Friday 31 March 2017

Friday 31st March

Yesterday, Michal heard a Chiffchaff at Gruinart Farm, while Bob saw a Swallow round at Rockside. Jackie Fallows had seen some Fulmars on the cliffs on the Oa and also saw 4 Gannets flying East, low over the sea. John and Kenny's Reed Bunting flock was up at Storakaig on Wednesday. Yesterday they saw 4 Sand Martin following the river, up past the "wood chip store" above Avonvoggie. Peter saw a Gannet at Bruichladdich, his first there this year. Richard Belter had seen the drake Green winged Teal out from the new hide at Gruunart, this morning. Marc Eden had seen 3 Lapland Buntings at Ardnave while "Botswana Dave" noted a few Pale bellied Brent out from Crosshouses.

Thursday 30 March 2017

Thursday 30th March

Yesterday John and Kenny had added to their tally for the week, now over 90 species seen. They had seen Golden Plover in summer plumage, a sight they do not see back on the mainland...Whilst they were out yesterday they had a flock of around 40 Reed Bunting and they reckon that they have seen at least 30 Stonechat since Saturday. We saw a small flock of 74 Golden Plover at Ballinaby this morning and then some Whitefronts with neck collars at Carnduncan.
These geese were all caught and fitted with their collars last month by Ed Burrell and Carl Mitchell from WWT.
Richard Belter had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier as he came over the hill towards Loch Gorm from Gruinart.Over at Sanaigmore he had a male Hen Harrier and Wheatears. Over on the Glen road, Richard also had another male Hen Harrier.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Wednesday 29th March

Forgot to mention last night that Gary had a White tailed Eagle ripping into a goose at Bridgend Merse, late on Monday afternoon. Yesterday, Jackie Fallows et al had taken the walk along the Sorn, and had seen Dipper and also Grey Wagtails with Siskins present as well at The Woollen Mill. John and Kenny yesterday had a White tailed Eagle on the merse at Bridgend and heard a Chiffchaff  at  the mouth of the River Sorn. Mark Eden had seen the Great Grey Shrike over close to Avonvoggie. Another returning birder back for another Islay fix is Richard Belter, good to see you last night Richard. Down at Bruichladdich, he had 4 RTD, 4 GND, Eider, R b Merganser, Gannet and also Tystie. He also saw 3 Wheatears at Sanaigmore. At breakfast time, here at home, just over the garden fence, on the Machir, there were over 500 Barnies along with a single Canada Goose along with them. If only one of the Barnies would come on to the grass here, I could claim it on our "garden list"...While out looking for the shrike this afternoon, we saw  2 male Hen Harriers as we drove along the Glen road, great to see!!!

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Tuesday 28th March

A bit of a late entry tonight, but I had been out at the Islay bird nerds monthly get together, we had 21 folk attending including 8 visitors, a great social get together, if nothing else...
Some sightings through from Gary, which went into my spam box somehow.... Late last week, he had a group of Long tailed Tits in Ballygrant Woods, and back at his house, he counted 20 Whoopers flying low in a Northerly direction and later on 60 flew North, but high up in the sky. Down on the Oa at the weekend, Gary had 200 Twite, 5 Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Linnet in around one of the cattle Feeders. On some buds, close to Springbank at Bridgend, he saw a pair of Bullfinches. Yesterday, Gary was out with some clients and showed them Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Tystie and Chough along with 7 Wheatears at Ardnave! David Mason, another returning birder, had seen a Peregrine and also a Merlin as he travelled round Loch Gorm this morning. John and Kenny had seen Wheatears and Stonechats at Sanaigmore, and they both feel that there re more Stonechats around this  visit. Gary had 10 Crossbills on the trees over at Avonvoggie while Jacqueline Fallows had seen 3 SandwichTerns at Bruichladdich today. Over near to Storakaig, we had over 300 Golden Plover and then a male Hen Harrier on the wing, as we approached Barr.

