Tuesday 30 September 2014
Yesterday Peter had seen 2 adult Whoopers Swans along with their 3 cygnets on Loch Gorm. He also saw a male Sparrowhawk close by. Martin has been hearing a female Tawny Owl calling away regularly over close to where he lives at Glenegedale. Today, James had a Merlin close to Lyrabus with a male Hen Harrier nearby as well. This morning Mary and Adrian (one of the vols at Gruinart) had been up at Ardnave. On the Loch, they saw 6 adult Mute Swans along with 6 youngsters, there was also a single Whooper present as well. As they arrived there were 2 Peregrines on a fresh kill, a Rock Dove... They scrapped for a short time with one getting the upper hand and the other took off, calling away overhead. Mary thought they appeared to be 2 large female birds, but she thought it was odd that the 2 were together.... Also on the loch were 39 Wigeon and 9 Teal. Around the lobster ponds they counted 12 Ravens, 18 Ringed Plover, 28 Sanderling, 5 Turnstone, 24 Oystercatcher and also 24 Golden Plover nearby. Out on Nave Island there were 71 Grey Seals along with 42 pups. At the bird nerds tonight, a dreich sort of a night, only bird of note was a Common Scoter close to the pier. Some of us adjourned along to Peter and Pia's for a welcome refreshment, with good craic enjoyed by all!! Coming home there was a Barn Owl just after Sunderland Farm, several frogs on the road and also hedgehog on the verge.
Monday 29 September 2014
Yesterday visiting birder Jim from the Scottish Borders had seen a hen Peregrine sitting up on the crag behind Kilchoman. Today, James had a juv White tailed Sea Eagle out on the salt marsh at Loch Gruinart. George took a short walk through his trees behind his house and reckons that there were the remains of 5 Collared Doves, all looking like "Sparrowhawk kills". Just before tea time this evening, while we were out we saw 3 Hen Harriers at different locations round Loch Gorm, a male between Sunderland Farm and Rock Mountain, a ringtail between Ballinaby and Saligo with another ringtail just before we came along to Coulererach round about the cattle grid. In the garden today there were 14 Goldfinches, great to see them around. Remember tomorrow night the Bird nerds meeting at Bruichladdich Pier at 6.30 pm.
Sunday 28 September 2014
This morning at home Bob had a Goldcrest. Later on he saw a Peregrine down close to St Kiaran's Church outside of Port Charlotte. Along below the coalyard at Gortan, he had a count of 30 Dunlin on the shoreline. Back home, late afternoon, Bob had a pair of Peregrines screeching around! Bob was also saying that he feels that there are more Starlings around where lives this Autumn. Emily reported through to say that there were 26 Barnies, 31 Pale bellied Brent Geese and a Blackwit in Summer plumage on Loch Gruinart today. With the month almost in, if you are around on Tuesday at 6.30pm, the Islay Bird nerds are meeting down at the pier at Bruichladdich, to see what is around, even possibly a few more Brent geese heading over to Ireland, so see you there...
Friday 26 September 2014
A better day out here today, the plane would get in at least today! Mary emailed through to say that the 2 Barnies were still to be seen over at Gruinart. Jack, on his way in to work this morning was greeted by over a thousand Greylags coming off Loch Gruinart, followed by a juv White tailed Sea Eagle...Later on Mary on her way to Bowmore, Mary spotted 6 Pale Bellied Brents on Loch Indaal. She also had a Merlin chasing some Chaffinches along the roadside. The vols at Gruinart had seen a couple of Grey Partridges close to Lyrabus, ? possibly released birds.
Thursday 25 September 2014
Wednesday 24 September 2014
A better day again with the weather, so I have made the most of it and been in the garden all day, think we are all making the most of it while this weather is here....Peter e mailed to say that he has heard that the Pale bellied Brent goose which he saw down at Portnahaven the other day has now been seen across the water on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Late afternoon, Bob had been up in the hide at Gruinart where he counted 150 pale belied Brent Geese flying on South. From the hide, Bob had a Peregrine, 6 Snipe, 4 Herons a ringtail Hen Harrier and many ducks. Earlier on at home Bob had seen between 30 and 40 Stonechats moving through. Today, Per Anders and his Swedish fiends Tore, Jan and Karin had gone out to the Oa and walked back in to Port Ellen. A walk out around the American monument there produced 400 Gannets on passage, 3 Shag, 10 Rock Dove, 1 Snipe, 150 Twite, 5 Stonechat, male Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, 10 Eider, 40 Skylark, 4 Raven, Meadow Pipit, 10 Hooded Crow and 2 Goldfinch. On their walk to Port Ellen after lunch they saw 4 Chough, 10 Buzzard, imm Hen Harrier, 10 Raven, 2 Redpoll, 30 Stonechat, 2 Linnet, 10 Goldfinch, 20 Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, 10 Song Thrush, 20 Collared Dove, 10 Rook, Rock Pipit and 10 Hooded Crows.
