Wednesday 28 February 2018

Wednesday 28th February

Gary had a juvenile White tailed Eagle over Ballygrant yesterday. Today, he saw a Golden Eagle displaying over Stioasha, along at Finlaggan 5 Buzzards were displaying. Later on, Gary had 2 Snow Bunting down at Carnain. Visiting birders, Pat and Angie Fowler from East Yorkshire sent though some birds they have had so far, on Sunday, they saw an Iceland Gull at West Carrabus and up towards Sanaigmore, a Hen Harrier. Yesterday they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier at Lower Cragabus, as well as  Twite at Kinnabus. A flock of Golden Plover were seen at Leorin. This morning, when he was driving to his work, Phill, had an immature White tailed Eagle flying low across the road at Mid Cragabus.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Tuesday 27th February

James like myself had been busy putting some nest boxes up on the reserve at Gruinart at the weekend. Also on the reserve, on Sunday, James saw a White tailed Eagle and then shortly afterwards a Merlin. Yesterday was Richard Smyth's final day of this present visit... he had a Merlin sitting on a roadside fence post as he drove over to Gruinart from Bowmore. While on the moorland trail at Gruinart, he saw a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier. Finally as he drove over to Port Askaig in the afternoon to catch the ferry back to the mainland, Richard saw 2 White tailed Eagles flying East towards Jura... Hope you made it safely home Richard!!!!

Monday 26 February 2018

Monday 26th February

Yesterday Distillery Dave along with his wife Ann had seen a couple of pairs of Crossbills when they were going in to Finlaggan. Mike Peacock had a "white wing day",  yesterday, at Machir Bay he had 3 Glaucous Gulls and an Iceland Gull. Round at Ballinaby, 2 Iceland Gulls were present  with another seen at Sanaigmore. At Grulinbeg, Mike had a flock of over 50 Fieldfare and 30 Skylarks present there as well.
Remember tomorrow night, that the Islay bird nerds will be meeting up in the Lochside Hotel at 7.30pm, so feel free to drop by if you are around.

Sunday 25 February 2018

Sunday 25th February

Back on Friday, it was the Rochdale Birders last full day of their present  visit... Over at Finlaggan, they had 6 Crossbills and then at Ardnahoe, a male Sparrowhawk was seen. Another visiting birder Richard Smyth had seen a ringtail while at the RSPB reserve at Gruinart, today.. I see that the Norfolk birding group led by Chris Mills, who were over had seen 106 species while they were here at the end of January/ early February. One or two birds were seen on the mainland, but still a very impressive list of birds...

Saturday 24 February 2018

Saturday 24th February

Today, I spent some quality time working out in the garden, the main theme was to put our nest boxes up, and with a bit of help from son Andrew, we got the job done, thanks son.... All we need is the birds to come and have a look at their new luxury accommodation palaces...

Our good friends from Bearsden had 10 blackbirds in their garden this morning.

Thanks to our many visiting birders who have contributed their sightings for folk to read about our birds here on Islay.

Friday 23 February 2018

Friday 23rd February

Yesterday morning as he was driving to his work at Kilchoman Distillery, Dave had a Merlin fly across the road while he was travelling along the south side of Loch Gorm. A short while later on he saw some Redwing in one of the fields beside the road.. At the other end of his day, up at Kilchoman, he watched the Chough going into the roost...Back on Wednesday,  Danny had seen a mixed flock of Starlings, Redwing and Fieldfare when he was up at Sanaigmore.
Just been watching a program on the TV on wildlife cameramen, and it was great to watch and see our friend and colleague John Aitchison

Thursday 22 February 2018

Thursday 22nd February

Today, Gary had seen a male Hen Harrier and also the Crossbills were still at Finlaggan. This morning,  I was speaking with a group of birders who have been visiting Islay this week, and they had seen 106 species, they had been staying over at Red Lodge on Laggan Estate. Today, the Rochdale birders had 28 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone at the pool beside Machir Bay. Round at Balinaby, they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier and also a female Sparrowhawk. Along at Foreland, 3 Woodcock were seen and further on they saw 3 Hen Harriers going to the roost down on the Rhinns. The Hampshire birders had walked out from Ballygrant, over to the Sound of Islay. They had a really close sighting of a Golden Eagle... Other birds of note seen were a ringtail Hen Harrier, a Peregrine, . Down on the Sound of Islay they saw RTDs, Wigeon , Whitefronts and Barnies with a vocal Raven cronking away...

