Thursday 31 December 2015

Hogmany, 31st January

Another month, let alone another year almost in, but as ever we will keep you all in suspense regarding the rainfall figures, certainly not as much as some other places... Yesterday, Dave Newitt, a visiting birder, had seen a Black throated Diver, a Slavonian Grebe, several GND and also 30 Scaup at Blackrock on Loch Indaal. Today Dave had another good day with a White tailed Sea Eagle out from Bridgend, with a male Hen Harrier also nearby. On Loch Indaal, he counted 72 Scaup. Up towards Scarrabus, he saw 2 Red Grouse, 5 Yellowhammers and also 10 Reed Buntings. Later on the Glen road from Ballygrant towards Mulindry, at Storakaig, over the far hills, 3 Golden Eagles were seen and then another one was seen from Cattadale... a great day! Gary had been up at Bunnahabhain this morning and counted 13 GND and 31 Shag and spotted a juv. Gannet over the Sound of Islay. He also saw 2 Otters there, by coincidence we met Gary there and saw briefly one of the Otters in the distance. Coming home, between Ardnahoe and Torrabus, we had a great viewing of a ringtail Hen Harrier as it skirted closely alongside the road. Here at home, the Sparrowhawk was perched on the bird table again with the ringtail Hen Harrier quartering over the garden! Visiting birder, George Jackson had this morning been down on the Machir Bay walking his dog. The Glaucous Gull was still present on the pool beside the carpark. 23 Curlew flew out from the dunes and out to the sea, George wondered whether they were heading over Ireland. Also seen beside the pool were 32 Ringed Plover and 12 Turnstone while 22 Chough flew over head. While coming back up to his son's house at Rockside, George spent some time looking through the large flock of Barnies and was confident of seeing an immature black Brant amongst them. Finally, George saw a distant Golden Eagle, flying high up over the hills behind Rockside. A great day over here....

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Wednesday 30th December

Well, "Storm Frank" has come and gone, and thankfully not much damage has happened out here as far I know, and the ferries sailed apart from the first sailing at 7am... Yesterday Peter had been out for a walk along the strand at the top of Loch Indaal, walking towards Uiskentuie. He had seen 15 Pale Bellied Brent, 28 Ringed Plover with 3 Dunlin amongst some Oystercatcher and Turnstone present. On Xmas Day and also on the 27th he had gone up to Gruinart to try to catch a glimpse of the American Wigeon and the Green winged Teal, like visiting George, no luck. This morning at breakfast time, Peter had seen a Gannet flying down Loch Indaal past Bruichladdich, Mike had also spotted it too, down at Port Charlotte a few minutes later. They both thought that it had been blown in with yesterday's winds and was heading back out to sea when they saw it. This afternoon, George and Pat Jackson had a Dipper on the River Sorn. By the way, the sea, around breakfast time was something else with the big waves crashing over Coull rocks... and this evening it still remains quite noisy!!!

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Tuesday 29th December

If it was windy yesterday, well tonight as I write the blog I think that "Storm Frank" is knocking at the door with the top wind speed being 66.9 mph at 18.27, being at the top of the hill does not help!!! Visiting George Jackson had seen a Merlin at Grainel roadend as he headed over to Gruinart, in the forlorn hope of catching the Green winged Teal and the American Wigeon, no joy on either front... Down on Machir Bay, George had 30 Ringed Plover and 7 Sanderling. Here at home, a Greenfinch on the feeders and also yesterday late afternoon there were 20 Lapwing dipping around in the wind.

Monday 28 December 2015

Monday 28th December

Another day in, rather windy mind you and dry for the most of the time. The ferry never came today at all and the plane only came this evening... Bob yesterday had taken a trip up to Gearach around midday and saw 50 Greylags, 8 Mutes and 53 Wigeon on the water. The Sparrowhawk flew over the garden today, but no one else was around, so never got a meal here today at least!!! A quick trip round Loch Gorm produced nothing really of note, the winds today have not helped things and more to come over the next few days...

Sunday 27 December 2015

Sunday 27th December

Yes, the ringtail Hen Harrier was sitting on one of the garden fence posts again this morning, will try and get a happy snap of it tomorrow for you, all going well. There was a Stonechat on the roadside fence just after Coull today and earlier on 2 Whoopers were resting up at the edge of one of the pools in the fields... Late this afternoon, the chough came up off the machir as they headed to their roost and a small group of 14 Lapwing were tumbling around in the wind as well.

