Monday 31 August 2015

Monday 31st August

The Osprey has been sitting on the Loch at Gruinart all day and 11 Knot flying around with a group of Redshank. Mary reported a male Hen Harrier at Gruinart as well as a Sparrowhawk, and 2 Sparrowhawks at Portnahaven.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Sunday 30th August

Yesterday, Bob spotted a small male Merlin as it flew past flying towards Octomore. Close to his house, Bob had 2 ringtail Hen Harriers and 2 female Sparrowhawks while in his garden he had a Redpoll. Also yesterday, James had an Osprey over at Loch Gruinart. Here at home this morning there were over 200 Starlings out on the grass, bit no other "types" seen! There were also 7 Pied Wagtail, a Song Thrush and a mixed flock of Linnets and Twite and a single Redpoll of around 100 birds in total. A Robin was out on the gravel, the first I have seen for a few weeks. There was a Raven and a Buzzard ducking and diving over the crag this morning for quite some time, neither really won...The numbers of Starlings was on the increase this evening with probably around 400 on the overhead cables, the roof of the cottage next door and also on the church tower but still no Rose coloured Starling seen... There were 35 Swallows on the overhead cables too, no wonder there is a distinct line of bird poo under the wires, better still do not walk underneath while the birds are perched up!!! Before I forget, please send any sightings you may have as I am away off again until next again Tuesday to James on Many thanks.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Saturday 29th August

A better sort of a day out here, really not that bad a day considering that we are almost into September... Gary was out today and spent some time looking for the elusive Rose coloured Starling, he looked through various flocks of Starlings along the South side of Loch Gorm with no joy. But, on his travels he was fortunate to see 2 Ospreys, 3 Sparrowhawks, 3 ringtail Hen Harriers and a total of 7 Buzzards. Think we are in for another glorious sunset as the sun streams in through the gable end windows

Friday 28 August 2015

Friday 28th August

Although it managed to stay dry to around mid afternoon, after that there have been quite a few dirty showers kicking around, looking out to the sea, and the sky is rather ominous, say no more... On the bird front, I have not heard as to whether the Rose coloured Starling is still around or not. We have looked at several groups of Starlings since we came home, but no joy. This afternoon, over at Coull there were quite a few Greylags present, and round at Ballinaby, there was a light coloured Buzzard tucking into what was left of a Rock Dove. On the grass outside the big window there were a few Pied Wagtails present earlier this morning.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Thursday 27th August

Yesterday, Paul Robinson had been over at the reserve at Gruinart where he counted 24 Blackwits, 2 Ruff and he also had a flock of around 100 Lapwing. This morning, Mary on the guided walk at Gruinart had a Chough at the end of woodland trail, out on Loch Gruinart, an Osprey was seen, as well as large flocks of Redshank and Dunlins with smaller groups of Knot and Blackwits present. Plenty of Greylags were seen with Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Linnets also around. Closer to the hides, 70 Lapwings were up in the air while out on the salt marsh, 10 Ravens were noted. A mixed day with dirty showers in the mix...

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Wednesday 26th August

Some rain fell this morning, but it dried up later on, so I managed to cut some of the grass... this evening the sun is streaming in through the big windows and possibly a cracker of a sunset to finish the day off... This morning, there was a Great Tit in the garden, the first that we have had for some time. A wee Wren was down close to the pond with Linnets, Chaffinches and a Greenfinch were present on some of the seed heads. A Buzzard was soaring over the crag with a Peregrine passing by as well.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Tuesday 25th August

Many thanks to James and Mary for writing the blog while I was "awol" down at the Birdfair in Rutland. The weather was a bit on the warm side with the temperature being 28 degrees and that was out of the marquee...I was staying with old friends from student days in Aberdeen. Each day, Paul came in to say that he had seen a Kingfisher down beside the stream. This morning, he had a Green Woodpecker on one of the ant hills and then a Red kite overhead... I also saw a dead mole on the road as I went to pick the others up from the hotel and then another 2 as we headed home yesterday. Back here on Islay, over close to Eskernish there was a dead albino Hedgehog on the side of the road. The Birdfair was busy as ever, one of the first folk I met was a contact from Oz who I met a few years back, other contacts from Tobago, Spain as well as tour companies from all over and their leaders, especially the ones who come to Islay, a great chance to meet up, but hard work all the same. Back to the Bird blog... Visiting birder, Paul from Kendal reported seeing a large movement of Swallows etc over the reeds down at the Coastguards the other day, he had Kittiwakes at Frenchman's rocks this morning and then spotted a Sparrowhawk up close to the old church here at Kilchoman. Alistair Hutchison had a Barn Owl on a fence post over at Avonvoggie. On the reserve at Gruinart, James had counted 60 Barwits, 2 Ruff as well as 568 Greylags!

