Sunday 31 January 2016

Sunday 31st January

The wind this morning was a lot calmer, possibly the lull before the storm, as the wind is already picking up again this evening and all the ferries coming and leaving Islay tomorrow are cancelled.
On the big garden bird watch today, here at home, we had the following, a ringtail Hen Harrier, 19 Pheasant, 15 Jackdaw, 26 Goldfinch, 77 Chaffinch, 21 Starling, 1 Robin, 2 Dunnock, 9 House Sparrow, 1 Wren and a Blackbird. No sign of any Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch or the pesky Sparrowhawk let alone a Brambling....

Saturday 30 January 2016

Saturday 30th January

The wind may have dropped a little, so allowing the ferry to come over although it did not attempt to go up to Colonsay, and  I believe that it is intending to go up there first thing tomorrow morning.. and oh yes, the plane came this morning, we even got some letters through in the post, although it was a good hour later than normal...wind speed here peaked at 64 mph earlier today, rather bracing..
As you may have gathered nothing on the bird front, but all going well, we should be better tomorrow with some sightings through from the "Big garden birdwatch"...

Friday 29 January 2016

Friday 29th January

Yesterday Carl had seen a Sparrowhawk in Bridgend wood, and at Conisby beside Bruichladdich Carl had a male Hen Harrier. Also yesterday at Grulinmore, at the Eastern end of Loch Gorm, we had 30  Fieldfare fly past us. Gary had been out with his visiting friends over at Claggain Bay where they saw 11 GND, 7 Cormorant, 3 Shag, 10 Oystercatcher and also 10 Ringed Plover. On their way back along the road, they saw an immature Golden Eagle out from Kildalton Cross, and then finally a male Hen Harrier perched on the ground just out of Port Ellen. Today, we saw 15 Fieldfare over at Coull. Not really a day for bird watching, there was a squall here, early afternoon of just short of 75mph, little wonder that neither the ferry or the plane left the mainland today!!! Even now, early evening and we are getting a bashing with the wind with squally showers in the mix too...

Thursday 28 January 2016

Thursday 28th January

Well, those Fulmars that I spotted the other day have certainly have proved me right again, as today the wind has been building up as the day progressed. The ferry is coming over this evening from the mainland as I write this entry and will return as per its' timetable later this evening, but tomorrow the ferry has already been cancelled until at least 6pm, so I suppose your morning paper might be classed as an evening one, but then again I do not think they will be on the ferry anyway!!!
This morning, I was pottering away in the garage when I heard a Blackbird "alarm calling", I looked up and it was in the garage with me and then the Sparrowhawk flew in after it... the said Sparrowhawk had the cheek to perch for a few moments less than 2 metres from where I was standing....Both birds then flew away out the door. This afternoon the Sparrowhawk nobbled one of the wee birds off the bird table, one less to count on Sunday when we do the Garden Birdwatch!!!!

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Wednesday 27th January

Gary, Sam, and their friends George and Annette from the mainland sent some sightings through. Up at Bunnahabhain yesterday, they saw a Heron, 2 GBB Gull, 15 H. Gull, 21 Cormorant, 7 Shag, 17 GND, 6 Oystercatcher and a Turnstone. On the way to the Bird nerds meeting last night, they saw a Barn Owl at the market at Bridgend and then shortly afterwards along past the entrance to Whin Park, another Barn Owl. We had 12 hardy souls who came along to the "meeting" last night, not bad for time of the year and also the weather too. This morning, out flying in front of the crag were a couple of Fulmars, a sign of some stormy weather not far off!!!

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Tuesday 26th January

Some sightings through from Gary and Sam along with some visiting friends. On Sunday at Machir Bay the Glaucous Gull was seen along with 7 GBB Gull, 23 Herring Gull, 80 Common Gull, 150 Oystercatcher, 34 Ringed Plover and 2 Sanderling. Out from smelly corner, they had 40 Dunlin,  16 Ringed Plover, 2 Turnstone, 64 Scaup, 3 R B Merganser, 5 Eider and a GND. Yesterday between Esknish and Eollabus a cracking male Hen Harrier was spotted. Over on the "floods" at  the RSPB reserve at Gruinart, plenty of wildfowl around,including, 110 Pintail, 270 Teal, 12 Shoveller, 45 Mallard, 53 Wigeon, 350 Barnies, 35 Whitefronts, 70 Lapwing and 2 Redshank. Over the hills on the East side of Loch Gruinart, a Golden Eagle was out flying, with 2 Greenshank noted from the new hide. 46 Shelduck  were also seen. Back at Bridgend, flying over the cattle market, over 300 Lapwing were added to the their tally for the day.
Here at home, after a long absence, the Sparrowhawk has been seen cruising around the garden, sitting on top of the bird table, over 6 times at least, but not getting any of the birds, just being a general pest of himself! Down at the reed bed beside the Coastguards, 2 Peregrines flew past.