Saturday 26 December 2015

Boxing Day

Yesterday, forgot to mention that the male Hen Harrier flew over the garden and at one time yesterday, we had 22 Goldfinches at the feeders, just as well there was plenty of food there for them! Today, another day and a new tick for the garden with a ringtail Hen Harrier on the ground, it took off and landed immediately afterwards 3 times and then flew over and landed for a few moments on one of the fence posts at the edge of the garden, so a "garden bird" now for sure rather than one that flies over your garden! Coming back from Griuinart , late afternoon, and on top of one of the fence posts outside the RSPB offices was a Tawny Owl! Gary had done some birding today from Gartmain, where the wee stream enters Loch Indaal. His birds were 24 Pale belied Brent, 220 Barnies, 51 Wigeon, 14 Mallard, 7 Curlew, 53 Oystercatcher, 3 Knot, and 125 barwits. Over at Cash Kelly's House at Blackrock, on the other side of Loch Indaal, Gary had a count of 54 Scaup along with 17 R B Merganser. Today also, James had seen one of the Green winged Teal but no sign today of the American Wigeon, possibly over the sea wall...

Friday 25 December 2015

Xmas Day

A very Happy Christmas to all our readers, some of whom by now it will be Boxing Day...

Thursday 24 December 2015

Thursday 24t December

Gary had been down the hides on the reserve at Gruinart today and had a good spot of 2 male Green winged Teal and also the American Wigeon drake also present. Other birds seen there included 36 Mallard, 230 Teal, 57 Wigeon,17 Shoveler, a female Goldeneye, 62 Pintail, 27 Curlew, 71 Lapwing, 4 Redshank, 3 Snipe, 25 Greylag, 15 Whitefronts, 2 Mute and 6 Whoopers. Mandy and Fiona had seen a second winter Glaucous Gull on the pond beside the car park at the Machir Bay this afternoon.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Wednseday 23rd December

While Margaret and her sister Liz were doing a bit of shopping at the Woollen Mill, I did a spot of birding, not a lot seen, but good to spot 4 some Coal Tits frequenting the feeders there along with 2 Blue Tit and 4 Great Tit as well a few Chaffinches flitting back and forward. I had a quick look along the River Sorn, but no luck in seeing a Dipper, another day... Returning visiting birders, George and Pat Jackson have returned back over some days over the festive period and this afternoon, George had a count of 62 Wigeon down at "smelly corner", se you sometime over the next few days folks...

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Tuesday 22nd December

Today, Gary had seen 7 Waxwing down in Bowmore. The other day, Gary saw a couple of Brambling in the garden of Loch Gorm House which is down at Bruichladdich. With the wind today and also being a high tide in itself, the tide turned out quite high especially at the head of Loch Indaal, quite a spectacle to see...

Monday 21 December 2015

Monday 21st December

Yesterday, Bob had a Merlin fly across the road as he approached "smelly corner". Later on, in Bridgend Woods, Bob heard a Mistle Thrush singing away good style, is Spring round the corner? I had a quick look for any snowdrops, but no joy in that department. Today the weather as forecast has been rather blustery with gusty winds and the odd squally shower in the mix as well. Here at home this morning, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the garden.

Sunday 20 December 2015

Sunday 20th December

First bird at the bird table this morning was the Sparrowhawk, all by himself, as the wee birds were not there then, so the Sparrowhawk just had to go away still hungry. Mid morning, we saw a Kestrel just after Rock Mountain as we headed down to Bridgend. Down close to Uiskentuie, there was a dead Sparrowhawk at the side of the road, and on our way home a wee while later on, there were around 30 Oystercatchers together along with a few Curlews between the road and the loch just below where the standing stone is.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Saturday 19th December

Like everywhere else in the UK the temperature is well above what we normally get in December, not that I am complaining. The daffodils are bursting through the ground, tomorrow I might go looking for some snowdrops out, somewhere it is sheltered might be a starting point! This morning as we headed out to get our papers, there was a male Hen Harrier down at Gortan, close to the coal yard. On Loch Skerrols, there were 61 Wigeon and 18 Mute Swans present. Back home in the afternoon, the Sparrowhawk came past looking for some food, but the wee birds were out of the way, then a male Hen Harrier flew over the garden, down over the pond and then it quartered back over the machir. Peter had been on Machir Bay this afternoon and counted 24 Chough. On the beach itself 45 Ringed Plover, 35 Oystercatcher,15 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin and a Sanderling were seen. Finally, early evening on our way back from Port Charlotte, we saw a Barn Owl out hunting just after Foreland.

