Saturday 30 April 2016

Saturday 30th April

Yesterday, David Shallcross of the Leigh Birders who are over on Islay at present e mailed through to say that he had been seeing a Ring necked Duck over on Loch Finlaggan on the past couple of days amongst the Tufted Ducks there. Today, Bob had seen a Barn Owl at Keppols and then down on Loch Skerrols, he counted 21 Shelduck. He too felt there were more Swallows and Wheatears around and 4 Wheatears hopping around in the field in front of his house. Nearer to his house, there are still 2 Siskins present. Here at home the pair of Redpolls are still around at the feeders along with at least 30 Goldfinches.

Friday 29 April 2016

Friday 29th of April

Thank goodness we missed the most of the snow that other places seemed to have had. Mull is pure white, and I believe they had get some snow ploughs sent in from the mainland to help out.. Further South and Ireland too had a good covering on the hills there...Yesterday was Susan Miller's last day of this visit, and at the reserve at Gruinart, a male Shoveler showed well for Susan. Today, at Gruinart, James saw a Whinchat and heard Sedge Warblers and Grasshopper Warblers singing away. Helen Brown who lives over close to Ardnahoe reported in to say that she has had a pair of Yellowhammers regularly on her feeders. A pair of Hen Harriers are often seen out on the wing and recently a Redshank has taken up residence on Ardnahoe Loch of late.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Thursday 28th April

Earlier  this week, Pia Roberts had seen an Osprey sitting on top of a telegraph pole at Loch Gorm.  On Tuesday, the Leigh Birders (David Shallcross, Eddie King, Alan Wilcox, Pauline and Ian Greenhalgh) had seen 4 Sandwich Terns, some Knot and some Barwits on Loch Indal. At Gruinart, they saw Coal Tit, Peregrine, Merlin while further out, they saw 15 Blackwits, a Dabchick, 15 Whitefronts, 20 Barnies, 2 Whoopers, 45 Golden Plover, Whimbrel and Turnstone. They also saw a further 2 Whoopers at Ardnave Loch. Yesterday, they had 10 House Martins just past Bridgend, a Cuckoo on the Rhinns with a Goldcrest in Gearach Forestry ans well as some Willow Warblers there too. Over at the junction leading to Gruinart from Loch Gorm, a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier were added to their list for the day. They also had another male Harrier up at Sanaigmore. Susan Miller had seen a single Yellowhammer out of Port Charlotte, on the road leading out to Kilchiaran. This morning, like a lot of other areas, we awoke to snow showers, although it did not lie white on the ground here.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Wednesday 27th April

Oops, last night I made a large error on the entry by writing that James had 6 Garganey on the floods at Gruinart, it should have been 6 Gadwall, must have got lost in translation, somewhere along the line, more likely I could not make my own hand writing/ scrawl....
Mary, on Monday had a Glaucous Gull at Claadach,  a Sparrowhawk was also there while she had a Wheatear and also a Mistle Thrush as she headed back to the village. Yesterday on Claddach Loch she counted 8 Canada Geese then watched a Hooded Crow and a Hare having a go at each other... Along at Gortan (coal yard) Mary saw a House Martin and then a GND off Carn as she headed home. Last night at the bird nerds' stroll in Bridgend Woods we saw Coal Tit, Long tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Sand Martins swooping low over the River Sorn, a couple of Dippers, a pair of Mallard flew past. A couple of Treecreeper were seen on the trees while out on the fields some White Wagtails and also Pied Wagtails were present.
Michal e mailed through to say that there is a Cuckoo calling all hours along at Mill Cottage...

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Tuesday 26th April

Yesterday, Jack Fleming had seen a Corncrake along the flats at Gruinart. James had seen 2 Red Grouse out on the moor and then a Little Grebe as well as 6 Gadwall out on the floods. Also yesterday, returning birder Susan Miller had seen a Sparrowhawk, several Buzzards, Wheatear and some Song Thrushes on the Glen road, mostly seen close to Ballygrant, rather than the Mulindry end! Other highlights included seeing a pair of Peregrines out on the wing round Loch Gorm. The Leigh birders had been out about yesterday, seeing a group of around 15 Sand Martins at Bridge House/ Island Farm on the Low road out of Bowmore to Port Ellen with a few Hen Harriers seen on their travels and then a lesser Whitethroat heard up past Torra and then a male Whinchat along at Red Lodge. They had counted over 100 Ringed Plover at Rubha Ban at the top of Loch Indaal, past smelly corner. Further along Loch Indaal, a few "comic" terns were seen along with some Sandwich Terns there as well.

