Tuesday 31 December 2013

Tuesday 31st December

Another year almost in, so a great deal of thanks is due to all the various folk who have kindly shared their sightings throughout the year, it's thanks to you all out there that give me the info to help put together the entry each night!!! Today at lunchtime, Carol Andrew had a Jay down at Bridgend, the first sighting of one here on Islay since 1998! Yesterday, we had a male Hen Harrier on the wing down close to Gartmain, and another between Foreland and Rock Mountain. On the reserve at Gruinart, James had a flock of 26 Golden Plover and 6 Gadwall out from the new hide with 3 Greenshank out in front the old hide. Marc yesterday had the same birds at Gruinart as well, the Glaucous Gull was still at Bruichladdich, on the pond up behind Port Charlotte, a Wigeon and also a Moorhen. Below Rockside, a Merlin was chasing a flock of 32 Reed Bunting with no joy! Round at Coull, he had a hybrid Barnie X Canada amongst the Barnies there, also present was a large flock of Gulls and also 100 Lapwing and 130 Curlew present. Another visitor told Marc of seeing an Iceland gull at Uiskentuie, late afternoon yesterday. Today James had a male Hen Harrier on the reserve at Gruinart.

Monday 30 December 2013

Monday 30 December

Thanks to James to writing the blog while I was down South in Surrey enjoying Xmas, think I missed all the stormy weather although there was frost on the cars when we headed for Gatwick yesterday morning.... we are not used to frosts over here!!! Down there, we saw Foxes(2), Molehills, Grey Squirrels, Green paratkeets, Green woodpecker, Magpies, Jays, Nuthatches, which we not see here on Islay, the odd Magpie yes, and the even rarer (to us) Green woodpecker. Yesterday Malcolm had a first winter Glaucous Gull in his garden at Bruichladdich, visiting birder Marc Eden had 7 Purple Sandpipers at Bruichladdich along with the Glaucous Gull, 130 Scaup on Loch Indaal with 5 Long tailed Duck also present there. Going over the moor to Gruinart, a Golden Eagle was seen above Cnoc Don, further on a flock of 60 Skylarks were noted and then on the rape field at Corsapol, 80 Twite were seen. Other visiting birders, Graham and Catherine Whitby had seen a Greenshank at Bun an Uillt.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Sunday 29th December

Another nice day. I had a walk at Ardnave, just up the west coast far enough to enjoy the sand, sea and big swells. Saw a few birds- small groups of Ringed Plover and Sanderling on the coast, 10 Whooper Swans on the Loch and a Hen Harrier near the farm. Bob had also been out enjoying the break in the weather. He had done a count at Gartbreck: 2 Great Northern Divers, 36 Shags, 1 Cormorant, 5 Shellduck, 53 Mallard, 176 Teal, 2 Pintail, 1 Eider, 1 Goldeneye, 3 Red Breasted Mergansers, 3 Herons, 50 Oystercatchers, 14 Curlew, 3 Bar Tailed Godwits, 5 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover, 1 Grey Plover and 45 Lapwing. Best of all though, not far from his house nr. Port Charlotte, he had good views of a male Marsh Harrier. Bob was out on the hill yesterday near Bolsa and saw 2 Red Grouse and a Bullfinch.

Friday 27 December 2013

Friday 27th December

I had a slow drive to Bowmore today, spending time birdwatching on the way. The windy weather made it difficult to pick birds out, but I found a few- 2 Long Tailed Ducks, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 2 Common Scoter, a Kittiwake and some Scaup. I met a birdwatcher who had seen a Snow Bunting at Ardnave and had 2 Golden Eagles over the Oa yesterday.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Thursday 26th December

A lovely day, calm and sun, after so much windy wet weather. The wind on Christmas eve made the Whooper Swans move with 24 on the Floods at Gruinart. Otherwise, all the birds of prey were out hunting today, making good use of the weather break, 2 Hen Harriers and 4 Buzzards al over the reserve at Gruinart. Anyway, I am off to eat the Christmas scraps.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Tuesday 24th December