Tuesday 23 September 2014
Yesterday, Bob saw several groups of Golden Plover flying in, high up and later on heard his first Deer rutting of this Autumn. James today had 2 Curlew Sandpipers over at Loch Gruinart. Per Anders is over with 3 friends from Sweeden, mainly to do some birdwatching and with the odd Distillery thrown into the mix as well... This morning they had walked from Port Askaig through the woods past Loch Allan and Ballygrant Loch, ending up at Ballygrant. They saw the following birds on their walk, 10 Long tailed Tits, 10 Coal Tits, 6 Mistle Thrush, 20 Song Thrush, 25 Goldcrest, 3 Linnets, 3 Treecreepers and a Collared Dove. Later on at Bowmore, they saw a Bar tailed Godwit. As forecast, we have had some rain today, not a lot, but enough to lay the dust for a wee while anyway, and it is raining outside at present as I write this entry....
Monday 22 September 2014
Yesterday Martin had been out for a wee walk, only a 12 mile trek up Beinn Uraraidah and Sgorr, bet Martin was tired afterwards... His highlights were as follows, 5 Snipe, 3 Red Grouse, 5 Hen Harrier (2 males and 3 ringtail), 2 Golden Plover, 4 Wheatear, 2 Buzzards and a Kestrel up on the actual summit. This evening, as I write this, it has just started to rain, I wonder how much we are going to get, the rain gauge at present is hardly registering any rain so far for this month! I heard today that some of the Distilleries are needing water. May be the rain will help clean the glass roof that we have, the manufacturers claim that it is self cleaning, so here is hoping that this is true and help wash away the bird poo on it! It certainly did work the last time it rained....
Sunday 21 September 2014
Apologies for not having an entry last night, I had been away out to Stirling and by the time I got home last night and the van emptied out, was not really up to putting some words together...Yes, the plane did not come in on Friday evening as I met in with Carl who too was on the 7 am ferry, he should have been on the plane on Friday evening!! On Friday afternoon, James had an Osprey carrying a fish away from Loch Gruinart. Peter and Pia had been walking their dog down on Machir Bay this morning where they had a count of 55 Ringed Plover and 25 Sanderling. Up here, while having a natter over a cuppa with James, there was a commotion outside, a quick look out of the window, 2 new garden birds, a pair of Peregrines, with the big hen bird flying off with its kill, a Rock Dove by the feathers left behind on the grass. She took it over and sat up on the crag happily plucking her catch. After James left for home, I set out to take the papers down to old Len as I did not do it yesterday.. down on the almost dry wee lochans at Rockside there was a Heron, but also on the edge of the water, be it on the other side of the water was a White tailed Sea Eagle. I quickly gave Len his papers but on my return the bird had flown away. All in all a great day for seeing birds, not many but the ones that were seen, well, just top class...
Friday 19 September 2014
It has been rather overcast here today and tonight, I doubt if the evening plane will come in because of the low cloud, I heard it fly round here earlier on, but by checking online, no word of it actually landing, so it must have just gone back with its passengers to Glasgow... They can always come tomorrow instead! Peter was fortunate this morning as he managed a count out on Loch Indaal from Gartmain, where his tally was 140 Wigeon and 45 Red breasted Merganser.
Thursday 18 September 2014
Yesterday evening, Louise heard a Nightjar at The Gatehouse over on Jura. Some news through from Peter this evening re the Pale bellied goose which he saw down at Portnahaven a couple of days ago. It appears that the goose was first rung as a first year bird up in Iceland back the Spring of 2009. It has been seen wintering in the Strangford Loch area in Northern Ireland over thae past few winters and was seen this Spring back in Iceland. By the sound of things, a first record of this goose here on Islay! Peter saw 4 Red throated Divers over at Claggain Bay this afternoon. There were 13 Mute Swans on Loch Indaal, between Gatmain and the Gaelic College. On the reserve at Gruinart, James had seen a Barn owl, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and 2 Grey Wagtails. On our travels today, we saw a total of 5 Wheatears all individual birds at different locations, and also a stunning male Stonechat flew across the road as we came towards the gravel quarry at Sunderland.
