Saturday 30 November 2013

Saturday 30th November

Visiting wildlife photographer, Marcus Conway sent through some sightings he had yesterday, at Bruichladdich, Purple Sandpiper were present. Up at Ardnave, Marcus had a Pochard present on the loch there, a Hen Harrier and also 25 Twite were also seen, while over at Bunnahabhain, a Black throated Diver was in the Sound of Islay. Today Ed, who is over doing work on behalf of WWT into the Greenland Whitefronts, had a quick scan along the shore at Bruichladdich with Purple Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Sanderling and some Pipits noted. Earlier on, in the bay at Port Charlotte, Ed had a GND. He was also saying that he has been listening to Starlings mimicing other birds, with one the other day trying to be a Barnie...The other day, I heard that the large flock of Starlings down at Gretna had caused a power outage when they landed on the overhead power lines!!!

Friday 29 November 2013

Friday 29th November

Another month almost in and most of the visiting birders have headed home, getting ready for Xmas one asks, buying pressies and thinking of Xmas cards, the annual round of parties over the festive period.... Yes, you have got it in one no birds around today, will have to keep an eye out for that Brambling, did it fly away as I had no food out whilst I was absemt? I was reading in a Bird magazine this afternoon about a pr of Ravens being seen down close to Peterborough, well Mike you should come up here and see the numerous Ravens on Islay....

Thursday 28 November 2013

Thursday 28th November

Back from a short trip out to the mainland, so many thanks to Dave down on the Oa for doing the blog in my absence. Today I have been at a meeting for most of the day, stuck inside looking out over a flat calm Loch Indaal, apart from a excursion to a different chair in the Dentist's.... Problem there sorted until the next visit!!! Marcus Conway had been over earlier this week and had seen Woodcock at Gruinart, over at Kilchoman, Twite and a Merlin were present with another Merlin over on the Oa. Close to ardbeg in the woods there were 3 Redpolls spotted.

Wednesday 27th November

Not much news sent through so just more birds from the Oa. Another good day for seeing raptors, with Golden Eagle, Merlin, male and female Hen Harrier, 3 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk all seen whilst out and about today. Yesterday 2 Goldeneye were on Loch Kinnabus, a Red Grouse was seen on the hill and a good count of 93 Rock Dove also at Kinnabus.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Tuesday 26th November

Today the WWT guys, whilst carrying out research on Greenland White-fronted Geese, had seen 2 Golden Eagles and a Peregrine at Coille, Merlin at Kilchoman and Tawny Owl at Gruinart. On Sunday they also had a young Golden Eagle, a White-tailed Sea Eagle at Gruinart.
Back to today, James had 2 Goldcrest and 2 Hen Harriers also at Gruinart. Whilst RSPB volunteers, John and Amy, had 14 Yellowhammer, 12 Curlew and a Chough all at Kintra.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Monday 25th November

Whilst gathering sheep on the hills of the Oa today we saw 2 Golden Eagles, 3 Woodcock, 5 Snipe, and a female type Hen Harrier. Some counts from the Oa from last Friday included 427 Twite, 51 Chaffinch, 54 Golden Plover and a Grey Wagtail.
Today, Pete had seen a Water Rail well when flushed from a ditch at Bolsa Track near Port Charlotte. The saga in his garden continues with a very bold rook flying off with the food he put out for the Blackcap yesterday. Undaunted he has crushed another one of his fat balls and put that in a more sheltered spot in the garden in the hope that smaller birds may find it more accessible......

Sunday 24 November 2013

Sunday 24th November

A beautiful calm day. Out along the coast today past Ardbeg, with Islay canoe club, we had two sightings of White-tailed Sea Eagles, 3 Black Guillemots, and 10 Great Northern Divers. The GND's were making their unusual eerie call constantly whilst we were on the water.
Pete tells me he has a fine male Blackcap in his garden hedge at Bruichladdich. Concerned for its well being he has been trying to coax it with one of his fat balls, but so far it seems disinterested.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Saturday 23rd November

Ian away for a few days and no news sent through as yet, so I thought I would just post a nice picture from yesterday of the twite flock on the Oa. Spot the greenfinch!

