Friday 31 July 2015

Friday 31st July

Well, that is another month almost in, and soon I will be able to share with you the rainfall figures for July. Other areas are already claiming it to be as wet a July as far as their records go, so tomorrow night I will reveal all, the suspense is killing me! Today, the weather has not been great, wet for most of the time although it has turned out to be a beautiful evening with the sun streaming in through the windows... With sun out this evening, the birds came out on to the lawn looking for food... The Pied Wagtails were present along with over 60 Starlings, 3 Rabbits, a single Wheatear, a few Chaffinches, 4 Blackbirds and a some Jackdaws along with a Hooded Crow perched on top of one of the fence posts. The last few evenings, the large number of Jackdaws have been roosting in the old ruin of the former church next door,

Thursday 30 July 2015

Thursday 30th July

Yesterday Gary and Sam had 4 Tree Sparrows over at Coullabus at Gruinart. Later on, over at the airport, they had a ringtail Hen Harrier and along at the rocks on Loch Indaal, they counted 30 Sanderling, 100 Eider, 30 Common Gull and an Adult and a juv GBB Gull. Also yesterday, James had 2 Great Skuas take out a Black headed Gull before they in turn were chased off their prey by a GBB Gull on Loch Gruinart. This morning, we saw a ringtail as we headed over to Gruinart. On the guide walk at Gruinart today, Mandy and Heather had seen Sand Martins with young out from the second hide and also had several family groups of Pied Wagtails. We too had Pied Wagtails out on the lawn here at home with the young pestering their parents for food. This afternoon, Clive Mackay had an Osprey fishing on Loch Gruinart opposite Bun an Uillt, possibly the same bird that we saw on Tuesday evening at bird nerds! Clive had seen another Osprey shortly beforehand at the top of Loch Indaal, and was sure that it was 2 different Ospreys. Clive worked with RSPB here on Islay for a good number of years but now lives in Perthshire.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Wednesday 29th July

A better sort of a day, possibly with no rain here if memory serves me correctly, even managed to cut the grass amongst other outside jobs!!!Mark from the Scottish Borders had seen a couple of Peregrines while out round the Rhinns today, later on he had a ringtail Hen Harrier at Gruinart. Here at home, there was a peregrine out over the crag. Earlier on there were 10 Chough doing their acrobatics, great to see them.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Tuesday 28th July

Rather a miserable sort of a day with rain, more rain and even more rain, infact rather a wet sort of a day, having said that, it did fair up for the bird nerds earlier this evening! Martin saw an Osprey over on the far side of Loch Gruinart, later on Peter spotted an Arctic Skua and also a Peregrine coming up the loch, and then they both flew back towards the head of the loch. A Whimbrel was calling away as it flew past. A group of Oystercatchers along with a few Redshank flew out towards the mouth of Loch Gruinart. Some Ringed Plovers were on the near shoreline with a lot over the far side from us, too far to be positively identified. It was David Formby's last meeting with us as he is heading over to live close to Carlisle, so we all wish David, Margaret and their son John "all the best". As we came home round by Loch Gorm, we had the good fortune of a really close sighting of a Barn Owl out in broad daylight, at Ballinaby, the first that we have seen out in daylight for some time. On the BBC news today, our old (not his age!) friend Ed Burrell was in a feature about Common scoters. Good to see you Ed!! Ed as some you may recall spent some time here on Islay over the past 2 winters doing research into the Greenland Whitefronts.

Monday 27 July 2015

Monday 27th July

A mixed day with the weather, no sun , grey overhead, some rain in the mix, almost an Autumn sort of a day!George Jackson was telling me yesterday that he thinks that the Arctic Terns that usually nest down on the shore below his house at Bruichladdich have not had much success, possibly due it being windy at the wrong time and also high tides as well. The Swallows in his garage have fared better, rearing youngsters. Mark from the Scottish Borders had a male Hen Harrier at the Laggan bridge on the high road, a ringtail Hen Harrier down at Laggan itself. Along at Laggan Point a couple of Peregrines and finally 150 Dunlin were seen at Gartbreck. This evening, when I returned home after a meeting, there was a small hedgehog in the car lights in the garden, makes a change from Rabbits and Hares!!!

