Tuesday 31 December 2019

Tuesday 31st December, Hogmany

Some sightings from yesterday & today, through from Gary...
Yesterday, 1 juv Glaucous Gull & 2 White tailed Eagle were seen at Gartbreck. Today, 1 Golden Eagle, 5 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 1Cormorant, 30+ Teal & 1 White tailed Eagle seen at Finlaggan. 9 Crossbills were present in the plantation there as well.

Up here at home, we had a close fly by of a ringtail Hen Harrier, the pesky Sparrowhawk was seen, whether it was this one or another but someone nobbled a Goldfinch in the feeding station, but on a more positive note we counted a charm of 36 Goldfinches on the overhead power cables, mid afternoon with a distant Buzzard away out on its' usual post on the deer fence out on the hill...
I notice that someone had seen an "Egret" yesterday morning down on the merse at Bridgend, on the  comments at the foot of yesterday's entry. 

Before I forget, may I take this chance to thank all our contributors who have sent sightings through of birds and wildlife seen in and around on Islay and Jura over the past year, much appreciated and look forward to meeting up with some of you again in 2020, a Happy New Year to all our readers...

Monday 30 December 2019

Monday 30th December

Malcolm was in touch earlier on today...
"I know you are used to good numbers of Goldfinches on your feeders, but here I'm usually
pleased if I have three or four. However, having not seen any this autumn until I, belatedly, put out a niger seed feeder in early December, there were four Goldfinches feeding at it within 24 hours. Who told them? And it hasn't stopped there, numbers have continued to increase, and yesterday there were no less than 22 of them, easily a record for down here at Bruichladdich. Indeed, I don't think I've ever had more than 10 before. They really make such a colourful spectacle."
So I had better try to get a better count of our Goldfinches over the next few days, up here at Shepherd's cottage for the sake of comparison...

James  saw a Merlin on the reserve at Gruinart today. This afternoon we had a fleeting glimpse of a Hen Harrier down at Loch Gorm and then later on, we had a Sparrowhawk fly past us, about 10 feet above us, as we were driving up towards Gruinart just after Erasaid.

Sunday 29 December 2019

Sunday 29th Decemb

Peter and Pia have had birding friends over to stay with them during Christmas and tried getting out between the ups and downs of the weather.
24th December:
  • A lovely group of 9 male L T Ducks off Black Rock plus a dozen or more RTD & GND plus 8-10 Slav Grebes.
  • At Killinallan a distant Golden Eagle plus 2 Greenshank, a Little Egret and an Otter in the middle of Loch Gruinart
25th December:
  • a glorious sunny morning with a walk around the Oa at the American monument. Another distant Golden Eagle and a big Twite flock (140+) in gorgeous sunlight at Upper Killeyan and a Sparrowhawk at Cornabus.
26th December:
  • My guests continued to be impressed by the large goose flocks though we didn’t find any of the rarities. A juv.  White-tailed Eagle over the S. Hide at Gruinart was much appreciated for a birder from Kent! The Little Egret seen again at the hide was more exciting to me.
28th December:
  • An impressive flock of 125+ Common Scoter close off Bowmore
29th December:
  • Two very close adult W T Eagles cruising almost at head-height a few yards from the car along the beach near Uskentuie was a fantastic send-off for them as I drove them to the ferry.
While not racing about trying to see a huge list of birds, they were impressed by about 75 species in total over a relaxed Christmas break.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Saturday 28th December

David Jardine along with Graham Ruthven today had seen a drake Green winged Teal and also a Little Egret out from the hide at Gruinart. Later on, they had counted 35 Woodpigeon in at Skerrols, and then shortly afterwards they had 23 Skylarks present along at Eollabus.

Thursday 26 December 2019

Thursday 26th December, Boxing Day

As ever, see the effect that the rain has on bird watchers, if it is too wet, we tend to stay inside and try to keep dry... but around lunchtime, once it had fared up , Clive did venture out...Round at Saligo, he had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier, and after quite along search through the large flock of Barnacle Geese over at Grainel, he was well rewarding with seeing a Cackling Goose.. Well done Clive!!!