Friday 22 November 2013

Friday 22nd November

Earlier on this week, the first International Goose count of this Autumn, was carried out with the whole of Islay being counted all on the one day, rather than some routes one day and the other day on the second day. Having said that when the International count is carried, it is done over 2 consecutive days with average count for the 2 days being the actual figure... So after all that the figures this week's count tallied through at 46,931 Barnies and 5,888 Whitefronts, not sure on the first count last year, but I think the Barnies could be down a bit. Thanks to Tracey and the team from SNH for these figures. The 2 days when the count was carried out was far from ideal. Malcolm this morning had a juv WTSE on the shore over on Jura between Feolin and Inver. Martin had been out  for a walk down at Avonvoggie today with 5 Crossbills being seen Also present there were 3 Bullfinches, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Snipe, a female Sparrowhawk, there were also many Robins and Wrens too. Peter and Pia saw 2 Red Grouse out towards Bolsa this morning. With Loch  Indaal being flat calm, Peter did a scan out over the Loch from the pier at Bruichladdich. Peter's tally was as follows, around 40 Shag, 4 Cormorant, 58 Red throated Diver, 23  GND, 2 Black throated Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 169 Eider, 5 Mallard, 56 Common Scoter, 49 R. b. Merganser, 1 Goldeneye, 48 Greylag and 1 Black Guillemot. There were few gulls around a total of 10 consisting of a mixture of Greater black backs, Herring and Common Gulls. Peter also had a female Sparrowhawk fly past along the shore.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Thursday 21st November

Back on Tuesday morning, Malcolm had counted 7,800 Barnies resting up at the head of Loch Indaal. This morning while going into Bowmore Malcolm had seen 2 juv WTSE on the mud flats after the former blacksmith's at Pennycraig, no doubt sussing up which Barnie to have for eats!!! Ken and the Burbage birders had their last full day yesterday, they had an adult WTSE past Bridgend, up at Bunnahabhain a dog otter was present while in the Sound of Islay off Coal Ila, 2 Red throated Divers were seen. Thanks to Ken and his group for their highlights. Today, Peter had a Woodcock on the track leading to Bolsa up behind Port Charlotte. The Brambling is still present here at home and tucking in to the food on offer!!!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Wednesday 20th November

Peter has returned from leading a birding trip to Peurto Rico and the Dominican Replubic, needless to say he is feeling the cold! Peter had 12 Whoopers fly South down past his house yesterday. Ken and the Burbage Birders had another good day yesterday with the following birds seen. At Blackrock 141 Scaup, from the Generator station at Bowmore, out on Loch Indaal, 5 Long tailed Duck, 13 Slavonian Grebe, 20 Common Scoter, 7 Dunlin and 16 Ringed Plover. At Kilnaughton Bay, 13 Ringed Plover with 6 GND offshore. Along on the Claggain River a Dipper was added to their list. Back over on the Oa, a Kestrel was seen, a male Hen Harrier, a male Merlin while on the actual reserve, 2 Golden Eagles were seen from the car park and then going home, they had a small flock of 43 Twite at Risabus and finally 29 Barwits on Loch Indaal at Springbank. The Brambling was still here today on the bird table! I forgot to mention that the other day, Paul Graham had a Woodcock over at Ballygrant, and James had one on the resere at Gruinart last night
Next Tuesday evening, the Bird nerds meet up at 7.30pm in bar of the  Lochside Hotel in Bowmore for our informal meeting, all welcome if you are over on Islay!!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Tuesday 19th November

Yesterday, the Burbage birders had seen 3 Lapland Buntings down below Rockside. Over at Gruinart, they had a Peregrine sitting on top of a fence post at the Visitor centre. Up at Ardnave Loch, 23 Whoopers and a Long tailed Duck were present. Also there were were 43 Chough. They also saw a male Hen Harrier just at dusk as they returned to Port Charlotte. Dave down on the Oa had a White wagtail yesterday and also a White tailed Sea eagle. Today over the reserve, ave had a flock of around 50 Fieldfare and another of 16 fly past, and also  40 Redwing overhead! Here at home I had to be content with a Brambling on the bird table!

