Saturday 31 January 2015

Saturday 31st January

The high winds that were forecast never really came, at least the wind speed was not as high as I had expected. The ferries played safe and stayed in Port and did not venture out at all, no papers then to read... The bird front has been quiet as well. We were over at Mulindry up behind Bridgend this afternoon and the only bird of note that we saw was a cracking view of a male Hen Harrier, less than 50 yards away!

Friday 30 January 2015

Friday 30th January

Another month almost in, only a day left... I was speaking to David Formby last night, he has been without a landline for 3 weeks and just reconnected yesterday, his mobile with Vodaphone has been playing too... David last week had counted 80 Skylarks together in a flock over towards Mulindry while he has been having Siskins visiting his feeders at his house. Mary yesterday, on her way to work, close to the Visitor Centre at Gruinart saw a Barn Owl which had a near miss with the refuse collecting lorry... Today, down in the field beside the telephone exchange at Coultorsay, there was a small flock of around 15 Curlews. Just around Gortan, (the coalyard) on Loch Indaal there were 3 small flocks of Greylags on the water close to the shore. By the way, I have not seen the Brambling that we saw back on Sunday here at home, not even a one day wonder, a couple of hours and not to be seen again, "gone but not forgotten"...

Thursday 29 January 2015

Thursday 29th January

Another similar day again with the weather although not quite as windy, time of year as someone said... Margaret had 3 Robins at the feeders this morning until a wee scrap commenced leaving only 2 thereafter. A friend here on Islay had a close shave as they headed into Bowmore in the grey half light the other morning. Just after Blackrock, there was an object close to the verge, and lo and behold as the vehicle got close a White tailed Sea Eagle took off, and just missed the vehicle. It had been possibly been on a goose carcase. No names mentioned on that one!!! Malcolm had been doing the Goose count between Bridgend and up towards Bunnahabhain earlier this week and reported seeing several small flocks of Fieldfares. The largest flock of around 50 Fieldfares was seen over close to Balole up beside Scarrabus and there were a few Redwings along with them there. These were the first of either species by Malcolm over the past few weeks. There were a few Redwing down at Machrie Croft this morning.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Wednesday 28th January

Forgot last night to say that there were over 30 Redwings on the overhead electric cables here at home yesterday morning. Also yesterday there were 6 Fulmars in along the front of the crag including the odd Fulmar actually perched on the crag. Today has been a different day, the wind picked up quite a bit last night and top wind speed recorded by us was 64.6mph mid afternoon, withMike recorded a gust of 66mph just after lunchtime down at his house at Rockside road end. There have also been several dirty showers of hailstones or snow, not a day for really being outside much! The ferries did not venture out from Kenacraig today, so there might have been some panic buying down in the Co-op today...

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Tuesday 27th January

This morning James saw the Glaucous gull down at the mouth of the burn as it enters Loch Indaal at Uiskentuie. Here at home the ringtail Hen Harrier was out looking for some food for its' breakfast. It took some time as it quartered back and forward over the fence and especially where the fence drops away and where there is more cover, but no joy! This evening a Woodcock flew off the verge side at Culbuie. Tom Callan sent an e mail through this afternoon. Tom has over the past few years recorded the sightings from the blog and these are then sent through to the Argyll Bird Club. Tom's tally for all your sightings for Islay came to an amazing 4241, well done to all those of you out there who contribute...and well done to Tom for keeping an eye on us!!!

Monday 26 January 2015

Monday 26th January

Some sightings through from Ed... On Thursday, over at Cornabus on the Oa, Ed spotted an Iceland Gull. Later on, still on Thursday, Ed saw a Peregrine close to Cruach, with an imm White tailed Sea Eagle at Ellister, not a bad day! Saturday near to Bridgend, Ed had another WTSE over at Bridgend, and yesterday he saw a white winged Gull at Uiskentuie. Here at home this morning a ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the garden and spoofed all the wee birds, but never got anything!

Sunday 25 January 2015

Sunday 25th January

Yesterday Mary had found a dead Glaucous Gull close to Blackrock at the top of Loch Indaal, earlier on at Bruichladdich, Mary had a Hen Harrier and she also had a Merlin close to Kilchoman. Today was the Big garden Bird count, so we did our bit...with the tally coming out as follows here in our patch... 16 Goldfinches, 85 Chaffinches, 45 Starling, 10 Jackdaws, 7 House Sparrows, 1 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 2 Robin, 1 Blackbirds, 2 Dunnock, 7 Pheasants and a Brambling. It was Margaret that saw the Brambling, a new tick for the garden and today of all days! A friend from Bearsden on the outskirts of Glasgow had a completely different count to ours, they had Siskin, Bullfinches, Greenfinches, Great spotted Woodpeckers, Magpie along with their other usual birds and even a fox....

