Thursday 30 June 2016

Thursday 30th June

Peter Donaldson reported hearing a corncrake at Portnahaven, later at Machair Bay he had couple ringed plovers and a common sandpiper. Gary had a loads of willow warblers in the wood at Lilly Loch, also wrens, treecreepers, robin, bullfinch and young heron.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Wednesday 29th June

Couple days ago Peter Donaldson saw about 20 Manx shearwaters during his ferry crossing to Islay. Yesterday he saw dozen choughs in Ardnave and a single golden plover near the loch. David Barr saw a white-tailed eagle at Keils. Down on the Oa Phill saw two pairs of hen harriers and a golden eagle. Kevin Hand from ACE Foundation sent us few birds that he and his group saw on Islay and Jura last week. These included a swift at Bridgend, white-tailed eagle at Kildalton and black-throated diver on Loch Indaal.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Tuesday 28th June

Today from the hide at Gruinart we had good views of snipe, redshank, lapwing and hen harrier. Swallows were out flying right in front of the hide. Female mallard brought out 4 of here grown ducklings, couple of mute swans were seen in the distance, and hen harrier and heron getting the waders excited.

Monday 27 June 2016

Monday 27th June

Today we did the second nest check for hen harriers on the Loch Gruinart reserve and it looks like they had the best breeding season for years. In total we found 6 active nests on the reserve or just outside the reserve which had at least 15 fledged, or nearly fledged young. All of them on an area of less than 900ha. Six pairs at Gruinart is more than the entire hen harrier population in England. There is habitat for about 300 pairs of hen harriers in England but we all know what is happening to them...

Sunday 26 June 2016

Sunday 26th June

Yesterday Bob saw a merlin and a male hen harrier at the airport. James had a siskin on his feeder, together with two collared doves, two blackbirds, few goldfinches and a greenfinch. Sally saw a corncrake walking across the road near Lyrabus. Grasshopper warbler started singing again from his usual patch at Loch Gruinart reserve.

Saturday 25 June 2016

Saturday 25th June

Couple days ago Gary had a golden eagle and male hen harrier on the Oa. Yesterday he saw a white tailed eagle flying over woods in Ballygrant Valley. Today he saw adult grey wagtail with two young on river at Woolen Mill. Cuckoo was heard at Ardtala.

Also a quick note that the next meeting of our informal group of Islay birders ("Bird Nerds") will be in the visitor center at Loch Gruinart Reserve next Tuesday (28th June) at 6:30pm. Everybody is welcome to join us. We might go for a short walk down to one of the hides.

Friday 24 June 2016

Friday 24th June

The Oa Dave had a swift at Lurabus yesterday and today he saw collared dove at Kinabus. Three corncrakes are frequently heard calling from Gruinart Flats. Also in the wood on the flats blackcap was heard yesterday.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Thursday 23rd June

Today Bob ventured to Loch Skerrols where he saw couple little grebes and in the woods around the loch he saw a spotted flycatcher. He also had 6 redpolls in his garden. Phil saw a buzzard interacting with hen harrier at Gruinart. James saw short-eared owl yesterday below his house and couple siskins on his bird feeder.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Wednesday 22nd June

Summer is officially here (has been for two days is fact) and the days are getting shorter! Here on the reserve female hen harrier has been seen bringing prey for her young also male hunting nearby. One of the buzzard's  nest is close to fledging. Blackcap singing around the woodland trail, whitethroat near the viewing platform. A pair of choughs were seen with their young at Gruinart, while waders on the Flats are getting quieter with most of them having their young already fledged. The odd redshank or lapwing still agitated by human presence. Couple corncrakes were heard on the flats this evening.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Tuesday 21st June

This afternoon, Martin had seen a Bullfinch over at The Dower House which is past Ardbeg. He met in with Bob later on and they saw a Peregrine and then a Golden Eagle further along the road. Here at home, this afternoon there were 5 Hooded Crows hopping around on the grass and then a flypast of 5 Chough. This evening, I went out to water some newly planted hedging plants, within half an hour, it had started to rain and since then, it has been wet for the best part of a couple of hours, could have saved myself a job if only I had waited...