Wednesday 17 September 2014
It is not just me that thinks we are having a great Summer... As Peter said today, another gorgeous day... He had been up the East side of Loch Gruinart where e had seen a group of 5 Greenshanks. there are still a few Swallows around, but I think that the bulk of them have already flown South. There was a Wheatear down at the stream down beside the Coastguards houses earlier on today.
Tuesday 16 September 2014
Another great day, and the forecast looks settled until next Tuesday, not that I am complaining... the sunset this evening was stunning too!! Around midday, Peter had been down at Portnahaven where he saw 7 Pale belied Brent Geese, the first reported Geese of the Autumn here on Islay. One of the geese had coloured rings on it and Peter has sent the info away, so here is hoping we get to hear more about the said goose! Back at Bruichladdich, Peter had 4 Red throated Divers, 7 Common Scoter, 15 Eider and a Black Guillemot in winter plumage off the pier on Loch Indaal. On the overhead wires earlier on this evening, here at home there were 45 Goldfinches and 9 Linnets. Forgot to mention the other day that Paul Hathaway had a ringtail Hen Harrier about half a mile out of Bunnahabhain as he headed up to work on Friday morning. If you want to see some tremendous images of Barn Owls, click on the link to Gordon Yates and you will see some of Gordon's recent work, what it is like to be patient... Gordon was telling me last night that the Barn Owls have had a much better breeding success this year. In Greater Manchester alone, there have been 25 pairs breeding successfully this year, compared with only 4 pairs last year. Gordon also had heard that around 1,000 young Barn Owls have been rung this year in Lincolnshire. All good news, fingers crossed that they all manage through to breed themselves later on.
Monday 15 September 2014
Had an e mail through from Ed Burrell who was over here on Islay last winter doing work on the Greenland Whitefronts. Ed had some great news in that he got a message through from one of his geese that had been fitted with the radio transponders. It was last hear of back on the 2nd of May as it left Iceland heading over to Greenland. Well, on Friday Ed was able get some data downloaded from it through the mobile phone network/GSM network when it was over East Greenland. On Saturday, it was on to North East Iceland. The first of Whitefronts arrived in Iceland on Wednesday, so if they get a suitable tail wind it won't be long before they return here... Great to hear from you Ed and look forward to catching up when you return yourself next month, may be we should have radio tagged Ed as well to follow his movements too!!!
Sunday 14 September 2014
Last week, James had been down in Leeds at a RSPB conference, his highlight was seeing Nuthatches, Jays and also 3 Red Kites... coming home on the ferry on Friday afternoon, he spotted a White tailed Sea Eagle as the ferry came up the Sound of Islay towards Port Askaig. Visiting birders Susan and John Kirkman, yesterday had done the walk from Bowmore down to Gartberck around midday. Their birds were as follows, mixed flock of 30 Curlew and Whimbrel, 7 Mute Swan, 1 female Red breated Merganser, odd Ringed Plovers, 60 Oysterctatcher, several flocks of Starlings numbering between 100 and 300 in total, 50 Dunlin, 50 Sanderling, 10 Gannets (several plunging into Loch Indaal), 50 Greylags, many Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails, a "fine" Greenland Wheatear, ringtail Hen Harrier at Gartbreck itself, about 60 Stonechats, 50 Linnets, a large flock of around 1,000 finches in from Gartbreck with Goldfinches, Twite and Brambling being seen, 50 Atlantic Seals were seen on their walk. On Friday, down at Portnahaven, they also had seen another large mixed of finches. Susan and John also noted Pied Wagtails everywhere, as were Stonechats, Whinchats, Collared Doves, Starlings and House Sparrows, many of which they do not see back home in Sheffield in such numbers. Today, Bob had a male Merlin over at Bolsa.
Saturday 13 September 2014
Well, after all that possible excitement of seeing the Northern lights last night, the cloud beat us all here, and it looks like another overcast night with no real sunset this evening... Yesterday, Paul Hathaway had seen 2 Whooper Swans over at Bunnahabhain, yesterday as well, we saw around 40 Goldfinches between Rockside and Sunderland Farm. Back on Tuesday, Emily had been able to show the folk on the guided walk down on the Oa a juvenile Golden Eagle.. in return, some of the visitors were able to point out Ballycastle and several of the surrounding villages over on Northern Ireland, the visibility was so good... Emily was also saying that Marsh Frits have had a good year, with both Scabious and now the heather having a good year as well. Hear that the Pink footed Geese have started to return to Montrose Basin, Corncrake numbers are up on Orkney to 36 calling males, on the negative side of the coin, Kestrel numbers are well down throughout the whole of the UK.