Before I forget the monthly catch up of the Islay bird nerds will be on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm in the Lochside Hotel in Bowmore, so feel free to come along if you are around.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Wednesday 21st February

Gary yesterday had been out with a client and had a White tailed Eagle up behind Ballygrant and then later on they had seen 9 Crossbill at Finlaggan. Today, Gary and Lesley had carried out the WeBs count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck, Bob's former patch. Their top birds were 2 Grey Plover, 8 Knot, 3 Glaucous Gull and an Iceland Gull. The Hampshire birders are still here , but have had no internet connections at all for the past 2 weeks.. Up at Loch Cam, a Reed Bunting and also a Grey Wagtail were seen while down at Bowmore,  Eider, Common Scoter and Lapwing were present. The Rochdale birders had seen 10 Purple Sandpipers in total down at Bruichladdich this morning, and were commenting on seeing 5 White tailed Eagles over the past 3 days!! Bob had a Reed Bunting in  his garden today. Here at home, a Siskin was at the feeders with 2 Greenfinch seen on the nut feeders around midday, and a count of 38 Chough going in to the roost just as the light was starting to fail.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Tuesday 20th February

Mike Peacock was in touch this morning to say that the "Iceland Gull" which he had seen down on Machir Bay, turned out to be a leucistic Common Gull. I, last night forgot to mention that Val Peacock, Mike's wife had seen a male Bullfinch over at The Woollen Mill.
An email through from Phill with some sightings seen down on the reserve on the Oa today...  A Cormorant on Glenastle Loch(an uncommon sighting there), 15 Teal, 10 Mallard, 7 Tufted Duck, 6 Oystercatcher, 8 Lapwing, 93 Twite, 2 Goldfinch, 3 Chaffinch, 4 House Sparrow, 885 Barnies, 129 Whitefronts, 26 Greylags, 3 Skylark, 3 Rock Pipit, 50 H Gull, 2 Gbb Gull, a ringtail Hen Harrier, a Buzzard and a Merlin.
James, today,  had carried out his WeBs count today for the flats and the floods at Gruinart, so here is his count: 15 Whoopers, 525 Lapwing, 35 Redshank, 14 Snipe, 46 Curlew, 561 Teal, 1 Greenshank, 2 Dabchick, 4 Heron, 48 Pintail, 8 Shoveler, 94 Wigeon, 1 Tufted Duck, 590 Wigeon, 38 Common Gull, 9 B h Gull, 1404 Golden Plover, 4 Mute Swan and 31 Mallard.
Also today, Louise saw a Bonxie off the pier on Jura. Bob has had some Siskins lately on his feeders and today he had a Redpoll there as well. Here at home, the Lapwings, only 12 today, were flying around very acrobatically. Distillery Dave was up visiting us late afternoon, and watched the Chough flying in to their roost.

Monday 19 February 2018

Monday 19th February

Rather a misty kind of a day out here on the far west of Islay, but our birders here were undeterred...

Forgot to mention last night that we had a Merlin zip through the garden , boy was it moving along rather smartly... Today we had a flock of 14 Lapwing flying around over the Machir, and then late afternoon, a Fulmar was soaring along in front of the crag. The Rochdale Birders had seen a White tailed Eagle fly from Jura  across the "Sound of Islay" and after a wee while they saw it fly back over to Jura. Later on, while they were driving along the "Glen road" they counted  205 Whitefronts in a field at Cattadale. Another returning birder to Islay, Danny saw a male Sparrowhawk sitting on a fence post over at Coull late afternoon. Mike P. had been down on Machir Bay this afternoon where he had 4 Glaucous and an Iceland Gull, good spotting Mike!! Mark had carried out the WeBS counts at Gruinart today, so here are the birds seen, 2 GND, 3 Heron, 174 Shoveler, 218 Wigeon, 37 Mallard, 3 Goldeneye, 7 R b Merganser, 3 Snipe, 207 Oystercatcher, 32 Ringed Plover, 85 Lapwing, 4 Knot, 30 Sanderling, 57 Barwits, 86 Curlew, 27 Redshank, 5 Greenshank, 45 Turnstone, 12 B h Gull and 177 Common Gull.