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Yesterday, Clive had been out and about on the Rhinns and had the following birds to share with us... He had seen a female Merlin at Coull, round beside Lossit he had a ringtail Hen Harrier, and then in Gleann Mhor, he had a male Merlin.  On his way up to Sanaigmore, Clive saw another ringtail Hen Harrier at Grulinbeg,  and then finally up at Sanaigmore, another female Merlin and also a male Hen Harrier were present.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Tuesday 24th December, Christmas eve

By the sound of the reports that I received in yesterday, the weather had not been too kind for folk to go out bird watching in.... Having said that Clive Mason used his car as a hide cum mobile hide, like what we do sometimes ourselves.

On the fields behind the RSPB visitor centre, up towards  Grainel, Clive saw a Canada x Barnacle hybrid Goose along with some Barnies. Later on, over at Carrabus he had  a great, close sighting of a male Merlin sitting on a fence post along side the road...

Before I forget, have a great time tomorrow wherever you may be tomorrow, have a Merry Xmas. Not much sign of much snow around, you can always hope that the weather forecast got it wrong!!!

Monday 23 December 2019

Monday 23rdDecember

No reports of any sightings of birds seen on Islay today, but I can offer you some news on the bird front.. Gary has come out of his retirement and from the 1st of January, he will be operating Wild Islay Birding. He is something special with a great rapport with his many customers, so I for one will welcome Gary back into the line of fire again.. So go to his webpage and get some more info, straight from the big yin (not Billy Connolly!!) but Gary himself...

Sunday 22 December 2019

Sunday 22nd December

1st winter Glaucous Gull flying south towards Coul Point from Saligo Bay at 11.15 hours today, this was sent through to me by visiting birder Clive Mason. Thanks Clive for your sighting, keep them coming...

Saturday 21 December 2019

Saturday 21st December

Gary had seen a Merlin sitting on a fence post along the Moss Road out  of Bowmore. He also had 2 White tailed  Eagles flying up Loch Indaal yesterday.

Some birds from today, White tailed Eagle on a brown hare in fields at Mulreesh. A Peregrine Falcon also there, both seen by Gary.

 Also today, Distillery Dave had seen a Golden Eagle flying North up Machir Bay. He saw a Merlin round at Ballinaby and down beside the coal Yard at Gortan, he had over 15 Pale bellied Brents on Loch Indaal

Friday 20 December 2019

Friday 20th December

Lesley was out a couple of days back and there must have been approx 250 Lapwing from the North  hide at Gruinart and also watched a flock of 750-800 Golden Plover making fantastic patterns over the head of the loch. They didn't come very close but were entrancing.

Earlier on in the week, Morven and team from SNH carried out the December International Goose count  on the 17th and the 18th. Their tallies came to 32,017 Barnies, 6,325 Whitefronts and also 1,056 Greylags. The count for Dec 2018 came in at 31,623 for the Barnies (+394), 5,843 geese counted for Whitefronts ( +491) with the figure for Greylags was  1,177 (-121). Many thanks as ever to Morven and her team of counters for these figures about the geese, much appreciated...

Mark, today, had seen the following birds at Gruinart, 3 immature  White tailed Eagles creating absolute havoc around the flats and floods, a single Golden Eagle, 2 Woodcock, Barn Owl, Hen Harrier, Little Egret and a Goldcrest as well.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Thursday 19th December

Yesterday morning, Malcolm had seen the pair of Ruddy Shelduck at Cornabus, feeding close to, but not within, the large flock of Barnacle Geese present there.

Gary, today had seen an adult White tailed Eagle chasing the Whitefronted Geese over at Keills. Down on Loch Finlaggan, he had a Mute Swan, 8 Tufted Duck and also saw 3 Dabchicks.

