coille. This evening going up the gully behind our house there were at least 25 Rock Doves flying around in small groups, more than seen at similar times in other years, possibly as there are no Peregrines around! We also had a Cuckoo fly past when we were there too. The corncrake count last night/ early this morning which we carried out tallied out at 11 calling birds. Conditions were good, as there was hardly any wind which means that there was no noise from sea....

Saturday 8 June 2013

Saturday 8th June

Yesterday the Rochdale birders had seen 2 Swifts down at Portnahaven. This evening on a quick drive round Loch Gorm, you think that nothing much was seen but thinking back a slightly different story. Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Robin, Stonechat, Whinchat, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Starling, Sedge Warbler, Common Gull, Lapwing, Jackdaw and Chough.  And that's what I remember, there could have been more. The Lapwings round at Ballinaby appear to still have a lot of young with them, which is more than be said for the silly pheasant here that hatched 6 but has only one now...As it is so calm at present, perhaps later on/ early Sunday we might even take a turn out to listen for any callling Corncrakes. I saw one earlier on today while I was up the top of the hill.

Friday 7 June 2013

Friday 7th June

The sun has been shining bright all day although not possibly as warm as it has been with hardly a cloud in the sky, and by the look of things it's here for a few more days yet... George had seen 2 Moorhens on his pond, could they be a pair? Further out, George heard a distant Cuckoo calling, with some Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats "singing" away, closer at hand. Carl saw a Sandwich Tern on Loch Indaal off Port Charlotte. Here at home, thinking of the Cuckoo, yes, I have heard them quite often this year, but in the distance, and only the once down here in the wood, not that I would want them calling away early in the morning when I am still in my bed!!

Thursday 6 June 2013

Thursday 6th June

Another great day over here again.... Yesterday, Jeremy and Kim had 2 Whimbrel over at Loch Gruinart, James had a Yellowhammer and also a Golden Eagle over the reserve. Nick had carried out his second round of his tetrads yesterday as well. The tetrad immediately around here proved quite interesting, with the highlight being a total of 13 Chough counted, Corncrake heard in "Minister's field", 2 Twite present as were Linnets, Sedge Warblers and Reed Bunting. The tetrad over beyond Coull, taking in Carn Mor and some of the coastline had a completely different set of birds, Herring Gull, Lesser BB Gull, Fulmars, Black Guillemots, Razorbills out on the sea, Gannets flying past, back on land, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Comic Tern and plenty of Lapwings. Nick's other square was North of Bunnahabhain, on land,  pr Whinchat, Whitethroat and Skylark while out on the Sound of Islay, Gannets, Shag, GND and Black Guillemot  were all seen. Thanks Nick. Yesterday Stafford had a Golden Eagle over behind Ballygrant. He also saw 2 Cuckoos pursuing each other and finally 2 Curlew. Here at home, the Redpolls and the Siskins are still present as were 2 Collared Doves today

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Wednesday 5th June

After last night's shortage of birds, tonight there are a few more to report, so off we go...Yesterday, Carl spotted a tight raft of over 200 Common Scoter on Loch Indaal off Laggan Point. on his way home at Shorefield last night Carl had a full variety of birds singing, Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Song Thrush,  Blackbird, Wren, Linnets, Chaffinch & Meadow Pipits as well. Visiting birder who is over for a few days heard a couple of Corncrakes on the reserve at Gruinart, better still one crossed the road in front of hime, so he saw one too! Jeremy and Kim had seen Common Scoter down at Ellister and also a probable Velvet Scoter there too. David and Jane had a male Hen Harrier up towards Mulindry and also a pr of Linnets. All these sightings were from yesterday. Danny today saw his first Blue Tit on his visit, and also a Coal Tit down beside The Woolen Mill. Danny also had a male Hen Harrier round Loch Gorm over Leek, and also a distant Golden Eagle over towards Saligo. Danny and Dave are now up to 94 species this visit, can he spot another 6 to make a 100? James reckons that the cold weather which we have been having has possibly kept the Scoters here, like the same with some waders last month as well.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Tuesday 4th June

Another glorious day with the sun shining through all day,  as someone said earlier to me earlier on, that he would have to go home and look the "after sun cream" out, not that we are complaining at all. Mike's weather station recorded 19 degrees mid afternoon, I know it was warmer elsewhere over on the mainland.... Apart from Michal leaving for Iceland yesterday, today Bob and Martin headed out to the mainland and meet up with Dave on Wednesday and then down to Girvan to meet up with Crystal and they are all going over to Ailsa Craig to help Crystal carry out a Seabird survey, definitely need the after sun, and possibly stiff necks as well once the job is done.
Margaret had a Starling on the bird table today along with its fledged youngster, the first young Starling of the year here!

Monday 3 June 2013

Monday 3rd June

Martin who  is over here on holiday this week, has given us some sightings that he has had in and around Carraig Fhada/ Kilnaughton Bay. 10 Razorbill, 5 Guillemot, 10 Eider, 10 Arctic Tern, 5 LBB Gull, 10 Siskin, 5 Willow Warbler, 6 Rock Pipit, 6 Oystercatcher, 2 Heron, 3 RB Merganser and 5 Cormorant. Thanks Martin. George was saying that the Oystercatcher the nest on the shoreline had failed, but he has found one up towards his ponds with 3 eggs in it. Paul Graham had a Corncrake calling down the back of Bruichladdich and through the day, Skylarks singing away! James had an Osprey yesterday over Loch Gruinart, with 2 GND in summer plumage on the water itself. Today in front of the Visitor Centre at Gruinart, James had 2 Corncrake and along the woodland trail, he heard a Blackcap.  
Today Michal flew over to Iceland where he will be doing voluntary work for the next 3 months, living in a tent. Hope he knows about the big black mozzies  that are there! All the best to Michal.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Sunday 2nd June

Danny kindly gave me this image of a Spotted Flycatcher which he took earlier in the week. Martin was in touch to correct my statement from last night, it was Golden Plover not Dotterel that he had seen, sorry Martin! He also had 2 pr of Whinchat and about 10 Stonechats on his walk as well as a Common Sandpiper on Loch Uigeadail which is up in the hills above Ardbeg. Today, Danny had a Dipper on the River Sorn and another visiting birder saw Sanderling down on Machir Bay. Other visitors from Oxfordshire had seen a Golden Eagle down on the Oa , seen a ringtail Hen Harrier, a GND just off the Singing Sands all today and had heard a Corncrake calling up behind Machir Bay yesterday evening, so they are well pleased. This evening round at Ballinaby, there were several small family groups of Lapwings along with young, just hope they don't get predated on. 

Saturday 1 June 2013

Sunday 1st June

After the showers this morning it turned out to be a not bad day with the sun shining, not that warm though...
Martin had been out on the hills today down the bottom end (South) of Islay and thought he had a possible sighting of Dotterels, could they be nesting out there? Back on Thursday, Louise had an Osprey over Loch Gorm. Today James had a Whitethroat singing away in his garden at Mill cottage. 
The rainfall here for May tallied out at 4.25" which is wetter than last year but not far of a "normal May".....