Monday 31 December 2018

Monday 31st December

This afternoon, James saw a Treecreeper in his garden at Mill Cottage over at Gruinart. From the hides at Gruinart, James saw the Little Egret, a male and also a female Hen Harrier. On his way home from the hides, he had seen 2 Woodcock.

Wishing all our readers and not forgetting anyone who contributes to the blog, a Happy New Year.

Tomorrow, I should have the tally for the rain for December and also the grand total for 2018.

Sunday 30 December 2018

Sunday 30th December

Today, while sitting out in the hut watching all the wee birds on the feeders, all of a sudden, they all took off looking for cover, but why? A quick scan round about, and who had they seen before us, quite simple, a ringtail Hen Harrier was out quartering its patch. It took a good couple of minutes floating around before heading off, having not taking anything I hasten to add...
On the cctv system, when we checked it out, there was a  Barn Owl perched on one of the shed doors.
At one time when watching the footage, I thought that it had stopped recording as the Owl remained completely motionless, but no the time clock proved me wrong...

Saturday 29 December 2018

Saturday 29th December

On Thursday, Mike P. had seen a couple of Bullfinches over on the forest track at Avonvoggie. Yesterday Mike had counted a flock of 384 Twite on the overhead wires at Upper Killeyan. Also on the Oa, he saw  4 Chough and a Sparrowhawk. Late afternoon, from Port Charlotte, Mike counted 61 GND and also 5 RTD swimming out to their roost at Laggan Point.
Today, up here at home, the birds have been busy as ever scoffing all the food on offer. I saw a Brambling out from the hut and then out of the kitchen window, a Greenfinch was present.

Friday 28 December 2018

Friday 28th December

Last night, coming off the ferry, down beside Blackrock, we saw a Barn Owl out hunting, on the wing in the darkness. Great!!!

Today has certainly been a catch up day over here, having a cuppa with friends Distillery Dave, George E Jackson and his wife Pat. George has been busy ringing more birds here at home in our absence. Yesterday was a special day for George, as he caught and rung a Merlin in the mist nets. The image below is of George and the said Merlin..

Thursday 27th December

Better late than never, sorry this entry is kind of late, but I was whacked when I got in last night..

Distillery Dave had sent some birds through that he had seen around Kilchoman Distillery over Xmas day and Boxing Day...A female Sparrowhawk was on the drive and then later on a Kestrel was spotted. In the fields over 200 Whitefronts were seen, but Dave commented on the fact that not so many Barnies were  around. On his feeders up at his house, Great Tit, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Robin and plenty of Chaffinches were present. A quick walk around the wee shelter belt  of scrubby trees produced 4 Long tailed Tits, while out on the fields a pair of Chough were having a good howk for some food...He also had a couple of Buzzards together scanning for any food on offer.

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Wednesday 26th December

Visitor Stephen Welch sent a couple of sightings in from yesterday. Over at Coullabus, he had seen 2 Golden Eagles, an adult and a juvenile. Along the road, at Coull Farm, he saw a male Hen Harrier

Today, Pia had seen an adult White tailed Eagle perched on top of the old wreck out from Bridgend Merse when the tide was out. Late afternoon, and Peter counted 125 Starlings going in to roost on  the pier at Bruichladdich..

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Tuesday 25th December

Not much to report tonight, but as I have already said in an earlier entry on the blog, Have a great Xmas whoever and wherever you may be . ENJOY, CHIILL OUT and RELAX...

Monday 24 December 2018

Monday 24th December

Another day in... We awoke to freezing fog this morning, but the fog soon lifted, but it still stayed in around freezing point for most of the day...No, not on Islay, but that was it today here out on the mainland. Mind you being in a different place you often have different birds seen. Here , where we are for Xmas, we have different regular bird on the bird table. Nuthatch, Tree Sparrows are regulars each day with many Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits along with up to 10 Long tailed TIts appear and help to polish off the food on offer. We have also had 2 different Great spotted Woodpecker, a Repoll and also 3 visits from a Brambling.
Earlier on this evening, James was on the phone, He too is over on the mainland for a few days and today had seen a Water Rail and then shortly afterwards, a Kingfisher.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Sunday 23rd December

Today, Mike Peacock had spent some time birding from Blackrock in calm conditions, out on to Loch Indaal. Top birds seen by Mike were 14 Slavonian Grebe, 23 Scaup and also 5 Long tailed Duck.