Bob, today had been out in very windy conditions which made it rather difficult to count, let alone see the birds on Loch Indaal while counting his WeBs from Port Charlotte back round to Blackrock. His tally was as follows, 4 GND, 27 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 3 Mallard, 56 Curlew, 38 Oystercatcher, 7 Cormorant, 1 Shag and 22  Herring Gulls, with no small waders seen, must have been sheltering up, out of the wind somewhere!!!

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Wednesday 18th December

Yesterday James saw a Barn Owl when out and about...Today, he was out again and had seen the following birds...
2 White tailed Eagle,  present over Borichill Mor
male Merlin and male Hen Harrier Borichill Mor
White tailed Eagle, 2  at Gruinart
Golden Eagle at Gruinart
Black throated diver seen at Blackrock
Canada goose Hutchinsii and 3 Pale bellied Brent geese at Craigens
Little egret and 2 bullfinches on the reserve at Gruinart
27 Pale bellied Brent geese were seen at Blackrock.

Today, Gary had seen a Little Egret at Carnain/ Smelly corner, 18 Pale bellied Brent geese down beside Loch Gorm House at Bruichladdich. He also had 3 White tailed Eagles at Coultorsay as well.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Tuesday 17th December

The below is the jist of an e mail which I received through from Peter Roberts the other day, so if anyone can throw any light on his questions, if you can e mail me your comments back to me and I will forward them on to Peter. 

"On the rare occasions when it hasn’t been either windy or raining – or both – I’ve had a look offshore into Loch Indaal for birds. I’m not finding much! Where have they all gone? Usually at this time of year I can see double figures of RTD & GND along with RB Mergs, Scoters, Eiders – occasional LT Ducks, Slav Grebes. I’ve looked from here in Bruichladdich down to Port Charlotte and up towards Black Rock, but there is very little there. Yesterday Mark Shields and I saw about 6-8 RTD and a couple of Eider – TOTAL!
I wonder if anyone else is reporting more of these species somewhere else in Loch Indaal – or is something nasty happening??? "

Monday 16 December 2019

Monday 16th December

Well, after a few days of lack of birds on the blog, here are some sightings through from various folk...

Back on Friday, James had counted the following birds seen down on the floods at Gruinart, 940 Golden Plover, 1,330 Lapwing, 4 Mute Swan, 9 Whooper Swan, 2 Dabchick, 192 Mallard, 72 Wigeon, 39 Pintail, 5 Curlew,  35 Shoveler, 961 Teal, 3 Heron, 445 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 2 Blackwit, 42 Common Gull and the Green winged Teal was still present as well.

Mark had seen 3 Barn Owls and also a Woodcock on the flats at Gruinart over the weekend.

Today, Ed Burrell had seen 2 Ruddy Shelduck amongst the flock of Barnacle geese at Cornabus.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Sunday 15th December

Well another day in, a  day closer to Christmas and what else has happened today, well, by chance we had a good meeting with Jesse Wilkinson and also Rowan Aitchison as well as Phill Catton from the RSPB Oa reserve. it was not a planned catch up but what tales came from the lads. Safe onward journeys to all 3 of you tomorrow. Jesse and Rowan have been over on Islay filming some tremendous footage of the birds here on Islay, a bit of a pity is that it will be not for around another 3 years before the program will be shown on our tv screens.

This evening , I have just seen Doddie Weir receive the BBC Helen Rawlinson tv award, a tremendous honour to a great person, well done to Doddie and his family...

Saturday 14 December 2019

Saturday 14th December

The weather, oh no not that topic again, it has certainly gone awol today as we have had no ferries sailing today at all, crtainly no papers were sold intheshops today as they did not come over on the ferry, but we did get some post as it is flown in, and obviously, the plane did come this morning. The wind was  up to over 60 mph at one time, and the windows have been well washed today and are still in place...

So mainly, because of the weather, there are not many birds to report this evening... although I looked out at one point and saw a Chaffinch crabbing across the gravel, fighting its' way there in the strong wind, it then turned head on into the wind and looked a bit more relaxed. The other piece of  "news" was that the other morning, Angus, our cat, was looking at the stove... on closer examination inside the stove, there was a House Sparrow, a dirty looking wee crittar, but once caught and released it disappeared, possibly away for a wash and clean up to get rid of some of the soot from our lum...no George, it did not have any leg rings on, sorry friend!!!