Monday 27 March 2017

Monday 27th March

John and Kenny (visiting birders) had walked yesterday from Ballygrant past Loch Ballygrant onto Port Askaig returning along the path past Keills. They saw 30 species of birds, including 3 Bullfinches, Greenfinches and Goldcrest. They had seen 10 Yellowhammers on the feeders towards Scarrabus on Saturday. Botswana Dave, aka Dave Maynard had seen a Wheatear, a White tailed Eagle and a couple of Chough as he returned from Bridgend to Gruinart  by the "hill road" past Lagstoban. Late afternoon today, Dave had a ringtail fly past the South (old) hide. Jacqueline Fallows (another visiting birder) had enjoyed the great weather yesterday, and along with friends had taken in the walk from Coullabus where they are staying along to the hide at Gruinart, net result 39 species seen. Different birds to John and Kenny as they had Waders and also different species of Ducks noted.
Peter today had a Sandwich Tern off Bruichladdich, the pair of Greenfinch were present on the feeders again here at home with a couple of Fulmars on the crag...There was a reported sighting of a Great Grey Shrike seen over in the trees close to the slaughter house at Avonvoggie this afternoon. Some highlights through from David Woods down on the Oa, top birds seen while carrying out a survey along the Oa coast were 11 Wheatear, 3 Goldcrest, Siskin and 8 Chough.

Sunday 26 March 2017

Sunday 26th March

Yesterday, Peter had a count of 32 Pale bellied Brent down at Bruichladdich, but no signs of any with rings on...Returning birders, John Dawson and Kenny Buchan are back for another Islay fix.. On the road leading up to Scarrabus they saw several Stonechats, a flock of Yellowhammers, Song Thrush, Reed Bunting, displaying Lapwing, Raven, Siskin, and many Geese.
Here at home today, I saw our first Wheatear hopping along the ground with a male Stonechat perched on top of the fence. A pair of Greenfinches were on the feeders along with Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Great Tit, Blue Tit, House Sparrow and the odd Dunnock making numbers up. Great to see... Out on top of the crag, a Buzzard was sitting, watching everything on the move and then early evening a Peregrine flew along the front of the crag, what a day...
Remember, the Islay Bird nerds will be meeting at 6pm on Tuesday evening at the old hide, out from the viewing platform at feel free to come along , if you are around.

Saturday 25 March 2017

Saturday 25th March

Another great day with the weather again and another cracker of a sunset to finish the day with.

Lesley yesterday saw her first Gannets of the year, with 3 diving into Kilnaughton Bay. She also had 6 Whoopers fly in off the sea and fly on towards the Oa. There were some Whitefronts fitted with new neck collars over below Carnduncan today, but reading them proved impossible as the moved over the brow of the hillock, might look round again tomorrow and they might be easier to read, fingers crossed...

Friday 24 March 2017

Friday 24th March

Another great day with the weather and to end it all, a beautiful sunset.... Martin Gooch, the winner of the free holiday draw at the Bird Fair, courtesy of Islay cottages, has had a tremendous stay here this week. On Wednesday, he had seen a male Hen Harrier out quartering his patch along at Rockside. Shortly afterwards he saw a Golden Eagle being chased off by a determined Raven. Over at The Woollen Mill, a walk along the River Sorn produced a Dipper, and also a Grey Wagtail. In the trees, a Bullfinch and a Treecreeper spotted. Yesterday, they saw 2 White tailed Eagles up past Ballygrant and then a ringtail Hen Harrier out on the wing. This morning they saw 9 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal. Bob, today had a Gannet up at Ardnave. Also seen there by Bob were 4 Wheatears,12 Barwits, 15 Sanderling a few Redshank and some Snipe as well.
Before I forget, on Tuesday evening, the bird nerds will be meeting at 6 pm at the old hide at Gruinart, so if you are around, see you there.

Thursday 23 March 2017

Thursday 23rd March

A big difference with the weather today, so much so that I was out working in the garden in my shirt sleeves cutting the grass...
David Wood had seen little and large down on the Oa, David had seen 2 Goldcrest and 2 White tailed Eagles as well today. Late afternoon, here at home 15 Whoopers flew in from Ireland and kept on going. David Barr had 2 White tailed Eagles sitting out on Loch Indaal as he headed to work this morning. At the weekend David had counted 29 Chough down on dunes at Machir Bay.
Last night, I mentioned about the Blue Tit on Fair Isle, it seems that it was the fourth sighting by David Parnaby since he became Warden a few years back.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

WEdnesday 22nd March

Got a bit of a shock when I looked out the bedroom window this morning, not snow but the grass was white with frost which we do not get here that often...
This morning on the bird table we saw 3 Greenfinches, the first for a long time, in fact the first this winter...A Sparrowhawk zipped through the garden just after lunch. Later on, coming home a male Bullfinch flew into the trees beside Foreland House and a short while later on, a pair of Golden Eagles were added to the list. Over at The Woollen Mill, many Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Chaffinches were present on the feeders there, a great sight to see... I read last night that a Blue Tit was seen on Fair Isle, only the FOURTH ever record of one present there!!!
Gary today had 2 Siskin on his feeders at his house along the road from the turn off to Finlaggan. Along at Emeraconart, he had seen a Sparrowhawk. A visitor had been telling Gary of seeing a Wheatear at Machir Bay while Tom and Mike, the 2 longterm vols at Gruinart, had spotted 2 more Wheatears along at Saligo today as well.