A stormy day- winds pushing water up onto the road around Loch Indaal, leaving the road covered in seaweed and rocks, with froth like bubble bath floating in across the Island. A few birds: A Merln and 9 Whooper Swans at Gruinart and 50 Pale Bellied Brents at Blackrock. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our readers.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Sunday 22nd December

Computer and internet are up and running at Grainel again so I can up date you all with some Islay bird records. On Friday Mary had a trip around Ardnave- 9 Mallards, 1 Little Grebe, 20 Whooper Swans, 3 Mute Swans, 5 Wigeon, 126 Teal and 5 Goldeneye as well as 12 Choughs and 11 Reed Buntings at Garraeallabus. Mary has also been seeing a Barn Owl most Mornings in Portnahaven near the old primary school. On the reserve at Gruinart Hen Harriers have been frequent with 2 ring tails hunting today.

Friday 20 December 2013

Friday 20th December

Tracey kindly sent through the figures from the International Goose count which was carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday with the scores on the doors tally through at 36,244 Barnies and 5,869 Whitefronts. The tally for the Barnies is well down on the 2 previous years, while the Whitefronts are up in number. Thanks to Tracey and the team from SNH for sharing these numbers to us. Been a funny old day with the weather, with the wind starting pick up this evening again, as long as it drops down tomorrow morning, I will be happy....

Thursday 19 December 2013

Thursday 19th December

Yes, it was a windy night last night, and just before midnight, the power went on and off several times, and finally it stayed off, so it was off to bed, mind you I was just in bed, the power came back on, so I just stayed put, enough said... Yesterday, visiting birder Ian Stewart had seen a couple of Golden Eagles while he was down on the Oa. From the Gaelic centre outside Bowmore, on Loch Indaal, Ian had 8 Long tailed Ducks, up at Gruinart, a ringtail Hen Harrier was out on the reserve, and finally down at Bruichladdich 4 Purple Sandpipers were present. Thanks Ian for your birds.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Wednesday 18th December

Bob was out helping with the International Goose count today and had seen 2 White tailed Sea Eagles out over the hills between Newton and Ballygrant, earlier on at Carrabus Bob saw a Pink footed Goose amongst some Whitefronts. This morning on my way over to Gruinart, I had a first, briefly, a male Hen Harrier was sitting on top of a fence post before it flew off! At Grainel there were 12 Reed Buntings and along the road past Loch Gorm House, a Merlin flew across in front of us. Up towards Killinallan, a Snipe was flushed out of the roadside ditch. The wind (yet again) has started to pick up.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Tuesday 17th December

Time is flying past this month, the month is half way past already, and come to think of it in a fortnight's time, the end of the month and the end of another year, and in between Xmas has to fitted in as well, think of all those extra pounds that we will put on, and so easily too, not so easy to loose.... Bird news is scarce today, down on Loch Indaal, the usual culprits were around with Wigeon down at Gartmain. With the full moon last night and some of the geese used it to graze while it was light, net result was that they were roosting up around the head of Loch Indaal, having said that no sign of a White tailed Sea Eagle out on the wing looking for some easy prey... On the weather front, the wind has started to pick up and it is a lazy wind too, just going straight through you, better wrap up to keep warm tomorrow!!! The birds on the feeders today did not waste any time in devouring their food that was put out, another sure sign that the temperature is set to drop a few degrees...

Monday 16 December 2013

Monday 16th December

Heard this morning, that the Reindeer got off Islay safely yesterday, relief all round! Today James did a count at Gruinart of the Geese present.... 5,413 Barnies (up on the last count), 342 Whitefronts (high for December), 49 Greylags, 11 Whoopers and 640 Lapwing. James was saying that there appear to be a few Whoopers still moving through, certainly on Friday I saw 4 at Coull and about 2 hours later they had moved on. Down at Rockside feeding amongst the silage for the livestock were some Whitefronts with Barnies in the next field, no sign of any Golden Plovers today!