Monday 25 January 2016

Monday 25th January

Many thanks to James and co for writing the blog while I have been over on the mainland this past week. Apart from the obligatory shopping, we even managed to attend 2 concerts at the Celtic connections held in Glasgow along with some time visiting friends too....
Some sightings from last week now... Dave had a Glaucous Gull down at Lower Killeyan on the Oa on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, Donald James MacPhee had Little Auk, found by one of his dogs, up close his house at Kintraw above Gortan on Loch Indaal. Visiting birder, Stuart Crutchfield saw a Cackling Goose close to Leorin amongst the flock of Barnies, the drake Green winged Teal was present out on the floods at Gruinart, a  1st winter Glaucous Gull at Machir Bay, around 20 Pale bellied Brents at the head of Loch Inndaal   with around 50 Common Scoter on Loch Indaal. On Sunday before heading off to the ferry, 130 Barwits were at the top of  Loch Indaal. Stuart also saw 7 Hen Harrier while he was over, and reported very large numbers of Common Gull as well. Today, Tracey e mailed through the figures from the International goose Count held last week on 19th/ 20th January, there were 41,736 Barnies, 4,680 Greenland Whitefronts and 473 Greylags counted. Thanks to Tracey and the team from SNH for these figures.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Sunday 24th January

Don't forget the monthly meeting of Bird nerds on Tuesday night 7.30pm at the RSPB Loch Gruinart Visitor Centre. (The Lochside is closed for a refurb).
Michal had a Golden Eagle and Hen Harrier on the reserve.

Saturday 23 January 2016

Saturday 23rd January

Not much to report today, although I have been past on some records from Mike for Wednesday (got lost in my emails sorry) - Travelling from Kennacraig to Islay  a pair of Goosanders, 11 Goldeneye, 17 Great Northern Divers, 2 Red Throated Divers and 1 Slavonian Grebe on the Inner Loch, and 61 Great Norther Divers (including two flocks of 30 and 16), 7 Kittiwakes, 12 Razorbills and 3 Guillemots on the sea. On Jura 2 adult and 1 immature White Tailed Eagles  all in the air together and a fourth, an adult on Glas Eilean.

Friday 22 January 2016

Friday 22nd January

The sun came out today after yesterdays rain. I was out on the reserve (Gruinart) altering water levels (they are all high so makes little difference). A peregrine chasing down a Lapwing was exciting viewing- the peregrine drove the lapwing into the water, but the hardy lapwing climbed out and flew off. A Hen Harrier was swooping over the Teal giving them the run about- All in all lots of birds in the air.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Wednesday 20th January

Two long days of counting geese around the Gruinart area for the International counts. Todays best other birds included a Merlin and Hen Harrier at Craigens, a Hen Harrier and 9 Ravens at Gruinart and on Ardnave Loch, 12 Whooper Swans and 2 Pochard. Goose wise about 11,000 Barnies and 550 Whitefronts.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Tuesday 19th January

Survey of the whole Loch Gruinart was done today. Following birds were seen: 281 shelduck at the bottom of the loch, 215 wigeon, 2 brent geese, 2 goldeneye, 236 oystercatcher, 179 golden plover, 40 lapwing, 45 sanderling, 43 dunlin, 255 bar-tailed godwit, 126 curlew, 144 turnstone. On the Floods of the reserve (mostly visible from the hide) there were 111 mallards, 96 wigeon, 337 teal, 167 lapwing, 19 shoveler, 48 pintail, 44 curlew and 2 greenshanks. On Ardnave Loch there was a group of 10 mute swans with 13 whoopers, few teal, wigeon and couple pochards. Thank you to our volunteers Becca, Lesley and Fiona for helping with the survey. James had 3 hen harriers, one kestrel and one golden eagle while doing the goose count around Loch Gruinart.

Monday 18 January 2016

Monday 18th January

A wet and misty day, not much good for birding, a day for catching up on the paper work. I was out on Friday doing 3 NEWS sectors for BTO on the north of the Island from Gortantaoid- a really long and difficult walk, but fantastic scenery. I did not record very many shore birds, but did OK for birds of prey with 2 Golden Eagles and 2 juv White Tailed Eagles, 3 of the eagles were all flying around together watching me watching them, also a good view of a Jack Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, 4 Ravens and 26 goats including 2 very small kids.