Monday 25 April 2016

Monday 25th April

The weather here today was similar to yesterday but there appears to be an even colder edge to the wind again with the odd shower with hail in the air... The Leigh birders have returned to visit Islay again after an absence of over 3 years, and are carrying out a Spring visit this time round.. Yesterday they had gone over to Jura, so here are some of their top birds. a White Tailed Eagle, 2 male Hen Harrier, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 5 Cuckoos, dozens of Willow Warblers, 6 Common Sandpipers together, 2 Greenfinch, several Wheatear, a group of around 100 Meadow Pipits in one field, 5 Swallows, 2 Siskin, just some from their list of over 40 species seen.
Remember that the bird nerds will be meeting tomorrow evening at 6.30 at the car park leading to Islay House Square for a stroll through Bridgend woods, so might see some of you there, if you are around!

Sunday 24 April 2016

Sunday 24th April

Another dry day out here, but there is still a cold edge to the wind, perhaps if we had some rain the temperature would rise... just an idle thought... Back on Friday, Carl had heard a Cuckoo at Easter Ellister and saw a Common Sandpiper at Bruichladdich. Yesterday at Nerabus, Carl had a  Whimbrel and then a Sand Martin further along at Easter Ellister. Bob yesterday has seen 9 Greenland whitefronted Geese, a male Hen Harrier and a count of 52 Golden Plover over at Ballinaby. Today, Bob had a male Hen Harrier fly directly over his house! James, this morning had seen  a Merlin on the reserve while carrying out some survey work. . Out from the new hide this morning, I had a Mallard with 4 ducklings, and today I had the "feeling" that there were more Wheatears around. Here at home, there were a pair of Linnets foraging about at the spilled food at the feeders which the Goldfinches had discarded...

Saturday 23 April 2016

Saturday 23rd April

Elaine and Eddie Prince, returning birders to Islay kindly sent through their sightings of their recent visit. Their highlights included a Yellowhammer and Water Pipit seen at Loch Gruinart on the 11th, a Grey Wagtail seen on the 12th on Jura, a Cuckoo heard when they visited Colonsay , an Osprey seen eating a fish on a telegraph pole directly above them on the 20th at Loch Gorm. The following day they saw 3 Little Terns at Ardnave. At Loch Gruinart, they saw a pair of Great Skuas mobbing
/ harassing Shelduck. They also had seen 4 Lapwing chicks out at Gruinart yesterday. In total, they had 105 different species seen during their stay and reported seeing Hares everywhere. Thanks folks for your e mail.
Today, at lunchtime as James was relaxing having a welcome cuppa, on his doorstep, he almost had a new house guest, in the form of a nosey Stoat!

Friday 22 April 2016

Friday 22nd April

Another great day over here again, in fact I even managed to plant our potatoes this morning.... Many thanks to Michal for writing the blog while I was away this past week to the Pyrenees with Peter Roberts. There were 10 in our group, made up of folk from Islay and also others from the Argyll Bird Club, we all had a great time and had some great sightings as well...  This morning, Michal had a Grasshopper Warbler on the reserve at Gruinart, he also heard a Cuckoo, again on the reserve with another "off reserve". Liz Hathaway had seen 3 Wheatears on her way to work after Uiskentuie and before Bushmills. We had heard a distant Cuckoo calling here at home this morning.  Becca, one of the "vols" with RSPPB had seen a pod of 10 Bottle nosed Dolphins at the head of Loch Indaal around midday. This afternoon, Michal had a juv Golden Eagle and also a male and then a ringtail Hen Harrier on the reserve at Gruinart. James while carrying some survey work today, his birds included a Peregrine Falcon, 3 Whimbrel, a Sparrowhawk, a common Redpoll and a Greenshank. Bob, who was away on our trip, returned today and saw an Arctic Tern along the Strand past Uiskentuie and at later at the water works opposite Bob's house, 3 Willow Warblers were singing away.
Next Tuesday, it is that time again with the Islay bird nerds meeting at the carpark just up from Bridgend towards Port Askaig at 6.30 pm for a walk in the Bridgend Woods, so feel free to come along and join us if you are round.