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Tuesday 21st March

A bit cooler out here today with the Paps of Jura wearing a white dusting of snow. I looked out of the window at one point this morning, just after a dirty hail shower to see some of the birds trying to eat some of the hailstones...
Nothing much to report tonight, so you will have to make do with this image of Cape Teal, taken recently when we were out in Tanzania

Monday 20 March 2017

Monday 20th March

It was meant to be the first day of Spring today, it certainly did not feel like it...and the weather does not look too promising tomorrow either !!!
Mike Peacock yesterday saw a Sand Martin and also a House Martin at RSPB Gruinart, both the first report as far as I know for Islay this year. Mike also saw a male and female Peregrine Falcon thee too, as well as a White tailed Eagle.

Sunday 19 March 2017

Sunday 19th March

A better kind of a day, but I believe that the wind might pick up a bit through the night... The Fulmars were back over the crag this morning!!!! Malcolm was in touch to say that he had seen a Jack Snipe down at Foreland road end yesterday, and flushed it again today! He also was saying that he has a female Blackbird in his garden which is nest building already which as Malcolm says "rather early"..
Gary had seen a White tailed Eagle on the merse at Bridgend, down from the mouth of the River Sorn. Along at Uiskentuie, at the mouth of the burn, Gary saw a Slavonian Grebe in summer plumage.
Martin Gocch who won the "Gie's a brek" free holiday draw at the Bird Fair back in August last year is over with a birding friend and their respective wives...Their first visit to Islay. Well impressed noting Chough on arrival at Kilchoman, hearing a Goldcrest in the wood and seeing so many geese, and that was only on their arrival yesterday, wonder what birds they saw today???

Saturday 18 March 2017

Saturday 18th March

A similar story to yesterday with the weather, but not quite as bad, more dreich rather than miserable if you get my drift..
Yesterday, somehow, David and Jenny managed some birds.... Out on Loch Indaal, they had 30 Common Scoter with 6 Pale bellied Brent Geese seen at Blackrock. Closer to the shore at Blackrock they had seen a Red throated Diver. This morning, here at home over 400 Barnies flew in and landed out on the machir. Many thanks to David and Jenny for sharing their sightings while they have been over here this past week. See you both at the Bird Fair in Rutland come August!!!

Friday 17 March 2017

Friday 17th March

A right miserable sort of a day out here today, wet and windy with the mist swirling around the crag for most of the day... Luckily, I have some sightings seen by David and Jenny from yesterday... In Bridgend woods they saw a Treecreeper, 7 Lbb Gulls were present on the ploughing at Skerrols, and over on the Sound of Islay they counted 30 Kittiwakes. Late afternoon, back over at Machir Bay they had 15 Whoopers flying inland..
From the Argyll Bird Club's web page latest sightings, some other birds are back, on Tuesday, a Chiffchaff was on Tiree, Wednesday, a House Martin was on Coll with an Osprey present close to Campbeltown yesterday....

Thursday 16 March 2017

Thursday 16th March

Yesterday, James had seen a White tailed Eagle on the floods at Gruinart, also present were  29 Whoopers. Just before that James had a Golden Eagle at Erasaid while up off Nave Island, he saw a couple of Tysties and also 3 GND. David and Jenny yesterday had been down the other end noting a male Hen Harrier and 70 Twite at Kinnabus. David commented on a lack of seabirds out from the American  monument apart from a single Gannet! Jenny had a small flock of 25 Reed Buntings at the car park while David was away walking. They saw a further 15 together near to Ardbeg. This morning, Louise had a large female Golden Eagle as she approached the ferry at Feolin and saw a single Whimbrel on the shore as well.
Andrew Kent sent through the stats for the International Goose count carried out over the past couple of days. The tally came to 41,721 Barnies, 6,141 Greenland Whitefronts and 433 Greylags, many thanks to Andrew and the team from SNH for these figures.

