Thursday 31 December 2020

Thursday 31st December, Hogmanay

 Peter sent me through the following, just after I had written the entry on the blog last night..

"Such nice calm sunny weather prompted me to take a look at Loch Indaal today for waterbirds. I took looks from Nerabus south of Port Charlotte all the way up to Black Rock. There wasn't a great deal happening! Diver and duck numbers seemed very low: circa 15 GND, 8 RTD, around 20 Eider and 10   RBM.  A couple of Black-throated Divers were a bit more interesting. Best sightings were when I met up with Gary who pointed out a family of 3 Otters he was watching on the rocks just north of Bruichladdich. This afternoon, off Port Charlotte an adult Gannet flying up into Loch Indaal was a bit odd for this time of year?"

Karen Graham from Bearsden had a comment regarding Goldfinch numbers...

"Yesterday put out a niger feeder and now watching 5 on it. Their colours are stunning and noticing that the birds are beginning to sing."

Wishing you all out there, a much better year in 2021, I am sure that the vast majority of you will agree with my thoughts on that one, and be glad to see the back of 2020!!! I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all the folk who have contributed sightings for me to share with you the reader.....

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Wednesday 30th December

Perhaps last night or even earlier on in the week, I should have mentioned that there would be no Bird Nerds meeting last nigt.. so sorry about that but it might have been good if we could have met up but due to the horrible covid problems, it would have been foolish to have even been thinking about it... We can only hope that we will meet up sometime in 2021... but it will only be when we are 100% rid of the covid problem.....

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Tuesday 29th December

George E Jackson was on the telephone today and was saying to me that, the other day when we had the strong winds, gusting up to 72 mph, that Pat (his wife) had seen 7 Purple Sandpipers braving the elements on the rocks down below Coull Farm, rather you than me Pat!!!! He was also telling me that he has been seeing 3 Snipe on a regular basis down at the the spit that leads out into Loch Indaal along from Uiskentuie.

Gary today had seen a total of 17 Bullfinches between Persabus and Bunnahabhain. At Bunnahabhain itself , he counted  14 Golden Plover flew over heading southwards. Finally he had 1 WTE & 3 Golden Eagles over Sgargh Breac.

This evening, just before writing this piece for the blog, I have been watching a program on BBC1 on the TV about Penguins, a great program all round nothing too much, with the photography being first class...

Monday 28 December 2020

Monday 28th December

 Another dreich sort of a day, no snow over here yet on the West coast of Islay, so not much news through of any birds being seen here today. Having said that, it is not quite true as I counted 6 hen Pheasants and also 5 males out in the garden yesterday!!! One of the females is really a friendly sort as she runs over when I go outside, on most occasions, but as of yet it is me that is a wee bitty scared of letting her feed out of my hand, mainly because of me possibly giving a squeal out if she was to peck my hand when she was getting the food from my hand!! What a wimp!!!!

Sunday 27 December 2020

Sunday 27th December

Lesley sent me though the following earlier on this afternoon... 

"I was out this morning in cold wind, hail, snow & rain (sounds a bit like the 3 witches in the Scottish play) anyway not a lot, but had lovely views of male HH hunting over moorland with dark sky and snow on the hilltops behind."

Oddly enough, I think that I might have been outside at roughly the same time as Lesley, when I was out throwing  some scrog apples for the Pheasants and the Blackbirds to enjoy.... mind you the only piece of Lesley's weather that I had, was quite a few large hailstones clattered down when I was out in it.

This afternoon, we had a Golden Eagle being harassed by 2 cronking Ravens as it attempted to fly along the crag!!!

Saturday 26 December 2020

Saturday 26th December, Boxing Day

I really should get a wee job, mainly  because there did not appear to be many birds seen today to tell you about, because of the foul weather which we have had all day. The wind certainly was strong with the top speed at the back of lunchtime coming to 72mph recorded down at the weather station down at Matt Jackson's house, not sure about how much rain fell, but will check that one out and moan about that tomorrow on the blog..

The ferry "sensibly" has not come or gone today, but it should be putting a couple of extra sailings in tomorrow morning....

Friday 25 December 2020

Friday 25th December, Christmas Day

Not much to report through to you tonight, but if anyone knows where Santa is, then here is an image sent through from a sharp eyed birding friend to me earlier on this evening.. Oops, see this technology, a I could not upload the said image of Santa to share with you, possibly I might master it yet, give it another try tomorrow possibly...

The wind has started to growl outside, so probably we will not get any ferries sailing tomorrow, but we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Thursday 24 December 2020

Thursday 24th December

Got a few sightings for the blog from today, so here goes then..

David Dinsley, who is the warden  down on the Oa with RSPB sent through the following birds..

  • Confiding Glaucous Gull present amongst others Gulls, scavenging during Highland Cattle feed at Kinnabus this morning. No bins or camera to get any decent shots.  Golden Eagle also present near Kinnabus Farm just after 10:30.
  • Iceland Gull present at scallop dump near Kilnaughton after midday.