Before I forget may I take the opportunity to wish all our readers a Happy Xmas and have a great time over the festive season.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Saturday 22nd December

After writing the blog last night, I decided to look back through my wee black book… and if my figures/ addition is correct, I reckon that George E Jackson has caught and processed 400 birds since he started to do this up at Kilchoman. (His first session was a small one with  only 14 birds caught in 2015,  2016 another small session again with only 2 caught, and not really into bigger number until 2017 and this year). According to my "maths" the tally reads as 364 birds fitted with new rings and 34 re traps, or birds caught that already had a ring already fitted to their leg. The furthest travelled re trap being the Siskin that he caught on the 10th of July which had been originally fitted with a ring on the 23rd of March in Friesland in Holland!!!  Keep up the good work, George!!!!
A short phone message through from Distillery Dave to say that he had counted 10 Redwings in his garden this morning at Rockside...

Friday 21 December 2018

Friday 21st December

George E Jackson was in touch with some sightings. The other day, George noticed a good number of Gulls along with 3 Buzzards having a good rummage on the barley stubbles along beside his son's house. George reckoned that the birds were actually eating on the earthworms that had come the surface as Kilchoman Distillery had been spreading the spent waste water. No doubt the worms could have been well pickled, and possibly the birds could have been "happy" after their feast!!!
On Wednesday, George had caught and rung another 27 wee birds. He had 16 Chaffinches, 8  House Sparrows, 2 Goldfinches and a Robin and also a re trap of a Chaffinch

Thursday 20 December 2018

Thursday 20th December

Some birds through from Gary of Wild Islay Birding tonight for you....
He has been up at Bunnahabhain quite a lot recently. His choice of words not mine!!! On his way there, he has regularly been seeing a Merlin hunting over the fields at Persabus as well as a Kestrel up at Ardnahoe.
Today, Gary spotted a juv. White tailed Eagle sitting on the rocks on the edge of the merse at Bridgend. Along at Gartmain, he saw 7 Knot and at Bruichladdich, 9 Purple Sandpiper were present.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Wednesday 19th December

Another day in, but no reports of birds being seen on Islay, not because of the lack of birds, but mainly due to the simple fact that quite a few of the usual contributors are out on the mainland for one reason or another..

Stop press... Bob was on the phone just now to say that he had seen 1st winter Little Gull down at Gortan, when he was out on the goose count on the Rhinns today. Good one, just saved my bacon, pal. Much appreciated....

Monday 17 December 2018

Monday 17th December

The weather calmed a little, so allowing Distillery Dave to venture outside to find some birds for the blog...He saw a Kestrel on top of a fence post as he drove down the track leading from the Kilchoman Distillery. Down behind the Coastguard's Houses, a ringtail Hen Harrier was out on the wing. Down on Machir Bay itself, DD counted 39 Ringed Plover, 29 Oystercatcher 2 Curlew and also 10 Turnstones. In the field beside the car park at Machir Bay, 7 Turnstone and a further 20 Ringed Plover were present.
Today, Andrew Kent from SNH was in touch with the tally from the International Goose Count which was carried out last Tuesday and Wednesday... The figures were as follows 31,623 Barnacle Geese, 5,843 Greenland Whitefronts and also 1,177 Greylags. Many thanks to Andrew and the team from SNH for these figures..The figures are well down on the previous 2 years for the December counts for the Barnacle Geese by over 12,000 at least... I believe that this year that the number of young geese returning to Islay was only around 1 to 2% of the geese surveyed, which indicates to me that they have not had a great breeding season.

Sunday 16 December 2018

Sunday 16th December

Some sightings in from John Miles who has been over helping to lead a group of birders with his son Ewan and also Iola Williams...
Back on Monday evening, they saw a Barn Owl while returning back to where they have been staying at Kilchoman House. The next day, they saw a male Merlin chase after the Starlings in a field next to Rockside. Shortly afterwards, they saw a 1st winter Golden Eagle siting on top of the trig point down on the top of the raised beach as one approaches Uiskentuie. Down on the Oa, they counted a flock of over 100 Twite being chased by a male Hen Harrier. They also had seen some Song Thrushes and Redwing present there as well, but no Fieldfares seen. At Port Ellen they saw 12 Ringed Plover, some Pied Wagtail on the beach opposite the Ramsay Hall as well as a GND out on the bay.  Wednesday, a wet day, but they still managed out , and over to Gruinart and the hides in the morning.. they saw Little Egret, Blackwits, a ringtail Hen Harrier, plenty of Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, 2 Greenshank, Barwits, Dabchicks, Geese, Whoopers and a few Snipe as well. In the afternoon, they had seen on the East side of Loch Gruinart, they had seen Turnstone, Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and Curlew. Heading back to the reserve at Gruinart, they a count of over 1,000 Golden Plover and at least 100 Dunlin in the fields. Up at Ardnave, they saw the Chough and going over the road past Culbuie, they saw a Golden Eagle.  Down at Portnahaven they saw a some Tysties , and some big waves there as well.  Returning back up from Portnahaven up towards Cultoon/ Tormisdale, they saw a female Merlin, and then the Pale belied Brent sheltering up below the coal yard at Gortan. On Friday before they left, they saw a  juv. Golden Eagle over Bunnahabhain, 3 Turnstone in the bay there as well as an Otter landing some prey.