Sunday 26 July 2015

Sunday 26th July

The weather forecast was wrong, a nice complaint for once... we did not get the rain that they had claimed we should have got, but there again it might come tomorrow instead! Yesterday evening, Gary and Sam had done a quick scan out from Smelly corner and their birds were as follows, 63 Barwits, 17 Redshank, over 200 Curlew, 3 Whimbrel, over 250 Oystercatcher, 125 BH Gull, 200+ C Gull, 47 Pied Wagtail, 4 Buzzards and 81 Ringed Plover. In the garden here at home, at the back of breakfast time, there were 15 Song Thrushes and 5 Blackbirds and this evening over 200 Jackdaws were on the grass!! Visitor Mark Cockburn from the Scottish Borders had been up at Ardnave and braved the squally showers...His tally was 1 Peregrine, 1 Ringtail Hen Harrier, 21 Chough, 4 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover, 10 Twite, 1 Redpoll, Wheatear, a Mute Swan with 4 cygnets. Down at the reserve at Gruinart, Mark saw another ringtail Hen Harrier.

Saturday 25 July 2015

Saturday 25th July

Another day of wall to wall sunshine, but tomorrow the weather is looking not so good with the wind picking up and rain due as well. Round Loch Gorm this evening, along the verge/ road sides, there were many Meadow Pipits, Stonechats and Wheatears to be seen while in the fields some Greylags were seen and also a few Lapwings as well as some Pied Wagtails. On Tuesday evening, as it is the last Tuesday of the month, the Bird nerds will be meeting up again. We will meet over on Loch Gruinart on the East side close to Bun an Uillt (NR294690), at 6.30 to see what birds around. There is a small "quarry" at the side of the road where we can park, so feel free to come along if you are around. The rain is only coming tomorrow, so Tuesday night will be dry...

Friday 24 July 2015

Friday 24th July

Another not bad day out here on the western edge of Islay, the sun is streaming in through the big gable windows, with the shades across so I can see... what a complaint!! As I write the Jackdaws are outside, calling away, earlier on it had been the Choughs that were making the noise...This morning, there was a Linnet on the seed heads of some of the weeds that were sown there on purpose just for the birds to eat... This afternoon there was a Redpoll down on the garden wall and the 2 young Buzzards were out on the wing, further up on the thermals. Cliff from Hexham had taken a walk out in the hills on the Rhinns yesterday, and was pleased to see Buzzards, Ravens, a distant Golden Eagle and also a Peregrine.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Thursday 23rd July

A bit windy over here today, but at least it has kept dry... Out over the wee crag, or "lamb hill", this afternoon were the 2 young Buzzards practising their flying skills, soaring in the uplift, great to see them gaining in confidence. Later on out over the big crag, 2 Peregrines were seen. Down towards the pond, there were a few Song Thrushes out looking for worms on the "disturbed" soil with some Swallows swooping low over the actual pond itself, no doubt hawking for food! Out on the sea, there was a steady stream of groups of Gannets flying South.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Wednesday 22nd July

John Armitage sent an e mail through late last night to say that he had seen a Laughing Gull down at Portnahaven, John has been away recently for some time but it was someone else in the village that notified John to say that he had seen it several times of late... Gary and also Bob had gone down this morning but no sign of it.... Yesterday morning while we were doing the WeBs count, we had a couple of Sedge Warblers, but I did not count them in our figures as they were on the wrong side of the fence!!! Later on, while I was round at Bob's house, there was a Whitethroat calling at the water treatment plant across the road from Bob's house. Back on Sunday, Mandy had a couple of Turnstone sheltering on the shoreline down at Gartbreck. This afternoon, on our way back home, there was a male Hen Harrier out quartering its' patch down beside the lochans at Rockside road end.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Tuesday 21st July