Sunday 18 February 2018

Sunday 18th February

This morning, Bob, Lesley and myself carried out the WeBS count from Port Charlotte round to Blackrock round the top of Loch Indaal. This is usually the section counted by Gary, but Bob and Gary have changed routes, with Gary counting the stretch from Bowmore  to Gartbreck, so here are our "scores on the doors".....8 GND, 10 Cormorant, 4 Shag, 5 Curlew, 6 Redshank, 8 Lapwing, 12 Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 15 Common Scoter,  3 Snipe, 3 Shelduck, 2 Mallard, 8 Eider, 5 Goldeneye, 1 Long tailed Duck, 12 R b Merganser, 5 G BB Gull, 36 H Gull, 37 C Gull, 1 Glaucous Gull.  Just as well that we carried the count, early this morning, as the weather turned out in to a miserable, damp, dreich afternoon, just as well too that I spent some time yesterday, tidying up part of the game crop!!! The Rochdale birders had been  out and about, seeing a ringtail Hen Harrier over at Sanaig, up at Finlaggan, they saw a pair of Crossbills. 2 Siskins were present at the Woollen Mill and on their way back to  Port Charlotte where they stay, 8 Purple Sandpipers were seen at Bruichladdich.

Saturday 17 February 2018

Saturday 17th February

Yesterday, Gary had spotted a Gannet off the top of Ardnave Point. Today, he had a Golden Eagle soaring around above Bunnahabhain. Here at home, there were around 40 Chough poking and probing around in the ground out on the Machir. With the weather being a lot better today, I got the wee tractor out with its' topper on and made a start to tidying up the game crop, ready for the plough and reseeding it again for another season for the birds to appreciate, a start in the right direction...
Weather permitting, tomorrow morning, Bob and myself are going to do our WeBs count, but Distillery Dave is out on the mainland, so will not be with us!!!

Thursday 15 February 2018

Thursday 15th February

Not a lot  to report tonight, as the weather out here has not exactly been favourable for birdwatching!!
The Rochdale birders had seen a Raven carrying nesting materials in towards a nest site when they were out yesterday. Today, Bob had seen a Glaucous Gull down on the pool behind Machir Bay.
As the wind never really let up today, I made use of plan "B" when trying to feed the birds, namely put their seed on the ground. Amazing how quickly they adapted to this, perhaps they were just happy that somebody had braved the elements to feed them!!!

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Wednesday 14th February

Just as well that I went out in the dark last night and took down our 2 big bird feeders as they might have been down on the ground this morning, smashed to pieces. Yes, it was quite windy. The ferries had ben cancelled this morning with a rescheduled timetable, sailing later on in the afternoon and early evening offering any hardy soul a chance of a bumpy sail across to Islay... Doubt if they sold much food, the chefs would not have been that busy!!!
The Rochdale birders today had braved the elements, up behind Port Charlotte, close to Gearach, they had counted 84 Whitefronts and down beside the War memorial at Port Ban below Coultorsay , over 40 Curlews were present. Mid afternoon as they drove over the hill from Gruinart, between Grainel and the former Kilchoman school, they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier sitting on a fence post.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Tuesday 13th February

The Rochdale birders had counted a flock of 60 Fieldfare over at Finlaggan, and then they had seen over 20 Raven up near to Storakaig on the "Glen road". Finally they saw a ringtail Hen Harrier along the far end of Loch Gorm.  Mike Peacock had seen 2 Glaucous Gulls down at Machir Bay. Our good friend "DJ" had been up the crag behind Kilchoman where he saw the pair of Ravens, a Sparrowhawk and also a male Hen Harrier. All I can add to todays sightings were 3 Reed Buntings seen beside the old church, here at home, seen while I was out "pootering" (not pottering!) around on the wee tractor, boys and their toys...

