Friday 31 October 2014

Friday 31st October

Another month almost in, wonder what the tally for the rainfall will come through at, like me you will have to wait until tomorrow...Amanda and Glen Brown who headed home today sent through some more of their sightings. On Wednesday up towards Bunnahabhain they had 3 Golden Eagles with GND seen on Loch Indaal and on a run round the Rhinns, a Peregrine Falcon, a Hen Harrier, Redwings and Stonechats were their highlights. Yesterday, over in the Gruinart area, they had Chough, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Sanderling, Dunlin, 2 Garganey, Shelduck, 2 Golden Eagle with a lone juv Whooper down at Port Charlotte. Later on Loch Indaal, 2 GBB Gulls, Red breasted Merganser, Wigeon and a raft of Scaup were seen. Albert Percival's highlights from this visit was seeing the Lesser Scaup on Ardnave Loch and the Pectoral Sandpipers on the reserve at Gruinart. Thanks folks for your birds. Yesterday, James had a look around the reserve at Gruinart and his tally came through at 9725 Barnies, 566 Whitefronts, 81 Greylags, 1274 Teal, 2 Little Grebe, 93 Wigeon, 172 Mallard, 291 Lapwing, 1410 Golden Plover, 62 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 26 Snipe, 1 Blackwit. He also saw a White tailed Eagle and a Hen Harrier. Today at lunchtime, up behind Port Charlotte, we watched a White tailed Eagle as it soared around, great to watch!!

Thursday 30 October 2014

Thursday 30th October

Rather a dreich, miserable sort of a day. It has not been that wet with a lot of rain, but just a smurry sort of rain off and on. The old computer is working a bit better tonight so I have got an image through from Danny of a Golden Eagle which he took last week...
I have also got a map through from Ed showing the exploits of 3 of his tagged Whitefronts, showing their trip up to Iceland in April, over to Greenland and bang up to date with their return here of late...
As you may have realised because the weather out here today, not much really to report, but the Rochdale birders had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier sat on a fence post round close to Ballinaby. I had one here just after breakfast time when it was out on the wing quartering its' patch. There was also a reported sighting of a Yellow legged Gull down at Portnahaven earlier this week.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Wednesday 29th October

Another good day with the weather.... Danny Arnold had been over last week and sent some highlights through. He had a Wheatear at Coullabus, a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen every day from the kitchen window in the cottage where he was staying, Golden Eagles most days, a White tailed Sea Eagle at Loch Gorm on the 18th, 19th and 20th. He was also saying that he noticed plenty of Stonechats around the Loch Gorm area. A Peregrine was seen from the hide at Gruinart. On his way to the ferry on Friday morning they saw a Barn Owl. Yesterday, was Phil and the Heatherlea team's last day. Down on the Oa, they saw a Merlin attacking a flock of around 350 Twite. At the car park there, a male Hen Harrier was seen with a Golden Eagle seen from the American Monument. Later on, at Blackrock a raft of Scaup were present and from the Visitor Centre at Gruinart, Dabchick, Pintail and Shoveler were noted. Thanks to Danny and Phil for your sightings, and tomorrow if the computer is working, some of Danny's images...Amanda and and Glen are over at present with their highlights so far being, 3 Golden Eagles, 2 Peregrines in The Gorm area, on the Oa, Merlin, Hen harrier and Gannets seen while other birds included Ravens, Chough, Twite, Pect. Sandpiper and Redwing. Here at home, out over the crag a Peregrine was out and about as was a ringtail Hen Harrier. Down at the reedbed beside the Coastguard's there were around 100 Twite. The Rochdale birders had gone to Jura today where they saw 15 Turnstone, a male Merlin nabbing a Pipit and plucking it on a fence post. At Feolin, they saw a Dolphin. Back on Islay, a female Sparrowhawk, Loch Gorm area, a male Hen Harrier, at Coull, 72 Curlew. Ballinaby held a mixed finch flock of around 100 birds, up at Ardnave, they counted 68 Chough and finally at PortBhan , on their way back to Port Charlotte, a large female Sparrowhawk was spotted. Ed today had a Golden Eagle a mere 10 yards from his car at Carrabus, 2 Choughs there who got a shock of their lives! On his travels today, Ed had 2 ringtails, one at Machrie, the other at Kinnabus. He also had 2 Pinkies, one at Port Charlotte, the other over at Cornabus. I think that most of the Whoopers must have moved through as I only saw one group of 6 fly past the whole day. One of the fields at Coull, late afternoon, was literally black with Barnies, wonder how many were there all together???

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Tuesday 28th October

The weather here for the past few days has not been that great, but today, somebody turned the switch and hey presto a dry day with not much of a wind either! Janeice and Tim Scott who had been over last week had seen their first Redwing of the Autumn last Wednesday at West Tower down at Bridgend. Earlier, on Sunday they saw an Otter swim past the lighthouse at Port Charlotte. On Thursday, over in the woods near Ardtalla they had a flock of Long tailed Tits along with some Goldcrest there too. In the fields around there as well, a flock of Redwings was present. They also commented on the numbers of Whoopers both arriving and departing. Yesterday, Phil had been over on Jura with his clients from Heatherlea. A Golden Eagle was perched on thier way up to Craighouse. Small Isles Bay, an Otter was seen really close at hand, completely unaware of the group watching it! Also there were, Red throated Diver and Great Northern Diver as well as a Black Guillemot. Back on Islay, top bird was a Pinkie amongst the flock of Barnies near to Ballygrant. Back here at home this morning, we had a distant sighting of a White tailed Sea Eagle out from Granny's Rock. Earlier on I was watching the numerous comings and goings of the geese and the Whoopers as well. From the house I counted 26 different groups of them at one pass as I scanned round, just great living up on top of a hill.... I see that in the current edition of "Nature's home", the RSPB magazine that they have an article on Loch Gruinart reserve. This evening at the Bird nerds meeting down at the hide , Dave Woods had spotted a Green winged Teal. We also had pr of Dabchick close to the hide. Ed from WWT is now back over to do his work on the Whitefronts and was able to tell us us all some history about the Whitefronts with neck collars on, out from the hide as well. Bjorn had seen a Greylag the other day with neck collar N18 round its neck, it turns out that Ed and his colleagues had rung it on Tiree back in July. It's a small world sometimes!!!