Well, you all be glad to hear that Bob, Gary and myself managed to carry out the WeBS count this morning down from Bowmore to Gartbreck. So here are the birds that we saw, 1 GND, 1 RTD, 6 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 120 Greylag, 14 Shelduck, some with young, 56 Eider again some with youngsters, 1 Red breasted merganser, 18 BH Gull, 6 GBB Gull, 3 LBB Gull, 11 H Gull, 29 C Gull, 14 Arctic Tern, 4 Whimbrel, 25 Curlew, 85 Oystercatcher, 50 Dunlin, 3 Redshank and 14 Ringed Plover. On the way down there were 2 Common Sandpipers at the side of the road just before the track leading down to Loch Gorm and on the fence wires at Gartbreck there were some young Stonechats.

Monday 20 July 2015

Monday 20th July

The weather has been rather mixed over the last 2 days, with not much sun! The rainfall gauge is now up to 3.75 inches, catch up time from June I suppose... On the bird front, well yesterday morning, we did not carry out the WeBS count, perhaps we could have done it if we had started a bit later on, but the long and the short is that we will hopefully now do it tomorrow, better late than never! This evening in the old church yard across the wall from the house, there were 6 Song Thrushes hopping around looking for worms and snails, a young Wheatear, now a "local", was flitting from one headstone to another...Coming back from Gruinart, late afternoon, and this side of the former Kilchoman school, several Blackbirds were flying across the road, and down closer to Loch Gorm, there were several Stonechats and some Meadow Pipits seen as well as a solitary Whinchat. The outside temperature is not even 15 degrees, not exactly that warm...

Saturday 18 July 2015

Saturday 18th July

Not as much rain fell last night compared to other places, but all the same today the wind has dropped and it was dry again. The garden, the trees and the flower border has taken some tanking, bit of a shame to put it politely! This evening outside there appears to be more Meadow Pipits around, the Willow Warbler was still down close to the new pond as was the Pied Wagtail, good to see someone inspecting the job already. There was also a hen Pheasant defending her patch in the long grass, by the sound of things protecting her brood... Out over the crag, a Buzzard was circling around high up. Tomorrow morning, if the weather holds Bob, Garry doing and myself will be carrying out the WeBs count, so watch this space tomorrow night to read what we saw....

Friday 17 July 2015

Friday 17th July

Yesterday while carrying out some painting on the rails around the viewing platform at the reserve at Gruinart, Mandy and Heather saw a hen Peregrine Falcon fly past. This morning, here at home, we heard one calling away out over the crag. The weather has gone downhill somewhat, especially this evening, the top wind gust so far is 51mph with the rain running down the windows, just like what the old ones on some of the fishmonger's shops used to have...To put it politely, not a night for going out in, and I pity the poor sheep that may have just had their fleeces shorn off them and nowhere to go to shelter from the weather, nor would I like to be on the ferries either!!!

Thursday 16 July 2015

Thursday 16th July

That's half the month in now and already we have had more rain so far this month than we had for the whole of June, not that we had that much last month! Think there is a wee change working with the odd spot of rain outside at present rather than the sun streaming in through the windows, mind you we did managed to get the pond finished this afternoon, and got it all faced in stone to cover the pond liner. So we can let it all settle out over the weekend and take it from there... There was a Pied Wagtail down inspecting our work, and Margaret saw a Willow Warbler there earlier this morning, with a Peregrine out over the crag. Maggie Birtwell yesterday, had heard a Grasshopper Warbler at the Coal Ila road end and then a Whitethroat as she walked down the path leading to the Lily Loch. Maggie also commented that she feels that the Tysties at Coal Ila itself have done better this year. There was an Oystercatcher with 3 young just past Gortan on Loch Indaal this evening and then an Eider was out on the water with 3 young. This morning, we had heard a Corncrake calling round at Ballinaby.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Wednesday 15th July

Another good day, and another day working outside on the pond. The pond had its' first visitor today with a frog inspecting the new pool, we managed to get a few stones placed in, so when the frog returns, it will have somewhere to climb out of the water and do some sun bathing!!! While were down there, a Whinchat was seen atop of one of the tree guards, later on some Swallows swooped low down past on a feeding run, out on the crag, a few of the remaining nesting fulmars glided past and then finally, the noisy nosey choughs flew past, a great day all round, best of all I might have a burning from the sun!