Today, Lesley had been up at Gruinart for a walk and she saw 2 Bullfinches and 2 Woodcock as well as the  2 Little Egrets there as well.

This afternoon, James had seen 2 Golden Eagles flying over Coull Point and shortly afterwards, he had a male Hen Harrier flying down below Coulerarach. He also told me that on the flats at Grunart that there  is a flock over 1,000 Golden Plover and also over 300 Lapwings seen there at present.

Today, Gary had seen 2 juvenile WTE over Bunnahabhain, 1 Tufted Duck at Ardnahoe Loch, he also had a Ring tailed Hen Harrier at Gartmain.

Before I forget, I wish all our  readers/ followers a HAPPY CHRISTMAS😃

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Wednesday 23rd December

On his "home patch", today, James had seen the following birds on the reserve at Gruinart, a White tailed Eagle, a Golden Eagle, 2 Hen Harriers a Merlin and also 2 Little Egrets.

This morning, I saw  another Whooper swan fly past, a Buzzard was perched up on the old church and then shortly after that I saw a Barn Owl out on the wing.

The weather again has not been that bad, a bit on the cool side but dry again!!!

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Tuesday 22nd December

Looking back on the blog for the figures for the December figures from previous  International  Goose counts and I found the entry and stats from last year were as follows

 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... with the tally for Dec 2020 coming through as stated yesterday as 32,107 Barnies, 6,350 Whitrefronts and 703 Greylags.

This morning when out in the garage, I thought that I heard some Whoopers outsde, so a quick look outside and had a small group of 9 flying directly overhead. It was great to see them so close as they were only around 30 feet above me as they flew out over the Machir and out to the sea, no doubt flying on down to Ireland.

Lesley today had been in touch to say that she had "Flocks of thrushes, ie Redwing, thrushes and Blackbirds passing this morning. No Fieldfare seen so far. On telegraph wires and feeding on the fields around the cottage. Lovely. "

David Wood had seen some Iceland Gulls in the harbour at Bowmore today as well as some at Cornabus.  

James last night had  "seen the planets, a pretty good view."

The weather has been a lot better here today, hence the reason for some more birds for you to read about!!!!

Monday 21 December 2020

Monday 21st December

Peter e mailed me through.. David Dinsley saw a drake Velvet Scoter at Bruichladdich yesterday. 

Morven Laurie sent the figures through the figures from the International Goose count which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday last week... 32,107 Barnacles, 6,350 white-fronts and 703 greylags. Thanks to Morven and her team from Nature.Scot for these figures.

James sent some birds through seen at Gruinart today as follows.... 2 Hen Harrier & 1 Merlin. Then this evening while looking for the two planets- Jupiter and Saturn, 2 Woodcock   & 1 Jack Snipe were seen. 

Sunday 20 December 2020

Sunday 20th December

James, today, had 2 White tailed Eagles flying over the reserve at Gruinart both seen from the comfort of his house on the reserve!!!

This afternoon, I was having a natter with Martin Armstrong and he was teling me that he has not seen as many Siskins on his feeders lately, no Greenfinches at all, and the Goldfinches are absent as well.... not for the want of offering them food...

Saturday 19 December 2020

Saturday 19th December

Nothing much to report from here on Islay tonight (again...)😒 Still we appear to be a lot better off than a lot of places regarding the restrictions which are going to come in to effect over the next few days.. But if only some folk had had the sense earlier on, we might not be in the horrible situation which we are all in now.  That is it, the rant for tonight is over 😊

Friday 18 December 2020

Friday 18th December

Another windy day out here with the ferry leaving Kennacraig at 7 am being cancelled and because of that, we had no ferry departing Port Ellen at 09.45. To cap it all our second ferry is on "extended leave" sitting in dry dock although we are led to believe that it should back in service again on Wednesday... Yet again, I will say no more on that matter.

The only other thing I have to report tonight is that I received a reply from Morven Laurie, basically telling me that fingers crossed and we should receive through, at the start of next week, the tally figures from the Inernational Goose count carried out on Tuesday and  on Wednesday this week...

Thursday 17 December 2020

Thursday 17th December

Forgot to mention onthe blog last night that I saw a Raven landing upon the crag during the afternoon, with the odd thing about this was that the Raven landed only about 6 feet away from a Hooded Crow...

Today, out on the feeders, we had another good sighting of a few more Goldfinches  on the various feeders present, not a lot, but but just great to see them, all the same. One bird that is low on numbers, up here at home, appears to be the Chough, although I was told that there are at least a couple of new places on Islay where they have been seen, so possibly all is not lost.

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Wednesday 16th December

Mandy was on the phone today and was telling Margaret that she has been seeing a Coal Tit regularly on her feeders over at Carnduncan. She was also saying that she has another regular bird around, waiting patiently most day for Mandy to come out with her food to feed to the said Blackbird.

Another piece of news, but sorry not about Islay, but this one was about a Sparrowhawk seen up in Ellon which is north of Aberdeen. The story of the said Sparrowhawk was that it was in on somebody's Xmas tree and they had to phone to get the bird rescued. The bird flew into the house, when the folk had opened their French doors to let their dogs out, but by all accounts it was rescued and released no bother !!!

