Saturday 28 February 2015
Another month almost in, but you like me, will have to wait until tomorrow before I reveal how much rain there has actually been. Certainly since lunchtime today, the rainfall has increased quite a bit, as has the wind! On Thursday, Mary counted 13 Pale bellied Brent Geese down at Bruichladdich while along the Strand at Uiskentuie, Mary and Liz had spotted 3 Rock Pipits, 2 Turnstone, 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Shag and 15 Oystercatcher. Mary had read in the sightings diary at the visitor centre at the reserve at Gruinart of an Iceland Gull seen at Bowmore and also the ever present Glaucous Gull still at Uiskentuie burn. Ken along with the Burbage birders had seen a flock of 60 Twite up at Ardnave, along with a few Chough. Along the flats at Gruinart a Richardson's cackling Goose was amongst the Barnies. They saw an Iceland Gull (for Mary's diary??) at Bowmore along with 9 Long taileed Ducks on Loch Indaal off Bowmore, 5 Slav Grebes on Loch Indall and finally 16 Purple Sandpipers at Bruichladdich back on Wednesday/ Thursday. Thanks to Ken and his group for sending some of their sightings through, see you at Rutland at the Birdfair in August Ken!!! Trust you all got homre safely...
Friday 27 February 2015
Catch up time with some sightings from easrlier this week which I had not been able to share with you as we were out of touch, say no more... Mary had braved the heavy showers and had been out with her Dad on his old stomping ground when he used to live here on Islay... Close to Storakaig on the Glen road, they saw a male Kestrel with 2 Mistle Thrushes and around a dozen Skylarks in the fields closeby. Over the woods near to Avonvoggie, 6 Ravens were flying there. Around 800 Barnies were close to Dun Nosbridge while down on Lily Loch, 4 Mute Swans and 10 Tufted Ducks were present. Coals Tits were heard calling away and further along the way there, 3 Woodpigeons were seen. Ken Reeves along with 5 members of the Burbage birders arrived over earlier this week for their annual February visit.. From the ferry coming over, their tally was 13 GND, 4 BTD, 7 RTD, 5 Kittiwakes with a White tailed Sea Eagle spotted over the Sound of Islay! On Tuesday, Mary had seen a couple of Pale Bellied Brent while down at Bowmore. Back at the office, Mary had seen a Mistle Thrush and thinks there are more around, posibly being blown in with the recent winds...Also at Woodside, plenty of birds to be seen on the new feeders including Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Robin and Dunnock.
Thursday 26 February 2015
Ian back on the go again here, thanks to either James or Mary for doing the entry yesterday. Apart from personally being out of sorts with a stinker of acold, that was the least of our problems... Back around lunchtime on Monday we had a thunderstorm,it will not be forgotten about for some time. The net result is that the landline is completely out and will be sometime before BT can offer any chance to repair all the faults.. The electric went out but the "boys" from the Hydro board worked long and hard until 3 am so we all got power on, much appreciated. To cap it off the main computer went awol too. Just as well that we have satellite broadband!! No mobile phone reception out here on the edge, so it is the best part of a 10 mile round trip to phone someone, just hope you are in when I call you... Now the blog, moan over will give you some from the Rochdale birders who are on their last few days of their visit..Yesterday, they saw a White tailed Sea Eagle down at Blackrock. Earlier on in the week they had a Yellowhammer in the hedges leading up to Persabus at Port Askaig. Today over at Balinabby, a male Hen Harrier with 200 Rock Doves and 150 Twite seen there as well. Back down in Port Charlotte, a Treecreeper was present with a ringtail Hen Harrier up beside the water works up behind Port Charlotte. Here at home, the Bramblings are still enjoying their food, and this morning a Golden Eagle got blown past in the wind, close in less than 50 metres away....no quite a garden bird, just not close enough...