Saturday 24 January 2015

Saturday 24th January

Those pesky Fulmars were present this morning again, soaring along the front of the crag, so we had better watch out for the wind to pick up in a few days time... watch this space!! Not much else going on today, spent some time I practising counting birds today in readiness for doing our bit for the Big garden birdwatch tomorrow!

Friday 23 January 2015

Friday 23rd January

Mary, late afternoon on Monday, on the reserve at Gruinart had seen 2 ring tailed Hen Harriers, a Barn Owl, a Buzzard and also a Peregrine. On Tuesday, Mary had 2 ringtails, a male Hen Harrier and a Merlin. Speaking to Dave late last night who was telling me that he has been seeing a juv White tailed Sea Eagle regularly down on the reserve on the Oa. Margaret yesterday afternoon, gave me a shout to come and see the Golden Eagle soaring out from the crag here at Kilchoman, great to see.... This morning, there were a few Fulmars soaring along in front of the crag, a sign of a change in the weather perhaps!!!

Thursday 22 January 2015

Thursday 22nd January

Last Friday, Mary had been walking down at the sea wall at Gruinart where she heard a Greenshank alarm calling at her, she also heard Snow Buntings there too but did not manage to see either of them... On Monday, she carried out Webs counts. Ardnave Loch was 95% covered with ice, but it still held 101 Teal, 4 Whoopers, 4 Mute, 2 Goldeneye and 3 Wigeon. On the floods at the reserve, again 95% ice, 3 Whoopers, 7 Curlew, 29 Mallard, 97 Lapwing, 1 Greenshank, 4 Heron, 14 Greylag, 7 Mute, 530 Golden Plover and BH Gulls. Loch Gruinart itself held 3GND, 1 Cormorant, 9 Heron, 130 Shelduck,177 Wigeon, 41 Mallard, 1 Goldeneye, 7 RB Merganser, 1 Pintail, 6 Shoveler, 219 Oystercatcher, 18 Ringed Plover, 800 Golden Plover, 2 Grey Plover, 61 Sanderling, 414 Dunlin, 98 Barwits, 146 Curlew, 140 Redshank, 59 Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, 33 BH Gull, 68 C Gull, 36 H Gull, 5 GBB Gull along with 1 Common seal and an Otter. Thanks Mary!

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Wednesday 21st January

Yesterday, Malcolm, John Armitage and Ed had been over on Jura trying to have a look for any Whitefronted Geese, what success they had I have not heard yet, but over Loch Inver they saw a immature White tailed Sea Eagle and an immature Golden Eagle flying. As Malclom said, it made you realise the difference in the actual size of these 2 birds when they were seen close together. The Golden Eagle flew off with the White tailed Eagle dropping down onto a carcase of a possible Whooper Swan on the edge of Loch Inver. Also yesterday, coming back up from Sunderland at lunchtime, I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier flew up from the bottom side (Loch Gorm) of the road, across the road and it flew on towards the higher ground, no doubt on the lookout for some food.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Tuesday 20th January

Yesterday, I gave Bob a hand to carry out the monthly count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, along the shore and out on Loch Indaal. The conditions were ideal, flat calm, no wind and quite bright. Here is the overall tally, 4 GND, 5 Slavonian grebe, 2 Heron, 23 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 5 Mute Swan, 22 Greylag, 246 Barnies, 8 Whitefronts, 11 Shelduck, 38 Mallard, 171 Wigeon, 212 Teal, 22 Pintail, 1 Goldeneye, 5 Eider, 20 Red breasted Merganser, 12 Common Scoter, 73 Oystercatcher, 34 Curlew, 45 Barwits, 100 Dunlin, 20 Knot, 10 Redshank, 10 Turnstone, 1 Snipe, 46 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey plover, 22 Lapwing, 35 GBB Gull, 200 H. Gull, 10 C. Gull and 30 BH Gulls. Also yesterday, over on the Corran sands on Jura, Louise had a count of 24 Snow Buntings.