Monday 27 October 2014

Monday 27th October

Yesterday, Merja and Bjorn from Norway had seen a small Canada Goose amongst the Barnies at the top of Loch Indaal. Also yesterday, Phil and his clients from Heatherlea had seen Chough at Kilchoman and also over at Ardnave. On Ardnave Loch, a female Goldeneye was seen. At Mill cottage, a Common Redpoll was spotted. Amongst the geese at Gruinart, several Whitefronts were present with neck collars. Close to Kilchoman, they had a male and also a female Peregrine, the hen bird flushed a Woodcock and almost caught it! At Ballinaby they had 100 Twite, a Sparrowhawk was present at Gruinart, with another on their way back to Bowmore. There were 170 Whoopers resting up at Rockside. Back at Bowmore there were a few Pale bellied Brent, some with leg rings on. Today, the Rochdale birders had been down on the Oa this morning seeing 2 different Merlins, a Peregrine and a Redpoll. Back over at Loch Gorm, a female Merlin was present and at Gruinart, over 1,000 Golden Plover. Steve Percival braved the elements this morning and managed to fire his cannon nets, catching and enabling around 70 Barnies to be rung with BTO ring, Dravic rings with letter combination and also a plain yellow ring to presumably denote the actual year that they have been rung. Remember, if you are over, tomorrow at 16.00 the bird nerds are meeting at the car park at Gruinart and going down to the hides all going well... might see you there!

Sunday 26 October 2014

Sunday 26th October

As forecast, not the best of days here today, still we managed to remember to turn the clocks back. No ferry sailed today, so no papers either but not that was not a great loss!!New birders off the block this week.. The Rochdale team had a count of 320 Golden Plover round at Balllinaby yesterday with a further 40 seen down at Claddach. Also at Claddach there were around 500 Starlings being pursued by a female Merlin. Redwings were seen all over. At The Gearach, a male Hen Harrier was spotted and a ringtail seen up at Sanaig. A female Sparrowhawk was seen in Port Charlotte with a male spotted at Foreland. Yesterday, Phil Knott brought a group over from Heathelea and had seen a juv Golden eagle being mobbed by 2 Buzzards at Feolin and shortly afterwards a White tailed Sea Eagle. Up at Bunnahabhain they saw 2 Otters, a great start for both sets of visitors. Wonder what Phil's highlights were for today, apart for getting rather wet... you will just have to wait in suspense until tomorrow night! Here at home this morning, I spotted 6 Whoopers attempting to fly into thehead wind out towards Granny's rock and then they did a quick about turn, what a difference with a tail wind behind them as they came down and rested up at Rockside.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Saturday 25th October

A rather blustery day here today, the ferry battered through and sailed back and forward to Kennacraig, but by the sound of things it did not head to Colonsay due to "technical" problems rather than a weather related cancellation.. it only returned the other day to "break down" today... Yesterday was the Horwich birders last day. In a hedge over at Persabus, they counted 15 Yellowhammers with 2 different Bullfinches as they headed on up towards Bunnahabhain. They also had a flock of 12 Long tailed Tit close to Loch Allan, on Loch Skerrols, some Mute Swans, 1 Tufted Duck and a Dabchick were present and coming back to their cottage, a Merlin flew low over the road at Foreland. Thanks to Tony and Chris Johnson for your sightings. Yesterday was also the Norfolk birders final day. On Thursday, at Bunnahabhain they had a Dipper and at Feolin, a Peregrine was seen. Yesterday, they saw a Merlin close to Lossit on the Rhinns, a Peregrine at Kilchoman and at least 50 Whoopers between Portnahaven and Kilchoman. Again many thanks to Mike, Nick, Margaret and Oksana for your birds, makes it all worth while for me when you share them for us all to hear what is happening over here! Bjorn-Reider Olsson and his wife yesterday saw a Greylag from the new hide at Gruinart with a neck collar, so once we get some information back, I will let you know all about it!! They also had the Barnies there along with Lapwings, Whitefronts and also a hybrid Greylag with a lot of white plumage. Bob yesterday had seen 6 Yellowhammers down the Moss road out of Bowmore. There was also a Female Hen Harrier chasing after some pheasants, but to no avail. Later on at Loch Skerrols, a Golden Eagle was seen, while over at Ballinaby, a juvenile White tailed Sea eagle, a flock of 150 Twite and also 45 Golden Plovers were all present. It is almost time for the monthly catch up of the "Islay bird nerds", so we are meeting on Tuesday afternoon at 16.00 at the car park at RSPB Loch Gruinart and hope to go down to the hides to see what is around, so if you are around, feel free to come along, all welcome.

Friday 24 October 2014

Friday 24th October

Gone from one extreme to the other... from an early entry, to a latish entry tonight, only common denominator was that I have been out both evenings...Yesterday the East Anglian birders had been over on Jura with their highlight being the sighting of a White tailed Sea Eagle. The Horwich birders yesterday and had been over at Loch Gruinart and then up to Ardnave later on. At Bun an Uillt, in a field there were 2 Whoopers while out on the estuary there were 34 in one group and 11 in another, both groups resting up. Later on and 2 more groups flew in from the sea, one of 30, the other counted 14 Swans in all. They had a Peregrine down near to Craigens and also a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier out on the wing all morning from Craigens on up towards the locked gate before Killinallan. On Ardnave Loch, thee were both Mutes and Whoopers along with some juveniles and also a few Wigeon, but no Teal or the Lesser Scaup seen! There were 4 GND off Nave Island along with a Black Guillemot while a RTD was seen on Loch Gruinart from Ardnave. They also saw 5 Turnstone feeding amongst the seaweed close to Ardnave Point.. Other waders seen included 3 Ringed Plover, Curlews and Oystercatcher. A Snow Bunting was also seen down on the shoreline too. 15 Chough were counted near to Ardnave Loch and a Merlin was seen closeby. We saw a male Hen Harrier round the far end (East end)of Loch Gorm as we returned from Gruinart yesterday morning. James today had seen 2 Pectoral Sandpipers out in front of the old hide, on the reserve were 1025 Golden Plover, 119 Lapwing, 120 Whooper and a Gadwall. A count of geese tallied through at 13,595 Baries, 687 Whitefronts, 152 Greylags, 4 Pale bellied Brent Geese along with 4 large Canada Geese.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Thursday 23rd October