Wednesday 25 February 2015
A slightly better day after the rain and wind- (just rain today). The Rochdale birders have reported 20 Turnstones at Portnahaven and 3 Snipe at Bladdie. The Brambling is still enjoying the bird food at Kilchoman, and so far avoiding the attentions of a cruising Sparrowhawk. At Loch Gruinart today 5 different Hen Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, 1520 Golden Plover, many with black bellies and 335 Lapwing.
Sunday 22 February 2015
Not much of a day out here today and to cap it all both Margaret and myself have got stinkers of colds, running noses and sore throats... Luckily I have kept some sightings back. The Hampshire birders on Friday had seen 6 Purple Sandpipers, 24 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover and 21 Pale bellied Brents at Bruichladdich while over at Bowmore they saw a large raft of Eider and also 7 Redshank there as well. Finally up the Glen road they spotted a Golden Eagle. Thanks to Gary and Wendy in sending their birds to share with us all, also thanks to Mick and Clare Hemingway who were over last week, they were the winners of the free draw organised by the Islay & Jura Tourism and Marketing Group at the British Bird Fair held back in August down at Rutland. Mary returned on Friday after a few days away. She saw a male Hen Harrier close to Dunlossit and spotted 5 GND on Loch Indaal from below Carn, Port Charlotte. Yesterday on a trip round the block from Portnahaven, she saw a Gannet off Frenchman's Rocks, a ringtail Hen Harrier at Ballimony, a Sparrowhawk at Tormisdale, 3 Mistle Thrushes at Gearach. Finally at Bruichladdich, she saw the Pale bellied Brent but could not get an exact count as she was in traffic. Today the Rochdale birders had a flock of Redwing at Rockside, but not sure of their tally as I forgot to ask... the female Brambling was out feeding just after breakfast before the weather worsened here at home.
Saturday 21 February 2015
Friday 20 February 2015
Another mixed day with the weather again, but in between showers Margaret and myself managed to fit in a couple of beaches in the Beach bird survey. We had a look along the high water mark for any casualties/ dead corpses of any birds at Saligo and later on up at Sanaigmore. The good news was that we found nothing! On our way up to Sanaigmore, we saw a Golden Eagle being mobbed by a Buzzard, with a further 2 Buzzards and a Merlin as we headed along the road. At Sanaig, on the beach, there were 42 Oystercatchers. The Rochdale birders had a count of 410 Skylarks in a field at Sunderland .Albert Percival had seen Purple Sandpipers and Golden Plovers at Bruichladdich and more Golden Plovers at Ardnave. Mick saw a Peregrine through the patio doors of his cottage at breakfast time, "can't start a day better than that" Mick's own words... Up at Sanaig, he saw 3 Otters swimming together in the bay, further out he had 2 Gannets while back on shore he saw a Turnstone. Back inland he had 2 Chough, some Redwings and Fieldfares there as well. Back down beside Loch Gorm Mick had a male Hen harrier. Over from the Glen road he spotted a Golden Eagle. Down at Uiskentuie, the juv. Glaucous gull was still present as was the Brambling here at home. Finally, last Saturday, Alistair Hutchison had 6 Yellowhammers over at the back of Port Askaig.
Thursday 19 February 2015
A mixed sort of a day with the weather, but certainly not a heat wave... The Rochdale birders on their travels today had seen a female Sparrowhawk and a cracking male Hen Harrier on their way round Loch Gorm. Down at Bruichladdich, they had a count of 71 Curlew and on the shore there were 11 Purple Sandpipers. Mick Hemingway had seen a great sighting of an Otter on the Sound of Islay and later on, some Black Guillemots up at Bunnahabhain. He also saw a juv. Iceland Gull in the fields between Bridgend and Ballygrant. The juv. Glaucous Gull was still present along the head of Loch Indaal. Out on Loch Indaal itself, Mick saw a Slavonian Grebe. The Hampshire birders had seen a Golden Eagle over the hills as they went along the Glen road. They also had a Sparrowhawk there as well, with a Skylark feeding on the roadside. While they were out walking they spotted an Adder sunning itself on the heather... Over at Ardnave Loch around midday, we had Mute Swans, Whoopers, Teal, Mallard, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Redshank and Oystercatcher, not sure of a right count as the loch was rather choppy... On the way down the road, there was a flock of around 40 Skylarks in a field just after we came over the cattle grid from Ardnave. Earlier on this morning, here at home, Margaret saw the Brambling out feeding, a Wren on the dyke with 7 Fulmars seen over on the crag.