Monday 20 June 2016

Monday 20th June

Yesterday, David Barr, a relatively new resident to Islay had seen an Osprey on top of a telegraph pole along with a fish as he headed up towards Sanaigmore. Today, here at home the local pair of Chough have been busy teaching their youngsters, coaxing them away from the nest, with some success sometimes... This afternoon, there was a Linnet singing away on top of the garden fence ... Early evening now, and it looks as if the rain is not far away, saves me watering the plants if nothing else!!!

Sunday 19 June 2016

Sunday 19th June

Yesterday evening, James saw an Osprey fly over his house while he out for a short walk up the road from Mill cottage. This morning, Pat, Bob's other half had found a predated young Buzzard dead on the ground while she was out walking her dog. Bob wondered if it had fallen out of its' nest on to the ground and possibly killed by a Stoat. Here today since mid morning, the weather has gone downhill with a dreich, miserable sort of a day following there after, not really a day for going bird watching!!!

Saturday 18 June 2016

Saturday 18th June

Gotcha... This noisy Corncrake, caught on camera this morning, out in the nettle patch in the garden. Other birds seen today, included a scruffy looking Peregrine came by this evening to survey all around, sitting on top of the crag! The Hooded crows earlier on, were seen off by some Jackdaws... On the bird table, the pair of Greenfinches were present with their youngster, 5 Goldfinches were present later on with 2 young.  A young Stonechat was on top of the dyke, just close to where the Corncrake had been earlier on.

Friday 17 June 2016

Friday 17th June

Today, Peter had noted a total of 45 moulting male Eiders in 2 groups between Uiskentuie and Bruichladdich. Earlier on he had been checking the colony of Black headed Gulls close to "smelly corner" and he was saying there were not so many with chicks as seen earlier on. Late afternoon today, Michal had seen 2 Peregrines out over the crag at Kilchoman. This evening, we spotted the hen Peregrine on the ground with a kill, plucking it away as if there was no tomorrow!! Today , the young Goldfinches have been busy on the feeders

Thursday 16 June 2016

Thursday 16th June

Yesterday, Phil Catton had seen a Turtle Dove down at Kinnabus on the Oa. Phil has just arrived here on Islay and is Dave's assistant on the RSPB reserve at the Oa. George and Pat Jackson had seen a pair of Grey Wagtail on the River Sorn with a Garden Warbler singing away nearby. Mid afternoon, they saw a male Hen Harrier fly across the road close to Rockside road end, it then flew on towards Loch Gorm. This afternoon, here at home within a few minutes we heard a Cuckoo calling down in the wood, heard a Corncrake calling in the garden and then a "flypast" by 35 Chough, vocal as ever! This evening, just been out and rescued a couped ewe, got there before the Ravens, the ewe was fine and a moment or two later, her lambs were in for their supper....

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Wednesday 15th June

Yesterday, visitor George Jackson and his wife Pat had taken a look in at Loch Skerrols and then later on visited Loch Finlaggan. Loch Skerrols was quiet with a Tufted Duck and a pair of Mute Swan seen with a single cygnet . Along at Finlaggan, the Ring necked Duck was present along with at least 8 Tufted Duck, 4 Oystercatcher, 2 Curlew and a pair of noisy territorial Common Sandpipers!  2 Greenshank flew past while George and Pat were present. Earlier on, son Matthew had a Peregrine flying over the house carrying a " large avian prey" Wonder if it was the racing pigeon that has been here for the last wee while, but now gone?? Today the said pigeon has been "replaced" by a single Collared Dove at the bird feeders, here at home...

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Tuesday 14th June

Today, Malcolm had seen a pair of Shelduck on Loch Indaal at Bruichladdich with their brood of 8 youngsters which he reckoned were around a week old, as large a brood that I have heard of so far this year. Today has been spent trying to tie up some loose ends regarding the forthcoming visit in August to the British Birdfair held down in Rutland, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes that not many folk know about, checking out with folk for help, and then the actual logistics in getting there, a good few hours are spent, in the end, yes, the Islay stand will be to the fore again in marquee 7 stand 14... So a warm welcome awaits anyone visiting us.

Monday 13 June 2016

Monday 13th June

Late afternoon, looking out towards the crag, here at home and there were 18 Chough practising their acrobatic flight, makes them hard to count... Earlier this morning, I watched as our local pair managed to coax their 3 youngsters away from their nest, they take some time, but all away to the wide world now! Coming home this evening, there was a male Hen Harrier down close to Foreland. Visiting birders, George and Pat Jackson are back over for a few days staying with their son Matthew who is one of our GPs. Yesterday, they had heard a noisy  Curlew across the road from Matt's house, no doubt with young around... they had also been hearing 3 different Corncrakes calling away last night, it is a great patch for hearing them around here!!! Today, coming back along the low road a ringtail Hen Harrier, was seen close to Glenegedale.