Monday 18 November 2013

Monday 18th November

Yesterday, the Burbridge birders group arrived here on Islay. Coming over on the ferry, they had seen 2 groups of Red throated Divers as they entered the Sound of Islay, 33 in one group, and 27 in the other group. Off Port Askaig they had 2 Black throated Divers and a Long tailed Duck. Today Ed had been down on the Oa where he saw a Hen Harrier, a Merlin and a Peregrine. Highlight was 2 Golden Eagles spoofing the geese on Loch Kinnabus. At Cornabus, Ed spotted 6 Pinkies amongst the other geese present there.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Sunday 17th November

A quiet day with birds here today, all the folk that contributed over the past few days have headed home.... Going over to Gruinart this afternoon we had the usual Buzzard out on the wing. While having a cuppa with James and Sally, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past and put the Barnies up. Coming home, there were a couple of Stonechat on the gorse close to Coull. Here at home, there were a few Redwings around and in the dyke (wall!) up at Shepherd's cottage a Wren was calling away. Will have to try to educate the birds to come up there to get fed, once we move next year!

Saturday 16 November 2013

Saturday 16th November

Thanks to James for yesterday's entry, could you really see me kayaking??? Thanks also to John Wilson for some of his sightings while he was here last week. As some of you may already know, John was the original warden for RSPB at Leighton Moss and remained there until he retired. Yesterday down behind Machir Bay, John had around 120 Golden Plover and also over 20 Chough seen there too. Dave Pierce had been over with another group from Naturetrek, think it is their their 3rd trip to Islay this Autumn , with another group over just now! They had been seeing Long tailed Ducks on Loch Indaal, 3 Purple Sandpiper at Bruichladdich, a flock of around 400 Twite on the Oa, around  90 Ravens on the Glen road, with 4 Black Guillemots and 1 Black throated Diver seen off Port Ellen as they left on the ferry.  

Friday 15 November 2013

Friday 15th November

A busy day for me today and busy emptying kayaks this evening. A few birds around the Gruinart reserve. A White Tailed Eagle juv sitting on the salt marsh surrounded by barnacle geese at dawn. 15 Whooper swans arrived in front of the new hide and a male Hen Harrier near the visitor centre.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Thursday 14th November

Over at Claggain Bay today, John W. had 2 Long tailed Ducks, earlier on he had 2 Goldcrests and a Treecreeper on his way there. Later on he had a male Hen Harrier while over on the Oa. Yesterday Ed had 5 Goldeneye and 2 Long tailed Ducks on Ardnave. There appears to be some more Long tailed Ducks around this Autumn round Islay.  Wearing his official "hat" Ed saw 2 collared Whitefronts both caught and collared in Wexford, one was originally caught in 2001 and last seen back in 2007 and then had gone awol since then, until Ed saw it again.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Wednesday 13th November

Yesterday, there was a reported sighting of a late Swallow over the rooftops down at Port Charlotte by Carol Andrews. Today over at Gruinart, John W. had 3 Greenshank together and he also saw the Green winged Teal amongst the Teal present. Later on, John had a female Hen Harrier and over at Craigens a Grey Wagtail was present. Here at home there have been a few Greenfinches on the bird table and the Goldfinches are making a quick job on the Nyjer seeds each time when the feeder is refilled, a couple of years ago they did not want to know about Nyjer seeds, changed days!!!