Wednesday 18 February 2015
A quieter day (species wise) with the birders here today, one "lot" even visited a Distillery... The Rochdale birders had a Grey Wagtail on the burn flowing through Port Charlotte. They also saw 2 Siskins down at Port Charlotte as well. Albert Percival had 3 Greenshank from the old hide this afternoon while this morning he had a couple of Canada Geese, amongst the Barnies at the top of Loch Indaal. The Hampshire birders had a Kestrel on the Glen Road this afternoon. Mick Hemingway saw a ringtail Hen Harrier having a skirmish with a Peregrine over a kill, the Peregrine won... Later on Mick saw Purple Sandpipers and Pale bellied Brents at Bruichladdich. Ashley along with his colleagues from Oriole birding had seen both the Iceland and Glaucous Gull at the top of Loch Indaal. They also had 8 Scaup off Blackrock, on the River Laggan on the high road 2 Goosanders were seen and finally down on the Oa, they had a sub adult male Hen Harrier. Here at home, the Brambling was still present amongst the Chaffinches and other wee birds on the food on the ground. No sign of any Greenfinches for some time here!
Tuesday 17 February 2015
Martin has set up a page on Facebook called Islay birds, so far all of you who follow Facebook, follow the link on the right and get even more information on what is happening out here, well done Martin! I forgot to mention yesterday that I saw a Merlin zip across the road in front of me down at Ronnachmore just on my way back in from getting the soaking. Down at Gartbreck itself, Skylarks were singing away, I also saw one of Ed's Whitefronts with a neck collar on but never managed to get its' actual id, sorry Ed! Other sightings from yesterday was a 1st yr Iceland Gull out of Port Charlotte by Barry Barnacal, and Mick had a Glaucous Gull down at Uiskentuie. There were some Fulmars in along the front of the crag here at home as well, a wee change brewing up me thinks!!! Today the Rochdale birders had a Golden Eagle out over Coultorsay, a ringtail Hen Harrier at Grainel with another over at Ardbeg, a female Sparrowhawk up at Ardnave with another at McNicoll's croft, 20 Redwing at Rockside and 150 Skylarks at Coullabus. The 2 Bramblings were to the fore again here at home, the Fulmars were out soaring along the front of the crag and a Merlin was added to our list for today over at the old Kilchoman school on our way over to see James at Gruinart. Mick today had 15 Twite, Chough at Ardnave with Whoopers on the loch there. He also saw a male Hen Harrier at Coullabus as well. James reported seeing frogs out on the road... and there was a ringtail Hen Harrier out in front of his new house, just great! The Hampshire birders had a Golden Eagle out over the Sound of Islay as well as 2 GND and a Redshank on the shore. Along at Eorrabus they 60 Lapwing with a ringtail Hen Harrier back at Carnain. Ashley and his 2 colleagues from Oriole Birding arrived on Islay on a scoping trip, and had a great first day. Coming out of Port Ellen along the "high road" they had a female Peregrine and a ringtail Hen Harrier. along at Uiskentuie, the imm Glaucous Gull, 2 Long tailed Duck and 2 GND. At Gruinart, male Merlin, 50+ Reed Bunting, Grey Wagtail, 500 Golden Plover, over 10 Redwing, 2 Whooper Swan, 30+ Pintail and 4 Greenshank. Loch Gorm held a male Hen Harrier, Machir Bay 40 chough, a flock of 200 Twite, 2 Peregrines and a ringtail Hen Harrier. Down at Bruichladdich, 13 Purple Sandpiper, 17 Pale bellied Brent Geeseand 4 GND, a great first day for them. They also had heard of a report of an Iceland Gull around Bridgend, but were not sure of the exact location.
