Sunday 31 August 2014

Sunday 31st August

Malcolm was in touch through the week to say that the Swallows at his house have just fledged their third brood for this year. Today over at Gruinart, James had 3 Ospreys, one fishing on Loch Gruinart with another 2 flying high overhead. James also saw 2 Peregrines over the reserve, and also a Greenshank out in front of the "old" hide. Another Ileach had seen an Osprey on top of a straining post (type of fence post) at Gruinart with another on top of a telegraph pole over towards Loch Gorm. He also had seen 2 white tailed Sea Eagles over in the Loch Gorm area. Here at home this morning there was a steady movement of Gannets flying South out past Machir Bay, maybe I should have stopped what I was doing and had a count for half an hour... must do it another time!

Saturday 30 August 2014

Saturday 30th August

Yeserday, Peter and Pia had braved the elements and had been over on the Big strand below the airport and had walked down towards Knockangle Point where their birds tallied through at 10 Knot, 12 Sanderling, 10 Ringed Plover, 6 Redshank, 5 Dunlin and a Little Stint. Today the weather has been a lot kinder to us with Mandy from RSPB being over at Claggain Bay where she watched a Red throated Diver for some time, coming back along past Kintour, Mandy saw a Yelowhammer. Thanks to James, for writing the blog over the past few days while I was off Islay down in Glasgow, my highlight was watching an Osprey catch a fish as we headed into West Loch Tarbert on the ferry, no need for bins for that one!

Friday 29 August 2014

Friday 29th August 2014

A bit wild and showery today. Not too much to report, a Greenshank, Sparrowhawk and male Hen Harrier at Gruinart.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Thursday 28th August 2014

A few records from yesterday: a Red Grouse at Loch Laingeadail, 3 Kestrels at Tayvulin, 1 Kestrel at Craigmhor, Hen Harrier, Peregrine and Merlin at Ardnave. Very strong east winds and rain last night, but sunny today!

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Wednesday 27th August 2014

Today I was out and aboot, looking for Greylag geese- I didn't find many around Gruinart, although there looked to be 1000 + around Loch Gorm. We did find 6 Canada geese at Gruinart, as well as a good view of a Peregrine. Bob e mailled in, to let us know that Islay's uglyist building(possibly) the water works above Port Charlotte has 12 Swallows nests around it (it only had 6 last year). We had a birdy meeting last night heres a pic of the happy birders:

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Tuesday 26th August

Mandy the long term vol at Gruinart saw a Minke Whale off Portnahaven on Sunday afternoon as well as some Manxies passing Frenchman's Rocks.This evening on my way the bird nerds I saw around 1,000 Greylags between Rockside and Sunderland Farms. At the actual meet, we saw an Osprey on the gravel spit on Loch Gruinart, a Sparrowhawk on the telegraph pole, 2 groups of Redshank, 18 and 7 in number, 2 Ringed Plover, a Wheatear, several Buzzards, 4 coming home at Sunderland alone, Curlews, Knot and Dunlin but not actually counted! There were Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipits and a few Skylarks seen as well. Another topic of conversation was the bird nerds proposed trip to Extramedura next April/ May, sounds like a great trip which will be led by Peter Roberts.

Monday 25 August 2014

Monday 25th August

Another great day with the weather, with the farmers making the most of it with the barley getting cut, and now balers busy up behind the combines. Yesterday Bob had a busy day in his garden. Highlight was a Wood Warbler amongst the many Willow Warblers. In one bush, Bob counted 20 Sedge Warblers. Also noted were a Whinchat and 2 Stonechats. Meadow Pipits were seen on the move along with more Redpolls, Siskins, Chaffinches and Goldfinches around as well. Young Buzzards were heard to be more vocal calling away for to be fed! Tomorrow (Tuesday) evening is the monthly meeting of the Islay Bird nerds, so if you are around, come along at 7pm up towards Bun an Uillt (on the Eastern side of Loch Gruinart) where we will hope to see any waders etc around. Come along and put a name to the face, rather than just reading about us!