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Tuesday 14th July

Later on yesterday evening, Sam and Gary had been out for a walk over at Gruinart, and it proved a success with 4 Corncrakes and also a Quail being heard. The weather here today has been great, so a day for getting on with some "outside" work, mainly digging a pond, the days are past for manual work so we had Christopher in with his tracked digger, hole excavated now, liner placed and already about half full of water, so time will tell what we will get in it later, only time will tell. We saw a hen Pheasant out late this afternoon, from the kitchen window, with 6 new youngsters, wonder how many will make it, the numbers that make it through is really low, say no more....

Monday 13 July 2015

Monday 13th July

Once the dreich weather went away, this afternoon and now this evening, a different story with the sun streaming in through the big window with distant views out to Ireland and the Royal Princess sailing past on the horizon. Yesterday Mandy had been on the INHT rAmble out to Dun Nosebridge. She saw a Spotted Flycatcher as they passed through the trees, Further on she had a male Stonechat on top of a fence post with a juvenile bird on the next again post! Today, visitor Mike from Birmingham had gone over Gruinart and then on up to Ardnave, seeing many "red birds", Oystercatcher, Redshank, Stonechats, over 30 Chough at Ardnave and Linnets too. He also saw a male Hen Harrier carrying prey in its' talons! Back here at home today, the Buzzards were out on the wing teaching their 2 young some acrobatics. 2 Peregrines were seeing each other off, so whether they were 2 different birds both on the edge of their territories. Later on, a male Hen Harrier flew along the front of the crag before it flew on over the crag and way out of sight and 2 Linnets were on top of the fence. Finally there was a hedgehog in the garden this evening!!!

Sunday 12 July 2015

Sunday 12th July

Late last night around 11pm, Margaret spotted the Britannia as it came out of the mist, it was well out, but all the same, it is large, around 340 metres long, and can take up to 3,400 passengers and 1,500 crew. Just to think, all the folk on Islay could have been on it!!! We only saw it briefly as it sailed out of sight and on towards Greenock. As you may gather no news on the bird front, but getting some bits and pieces sorted out for the Birdfair, only 7 weeks away, the clock is ticking away, so if you are going , do come along and enter the free draw for a week's holiday here on Islay to see our geese in the Winter. The cottage can sleep up to 4 folk and provided by Islay cottages and Calmac are offering free ferry tickets for the lucky winners. As ever we will be having some of Islay's famous hospitality with liquid refreshment courtesy of our Distilleries on our stand and Walkers Shortbread are providing us with some nibbles, so thanks to them too are due as they have been very generous as have the Distilleries, Calmac and also Islay cottages, all much appreciated for helping with our stand. By the way we are in Marquee 7, stand 14. We are opposite the Speyside Wildlife stand. Not to be confused, the Marquee number has changed but we are in the same location... See you there!!!

Saturday 11 July 2015

Saturday 11th July

Another quiet day on the bird front, the usual suspects were present in the garden this morning, the 2 Greenfinches, a couple of Goldfinches appeared, some House Sparrows were being annoyed by their young begging for food, Jackdaws and a few Pheasants along with the Hooded Crows looking for to be fed.. There were also 5 Song Thrushes seen too. Mid afternoon and the weather has gone downhill rapidly, rather a dreich evening outside and not much hope of seeing the large luxury liner the Britannia sail past on her way to the Clyde. The same happened the other week when the Queen Elizabeth sailed past in the mist. Mind you there was some local excitement yesterday, the Bomb disposal team being called to a possible unexploded mine that was spotted down on the Machir Bay, thankfully it was deemed safe and no large explosion was required!!