Monday 24 August 2015

Monday 24th August

I have a bit of catching up to do- so we will start with today. At Loch Gruinart the Osprey was flying around and a Sparrowhawk hunting along the road. At Bridgend Gary had 145 Oystercatchers, 95 Curlew, 20 Black Tailed Godwits, 2 Bar Tailed Godwits and 20 Ruff. Now we will go back to the weekend - Gary had been out and about looking for the Rose Coloured Starling. On Saturday he eventually located the Rose Coloured starling with a flock of Starlings nr. Sunderland Farm, after seeing 2 rintail Hen Harriers, 7 Buzzards, a Kestrel and Sparrowhawk at Kilchoman. On Sunday he re-found the Rose Coloured Starling and as a bonus saw 2 Ospreys
nr. Loch Gorm, one with a huge fish!

Sunday 23 August 2015

Sunday 23rd August

Nearly forgot, apologies for the late post! Not too much to report, a lovely day in the end after very heavy rain in the morning. Yesterday near portnahaven I saw 13hooded crows busy feeding in the heather, I'm guessing maybe caterpillars, though hopefully not the marsh fritillary caterpillar which are emerging now! Walking out across the sand flats at the head of Loch Indaal yesterday I spotted a flock of around a hundred dunlin, busy feeding away.

Saturday 22 August 2015

Saturday 22nd August

The vols and I carried out the monthly survey of Loch Gruinart, decent weather with only a couple of heavy showers. The totals: 2 eider, 5 red-breasted merganser, 89 oystercatchers, 36 ringed plover, 41 sanderling, 205 dunlin, 89 barwits, 256 curlew, 174 redshank, 5 turnstone, 156 black-headed gull, 225 common gull, 156 herring gull, 7 great back gull, 18 blackwits. Lots of gulls, resting up on the salt marsh!

Friday 21 August 2015

Friday 21st August

A few Swifts seen yesterday, maybe pushed in by the South Easterly winds, 2 were seen over Gruinart and Gary had 2 over Coullabus. Gary had been out looking for the Black Tailed Godwits on the Gruinart Flats he found 40 and 5 Ruff as well as 37 Pied Wagtails. He had also seen several Hen Harriers all ringtails from road to Port Askaig and Bowmore. At Gruinart today I had 6 Redpols and 2 Whinchats in my garden and lots of Dragonflies on the reserve Highland Darters, Common Hawkers and Black Darters I think. A report just in from the visitor centre- some visitors have seen a Rose Coloured Starling at Machair bay presumably with the large starling flock there.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Thursday 20th August

I have heard from the Birdfair team who have made it safely to Rutland water and are revving up to meet everyone over the next 3 days. Always birding, Bob managed to see a Hobby of the ferry as it entered Loch Tarbert yesterday. Today at Loch Gruinart the number of Black Tailed Godwits on the Flats has risen to 39 and Ruff to 13. Also on the Flats several Wheatears and Whinchats- migrants drifting through. I had a quick count of Greylags grazing on the cut grass area of the reserve 1140 so far.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Wednesday 19th August

A beautiful start to the day and then as forecast the rain came on at about 11 'o' clock. During the dry spell lots of farms have cut silage; the landscape has changed. On the cut fields at Gruinart 19 Black Tailed Godwits and 10 Ruff were feeding on a wet area.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Tuesday 18th August

Another beautiful day along with a cracking sunset to end the day off... mind you there was mist/ sea haar this morning before it burnt off... The flock of around 50 Swallows appear to have flown on as there to be only a few around today and there was a Sand Martin there as well, wonder if it was the same one that was here on Sunday afternoon??? Down at the reedbed, this side of the Coastguards, this afternoon a Sparrowhawk was present flying along, following the stream as it wends its' way down to Machir Bay. Margaret had seen a couple of Peregrines flying over the top of the crag, they then continued on towards Rockside. The rest of the day has been spent getting bits and pieces together, getting the van packed ready for the off tomorrow morning for our trip down to the Birdfair. Dave is already down staying with family in Norfolk while Bob, Margaret and myself set out tomorrow and should arrive ready for a late dinner with Andy arriving down from Glasgow by train on Thursday evening. So if you see us all looking a bit tired on Friday, maybe jetlag has caught up with us all, but come along and meet up with us, we will try not to yawn at you, honest!!! James and co will be looking after the blog over the next few days while I am away, so feel free to send any sightings to