Saturday 15 December 2018

Saturday 15th December

What a day it has been, all the ferries were cancelled to and from Islay today, but Calmac are providing extra ferries to sail tomorrow.
Yesterday Mike P had counted 27 Pale belied Brent Geese down at Traigh an Luig at Gortan, up at Foreland, he saw 2 different male Hen Harriers. Along at Machir bay Mike had 67 Curlew and 8 Turnstone.
George E Jackson and his wife Pat have returned over to Islay after a very good trip to Norway with reasonable views of the "Northern Lights". Yesterday on Islay, George had seen a Redwing in the garden at Rockside, with a flock of around 300 Starlings in one of the Rockside fields next to their son's house. Down on one of the wee lochans next to Loch Gorm, 15 Whoopers were present. Down in the field next the parking area at Machir Bay, George had 11 Curlew, 14 Turnstone  and 27 Ringed Plover. He also had 15 Oystercatcher overflying Machir Bay itself.

Friday 14 December 2018

Friday 14th December

Today, James had braved the winds and had counted 5,995 Barnies along with 351 Greenland Whitefronts on the reserve at Gruinart. Also seen on / over the reserve was a Golden Eagle as well a White tailed Eagle taking out a Barnacle Goose mid air over the loch...He also had seen a Woodcock. On the floods,  2 Greenshank and 2 Blackwits were present there as well. Out on Loch Gruinart, 2 Grey Plover were seen. James forgot to say whether his tally for the Barnies was before or after  the White tailed Eagle nobbled the goose!!!

Thursday 13 December 2018

Thursday 13th December

Malcolm was in touch to tell me that he has seen 2 different Kestrels this week. One was seen by him on Monday down at Gortan close to the coal yard. The other one which Malcolm had seen was yesterday  over at Kilnaughton bay.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Wednesday 12th December

Yesterday, Mark had seen 4 Pale bellied Brent Geese as well as 25 Scaup at the head of Loch Indaal. At Ardnave Point, he saw a Merlin zip past. On Nave Island, he counted 18 Cormorant with 3 Greenshank seen out from Bun an Uillt.
This morning , we saw a Little Egret at the head of West Loch Tarbert over on the mainland.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Tuesday 11th December

Here are some results from a couple of WeBS counts over here on Islay , both carried out yesterday.
Gary had counted from Bowmore down to Gartbreck. His birds seen were as follows, 79 GND, 16 RTD, 84 RBM, 14 Cormorant, 122 Shag, 1 Great crested Grebe, 16 Slavonian Grebe, 12 Common Guillemot, 4 Tysties, 191 Eider, 59 Common Scoter, 64 Mallard, 293 Teal, 128 Wigeon, 7 Goldeneye, 123 Oystercatcher, 118 Curlew, 22 Redshank, 206 Ringed Plover, 110 Dunlin, 44 Turnstone, 24 Common Snipe, 9 Gbb Gul, 124 Herring Gull, 98 Common Gull, 62 Bh Gull, 8 Heron, 4 Shelduck,  2 Grey Plover, 586 Barnies, 7 Greenland Whitefronts and also 74 Greylags. Gary also had seen "good numbers of Reed Bunting in the lanes and fields, also Pied Wagtails on the shore, with over 100 Skylark moving around in the stubbles.
Lizzy and Ruth had carried out the count at Loch Gruinart yesterday morning, with their tally coming to as follows, 1 Greenshank, 1 GND, 622 Dunlin, 170 Wigeon, 3 Pochard,  208 Barwits, 298 Lapwing, 107 Curlew, 25 Ringed Plover, 88 Turnstone, 14 Sanderling, 66 Shelduck, 214 Redshank, 16 Snipe and 147 Common Gull.

Today, was the first day of the International Goose Count on Islay, so all going well, I should receive through the tally before the end of the week.