Monday 16 February 2015
A mixed sort of a day with the weather... it started out okay, so along with Elizabeth and Mike the "long term" vols from RSPB, we started out on the WeBS count that I normally help Bob with (Bob is away at present). After 30 minutes or so we gave up due the deteriorating weather! It turned a better day later on, only for some dirty hail showers to come by, and after that the roads department were gritting the roads....The Hampshire birders had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier down at Uiskentuie and they were saying that the Pale bellied Brent and the Scaup flock had moved across Loch Indaal to Bruichladdich. At Blackrock they had a good number of Wigeon and a male Red breasted Merganser. Back here at home the Bramblings were around with the birds feeding away good style. Bird fair winner Mick has been the most of his visit, seeing a Peregrine from his cottage, Raven and the Brambling also.. He had seen plenty of Chough at Machir Bay and GND and 20- 30 Eider there as well as a Stonechat there too. Up on Ardnave 5 Whoopers, a RBM, Goldeneye, Pochard, Wigeon and Tufted Duck.
Sunday 15 February 2015
Yesterday, the Hampshire birders saw a family of 5 Whoopers down at Carnain and a count of 34 Curlews there too. Later on after the Hedges and towards Carnduncan, they had a Snipe, some Goldfinches, a Stonechat, a "partial sighting" of an Otter and also some Reed Buntings. The Rochdale birders arrived yesterday, and today down at the Woollen Mill had a flock of 200 Chaffinches, but no Bramblings. Here at home today before the weather closed in, we had a male Brambling feeding along with the Chaffinches and Goldfinches. Later on there was a female Brambling too... out on the Machir towards the War Graves, there was a small mixed flock of Redwings and Fieldfares of around 40 Lapwings doing a flypast...
Saturday 14 February 2015
Gone from an early entry to rather a late entry tonight, sorry folks.... Earlier this week Paul Hathaway had seen 12 Bullfinches down in Bridgend woods. Over at Gruinart he had seen a Barn Owl along the flats and then another Barn Owl just before Craigfad, below Port Charlotte, thanks Paul. Dave Protherough from Kayak wild Islay had been returning home this afternoon on the ferry and had seen 2 White tailed Sea Eagles on Glas Eilean with a Golden Eagle flying high in the same locality. Other visitors reported spotting a few Canada Geese over on the islands between Islay and Jura. Mick Hemingway, the winner of the competition at the Bird Fair arrived on Islay today for a week and had a great start seeing Choughs. He too had seen the birds that Dave had seen from the ferry, so was well impressed...
Friday 13 February 2015
Rather an early entry, as I am going out this evening. Not much has been happening (as far as I know) over here today. I so far have not been away out as it was rather a dreich sort of a day, but there again it has been as damp a day so far this month, and there has not really been rain as such just just a drizzle... I see that over on the Bass Rock that they are now claiming record numbers of Gannets present there this past year. Also this present year, the is to be a national survey on the Golden Eagle population, so that too will be of interest once the stats are made public... Sorry that's all the craic for tonight... keep tuned in for tomorrow's edition!
Thursday 12 February 2015
The Hampshire birders yesterday had seen 6 Turnstone down on Loch Indaal, below the generating station at Bowmore. Coming back from Bridgend late morning today, we had the flock of around 60 Scaup at Blackrock and the Pale bellied Brent Geese were just past Uiskentuie. Late afternoon a Golden Eagle was spotted out over the crag back here at home. Steve Holliday who gave us some of his sightings the other day, had a good short break here with a total of 72 species seen basically over 2 full days, as he arrived on the afternoon ferry arriving at 3pm and leaving from Port Ellen on the 0945 sailing, so not much birding on Islay on his last day!