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Wednesday 15th March

Yesterday, while out on the International Goose count, Bob had seen a couple of Hen Harriers, one at Balulive and the other at Ardnahoe. Also at Balulive, he had a couple of White tailed Eagles and he also saw another at Daill. David and Jenny yesterday had a male Hen Harrier over at Leek. Earlier on, David had counted 60 Wigeon and 40 Teal on the wee lochan up the hill beside the standing stone above Ballinaby. Along at Saligo, David had 35 Reed Bunting and he also commented on more Stonechats around this Spring. Today, we had a welcome visitor, a blast from the past in the form of Martyn Jamieson. Martyn led tours along with Robin Sutton for Field Studies Council for a number of years, and to Islay many times. It was great to catch up... This week, Martyn is leading a tour on behalf of Aigas. Martyn commented on seeing more White tailed Eagles around compared to his previous trips to Islay ...

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Tuesday 14th March

Here are the birds counted by Bob, Lesley and myself while we carried out the WeBs count from Bowmore to Gartbreck yesterday, 3 GND, 2 Shag, 10 Cormorant, 6 Pale bellied Brent, 4 Greylag, 800 Barnies, 12 Greenland Whitefronts, 20 Shelduck, 11 Mallard, 2 Teal, 186 Wigeon, 39 Eider, 24 R b Merganser, 9 Common Scoter, 50 Oystercatcher, 76 Curlew, 234 Barwit, 27 Dunlin, 5 Redshank, 14 Lapwing, 119 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 11 Ringed Plover, 5 Turnstone, 1 Tystie, 8 Gbb Gull, 10 Herring Gull, 10 Common Gull and 30 B h Gull. Also noted were a small flock of 30 Twite and also 25 Skylark at Gartbreck.  Also yesterday, David and Jenny had been over to Jura. Between Feolin and Craighouse, they saw a pair of Golden Eagle with 2 ringtail Hen Harrier present close to Craighouse. At Lagg, a Kestrel and also a male Hen Harrier were seen, with around 20 large Canada Geese noted out of Craighouse with some more present along with other geese on the new golf course at Ardfin!!!

Monday 13 March 2017

Monday 13th March

At least it did stay dry today so we did manage to carry our WeBS count this morning... Yesterday, Gary had done his count from Port Charlotte round to Blackrock, so here is  the list of birds seen...52 GND, 34 RTD, 21 Cormorant, 26 Shag, 6 Slavonian Grebe, 8 Tystie, 82 Eider, 10 Common Scoter, 6 Mallard, 33 Oystercatcher, 4 Curlew, 1 Redshank, 24 Ringed Plover, 18 Dunlin, 8 Turnstone, 12 Gbb Gull, 95 H. Gull, 35 C. Gull, 2 B h Gull, 1 juv. Glaucous Gull, 27 Greylag and 2 Pale bellied Brent. David and Jenny yesterday had a Grey Wagtail down at Portnahaven and a wee while further along the road a large Canada Goose was amongst some Barnies in a field. Back at Bruichladich, they saw 15 Sanderling on the shore with 4 GND and a RTD out on Loch Indaal. Back from their cottage at Balinaby, the Slavonian Grebe was seen out on Loch Gorm again, also present was a female Long tailed Duck, 8 Tufted Duck, 4 Goldeneye and 4 Teal.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Sunday 12th March

I got up really early this morning, only to discover that it was raining, net result, between Bob and myself we took the executive decision, and called off our WeBS count, if only we had decided to start an hour later, the weather was better then... tomorrow might be the day...
On Friday, Gary had a count of 7 Buzzard over Finlaggan and then a Golden Eagle along at Mulreesh. Yesterday, Gary saw a male Hen Harrier on the High road close to Buildbase and then another on the low road, near to Duich. Also yesterday, David and Jenny  Goodwin had been out and about, noting 7 Song Thrushes between Ballinaby and Saligo. A Greater spotted Woodpecker was heard below the car park at Gruinart, the Green winged Teal seen out in front of the old hide, with a distant White tailed Eagle seen over the estuary. Later on, over the Glen road a couple of Golden Eagles were seen with another present close to Avonvoggie. Over Loch Tallant, 8 Buzzards were noted with another Golden Eagle there as well. From Bowmore Pier, they counted 40 Common Scoter and 2 Long tailed Duck out on Loch Indaal. Finally from Whin Park, they saw 2 very distant Golden Eagles with a White tailed Eagle, nearer to hand, on the merse.  A great day for Eagles and Buzzards by all accounts....And here at home this morning, the Fulmars, only a few were present, were soaring along in front of  the crag again...