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Tuesday 15th December

 Some birds through from David Barr seen out in his garden in Lochearnhead...

"On Sunday we had 15 Long tailed Tits arrive together !!

Regular visits from 2 Mistle Thrush who seem to think they own the Rowan tree , very vocal and sometimes aggressive to any bird that comes along to feed !

Also a couple of male Bullfinches, absolutely stunning. Female shown up as well."

Today, James had been out helping to count the geese for the International goose count and sent me through the following

"Extra birds from 1st day of goose count:

Merlin - Gruinart

WT Eagle juv – Gruinart

Hen Harrier male - Gruinart

Peregrine Falcon - Gruinart

THe folowing were seen up on Ardnave Loch


Whooper swans 9

Goldeneye 6

Little Grebe 1

The weather turned out a bit better for here at least for today, it was not that bad, but already the first ferry leaving Kennacraig tomorrow has been cancelled. Today,  I even managed to take wee tractor out and top/ cut some of the places that that have not been cut for some time... enough said !!!!

Monday 14 December 2020

Monday 14th Dcember

Well the wind has huffed and puffed for most of the day, not really the best of weather to allow folks to go out and try to do their WeBS counts ... equally at doubt could be the International Goose count which should be carried out over the next 2 days ...

As you may have seen, or rather noticed that I follow the latest sightings on Fair Isle.. and recently have been watching the Great Tit which has been present since the 4th of October, so I am now wondering how long through the winter it will still be there ????

Sunday 13 December 2020

Sunday 13th December

Well, what's new, not a lot as it has been kind of wet and windy on Islay today as forecasted... Thankfully Karen Graham sent me through the following birds seen by her in garden in Bearsden...

"Today, I spotted a Nuthatch coming in to the seed feeder and fat cake regularly. Also 4 Long tailed Tits amongst group of Tits and Chaffies, a colourful male Bullfinch and 10 now regular group of Sparrows on feeders. We have not had as many House Sparrows for years in the garden."

Saturday 12 December 2020

Saturday 12th December

Sorry folks but not much to write about tonight but earlier on this week, David Dinsley had seen/ flushed 7 Jack Snipe, down at Kinnabus which is part of the  RSPB Oa reserve.

Friday 11 December 2020

Friday 11th December

 Well, the weather has been a bit better out here on Islay today... "the lull before the storm," as there is more rain forecast to come again over the next few days..

Today, James had seen 2 Little Egrets, a Peregrine Falcon and also 2 Hen Harriers over at Gruinart.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Thursday 10th December

I must sound like an old tape going round, saying the same things as last night.. The weather has not been that great out here again especially late afternoon when it started to rain coupled with the wind, not nice....

The only birds that we have been seeing today are the 6 hen Pheasants and also 3 male birds who are never that far away especially when food is on offer. On the bird feeders, the Goldfinches are around as well as the Chaffinches, some Blue Tits and a few Great Tits. The House Sparrows, Dunnocks and also around about 10 Blackbirds are often seen out on the grass, with the odd Wren skulking around in the bushes too.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Wednesday 9th December

Yet again a dreich kind of a day out here again, and to cap it all Calmac have announced this afternoon that we are down to a single ferry timetable until next Friday,as our other boat has broken down again, say no more on that topic please...

Last night I forgot to mention that we had seen a Peregrine scream across the garden and on its way out towards the machir.. This morning we had a small flock of 14 Rock Doves down on the ground, close to where we have had some "wild flower plots" in other years... 

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Tuesday 8th December

Gary was on the phone at around lunch time today and he was saying that he had just had seen 3  Canada Geese amongst the Barnacle geese over at Eorrabus.

Meanwhile James had seen 2 Little Egrets over at Gruinart, out on the loch.  

Monday 7 December 2020

Monday 7th December

 Peter sent me through the following e mail earlier on...

"A lovely day yesterday dragged me out and about....

I did a count of Loch Indaal from Bruichladdich to Blackrock in the morning here are some of the birds:

RTD - 38

GND - 13

R B Mergs - 28

Slav Grebe - 20

Eider - 51

Long-tailed Duck - 16

Common Scoter - 70

There were also 8 Purple Sandpipers at Bruichladdich

In the afternoon Peter had a quick look at Loch Skerrols:

Tufted Duck - 45

Wigeon - 45

Teal - 25

All the Whooper Swans seem to have departed now with just Mute Swans remaining"

Gary today had seen the following birds....

"Some sightings from today, 17 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Bruichladdich, 10 Purple Sandpipers on the rocks in front of the mini market.

At Carnain 52 P b Brent Geese, 21 Long tailed Duck, 4 Scaup, 32 R b Mergs, 11 GND, 7 Red throated Diver. Numerous Meadow & Rock Pipits at Smelly Corner feeding on bugs and also 6 Pied Wagtails.

At home 7 Bullfinch in the trees and willows behind the house coming to the big bird table.