Saturday 11 June 2016

Saturday 11th June

Yesterday, visitors Vic and Viv Coy had been over at Saligo Bay where there were resting up after walking there... all of a sudden there was a commotion with the birds around, and who was causing all the trouble, an Otter. They watched it for some time, with the said Otter not realising they were there! Peter yesterday had seen the drake Ring necked Duck over at Finlaggan. Today, we saw a male Hen Harrier down beside Loch Gorm  and then another just as we approached the road end above the coal yard at Gortan.

Friday 10 June 2016

Friday10th June

Gary yesterday at Loch Tallant, apart from hearing the Little Grebe calling, he had also heard Sedge Warblers calling there as well with some Sand Martins skimming over the water itself. Along at Blackrock, Gary had seen Cormorant, Arctic Terns, Common Terns, Lbb Gull, Common Gull and also Black headed Gulls, and on the shingle towards Blackrock itself Gary counted 47 Blackwits and also 20 Knot. Yesterday afternoon while Gary was up here visiting we saw 2 different Hooded Crows flying past carrying Pheasant chicks away, now I know where they are going... Today on the feeders there was a gathering of 29 Starlings, mostly youngsters getting the feel for the feeders!!!!  Later on, I saw a family of House Sparrows out dust bathing, the 2 adults showing their 5 fledglings what to do...

Thursday 9 June 2016

Thursday 9th June

Another good day with the weather again, wall to wall sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky, although it is overcast this evening, and I believe, the planes should have come in today, no bother... Earlier this week Louise had seen 2 Red throated Divers on the Sound of Islay, probably a failed pair she thought. Earlier the same morning, Louise had seen a single RTD North of Craighouse on Jura. This morning, on our way over to Gruinart, we saw a male Hen Harrier between Ballinaby and the track leading up to Leek, further on, almost at Grainel road end a ringtail was spotted. Later on we saw another male Hen Harrier, this time between Lyrabus and Blackpark.  Gary today had heard a Little Grebe over at Loch Tallant, between Bowmore and Red Lodge on the high road.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Wenesday 8th June

Returning birders Nigel and Elaine Smith from Somerset are back here for a few days before heading up to Colonsay on Saturday. On Monday, they had seen 2 different male Hen Harriers on the high road as they drove down to Port Ellen. Later on, down on the Oa they saw another male Hen Harrier. Here at home, we saw one of the hen Pheasants out with her brood of 4 youngsters which were a decent size, rather than being "smouts" waiting to be predated! It has been quite foggy over here today, and muggy with it too...

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Tuesday 7th June

Well, we got a little rain through the night, not a lot, but enough to save me the job of watering the plants.... This evening, the crag is shrouded in a mist.
Yesterday, James had carried out a WeBS count on the floods at Gruinart, his tally being, 39 Lapwing, 4 Curlew, 7 Heron, 27 Redshank, 36 Greylag, 3 Snipe, 65 Mallard, 9 Mute Swan, 2 Whooper Swan, 5 Shoveler, 12 Teal, 3 Oystercatcher and a Blackwit. Michal and Lesley Silcock had carried the WeBs count up on Ardnave with the birds seen were as follows, 4 Oystercatcher, 2 Tufted Duck, 12 Mute Swan, 1 Heron and a Common Gull. They also carried out the count on Loch Gruinart. Their tally was as follows, 85 Oystercatcher, 2 Arctic Tern, 17 Herring Gull, 5 Lapwing,31 Barwit, 65 Common Gull, 17 H Gull, 12 Greylags, 20 Shelduck, 5 RB Merganser and a Whimbrel. Hopefully come Thursday I might be able to give an update on the Corncrake count carried out last night. We heard only 6 birds calling, with "some" missing fro where we have heard them in previous years, and then to cap it all at the very end, one in a completely new location!