Sunday 24 August 2014

Sunday 24th August

This afternoon, we found this drake Mallard on top of the kitchen table over at Grainel (James's house) so we just had to sample the great cake that Sally had made... Down at Moulin we saw a Spotted Flycatcher and also a Sparrowhawk. Here at home there were 16 Pied Wagtails out on the lawn , late yesterday afternoon, and this morning on the overhead cables there was a mixed group of about 50 House Martins and Swallows on the overhead power lines. This evening the House Martins were still around. Come to think back to last week, on our way down to the Bird Fair, we saw around 50 Swifts close to Thirsk.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Saturday 23rd August

What a difference a day makes, the farmers yesterday were busy selling the first of this years lambs, and today some of them have got their combines out harvesting the first of this years harvest.... Back to birds and the weather held good for Bob and myself to do what we had hoped to do yesterday, mind we you we had just finished when there was a squally shower pass by. So here are our sightings from this morning, 4 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 4 Heron, 1 GND, 230 Greylag, 43 Mallard, 2 Eider, 48 Oystercatcher, 106 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 10 Redshank, 40 Ringed Plover, 20 GBB Gull, 40 Herring Gull, 30 Common Gull and 30 BH Gull. On and over the land, rather than on the shore we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipits, Stonechats and a few Reed Bunting.

Friday 22 August 2014

Friday 22nd August

Went out with Bob this morning to carry out the count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, but we got caught out by a rather heavy shower and will have to do it another day, preferably when it is not raining.... Martin today had been out on his bike on the Glen Road where he spotted 2 White tailed Sea Eagles. Also in the same area, Martin had around 200 Goldfinches on the seed heads of the thistles there. Further on he had 2 Buzzards and also a ringtail Hen Harrier were seen.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Thursday 21st August

Some sightings through from Mary from over at Gruinart. Out in front of the Visitor centre today, Mary counted 1400 Greylags along with a hybrid Canada, 2 Blackwits and a Ruff. Out along by the new hide, there were 20 more Greylags and 5 Canada Geese. Out on the salt marsh on Loch Gruinart itself, a Peregrine and a Buzzard were seen. On the gravel bank in the middle of the loch, an Osprey was seen preening itself with another Blackwit and 20 Shelduck. There were many waders noted, mainly Ringed Plover and Dunlin along with some Sanderling and Knot and a small group of 15 Redshank. Later on, over at Craigens, 4 Ravens were present with an Osprey seen taking a fish! Also seen from there was a Whooper Swan, 25 Knot and 79 Redshank. On a different tack, there was a large luxury cruise ship sail past this morning, the Ruby Princess, on her way from Dublin, to Belfast then Gourock and when we saw her en route up to Kirkwall. When I say large it was massive....

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Wednesday 20th August

Yesterday, off Claddach down at Portnahaven, John Cameron had a count of over 100 Gannets. At lunchtime today, James Cadbury spotted a Grey Phalarope feeding in the burn down at Machir Bay. Here at home this morning, there was a ringtail Hen Harrier out in the garden, it dropped down into the nettles on the edge of the garden, but it came back up with nothing, this was repeated a few times without it catching any prey. It certainly moved all the wee birds away when it first appeared! Thinking back to Rutland and the Bird Fair, birds that we saw down there included Magpie, Green Sandpiper, Little Plover, Little Egret, Great crested Grebe, Osprey, Red Kite, Little Owl, Bullfinch, Collared Dove along with plenty of Woodpigeons! A Green Woodpecker was also heard in a spinney where I was staying, but unfortunately not while were around!

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Tuesday 19th August

Yes, the blog is back on the go again after a trip down to the British Bird Fair. This is now the fourth year that Islay has had a stand, and it appeared to be busier than ever. It is really hard to gauge exactly, but certainly apart from individuals asking about Islay, some new interesting fields of discussions took place. A lot of hard work went in before and during the event, but we did manage some bird watching after setting the stand on Thursday afternoon, more about that tomorrow night! Thanks to all those who helped down there, Andy, Bob, Dave, Carl, James, Sarah and Dot with moral support from many others, a great effort by a great team, you all did Islay proud!!! Back to Islay and our birds.... Pat, Bob's other half had seen 8 Red Grouse out up behind Port Charlotte yesterday while George still has 3 young Moorhens out of the original clutch of 7 eggs...This evening, George saw 4 Sandwich Terns, and has been seeing odd Terns on the move since the 6th. George was also saying that he has not seen any Arctic Terns since the 4th. A new garden bird on the feeders in my absence is a Great Tit, may be one of the ones from down below who have moved up the hill too!!! Coming over on the ferry last night to Port Askaig there appeared to be a steady stream of Gannets seen.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Tuesday 12th August