An early entry tonight for you folks as I am out with friends tonight and I want to write this entry NOW!!!The weather today not so good, the poor folk that are over this week have not seen Islay at its' best, perhaps the Distilleries will be the winners this week, all the same the bird entries are still coming through for the blog! Steve Percival along with his father Albert saw a Lesser Scaup up at Ardnave this morning. Bob, today had a Swallow over at Ballinaby, back home behind Port Charlotte, he had 10 Mistle Thrush together back on Monday. He also has seen 3 different Kestrels at different locations lately. The East Anglian birders had a White tailed Sea Eagle being mobbed by 2 Buzzards up above the airport where they also saw a Peregrine, all yesterday. Dave Protherough had a count of 75 Barwits, 25 Pale bellied Brents, 50 Wigeon and 8 RB Merganser at Gartmain, along at the Power generating station there were 10 Mute and 8 Whoopers. Later on he saw an Otter down at the Maltingsv and also 8 Whoopers flying up "Cornabus valley". The Horwich birders yesterday had been in the Ballygrant woods where they had a flock of Long tailed Tit, Great Tit with some Goldcrest. On Ballygrant Loch they saw 5 Mute Swans along with 2 adult Whoopers and their one youngster. On Loch nan Cadhan there was a Dabchick and a solitary Mute Swan. They also counted a total of 42 Whoopers on the pools below Rockside, there had been 32 up in Minister's field earlier on. Bob counted 15 in the field beside his house today. The Horwich birders had a Brambling on the seed at their cottage along with 15 Chaffinches and a Goldfinch this morning.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Wednesday 22nd October

The wind may have dropped since yesterday, but it is still quite windy, and as far as I know, the ferries resumed their normal timetable again.... Back on Monday, the East Anglian birders had seen 2 Pect. Sandpipers along with some Snipe out from the old hide at Gruinart and yesterday they returned and found another out from the new hide and also there were some Redshank, 6 Greenshank and 8 Pintail. Up at Bridgend/ Blackrock area, 65 Scaup and 2 RB Merganser were present. Yesterday, David Protherough had seen 8 Whoopers over Kilnaughton Bay and up on the reserve on the Oa, a male Hen Harrier while on the loch at Kinnabus, Greylags and Whitefronts were seen while back down at the Maltings at Port Ellen, 2 Pale bellied Brent have been present over the past few days. Yesterday,the Horwich birders had a flock of over 300 Golden Plover over at Ballinaby. Amongst the Barnies out in front of the new hides they managed to read some Darvic rings and Steve Percival duly was able to say that one of the geese was rung 10 years ago, one of a small flock of "wandrers" that are seen around Islay while another one was very "faithful" to where it was seen, being rung 5 years ago, another was quite faithful too but was in Ireland earlier this year! The last goose was only rung 2 years ago and Steve did not have so many sightings of it on his database! Thinking back, I asked Steve about the Barnie that turned up a few years back in New York, it was seen quite often that winter in the States but not seen since! From the old hide the Horwich birders yesterday morning had seen a male Hen Harrier, Peregrine, 5 Whoopers, along with Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Whitefronts, Barnies, Heron, Curlew and Lapwing. From the new hide, they had good close sightings of Whitefronts, Barnies, Greylags, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Wigeon, Curlew and Snipe. A Redwing and 2 Roe Deer were seen along the woodland trail as they returned to their car. Last night as we headed dopwn to Port Charlotte, just before we entered Bruichladdich, a Barn Owl was perched on a fence post at the side of the road, the first we had seen for some time, but then again perhaps we should go out more often, rather than being housebound! This morning in the garden, there was a small flockof 37 Redwings for a short time. Robin this morning had 2 flocks of Golden Plovers over at Ballinaby, each over 200. He also had 2 Golden Eagles between Sunderland and the Gruinart turnoff, one a "well marked" immature Eagle, the other an adult bird. Later on, Robin had a Coot up on Ardnave Loch.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Tuesday 21st October

Some sightings for you from yesterday as I do not think there will be many coming in tonight due to the high winds... the ferry never came although the plane through this morning, mind you I do not think it would be a calm flight!! The Horwich birders had seen 11 adult Whoopers along with 4 young down at Rockside. On Loch Gorm they counted 105 Tufted Duck and also a Pochard. A male Merlin was seen over the coalyard. Late morning over at Claggain Bay, they had a GND with 4 Reed Buntings at the Ardtalla gate. On the beach below Ardtalla, 2 Mute Swans were present ,12 Whoopers along with 12 RB Merganser, a Heron and also a Buzzard. Kilnaugton Wood held 2 Goldcrest and 2 Buzzards just after lunchtime. Late afternoon, on the edge of the merse at Bridgend, 13 Pale bellied Brents were seen and finally down on Machir Bay, 35 Ringed Plover, 25 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling and 4 Chough were noted. New visiting birders from East Anglia had been down on the Oa where they counted 350 Redwing together in a flock, 2 Merlin, 2 Hen Harriers, 2000 Barnies, 1000 Greylags, 6 Whitefronts, 2 Chough, 6 Whoopers and 2 Mistle Thush. I also bumped into a group from Speyside Wildlife led by John Picton and Darren Rees who are over for a few days, bet you never made Jura today!!! They had seen a Canada Goose amongst the Barnies down below Rocksidetowards the Coastguards Houses. Today Robin from Malham Tarn had seen some flocks of Chaffinches, after Ardbeg out towards Claggain Bay and he was saying that there had been the odd Brambling in each flock.