Friday 10 July 2015

Friday 10th July

A quiet sort of a day with on the bird front, this morning the pair of Greenfinches were present on the nyger seed feeder, and come to think of it the Goldfinches were not around. Also in the garden again was a pesky Hooded crow eating as much as he could. Margaret counted 63 Jackdaws at one point late afternoon down on the grass. The bushes in the garden have lately been a place for the local Starlings to come to roost. The other day while we were driving across the flats at Gruinart, we watched as a family of Stoats played chicken as they crossed the road, no fear being shown by them!!!

Thursday 9 July 2015

Thursday 9th July

Yesterday Louise saw a Spotted Flycatcher and also a Great spotted woodpecker while leading the guided walk on Jura. Gary yesterday had a couple of Greenfinches on his garden wall. Down at Bruichladdich, he saw 30 Redshank and a couple of Little Terns. Going along towards Uiskentuie, Gary counted 20 Common Gulls, 2 Herring Gulls and a Sandwich Tern at the mouth of the burn at Uiskentuie itself. Out in front of the old hide at Gruinart, he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier which was joined by another one. One appeared to larger than the other. Over Loch Gruinart itself, an Osprey was present. Today over at the Duich Lots, Gary had 2 male Hen Harriers and also 2 ringtails. He also saw a Golden Eagle and a total of 7 Buzzards and at the entrance to the former motocross track, a Whinchat was seen. Here at home this afternoon, there were 8 Blackbirds and 6 Song Thrushes out on the grass.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Wednesday 8th July

A better day again with the weather... A few sightings in from yesterday for you. Bob had taken a couple from Texas before breakfast and then again, late afternoon/ early evening. Over the 5 hour stint (in total) 63 species were seen with their highlights included seeing many Hen Harriers, 20 Snipe drumming between Blackrock and Gruinart, a count of 18 Chough at Kilchoman, on the River Sorn they saw the Dippers , at the top of Loch Indall, a Barwit was present. Through their time out birding they saw many family groups, especially Stonechats! Martin yesterday evening had taken a walk round Loch nan Gabhar close to the Golf course. Martin had 3 pr of Wigeon, 11 GBB Gulls, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Sedge Warbler, a ringtail Hen Harrier and then at the end of his walk, his last bird was a Short eared Owl! Paul Graham was in touch to say that the Corncrake is still calling down behind where he lives in Bruichladdich, Some of us were a wee bit worried that the farmer might have destroyed its' habitat the other day when cutting the grass. Paul also heard a further 3 Corncrakes calling, while he was out walking his dog last night, in the field behind the large Distillery warehouse as one goes out of Bruichladdich up the hill towards Conisby. Today Maggie Birtwell had an Arctic Skua while she was waiting for the ferry at Feolin on Jura. This afternoon, Bob had 3 families of Whinchats on Bolsay Moor, also there were 2 Hooded Crows pursuing a Cuckoo.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Tuesday 7th July

Sorry this entry is a bit late but been out at friends this evening, a good time enjoyed by all present, I hasten to add!!! Becky "the vol" at Gruinart had seen a Gadwall out in front of the new hide. While she was there, Becky saw 2 Great Skuas taking down a fully grown Shelduck and drown it and then they started to pluck it where it lay. Nature can be cruel sometimes... There was more rain last night when there was a further half inch on top of the inch of rain we had during the really heavy showers back on Saturday. I believe that there was quite a bit of damage to phones etc due to lightening strikes then too, say no more.

Monday 6 July 2015

Sunday 6th July

It started off with a rather miserable sort of a morning with mist swirling around, and back to some more of it again this evening, in between the odd shower of rain, just great it must be the school holidays again!!! Yesterday Mary saw a Moorhen on Claddach Loch down at Portnahaven, her first there! In the evening, Becky a "vol" with RSPB over from Loch Lommond had great sightings of a Short eared Owl up at Ardnave. Today on the reserve at Gruinart, 5 Hen Harriers were seen (2 males and 3 females). Mary reckons that the pair of Great Skuas on Nave Island have hatched their clutch of eggs. Back close to her home this evening, Mary had a Peregrine. Here at home at Kilchoman, there was a Peregrine sat on top of the crag for some time watching all around. Later on a Buzzard and a Raven were having a difference of opinion as whose piece of ground was whose, nothing really new...

