Monday 31 July 2017

Monday 31st July

Well, that is July almost over but you will just have to wait until tomorrow night when I will tell you all how much rain we heave had. The weather has been quite good today, got the rest of the grass cut and now, this evening, guess what, well it is raining again... Margaret this morning saw a hen Pheasant out with her brood of 11 newly hatched chicks. This evening, Margaret counted 23 Chough on top of the crag before heading in to the roost. on the seed heads on the cover crop down from the hut, over 40 Linnets were having their supper. On the hemlock heads, there were several Willow Warblers while the young Blue Tits and young Great Tits were still around with some Swallows swooping over the pond and along over the cover crop, good to see...

Sunday 30 July 2017

Sunday 30th July

A better sort of a day, although there were a few drops of rain this morning, not a lot, but enough to stop me cutting the grass which I eventually managed to do this evening, job done..
Back on Friday, James  saw 4 Sandwich Terns over at Kilnaughton Bay. Yesterday, James saw 15 Sanderling playing "chicken" with the waves over at Sanaigmore... This afternoon, we saw a couple of young Blue Tits out from "the hut", great to see, as it shows that they must have bred close to here. Margaret earlier on spotted a Peregrine perched away along the top of the crag. As I write this entry, Margaret has just seen 17  Chough out sitting, sunning themselves on the rock face of the crag.

 One of them had flown away by the time I got the camera out, honest....

Saturday 29 July 2017

Saturday 29th July

Just as well that I emptied the rain gauge yesterday as more rain fell through the night and it only really stopped mid morning...Thomas Miller and his student friends sent through some sightings from Tuesday 25th. High over Gruinart they saw a young Golden Eagle being mobbed by some Gulls. Later on up at Ardnave, they saw a small flock of around 30 waders, mostly Sanderling along with some Ringed Plover and a single Turnstone feeding on grubs in the rotting kelp along with some Gulls and a few Chough. Last night we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier as we headed over towards Saligo Bay. We also saw another ringtail along the flats at Gruinart close to the turn off up to Craigens. This evening, we watched as the flock of 50+ Chough returned in to their roost. Down on the thistle heads on the edge of the game crop there was a mixed flock of around 60 finches, mainly Goldfinches and Linnets, good to see the Goldfinches back again after being posted as awol a few weeks back....

Friday 28 July 2017

Friday 28th July

A few more days, and that is almost another month in again, time goes past a lot quicker when you get older, or so  I was told a few years ago and it may well be true!!! As the weather has not been that good today, not a lot to report on the birds front. Peter and Pia had heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away as they walked down at Foreland this morning. I managed to take this image of some of the Siskins along with a Goldfinch this afternoon out on the niger feeder.

Almost forgot to mention that I had to empty the rain gauge today as it was full, and that is before the end of the month, say no more...Yes, it sure has been wet for July!!!

Thursday 27 July 2017

Thursday 27th July

Back on Sunday Jack Fleming saw 6 Swifts over his house at Gruinart. This morning, Jack watched a family of 4 Hen Harriers as they hopped along from one fence post to another on one of the fences along the flats at Gruinart. Today, Gary had a ringtail and also a male Hen Harrier close to island Farm This morning, below Carnduncan, we had a cracking view of a male Hen Harrier as it flew across the road. This evening in a very short space of time, less than 10 minutes, I had a family of Great Tits, Willow Warbler, female Lesser Redpoll, House Sparrow, Wren, Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Swallows, Jackdaw and Starling all seen from the "hut". To finish it all, I had a flypast of all the young Chough flying in to the roost and then when I got in to the house the heavens opened...just made it!!

Wonder if these Sparrows know their way to the "Islay stand " at Rutland???

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Wednesday 26th July

Yesterday Adam Haynes and his Dad had walked out from Ballygrant, past the lochs, through the woods and returned back to Ballygrant along the track beside the side of the road from Port Askaig. On Ballygrant Loch, they heard 2 RTD calling away and saw a Mute Swan and also a Little Grebe.  In the woods, they had lots of Siskins, Redpolls, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Long tailed Tit and Willow Warblers. On their way back along the track/ path a Whitethroat was seen. Yesterday evening the "bird nerds" met up, we had 10 folk in total, which made the washing up a bit easier...Visitor Alistair Hart had different tale to tell about his journey home to Portnahaven... He saw a Hare, a Stoat and also a Red Deer between Wester and Easter Ellister, no birds seen...
The rain came as forecast, the best part of an inch dropped in to the rain gauge in the last 24 hours!!!!