But the best was seen later on.... A Kingfisher flying along shore from Carrabus burn mouth and towards the merse. Couldn’t find it on the merse."

Sunday 6 December 2020

Sunday 6th December

Gary, e mailed the following birds... "

Some sightings from today at Finlaggan,

1 Merlin, 2 Peregrines, 2 Buzzards, 1 male Hen Harrier, 1 juvenile Golden Eagle and an adult White tailed Eagle.

At home a male Redpoll investigating the big bird table

Over at our home, it has been a bit cooler, but the birds have been glad of the food on offer. 
Earlier on this evening we were outside watching the International Space staiton, fly past. and all going well should see it again shortly as it only takes 90 minutes to orbit the world...

Saturday 5 December 2020

Saturday 5th December

Speaking to James this afternoon, and he was telling me that he has not seeen a Lapland Buntig over at Gruinart so far this year, but told me that he reckons that there is a flock of over 200 Linnets seen up on one of the cover crops up towards Ardnave, but not much sign of any Twite at Gruinart, the opposite to what is present down on the Oa... James was also telling me that there is quite often a sighting of a White tailed Eagle being seen regularly each day at Gruinart.

Another topic of conversation was birds on his feeders, so he was saying that Chaffinches, Greenfinches along with some Goldfinch are persent most days along with Blue, Great and Coal Tit as seen as well as 2 House sparrows... The number of Goldfinches seen are not as high as in previous years, but commented on more Coal Tits being in at the feeders!!!

Friday 4 December 2020

Friday 4th December

Peter kindly sent me through the following e mail last night ...

"I had a quick venture out on Thursday afternoon:

 63 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal - mostly at Smelly Corner.

 Loch Skerrols held just 5 Whooper Swans, 25 Mute Swans, 35 Tufted Duck and 65 Wigeon."


Dave Dinsley, who is warden down on the Oa reserve on Islay, had seen a Lapland Bunting with the Twite at Kinnabus also yesterday. Dave Woods managed to relocate the bird later on yesterday, but as far as I know, mainly because of the weather, it has not been seen again today. The weather was the main reason why the ferry has not sailed today at all... and around 9am today Matt Jackson's weather station recorded a wind speed of 55 mph...

Thursday 3 December 2020

Thursday 3rd December

Nothing to report (again !!) on the bird front, partly due to the simple fact that it is 11pm and I have just travelled back home to Islay, the roads coming home were not that good and then we heard that the ferry was being diverted to Port Ellen!!! Then once we got home, we had to try to empty out the van out, so eventually I have now stopped and will finish of that job tomorrow.... and get some birds looked out for you all to be envious of... I hope...

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Wednesday 2nd December

 Marsali Thomson kindly sent me through the rainfall tally for November from her weather station over Mulindry, " 199mms or 7.96”....That seems an awful lot more than at Rockside!"

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Tuesday 1st December

Well another month in, and I have figures for the rainfall in Matt Jackson's weather station, which came to 4.15 inches in all for the whole of November down at his house at Rockside roadend.

Meanwhile Karen Graham sent me through some images which she had taken of a pesky fox up a tree in her garden this morning, it was in at the nuts on offer before dropping back down to the ground...

Monday 30 November 2020

Monday 30th November

 George E. Jackson sent me through this information on an e mail earlier on today...

"On Sunday morning, I saw a Treecreeper in Bridgend woods (Pat claims we [? she] saw one once before but I certainly don't remember it, so it's a new Islay tick for me)."

Ealier on this evening, when watching LANDWARD on the BBC channel, there was a feature about the grey seals down at St Abbs Head and who else was being interviewed but Ciaran Hatsell who previously worked on Fair Isle for a few years as an assistant to the warden at the Bird Obs there. Ciaran was over on Islay a few years ago on holiday, and we met up with him one day for some food down in the Port Charlotte Hotel along with Peter Roberts who once worked there, a good few years ago....

Sunday 29 November 2020

Sunday 29th November

Karen Graham from Bearsden was in touch to say that when her husband Ken was raking the leaves off their lawn this afternoon, that he was being watched by 2 foxes... No such joy of that happening on Islay as we do not have any foxes on Islay at all!!!

Saturday 28 November 2020

Saturday 28th November

This afternoon when speaking to our son Andrew, he happened to mention that he has not seen as many Goldfinches in at his feeders down in Clovenfords but plenty of Blue, Coal and also Great Tits along with the odd group of Long Tailed Tits seen regularly. He was wondering if by simply changing some of the food on offer, to which I replied "give it a go and see what happens.." So, next week or sometime after that, I will speak to Andrew again to see how things are on the bird feeder front, and I will keep you updated as well.

Friday 27 November 2020

Friday 27th November

 Apologies to Morven Laurie who I mentioned the other day that she and her team for which was previously  called SNH

Well,  the new name of SNH is NatureScot 

Thursday 26 November 2020

Thursday 26th November

Late last night, George E. Jackson sent me through the following sightings seen by him yesterday.. 

"The weather has been better today - saw some blue sky (though there was a rainbow in it!).