Monday 6 June 2016

Monday 6th June

Another wee cracker of a day, but tomorrow is another day, with heavy rain forecast some areas late afternoon, we could with some, but it might not stop... One of the nosey Choughs touched down on the garage roof this morning and shortly afterwards, there was a Collared Dove in the garden. The male Greenfinch was at the feeders by himself today. Margaret saw a Common Blue Damselfly down at the pond this afternoon. This evening, there 25 Chough in a flypast.  Later tonight, it is the second run of the Corncrake count, so fingers crossed that we hear a few more than last time, we can't use the excuse that it is too cold tonight! Viv Coy and her husband from Washington, Tyne and Wear had seen a Treecreeper and heard a Whitethroat while walking through the "Woodland Trail" at Gruinart this afternoon

Sunday 5 June 2016

Sunday 5th June

Yesterday, my sister in law, Liz,  who lives in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders had seen around 40 Whooper Swans flying inland over the  town, wonder if they flew on up to St Mary's Loch. Then shortly afterwards the Red Arrows flew past..
This morning, I gave Bob a hand to carry out the WeBS Count from Bowmore to Gartbreck. New resident on Islay, David Barr came along to give us support too...The scores on the doors were as follows, 1 GND, 2 Gannets, 2 Shag, 2 Cormorant, 48 Greylag, 2 Heron, 20 Shelduck, 2 Mallard,20 Oystercatcher, 6 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 6 Redshank, 12 Dunlin, 30 Ringed Plover, 14 Lapwing, 1 Snipe, 2 Arctic Tern, 1 pr of GBB Gull, 10 adult H Gull, 20 immature H Gull, 10 C Gull and1 pr of BH Gull. Also seen was a male Linnet down on the shoreline, along with many Rock Pipits. James today at his house had a Siskin on his feeders, and while visiting us this afternoon, James spotted a Blue tailed Damsel fly. The weather today has been "scorchio", but this afternoon I spent some time re- arranging guards round of the trees which I had planted last year, giving the trees some more space to grow into...

Friday 3 June 2016

Friday 3rd June

Another great day and more to come by the sound of things....although last night I thought (wrongly!) that there was a change working. No news through tonight, but this morning, we saw a pair of Mute Swans with 5 cygnets in tow down on Loch Gorm, the first young swans this year that we have seen. Here at home this evening, there were a pair of Linnets on the garden fence. This afternoon, the Ravens were cronking away while the now resident Hooded Crows were out probing in the garden along with the Jackdaws and  a Chough flew past calling away as ever.. and then the Corncrake started to call away as well...

Thursday 2 June 2016

Thursday 2nd June

Steve Welch has been over for the past fortnight taking in our sunshine and really jealous of our Hen Harriers! On Monday, he had heard a calling GND down at Kilnaughton Bay, on Tuesday, Steve had seen an adult White tailed Eagle over towards Mulindry. Today, Steve had reported through to seeing a pair of Velvet Scoter down towards Portnahaven. By the sound of Steve's email he has had a great time between the birdwatching and also enjoying this spell of good weather which we are having at present.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Wednesday 1st June

Another month in with the rainfall tallying through here at 2.6 inches... and just over 20 inches for the year so far, a third of the years' total so far, was in January alone!!!
Returning visitor, James Common sent some highlights of the birds seen so far from this visit. At Finlaggan, he saw the Ring necked Duck, a female Goldeneye, a male Hen Harrier and a Sedge Warbler. Over in the bay at Port Ellen, a GND in summer plumage, 2 Arctic Tern, and another male Hen Harrier. In the Port Askaig/ Coal Ila area, James had Chiffchaff, 3 Hen Harriers, Tystie out on the Sound of Islay, Whinchat, 2 Groppers, a Short eared Owl and a Barn Owl. At Gruinart, 2 Corncrakes, 3 Whooper Swan, a Barnie, and further along the road there were over 200 Rock Doves in a field and then a Sparrowhawk ! On Loch Indaal, 6 Arctic Tern were present with a male Hen Harrier seen closer to Bridgend, a great set of birds, thanks James. Forgot to mention the other day that Bob saw a Glaucous Gull when he was up here on Sunday. Gary today saw a couple of Kestrel over his house and while out walking the dog, he had seen a White tailed Eagle and then a an Osprey carrying a fish from Loch Finlaggan. Several Buzzards and also good numbers of Stonechats were also seen while out. Here at home, the were 25 Chough out over the crag mid afternoon and a wee while later a male Hen Harrier flew past. Earlier on, round at Ballinaby, we saw a ringtail out on the wing, a good day for Harriers!