Monday 12 February 2018

Monday 12th February

Just to get you all in the mood for tonight's entry, please read the first paragraph of yesterday's blog, as the weather here was similar to yesterday, although I actually met a snowplough / gritter on our road before 9 am!!! The whole of the snowplough looked rather new with its' yellow paint still pristine... Pity they could not sort the potholes on the roads, say no more!!!
The Rochdale birders had ben out again, yes I spotted them. They saw a ringtail Hen Harrier over the merse as they approached Bridgend. Over at Kildalton cross, they heard a Great spotted Woodpecker drumming away on the trees nearby, and they also saw 10 Yellowhammers on the feeders in the middle of the game crop beside Calum's, the head gamekeeper's house just along the road, still on Ardtalla Estate. On their way back home, they saw 2 Snipe at Carnain. Distillery Dave had a ringtail Hen Harrier below Sunderland, on his way home from his work at Kilchoman Distillery.

Sunday 11 February 2018

Sunday 11th February

Been a sort of a miserable sort of a day out here today, with plenty of dirty snow showers rolling in off the sea, not a pretty sight.. and not the warmest of days either!!!
Today, the Rochdale birders had been out, seeing the Iceland Gull at Ballinaby. Also seen there was a ringtail Hen Harrier, a flock of over 300 Golden Plover and also 30 Fieldfare. Round at the head of Loch Gorm (East end), over the moor,  they saw a male and also a ringtail Hen Harrier. They also had seen another pair flying, over at Gruinart. This afternoon, Fiona and Mandy saw a Golden Eagle eating away on a Barnacle Goose carcase down on the stubbles at Sunderland. The dead goose had been seen by Fiona in the same place this morning...
Here at home, there were over 500 Barnacle Geese plus 30+ Greylags on the Machir towards the war graves cemetery. They were the wrong side of the garden fence, so I could not class them as "house birds"!!! The feeders have been busy as ever, even more birds today with the snow, at one time we had 36 Goldfinches, and also a solitary Greenfinch in amongst the numerous Chaffinches. Skulking around,  making the most of the food on the ground, 22 Rock Doves were counted. 

Saturday 10 February 2018

Saturday 10th February

Yesterday, Gary had seen a Golden Eagle up at Ardnahoe, and then shortly afterwards, he had a male Hen Harrier flying over the bay at Bunnahabhain. Today, Bob and Distillery Dave had spent some time down at the old hide at Gruinart. A great time was had, top bird was a drake Ring necked Duck, out to the left of the hide. They also had seen 4 Greenshank, 5 R b Merganser and counted 38 Pintail. There was a large flock of Golden Plover seen in the air, a few other waders with them. Other returning birders from Rochdale are back for another fix, they had seen  a Sparrowhawk over at Avonvoggie, 2 Glaucous Gulls at Corsapol, the Iceland Gull in the mud at Ballinaby and also a large female Peregrine sitting on top of a fence post close to the road at Coull.

Friday 9 February 2018

Friday 9th February

The other day, Distillery Dave had seen some wild goats while he was out for a walk up at Sanaigmore. Yesterday, while coming back from a team meeting in Oban, from the ferry coming up the Sound of Islay, James had seen 2 White tailed Eagles. Here at home there have been plenty of wee birds in at the bird food on offer, hope it is not a sign that we are going to get some cold weather coming in...