Saturday 11 March 2017

Saturday 11th March

A not bad day with the weather here on Islay, up to 13.6 degrees, a bit cooler than Tanzania, back to reality again...
David and Jenny Goodwin are back for another "Islay fix". At Ballinaby, the other day, they saw  a Peregrine, Chough and a Barn Owl with a Slavonian Grebe spotted out on Loch Gorm. Yesterday, on Loch Indaal, 7 Common Scoter, 9 Goldeneye and 2 GND were present, while up at Sanaigmore, they saw 4 Redwing. Here at home this morning, the Lapwing were displaying out over the machir, and a few Fulmars were present on the crag.

Friday 10 March 2017

Friday 10th March

Many thanks to James for compiling the blog in my absence over the past 3 weeks while we were away on holiday to Tanzania, ably led by Peter Roberts. Mike and Val Peacock, Tim and Ann Cleeves, Margaret and myself made the UK contingent with Alice from Seattle and Caroline from Florida made up our small, select group up...  I am not 100% sure of the final figures, but over 440 species of birds were seen, with many animals seen as well, including a pack of 15 wild dogs, the first that Peter has seen in Tanzania, in over 25 visits... A trip of a lifetime, great sightings shared with great friends along with 3 excellent guides/ drivers, Moses, Vincent and Martin from Tanzania Birding, words are hard to find to explain the trip, so many thanks to Peter for organising it for us all...

Back here on Islay, the rainfall figure came to 4.3 inches for February, so there must have been a few wet days in our absence. James reported through late afternoon, to say that the Green winged Teal was seen out in front of the hide at Gruinart today.

Thursday 9 March 2017

Thursday 9th March

Another beautiful day on Islay, apart from one sneaky shower. A bird count around the reserve at Gruinart - on the Loch: 1 Great Norther Diver, 158 Shelduck, 198 Wigeon, 232 Oystercatcher, 48 Knot, 106 Bar Tailed Godwits, 102 Curlew, 216 Common Gulls, and a Lesser Black Backed Gull. And on the Floods: 187 Lapwing, 229 Teal, 15 Whooper Swans, 27 Pintail, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Greenshank, 2 Gadwall, 1 Sparrowhawk and a Merlin.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Tuesday 7th March

A beautiful start to the day, but windy and wet now. Not too much to report today. Best birds for me being a brief view of a Woodcock over the woods on the reserve, 21 Shoveler and a male Gadwall from the North hide.

Monday 6 March 2017

Monday 6th March

Some good weather over the weekend with a real feel of Spring in the air. The honey bees were flying and Skylarks singing.
Garry had some good birdwatching over the weekend - including re-finding the Great Grey Shrike at Carnain (see pic), 4 White Tailed Eagles at Bridgend as well as 2 calling Water Rails. On the Rhinns he had 2 male Hen Harriers  and in Ballygrant woods area 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers on Friday.
Mandy saw a Small Canada in front of the Kilchoman memorial looks like a parvipes type bird from photos.
Over the weekend at Gruinart, I had a White Tailed Eagle, 2 Merlins, 7 Long Tailed Tits and a male Gadwall.

Friday 3 March 2017

Friday 3rd March

Chris and Norfolk birders came to the reserve at Gruinart today and whilst I was talking to them out side the visitor centre they found 4 White Tailed Eagles together! on the salt Marsh (all in the same scope view). It looked like 2 adults and 2 juveniles. And on the reserve at the Oa Dave found a Cackling Goose see pic.

Thursday 2 March 2017

Thursday 2nd March

Chris Mills from Norfolk Birders has been in touch with some good records - 3 White Tailed Eagles on Bridgend Merse and at the Oa among 120 Twite and some Skylarks was a Snow Bunting and a Lapland Bunting

Spot the bird!

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Wednesday 1st March

Records from Ken and Burbage birders from Monday: 9 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Rock Pipits and 5 Red Throated Divers at Bruichladdich. At Bunahabhain 2 Otters gave great view - seen by Chrs Mills as well, a Merlin at Scarrabus. At Gruinart 2 Golden Eagles, 1 White Tailed Eagle, a Merlin and the Green Winged Teal. On Loch Indaal from Bowmore: 11 Great Northern Divers, 100 + Common Scoter, 5 Slavonian Grebes, 9 Long Tailed Ducks, 13 Scaup, 1 Black Throated Divers and 3 Red Throated Divers. Garry reported 3 Drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers in Ballygrant Woods.
Yesterday afternoon Neil reported the Great Grey Shrike at Bridgend on the shore below the War Memmorial towards Bowmore - this was last seen last week.
Julie reported the Glaucous Gull again on Loch Indaal and got some good photos it appears to be a different Gull to the one reported by Tom Lowe as a Viking Gull last week.