Friday 13 December 2019

Friday 13th December

Well, I heard and know that our missing ferry came out of dry dock yesterday and returned to service today.. the plot thickens as that the said ferry has now sailed of up to help out up on Mull. She was tied up at Craignure a wee while ago... To make matters worse, on the service status on the Calmac website, they have just announced that the first ferry at 7 am tomorrow from Kennacraig has been cancelled, as has the return leg from Islay back to Kennacraig at 09.45. It must be that time of the year again!!

On a more positive note, if you go to the website for Kilchoman Distillery, there is quite an interesting piece on their blog about the birds, around and about at Rockside, with some points being answered by DJ...

Thursday 12 December 2019

Thursday 12th December

Another really miserable day with the weather yet again, possibly not so windy but ceratinly we have had our share of the rain on offer, the rain gauge is over 3 inches so far this month already...

Lauren, a new volunteer at Gruinart saw a Golden Eagle take and kill a corvid out from the viewing platform at Gruinart yesterday....

Donald James MacPhee had seen a Kestrel down a Machir Bay earlier on this week. 

Up at home, that pesky Sparrowhawk flew past the feeding station, but forgot to catch anything... A Buzzard was sitting on top of his usual post along the deer fence along the boundary with Rockside.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Wednesday 11th December

In between the icy showers, James managed a goose count, on the reserve at Gruinart
Barnacle geese  8,305
Whitefronts       251
Other birds seen included the following,
White tailed eagles         4 Juv/sub ad all at the same time (3 all together on salt marsh looked like juvs and 1 on Flats looked to be 2-3 calendar year)
Little egret                        1 (there is another at Bridgend)
Whooper Swans            8
Lapwing              511
Dunlin                380
Woodcock          1
Bullfinch             1

This morning, up here at home, Margaret saw a male Hen Harrier, flying low over the garden about 2 metres above the ground and only at about 25 metres away from the house. Later on, she saw a Golden Eagle soaring out over the crag. I had a Merlin fly along the road in front of me this afternoon, as I was driving down from home towards the Coastguard's cottages.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Tuesday 10th December

Well, you should never speak too soon, as the weather today has gone downhill, big style. The wind has huffed and pufffed all day, with quite a lot of rain thrown into the mix. Having said that, it would be hard to know how much of the rain made it into the rain gauge, as I am pretty sure that most of it would have been blown past the actual mouth of the funnel, pehaps it landed in Marsali's gauge over at Mulindry. Our ferry came over first thing this morning and then stayed put until mid afternoon at Port Askaig but has gone back to Kennacraig and as I write this entry has left again for a second sailing back to Kennacraig, rather them than me, I do not think that the chef will be serving many meals tonight for sure....

Monday 9 December 2019

Monday 9th December

What a diffence a day makes, the wind through the day has dropped considerably with little rain in the air either, better not get too exited as the forecast does not too good for tomorrow... We still only have a single ferry working with the old boat still in dry dock, around 3 weeks after she was due back, nobody seems to know exactly what is wrong  with her, apart from old age!!!

Mark, at Gruinart, had seen 4 Bullfinches, 4 Goldcrests, saw the Little Egret, counted 43 Twite and spotted 2 White tailed Eagles on the reserve at Gruinart. 

Just after lunch time today, I saw 2 Golden  Eagles soaring above the crag, here at home, and they were being harassed by a single Raven. Shortly afterwards, a Hooded crow flew away up the gully.

James today had  the Green winged Teal and also the Little Egret both seen out from the North hide at Gruinart. The "film crew", at the same time, had seen a total of 8 White tailed Eagles at Gruinart. They had 4 adults and also 4 juvenile birds.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Sunday 8th December

The blog is beginning to sound like me giving off about the weather, but there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it, just another terrible day with wind and rain coming down , thrown into the mix...The evening ferry did not sail from Kennacraig , the first cancellation  for some time because of the weather!!!