Thursday 21 April 2016

Thursday 21st April

Dave Protherough saw 10 sandwich terns in Port Ellen bay yesterday as well as 4 great northern divers. At Gruinart a male hen harrier and 2 females, golden eagle, juvenile white-tailed eagle and several swallows were seen yesterday also a barn owl was heard screeching during night. James saw couple twite and a redpoll on his morning survey today. Female peregrine was seen in Ardnave. Louise sent an image of the couple of sandwich terns she saw on Jura on Monday.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Wednesday 20th April

Yesterday Garry reported having 37 yellowhammers between his and his neighbors feeder at Ballygrant and a sparrowhawk in the woods beside his house. Yellowhammer was yesterday seen on Jura by Louise.  Swallow was spotted at Loch Gruinart yesterday. Becca saw two white-tailed eagles at Gruinart yesterday. James saw two lesser Canada geese (hutchinsii) at Gruinart. Today cuckoo was heard at Gruinart from the raised beach. Mary saw 4 common sandpipers at Claddach today. During the wader survey at Gruinart several lapwings with chicks were seen as well as a mallard with 7 ducklings. (Photo of the lapwing family taken through the scope this morning).

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Tuesday 19th April

Yesterday Louise saw two sandwich terns at Craighouse, Jura. Alistair Hutchinson saw a male hen harrier and grey wagtail at Woolen Mill. Today the wader survey at Loch Gruinart started. So far only three fields were done with 68 lapwing and 20 redshanks counted. All birds busy displaying and making scrapes. Also several snipe were seen along the drains. During the survey merlin was seen chasing a meadow pipit. A visitor reported seeing an osprey at Finlaggan on Sunday afternoon and today a great skua in Ardnave.

Monday 18 April 2016

Monday 19th April

Mary reported big number of gannets along the coast at Portnahaven, 4 Canada geese roosting on the loch at Claddach, loads of wheatears and a swallow at Nerabus. On Friday Gary had a male hen harrier flying across his garden in Ballygrand and on Saturday he saw a male hen harrier with couple females below Beinn Chùrlaich and back home he had a sand martin flying over his house. Yesterday he saw a redwing feeding in his garden. Over the weekend there was a cuckoo heard in Foreland Woods and great spotted woodpecker in Bridgend Woods

Sunday 17 April 2016

Sunday 17th April

James had 2 arctic terns yesterday at Ardbeg, also a chiffchaff and loads of willow warblers. There were also 4 Canada geese in the bay past Ardbeg. He saw a swallow at Blackrock and loads of sand martins from the hide at Gruinart.

Saturday 16 April 2016

Saturday 16th April

Bob Swan had a glaucous gull yesterday at Machir Bay. He also noticed big arrival of willow warblers and swallows and departure of geese. Carl saw two sandwich terns at Bruichalddich. Mary saw 4 Canada geese on the loch at Claddach also a stonechat and pheasant. Mistle thrush was singing at Bridgend.

Friday 15 April 2016

Friday 15th April

Today in Ardnave James saw a pink-footed goose, loads of wheatears, 2 whooper swans on Ardnave Loch and 205 grey seals in Loch Gruinart. Yesterday Fiona saw 3 sand martins at Killinallan Point while doing a guided walk for Walk Islay. Today there was a female sparrowhawk seen at Lyrabus. Walk Islay finished today with a walk on one of the Paps of Jura - Beinn an Oir. During the walk we had a good view of a single meadow pipit.