Monday 17 August 2015

Monday 17th August

Forgot to mention last night that were around 50 to 60 Swallows gathering here yesterday afternoon, there was also a Sand Martin with them and earlier on there had been a few House Martins as well! Paul Graham had a possible sighting of a Goshawk when he was out for a walk close to Foreland yesterday morning. There was a steady stream of Gannets flying South past Coull rocks this morning. Bob Swann was in touch with some more details of the Greylag with the neck collar that we saw yesterday. Basically it had the neck collar fitted last year as a juv goose at Gortanchuirn, up behind Bruichladdich, and had summered on Colonsay and now returned again to Islay. Thanks for the quick response Bob!!!!

Sunday 16 August 2015

Sunday 16th August

This spell of good weather continues... This morning Bob, Gary and myself carried out the WeBS count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck. At the start in Bowmore, at the mouth of the harbour an Otter was seen and at the top of Loch Indaal towards Bridgend, an distant Osprey was seen, neither of which could be really counted... The tally at the end was as follows... 1 GND, 11 Shag, 3 Cormorant, 352 Greylags, 1 Heron, 9 Shelduck, 15 Eider, 25 GBB Gull, 1 LBB Gull, 203 Herring Gull, 35 C Gull, 4 BH Gull, 1 Snipe,, 35 Oystercatcher, 55 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 56 Barwits, 1 Knot, 1 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 7 Dunlin, 11 Turnstone, 14 Ringed Plover and a Gannet. We also saw a Sparrowhawk flying down the lane leading to the shore at Rannochmore and a ringtail Hen Harrier over Gartbreck flying over Loch Indaal. The figures might have been a bit higher but there was quite a bit of disturbance by local fishermen in their boats and also some folk out walking dogs...There was also a Greylag with a neck collar on it, so I will try to find out some more info about it and let you know. Here at home this afternoon a Sparrowhawk flew down towards the wood with some prey in its' talons, unfortunately I did not have my bins with me so I could not say who is now missing...

Saturday 15 August 2015

Saturday 15th August

That's almost half of August almost past already. The weather has been good out on Islay today, and by the look of things another good week ahead according to the weather forecast, fingers crossed! The local show is now behind us and as the locals say, the nights start to draw out after the show, what a cheery lot, but it is true!!! Not much birding done today, although we did see just short of 100 Greylags in a field at the road leading to Coull farm and then a further 20 round at Ballinaby, both grass fields better than possibly damaging the barley fields which could be a wee while before they are ready to harvest. Spoke to Dave to check all is well with him regarding our trip to the Birdfair next week, Dave leaves tomorrow morning while Bob, Margaret and myself head South on Wednesday morning while Andy comes down on Thursday. Quite a lot of organising behind the scenes goes on, but having done it before a few times, not such a daunting job really... It great to meet up with old friends from all over, from Trinidad, Tobago, Spain, USA and Queensland as well as the usual suspects from the UK as well. So if you are going to the Birdfair, feel free to drop round and meet up with the "Islay team", we are in Marquee 7 stand 14, exactly the same stance as in previous years. Come and enjoy some of our famous Islay hospitality, and enter our free draw for a holiday cottage to see our overwintering geese, somebody has to win... See you there then next, weekend at Rutland

Friday 14 August 2015

Friday 14th August

Earlier this week, one evening on our way up to Ardnave, a Merlin zipped across the road in front of us. Mary, yesterday morning, had seen a Tree Sparrow down at Portnahaven. Bob, this morning also spotted a Merlin close to his house up behind Port Charlotte. This afternoon, over the big crag, a Peregrine and a Raven were having a tussle with each other, no real winner as in the end they flew off in different directions...and then this evening a Sparrowhawk was sitting on the garden wall for a few minutes before flying off in the hope of catching a Starling for its' supper!