Monday 10 December 2018

Monday 10th December

Yesterday, John Miles had seen a female Sparrowhawk flying away, carrying its prey , a Blackbird, while he was walking out along the track to the Big strand from Island Farm below Bowmore. Today, up at Loch Finlaggan, he saw a juv. White tailed Eagle. On the loch itself, he saw 12 Tufted Duck and also a Goldeneye. Shortly afterwards, he had a female Merlin. Finally on Loch Indaal as you enter Bowmore from Bridgend, John had counted 8 Slav. Grebes, 24 Scaup and also 4 RTD.
Today, Bob had been in at Loch Skerrols for a wee while with his bins, a productive visit by all accounts. He saw in total, a drake Goldeneye, 6 Tufted Duck, 10 Teal, 40 Wigeon, 12 Mallard, 20 Mute Swan and also 6 Whoopers.
Also today, Mike had carried out the WeBs Count from Port Charlotte down to Portnahaven, or the "Outer Loch Indaal count"... His birds included 31 Common Scoter, 39 GND, 8RTD, a Black Guillemot, and a 1st winter Iceland Gull along with some Herring Gulls and Common Gulls which all were fishing close to a  creel fishing boat. Coming back up past Craigfad, Mike saw a Kestrel.
Here at home, this morning, I watched a ringtail Hen Harrier fly past in from the front of the crag, it flew over the wee shed below the pond and it then followed the march dyke up the hill towards our house and then it veered to its' left and flew along over the rough verge along the march fence and then away out over the machir. I watched as it flew over a Pheasant, and kept on going on its way. Neither bird seemed out of sorts as they were only about 2 metres apart. Earlier on, Margaret saw 3 Whoopers fly over the house, flying South.

All in all a good days birding, everyone pleased... keep them coming in folks...

Sunday 9 December 2018

Sunday 9th December

Mike and Val along with Peter had made the most of the better weather today.. At Gruinart, a Merlin flew along the road in front of them, up at Bun an Uillt, 3 Greenshank and also some Wigeon were present. Further on and over the dunes up at Killinallan, a 1st winter White tailed Eagle was present. Back down at Gruinart, a Golden Eagle put all the geese up in the air as well as several hundred Golden Plover. This afternoon, Mike had spotted 31 Common Scoter and also 7 GND out on Loch Indaal out from Port Charlotte.
Also this afternoon, Distillery Dave and myself gave Bob a hand to carry his WeBS count from Port Charlotte up to Bruichladdich, the tally there came to 3 RTD, 12 GND, 1 RBM, 3 Cormorant, 2 Shag, 12 Herring Gull, 2 Common Gull, 3 Eider, 4 Snipe, 1 Curlew and 7 Greylag. We also saw 11 Whoopers flying South down Loch Indaal. The tally from Bruichladdich round to Blackrock was as follows, 3 RTD, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 24 RBM, 9 Cormorant, 1 Gbb Gull, 13 Herring Gull, 6 Curlew, 23 Oystercatcher, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Sanderling,  8 Turnstone, 3 Heron, 8 Mallard, 20 Eider and 3 Long tailed Duck.
This morning, we had 3 Whoopers fly over on their way to Ireland...

Saturday 8 December 2018

Saturday 8th December

The wind dropped considerably today as forecasted....
This morning, Margaret saw a male Hen Harrier fly over the bird seed crop, on beyond the wee pond and on its way out over the rushes, just nosing around with no drop ins for some fat wee birds!!! Shortly afterwards, while out in the garden, I counted 14 Whoopers as they flew overhead on their way to the sea and on towards Ireland. This afternoon, while coming over on the midday ferry from Kennacraig, coming up the Sound of Islay, just after Mc Arthur's Head, John Miles saw an immature White tailed Eagle as it flew across the water.

Friday 7 December 2018

Friday 7th December

Not much to report on the bird front, mainly because the weather outside has not been that good for one to go outside and watch/ look out for birds. At one time, I went out in the garden to take some images of the stormy sea, boy, it was some job trying to hold the camera steady, and the camera does have "image stabilisation", but still no joy !!!
Coming back over from Keills this afternoon, Distillery Dave saw some Shelduck and also a few Pale belied Brent Geese all sheltering up, down at "smelly corner". A difficult place to stop and bird watch from the road... We went down to Machir Bay, mid afternoon and saw 5 Turnstone and 25 Ringed Plover up beside the car park there.