Friday 18 December 2015

Friday 18th December

The temperature outside may be warmer, but the rainfall is on the increase again today, global warming you might say... A friend from Adelaide commented on it being so warm out there, "even the cold water is warm coming out of the tap".... Morven sent through the figures from the International Goose count from Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The tally worked out at 43,883 Barnies, 4644 Whitefronts and 596 Greylags. Thanks to Morvern and the team from SNH for these figures. Mandy had been out helping on both the days and close to Lossit Farm on Dunlossit Estate, a Kestrel was seen on Tuesday. On Wednesday, another Kestrel was seen off the Glen road near to Loch Fada. A Sparrowhawk was at Ardlarach while a Pinkfooted Goose amongst the Whitefronts at Mulindry.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Thursday 17th December

Yesterday James had 3 Hen Harriers on the reserve at Gruinart. He also counted a flock of 1065 Golden Plover, saw 8 Knot and had another count of 535 Dunlin, all at Gruinart. Up at Ardnave, James saw a 1st winter Iceland Gull with 2 Pochard present on Ardnave Loch. Izzy yesterday had seen a Merlin down on the Oa and a flock of 680 Twite on the game crops there as well. We saw 14 Pale bellied Brent at Blackrock around midday today.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Wednesday 16th December

Today, Malcolm and Bob had carried out the count round Loch Gorm for the International Goose count. On the flooded pool beside the track leading down to Machir Bay, there were a pair of adult Whooper Swans present. Earlier on when they were at Grulinmore (at the Western end of Loch Gorm) a family of 2 adults and 3 youngsters flew past from the Sanaig direction. At Rockside, there was a Pinkfoot amongst the Whitefronted Geese. This afternoon here at home, a male Hen Harrier flew past and the Sparrowhawk was sitting on the bird table having a look and see before going away empty handed!!!

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Tuesday 15th December

This morning, the Sparrowhawk visited again, but I am sorry to say that today, it had success in taking a chaffinch off the bird table, all the other wee birds flew off but the chaffinch thought it was safe staying inside the cage, but not so... Mary today carried the WeBS count on the floods, with the highlight being a juv WTSE spooking around 50 Mallard. Earlier on, the same bird had been spooking the geese down below the Visitor centre! Mary also had a Kestrel near to Gruinart Farm with a Peregrine seen over the salt marsh. Mary's tally for her count was 112 Wigeon, 186 Mallard, 226 Teal, 1 Green winged Teal (south hide), 1 Goldeneye, 3 R B Merganser, 6 Curlew, 11 Mute, 10 Whoopers, 66 Pintail, 1 Dabchick, 2 Heron, 17 Shoveler, 3 Lapwing and 39 Greylag. Mary was saying that someone had written last week in the diary about the American Wigeon being seen by the North hide, but she had no joy in spotting it today!

Monday 14 December 2015

Monday 14th December

A different day again, no ice on puddles and it did feel a bit warmer than yesterday! Forgot to mention that Bob had seen 5 Bullfinches up on Bolsay Moor on Saturday. Yesterday, Mike had carried out his WeBS count on Outer Loch Indaal, basically from Port Charlotte down towards Portnahaven. Mike's birds were as follows, 58 GND, 25 RTD, 36 Common Scoter, 2 Eider, 10 Shag, 11 RB Merganser, 59 Common Gull and 6 Guillemot. Val, Mike's wife had seen 4 Bullfinches and a male Hen Harrier while out walking at The Gearach. Today, we had a ringtail Hen Harrier coming off the south side of Loch Gorm and flying away over the moorland. Mary, today carried out her WeBs Counts as well. Before coming to work this morning, while she was walking her dogs, she saw a Barn Owl down at Portnahaven. Her WeBS counts were as follows, Ardnave Loch held 21 Wigeon, 31 Teal, 2 Mallard, 7 Goldeneye, 90 Lapwing, 2 Herring Gul,8 Mute, 8 Whoopers, 3 Pochard and 2 Tufted Duck. The tally for Loch Gruinart was 3 GND, 1 Shag, 13 Heron, 43 Shelduck, 84 Wigeon, 37 Mallard, 5 Goldeneye,11 RBM, 127 Oystercatcher, 13 Ringed Plover,350 Golden Plover, 230 Dunlin, 55 Barwits, 94 Curlew, 59 Redshank, 60 Turnstone, 6 C Gull, 39 H Gull, 7 GBB Gull, 2 Snipe and 4 Greenshank. There was also a Kestrel present at the head of Loch Gruinart.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Sunday 13th December