Monday 20 October 2014

Monday 20th October

Steve Percival who is over at present sent through this image of a Canada Goose which he had taken down below Rockmountain at Sunderland Farm. Steve reckons that it is one of the small "Todds" species. Later on Albert, his father was telling me that they had seen a Barnie that they had rung 20 years ago, and a pair that were rung 15 years ago, the pair are very true to their location, being caught in the same field and also seen there too over all their visits to Islay! The Barnie that Andrew and Jane saw last week, Steve had caught and rung back on October in 2008! George Newall from Dunoon was on the phone this evening and said that the day that they had the Snow Buntings and the Choughs over at Ardnave was last Tuesday, we had a good blether great when you folk out there speak rather than just an email! Yesterday the Horwich birders had a Dipper on the River Sorn. From the old hide, they saw a great mix of birds, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe , Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler and Mallard. Good sightings of Barnies and Whitefronts close at hand. They spotted one of "Ed's" whitefronts with a collar numbered 22 there too, if I recall it was caught and rung the last winter. They also saw Mute and Whoopers there as well. Over at Loch Skerrols they counted 24 adult Mutes along with 5 young. 1 Gadwall, 3 Dabchick, 4 Tufted, 8 Wigeon,70 Whitefronts, a Buzzard and 2 Whoopers. Down at Bridgend, on the "pink berried" Rowans had feeding Song Thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare in small numbers. The reason I have put pink berried rather than ordinary Rowans is that back home the birds do not eat them apart from Waxwings when they come. They also saw Siskin and a Goldcrest, Blue Tits, Great Tits as well as some Coal Tits. Martin from close to Aberdeen had a White tailed Sea eagle on Loch Gorm. Emily had 5 Whoopers come in to Gruinart this morning while we had 2 different groups of 6 Whoopers fly over en route to Ireland. Ann and Noel Herd returned home at the weekend after a great week's birding. They had 2 Golden Eagles on Jura, with another 3 around the Loch Gorm area. Where they were staying, they often saw Hen Harriers, a flock of 40 Golden Plover and also the big flock at Gruinart. Merlin were seen a plenty as well as many Chough. In the wee burn going in to Machir Bay, a Grey Wagtail was added to their list. On Loch Indaal, (14th) 4 Slav Grebes, 45 Scaup, RTD and GND were seen, also on the 14th, a Wheatear was seen down on the Oa. 16th, a mixed flock of around 30 Redwings and Fieldfares, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Robins and Stonechats around the Rhinns. The following day down at Machir Bay, 3 Sanderling and 44 Ringed Plover, over on Loch Indaal, 50 Scaup and 40 Eiders were seen. From their cottage they had a count of 145 Twite and also a Brambling. Finally on their way out to the early ferry, they saw 2 Barn Owls! There are some sightings from today which I will keep for you tomorrow as I am getting tired...

Sunday 19 October 2014

Sunday 19th October

From the ferry yesterday as they returned back to Kennacraig, Andrew and Jane had over 100 Kittiwakes and an Arctic Skua. George Newall had seen 3 Snow Buntings and a count of 52 Chough up at Ardnave, not sure exactly when as I think that George headed back to Dunoon the other day. Visitor Danny had seen 2 Peregrine upsetting the Rock Doves up behind Machir Bay and round the other side of Loch Gorm, close to Ballinaby, a juvenile Golden Eagle. This afternoon we had a few Whitefronts at Ballinaby mixed in with the Greylags, 2 of the Whitefronts had neck collars and another was wearing a transponder, must mind my scope so I can read the said collars Ed! Steve Percival had another one with a transponder over at Gruinart which James told us was one the Ed fitted last winter and was often seen in a tight location throughout, once it had been "fitted". We also saw a few Brent just coming out of Bowmore and the Barnies at the head of Loch Indaal being pushed in with the rising tide.. James saw 2 Pinkies amongst the Barnies on the reserve. Robin from Malham Tarn had see a Merlin from the new hide as well as 2 Grey Plover. Returning along through the "woodland trail" Robin reported the trees were "full of Goldcrest" and he also had 2 Treecreepers there as well. On the Bridgend Flats, Robin saw a further 2 Grey Plover, a ringtail Hen Harrier, Knot around 20 Pale bellied Brents and also Common Scoter.

Saturday 18th October

Yesterday, Andy and Jane from Bowland had their last full day on Islay before heading home today. At Octomore yesterday, they had Redwings, Reed Buntings, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Goldfinches and Chaffinches. Later on from the old hide at Gruinart, they saw 3 Shoveler, 15 Pintail and 12 Snipe and along at the new hide, amongst the Barnies they had a Pinkfoot, several Brent Geese before a White tailed Sea Eagle came along and put the whole lot up in the air. The big bird then flew across the loch in the direction of Craigens. They also had a Barnie with a darvic ring on, so once I hear back from Steve Percival, we will know more about it! On Loch Gruinart itself, they had the large flock of Golden Plover, 30 Sanderling and 3 Grey Plover with Tufted Duck seen on Loch Gorm as well. In all during their stay, Andy & Jane had 102 species seen, thanks for sharing your birds, just great... Today, James returned from his week away, from the ferry in West Loch Tarbert, he saw a Velvet Scoter, an Otter in the Sound of Islay and at Lyrabus a Merlin was seen. Changeover day today, with the birders today, so may well get some new contributors tomorrow...