Sunday 15 December 2013

Sunday 15th December

Although it has remained dry here today, it was quite windy this morning, the ferry was disrupted and did not leave until 14.00, wonder if the reindeer left or not? Earlier on this week Nat and her team did a Chough count at various roosting sites round Islay with a tally of 103 Chough being seen. Earlier this week, I read that the Corncrake numbers were well down, but luckily for Islay, our numbers remained similar to last year with 87 calling males being heard. Yesterday down in one of the fields at Rockside there were around 50 Lapwing, 50 Golden Plover and a similar number of Starlings all hunkered up on the ground, trying not to get blown along....

Saturday 14 December 2013

Saturday 14th December

The weather has been rather windy over here today, with Calmac cancelling the morning ferries and with the ferries back to normal this afternoon,. More important it stayed dry for the Reindeer pulling Santa and his sledge through Bowmore, what a crowd turned out.... The "ice rink" had been moved indoors and proved popular by all accounts too. Well done to all those involved in organising both events. Natalie and her team yesterday had carried out a count on Loch Gruinart, their tally was as follows, 1 Heron, 183 Shelduck, 162 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 7 Mallard, 4 R B Merganser, 7 Pintail, 36 Shoveler, 1 Goldeneye, 198 Oystercatcher, 53 Ringed Plover, 445 Golden Plover, 95 Lapwing, 400 Dunlin, 174 Barwits, 96 Curlew, 36 Redshank, 5 Turnstone, 96 C. Gull, 5 LBB Gull, 181 Herring Gull and 6 GBB Gull. On Ardnave Loch, their scores on the doors were 63 Teal, 5 Tufted Duck, 39 Whoopers, 3 Goldeneye and 29 Wigeon. Thanks Nat.

Friday 13 December 2013

Friday 13th December

Friday the 13th may unlucky for some, but not for us as we have several sightings for you tonight....almost forgot, the reindeer arrived safely, getting away home to Aviemore on Sunday could be a different story!!! Peter had seen the Pale bellied Brent at Blackrock today with over 45 Geese present. Ed had a Golden Eagle between Bridgend and Ballygrant, a Merlin at Gorm and a Goosander on the Laggan. James today had a count on the floods at Gruinart with his tally coming through at 3 Heron, 1 Whooper, 50 Wigeon, 86 Pintail, 57 Teal, 1 Mute Swan, 195 Mallard, 6 Gadwall,5 Curlew, 7 Redshank, 36 Greylag, 1 GBB Gull, 85 C. Gull, 6 H. Gull, 377 Lapwing, 94 Dunlin, 424 Golden Plover, and also 4 Stonechats!

Thursday 12 December 2013

Thursday 12th December

Sorry folks, nothing much to report on the bird front today, was in touch with my usual reliable sources but with no luck.... Mid afternoon, the temperature was up to 13 degrees, and coming back down to the house then, I noticed Dandelions out in bloom, daisies out in the grass, the daffodils are through the ground and over in the wood, snowdrops are peeping through as well, come to think of it the first of the lambs will soon be here around the end of the month... Another happening tomorrow is the arrival of the reindeer who are coming to lead a procession through Bowmore along with Santa and his sledge on Saturday afternoon...

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Wednesday 11th December

Another good day over here again for the time of year, with the temperature in double figures... This afternoon, Mary had been up at Ardnave where she saw a Merlin out over the dunes, also there were 7 Ravens, a Buzzard and 2 Hooded Crows. Back down on Ardnave Loch, Mary counted 65 Teal, 5 Tufted Duck, 10 Wigeon, 9 Goldeneye, 1 Heron, 1 Pochard, 39 Whoopers including 3 juveniles and a family group of 2 Mute with 2 youngsters. There were also a further 2 Hooded Crows present there as well. Over the reserve at Gruinart James saw a Golden Eagle, while down at Blackrock he counted a group of 53 Pale bellied Brents.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Tuesday 10th December

For sure, it has been a day to see some raptors. Mid morning there was a Sparrowhawk cruising around above the wee wood here at the house. At lunchtime, the Buzzards were out crying about as they do. This afternoon down close to McNicoll's croft, a Merlin was seen and then coming home, another Sparrowhawk was down at the Coastguards'. In between times, there were 2 different groups of Pale bellied Brents on the go, one at Glenburn close to Blackrock, the others were along at Gortan, the exact numbers I was not sure of as I was driving and in the middle of traffic so could not slow down or stop, possibly the 40 odd group from Bowmore split in 2 groups...