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Tuesday 25th July

A new contributor  tonight, with Adam  Haynes sending some sightings through... The other day Adam had seen a female Common Scoter, 5 Sanderling and Dunlin on the Big strand beside the airport, while out on Loch Indaal RTD and Eider were seen. Yesterday down at Machir Bay, he heard 2 Corncrakes calling, 2 Peregrines seen, 2 Sanderling seen on the beach, lots of Chough milling around and also 2 Golden Plover seen in the fields behind the bay. On Loch Indaal, Adam had seen many Barwits, a Greenshank and also 2 Redshank. This evening Peter Roberts and Mike Peacock had a Grasshopper Warbler in the reed bed down at the Coastguards.

Monday 24 July 2017

Monday 24th July

Yesterday, Distillery Dave, Lesley and myself carried out the WeBs count from Bowmore down to Gartbeck, in Bob's absence.. So here are the birds counted by us.. 5 Mute Swan, 46 Greylag Geese, 1 GND, 4 Cormorant, 7 Shag, 54 Oystercatcher, 65 Curlew, 10 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 5 Ringed Plover,  1 Turnstone,  3 Ruff, 28 Dunlin, 15 Bar tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Heron, 17 Eider, 24 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon, 23 Herring Gull, 6 Black headed Gull, 2 Lbb Gull and 2 Gbb Gull

Sunday 23 July 2017

Sunday 23rd July

Another top  drawer day with the sun shining through all day, almost too hot to work in, a nice complaint if nothing else!!
Gary yesterday had seen 3 Little Grebes on Ballygrant Loch, later on he saw a White tailed Eagle. Helen Brown  from Ardnahoe saw an Otter run across the track as she was out for a walk at Ballygrant Loch. Today, Botswana Dave got a chance to do some quality time birding by himself for a change.. In the farm steading at Aoradh, he saw Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Sedge Warblers with the Swallows present, being kept busy feeding their young. On the flats, Dave saw a ringtail Hen Harrier. On the woodland trail Dave saw young Robins, Willow Warblers and also Treecreepers. At the North Hide , the pair of Mute Swans were seen along with their 5 cygnets. He also commented on seeing plenty of young Mipits on the fences and in the fields, until they all took for cover as a Peregrine flew through.
Mind the Islay bird nerds will be meting up here at 7pm on Tuesday evening... see you there!!

Saturday 22 July 2017

Saturday 22nd July

Yesterday, Gary had seen 3 Little Terns and counted 30 Dunlin at Carnain while over at Gartmain, he saw over 70 Barwits. James, yesterday had seen 4 Swifts while he was up at Ardnave. Today, James saw a Greenshank on the reserve at Gruinart. Also today, Alistair Hart had an excellent sighting of a Whitethroat, between Port Wemyss and Portnahaven and later on great views of a Raven up behind Claddach. Today, while out and about, mainly from here at Kilchoman and over to Gruinart, we felt that were more Wheatears and also more Pied Wagtails around. On the way home this evening there were 3 Buzzards together below Carnduncan.
The monthly Islay Bird nerds meting will be held here at Shepherd's cottage at 7pm on Tuesday evening, so if you are around, feel free to come along.

Friday 21 July 2017

Friday 21st July

Nothing much going on outside, out here today as it has been rather wet, but late afternoon, it did stop, the wind dropped too, so possibly a perfect night for the midges come out, but come to think on it, they go to bed too, you do not really hear of folk getting bitten by midges at night?? With being "stuck" indoors today, Mr D should be pleased with me, as the Islay sightings are bang up to date again!!  A quick walk round the garden proved fruitful with a family of Willow Warblers on the hemlock heads and a family of Great Tits present in the Willows. 

Thursday 20 July 2017

Thursday 20th July

Yesterday, James had a Peregrine over the reserve at Gruinart, he also had a Swift. Yesterday too, Gary had scanning over the sands (tide out!) between Bridgend and Bowmore seeing over 100 Oystercatchers, 65 Curlew and 17 Barwits. Gary has also been spotting some Swifts as well while he has been out and about over the past few days. This morning, we saw an Osprey perched on a post down on the side of Loch Gorm . On our way home, we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier as it flew across the road in front of us below Coulererach. At home, mid afternoon I counted 47 House Sparrows on the fence below the hut... Been a not bad day with the weather here today, although it might be a different story tomorrow, with rain forecast from midday onwards, we will just take what comes...