Friday 17 October 2014

Friday 17th October

Yesterday the " Bowland birders" had been out round the Rhinns, a quieter day compared with their trip earlier on this week, but they still managed to see a Golden Eagle, in the forest at Ballimony, Siskins and Redpolls were both seen, round at Gearach they saw a small flock of 8 Fieldfare. Finally back on the hill at Octomore, 7 Common Snipe, a Mistle Thrush and a pair of Stonechats. Emily last night had spotted an Otter over at Killinallan. Robin from close to Settle in Yorkshire returning for another return Autumn to Islay. Yesterday from the afternoon ferry, Robin had an Arctic Skua. Today at Blackrock, he saw 3 Long tailed ducks, 2 Slavonian grebes and a small raft of 45 Scaup. Over on Loch Gruinart, he had a count of 550 Golden Plover. He also had 2 Pink footed Geese, 3 Greenshank and also 31 Pale bellied Brent. Emily today has been cross eyed counting geese with her tally coming through at 22,908 Barnies, there may have been more as Emily said the geese were quite mobile, moving around... She also counted 164 Whitefronts, 137 Greylags and 16 Whoopers. On the loch, the flock of 550 Golden Plover along with Barwits, Sanderling and Curlew. On the floods there appeared to be a big rise in numbers of Teal and Wigeon today. Mary had seen a Grey Wagtail at the silage pit on the reserve, up at Nave Island a pod of Dolphins and also 50 Twite at Ardnave. At Lyrabus, Mary had 2 Yellowhammers and over 40 Skylarks together in a flock. Emily was also saying that the Geese and Whoopers are still arriving by the day with more Redwing seen around today.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Thursday 16th October

A big bumper edition tonight, so here goes, it's great when you all send in your sightings.. Earlier this week, think it was either Monday or Tuesday, the blog was hit by 414 folk looking at it on the one day....Andrew and Jane (the Bowland birders)Had seen 27 Scaup and a Goldeneye at Blackrock. At Loch Skerrols and the surrounding woods, they had 50 Greenland Whitefronts, 4 Canada (large), 1 Pinkfooted Goose, 3 Dabchick, 4 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 15 Mute Swan, 12 Woodpigeon, 1 Sparrowhawk, 5 Long tailed Tit, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Coal Tit and a Goldcrest. On the River Sorn, a Dipper and a Grey Wagtail were seen with pr of Mistle Thrush nearby. Emily had 3 Golden Eagles down on the Oa on the guided walk on Tuesday, at Kilnaughton Bay, she counted 8 GND. This morning, Bob had a large flock of Redwing up behind Port Charlotte. They appeared to be coming out from roosting in the trees around Gearach, in his garden alone, Bob counted 48 Redwing and 20 Blackbirds! Alan and Jill from Arran who are staying with Carl, had a flock of 600 Redwing at Kildalton and a House Martin at Craigens. Carl himself had 4 Herons at An Toran as well as 7 Whoopers also there. Mary had a Chiffchaff on the Moorland trail, along the flats at Gruinart, 9 Snipe were in a "loose flock". The Brambling was still present amongst the flock of Chaffinches. Going up to Ardnave, a Kestrel, a male Hen Harrier was spotted and 2 Chough were seen soon after. On the guided walk this morning, a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen, 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese with also 15 Red legged partridges (? released birds). On the floods Teal, Wigeon, Pintail and Shoveler were present while out on the loch, a lonesome Black Guillemot was not looking too happy as it was getting surrounded by GBB Gulls and Hoodies, did not hear the final outcome! Here at home this morning, while I was looking out the window, the wee birds, well all the birds cleared off the feeders, and hey presto a male Sparrowhawk stopped by for a few moments perching on top of the small fence less than 15 feet away!!! Coming home from Port Charlotte this afternoon, a Stoat hopped out on the road, saw us coming and did a u turn and jumped back into the verge, it had a lbj (Little brown job) in its' mouth, of the furry kind rather than of the the feathered ilk! Emily was also saying that a juv Golden Eagle has been seen regularly out from the Visitor Centre at Gruinart, wonder if it is keeping an eye on the geese!!! Wally was telling me today of another visiting birder had seen a Kigfisher down close to the mouth of the River Sorn. Wally himself the other day had seen 2 Grey Plover on Loch Gruinart, and he is now up to 98 species seen, wonder if he can get to 100 before he leaves...

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Wednesday 15th October

Yesterday the Bowland birders had done the walk from Gartbeck up to Bowmore and then returned back to their starting point. Their tally came through at 50 Lapwing, 30 Twite, 150 Golden Plover, 4 Knot, 12 Blackwits, 50 Barwits, 1 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 6 Turnstone, 1 Jack Snipe, 12 Whoopers, 2 Pale bellied Brent Geese and a Merlin. Earlier on at Gartmain they had seen 25 Pale bellied Brent Geese and 14 Whoopers which included 4 youngsters. There was a small raft of Scaup at Blackrock late afternoon and 7 Whoopers flew in to rest up, and just before we came along to Rockside road end, a Fieldfare flew across the road in front of us

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Tuesday 14th October

Another not bad day for time of the year, a bit cooler, but the main thing about today was that it was another dry day.. Back on Sunday, Wally and Jude had a Velvet Scoter off Bruichladdich. They also had a Slavonian Grebe there, as well as 5 GND and a Black throated Diver. Yesterday down on the Oa, he had a close sighting of a Golden Eagle. This morning at Craigens, Wally had a pr of Grey Wagtails and also a Pintail from the new hide. At Gruinart Farm, a Kestrel was seen with a ringtail Hen Harrier being classed as a near miss (to the car!) as he drove round Loch Gorm! Wally and Jude's total is now up to 96 species. The Bowland birders, Andrew and Jane yesterday had 25 Ringed Plover at Bruichladdich, a Black Guillemot in winter plumage and 25 Common Scoter. From Blackrock, 9 Slavonian Grebes, 3 of which were "associating" with a raft of 35 Scaup, 2 male and 2 female Goldeneyes and also 4 Red breasted Merganser. Up on Ardnave Loch, there were 13 Whoopers along with some Mute Swans. 80 Golden Plover, 40 Chough and 50 Twite were also present as well. Up at Ardnave Point, they saw a Grey Plover.. They had no sign of the Snow Buntings there or of any Canada Geese down at Gruinart reserve itself. Here at home, a new garden bird, a Redwing and late afternoon 3 lots of Whoopers 11, 10 and a further 11 flew directly over and out to the sea and they all turned South to Ireland.