Monday 19 January 2015

Monday 19th January

As promised, some more sightings through from George and Pat who have been over for a few days last week helping their son move into his new house down below Rockside... Back on Friday they had 2 Stonechats down at Machir Bay and commented that the dunes have moved again after last weeks' stormy weather! On Saturday, between the house and Gortan (the coal yard on Loch Indaal) they noted at least 20 Blackbirds on/ or flying across the road. Another sighting of a Blackbird was in the Co-op in Bowmore perched on top of the bread counter... James had seen another or the same bird in the Co-op on Saturday too! On Saturday am George and Pat had 66 Scaup on Loch Indaal, close to Uiskentuie with 3 RB Merganser nearby and a distant GND. Yesterday up on Ardnave Loch they saw 2 Goldeneye and 4 Whoopers while back at their son's house, 3 Buzzards were seen together, the Rock Dove flock tallied at 68 and they counted over 120 Skylarks closer to the house. Late afternoon, a distant Golden Eagle was spotted over the Kilchoman Crag. Last week while Bob was out on the Goose count, he saw a Pink footed Goose along with other geese present at Craigfad on the Rhinns. Before I forget, keep an eye on the TV this week, on BBC2 "Winterwatch" as they may be some footage from Islay, but not sure which evening...

Sunday 18 January 2015

Sunday 18th January

A not bad day over here compared to days earlier this month that is, good for time of year for sure! Ed today had been over the other side and had seen some Red Grouse on Beinn Bheigier, lower down, earlier on, he spotted a Dipper on one of the streams. Visiting birder from Lancashire, George Jackson had been over for a few days along with his wife Pat, hopefully we should some sightings as their son is one our local GPs... Another coincidence is that George is an old ringing colleague of Gordon Yates and also David Formby who used to be our Dentist...George has already started to put together a garden bird list and 2 "unusual" birds already is a Reed Bunting and also a Raven. He also had a count of 58 Rock Doves, 3 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush and also 2 Redwings. They have also had a Buzzard and a family of 5 Whitefronts less than 40 metres from the garden fence. On Friday, there were some more Whitefronts and also Barnies around about 250 metres away! More from George and Pat tomorrow... This afternoon, as we headed over to see James at Gruinart, there was a Stonechat on the roadside along the far end (West) of Loch Gorm, over at Grainel, there was a flock of around 50 Fieldfare. Coming home just before we came to Ballinaby, a male Hen Harrier was out quartering his patch, a great sight to see!

Saturday 17 January 2015

Saturday 17th January

What a different day it has been one point I had to double check that the weather station was registering no wind, right enough it was flat calm , no wind at all, possibly the first time this year... mid morning there was a dirty snow shower. I believe that it was heavier over on the Oa, with the runway at the airport having to be cleared of the snow before the plane touched down. The other problem was that there was no de-icer for the wings!!! As far as I know the ferries all sailed according to the timetable. Some highlights from Rob Lambert and Lucy McRobert who were over for a few days at the start of the month. 3rd Jan, over 50 Chough at Ardnave with 30 Whoopers counted on Ardnave Loch. 4th, at least 10 Fulmars on the sea cliffs down on the Oa, a Merlin, 2 Golden Eagles and a ringtail Hen Harrier were seen on the same day down on the Oa too, over at Bruichladdich, 8 Snipe were on the shore. Over on Jura on the 6th, a Treecreeper was seen in a garden in Craighouse with a Grey Wagtail on the beach there too. Out on the sea around Small Isles, a Black Guillemot. Later on, Rob and Lucy saw a Golden Eagle a 2 different White tailed Sea Eagles. They also saw 2 Otters in Craighouse Bay! The following day, a Peregrine was on prey on the shoreline at Bridgend, 3 Pale bellied Brent in the Mulindry area, with a Richardson's cackling goose close to Bridgend. On their last day, they saw a Dabchick on Loch Skerrols and from the ferry on their way back to Kennacraig, 6 Kittiwake and a Fulmar were added to their tally.

Friday 16 January 2015

Friday 16th January

This morning, Carl had seen a white winged gull down at Uiskentuie, possibly the Glaucous Gull that has been seen around there recently. Morvern sent through the count from the International Goose count carried out earlier this week. The tally was as follows, 38,604 Barnies, 4239 Whitefronts and 607 Greylags. Thanks to Morvern and the SNH team for sharing these figures with us. Yesterday round towards Coull I had a flock of around 40 Curlews.

Thursday 15 January 2015

Thursday 15th January

Mary yesterday had been carrying out the second day of the International Goose count. Up at Bun an Uillt Mary saw 7 Ravens while down on the shoreline, she had 30 Turnstone. On the other side of Loch Gruinart, at Garra Eallabus, a Merlin was seen, Further on, up at Ardnave, with a high tide there was a mixed flock of Curlew and Oystercathers. Further on, 3 Turnstone along with a Grey Plover were noted. Going round Ardnave Point, there were several small flocks of about 20 birds of Lapwing and Golden Plovers seen. Today has been, well another windy day with a gust of 75.4 mph just before breakfast time, may be I should have placed the weather station in a more sheltered spot!!! The rainfall might not be so accurate, as the rain has been mostly horizontal of late, no pleasing some folks...We have only had 4" so far in January and we are only half way through the month!