Walked at Loch Skerrols this morning - nothing unusual, but were about 25 Mute Swans, 12 Whoopers (definitely not mute, very noisy), 30 Wigeon, 8 Tufted Ducks, at least 1 Teal."

James today had been out and about on the reserve at Gruinart and had seen and counted the following birds...

"Lots of White tailed Eagles 5 at Gruinart today

Merlins 2

Hen Harrier 1 male

Sparrowhawk 1

Whooper Swan 7

Barnacle geese 10,825 that’s a lot

White fronts 303

Lapwing 335

Golden plover 1410

Linnet flock on the Ardnave road 240."

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Wednesday 25th November

James e mailed me through the following earlier on this evening..

"Slightly better weather today and a few birds:

3 White tailed Eagles on the salt marsh today

11 Whooper Swans

1 Merlin chasing a Dunlin way off up into the sky

3 Greenshank

13 Knot

1 Pale bellied Brent. "

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Tuesday 24th November

 Sorry folks, but I should have told you last night that there was/ will not be a meeting of the Islay bird nerds last night/ tonight because of the legislation that is still in place regarding folk meeting up together....

Monday 23 November 2020

Monday 23rd November

 Morven Laurie sent me though the figures of the geese counted last Tuesday and on Wednesday for the International Goose count, with the scores on the doors coming to 34,381 Barnies, 5,763 Whitefront and 1,354 Greylags. The Goose figures from last November came to 35,381 Barnies, 5,512 Whitefronts and 1,210 Greylags...

Many thanks to Morven and her team from Nature Scotland (SNH as it was once called) for sharing these figures with us. 

Sunday 22 November 2020

Sunday 22nd November

 The other day Peter had a walk round Loch Skerrols, "All counts were down on previous totals.

Whoopers were down to about 65; Wigeon at 80 and Tufted Duck at 75. 

There was a female Scaup which was a little unusual for Skerrols, but
no sign of the American Wigeon. "

Yesterday, Gary had been up at Bunnahabhain.. 
7 GND, 4 RBM, 20+ Shag, 1 Golden Eagle, 2 Crossbill, 4 Curlew, 17 Oystercatcher & 4 Otters. 
2 Whooper Swan were present on on Ardnahoe Loch."


Saturday 21 November 2020

Saturday 21st November

 Gary and Sam had carried out their WeBS count from Blackrock back round to Bowmore with the "Scores on the doors" coming to :

Great Northern Diver 1, Red breasted Merganser 10, Cormorant 3, Slavonian Grebe 1, Eider 4, Scaup 7, Mallard 74, Teal 69, Ringed Plover 47, Dunlin 2, Turnstone 13, Redshank 4, Oystercatcher 147, Curlew 17, Bar tailed Godwit 5, Grey Heron 2, Mute Swan 3, Knot 58, Black headed Gull 8, Common Gull 22, Herring Gull 9, Great black backed Gull 2, Little Egret 1, Brent Geese 43, Barnacle Geese 2, Greylag Geese 20. 

One of the Knot had an orange flag ring with the letters PEV on its left leg over a pale blue leg ring, it had a metal ring on its right leg. Checking with a ringer in Norway to see if it is one of his birds.

Up here at home this afternoon and Margaret saw 3 Gbb Gulls flying over the Machir.

Friday 20 November 2020

Friday 20th November

Good friend Karen Graham from Bearsden wrote the following e mail about the events seen by her in the garden...

"Very excited to see a Nuthatch on the willow picking up peanuts from around the squirrel feeder. Flies in and out to stash them away nearby.  A first in 36 years here  at the house. Did see a Tree Creeper yesterday afternoon too but it comes in fairly often. Apart from this usual suspects of blue, Coal and Great Tits, GS Woodpecker,  Dunnock, the trio of Magpies following the Squirrels including Stumpy (a squirrel), to see where they are burying nuts only for Magpies to dig up straight away. Now have 5 Blackbirds - 3 male and 2 female, odd chaffie, Wood pigeon and feral pigeons too and not forgetting the Robin. It's all go, and certainly an entertaining time at this time of year and in a level 4 area. Aha, a Starling now on the fat cake, so his pals will soon appear. No fox yet but he will drop in later for sure."

Earlier on this week, Lesley had carried out the WeBS count from Bowmore to Gartbreck when her birds counted were as follows:  12 Barwits, 21 Curlew, 6 Grey Heron, 35 Oystercatcher, 56 Ringed Plover, 4 Cormorant, 26 Shag, 157 Wigeon, 33 Mallard, 626 Barnies, 21 Eider, 5 Lt Duck, 17 RBM, 4 Sanderling, 1 Turnstone, 6 Redshank, 7 Scaup and 13 GND 

Gary today had seen a Little Egret around about "smelly corner" towards Whin Park along the merse there.

Thursday 19 November 2020

Thursday 19th November

Well, for one day at least it has stayed dry out on Islay, having said that, it was a bit on the cold side, at least we did not get any snow, I see that Fair Isle had its first fall earlier on today...