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Tuesday 12th November

John  W had 13 Ravens together up at Ardnave yesterday and thought that he saw from a distance the Snow Buntings that are up there at present. I was sent a tremendous image of one taken the other week by Gordon Yates, but you will have to wait as the old computer is holding together with a wing and prayer, just waiting on a new one coming through and then you can see it, promise... it will be worth the wait!!! John W also commenting on the lack of ducks on the floods at Gruinart and wondered if the Hen Harriers and the other raptors were causing the ducks to be away somewhere safer! Ed had been down on the Oa yesterday and had seen 2 Peregrines there, one of which was spooking the Mallards on Loch Kinnabus big style!! Sally Henderson had a Merlin sitting atop a fence post at Ardnave. Today Sally was watching an Otter in the bay past Ardtalla when a WTSE came into view, both less than 50 metres away....The WTSE then flew on inland. This afternoon we had a Peregrine fly across the road close to McNicholl' croft. Later on a couple of Buzzards were standing alongside a dead goose down at Whinpark, with  a Black back just waiting for its' share if any pickings were left!!!

Monday 11 November 2013

Monday 11th November

Forgot to mention some birds from Natalie that she had seen back on Friday... Up at Ardnve Loch, Natalie had 11 Whooper Swans, 4 Mute Swans, 3 Heron, 3 Goldeneye, 3 Tufted Duck, 2 Long tailed Duck and 6 Mallard. Yesterday, Dave had 8 GND in Kilnaughton Bay off Carraig Fhada lighthouse. This afternoon from the car park on the reserve at the Oa, he had 2 Golden Eagles and then 2 Hen Harriers! Visiting birder John W. had a great sighting of a male Hen Harrier close to the cottage where he is staying this week. Later on, he had a Merlin close to Loch Gorm, over at Sanaigmore 21 Chough with a further 30 in another flock up at Ardnave. This afternoon, we saw a Peregrine sitting on a farmer's calf creep on the high road, just up behind Gartmain. The number of raptors around this Autumn are really great to see, having said that, not so many Kestrels have been seen of late. I have seen 2 dead geese over the last couple of days each being eaten by a Buzzard!!

Sunday 10 November 2013

Sunday 10th November

A really nice day over here today with the view up to Mull giving us the sight of the snow on tops of the hills there. This morning I went out and gave Bob a hand to do his Webs count from Bowmore down to Gartbeck with tally as follows, 5 GND, 3 Heron, 50 Shag, 3 Greylag, 2,500 Barnies, 51 Mallard, 260 Teal, 241 Wigeon, 13 Red breasted Merganser, 5 Eider, 2 Long tailed Duck, 6 GBB Gull, 120 Herring Gull, 20 C. Gull, 54 Oystercatcher, 40 Curlew, 3 Barwits, 13 Redshank, 12 Turnstone, 10 Snipe. Malcolm had 13 Whooper Swans flying down Loch Indaal, late morning.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Saturday 9th November

Natalie had carried out the Webs count at Gruinart yesterday with the scores on the doors reading as follows, 2GND, 6 Cormorant, 4 Shag, 9 Heron, 69 Shelduck, 112 Wigeon, 56 Mallard, 2 Eider, 33 R B Merganser, 117 Oystercatcher, 38 Ringed Plover, 660 Golden Plover, 6 Grey Plover, 168 Lapwing, 56 Sanderling, 22 Dunlin, 139 Barwits, 110 Curlew, 71 Redshank, 41 Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, 11 Shoveler, 23 Pintail, 4 Gadwall, 30 BH Gull, 61 C. Gull, 47 H. Gull and 4 GBB Gull. Ian and Susan had seen a leveret while on the Moorland walk at Gruinart yesterday.  Thanks to Ian, Susan and Michael for their input over the last week, as ever greatwhen visitors feed their sightings to us to share with you all. Mark and Sally had been over the previous week and their visit had a sad sighting as they had seen a dead Water Rail on the road between Bridgend and Bowmore, with the poor bird struck by some vehicles.