Another miserable sort of a day out here, but on the positive side of events it has given James and myself time to double check that we (hopefully) have got everything in place for the trip down to the British Birdfair in Rutland. We set out tomorrow morning and catch the ferry from Port Ellen, and then pick up Andy my co driver at Balloch and then head on down to Whissendine to our accomodation, all going well we should be there in time for some food, great, and yes the van is already packed with all our goodies for folk to come along and share some of our famous hospitality. As ever we are having a "free draw" for a holiday cottage for up to 4 folk to come to visit for a week and see Islay through the winter months and see our geese, courtesy of Kilchoman House cottages . Calmac, our ferry operator will provide the lucky winner with ferry tickets. Our stand is a joint venture between the Islay and Jura Tourism and Marketing Group along with RSPB Islay reserves along with help from the Islay Natural History Trust, Calmac and all the Distilleries on Islay and Jura. So if you you manage to attend the Birdfair, come along to marquee 1, stand 14 and meet up with some of the folk behind the blog, better still, somebody has to win the competition! The long and the short is that the blog may well be light of sightings over the next few days as most of our contributors will be down at Rutland!

Monday 11 August 2014

Monday 11th August

The weather today has been a bit of a mixed bag with with strong winds, with the ferries diverting to Port Askaig, just as well that we have got 2 ferry ports. Net result because of the squally showers is that no reports came through this evening but mid morning Margaret saw a hen Pheasant out in the garden showing off her clutch of 6 chicks that looked to be less than a week old. This afternoon, only saw 3 chicks, or could this be a different brood, here's hoping anyway!!!

Sunday 10 August 2014

Sunday 10th august

The weather proved correct with rain for most of the day, not a lot, but still enough to get you wet if you had been out in it for any length of time! Today George reported through that the Terns appeared to be now all away, he had seen 2 Sandwich Terns, (1 adult and 1 juv) and an Arctic Tern on the 7th. Up here today, the bulk of the Thrushes were absent from the garden, with only 6 seen, and a Blue Tit at another time along with a a young Robin, a few Chaffinches were also seen hopping around as well.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Saturday 9th August

Another great day, but rain is forecast for tomorrow, but there again sometimes they are wrong! Nigel headed home today, but yesterday before he left, Nigel saw a Golden Eagle down on the Oa. Coming back from Port Ellen, on the "high road" he saw a male Hen Harrier. Between Bowmore and Bridgend on the top of Loch Indaal, Nigel had 10 Redshank along with 4 Ringed Plover. Past Blackrock, he counted 24 Lapwings flying South. Here this evening, the overhead cables were "thick" with Jackdaws, should really have tried to get a count of them, sorry. Possibly the same Jackdaws that Bob and Jack had yesterday down at Rockside.

Friday 8 August 2014

Friday 8th August

Some sightings through from Emily from Gruinart. On the woodland trail she had heard a Willow Warbler and saw several "scruffy" juv. Robins. In the evening, she had a mixed flock of 50 Linnets and Twite at Moulin. This morning on the overhead telephone wires, there was a juv Chough perched on one of the actual poles with a juv Buzzard on the next pole! Along at Gruinart Farm itself, Emily saw 2 Hares boxing! Down around the old hide a member of staff with RSPB from Lewis had counted around 600 Greylags and saw a ringtail Hen harrier spooking up an "uncountable" number of Snipe and also a Greenshank. Up at Killanallan 3 Bonxies were seen flying over from Ardnave while down at Sanaigmore several Manx Shearwaters were seen offshore. Today was Ben and his folks last day, and had a great sighting of a ringtail Hen harrier close to where they wre staying on the "high road" close to Duich Lots. This afternoon, Bob and his grandson Jack saw a Peregrine being mobbed by some corvoids down close to Foreland. They also had a large number of Jackdaws on the silage aftermath at Rockside.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Thursday 7th august

Ben and his folks had seen the Osprey at Gruinart this morning, but it had flown off this afternoon.. Up at Ardnave they had seen Chough, Ravens, Gannets and Shags offshore. Later on, they saw a Green Sandpiper fly past Orsay lighthouse down at Portnahaven. This morning, Margaret had counted 19 song Thrushes out poking around out in the garden. Mid morning coming back from Gruinart, we had a young male Hen Harrier on the moor, close to the road before it took off and flew again. Mary this morning spotted 3 ringtail Hen Harriers mobbing 10 Hooded Crows on a fence! Earlier this week, a friend who lives up behind Bridgend had counted 37 Swallows on the wires outside his house, all gathering up now for their long flight South! This afternoon, out in the field I came across a hen Pheasant who had some chicks which could only have been a few days old...