Thursday 14 April 2016

Thursday 14th April

James did a Loch Gruinart reserve goose count on Monday and the total was 2923 barnacle geese and 77 whitefronts. Yesterday Carl Reavey had a willow warbler at Bruichladdich, greenshank at Gortan, chiffchaff at Foreland, great northern diver and sandwich tern at Port Charlotte. Today another sedge warbler was heard at Gruinart. Yesterday Mary saw a short-eared owl on her buggy prowl near Claddach, and this morning 3 Canada geese and she also heard a willow warbler. Garry did a bit of birdwatching from his garden at Ballygrant and saw/heard 2 fieldfares, 3 willow warblers, 2 chough. He also saw a ring-tail hen harrier and a barn owl in Ballygrant Valley.

Today we received an e-mail from Carl Mitchel from WWT who has been studying Islay white-fronted geese in the past few years and he reported that two of the GPS tagged whitefronts left Islay last Sunday at 9pm and headed for Iceland. However strong easterly wind pushed them off the course. Half way between Islay and Iceland they changed the direction and must have been flying directly into the strong wind. They finally landed south-east of Reykjavik. Total crossing time was 48 hours! Migration across open ocean is surely not a fun... See the attached image. Thank you Carl for the information. You can find more info here:

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Wednesday 13th April

Yesterday James saw a gadwall outside the hide at Gruinart. There were dozens of displaying waders in Ardnave today - lapwings and redshanks, several drumming snipe and a flock of 14 golden plover. Couple wheatears were seen at Kilnave. At Gruinart several willow warblers were heard, rooks in the rookery are busy feeding young and a sedge warbler was heard calling briefly.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Tuesday 12th april

A bit cooler than yesterday, along with some rain which was still coming down early afternoon... Becca, a long term "vol" with RSPB here on Islay had seen an Osprey while down on the Oa yesterday. Today, Bob Swann had seen a House Martin over the pool at Carnain, a Cackling Goose amongst the Barnies at Leorin and also 7 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Blackrock. Armin had been on the walk today out round Laggan Point, birds seen/ heard included Willow Warbler, Buzzard, Chiffchaff, 1 Eider, 6 GND, Shelduck, Shag & Redshank.

Monday 11 April 2016

Monday 11th April

It may have remained dry today but there was a lazy Easterly wind blowing, with the cold air going through you, rather than round you...Yesterday, Michal had hear his first Willow Warbler for the year, just outside the office at Bushmills. He also heard Treecreepers calling away along the woodland trail. He had also spotted a Stoat carrying a vole into a hole in a stone wall... Peter Roberts had also heard a Willow Warbler calling away at the rear of his house down at Bruichladdich. Later on, Peter had been on a quick return trip to Kennacraig on the ferry but reported a "totally birdless trip with not even a gull being seen". Visitors to the visitor centre at Gruinart had written in the diary of seeing 2 Sandwich Terns at Bruichladdich, 2 Pale bellied Brent amongst the Barnies at Kilchoman, and also 2 Pinkfoots amongst the flock of Whitefronts there as well. Bob Swann and Andrew Ramsay from Tain had seen 12 Sand Martin at Gruinart yesterday. Today at Ardnave, they saw an Iceland Gull. Arminreported through from the walking week and felt that there was a lack of birds seen because of the cold wind... All the same there were a few Skylarks, all flying quite low, 2 Buzzards were seen, one circling over Foreland with the other closer to hand as they walked back towards Bridgend, this one was being closely watched by 2 gulls.... Our Bob Davison, late afternoon, had seen the White tailed Eagle again, but this time it was really close, taking a Hare from the field adjacent to his house, wonder can Bob call it a "house bird" now??? 

Sunday 10 April 2016

Sunday 10th April

What a great day it has been with the weather, more is forecast for tomorrow, so fingers crossed. Alistair Huchison e mailed through to say that he had a pair of Siskin in his garden in Bowmore yesterday. We had a male Siskin on the feeder here at home. First thing this morning, I gave Bob a hand to carry out the WeBs count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, so here is what we counted... 1 female Sparrowhawk, 12 GND, 2 Heron, 3 Shag, 4 Tysties, 1200 Barnies, 2 Greylags, 1 Mute Swan, 18 Mallard, 8 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 28 Wigeon, 59 Eider, 29 Rb Merganser, 35 Common Scoter, 25 Shelduck, 41Oystecatcher, 9 Curlew, 1 Barwit, 1 Greenshank, 15 Redshank, 5 Turnstone, 34 Knot, 4 Dunlin, 1 Snipe, 2 Lapwing, 78 Ringed Plover, 8 Sandwich Tern, 6 GBB Gull, 2 LBB Gull, 6 H Gull, 20 BH Gull & 4 C Gull. There was also a large raft of 60 Common Scoter further out and not on our patch... On his way home Bob counted 40 Barwits at Gartmain and back at home Bob saw a White tailed Eagle fly over his house being pursued by a Buzzard. Today was the first walk of this years' "Walkislay" with Dave taking 22 folk out on a walk on the Oa. My old friend Armin was present and sent some sightings through.. Skylark, Sand Martin, Wheatear, Golden Eagle, Heron and Snipe