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Wednesday 19th July

Well, as predicted last night, the weather went downhill, almost spot on at 4pm, it has rained quite heavily since, with not much let up in the near future. Possibly just as well that we live at the top of a hill/ ridge... The windows look like the windows that Fishmongers used to have with the water streaming down them, showing my age now!!
Yesterday Thomas Miler, one of the young birders who are here for 3 weeks, had seen 2 Peregrines in a stoop in to the Choughs present behind Machir Bay, possibly young birds training up, as no doubt adult birds would have had a kill... Later on, Thomas and his friends, saw a juv Golden Eagle on the wing  at Carnain. Also yesterday, Mark spotted a Swift at Gruinart and also 40 House Martins. James later on saw 2 Swifts over the reserve. It was Mark's first Swift of the year.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Tuesday 18th July

Another tremendous day with the weather, warm for here and also this evening, a bit of a breeze, so I think that most of the birdwatchers must have gone to the beach today... I took the chance today and carried on weeding round the wee trees and bushes, perhaps I maybe planted too many!!!  All I have to report this evening is a Buzzard chasing after some Rock Doves at Leek and then a distant Heron flying over Coille were seen as we drove round Loch Gorm this evening.

Monday 17 July 2017

Monday 17th July

Yesterday Distillery Dave had been up at Sanaigmore where he saw a Peregrine carrying prey in its talons. Also up there Dave reckons that there are still 2 different Corncrakes calling as well. I was told the other day of one calling down behind Machir Bay. Visitors from North Queensferry had  seen a male Hen Harrier at Kilchoman and tonight had watched the young Chough coming in to the roost this evening, and now a cracking sunset, what a place to live..
Today, I have been kept out of mischief, trying to put the final touches together with various folk to put together our "Islay" stand for the British Birdfair held next month at Rutland. This year, we have really fortunate in obtaining a double stand, so with a bit of juggling and getting some new banners too, we shall have a completely different look to our stand... and as ever a great team of folk to man the stand, more about the Birdfair another night nearer the time...

Sunday 16 July 2017

Sunday 16th July

A big change in the weather with wall to wall sunshine, so we both worked away outside for most of the day... Margaret set to and cut  most of the grass while I was kept of  mischief weeding round some of the trees/ bushes. Think my arms are tingling a bit with pulling nettles, and yes I was wearing gloves and my shirt sleeves were down rather than rolled up!!! Margaret saw 2 Peregrines  "playing about" with a Raven. One the Peregrines peeled off and chased a lbj and then returned to annoy a Fulmar, no malice intended. This afternoon we set about trying to clean around the pond, I was surprised that the water was quite warm, not that I fell in it!!! This  evening it is rather dull outside as I write this entry, so possibly a sign that we may be getting some rain through the night, but it is not forecast...

Saturday 15 July 2017

Saturday 15th July

A miserable sort of a day out with it being damp for most of the day, and also here at home, low mist, we could not see the crag for most of the afternoon. But having said that after 6 pm the mist lifted and it dried up, so we went out to the "hut", and were able to see a juv. Golden Eagle, a Buzzard, 2 Peregrines and also 2 Ravens out over the crag.. down on the fence at the edge of the game crop, there was a small flock of around 20 Linnets, popping back and forwards between the fence and the thistle heads. On the seed heads, over on the other side of the wee field, a couple of Willow Warblers were dodging about, with the Greenfinch  with its' fledglings was present on the feeder directly in front of the "hut", as was a Great Tit when we first went out. The Siskins are still enjoying the niger seed with the 4 Hooded Crows are hopping around on the grass. Earlier on, I spotted a hen Pheasant come out of the game crop wearing a purple leg ring which indicated it was one of the birds that Margaret had reared from hatching, as the digger driver disturbed the nest when moving soil  around  before we moved up here 3 years ago....

An image of the same hen Pheasant, sporting her purple leg ring, on the garden wall next to the old graveyard, taken back in May this year on a windy day...

Friday 14 July 2017

Friday 14th July

Yesterday, Tom G had seen 2 Peregrine with 2 young over at Kintra. Today, by chance, we met in with 2 young visiting birders, both studying at Oxford University who are over on Islay for 3 weeks, their first visit, and what a great time they have been having... On their first day, they had seen Golden Eagle, White tailed Eagle, Chough and Hen Harrier. On Tuesday, they had a Whinchat family seen on the reserve at Gruinart, with Corncrake and also Quail heard too, and yesterday, Thomas and Joe had seen 2 Grey Wagtail and also a Dipper on the River Sorn at Bridgend. Up here we were able to show them several Wrens that were popping around, the Lesser Redpolls along with the Siskins on the big niger feeder.