Sunday 17 January 2016

Sunday 17th January

Lesley had a couple of Brambling amongst the finch flock at her house close to Carraig Fhada at Port Ellen, on Friday and Saturday, but no sign of them today! Today was the day for the WeBS count, so Bob and myself carried out our patch from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, Gary at the same time covered from Port Charlotte back round to Blackrock.. The weather was a bit inclement, but we battled on and got the job done! On our patch, we saw 26 species with Gary having 19, but of interest was the change in species noted, we had no Divers, or Eiders, but we had Teal, and Shelduck. Gary did not have as many waders as us but he had not the shoreline to expect them on really either. Gary also had 3 Kittiwakes as well as a poorly Puffin, which now has passed on...

Saturday 16 January 2016

Saturday 16th January

Yesterday Gary and Sam had seen 5 Goldeneye, 12 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swan and a Cormorant. Later on down close to Port Ellen, they had a ringtail Hen Harrier. Finally, over at Bruichladdich Pier, Gary had the small flock of 50 Starlings showing off their acrobatic skills, better than the Chough who are still to learn their synchronised flights as of yet! Mandy had carried out her NEWS sector, from Machir Bay, South to Granny's Rock, with her birds included 2 Ravens, 2 Chough, 9 Kittiwake and also 2 Peregrine, one of which was carrying some prey. Coming back from Granny's Rock, through the dunes, at the lochan, there were 2 Whooper, 4 Tufted Ducks, 1 Teal and a Dabchick. This morning, Malcolm saw 8 adult Whooper flying down past Bruichladdich, possibly heading over to Ireland? Here at home the local ringtail flew over the garden, and then later on, we saw another saw another one between Loch Gorm and the road just as we approached the memorial stone to the Kilchoman Bard. Just thinking, that I have not seen the "local" Sparrowhawk for a few days!!!

Friday 15 January 2016

Friday 15th January

Yesterday, Bob had a flock of 175 Lapwing seen out in the fields in front of his house. He also saw 9 Fieldfare fly past, the first seen for a few days. Bob was also saying that on his bird feeders that he has been seeing a few Blue Tits and also some Coal Tits, birds that he has not seen with him for some time. Today down at Machir Bay, he counted 41 Chough flying over the dunes, at the pool beside the car park, 24 Curlew and 2 Herring Gull were present. Here at home this afternoon, there were 27 Goldfinches on the feeders. Michal, today had 50 Fieldfares, 2 Redwings and 210 Starlings at Gruinart, up on Ardnave Loch, 11 Whoopers were seen with 5 Lapwings and 160 Golden Plover in the fields around the Loch.

Thursday 14 January 2016

Thursday 14th January

The other day, Izzy Baker had seen a flock of 32 Long tailed Tits along with 4 Goldcrest in the trees round Loch Allan. Some highlights through from Mike when he was carrying out his NEWS sectors... 46 Common Scoter displaying in small groups on Loch Indaal. Between Bruichladdich and Traigh an Luig, Mike had 5 Purple Sandpiper, 11 Turnstone, 17 Ringed Plover, 14 Lapwing, 25 Oystercatcher, 3 Heron, 1 Grey Wagtail, 6 GND, 10 Cormorant & 9 Pale bellied Brent Geese all seen on Monday. Yesterday, Mike carried on towards Bridgend along the top of Loch Indaal to Rubha Ban with birds noted included 85 Oystercatcher, 11 Turnstone, 14 Ringed Plover, 19 Dunlin, 19 Common Scoter, 61 Scaup, 8 Ravens feeding on a the remains of a sheep on the tide's edge and also a Kestrel. Mandy had covered the Machir Bay yesterday counting 44 Ringed Plover, 1 Sanderling, 45 Twite, 20 Chough, 4 Tufted Duck, 1 Dabchick and the Glaucous Gull. Last Friday, while on the local Goose count at Easter Carrabus, Mandy had a Sparrowhawk and also a Kestrel, and then shortly afterwards a Juv. Golden Eagle over Cnoc Donn. Today, Gary had seen 5 GND, 4 Cormorant and 6 Shag with a Buzzard flying above a Golden Eagle which in turn was above a White tailed Eagle just along the coast! A great sight to see Gary!