Friday 12 September 2014
No records broken today with the temperature only rising to 18 degrees early afternoon, but there is an outside chance of seeing the Northern Lights later on, but it is rather cloudy outside at present, so we will just have to wait and hopefully see... Paul our visiting birder had a busy time today. Down at Frenchman's Rocks he had count of 400 Gannets fly past in an hour along with 15 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Fulmar, 1 Kittiwake and some Guillemots. Later on, at "Smelly corner" Paul had 80 Dunlin, over 20 Ringed Plover, 3 Sanderling, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and a Little Stint. Finally over at Ballinaby he saw a male Hen Harrier. On his travels today, he also saw 5 Wheatears, possibly birds moving through. He also reported seeing more Stonechats around than during other visits at a similar time of year.
Thursday 11 September 2014
Another nice sunny day out here today, and by mid afternoon the mercury had reached 20 degrees on Mike's weather station, not that bad for September... and it will be here for a few more days yet. Having said all that, there was a passing boat blowing its' foghorn as the sea haar was rather thick, even although it was warm!!! Over at Gruinart, Mary saw a Peregrine eating a small bird on the loch and then a male Hen Harrier flew overhead. On her way home Mary spotted a young Golden Eagle being mobbed by a Buzzard. Moving back south to Rutland, my friend Paul had a Little Owl strike his bedroom window, wonder if it was the same one that we saw at his house when we were down at the Bird Fair? Paul also saw a Kingfisher on the stream, (or should we call it a "brook"???)the other day, his first there for a few weeks now!
Wednesday 10 September 2014
Another glorious day with the thermometer reaching up to 18 degrees mid afternoon, on Mike's weather station, not bad for an day in Autumn! Mary today had been up on the Moorland trail at Gruinart where she saw a young Golden Eagle, 2 ringtail Hen Harriers and a smart looking male Stonechat. Later on Mary spotted an Adder out sunning itself...Wonder if the moon tonight will be as stunning as it was last night, we will just have to wait and see...
Tuesday 9 September 2014
The cloud cover last night somewhat spoiled our view of the moon, not to worry as it is looking great as I write this entry, and equally as good was the sunset out West. This morning, we had a really clear view over to Donegal, got the scope out to see a few white buildings dotted about...For around around an hour around midday, a Peregrine sat up on top of the crag, just watching the world go by... Late afternoon, down at Bruichladdich, we counted 12 Collared Doves, we certainly have seen more around of late, possibly because of the spilled barley on the road as the farmers have been taking their barley get dried down at the drier at Octofad between Port Charlotte and Portnahaven, for Bruichladdich Ditillery to make whisky out of later on...
Monday 8 September 2014
Yesterday evening, Malcolm saw a Whimbrel fly across the road at Braibruich which is down between Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte. This morning, visiting birder, Paul did a couple of hours sea watching at Frenchman's Rocks from 06.45 with his tally coming ou tat 166 Manx Shearwaters, 8 Kittiwake, 17 Auk sp, 2 Red throated Divers, 1 Sandwich Tern and a Peregrine. Later on, Paul counted 28 Blackwits outside of Bowmore, and then he saw a Whooper Swan at Laggan Bridge. By the way, last night the moon looked really close and so large, and it is due to be a full moon this evening, so if we see it, it will be better than last night, with no light pollution here folks....
Sunday 7 September 2014
Another great day with the weather over here again, and not too bad for birdwatching either! On my way over to Gartbreck this morning to meet up with Bob, I had a raft of around 70 Red breasted Mergansers just before Uiskentuie, below the refuse tip, a male Sparrowhawk came out of a scrub willow and flew along the road in front of me and at Gartbreck itself, 2 different ringtail Hen Harriers flying along the field margins. Bob and myself carried out the monthly count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck along the shore, with our tally being as follows. 1 Heron, 1 Gannet, 20 Shag, 600 Greylag, 48 Mallard, 7 Teal, 12 Eider, 50 Oystercatcher, 75 Curlew, 9 Redshank, 10 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, 2 Lapwing, 1 Snipe, 2 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot, 10 GBB Gull, 30 Herring Gull, 30 Common Gull and 10 Black headed Gull.