Thursday 13 July 2017

Thursday 13th July

Yesterday, Gary had seen a White tailed Eagle fly over Keills and then up towards Bunnahabhain, he saw a pair of Bullfinches. Yesterday We saw a Red legged Partridge on our way to Bunnahabhain just after Ardnahoe. Today, Gary had been out with clients. They saw a male Hen Harrier at Finlaggan, later on, a ringtail was seen up towards Ardnave. At Ardnave Loch, they saw 4 Black tailed Godwits in summer plumage and while going over the Glen road 2 Swifts were spotted. Here at home on the feeders, earlier on, an adult Greenfinch plus 3 youngsters, proof that they must have bred!!!

One of the House Sparrows out behind the garage yesterday morning..

Wednesday 12 July 2017

Wednesday 12th July

Another great day again, all day although there was a low hiugging mist which hid Loch Gorm at first light... I saw it at the back of 5am and got up and watched the day roll in, quite a spetacle watching the mist rolling away. They said on the weather forecast this evening that Islay was one of the coldest places in Scotland last night, down to a mere 5 degrees... so I managed to get some snaps of the morning..

Looking over to Rockside Farm and the old Pagoda on the right, with the new Pagoda surrounded by scaffold in the centre, with the mist shrouding Loch Gorm, a great sight...
Back to birds, there was a House Sparrow on the wooden fence beside the garage.. a Fulmar out on the wing, one of the few remaining Fulmars nesting here now on the crag. There were over 30 pairs nesting when we came here back in 2000, now only 3 pairs are there... Along the barbed wire fence, a Willow Warbler was out as well, with a Stonechat on a fence post. Along the march fence, a family of Linnets kept floating back and forward between the top wire and then down over on to the seed heads. Out on the Machir, a Hare was having a tidy up. And that was all seen by 6am, well worth getting up for, honest!!!

Tuesday 11 July 2017

Tuesday 11th July

What a glorious day it has been and even at 9pm as I write this entry, there is not a cloud to be seen, mind you I am not complaining...
Tom G today had been down below us here on Machir Bay that is... Out along past Granny's rock  Tom had a very vocal Peregrine mobbing a Buzzard. He also saw a family of 5 Ravens as well as 7 Chough all out on the wing. Back along Machir Bay, up towards the North end or Coull Farm, Tom heard a Corncrake calling. Later on along at Rockside, he saw a pair of Peregrines. Yesterday afternoon Mandy and myself had the monthly look at the birds round at Rockside. It was great to see some Whinchats along with their broods out and also a few Reed Bunting with young out too. The Swallows were out hawking over the barley crops growing for the Distillery

This is one of our "friendly" Blackbirds who comes to beg for food, think he has his beak full this time for sure!!

Monday 10 July 2017

Monday 10th July

Yesterday, although the weather was not that great, I managed to take the Siskins out on the big niger feeders, only 14 birds in total including several youngsters, all being watched by an envious Goldfinch..

Back to today, a nice sunny day again...Tom G. had seen a Golden Eagle on the coastline on the Sound of Islay. Visiting RSPB members from Switzerland, Brigitte and Claude had seen a Great spotted Woodpecker up past Knocklearach, towards Storakaig on the Glen Road and then another down at Loch Allan.

Sunday 9 July 2017

Sunday 9th July

Been a bit of a pig of day here today, wall to wall dampness, or rain, coming to the best part of half an inch, but we will not that put us off.. Gary had been down at Ballygrant Loch where he saw 3 Little Grebes and 14 Tufted Duck on the water with Long tailed Tits present in the surrounding trees. Here at home, we have not ventured far but by watching out through the windows, we have had seen some "missing" birds..

The Sparrowhawk was on top of the empty drum which serves as a big feeder for the Pheasants, but not in use at present!!! Today, while I was out (in the rain!!) 2 Wrens were down dodging about, on some of the seed heads. Up nearer the house and we spotted 2 birds with BTO rings on, but could not read them. One was on a Starling, the other a male Chaffinch, wonder whether if they were some of the birds rung here by George E Jackson back in April???  Need the camera out to get some happy snaps of them, so we can look at their bling, another day...

Saturday 8 July 2017

Saturday 8th JUly

This morning, Tom G had seen a Short eared Owl out hunting as he came out of Portnahaven. Later on and over the other side of Islay, while walking from Ardtalla up to the summit of Beinn Bheigier, Tom took this image of a Buzzard carrying of an Adder in its' talons..

Tom had also seen 4 Golden Plover in breeding plumage and many droppings from Red Grouse while on his walk.
This evening, we saw 2 juv White tailed Eagles as we came over the hill from Loch Gruinart to Carnain.