I heard from James this afternoon, that the Little Egret has been seen at Gruinart for the most of this past week, not just yesterday...

Saturday 7 December 2019

Saturday 7th December

Well, the weather forecast has been spot on yet again as it has been another wet and windy day out here again and by the looks of the forecast over the next few days, there is not much sign of a let up, so we will just have to hope that they are not correct for once!!!

Out on the feeders this morning, I counted 23 Goldfinches... James had a Litle Egret at onhe RSPB reserve at Gruinart today.

Friday 6 December 2019

Friday 6th December

Think that I can safely repeat my opening sentence from yesterday's entry, as it has been wet and windy  again, and Margaret saw that pesky Sparrowhawk out in the garden. The weather with the wind/ dirty showers has not lead to much birdwatching taking place. I counted a total of 13 Pheasants at one time earlier on and then this afternoon, there was a charm of over 15 Goldfinches around.

This evening, I have just been watching a program on the TV about Doddie Weir and his battle against MND.  A great program about a great man, and he was in the company of John Beattie, another great rugby player in his day as well...

Thursday 5 December 2019

Thursday 5th December

Another wet and blustery day out here again, but it did not deter Margaret from seeing a cheeky Sparrowhawk sitting on top of our bird feeding station for a few moments this morning. Coming home from Gruinart late morning, we saw a male Hen Harrier out quartering its' patch between Torran and Coulererach.

Marsali sent me through the figures for the rain that she has had in her gauge at Mulindry for the whole of November. Needless to say a bit wetter than here, but it came to 4.4 inches... say no more on that subject..

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Wednesday 4th December

Well I trust that all our readers have got themselves all wrapped up, as today out here on the "Western front", the wind has huffed and puffed all day with the odd dirty shower thrown in for good measure. I should know about the dirty showers as I had to dash into the garage, rather than try to make the extra few yards back to the house, net result was that I did not get too wet!!

In between times, Margaret did see a Sparrowhawk siting out in one of the bushes....it was only there for a few brief moments before flying on!!!

Tuesday 3 December 2019

Tuesday 3rd December

Yesterday afternoon, Lesley Silcock had seen 2 White tailed Eagles down past past the tip over at Gartbreck. Visitors, also yesterday, had seen a Snow Bunting down on the Oa, they also saw a Golden Eagle there as well.
Distillery Dave had 2 Golden Eagles out over Rockside yesreday as well... 

Last week was the first of this autumn/Winter count of the International Goose counts with the tally coming to 35,253 Barnies, 5,512 Whitefronts and 1,210 Greylags. The Barnies are up , while both the Whitefronts and Greylags are down on the comparable count last year....  Many thanks to Morven and the team from SNH for providing us with these figures.

Margaret saw a ringtail Hen Harrier fly past the garden this morning.

Monday 2 December 2019

Monday 2nd December

Last week, when we were out on the mainland, we went to 2 very interesting talks, one was given by Doug Allan who is a well known wild life cameraman, mainly on underwater work that Doug has done over the years..especially on his work on the recent Planet Earth programs which are currently on the TV screens at present. The other talk was equally interesting, as it was given by Ann Cleeves who we had originally met while on holiday at Asa Wright centre in Trinidad a few years ago and then more recently, we were again in Tim and Ann's compay when we were in Tanzania in a small group including Mike and Val Peacock, with the tour being arranged and led very ably by Peter Roberts... say no more...

Sunday 1 December 2019

Sunday 1st December

There was a message on the phone when I got home today from a visitor who is over on Islay for a few days... he was saying that he had seen 3 different White tailed Eagles when he was out for a drive yesteday round the Rhinns .. He also found a dead Tawny Owl, which was freshly dead as it was still warm, close by there was a dead Woodcock. Brian was also telling me that the Tawny Owl only had one eye, and that the Wodcock had no head...

Obviously, now that  we are in another month, the rainfall figures here at home only came through at 3.25inches... a lot drier than other places for sure... So could we be in for dry spell in December, we will just have to wait and see???