Thursday 6 December 2018

Thursday 6th December

Some sightings through from Gary from Wild Islay Birding... Yesterday, along from his house, at the road end leading up to Finlaggan, he had seen a Sparrowhawk. When he was in at Finlaggan itself, there was another Sparrowhawk having a tussle with a Kestrel.
Today, Gary had seen a Glaucous Gull flying over the Singing Sands, up at the moorland at Island Farm, a ringtail was present and finally today, Gary saw another Sparrowhawk, this one was in the woods at Bridgend.
Coming back from Gruinart around 11 am, below Carnduncan, we saw a  Kestrel on top of a telegraph pole before it flew away. This afternoon, James had a count out on the "floods" on the reserve at Gruinart. His tally came to 5 Mute Swans, 6 Whoopers, 1 Green winged Teal, 1,292 Teal, 107 Mallard, 212 Wigeon, 72 Pintail, 27 Shoveler, 5 Heron, 2 Redshank, 7 Snipe, 130 Curlew, 233 Lapwing, 2 Dabchick, 1 Blackwit, 660 Golden Plover. James also saw a Mistle Thrush, a ringtail Hen Harrier, a male Merlin and also a Sparrowhawk.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Wednesday 5th December

Yesterday, Distillery Dave had seen 5 Turnstone down on Machir Bay. Up at Sanaigmore, "DD" had seen a single Turnstone and also a GND was present there as well.
Today as ever, the wee birds have been busy scoffing all the food on offer... I went out at one time with the trusty camera and took some images.. I downloaded them and counted an amazing total of 180 Birds on our feeders, all wee birds, no Starlings counted, no Jackdaws or Pheasants either, all wee birds.... Mid afternoon, the ringtail flew past , not paying any attention to those well fed, tasty morcels around the feeders...

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Tuesday 4th December

Last night, Distillery Dave had seen a Barn Owl at the side of the road leading up to Scarabus as he went to meet the evening ferry at Port Askaig. The Owl was still there on his return leg home . Dave also saw another Barn Owl at Uiskentuie.
Today, up at Finlaggan, Gary had seen an immature White tailed Eagle on the ground, and also present was a ringtail Hen Harrier out quartering its' patch over the moorland. Here at home, all the wee birds have been munching at the food on offer. An interesting fact is that the Goldfinches are not eating so many Niger seeds and are eating more of the other food on offer like the suet pellets and also the sunflower seed.

Monday 3 December 2018

Monday 3rd December

I received through an e mail from Steve Percival, this morning,  about the 5 Barnies which Mark and Sally Johnson had seen when they were over here the other week. They were all fitted with Steve's darvic leg rings. 4 of them had been fitted by Steve, in fact one had been fitted back in 2006 and had not been seen since February 2014. The other goose had been fitted with its darvic ring on Tiree by John Bowler, so it may be that it "overshot" Tiree, and just down here for a change of scenery...
James today had counted 14,040 Barnies on the reserve at Gruinart. He also saw 407 Greenland Whitefronts, 12 Greylags, a single Pale bellied Brent, 7 Blackwits, 6 Whoopers and the first reported sighting of a Green winged Teal at Gruinart this winter.
Up here at home, the wee birds have been eating  all the food provided, a great sight to see, especially as the 2 Brambling are still present amongst the Chaffinch flock. I wonder whether the birds know that there is some colder weather coming this way over the next few days... Coming back from our pond, needless to say, I did not  have my camera, as I walked past a Redwing less than 6 feet away from me. It was perched on top of the dyke. Also mid morning, 4 Whoopers flew overhead, high up and out to sea before heading down South. Early afternoon, and 8 Whoopers came in from the sea and onto to the wee lochans at Rockside, and then they came up on to the barley stubbles. There was only the one cygnet in their group.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Sunday 2nd December

Yesterday was David and Dianne Wright's last day of their present visit  to Islay, but before the headed home, they saw the Little Egret on the reserve at Gruinart. Thanks for your birds folks!!!
Over at Gruinart today, James had seen a Merlin as well as a Hen Harrier. Speaking to James later on this afternoon, we both have the same impression about the Kestrels, that there seem to be more of them around as I feel that I am getting more reports of sightings lately of Kestrels.

Saturday 1 December 2018

Saturday 1st December

Well, another month in again, with the tally for the rain coming to 6 inches in all. At one point earlier on in November when we, like many other places had a few days of heavy rain, I was "pleasantly" surprised, as it could have ben a lot more.... Now, we are officially into winter, say no more!!!
Today, Bob had spent some time birding from the South hide at Gruinart from where he saw 12 Whooper Swan, 50 Pintail, 10 Blackwit, 6 Redshank along with a good number of Teal present there as well. Going back along the track to his car Bob had 3 Roe Deer grazing away which were reluctant to move on.....  Gary and Sam were over this morning for a catch up, Gary saw a Kestrel out of the kitchen window, while down among the feeding Chaffinches, the 2 Brambling were present. Then briefly, Gary saw a Redpoll. Earlier on before Gary and Sam arrived, Margaret saw the male Hen Harrier swoop low over the game crop and then on its way over the rushes along the front of the crag.