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Wednesday 14th January

Another windy day with some more dirty squally showers, some consisting of rain, others with hailstones, take your pick! I spotted a Buzzard being blown along in the wind today, the first Buzzard that I have seen for some time. There were 4 Whoopers resting up down at Rockside this morning. As I put this entry together, think we are all waiting for the wind to pick up through the night and wait to see what happens from there... the first 2 ferry crossings are already cancelled for tomorrow!!!

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Tuesday 13th January

Well, the forecast was correct (as ever!) and we awoke this morning to the ground with a covering of snow, not a lot but it carried on with dirty showers through the day. Think that the other side, Ballygrant and Keills would certainly have had more than us! There were a few flashes of lightening yesterday evening along with the following rumbles of thunder and this has happened again the odd time through the day today. I was even wakened at 2.30am with a really heavy hail shower with the hailstones clattering off the bedroom window!! Long and the short of it was that I certainly did not venture far today, so the big stove was lit and the house is nice and cosy inside... the cats are loving it as we are too!!! Today some of the others had to work... Mary had been out in the trying conditions attempting to do the International Goose Count on the Gruinart/ Ardnave route. To start her day off, an immature Glaucous Gull was seen at Blackrock, with around 20 Scaup offshore there as well. Along at Blackpark, a ringtail Hen Harrier with a second one noted along the flats at Gruinart and a male Hen Harrier close to Grainel. Also there, was a flock of 40 Fieldfare. At Killinallan, another male HH was seen. Over at the lobster ponds at Ardnave, around 50 Sanderling were in 2 tight groups sheltering behind 2 small lumps of seaweed during a particularly heavy hail shower...Nearby, out on some of the wet, boggy ground 5 Pied Wagtails and around 12 Meadow Pipits were feeding. Back close Ardnave Loch, a Merlin was in hot pursuit of a LBJ, finally on the salt marsh Mary had seen an Otter. Bob had been out on the Rhinns route and felt that there were more Skylarks and Meadow Pipits around. By all accounts a day for most birds hunkering down and trying to find shelter , so it will be interesting to see the count figures tally at when they come out!

Monday 12 January 2015

Monday 12th January

Popped out this afternoon to see if I could see any birds round Loch Gorm for the blog, some success with a ringtail Hen Harrier after Ballinaby towards Leek, there were a few small groups of geese seen, Barnies, Whitefronts and Greylags. There were also a few Lapwings and some Starlings on our travels but nothing much else, see this wind... Mid morning the wind speed was just short of 60 mph and there is not much sign of a let up... they are even talking about snow now too!!! On the positive side of things, at least we have not had the power outages that some folk have had.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Sunday 11th January

Sorry folks, due to the weather conditions out here again, there is no news on the bird front. We had the wind up to 57.7mph late afternoon, the plane arrived late with ferry managing to come across, so full marks to both sets of crews. I heard that Coll, which is another island on the West coast, has not had a ferry since Tuesday and it will not be on possibly Thursday before they expect to have the ferry back to calling in again!

Saturday 10 January 2015

Saturday 10th January

This wild and windy weather continues, we had a gust of 66mph earlier on today. The wind has been over 35mph for most of the day, the sea has been spectacular to watch, with the rocks at Coull Point being covered by the breaking waves. Needless to say, the ferries, not just to Islay, but on the West coast never ventured out from the various ferry terminals, although the plane did make it to Islay this morning! The only piece of news on the bird front was that Ron from Islay Info had been out for a walk this afternoon through the woodland trail at Gruinart and saw around 200 Lapwing around the new hide. Mary had a large group there earlier this week as well.

Friday 9 January 2015

Friday 9th January

Yesterday, Mary had been up at Ardnave Point where she saw 9 GND feeding on the surf there. She also had 150 Lapwing being put up by a Sparrowhawk while a Peregrine spoofed a flock of Curlew along at Eilaen beag. Close to the Lobster ponds, Mary spotted 6 Grey Plover. Nearby there was a small (?young) Otter eating the remnants of a big fish, it was being watched by a Hooded Crow and also a GBB Gull. The Crow gave and the gull was rewarded for its' patience with a fish head! The weather station, recorded a wind speed of 74.5mph last night at 23.10, nothing like as much as Stornoway and other places but noisy enough anyway! The ferry came and went midday today with the plane coming in this morning and again this evening, a bit late but at least it made it!