Monday 9 December 2013

Monday 9th December

The word dreich should not be used today to describe the weather, as it has been a not bad day considering that it is December.... Back on Friday, James had a count of the geese present on the reserve at Gruinart, a low count so I am told by James with the tally coming through at 3,475 Barnies, 260 Whitefronts and 34 Greylags. Also seen were a male and 2 ringtail Hen Harriers as well as a female Merlin. Today, James had a male and a female Merlin having a tussle above the floods... Peter had a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk over at Killinallan with a few Snipe down on the foreshore.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Sunday 8th December

If yesterday was a dreich sort of a day, well I am not sure how to describe today, well it was dreicher if there is such a word, around midday the question was, "will it get any brighter today", the answer was NO. Cut a long story short only birds I saw was a small flock of 40 Golden Plover round at Ballinaby along with a few Starlings apart from the usual culprits on the bird table and the Pheasants.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Saturday 7th December

Rather a dreich sort of a day out here, but for sure the wind has dropped, the ferries are sailing and the plane came in this morning, what else can you ask for??? On a different tack, not birds either, down at Bowmore there was a large mobile generator delivered in, possibly in readiness for a switch in the power supplies to Rockside as it is soon to get 3 phase electricity, we will just have to wait and see...Right back to the bird blog now, at Bowmore on Loch Indaal at Bunanuisg (where Islay Farmers used to trade from) there were over 40 Pale bellied Brent, hard to get an exact count as they bobbed about in the water, 10 Whoopers including 2 cygnets, a pr of Goldeneye, 7 Red breasted Merganser, several Wigeon. On the shoreline 11 Greylags rummaging around on the tideline, 3 Turnstone and a few Oystercatcher at the water's edge. Further along there were a few Mallards and the odd Redshank. Coming home down at the Coastguard cottages, a Peregrine screamed past putting everything up in panic! Nina had 4 Whitefronts with collars on, 2 HX, 3 HX, 5 HX and 3 HU, and I have passed these on to Ed who will update Nina with their history. I think that these are some of the geese that were caught and rung last Winter over at Ballinaby, but Ed can keep us right.

Friday 6 December 2013

Friday 6th Decmber

Better get a move on and write this entry as the power is liable to go off at any point, don't fancy the lot of a linesman with the power companies over the past few days....Bob had been out today, up at Ardnave Point a male Hen harrier seen, on Ardnave Loch 47 Whoopers were present, coming back towards Gruinart along the road, a Sparrowhawk while on the reserve 300 Golden Plover were present, back down at Bowmore there were 42 Pale bellied Brent Geese. Amy today on the reserve had counted 40 Pintail and also 100 Shelduck. Peter was down on Machir Bay, and counted 35 Ringed Plover, on the tideline there were over 50 Rooks, 6 Chough and 12 Hooded Crows. Along on Loch Gorm there were 45 Curlew and also a pr of Goldeneye. Paul G. was on the phone to say that over the past few days that there have been more Goldfinches on the bird table over at Scannasdale outside Ballygrant. Paul has been seeing Hen Harriers regularly out behind Ballygrant of late as well. This morning, here at home on the grass in the garden there appeared to be more Blackbirds around, rather than just the odd one. The Goose count yesterday was cancelled because of the weather out and about....