Sunday 5 July 2015

Sunday 5th July

Sorry folks, computer problems last night, hence no entry, so fingers crossed that it all works this evening!! Friday evening was Armin's last during his recent visit. Round at Ballinaby, he had a Curlew on top of a fence post "alarm calling" before it dropped down down into the grass field and its' young! Round at Carnduncan, he saw a male Hen Harrier, before it flew on out of sight. Thanks Armin for your birds while you were here. Gary yesterday had seen 15 Little Terns fishing in Loch Gruinart, and in a field close to Bun an Uillt, he counted 200 Starlings together. Out in front of the old hide Gary had a male Hen Harrier out for the best part of an hour, it managed to put up around 10 Dunlins as it quartered back and forward. Peter yesterday had counted 200 Starlings in a "mummeration" before they went in to roost at Bruichladdich Pier. Surely it is not a sign that the Autumn is coming with increasing numbers of Starlings... Bob today had seen a "scruffy looking" ringtail Hen Harrier, no doubt tired and worn out with trying to raise a successful brood!

Friday 3 July 2015

Friday 3rd July

Another cracker of a day, the mercury got up to only 18 degrees, and better still we have not had the thunderstorms that other folk have had.. very spectacular, but you can keep them! A wee shower of rain through the night would do nicely...The views over to Ireland and up to Mull have been spectacular with Mull being exceptionally "clear" last night. Last night, or possibly in the early hours this morning, not sure, but Gary and Sam had heard a Quail over close to Coullabus. Today, my mind has been trying to get some plans into place for the Bird Fair and get it finalised tomorrow all going well, another tick on the "must do" list done!

Thursday 2 July 2015

Thursday 2nd July

Yesterday Armin had spent some time over in the hide at Gruinart. He had seen the pair of Sedge Warblers busily carrying food in to their young. A single Whooper Swan is still present and with a Mute Swan appearing later on, but they kept their distance from each other! A Heron was seen too, but it was having a difference of opinion with the Lapwings present. There were a few Teal and also a single Shoveler. A Meadow Pipit and a Wren were also seen out in front of the hide. While returning back to his car, Armin had a ringtail Hen Harrier out on the wing. I have not heard of any further news of yesterday's Bea eaters, Jim Dickson came over from Lochgilphead to try locate them with Peter Roberts, but no joy... they did spot an eclipse male Wigeon at Gruinart. Martin, when he was out on the Oa, had seen a male Hen Harrier, a distant Golden Eagle, Stonechats and Wheatears. Over at Storakaig this afternoon, we had a cracking male Hen Harrier out quartering its' patch. There were many Stonechats as we went along the "Glen road". Here at home, there has been a Hooded Crow coning down onto the grass regularly over the past few days, so I can now call it a "garden bird"...

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Wednesday 1st July

The tally in the rain gauge came to 2.25 inches for the month, almost an inch less June last year. the temperature rose to 22 degrees today on Mike's weather station, not as high as other places, but bearable at least... Forgot to mention last night that Bob had heard a Cuckoo calling up beside his house on Monday, other birds seen last night at bird nerds were Swallows, House Martin and a Song Thrush. Paul Graham saw a Barn Owl last night down at Bruichladdich, and a Corncrake was heard there too!!! There was a Cuckoo calling away up the hill behind our former house this afternoon and the 2 Greenfinches are still present here as well. This morning Gary had account of 23 Ravens flying out the hills on the East side of Loch Gruinart. This afternoon Gary counted 40 Swifts over his garden and over the surrounding fields over at Coullabus. There was a reported sighting 4 Bea eaters down on the Oa today, but ever news is a bit sketchy as to where they were seen exactly, when they seen and who saw them... and the news came from Tiree to the mainland and then back to Islay...