Monday 13 October 2014

Monday 13th October

Another beautiful day, again with a sunset at present to finish the day off, and yes another shirt sleeves day out in the garden. Becky sent through some highlights from George Newall from Dunoon who was over last week. Mon 6th Oct, a Great Skua over Port Ellen Bay, Swallow Ardbeg on Thurs 9th, on Saturday, male Blackcap near Ardbeg , 2 Pochard on Loch Skerrols, Swallow nr Ballygrant. On Sunday, he had over 40 Shag fishing in Kilnaughton Bay along with an Otter! Yesterday George Jackson had a count of 25 Whoopers flying over the land along the coast line, could they have been the same Swans that we saw while doing the count? Today he had a large female Sparrowhawk at home at Bruichladdich. Yesterday Andrew and Jane ("The Bowland birders") had done the loop round the Rhinns from Port Charlotte. They started off at Octomore with a Greenfinch, down at Port Charlotte a Great Tit and a Grey Wagtail were seen, along at Carn, out on Loch Indaal a Red throated Diver and 5 GND. Off Nerabus, there was a Shag and a raft of Common Scoter. At Easter Ellister 3 Wrens, 3 adult Whoopers along with 6 juvs, pr of Wigeon, 2 Chough, Collared Dove, Goldfinch,and 2 White Wagtails. A female Long tailed Duck was seen between Orsay and Port Wemyss with a steady passage of Gannets noted towards Frenchman's Rocks. A female Hen Harrier at Portnahaven, at Tormisdale, a Dunnock and also a Song Thrush were seen. Finally at Gearach, 2 Tawny Owls were spotted. They reckon that they saw between 40 - 50 Stonechats while they were out. Yesterday as well, Carl had seen the Whoopers at Ellister. Today he had a Goldcrest and Grey Wagtail at Lorgba, Port Charlotte and also a Blackwit at Bruichladdich. Bob and Johno had Willow Warbler and a Redwing up on Bolsay Moor, up at Bun an uillt there were 20 Redshank and an Otter. Out from the visitor Centre at Gruinart, amongst the geese, they saw a Pink footed goose. Up at Ardnave Loch there were 18 Whoopers and 50 Wigeon and at the top of Loch Indaal they had a a GND. Tom Morton along with 5 friends, members of the Wigan RSPB members group had done an hour between 5 and 6 pm this evening below Bruichladdich. On Loch Indaal they counted 14 RTD, 3 GND, 1 Black throated Diver, 6 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Long tailed Ducks, 40 Common Scoter, 16 Whoopers and 20 Red breasted Merganser, They also counted around 20 - 25 Pink footed Geese fly overhead. Mary this morning had a count of the geese at Gruinart which tallied through at 16,201 Barnies, 92 Whitefronts, 97 Greylags, 30 Pale bellied Brents. Just after Mary completed her count, 2 juv Golden eagles flew up Gruinart and spoofed the whole lot and they then flew upwards out of eyeshot. Up at Kilnave, Mary had a juv Sparrowhawk with a male Hen Harrier at Ardnave. Back at the visitor centre, a Brambling was seen amongst the Chaffinches present. In the morning too from the old hide, 15 Snipe were seen feeding away and out on the sea wall, a dark belied Brent goose was seen. This evening here at home the Red Deer Stags are roaring away out on the hill...

Sunday 12 October 2014

Sunday 12th October

Another great day with the weather again, if you do not believe me look at our new link to Islay wildscapes where you can see some of the tremendous images that Teresa has taken while she is here. Yesterday Dave had a Slavonian grebe on Loch Kinnabus, it had been there on Friday too. Also yesterday, Dave had seen 3 Brambling and 2 Goldcrest on the Oa. He had also been chasing after a reported Great grey backed shrike, but no joy! This morning, Andy (one of the vols) had carried a goose count at Gruinart, there were 14,178 Barnies, 53 Pale bellied Brent, 53 Whitefronts and 80 Greylags, 41 Whoopers were also present over at Gruinart. This morning I gave Bob and Johno a help doing the count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck with the tally being as follows, 2 Cormorant, 39 Shag, 7 Mute, 38 Whoopers, 675 Barnies, 26 Greylag, 132 Mallard, 40 Teal, 60 Wigeon, 4 Goldeneye, 15 Eider, 10 Red breasted Merganser, 1 Gannet, 86 Oystercatcher, 85 Curlew, 103 Barwits, 18 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 27 Blackwits, 23 Dunlin, 10 Turnstone, 2 Snipe, 78 Lapwing, 210 Golden Plover, 9 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Gull, 15 GBB Gull, 50 Herring Gull, 22 BH Gull and 50 Common Gull. There were also a further 25 Whoopers flying down Loch Indaal on the Bruichladdich side of the loch, these were counted as not in our count area! At home this morning before setting out to meet in with Bob and Johno, I spotted a Blackbird eating some of the berries off one of the bushes that I recently planted, I suppose that was one of the reasons for planting them anyway...

Saturday 11 October 2014

Saturday 11th October

Another glorious day and what a cracker of a sunset to end the day... Bob this morning had a fall of over 100 Reed Buntings up on Bolsay Moor along with 2 Goldcrest and a female Whitethroat. Up at Corsapol, Bob had a female Yellowhammer, 20 Redpoll and 6 Twite and from the old hide at Gruinart, a Merlin, 20 Pintail amongst the Wigeon and Teal there. Bob reckons that there are around 15,000 Barnies now here, certainly they appear to be arriving all the time...From the new hide this afternoon Bob saw a Peregrine and 2 Pink footed Geese. Down on the Rhinns today, Mary saw a juv White tailed Sea Eagle flying North along the Coast, an adult Golden Eagle and later on a female Kestrel. The Bowland birders, Andy and Jane arrived over for the week today. From the ferry, they saw 3 Porpoises while on Islay itself, they counted 80 Twite on the overhead wires at Octomre and also 2 Moorhen on the "Distillery pond" behind Port Charlotte. Up behind the coal yard at Gortan, around midday, we had a Wheatear. There was a large number of Barnies resting up at the head of Loch Indaal as the tide went out, possibly after feeding under the bright moon last night...