Friday 7 July 2017

Friday 7th July

Some more rain through the night last night and then low cloud, but by early morning the cloud lifted and gave us a not too bad a day.. We had a Wren hopping along the garden wall mid morning, the first I have seen here for some time. Later on there was a Whinchat down below the "game crop". Today, Tom G had walked from Bowmore round to Laggan, seeing many Dunlin on his walk along with Oystercatcher and Shelduck in good numbers too. Top bird was a juv. Golden Eagle at Laggan Point.

Thursday 6 July 2017

Thursday 6th July

Just a wee photo taken earlier this week of the cover crop that we sowed back in April for the birds to enjoy later on, at present is the bees are loving it, on the sunny days!!

This morning, here at home, the Whitethroat was present again, with a Stonechat further down, towards the pond. Earlier this evening, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past. This morning, Mark had a Bonxie, 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 Buzzard chicks almost fully fledged. Little Terns, Arctic Terns and a GND were also present a Mark went round Ardnave. Tom G. had been out past Gortantoid, up past Killinallan, where he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier and found a Mipit's nest with 3 eggs in it.

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Wednesday 5th July

Today, Tom G had spent some time over on Jura. Up past Inver, North of Feolin he saw a male Hen Harrier and also 2 Kestrel. Here at home, we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier up on a thermal above the crag, never seen that before... Later on, there was a Buzzard sitting on a rocky outcrop along the crag wtching all that was going on round about. Just before tea time, a Peregrine was flying directly over the house. This morning, I came in to the house and what was in the house but that greedy male Blackbird, so I quickly moved the cats through the house before they caught the bird before I could... It took sometime get the bird caught.. earlier on, it had followed me into the garage, unknown to me!!

I managed to get this Common Gull siting on its' nest the other day while we were over at Gruinart

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Tuesday 4th July

A miserable start to the day, in fact there must have been quite a lot of rain last night as our rain gauge is just short of 0.5" so far this month. We have had a better afternoon and yesterday evening, yet another glorious sunset. Tom G. had a ringtail Hen Harrier as he drove up to Ardnave and saw the Mute Swans present along with their 6 youngsters on Ardnave Loch itself. Here at home, there were  2 Buzzards out soaring over the crag, mid afternoon. After watching them for a wee while, one of the Buzzards peeled off and flew on. Then, out of nowhere a couple of Peregrines appeared out of nowhere and started to dive bomb and harass the remaining Buzzard that was still there. The end of the story is that the remaining Buzzard flew away unscathed..  The Whitethroats were present in the game crop again today.  

Monday 3 July 2017

Monday 3rd July

A better day, out here and we managed to get the grass cut! Earlier on, before getting the wee tractor out to cut the grass, I saw 3 Whitehtroats, down below the garage, the first I have seen here this year!!!  Gary today had been out with clients. Over at Bunnahabhain, they saw a male Hen Harrier, a Bullfinch at Bridgend, and a Red breasted Merganser along at the spit past Uiskentuie. Gary also commented on seeing many Whinchats while they were out. Returning visiting birder, Tom Garner is back over for another "fix", almost up to 30 visits he was saying to me... Today was spent over around Bunnahabhain and over to Bolsa. At the base of Mala Bosla, he saw a Merlin chasing after a Mipit, a Buzzard was present at Bunnahabhain. Tom commented on seeing plenty of Yellowhammers on his walk. He also saw 3 Kestrels while he was out.

Sunday 2 July 2017

Sunday 2nd July

Another mixed day with the weather again, not too wet, but enough dampness on the grass so it was not cut today, fingers crossed and tomorrow is another day... heard that before somewhere!! Not much to report through on the bird front, but on a positive note, the appeared to be more Chaffinches around and a few Goldfinches present here today as well as numerous House Sparrows as well. There is a pile of feathers over beside the garden wall, so perhaps we had a Sparrowhawk visiting some time today as the locus was in a similar place to where we have seen one perched on the wall...

Saturday 1 July 2017

Saturday 1st July

As promised, the rainfall figures for June, nothing really out of the ordinary for here, a mere 3.6 inches for the month. We have had it drier in other years and also it a lot wetter as well.... Marsali over at Mulindry had 3.9 inches and also made the same comment ,"an average sort of a month". This morning it started off looking great, but by mid morning, the dampness was on, fortunately the wind kept up, otherwise the midges might have had a field day..
Yesterday Gary been down on the Sound of Islay where he saw a White tailed Eagle perched on a rock on the foreshore. Later on, he was speaking to a visitor up at Finlaggan who had seen a couple of Golden Eagles in the air over the hills behind Finlaggan. A short time afterward Gary had an Osprey flying with a fish in its' talons over the visitor centre at Finlaggan. Old Sandy was telling me that he had seen over 50 Swallows hawking over the rye field round at Ballinaby yesterday.