Friday 8 November 2013

Friday 8th November

Some birds through from the Naturetrek party who were over earlier this week, down on the Oa they had a male Hen Harrier, female Merlin, a flock of around 150 Twite, 25 Whopper Swans flying over the Oa, a Black Guillemot in winter plumage at Bowmore, with around 70 Scaup on Loch Indaal. Off Port Charlotte a 1st winter Arctic Tern was spotted, possibly the same bird that they saw the previous week.  On the Sound of Islay, at Port Askaig, 6 Common Scoter and a Long tailed Duck were added to their list. Yesterday, up at Ardnave, Malcolm had 20 Snow Buntings. Today, James had a Golden Eagle on the reserve at Gruinart. James also had a total count of 1600Golden Plover. Down in the stubble field beside the Coastgard cottages, Michael had a count of 22 Chough along with some Rooks, Jackdaws and Hooded Crows. Over at Gruinart, he had a Golden Eagle, possibly the same one that James saw, a male and female Hen Harrier, a Sparrowhawk spooking up around 80 Chaffinches at Craigens, along at Coullabus a large immature female Peregrine on a fence post! Over at Ballygrant Loch, 2 pr of Mute Swans, 5 Greylags, 4 Mallard, 1 Cormorant and a Heron. A walk through the woods there produced 120 Wood Pigeon, 2 Meadow Pipit, 12 Wren, 9 Robin, 19 Blackbird, 5 Song Thrush, 1 Redwing, 5 Dunnock, 1 Stonechat, 2 Goldcrest, and Treecreeper. Also seen were 5 Coal Tit, 7 Blue Tit, 8 Great Tit and 3 Chaffinches. Returning home Michael had a Golden Eagle at Erasaid on the edge of the reserve at Gruinart, the many Golden Plover, at Ballinaby a female Merlin and round Loch Gorm itself 2 ringtail Hen Harrier

Thursday 7 November 2013

Thursday 7th November

Yesterday James had a Brambling in his garden at lunchtime! This morning looking out at the willows in the garden here at home, there was a charm of at least 50 Goldfinches. Ian and Susan (visitors from Cumbria) had 2 GND and 2 Red Breasted Merganser in the bay below the Dower House past Kildalton. Michael had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier scaring off all the ducks away from the floods at Gruinart. The said Harrier kept quartering the floods but to no avail as it had already moved any "takings" on! Michael also had an immature Golden Eagle over the reserve this morning as well. Later on, a Merlin flew across the road as Michael headed into Bowmore. Finally coming home, he had a male Hen Harrier close to Foreland. The weather today, well, squally heavy showers with the wind gusting to 49mph just after 15.00 according to Mike's stats!

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Wednesday 6th November

Yesterday, Bob and John O had been over towards Bunnahabhain. On the way there, they saw 3 Bullfinches on the overhead wires and several flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare migrating through. At Dunlossit, a male Sparrowhawk was seen, and back at Port Charlotte, John O had a Merlin fly past the kitchen window this morning! Michael this morning counted 28 Whoopers fly out to sea from down at the Coastguard cottage. Left behind in the field was a Pinkie along with the Greylags, and also a Pale bellied Brent amongst the Barnies!!! The 2 Long tailed Duck were still on Ardnave Loch, over at Traigh Nostaig, 36 Ringed Plover, 21 Sanderling and 16 Turnstone were present with 48 Chough working their way at looking for food in the sea weed. On the floods at Gruinart, a Hen Harrier put up a Blackwit. Over at Bun an Uillt, 71 Shelduck, 57 Pintail, 40 Shoveler, drake Gadwall, 19 R B Merganser, 2 Greenshank and 5 Turnstone were seen on Gruinart estuary. On the road back down close to Craigens, a Grey Wagtail was seen. Coming back to his cottage, Michael had 2 ringtail Hen Harriers.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Tuesday 5th November

A better day here with the weather, much better than the forecast which was predicted, glad they got it wrong.... Michael had been over at Gruinart today where he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, a count of 216 Teal, 690 Golden Plover,a nd had another 6 Whoopers flying in from the North down into Gruinart. Up at Ardnave Loch, Michael had 4 Goldeneye, 2 Long tailed Duck and 75 Fieldfare, over at West Carrabus 220 Fieldfare were present. At Bridgend a WTSE was seen with 320 Golden Plover and also 100 Barwits. A walk in the woods at Bridgend produced 5 Long tailed Tits and a pr of Bullfinch with a Dipper on the River Sorn. Coming home, Michael had a male and also a  ringtail Hen Harrier close to  Loch Gorm