Wednesday 11 February 2015
James had carried out the WeBs count on the floods at Gruinart earlier this week with the scores on the doors coming out at 465 Teal, 37 Teal, 1 Greenshank, 6 Mute Swan, 1 Red breasted Merganser, 90 Mallard, 3 Heron, 60 Greylag, 54 Pintail, 2 Redshank, 545 Lapwing, 12 Curlew, 2 Shelduck, 2 Whoopers, 2 Snipe, 550 Golden Plover and 9 Dunlin. The Hampshire birders yesterday had watched the pod of 6 Bottle nosed Dolphins for 30 minutes on Loch Indaal from Port Charlotte . While they were there they also spotted 2 RTD and 2 GND. David Formby is still seeing Siskins on his feeders at his house up behind Bridgend. Here at home today, a Reed Bunting, it was on the ground as well as on the dyke/ wall , so definitely a new garden tick rather than one flying past!!!
Tuesday 10 February 2015
Some sightings through from Steve Holliday who was over the other week for a few days. He had a count of 77 Scaup on Loch Indaal, 37 Brent geese on Loch Indaal and also 135 Barwits also there as well. On his way back over to Kennacraig on his way home he had a total of 53 GND with 12 RTD and 7 Slavonian Grebe seen closer to Kennacraig. Yesterday, the Hampshire birders had a count of 20 Tufted Duck on Ballygrant Loch, they saw 6 different Herons fly over Lily Loch. At Kiells, they saw House Sparrows in the hedges around the houses, House Sparrows are not that common in Hampshire... In the morning at Carnain, they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, in the afternoon, at Carnain there was a White tailed Sea Eagle was on a Barnacle Goose carcase, then along came the ringtail, the pair got on famously for 5 minutes before flying off as a dog walker disturbed them... The hungry ringtail returned back about 10 minutes later! Other regular visitors, John & Carol Warner had a Merlin cut across the road directly in front of them as they drove into Bowmore from Bridgend. Mary yesterday had carried out the WeBs count on Loch Gruinart with Mike a long stay vol. Their tally was 3 GND, 1 Shag, 114 Shelduck, 141 Wigeon, 29 Mallard, 7 RBM, 139 Oystercatcher, 13 Ringed Plover, 30 Golden Plover, 28 Barwit, 77 Curlew, 42 Redshank, 1 Turnstone, 5 BH Gull, 33 C Gull, 18 H Gull, 2 GBB Gull and a Mute Swan. On Ardnave Loch, they had 5 Oystercatcher, 9 Wigeon, 6 Mallard, 15 Teal, 2 Heron, 4 Tufted Duck, 8 Goldeneye, 11 Mute Swan, 6 Whoopers and 1 RBM. Close to Leck Gruinart cottage as they returned back from Ardnave, they saw a male Hen Harrier and also a Merlin.
Monday 9 February 2015
Back on Saturday, Mary saw 25 Fieldfare at Grainel on the reserve at Gruinart, later on down Glenastle on the Oa, Mary had a further 8 Fieldfares on some Willows there. On her wayback up past the airport, she saw a male Hen Harrier. Back home yesterday, she saw a pod of 6 Bottle nosed Dolphins coming in from the sea between Islay and Orsay and straight into Portnahaven Bay! Today the pod had been seen by Malcolm late afternoon off Bruichladdich Pier, with Peter telling me that they had left later on...Malcolm and Ed had counted 42 Pale bellied Brents at Uiskentuie around midday while they were out on a goose count. The Hampshire birders yesterday had been up at Ardnave where they had Redwings and also some Reed Buntings. Down at Blackrock the flock of around 60 Scaup were present.