Up here at home, and when looking out of the window, mid morning, up high in the sky above the crag, we saw a pair of Golden Eagles out flying or rather soaring around... Great to see and watch!!!!

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Wednesday 18th November

 Luckily for me, James had sent me this through just recently

"Not the best of weather for bird watching –

Approx. 13,000 Barnies and 800 Whitefronts in Gruinart area (not just reserve)

Other birds:

Tues –

Merlin up at  Ardnave

Otter over at Killinallan (I know its not a bird)

Wed –

Merlin seen at Carrabus

Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and male Hen Harrier all present at Gruinart"

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Tuesday 17th November

Well,  it has been a pig of a day out here today with a damp, dreich day with the wind blowing as well...  the result being that it has not been much of a day to go out birding in... Although, I did see and hear one of our local Ravens flying off, cronking away to defend its patch against a distant Eagle which was flying along minding its' own business....

Monday 16 November 2020

Monday 16th November

 Bob yesterday had carried out his WeBS count from Port Charlotte back round to Blackrock when he counted the following birds,

" 6 GND, 2 RTD, 7 Cormorant, a Shag, a Glaucous Gull, 3 Gbb Gulls, 110 Herring Gulls, 21 Common Gulls, 2 B h Gulls, 26 Greylags, 14 Mallard, 5 RBM, 26 Oystercatcher, 6 Ringed Plover, 37 Turnstone, a Curlew, 5 Knot and a Grey Wagtail." 

Mark and James had carried out the WeBS count over at Gruinart etc... so here are their birds 

Loch Gruinart







Herring gull


Common gull


G B B gull


R B merg














B H gull










Ringed plover






Great northern diver


Ardnave Loch

Long tailed duck






Little grebe








Little grebe






w. swan
















Golden plover


Sunday 15 November 2020

Sunday 15th november

Peter, this afternoon, had seen a Little Egret seen down in between Smelly corner/ Carnain and along to Whin Park.

Gary today had the following birds seen before the rain came back on AGAIN 

"2 Bullfinch in woods at side of house, 2 Common Crossbill there later. 4 Chough flying by over Dunlossit moorland."

Dan Brown along with the rest of the team left yesterday, so many thanks for your birds folks.. so here are Dan's last comments.. "The reserve at Gruinart  was alive with eagles today on the Flats with at least 6 different WTEs and 3 - 4 Goldies, quite amazing!!!!!    

Dan's final comment says it all 

"Really can't wait to get back here and just sorry we have to leave."



Saturday 14 November 2020

Saturday 14th November

 Sightings through from James...  

"Out and about yesterday:

Greenshank at least 8 on reserve probably more, Gadwall, 2 on Floods

White tailed Eagles 3 great views, Peregrine a pale bird around the Loch, Merlin

Hen Harrier seen on many occasions through the day, all on the reserve...

Good numbers of Gannets and Kittiwakes feeding in the waves at the mouth of the Loch

2 Long tailed Ducks present on Ardnave Loch

Barn Owl seen in fields off the Ardnave road"

Friday 13 November 2020

Friday 13th November

 See this "technology" that we have in place nowadays... the grumpy old me did write an enrty last night but I see that for some reason it did not get published onto the web until around a few moments ago, so here is hoping that you should get another copy of the birds seen on Islay... 2 for the price of 1!!!

Mark Sullivan had sent some birds seen by him yesterday and also today.

Yesterday, we  had 50 Skylarks at Sunderland farm and watched one of the White tailed  Eagles at the Gruinart flats putting up the Barnacle geese.

Today, we had a Woodcock at the Oa, and a male Hen Harrier. There were 15 Great Northern Divers in Claggain 
Bay, with 8 together in a tight flock.

A female Black Redstart at Finlaggan visitor centre at 13.00 today. Also a Peregrine. Both seen by  Keith and Rosie Barnes visiting from Contin nr Inverness.

Thursday 12th November

 This evening, I received through the following e mail from David Natrass....

"Had our 1st trip to Islay, 24th to 31st October (had to leave on 30th though) and visited Jura on 30th too.  Wonderful!!   Will definitely be back.   I'm late in sending this to you as I've struggled with identification but I'm satisfied that I spotted a 1st year Lapland Bunting  when out walking to the east end of Loch Tarbert on 30th October."  

Mark Sullivan had seen a Cackling goose up at Grainel yesterday morning and after that he had seen a Merlin down at Machir Bay.

Today, we had a cracking view of a ringtail Hen Harrier as it got blown along in the wind, across the road and on down towards Loch Gorm...

Dan Brown had braved the wind today again....

Over at Kilnaugton Bay, Dan had seen a juv Iceland Gull on the beach and also using the Cornabus flood. Also 4 Chough on the beach there and 7 GND in the bay. Many Kittiwakes distantly offshore too. A Pair of Golden Eagles over An Carnan too. 


Wednesday 11 November 2020

Wednesday 11th November

Well, the weather forecast proved to be correct today, wet and windy. The wind proved difficult to Calmac who sail our ferry conection, back and forward between Islay and the mainland, the net result was that the ferry did not leave Kennacraig until mid afternoon, offering what we call a splash and dash service... 