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Wednesday 13th January

Bob Swann sent through the information on the Greylag geese, both of them were fitted with the collars here on Islay at the same site. One them of went over to Colonsay, while other went to Mull, both have now returned here, but in different groups! On his way home, late last night, Gary had a couple of Barn Owls on the fence beside the road, close to Ballygrant. Today, on Loch nan Cadhan, past Ballygrant, the resident pair of mute swan were present and were joined by 3 male Goldeneye and also a Dabchick. This morning, here at home, the "local" ringtail had a flypast over the garden. the wee birds have been really busy on the feeders, no doubt filling up with food before the weather turns colder!

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Tuesday 12th January

Just after 9am today, Mike Peacock spotted a Little Auk flying up Loch Indaal towards Bruichladdich. Here at home, out towards the War graves cemetery there were 25 Greylags present, one of which had a neck collar on. Late morning, Bob had around 80 Greylags seen from his house just out of Port Charlotte, one of which had a neck collar on too. Different geese, so their data is away to Bob Swann, and once we hear back from him, I will let you know of where and when they were fitted with the neck collars...

Monday 11 January 2016

Monday 11th January

Another miserable sort of a day with the weather, still I suppose it is January... Yesterday while down in the woods at Bridgend, Carl had a Tawny Owl. Today down on Loch na Cachie, one of the wee lochans beside Loch Gorm, 3 Whoopers were present.

Sunday 10 January 2016

Sunday 10th January

Back on Friday, Mary had seen a Little Awk on the wee lochan past Claddach at Portnahaven. Yesterday, Gary had counted 67 Pale bellied Brent Geese between the burn at Uiskentuie and round to Bruichladdich. Later on, he had a Tawny Owl fly across in front of him at Bruichladdich Pier. This afternoon, on our way back from Gruinart, we had a Sparrowhawk fly alongside us beside the dyke (stone wall) at Grainel, a Buzzard fly past, close to Culbuie and another near to Rockside roadend. The weather today, has not ben that great, with rain on the windows for most of the day...

Saturday 9 January 2016

Saturday 9th January

Rather overcast out here today, low cloud, although you could just see some of the snow on the Paps of Jura. The outside temperature not that warm either come to think of it... Today, coming back from Port Askaig, we took the slightly longer detour from Ballygrant by the Glen road and back past Mulindry to Bridgend. At Bunnahabhain, there was a Heron. Just past Knocklearach on the Glen road there was a flock of 30 Fieldfare while just along the road there was a ringtail Hen Harrier out quartering its patch and then just round the corner, were 3 Reed Bunting on the road. Back home, the Sparrowhawk was on the bird table again...

Friday 8 January 2016

Friday 8th January

All quiet on the bird front today, but we have a returning member to the team at RSPB, with Michal Sur coming over to provide maternity cover while Mary Redman has her baby. So welcome back to Michal...

Thursday 7 January 2016

Thursday 7th January

Yesterday, over at Tarbert on Jura, Gordon Muir had found a dead Little Awk. Also yesterday, Louise had seen a Whimbrel at Saligo Bay. This morning the ringtail Hen Harrier carried out a low fly past over the garden, here at home. Later on our way to Gruinart, a Sparrowhawk was on top of the dyke beside the former Kilchoman school. On our way home, there was a male Hen Harrier at Carnduncan, with a ringtail seen close to Coull roadend a few minutes later. We also had 80 Whitefronts together at Ballinaby, there were more seen in other fields along the way, but this was our largest count. Bob had 4 Pinkfoots amongst the Whitefronts at Rockside and at Grulinmore at the far end of Loch Gorm, Bob had 135 Fielfares on the overhead wires. A Sparrowhawk was sitting on top of the bird table here at home, early afternoon. Over on the Oa, Dave had a Little Awk on Loch Kinnabus. It took off and circled round the loch before heading over the hill and out to the Sea.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Wednesday 6th January

This afternoon I gave Bob a hand while he was carrying out thee NEWS survey on Loch Indaal. We did the Carn section south of Port Charlotte with the following birds seen, 4 Greenland Whitefronts, 4 Cormorant, 1 Heron, 41 Lapwing, 1 Redshank, 1 Snipe, 3 Curlew, 16 C. Gull, 16 H. Gull, 3 GBB Gull, 14 Rock Dove, 3 Rock Pipit, 1 Blackbird, 40 Jackdaw, 42 Rook, 3 Raven and 2 Reed Bunting. Earlier on I saw a single Whooper Swan fly past, flying on towards Ireland, no doubt, trying to catch with old friends...