Sunday 8 February 2015
Many thanks to Mary for holding the fort and writing the blog while I have been over on the mainland this past week, much appreciated... Some sightings that were present in my "in box" on our return, so here goes, mainly from visiting birders, great...James Collett had been a walk up at Sanaigmore and had seen a Buzzard on a telegraph pole with a distant Golden Eagle flying past. Returning birders, Gary and Wendy, aka the Hampshire Birders have been out and about as well... Down at Carnain on Wednesday, they saw a White tailed Sea Eagle, a Stonechat and a Kestrel with Goldeneye and Grey Wagtail seen over close to Octovullin. On Friday, they counted 20 Fieldfare at Daill Farm up behind The Woollen Mill. Yesterday, they had Long tailed Duck from Bruichladdich Pier with Pied Wagtail and Purple Sandpiper along the shoreline there. Further on along the Strand at Uiskentuie, 60 Scaup, 29 Pale bellied Brent and 20 Eider were on Loch Indaal. David Livingstone from down at Port Ellen had seen a pair of Golden Eagles tussling on the Oa, a sign that it is a sign that Spring and nesting is starting up!!
Friday 6 February 2015
Was out topping rushes today and flushed 5 snipe and one brown hare! We were up at Keils primary school yesterday fir their Bird Day. Great to see the wee ones so excited by the birds in their home made feeders! Ian's back tonight so business as usual tomorrow!
Thursday 5 February 2015
Dave at the Oa got in touch today with a sighting of an immature white-tailed eagle, and also a immature glaucous gull near Loch Kinnabus. Malcolm also got in touch to say he had a count of 41 light-bellied brent geese today feeding along Uiskentuie strand. The most he's noted all winter. His previous high count was 34 on New Years Day. He noted that they were feeding on the Zostera leaves washed in after all the recent bad weather. Thanks both for your sightings.
Wednesday 4 February 2015
Not too much to report today, fantastic weather so I was out working with my head down! I did have 4 great tits by the office, feeding on the ground. Over near Ballygrant I flushed a woodcock in the woods there. Fiona was telling me she had a lovely sighting of 5 long tailed ducks off Laggan last Wednesday. I also bumped into Ed yesterday who saw a smaller Canada among the barnacles over by Skerrolls.
Tuesday 3 February 2015
Lovely day now, though it started with sleet showers it is now blue sky and almost warm. Driving through the reserve today I had a female yellowhammer feeding on the verge near Gruinart House. A rarity here and lovely to see. Over the moorland there were 4 ravens, while over the flats there was a ring-tailed hen harrier out hunting. I also saw a few large flocks of reed buntings, although I couldn't stop to count them unfortunately. Among the golden plover I saw one with a black belly, spring cant be far away! The resident mute swans are beginning to get agitated at the over-wintering mutes and whoopers and can be seen chasing them around the floods, trying to clear them out of their patch.
Monday 2 February 2015
Ian is away this week, off Island on his travels, so I'm (Mary) looking after the blog for a few days. Apologies in advance for spelling mistakes... I checked the sightings book at the Loch Gruinart Visitor Centre, someone was in the South Hide over the weekend and saw an immature white-tailed eagle overhead, and saw it fly over above the centre itself. They also had a distant golden eagle, 480 golden plover, 4 greenshank, 7 pintail and some of the 'usuals' (mallard, wigeon etc...). Today I saw two female bullfinch eating willow buds at the beginning of the Woodland Trail. On my way home I had the imm Glaucous gull at Uiskentui burn.
Sunday 1 February 2015
The rain gauge for January tallied out at 6.25", almost 5 inches less than last January... say no more! Malcolm was in touch to say that Aileen MacDougall had seen a "white Heron" over at Esknish earlier today, so one to keep our eyes open for as no one seems to know whether it was a Little Egret or a Cattle Egret.... This morning here at home, Margaret saw the ringtail Hen Harrier doing its' flypast, and yes it came past again this afternoon again! She also spotted a Sparrowhawk moving through. Just before lunch close to Loch Gorm, and down towards Sunderland Farm, I had a Kestrel hovering...