Just as well I kept some more of the birds seen yesteday "up my sleeve" so here goes...

Lesley Silcock had been out yesterday...

Gruinart from hides yesterday am Ringtail HH, large nos Duck incl 30+Pintail. Golden Plover, Barwits and Dunlin flocks on Loch Gruinart mud plus 9 Grey Plover. Golden Eagle seen on the way up to Ardnave. 

Dan Brown sent these birds through to me all seen yesterday...

Todd’s Canada Goose still present on the Gruinart flats 

20+ Twite down at Machir Bay,  + 51 Ringed Plovers. 3 Brambling with the finches at Sunderland Farm, WTE on Nave Island, 2 Long tailed Ducks still on Ardnave Loch, Woodcock on the road around Loch Gorm, in middle of day too!

Mark Sullivan sent me the following birds, all seen yesterday...

Golden Eagle on road to Ardnave. Otter on the loch there. Todd's Canada goose on the flats. 2 - 4 Hen Harriers (1 male). From Blackrock we had 50+ Common Scoters and 4 Slavonian Grebes 

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Tuesday 10th November

"Mark, Fran and Matt Sullivan arrived yesterday for a week from Aberdeen. Highlights from the afternoon ferry wesaw a Great Skua and an Arctic Skua.
On Islay, 3 Little Egrets were in the NE corner of Loch Indaal. We also had up to 4 Pinkfeet with Barnacles between Coullabus and Gruinart."

Dave Wood had seen a Woodcock yesterday and 2 Goldcrest down on the RSPB reserve on the Oa. Today, Dave had seen a Todd's Canada goose at Kinnabus today, also a Pinkfoot and a GN Diver on Loch Kinnabus – unusual on freshwater.

Peter had seen the leucistic Gull down on Machir Bay today. 

Mid afternoon, we saw a White tailed Eagle fly overhead down beside Sunderland Farm.. and it kept on flying south out of our sight. 

 Dave Pierce has gone away home again today, so thanks to you and also to your wife for your sightings...Dave did not manage to see the Little Egrets on Islay... "However from the ferry, we saw 2 Little Egrets West Loch Tarbert immediately after Corran Point!!"


Monday 9 November 2020

Monday 9th November

 Dave Pierce sent through the following birds seen by himself when out today...

"Early morning, a pair of adult White-tailed Eagles on one of their favoured rock at Bridgend.

Other raptors today around Gruinart included a Kestrel, a Peregrine and at least one ringtail Hen Harrier. Roosting on the east side of Loch Gruinart at high tide were 5 Greenshanks.

A Tawny Owl was calling at dusk by Bridgend where a little earlier 80 or more Ravens were heading to roost."

This morning around 10 o 'clock, up here at home, we looked out the windows and for some reason or other, all the wee birds were in the air from the feeders and also out from the cover of the few bushes that we have. A few moments later we realised what the problem was, yes, the pesky Sparrowhawk was back here for a visit. It was sitting perched up on top of one of the fence posts,watching all that was going on around it.... Then it flew on its' way, with no prey taken....

Thanks to Gordon and  Pauline Yates who I miscalled them as the Boton birders, when they are from Rochdale....

Sunday 8 November 2020

Sunday 8thNovember

 Last night, Dave Pierce sent through the following e mail to me with the birds seen by him...

"Amongst others on Loch Indaal, 61 Common Scoter and 5 Long-tailed Ducks (4 male, 1 female).

A Golden Eagle (the light was against me but appeared a juvenile) on a deer fence post for a good deal of the morning at Druim na h-Erasaid immediately south of the Gruinart flats. Early afternoon, an adult Goldie circled over the flats & floods causing consternation with the waterfowl and waders. With waders, there were 5 Grey Plover.

 Shortly after the first of 2 Hen Harriers sightings occurred, with a brown quartering low over the floods, whilst a grey was hunting at Ardnave a little later. 

Also at Ardnave were 18 Fieldfares, 20+ Choughs with 2 Long-tailed Ducks on the loch (both females, I'd had a male & female on Wednesday). 

Finally a juvenile White-tailed Eagle late afternoon at Gruinart was a great finish to the day for me, if not for the assembled geese!"

 Dan Brown had seen the following birds when out and about yesterday..  

"A Todd's type (possibly 2) and a Cackling goose on the flats. We also had a Great Spotted Woodpecker clearly migrating west along the flats at Gruinart. It got "stuck" when it got to us and the end of the trees but finally plucked up the courage and headed on West to the farm.

2 Merlins, 2 Peregrines and 2 Hen Harriers here too."

Peter was in touch today, reporting through to tell me that the American Wigeon was seen today at Loch Skerolls, but he also told me that the number of Whoopers present has dropped down to around 50 in total present  there.

The back of lunchtime up here today, and we were well pleased to see a cracking male Hen Harrier out on the wing flying along the bottom of the crag. We now have a smalll resident group of 10 Blackbirds were out on the grass as well as 7 Redwings.