Who needs to speak about wind chill when you get ice here on Islay, puddles frozen over, the council even had the roads boys out with the gritter, and to drive the point home our wee pond even had ice on it as well... But the cold snap did not deter Bob and myself carrying out the WeBs count this morning, so are the birds we counted...8 GND, 1 RTD, 1 BTD,1 Slav Grebe, 1 Cormorant, 24 Shag, 23 Greylag, 7 Whitefronts, 921 Barnies,1 Shelduck, 105 Mallard, 115 Wigeon, 410 Teal, 5 Goldeneye, 10 RB Merganser, 22 Eider, 42 Common Scoter, 51 Oystercatcher, 77 Curlew, 1 Barwit, 18 Knot, 52 Dunlin, 11 Turnstone,2 Snipe, 6 Mute Swan, 3 Heron, 6 BH Gull, 10 C Gull, 70 H Gull and 3 GBB Gull. Gary has now started to do another 2 areas round Loch Indaal from Blackrock down to Port Charlotte, so possibly Gary will send his figures through to the blog. The conditions today were ideal, flat calm with good visibility, pity the temperature was a bit cool for the finger ends.... it made the cuppa at the end back at Bob's that bit more welcome!!! This afternoon Peter and Pia counted 22 Chough heading into the roost at Kilchoman.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Saturday 12th December

A better day out here today, virtually no wind so no wind chill factor to be allowed for in the outside temperature. The Paps of Jura were white with snow and the view over to Ireland was not a bad sight either. There was a blue sky for quite some time too, and with virtually no clouds, we saw several jets fly overhead. Here at home this morning, the Sparrowhawk was sitting on the picnic bench again. Earlier on, we had counted 21 Goldfinches on the feeders. Round at Coull there were around 35 Fieldfare in a flock together, a flock of around 4-500 Barnies were present at Coull as well. Over at Ballinaby, 2 Whoopers were in the fields there along with the 500 or so Barnies present, as well as 8 Whitefronts and a few Greylags, none with neck collars or leg rings on though! On our travels over to get the papers at Bridgend, there were small groups of Hooded Crows noted at Coull, Ballinaby, Coille, Carnduncan, Sunderland and down at Uiskentuie as well. At Bridgend itself, 5 Whoopers flew overhead heading out towards the sea. On our way back home, there was a single Pale bellied Brent seen close to the shore at Cash Kelly's former house at Blackrock. Finally there were 4 Whoopers resting up on Loch Gorm.

Friday 11 December 2015

Friday 11th December

A busy sort of a day out here today, starting of with meetings at 9.30am, and you call it retirement... Mind you, on our way over to Gruinart we saw a Merlin flash across the road before we came to the former Kilchoman School. This evening on our way back in, there was a Woodcock sitting on the road close to Foreland House, but it did eventually fly away... And finally between the road leading up to Rockside and home, we saw 3 separate pairs of Hares trying to outwit us, but we drove home safely with no accidents occurring.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Thursday 10th December

A bit cooler out here today, so I was glad once we had the big stove on, boy what a heat it can kick out... Just after Coull this morning, we spotted a Peregrine fly over. At Ballinaby, a Buzzard was seen while over at Craigens, the was a mixed flock of some Starlings, Lapwings and Golden Plovers on the ground. Back here at home, the pesky Sparrowhawk was seen, still all the wee birds are so far evading being caught... For those of you that may be interested in Fair Isle, there is a program at 9pm on Channel 5, I am not sure of the content as I think it could be about some of the residents, rather than the actual Bird Observatory.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Wednesday 9th December

This morning, Margaret had a new tick for here, yes, a Heron took off from beside the pond, hope it has not come across the frogs down there or equally bad, put its' beak through the membrane and pierced it...The pesky ringtail was seen this afternoon as it flew past, no doubt looking to spot what was around, not a lot, as the wind has picked up and most of the birds were busy on the feeders this morning... The ferry this evening was cancelled...

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Tuesday 8th December

Almost got a new "garden bird" here this morning, but they flew over the top of the fence and landed out on the Machir about 40 yards away, out towards the War graves cemetery.... Nothing really that exiting, just 36 Greylags! A short while later on, all the birds on the feeders flew off after being spoofed, and a quick look out the window and the ringtail was back, less than 2 yards off the table. At lunchtime, one better, the male Sparrowhawk was sitting on top of one of the cages on the bird table, will need to get the cameras looked out for the next visit!