Thursday 8 January 2015

Thursday 8th January

On Tuesday, close too the Visitor centre at Gruinart, Mary saw a female Bullfinch. While out on the moorland, she managed to flush a Hare, 5 Snipe as well as a Merlin. She also had a distant ringtail. On her way home last night, Mary saw another ringtail down at Uiskentuie. As I write this evening, as forecasted, the wind is starting to pick, wonder what the largest gust will be in the next 24 hours? The ferry is already cancelled for tomorrow morning. It was windy here today and Martin headed out on the ferry and said it turned out to be quite a calm crossing!

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Wednesday 7th January

Think those Fulmars that I saw yesterday were correct as the wind has certainly picked up and by the looks of things, the windspeed in itself is to increase again as well. So as you may have gathered there is no new birds been seen out and about today! The ferry has ploughed its' way over as has the service planes, so there has been no "panic buying" in the shops yet...

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Tuesday 6th January

Well, I am glad to say that one our sharp eyed readers spotted the "deliberate mistake" that I had in last night's entry... I have not even changed it either, quite funny when I see it again!!! This afternoon just before we came to the entrance leading to Coull Farm, a Merlin shot out of the undergrowth at the roadside and flew away across the fields there. Further on, a Stonechat was spotted. Going up to Ardnave, Margaret saw a distant Peregrine sitting on a rocky outcrop. On Ardnave Loch, there were 3 adult Whoopers with a further 6 in another group consisting of 4 adults and 2 cygnets. There were also 4 Mute Swans, a Heron and some Mallard present there as well. Coming home, close to where we saw the Merlin, there were 9 Hooded Crows in the field. Been noticing that there have been several Ravens paired up... This morning there were a couple of Fulmars in soaring around in front of the crag, sign of stormy weather coming???

Monday 5 January 2015

Monday 5th January

Dave sent through some sightings seen down on the Oa. On Saturday, he saw a Short eared Owl, 2 Hen Harriers, a Sparrowhawk and also 20 Rock Pipits down on the shoreline. On Sunday, he had the Golden Eagles spoofing the geese on Kinnabus and then they turned their attention on a Hooded Crow, just missing it on one of their "passes"!! Dave was also saying that the flock of Twite is now down to around 30 birds as the bird crop has now all but eaten up. Before Xmas at the peak, there had been over 500 Twite feeding! Today at home, the Sparrowhawk flew past again, as did a ringtail Hen Harrier, no wonders the small birders are a bit nervous when feeding away, so far there have been no casualties!

Sunday 4 January 2015

Sunday 4th January

A bit cooler today compared to yesterday that is, but possibly a bit of wind chill factor comes in to the equation as well... Here at home this morning the Sparrowhawk flew in and spoofed the birds in the garden , it "crashed" into one of the bushes hoping to get a wee bird but no joy there and left without anything! James had some birds on the reserve at Gruinart including 2 Greenshank, 500 Lapwing which were in 2 counted groups of 140 and 360. There were 535 Golden Plover together with a Grey Plover amongst them. He also saw 2 Woodcock and counted 35 Skylarks.

Saturday 3 January 2015

Saturday 3rd January

Been a much calmer day out here today, hardly any wind to speak off, and dry too!!! Mary had a walk this afternoon along the Big strand with her mother where they saw a 2 "very big" Ravens in flight. While they were there, they also saw a flock of 11 Snow Buntings there as well. Coming back from Bowmore around about midday, we spotted a Buzzard which was carrying some prey in its talons being forced down on to the ground by 2 corvids down below Rockside towards Loch Gorm. Not sure of the outcome as we did not manage to see the final outcome!

Friday 2 January 2015

2nd January

Yesterday, Martin climbed up Beinn Bheigier, our highest point on Islay, a mere 491 mteres at the trig point... an uphill climb especially as you start at sea level!!! At the start, down at Claggain Bay, Martin had GND out in the bay with a Kestrel overland. On his way to the top his birds included a male Hen Harrier, 3 Red Grouse and 7 Golden Plover. Today the wind has strengthened with the ferry diverting to Port Askaig and the plane this evening came in on time.

Thursday 1 January 2015

New Year's Day, 1st January 2015

A good New Year to all our readers from a wet and windswept Islay... Not really a day for going out but all the same, Malcolm saw 34 Pale bellied Brent Geese down at Bruichladdich this afternoon. Now for the other piece of information that you have been eagerly waiting for.. the rainfall tally for the year....Here on the West side of Islay, our tally came through at 56.65" for the year, over at Mulindry, our friends' tally there was 70.26". They seem to get rain more often than we do, in 2013, they had 14" more than us, in 2012 a mere 10" more while back in 2011 they had almost 14" more. Think we will just say put just now!