Friday 10 October 2014

Friday 10th October

It was great to meet in with visitor Wally along with his wife Jude who have been visiting Islay for a good number of years. Yesterday, up behind Loch Skerrols they had 16 species of birds, Linnet, Twite, Skylark, Dunnock, Wren, Pheasant, Red legged Partridge, Goldfinch, Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Long tailed Tit, Yellowhammer, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Pied Wagtail and Robin, all in a stretch of around 300 - 400 yards along the road! This afternoon, they had a Sparrowhawk and also a Merlin just after Grainel, on their way over to here. So far they have had 84 species seen this trip, and they only arrived on Tuesday!!! James this morning had a count of 11,905 Barnies and 30 Whitefronts on the reserve. This afternoon, Mary had over 100 Whitefronts. The Barnies were arriving around 200 per hour, in small groups. There were also 5 Pintails arriving behind one of the smaller skeins of 20 Barnies. Up at Ardnave, on the tideline up at the Point there were 5 Snow Buntings eating away. There were also 34 Ravens seen between Ardnave Point and Nave Island. Over on Nave Island, 79 Seal pups were counted. Back on Ardnave Loch, there were 6 Whoopers and 8 adult Mute Swans and also 6 cygnets. Late afternoon, while Wally was here, we saw 20 Whoopers heading out from Loch Gorm out over Machir Bay and then heading South, no doubt they will be in Ireland by now!

Thursday 9 October 2014

Thursday 9th October

David Livingstone kindly sent this image that he had taken earlier this week of some Whoopers flying over Port Ellen. Teresa Morris yesterday had a count of 52 Whoopers flying South out past Saligo. She also had a flock of 28 Chough in the same area too. Back at Craigens, Teresa had 86 Pale bellied Brent being pushed in by the incoming tide. She also had 42 Curlews and 50 Oystercatchers there as well. Today, Louise had a count of 120 Blackbirds all together at Gatehouse on Jura where a White tailed Sea Eagle, a Kestrel and 2 Buzzards, not a bad start to the day! On the North side of Loch Gorm, Ballinaby side, Louise had a flock of 230 Golden Plover and also a Golden Eagle also present! Today on the guided walk at Gruinart, Emily's pick included 4 Pink footed Geese, pr of Bullfinches, Treecreeper, Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Stonechat. Mary had a count of 39 Pinkfeet, 96 Brents, 1 Canada, 12 Whitefronts, 161 Greylags and 5032 Barnies. The count would have been greater but 2 overflying jets spooked the geese before Mary had completed her count... She also commented in seeing more geese arriving through the day as well. Bob had been out and about today. He had 6 Fieldfare at Glenmor behind Port Charlotte. Over Bun an Uillt he had 10 Red breasted Merganser, 5 Redshank and a Greenshank. Up at Killinallan a female Kestrel, 2 Wheatear, 1 White Wagtail along with 6 Pied Wagtail were present. Back down at Craigens, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Mistle Thrushes along with "lots" of Reed Buntings. Over on Loch Skerrols, 3 Dabchicks, 1 Moorhen and 20 Whitefronts amongst the Greylags there. Finally at Gartmain there were 15 Pale bellied Brent and 520 Wigeon. Here at home, we had the sighting of 2 distant Golden Eagles, a good spot with the scope, well done Margaret! Another day out in the garden in the shirt sleeves, not bad for October!!!

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Wednesday 8th October

Another dry day, but not as warm, so had to look out a jersey to work outside... Yesterday down on the guided walk on the Oa, Emily had seen 2 Golden Eagles including a juvenile bird, 2 Chough, 5 Barnies heading out over to Ireland, 5 Buzzards, juv Peregrine and a Merlin. Dave had been out and about on the Oa yesterday and he saw a juv White tailed Sea Eagle, 3 Golden Eagle, 2 Chough, a Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and 3 Goldcrest. Today Dave had a Brambling down on the Oa. Today, Bob had seen several flocks of Redwing up behind Port Charlotte. 200 Lapwing were seen at Loch Gorm with a female Pintail in front of the old hide, a Pinkfoot and 2 Canadas along the flats amongst the Barnies. James had a count of the Barnies tallying through at 6,530 Barnies, 115 Greylags, 1 Pinkfooted Goose, the large Canada Goose was still present. He also saw a Hen Harrier, a Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine all in flight over the reserve. Forgot to mention the other day that there was a Buzzard being mobbed/ zapped by 2 Peregrines, here at home, coming out from the crag, the Buzzard must have had eyes on top of its' head as several times it dropped a wing to avoid being struck. Eventually it took the hint and flew away from the Peregrines.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Tuesday 7th October

What another glorious day it has been, outside in shirt sleeves for a second time in October, not that I am complaining!! Mary this morning, over on the reserve at Gruinart saw over 4,000 Barnies, along with 113 Pale bellied Brent Geese, a Pinkfoot and a small Canada Goose, not the same goose that James had seen as it was a larger goose! Up on Ardnave Loch, Mary had a Pochard. Around midday, Peter had a count of 40 Common Scoter just off the pier at Bruichladdich. As I write this entry, there is a beautiful sunset outside, here's hoping for another sunny, dry day again tomorrow.

Monday 6 October 2014

Monday 6th October

Emily has been seeing a Tawny Owl regularly close the where she lives at Gruinart. Back On Friday evening, she saw a Barn Owl along the flats at Gruinart. She also saw a hen Peregrine mob a Buzzard, and yesterday a ringtail Hen Harrier struggling to fly into a head wind! Visitor, Teresa Morris yesterday had seen a Snow Bunting up at Ardnave. It appeared rather tired, rather hungry and preened itself for some time. For some great images of it check out Teresa's blog on Paul Graham had a Kestrel on the high road close to the water works. On the Golf course, Paul had a juv. White tailed Sea Eagle as it followed the shoreline, while he had a Peregrine over the actual course. The birds made up for a poor day with the clubs!!! Carl yesterday had a female Merlin chasing a Meadow Pipit at Port Charlotte, at An Torran, 6 Snipe were seen, on the dunes behind Machir Bay a flock of Twite was present and finally down at Octomore, 2 Swallows were seen. Through the night we had quite a blow, but not much damage done a far as I know. Bob today had a Willow Warbler in his garden, 42 Lapwing flying south and 2 groups of Whoopers heading out to Ireland, 59 in all. At Gruinart, Emily had counted 81 Whoopers in total. Amongst the Barnies were 2 Pale bellied Brent and 9 Whitefronts. Dave today had 21 Whoopers down on the Oa, 2 Goldcrests, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 4 Hen Harriers, 5 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk.Today Paul G had some Barnies on Loch Indaal. Here at home we spotted 25 Whoopers fly directly over the house late afternoon. Earlier on James and Mary had seen 33 Whoopers at Gruinart and a further 20 at Loch Gorm. Certainly been a great day for Whoopers! This evening, there was a small thunderstorm, something that we do not really have here that often!