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Wednesday 6th August

Apologies, but for some reason the text was not wanting to have anything to do with the image on my previous try, so will just have to join them together, okay here goes... The image was of a Narrow bordered Hawk moth larva was sent through by Clive McKay. Clive worked a few years back for RSPB at Gruinart and is over on holiday this week along with his family. Today he had found the larva on on a Devil's bit Scabious on the reserve at Gruinart. Clive also saw an Osprey carrying off a fish, away from Loch Gruinart. Mary on her way to work this morning had a ringtail Hen Harrier at ellister. At Bruichladdich, she saw 8 Snipe fly over George's house! Round at Ballinaby, she counted 120 Greylags on a grass field there. Going home this evening, Mary had a further 6 Snipe at George's again! Not to be outdone, Tom, Mary's husband had spotted a Basking Shark off Tormisdale on Islay's West coast. Ben and his folks had a pr of Golden Eagles out of Port Ellen. At Claggain Bay, they saw a Red throated diver and an Eider with 3 young. Earlier on at Laggan Point they had seen 15 Black Guillemots, 5 Guillemots, 6 Shag and also 3 Gannets. A great day for everyone by the sound of things!

Wednesday 6th August

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Tuesday 5th August

Today, Mary had seen a 1st yr White tailed Sea eagle over on Loch Gruinart. She saw it perched up a couple of times before flying off low towards the mouth of the Loch. It started to gain height, flying back in a North easterly direction, shadowed by 14 Grey Herons which had been resting up on the merse. This evening, there was a Wren perched on the building blocks on the house. Tomorrow (Wednesday night) at 8.30pm, Emily is leading a "Bat walk" from the Visitor Centre at Gruinart, so might see some of you there...

Monday 4 August 2014

Monday 4th August

Today Ben along with his parents, had headed over to Jura. From the ferry as it crossed the Sound of Islay, they saw a pale morph Arctic Skua flying North. On Jura itself, they had 2 White tailed Sea Eagles, 3 Ringtal Hen Harriers, several Whinchats, Stonechats, Kittiwakes and Gannets too. Later on they headed down to the Oa where they saw a further 4 Chough, a Fulmar but the Golden Eagles proved elusive! The other day, Paul Graham had a Red Grouse over at the Duich Lots. George back on the 31st had counted 21 Arctic Terns including 4 juvenile birds down at Bruichladdich. Today, the number was well down with only 1 adult and 2 juvs being seen, so George believes that they had headed South. In the ploughed field behind his house, there were 40 Lapwings present, no doubt on the lookout for food.

Sunday 3 August 2014

Sunday 3rd August

Yesterday before the rain really set in, Bob had mixed flock of around 1,000 Gulls and Rooks all down on a field that was being cleared for silage at Octomore, outside of Port Charlotte. He also saw a mumeration of Starlings twisting and turning in the sky, only for it to be spoofed by a young Peregrine... At the top of Loch Indaal, Bob counted 20 Herons along with 7 Barwits, 42 Redshank and 120 Curlew. Today it has stayed mainly dry, but in the previous 24 hours we had an inch of rain... Today, Ben Moyes who is over on holiday with his parents. They had been up at Ardnave Point where they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, 20 Chough and also 3 Bonxies. Later on down at Saligo Bay, they saw another Chough while offshore there was a good passage of Manxies offshore.

Saturday 2 August 2014

Saturday 2nd August

Yesterday, Mary had a Hen Harrier over the flats at the reserve at Gruinart.... She also saw a Pipistrelle bat crossing the road, so she removed it to a "safe place" away from the road... David, one of the "vols " had seen a Bonxie up at Ardnave where he he also saw an Otter. On the woodland trail yesterday, Willow Warblers were heard singing away. Peter Roberts took the ferry over to Kennacraig as he headed out and he reported through that there were a lot of Guillemots and also Razorbills on the sea with their youngsters, earlier when Peter had come back to here earlier on this week, there had been no sign of any Guillemots or Razorbills. This evening, there were 15 Song Thrushes hopping around out on the grass after the rain, no doubt looking for food. There is a flat slab outside the kitchen window where the Thrushes use as somewhere to bash their snails before devouring them! I have seen them doing this often from afar, but here they are really close at hand.

Friday 1 August 2014

Friday 1st August

Yesterday, Nigel who is over on holiday had seen a Corncrake over towards Claggain Bay. At Claggain Bay itself, Nigel had 2 Red throated Divers and a juvenile Guillemot and also 12 Ringed Plovers, but still no sightings of any Golden Eagles...Today, James had seen a Corncrake on the flats at Gruinart. The rainfall for July tallied through at 3.5", must try to catch up with Clark and see how that compares with other years. Early this morning, I saw a beautiful 3 masted yatch sail past, by the sound of things it is now moored down at Port Ellen and called Sea Cloud II. It is a beautiful evening here with clear views down to Ireland and up to Mull and over to Jura, just great....