Thursday 8 February 2018

Thursday 8th February

The Hampshire birders had a good bird watch along the coast line from Carnain to Bruichladdich. their top birds seen were  Eider Ducks, Purple Sandpipers, Lapwings, Pale bellied Brent Geese, Barnies and also Whitefronts. Today was Steve Holliday's final day for this visit.. Down on the Oa, at Kinnabus, he saw a small flock of over 80 Twite, with Claggain Bay producing 4 GND. Back up at Bowmore, out on Loch Indaal a GND, a Slav. Grebe and 13 Common Scoter were noted with the juv Iceland Gull seen there as well. Up at Gruinart, Steve had 58 Dunlin, 3 Ruff, 38 Redshank, 2 Whoopers and 40 Pied Wagtails and also a large flock of Golden Plover. Round at Coull, this morning, we had a Merlin who ducked and dived through the gorse bushes alongside the road and then just after the cattle grid at Ballinaby, 20 Fieldfare rose off the fields there.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Wednesday 7th February

Apologies to Garry, overlooked your 2 emails that you sent through with a few sightings on them... On Monday, he saw 2 Chough flying by at Kilnaughton during the commemorations there. Later on, he saw a Merlin chasing after some Starlings up at Mulreesh. Yesterday, Gary had 2 Glaucous Gulls down at the refuse dump towards Gartbreck below Bowmore. Also seen nearby was a large female Sparrowhawk hunting after some wee Lbjs... Gary and Wendy, aka "The Hampshire Birders" are back over for another stint on Islay. From their cottage near to Carnain, yesterday, they had seen a male and also ringtail Hen Harrier, a Whooper Swan and 2 Snipe. Along at Blackrock, they saw 18 Ringed Plover, 6 Turnstone, 20 Dunlin, 8 P b Brent Geese, 10 Scaup, pair of R b Merganser and finally in the walled garden at the Islay Community garden, a Grey Wagtail was spotted. Also, yesterday evening I saw a Barn Owl perched on top of a fence post beside the road as I drove over to Gruinart.
This morning, before the dampness set in, Steve Holliday had a count of 8 GNDs, 21 Eiders, 8 P b Brents off Bowmore, with a juv. Iceland Gull on the tideline. He saw the 4 Snow Buntings along between Carnain and Blackrock with a raft of 20 Scaup close in at Blackrock itself. On the floods at Gruinart, 9 Whoopers were present while in the fields behind Machir Bay, 39 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone and also 3 Chough were present. Mid afternoon, Steve "refound" his Cackling goose, this time up at Newton, in the field behind the cottages on the left as you drive towards Ballygrant from Bridgend.

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Tuesday 6th February

This morning Bob had seen 4 Snow Buntings along the shoreline between Cash Kelly's and smelly corner. Not to be outdone, Phill saw the Todd's Canada Goose out of the office at Kinnabus. Just before lunchtime, I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier close to Sunderland, and this afternoon, Margaret saw another one up behind West Carrabus. Today, Steve Holiday had a Slav Grebe, 29 Common Scoter, 17 Eider, a Goldeneye and a GND on Loch Indaal seen from Bowmore. Further round Loch Indaal, Steve counted a raft of 20 Scaup. At Gruinart, he saw 3 Ruff, and upon Ardnave Loch, 2 Dabchick, 13 Tufted Duck and 4 Goldeneye were present. Finally, round at Rockside/ Kilchoman Distillery, he had 25 Chough.

Monday 5 February 2018

Monday 5th February

Yesterday, Matt Bruce and his friends made the most of a great day, not only the weather was great, but their birding was not that bad either!!! 2 ringtail Hen Harriers and a distant Golden Eagle were noted in the air over the reserve at Gruinart. On the floods at Gruinart they saw 2 Greenshank and also 12 Pintail. On Loch  Indaal, they saw "2 BTD amongst the more numerous RTD and GNDs present, but did not manage to see any Slav Grebes or Long tailed Ducks". Yesterday evening as the sun was setting, boy it was good, they saw the Glaucous Gull on Machir Bay with 2 Fulmars seen out over the sea.
Today, some other new contributors to the blog... Steve Holliday and his wife arrived over for a few days birding from Northumberland. They too have had a  great day. They saw 2 juv. Golden Eagles over the Cornabus plantation out of Port Ellen. They also had a White tailed Eagle as they drove up to Bunnahabhain. Mid afternoon, they saw a Cackling Goose, sleeping, amongst the Barnies on the merse at Bridgend. At Kennacraig, prior to the ferry leaving, they had 8 Tysties in summer plumage and during the sailing to Port Ellen, they counted 29 GND.
Down at the Woollen Mill, this afternoon, on the feeders there, we saw the ever present mixed flock of Great Tits, Blue Tits and Coal Tits, but no Siskins were seen...