Sunday 5 October 2014

Sunday 5th October

A bit windy over here today with the wind set to increase through the night, the evening ferry this evening, came early and left early but already the 7am ferries to and from Islay tomorrow have been cancelled... On the bird front, Bob had been out and about this morning. On Loch Gorm, he saw a Glaucous Gull, a family of 7 Whoopers (probably the same swans that James saw at Gruinart yesterday), 1,800 Barnies, 3,000 Greylags 300 Tufted Duck, 120 Mallard and 10 Teal. Round at Ballinaby, he saw 2 Greenland Whitefonted Geese, one with a collar on, but could not make out the lettering. At Gruinart, Bob counted around 5,000 Barnies, 100 Pale belled Brent and 14 Whitefronts. Over at Ballitarsin today, David Formby had a flock of 153 Golden Plover, with a few still in summer plumage. Late afternoon, on the reserve at Gruinart, James counted 6,230 Barnies, 88 Pale bellied Brents a Merlin and the Canada Goose (parvipes sp) was also seen. Here at home, there was a mixed group of Chough and Jackdaws "bouncing about" in the wind out around the crag, quite a spectacle!!!

Saturday 4 October 2014

Saturday 4th October

A big change in the weather today, a bit cooler with squally showers coming in off the sea. One of the showers even had hailstones and quite big ones too. We even saw several rainbows too.. it will not be long before the clocks change, only about 3 weeks away, yes, the nights are drawing in for sure... Yesterday down at Claddach at Portnahaven, Mary had a Merlin on the coast, she also saw a Wheatear close to Portnahaven itself, with a male Hen Harrer between Portnahaven and Port Wemyss. This morning Bob had 2 Redwings and also 2 Wheatears down at "The Hedges" at Sunderland. We saw 2 groups of Barnies on Loch Gorm, one of around 25, the other with about 45 Geese. There were also around 50 Tufted Ducks and a large number of Greylags on the water as well. James had a count of 1490 Barnies, 90 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 1 Canada Goose (parvipes sp.), 7 Whooper Swans, 18 Pintail and a Peregrine all over at Gruinart today.

Friday 3 October 2014

Friday 3rd October

Jim Pratt from the Scottish Borders had seen a white phased Greenland Falcon down at the Rockside roadend late this afternoon. . Some birds from Jim , back on the 27th (last Saturday) he had a male Hen Harrier at Saligo, a male Sparrowhawk at Ballinaby, a flock of 20 Curlew at Coull and a Brambling at Kilchoman. Sunday, a female Sparrowhawk at Machrie, a ringtail Hen Harrier at Carnduncan and also a female Hen Harrier at Kilchoman. A male Sparrowhawk was seen at Ardnave on Monday. On Tuesday, there was a male and a female Peregrine at Kilchoman with the hen bird taking a Rock Dove. A female Sparrowhawk was seen at Kilchoman the same day, with 6 Chough seen down on the dunes behind Machir Bay. On Wednesday, Jim saw the juv. Peregrine out hunting Rock Doves at Kilchoman, a count of 30 Chough at Coull and also a female Peregrine at Loch Gorm. He also noted Buzzards as being widespread , all around! Thanks Jim for your birds, as ever much appreciated. This afternoon I saw a flock of around 40 - 50 Lapwings flying over the dunes here at home... A great sunset this evening, a great end to the day, by the way we had some rain last night, with more to come next week by the sound of things too...

Thursday 2 October 2014

Thursday 2nd October

Another dry day, though I have had a jersey on.. and the wind has picked up too. This morning I managed to plant a few Willows, hoping to provide some cover/ shelter for the birds in the future... James had counted 28 Barnies on the reserve today and also saw a Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk. Adrian had been down at the hide at first light where he saw a White tailed Sea Eagle, was it waiting on a goose for breakfast? On his way down to the Oa, Adrian had a male Hen Harrier and coming home to Gruinart this evening he saw another along the flats. Bob had been up at the "old" hide at Gruinart today where he had a count of 8 Snipe, 400 Teal on the floods with a Sparrowhawk out hunting as was a Hen Harrier. Mary counted 53 Barnies coming in to land on Loch Gorm this afternoon.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Wednesday 1st October

That's another month flown past what a great month it has been, with only 0.75 of an inch on the rain gauge.. Today has been another wee cracker of a day.. I was even working in the garden in my shirt sleeves, not bad for October!!!Last night on her way home, Mary had a male Hen harrier just past Carn just out of Port Charlotte. Also up at Ardnave yesterday, Mary saw a Merlin. This morning she saw another Merlin, this time sitting on a fence post as Mary came round Loch Gorm, on the moorland trail on the reserve at Gruinart she had a ringtail Hen Harrier and a Sparrowhawk down at Moulin. She also commented on still spotting a few Swallows around. This afternoon in the woodland trail she saw 2 Treecreepers, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Coal Tit, 2 Great Tit and a Blue Tit , all on the same Willow tree! Not to be outdone, Emily had 3 Treecreepers on the cottage wall at Moulin. She had seen 3 Grey Wagtails on the shore at Ardbeg with a Black Guillemot in winter plumage out on the sea there as well. Most evening of late, Emily has heard a Tawny Owl outside of Moulin. This evening Adrian counted 27 Barnies flying from the fields behind the Visitor centre at Gruinart down and on to Loch Gruinart itself.