Thursday 13 August 2015

Thursday 13th August

Earlier on this week, George had counted 100 Greylags down at Bruichladdich, 60 were out on Loch Indaal and the other 40 in the fields close by. There certainly have been more Greylags seen on the move of late...This evening, apart from the midges being out, there were 2 Buzzards out on the thermals above the wee crag, here at home, and then a Peregrine was calling away out over the big crag. Also here at home, some of the young Swallows are starting to gather on the overhead wires. There were over 150 Jackdaws gathered on the cables outside, yesterday evening...

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Wednesday 12th August

Today, Gary had a spot of birding from close to Bun an Uillt on the East side of Loch Gruinart. His tally came to 2 Ospreys, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 7 Buzzards, 3 Peregrines, 4 GBB Gulls, 22 H Gulls, 45 C Gulls, 120 BH Gulls, 1 Red Knot, 75 Redshank, 179 Oystercatcher, 253 Curlew, over 400 Dunlin, 180 Ringed Plover and 7 Blackwits. Gary also had a mixed flock of around 150 Linnets and Twite. It is the local Agricultural Show tomorrow, so here is hoping that the weather holds and that the midges stay away...fingers crossed!!

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Tuesday 11th August

Yesterday, Lucien Williams who is staying with Peter down at Bruichladdich, had seen a Great Skua over Loch Indaal, better still was the fact that the same bird was seen from the comfort of Peter's front room! Bob yesterday had a count of 190 Greylags on Loch Gorm. Today, Bob saw a young Cuckoo being fed by a Meadow Pipit up at Bolsay. Here at home this morning, there was a pair of Linnets feeding on the seedheads out beside the window, later on were some Goldfinches and a few Chaffinches there also. This afternoon, a Peregrine flew in from Machir Bay, over the War graves cemetery and on away inland over the crag.

Monday 10 August 2015

Monday 10th August

Sorry folks, ran out of time last night so really a day late with the entries....better late than never!!! Yesterday, Peter had seen a Basking Shark from the evening ferry, North of Ardbeg. He also saw 3 Common Porpoises, plenty of Guillemots with young on the water as well as a good number of Kittiwakes, again with young while on the crossing from Kennacraig to Port Ellen. On a field just out of Port Charlotte, opposite Port Mor which has plenty of seedheads, Bob saw many finches making the most of what was on offer. Bob's count came to 50 Goldfinches, 100 Linnet, 30 Redpoll, 20 Twite, 200 Meadow Pipit and 30 Stonechats. Also yesterday, Gary had a walk round Ardnave where he saw several groups of Chough, the largest being 17 in all. He also had flocks of Linnet, Twite and Meadow Pipits. Gary had an Osprey flying over Loch Gruinart and finally a Peregrine seen high over the visitor centre.

Saturday 8 August 2015

Saturday 8th August

The sky has been overcast for most of the day but so far it has remained dry, which was good for me as I was able to put some peats into Len's shed, so they are safely stored for use if and when the weather might turn. On the down side, we certainly will not see the International Space station pass this evening! On the bird front nothing much to report, a Wren was spotted out along the garden wall as it zipped along, a couple of Ravens were cronking away over the crag this afternoon and then this evening, 19 chough were out in the windy conditions, showing off their flying skills.

Friday 7 August 2015

Friday 7th August

Back on Tuesday, a visitor reported through to Mandy at the visitor centre at Gruinart to say that they had seen an Osprey fishing on Loch Gorm. Last night, while we were outside watching the International Space Station pass by, we were fortunate to heart a Corncrake calling away! Bob at lunchtime yesterday had been in at Loch Skerrols where he had a Bullfinch, a female Sparrowhawk, 15 Mute Swans, 9 Tufted Ducks, a Dabchick, and also a juv Great spotted Woodpecker. Bob also pointed out a typo from me the other day, relating to him seeing Godwits at Gartmain, it should have read 13 Blackwits and 59 Barwits, not the way I had it, oops... This morning, down at Loch Gorm there were 2 groups of Greylags gathering, one on the lochans, the other on the heather on the edge of the Loch itself, with at least 30 in each group. This afternoon, Dave saw 2 Arctic Skuas, 3 Bonxies and over 400 Manx Shearwaters offshore going past the Oa