Sunday 4 February 2018

Sunday 4th February

Yesterday was the start of a week's visit to Islay by Matt Bruce who along with his friends were the  winners of a holiday in a cottage provided by  and our ferry provider, Calmac giving them tickets to match. On the ferry crossing over to Port Askaig, they had seen 14 GND, 2 RTD, a Tystie, 9 R b Merganser, a few Kittiwakes and 4 Long tailed Ducks. Up at Bunnahabhain, they saw 2 Buzzards having a tussle with a Raven, and also distant views of a Golden Eagle over Jura. Later on, on their way to Bowmore they had a Barn Owl hunting along the verge. They also had a field of around 60 Whitefronts as the light was starting to fail.
This morning, Peter and Pia had seen the Glaucous Gull down on Machir Bay, also present were 45 Ringed Plover and 40 Oystercatcher. This afternoon, James had  a Merlin on the reserve at Gruinart. He also had 2 ringtail Hen Harriers, one at Gruinart and one just after the junction leading   to Sanaigmore, just after the telephone box below Carnduncan. This morning, we had over  30 Goldfinch in at the feeders, great to see and then later on a ringtail Hen Harrier, less than 10 metres away, down close to the Coastguards, right place, right time!!! We also saw another one fly past James's kitchen window while we were in having a cuppa...

Saturday 3 February 2018

Saturday3rd February

I was speaking with Chris Mills who said that they had seen 104 species when he had been over with the group from Norfolk birding. Many thanks to them with sending in their sightings each day.
This morning, we had a Mistle Thrush out on the garden fence, and also there was a Fieldfare perched on either side of the Mistle Thrush. Later on, just after midday, we saw 2 Golden Eagles , just after we came past Sunderland Farm. Distillery Dave saw another one, late afternoon, down behind Machir Bay which proceeded to spoof some of the geese over at Coull.

Friday 2 February 2018

Friday 2nd February

Yesterday, Bob had seen an Iceland Gull down at Lossit Farm on the Rhinns. Today was the last full day for the Norfolk birding group who have contributed birds for the blog over their stay.  There was hardly any wind to speak of... On Loch Indaal, they saw 8 Long tailed Duck, 25 Scaup, 30 GND, over 20 Slavonian Grebes and a group of 30 R b Merganser. Later on, they saw the Todd's Canada Goose at Kinnabus on the Oa, a Sparrowhawk also on the Oa, 3 Golden Eagles, a ringtail Hen Harrier and a flock of 150 Twite. Finally, at Blackrock, they had a Pied Wagtail, so think that is over 100 species seen through their stay, not bad going considering the weather that they have had...The weather, today,  has been great out here, so much so that that I was busy doing some work out in the garden for most of the day, no need for a jacket at all!!!

Thursday 1 February 2018

Thursday 1st February

Another day, or another way to look at it another month. Here at home our rain gauge tallied out at 7.85 inches while Marsali's figure for the month came to 9.4 inches, not many dry days in either place!
Today Gary had seen 3 Glaucous Gulls down at Bun an Uisg at Bowmore, a White tailed Eagle up behind Ballygrant, 2 Crossbills in at Finlaggan. On his way up to Bunnahabhain, Gary saw 4 Bullfinches. Today, Chris Mills and the Norfolk birding group had a ringtail Hen Harrier out quartering its patch down beside Loch Gorm. Up close to Kilchoman Distillery, they saw 20 Chough. At Ballinaby, the Iceland Gull was seen and along up past the track to Leek, 20 Fieldfare and 3 Redwing were present. At Gruinart, an adult White tailed Eagle was spotted on the ground before it flew off. Out on the floods, 12 Whoopers were seen, while up the East side of Loch Gruinart they saw 4 Greenshank, 25+ Mipits up past Craigens, 4 Barwits, 30 Turnstone and a Stonechat. Finally, back at Kilchoman they saw 31 Chough flying back to the roost.