Monday 7 December 2015

Monday 7th December

The rain eventually did stop yesterday, and in the end we had a mere 3 inches or thereabouts, certainly not as much by a long stretch of your imagination as other areas. I did my good deed by digging in 3 culverts to allow the water off the road this morning!!! Yesterday, visitors Keith and Hazel had seen a rather soaked and bedraggled Hen Harrier on the side of the road at Gruinart, as they slowed down the bird flew off carrying a rabbit! Here this morning, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew/ circled round the garden twice, no doubt we will see more of that one yet! Later on, a small group of over 20 Lapwings few past and this afternoon there were around 30 Curlews in a field as we came out of Port Charlotte.

Saturday 5 December 2015

Saturday 5th December

Almost 24 hours since I wrote yesterday's entry, guess what? You might have got it in one try, well yes, the weather tops the bill.... It has rained non stop since yesterday, not heavily compared to other areas, but at least a couple of inches have fallen here at home, and is still coming down as I write....Yesterday, before the rain started to fall, Pat, Bob's other half, had seen a Tawny Owl and then a wee while later on a male Hen Harrier, both over at close to Laphroaig. This morning, Bob saw a Kestrel near to Uiskentuie. Here at home birds coming to the bird food looked a sorry state, rather bedraggled and wet with it too... suppose I would look the same if I lived outdoors too!!!

Friday 4 December 2015

Friday 4th December

I think that I should stop talking on how the weather was on any particular day as this afternoon and now this evening, it is blowing a hoolie and with the rain, not a time for being outside... Having said that David Livingstone saw a juvenile White tailed Sea Eagle out past Carraig Fhada down at Port Ellen. Earlier this afternoon visitors from Pertshire, Keith and Hazel had seen an Otter tucking into the remnants of a Barnie, earlier on it had been other feathered predators enjoying the poor Barnie. They had also seen a pair of Stonechats, a bird not that common to them back home.

Thursday 3 December 2015

Thursday 3rd November

A beautiful sunset here this evening and a not bad day earlier on, but the forecast for later on Friday does not looks so promising... On our way over to Gruinart this morning we went round by Coull and Ballinaby. There were plenty of Barnies at both places but very few Whitefronts seen, and the Whitefronts seen, none had any neck collars on!!! We saw at least 4 Buzzards on our way to Gruinart and on the way home, this time round the other side of Loch Gorm past Sunderland and along past Rockside, nothing much of note apart from a large group of Rooks and the stubble where Kilchoman had been spreading Pot ale from the Distillery, possibly the warm pot ale had brought some worms to the surface for the Rooks to eat! Coming up through the dunes close to our house, a ringtail Hen Harrier was out looking for some prey. Later on that pesky Sparrowhawk was sitting on the garden wall, just waiting and watching....Mid afternoon, on the way over to Port Askaig, another 4 Buzzards were seen on our way there and back. Forgot to mention that yesterday we had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier as we drove up towards Sanaigmore.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Wednesday 2nd December

What a difference a day makes, no rain that is, clear skies and looking out over to Ireland and then up to Colonsay, Mull with Jura further round, a great tonic after the rain we have had... We took a run round Loch Gorm after lunch today and at Ballinaby, we were rewarded by seeing some Whitefronts with neck collars. There were 2 which proved difficult to read but all the same Margaret got 8 read and we sent their info through and duly got the data back from Tony Fox who collates all the info on the whitefronts. Gary today had been busy out in his garden noticing loads of Chaffinches and Greenfinches on his feeders. He has been fortunate in seeing a Brambling there over the last couple of days as well. Also present in his garden, a pair of Collared Doves while on the feeders, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Coal tits have been seen. Today, Gary watched 5 Treecreepers chasing each other round the trees! At dusk, he has been hearing Redwing and Fieldfare dropping in to roost in the trees.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Tuesday 1st December

Well, another month in and another season past, now we are in December and into Winter... The rainfall tally for the month came through at a mere 9.3 inches, the wettest month I think this year. Still we should not really complain as our friends over at Mulindry had 11.4 inches for the month, see these folk that live inland and close to the hills... Margaret saw the Sparrowhawk put in an appearance in the garden this morning, it even had the cheek to perch on top of the rain gauge for a few moments, hope it did not break it... I see that Mike's weather station is quite a bit different in his seasonal tally to ours, but I think that his weather station packed in with a lightning strike earlier this year and lost its' memory, so it had start from zero again.