Saturday 6 September 2014
Emily has returned to Islay after her holiday up in Iceland, a great time by all accounts... On her return on Sunday, she had a Tawny Owl at Moulin on the reserve at Gruinart, with another last night. On the walk down on the Oa on Tuesday, there was a flock of over 100 Twite on the "bird crop". Over on Jura on Wednesday, there was a RSPB led walk with 26 folk attending, birds seen include a Golden Eagle, many Buzzards, a fly past of a White tailed Sea Eagle and an Otter as well! On Thursday, on the reserve at Gruinart, both male and ringtail Hen Harrier spotted from the Visitor Centre, while on the guided actual walk, large flocks of Goldfinches and Twite were seen. Down on Loch Gruinart, a White Wagtail was seen along with large numbers of Dunlin and Sanderling there too. A visitor told Emily that she had seen the Little Egret out past Ardbeg on Wednesday, probably the same one that others had seen earlier on this week.
Friday 5 September 2014
It might have started of a miserable looking day this morning, but slowly but surely the grey skies disappeared to give us a glorious afternoon, and as I write this entry, the sun is streaming in through the windows and what a sunset we are going to have this evening... George earlier this week had seen 2 Sandwich Terns down at Bruichladdich and he was telling me that the 2 Moorhens on his ponds still have their 3 youngsters. Mandy e mailed some sightings through from some visitors. Last Sunday they had seen a Little Egret out past Ardbeg, up at Bridgend, an Osprey was spotted, perched on a rock. In the garden of the cottage where they were staying in at Port Ellen they had Siskins and also Goldfinches. On Thursday close to the hut circles, "An Sidhean" on the reserve at Gruinart they saw a Merlin, along the flats they saw a a male Hen Harrier while up at the mouth of Loch Gruinart, an Osprey and also a GND were added to birds for the week. Today just out of Port Charlotte, on Loch Indaal, they had some Red breasted Mergansers.
Wednesday 3 September 2014
Blue skies over here today and if the weather forecast is correct for tomorrow, more of the same is due! Yesterday James had a Curlew Sandpiper, 69 Knot, 1 Ruff, 1 Merlin and an Osprey all on Loch Gruinart. Here at home, there were 3 Dunnocks (Hedge Sparrows) in at the feeders.
Tuesday 2 September 2014
The weather today has been similar to yesterday, and good enough to allow me to get on with some jobs out in the garden, no complaints then!!! Bob and Lorna Young had been over for a few days at the end of last week and reported through to say that they had seen Golden Eagles at Gruinart, Ardnave and also over at Sanaigmore. They also saw an Osprey just off the reserve at Gruinart. They had seem a large number of Gannets feeding at the mouth of Loch Gruinart, before they flew off past Nave Island and on South past Sanaigmore. Fulmars were in abundance off Ardnave with some still nesting at Sanaigmore, 2 Red throated Divers, 4 Redshank and a Common Sandpiper were added to their birds at Ardnave. Choughs were seen at both Ardnave and also Sanaigmore. Lots of Linnets and Goldfinches were seen around along with a few Wheatears and the occasional Stonechat. Thanks to Bob and Lorna for their sightings. Back here at home the other day there were 4 Buzzards soaring up above the crag on the thermals.
Monday 1 September 2014
Today is the first day of Autumn, or so they tell us, not too bad a a day here although it was overcast, no blue skies, at least it stayed fair. The rainfall for last month came to 3.75 inches, slightly more than last August. Yesterday Bob and Martin walked out to Ardnave point, birds seen were over 40 Chough, 3 Wheatear, 6 Razorbill, a Kittiwake, some Curlews, Redshank and a Greenshank. In the channel between Ardnave Point and Nave Island they saw 3 Porpoises. Today Bob had gone round Loch Gorm in an anti clockwise direction from Sunderland and up here to Kilchoman. Around 400 Greylags were on the barley stubble at Sunderland, 800 on Loch Gorm itself with another 400 on the grass aftermaths at Ballinaby! Also on the water on Loch Gorm were 80 Mallard and 30 Teal. Bob also had spotted 2 Blackwits. Here at home today, Margaret spotted a young Goldfinch on one of the fence posts begging to get fed. There was also a Whitethroat and also a Willow Warbler lurking about in the bushes.