Saturday 9 April 2016

Saturday 9th April

Thanks to Michal who has been holding the fort and writing the blog over the past few days while I was away down in the Scottish Borders...Catch up time for me, so some sightings for you from earlier this week as I forgot to take my laptop to access any e mails, oops... Graham Newton who had been staying over at Kilnaugton had regular sightings of 3 GND, 2 Red breasted Merganser and a pair of Eider out on the bay. On Loch a Chnuic, another 2 RBM were present. Over 200 Barnies were at Kildalton with at leastanother 150 at Kintra, alongwith 50 Oystercatcher. A pair of Ringed Plover were at Claggain Bay. Peter Gill on Monday had seen 2 Grey Wagtail at the Woollen Mill. Tuesday a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard in the trees at Ballygrant, and in the evening a Barn Owl was seen at Gruinart.  On Wednesday, a male Hen Harrier was seen up past Gearach on the Rhinns and then a ringtail and also a male Hen Harrier past Ballinaby. On Thursday, a probable Goshawk was seen while walking the track between Octofad and Lossit. 4 Sand Martin were seen down examining nest sites at Kilchiaran and finally Peter had 2 Snow Bunting along the top of Loch Indaal on Thusday evening. Malcolm had been speaking with Donald Jones from Coull Farm who had told him the ever present Glaucous Gull at pool leading at Machir Bay had been seen was nearer to the farm on Wednesday. Peter Roberts yesterday evening had seen a tight gathering of 18 GND out on the middle of Loch Indaal, many with "their necks and heads buried into their back feathers". Peter can't recollect seeing such a large tight gathering of GNDs ever before.

Friday 8 April 2016

Friday 8th April

Today Bob had a chiffchaff in his garden, also five or six red grouse and male hen harrier near Bolsay. Couple sand martins were spotted on east side of Loch Gruinart. A visitor reported seeing a woodcock in Bridgend Woods. On Ardnave Loch there were 8 tufted ducks, 6 mute swans, 3 whooper swans, 6 oystercatchers and pair of black headed gulls. Loch Gruinart was surveyed today and 2 great northern divers were seen, as well as 75 shelduck, 75 wigeon, 16 eider, 102 oystercatchers, 108 bar-tailed godwits, 65 curlew, 41 turnstones. From the south hide there were seen two sand martins, 8 shovelers, 11 pintails, 125 whitefronts, 34 redshank, 10 snipe, 3 moorhen, 30 lapwings, 64 teal. Dave had a singing chiffchaff at Kinnabus, 2 wheatears and a peregrine at Laggan Point.

Thursday 7 April 2016

Thursday 7th April

Sand martin was spotted above one of the hides at Gruinart during the guided walk. From the hides dozens of waders and ducks were seen. Displaying lapwing and redshank, one bar-tailed godwit, curlew, several shovelers, pintails, wigeon, teal and mallard. Pair of mute swans, couple hundred barnacle geese and a dozen whitefronts. Good views of goldcrest and wren singing along the woodland trail.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Wednesday 6th April

A lot of rain today with few sunny spells. Mary went out and saw another wheatear at Claddach and lots of gannets off the coast. At Gruinart six redwings were seen early in the morning.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Tuesday 5th April

At Loch Gruinart reserve there was a goose count today with total of 4550 barnacle geese, 177 whitefronts and 10 greylags. Chiffchaff was heard further up the reserve as well. Female sparowhawk was seen today and a visitor reported seeing a female merlin yesterday. Several pintails and shovelers were seen from the hide as well as loads of displaying lapwings, redshanks and calling curlews and snipe on the flats and Floods. Dave saw two swallows and chiffchaff on the Oa as well as couple of wheatears.