Thursday 5 December 2013

Thursday 5th December

Apologies to those of who may have kept looking last night for yesterday's entry, well I did write it up but due some computer glitch somewhere, it just would allow me "publish" the said entry until today. And even then I had to wait until our power supply was restored, by which time it was almost midday today... On Monday Ed had seen 3 Hen Harriers whilst he was out round the Rhinns, later on up on Ardnave Loch, he counted 14 Goldeneye. On Tuesday, down at Uiskentuie, Ed saw an adult WTSE, and at Cruach behind Bowmore, 2 Golden Eagles were present. Yesterday, down at Ballivicar outside Port Ellen, Ed had a ringtail Hen Harrier flushing a Snipe. Also yesterday, James a Woodcock on the reserve at Gruinart, and also a count of 1,000 Golden Plover. James also was telling me that Ed's 2 Whitefronts with neck collars 21 and 22 are still present at Gruinart, so keep your eyes open for those neck collars and we will pass any sightings on to Ed. Thanks should be given to the hard working crews who have been working hard through today's weather in re-connecting us on again so quickly, well done lads! By the way the plane did not come today at all, while Calmac' evening ferry was the the only ferry connection here today, mind you I would not have thanked you to attempt either method of attempting to go to the mainland today, I heard that the strongest gust was 79 mph over at Airport today....Boy the sea was rough this morning!!!!

Wenesday 4th December

Well the weather forecasters have got it about right over here with the wind speed starting to pick up this evening, and also the temperature outside has dropped down too. Tomorrow is a another day with the winds forecasting to be stronger, the ferry at 0700 and 0945 have already been cancelled. Nina, who is over doing some research on Islay at present had been down on Machir Bay this afternoon and was taken on by the antics of some Twite in flight, wonder if they were making any headway, or just flying backwards? Apart from that Nina had 8 Ringed Plover and a Turnstone on the beach there and also 30 Common Gulls. I had noticed this morning that there were quite a few Gulls inland on the stubble at Rockside feeding on the ground where the spent wash from the Kilchoman Distillery had been been spread, possibly the worms had come to the surface...

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Tuesday 3rd December

Some more sightings through from Amy Cooper who is over volunteering with RSPB on their reserves here on Islay this Winter. The other day Amy had seen the following birds whilst walking up round Killinallan Point, 23 Teal, 2 Redshank, 2GND, 6 Oystercatcher, 1 Curlew, 3 Mallard and 8 Rock Pipits. Along at Gortantoid, Amy had 2 Coal Tits and a Great Tit. On her way back along the track, Amy saw 4 Reed Buntings.

Monday 2 December 2013

Monday 2nd December

Today down on the "floods" at Gruinart James counted 430 Lapwing, 165 Dunlin, 3 Gadwall and 1 Goldeneye. Later on in the woods around Bushmills, James had 4 Woodcock, 1 Brambling, 45 Chaffinch and 2 Treecreeper. Along the actual woodland trail, Amy had seen 3 Mistle Thrush. Down at Gortan, Peter had 11 Pale bellied Brent Geese. Here at home, the bird table has been busy, wonder if they are feeding up for the wee, quick, cold snap that is forecast for later this week....

Sunday 1 December 2013

Sunday 1st December

Yep, another month in, with the tally for the rain coming through at 4.25", another "relatively" dry month, better keep quiet until the end of December to get the overall picture for 2013!!! Speaking to Ed yesterday about his current work here on Islay with the Greenland Whitefronted Geese. The team have maanaged to catch and put collars on 3 geese. 2 were caught at Gruinart and fitted with GPS collars, numbers 21 & 22 with respective darvic rings on their legs being LL and SOY. The neck collars are blue while the rings on the legs are white. They have also managed catch another goose down close to Eollabus near to Bridgend with the neck collar fitted readin S1Y and the darvic leg ring 25, so if you manage to see any of these geese, let me know and I will pass on your sightings to Ed. Yesterday James had a group of over 40 Snipe flying over the reserve. Here at home, I think the Brambling has moved on, but I had a "close sighting" of a male Hen Harrier as it flew down over the wee hill behind the house before it circled up to above the big crag, same old story, right place, right time