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Tuesday 5th January

A not bad day out here today, and as it was dry I planted around 30 metres of hedging which hopefully through time will provide some cover for the birds and also some food for them too, fingers crossed only time will tell... The ringtail Hen Harrier flew past today and had no luck as the bird table was quiet at the time. Mid afternoon, I looked out, boy what a lot of wee birds were feeding away, nothing of note, I had hoped that by now a Brambling would have dropped in. The Ravens over the crag have been quite vocal the past few days, the Chough were their inquisitive selves while I was planting the hedge, a Hooded Crow was down on the garden with the Jackdaws in trying to scoff anything they could...

Monday 4 January 2016

Monday 4th January

This morning, I caught up with Gary and Bob who were already at the South hide (old hide) or Taigh deas as it is called in Gaelic. The main birds that we saw from there were a Green winged Teal, 2 Little Grebe and a Goldeneye. From the North hide, (new hide/ Taigh tuath) we had a Greenshank fly past with 83 Sanderling counted out on the estuary. Going back down to Bob's house, they had seen 3 small groups of Pale bellied Brents between Gortan and Bruichladdich, totalling 27 Geese.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Sunday 3rd January

A good day here a home for sure, the Sparrowhawk came round for a look see at the bird table, nobody at home, so it just double checked and kept going. Closer to lunchtime, the male Hen Harrier came by, close in, less than 5 metres away, over the top of the feeders, and it too flew away over the wall. The Pheasants present just hunkered down! Out in the field there were 79 Whitefronts and 10 Barnies. Mid afternoon the Barnies were up to over 200 in number, with the Whitefronts being the same in number. Gary and Sam had taken a walk down on Machir Bay today. Around the pool beside the carpark, 2 Sanderling, 17 Turnstone & 33 Ringed Plover were present. Down on the Bay itself a count of 45 Oystercatcher, 100 Curlew with a couple of Mipits and 2 Pied Wagtails foraging on debris. Gulls seen in the dunes were 4 GBB Gull, 21 H Gull, 9 Common Gull, 5 BH Gull and the Glaucous Gull. They also had a flypast by 30 Chough.. On their way back to their car, 40 Twite were seen on the track

Saturday 2 January 2016

Saturday 2nd January

Marsali Thomson sent trough her rainfall figures from Mulindry for the year. Her tally came in at 67.2" for 2015, a bit drier than the previous year when it came to 70.24", see these folk that live near the hills... Visiting birder Dave yesterday had seen 2 Long tailed Ducks, 1 R T Diver, 3 GND, 1 Slav Grebe, 79 Scaup, 30 Common Scoter and a Siskin fly over Loch Indaal. Over the hills on the top side of the road towards Ballygrant from Bridgend, 2 W T Sea Eagle with a pair of Golden Eagles displaying as well. Further on down the Glen road, over the hills another pair of Golden Eagles displaying and talon locking , watched for an hour! Also seen out there was another WTSE and also a ringtail Hen Harrier. Over at Ardnave, over 40 Chough were present, 9 Golden Plover with 8 Whoopers and 10 Goldeneye on Ardnave Loch. Loch Gruinart held another ringtail, 6 Pintail and 5 Whoopers. Gary and Sam had seen the pr of WTSE as well, probably the pair that Dave and Sian had seen. Gary also had Ravens and a Buzzard out behind his house. In their garden, the bird feeders have busy with Blue Tit, Great Tit & Coal Tit with Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch present as well. Redwing and Fieldfare were moving through the wee wood behind their house and also some more Blackbirds noted too...Today was visiting birders George and Pat Jackson's last day before leaving this afternoon. A final few birds from them included 34 Golden Plover, 7 Knot and a single Rock Pipit seen along the Big stand. Before heading to the ferry, they had a cracking male Hen Harrier following the stream out in front of their son's house and then it flew directly over the house... Mike Peacock today had a count of 45 45 Pale belied Brent on Loch Indaal up below the coal yard. Yesterday, Mike had 7 Kittiwake flying South past Port Charlotte and a new tick from his living room, a Peregrine.

Friday 1 January 2016

Friday 1st January 2016

Well, as predicted last night another year has just passed by.... I did manage to tally the rainfall for December up and it came to 7.8" and for the year, the total was 56.75". The really surprising fact is that 56.65" fell last year, so a difference of only 0.1", say no more!! News on the bird front today is none, but over the past year, many thanks to all the folk that have sent through their sightings, it is your birds that make the blog. A "Happy New Year" to all our readers wherever you are....