Monday 4 April 2016

Monday 4th April

Yesterday Richard Belter had a red-throated diver, peregrine, two wheatears and six choughs at Sanaigmore. Later on 6 gannets and 4 eiders at Frenchman's Rock. Chiffchaff was seen and heard on Woodland Trail at Gruinart. Barn owl was spotted on Gruinart Flats this morning, chiffchaff was heard just outside the RSPB office together with singing goldcrest. Down on the Oa in a forestry plantation at Frachdale two buzzards were spotted, five redpolls, also a singing mistle thrush and song thrush in the same location. Mary had a sand martin and wheatear at Claddach, two wheatears at Tormisdale and 7 redwings at Gearach woods. Graham Newton had 3 great northern divers, 2 mergansers and 2 eiders at Kilnaughton. Also 2 merganser at Loch a Chnuic, 200 barnacle geese at Kilnaughton and 150 at Kintra.

Sunday 3 April 2016

Sunday 3rd April

Yesterday, Peter Gill had heard and then saw a Chiffchaff at Gruinart. Later on, outside the "new hide", 2 Greenshank and 3 large Canada Geese were present. Up at Ardnave, Peter saw a White tailed Eagle fly past and on the loch, 2 female  Goldeneye were there. Today, here at home there were a pair of Siskins on the feeders. Gary had been down to the Woollen Mill and reports through to say that he had seen the Mandarin Duck, a Dipper and also a Grey Wagtail there on Friday.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Saturday 2nd April

Forgot to mention last night that the March rainfall tally was 3.6 inches, today it remained dry all day, although there is a dampness outside at present, not rain I hasten to add!! Peter Gill had seen the Sandwich Tern, and also 6 Purple Sandpiper down at Bruichladdich on Thursday. Yesterday, he went up to The Woollen Mill in the hope that the Mandarin Duck was still present, but the river levels were quite high, probably the reason for it not being seen. On the feeders , there was a Siskin along with the regular Chaffinches, Great &  Blue Tits... Between Bridgend and Bowmore, Peter saw 25 Barwits out on the estuary. Richard Belter yesterday had heard Snipe drumming with Redshank displaying out from the old hide. Out on the "floods", there was a pair of Dabchick and also 10 Pintail. A single Wheatear was also seen from the hide by Richard

Friday 1 April 2016

Friday 1st April

As predicted last night, the rain came through, and as I write this entry at around 7pm, the rain has now stopped and the sun is streaming in the windows...Luckily, I have still got some sightings from earlier this week. Visitors Val Wilson & David Clugston had seen a Sandwich Tern off Bruichladdich and then the Glaucous Gull at Machir Bay back on Wednesday. Forgot to mention last night that Gary had also seen a Grey Wagtail, a Dipper and also a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher while we were all there looking patiently for the Mandarin duck... Later on, after that excitement Richard had gone over to the hides at Gruinart where he saw a Swallow and then 2 Sand Martins fly past, out in front of the hides Richard saw 3 Pintails. 2 Pintails were spotted from the Jura ferry by Dougal the skipper on Wednesday... Yesterday Peter Gill had seen a Golden Eagle and then a Peregrine on the Oa. Later on, he had seen a White tailed Eagle at Ballyvicar while off  Kintra, the 4 Long tailed Ducks were still present. Off  Port Charlotte Peter saw a Black throated Diver and near flat calm condition, a count of 20 GNDs was made out on Loch Indaal. Today the only sighting was from a rather wet Richard How (James' brother) who had seen the Glaucous Gull at Machir Bay.
Bob Swann sent some info on the 2 Greylags that Margaret had seen on Thursday evening, both geese had been initially caught, and collared at Gortanchuirn up behind Bruichladdich back in January 2015, and no doubt paired up now, being seen together several times. Peter had got some info through on a dead Guillemot found by Val Peacock the other day, it was originally rung on the Shiant Islands on the 25th of June2012, a mere 1374 day ago.... Meanwhile, I await the report back about Michal's Redshank, wonder how long that will take ...