Thursday 6 August 2015

Thursday 6th August

A better day with the weather, and the sun came out again to show us what it looks like, more tomorrow, all going well!!! This morning, James saw an Osprey at Gruinart, Izzy baker a new member on the RSPB team on the Oa had seen a fleeting glimpse of a Dipper down on the reserve on the Oa. Izzy, prior to coming to work on the Oa, worked with the RSPB on Oronsay and Colonsay for the past few years along with Mike Peacock. This afternoon, Margaret and myself were out and about collecting some of our legendary supplies from some of our Islay distilleries to bring down with us to the Birdfair at Rutland. It may be a fortnight away, but it can still take time checking that everything is to hand, checking with all our team that all their travel is in place and also speaking to some of the other regular Islay visitors who come along to help us on our stand. We are fortunate this year in that Walkers Shortbread have come on board and are kindly donated shortbread for visitors to our stand to sample along with the spirits provided by the distilleries. Islay cottages along with Calmac, our ferry operator, are again providing the prize in our free draw for a week's holiday to come and see our geese through the winter. So if you are coming along to the Birdfair, mark sure to call in to our stand in marquee 7 stand 14, the Marquee number has changed but we are in the same place, so come along and meet in with some old faces, enjoy the company and enter the free draw, someone has to be a winner...

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Wednesday 5th August

Rather a miserable sort of a day, I bet most outdoor activities were few and far between, the indoor activities would certainly be the winners. There certainly have been several dirty showers dropping rather a lot of water in a short space of time. On the lawn, just after breakfast there were many Thrushes and Blackbirds poking and prodding looking for some food, also present then, was the solitary Wheatear. Later on the Hooded Crows came by and then the Jackdaws dropped by and finally the Starlings were here, just the usual culprits really! Almost forgot, there wee 2 Linnets making the most of the seed heads less than 10 feet away though the window beside the big table...

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Tuesday 4th August

Forgot to mention that last week Louise had sent through the final figures for the Corncrakes here on Islay for 2015. The total came to 101 calling males, slightly up on last year and probably the only area to have an increase on the year as most other areas appear to be down! Yesterday evening, James had seen a Swift fly over his house at Gruinart. This morning, Mandy saw a further 2 Swifts down at Lower Killeyan on the Oa, she also had a female Blackcap there as well. This afternoon Mark had a Swift at Kintra, outside Port Ellen and also a ringtail Hen Harrier. Later on, Mark spotted another ringtail, this time on the Bowmore side of the airport.

Monday 3 August 2015

Monday 3rd August

Got the rain tally through from Marsali this evening for July at Mulindry which is up behind Bridgend, the figure was 5.6"... back in 2010 it was 6.28 inches, say no more! Today Bob had been over at Gartmain where he counted 13 Barwits and also 59 Blackwits. Gary and Sam had seen 6 Golden Plovers and 3 Twite round at Saligo. While they were here having a cuppa and a blether with us, 3 Choughs also dropped by, 2 of them perched up on the "Sparrow terrace" on the garage, with the other sitting on the gutter directly above them, with a distant Raven calling over the crag!!! Mark from the Scottish Borders had a count of around 500 Gannets fishing off Frenchman's Rocks at Portnahavan, He also had a steady passage of Manx Shearwaters flying South

Sunday 2 August 2015

Sunday 2nd August

A mixed sort of a day over here today with the weather, certainly not much sun to be seen, not typical for time of year, I hasten to add. Not much on the bird front today, needless to say not much seen on the bird front. This morning, when I was down close to the pond, there was a young dead Stoat nearby, with the 2 Hooded Crows not far away, so I wonder whether the Hoodies have been taking the young Pheasant chicks. After lunch, Margaret was down there and came across another freshly killed young Stoat, it was still warm to the touch, so again possibly another one for the Hoodies!

Saturday 1 August 2015

Saturday 1st August

Our tally for the month of July for the rainfall was only a mere 5.15 inches, well short of July 2010 when it was 5.5 inches... Today Mark had been over at Port Askaig, and the woodlands round Dunlossit. He saw 2 families of Spotted Flycatchers and also a Sparrowhawk. Returning back, at Dun Nosebridge, Mark saw a male Hen Harrier. This morning, just after it stopped raining, in the garden, there were 9 Song Thrushes out looking for food. This evening, we saw a male Hen Harrier over towards Keppols at Ballygrant. Over the Sound of Islay there were some Gannets out fishing, and also a single Seal swimming in the bay at Bunnahabhain!