Monday 4 November 2013

Monday 4th November

Loads of birds- Yesterday Bob and John O were out birding. At Laggan Point they had a White Tailed Eagle, at the Laundry Loch 1000 Teal, 400 Wigeon and 12 Whooper Swans. At Skerrols, Lots of swans- 54 Mute Swans, 52 Whooper Swans, 68 wigeon, 1 Little Grebe and a Coot, at Blackrock 158 Scaup and finally at Gartmain a Sparrowhawk. Also seen yesterday a Green winged teal from the hides at Gruinart. Today Micheal had - 59 Hoodies (the crow sort) at Rockside, 3 Hen Harriers, 54 Pintail and 280 Golden Plover at Gruinart. He then moved on to Ardnave- 15 Snow Buntings, 55 Twite, 29 Ringed Plovers and 14 Rock Pipits and on Loch Indaal 36 Red Throated Diver, 17 Great Northern Diver, 23 Slavonian Grebes, 80 Common Scoter, 13 Long Tailed ducks, 81 Red Breasted Mergansers and 34 Pale Bellied Brents. Amy on the Reserve at Gruinart also found 1 Redpoll and 40 Fieldfares.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Sunday 3rd November

Yesterday, after it dried up a little, Bob and his friend John O had taken a quick round out round the Rhinns. Gearch Forest held 20 Goldcrest and 6 Coal Tit . Off Frenchman's Rocks several Gannets and Kittiwakes were noted and coming up towards Carn on their way towards Port Charlotte, a Merlin was ahead of them! Several groups of Redwing and Fieldfare were also seen while they were out. This morning, George had a female Sparrowhawk at his home, offshore on Loch Indaal he counted 50 Common Scoter. Visiting birder, Michael had seen 2 ringtail Hen Harriers over at Gruinart, a Peregrine over at the Duich Lots, on the RSPB Oa reserve, 2 Golden Eagles, a ringtail Hen Harrier, Merlin and a Sparrowhawk. At Leorin, a Golden Eagle was seen on the wing while close to Storakaig 52 Ravens were present. At Blackrock, on Loch Indaal, 93 Scaup were present along with a Goldeneye. At Rockside, a pr of Hen Harrier were seen and then on a "game crop", there was a flock of around 130 Linnets.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Saturday 2nd November

Yesterday, Gordon and Pauline Yates had a Sparrowhawk, a ringtail Hen Harrier, a Merlin, 40 Golden Plover, 1 Pale bellied Brent Goose along with the Barnies and also 5 Whooper Swans. At Bridgend, 200 Golden Plover and a WTSE were seen while up at Sanaigmore a Snow Bunting was present in the car park at "Outback Art". Gordon and Pauline, along with The RAFOS group headed back home this morning, so many thanks to you for sharing your sightings with us while you were over. Today, the weather has  not been very great, the rainfall since around 08.00 yesterday to around mid afternoon tallied through at least 1.5", boy was it was wet around midday today....Ed late afternnon ventured out and saw some Chough coming in to their roost behind Machir Bay

Friday 1 November 2013

Friday 1st November

Thanks to James for writing last night's entry. PC still on the blink but the wee laptop has come to the rescue.... As it is the start of November now, the rainfall for October tallied through at 6.75", glad to see the back of it! Robin from Yorkshire dropped in this afternoon for a blether and the obloigatory cuppa. Highlights so far from Robin were as follows, on Loch Gruinart close to Bun an Uillt, Gadwall, Grey Plover, and Greenshank were seen, Sanaigmore Bay had 2 GND and 2 Otters at the same time! On the darkening the other evening, a WTSE was causing concern to the Geese present. Today down on Loch Indaal, off Gortan, Robin saw a Goosander. Robin also commented on seeing more WTSE this visit compared to Golden Eagles!