The Bolton Birders also had been seeing 10 Blackbirds this morning down in Port Charlotte and also 5 Blackcaps. Over on Jura, earlier on through the week, they had seen a total of  4 Eagles when over there, their Eagles were 3 WTEs and a Golden Eagle. Down at Curie sands they had seen 12 Choughs rooting around looking for some food.

I was speakng to James earlier on this afternoon, and he was saying about the number of Eagles being seen here on Islay. He also was commenting on the Choughs being seen in different places this Autumn. Today, James had spotted a Pink footed Goose as well as 2 P b Brents amongst the Barnies seen over at Gruinart. In his garden, James has had a regular Goldcrest visiting his garden most days recently. 

Saturday 7 November 2020

Saturday 7th November

 Yesterday was Mike Bell's last full day here on Islay for this visit.... so here are Mike's birds..

Bowmore to Gartbreck: 6 GND, 1 Slav Grebe, 19 Greylag, 109 Greylags, 3,900 Barnies, 26 Wigeon, 85 Teal, 32 Mallard, a male Pintail, 15 Eider, a male Lt Duck, 3 Goldeneye, 25 RBM, 36 Oystercatcer, 52 R Plover, 5 Grey Plover, 245 Lapwing, 51 Knot, 60 Dunlin, 27 Barwits, 64 Curlew, 12 Redshank and also 21 Turnstone 

Gartmain to Bridgend held the following birds: 68 P b Brents, 129 Wigeon, 84 Malard, 4 Goldeneye (incl. a drake), 2 ad WTEs, 157 Oystercatcher, 55 R. Plover, 75 Knot, 290 Dunlin and  960 Golden Plover.

At Gruinart, Mike had 18 Whoopers arriving in, 740 Lapwing and only 200 Golden Plover, a Hen Harrier and also a  Golden Eagle, and a Blackwit.

Loch Gorm a WT  Eagle flushed around about 90 Teal

Mike kept the best birds to the end as he had seen a Short eared Owl being mobbed by 2 corvids in the sky above Kindrochid. A few moments later,Mike watched the S e Owl being caught in flight by a WTE...

Many thanks for your birds Mike, stay safe, hope you had a safe journey home...

Last night I had an email through from Dave Jackson who has been over here for the past 2 weeks, and heads home tomorrow..  "We've had an interesting - and occasionally somewhat feisty couple of weeks, but haven't managed to see anything that has not already been reported on your blog ... although we were fortunate enough to see at some distance what appeared to be an altercation between an immature WTE and an Otter on the flats at Gruinart at 7.45am on Monday!  There was what appeared to be a Grey Phalarope surfing the waves on the beach on Monday afternoon"

Dave Pierce sent this through last night as well...

"Our daily holiday cottage White-tailed Eagle didn't arrive until c0900. Again perched on rocks in Loch Indaal below Bridgend, but also on to the boat wreck briefly.

Down at Kildalton a Redwing flock was in excess of 130. A Sparrowhawk was in the same area. Another Sparrowhawk at Leorin.

On the Oa there were White-fronts at Cornabus c70, plus c120 at Kinnabus mixed with Barnies & Greylags. An adult male Hen Harrier was hunting here. At Upper Killeyan a flock of about 110 Twite were buzzing around.

Finally a Merlin was on a roadside post at Glenegedale by the High Road."

Dan  Brown had seen "2 Blackwits on the Cornabus burn flood, American Wigeon still  present on Loch Skerrols plus possible 1cy female Lesser Scaup though distant, Todd’s Canada with Barnies north of Gruinart farm."

Dave Dinsley who  now works  down on the  Oa for RSPB had a Glaucous Gull seen down on Kilnaghton Bay yesterday

This afternoon, Margaret had seen a male Blackcap out in the garden up here at home, initially on the garden wall before flying into a bush for some cover, great to watch, yes i saw it as well, no need for the bins!!! We also saw 5 Red Deer away out on top of the far crag as well...

Friday 6 November 2020

Friday 6th novembr

Yesterday, Mike Bell had seen the following birds when out...

Gruinart: Hen Harrier and also a Peregrine 

Killinallan: a Jack Snipe, 23 Twite and also 4 Redpolls

Portnahaven: 2WTE flying over the seal colony there

Lossit:  2 Golden Eagles seen

Kilchiaran over the hill past The Gearach: 6 Lt Tits seen in the trees there.

Dave Pierce and his wife had the following birds....

Please find a few of yesterday's sightings.. Started the day off like Wednesday with a White-tailed Eagle from our cottage at Bridgend, though this one was an adult, probably a female. It caught a couple of fish during the time I was around. Again like Wednesday, from the same location I had a raptor at the opposite end of the scale, this time a Merlin which flew low along the shore before alighting for a minute on a pile of kelp. Other birds around the house included c30 Redshanks.

There were around 60 Greenland White-fronts at Cruach with a further 75 feeding with Rock Doves at Ballitarsin. A pair of Bullfinch at Loch Tallant.

Mid afternoon viewing from Buh-an-unillt a Peregrine over Loch Gruinart flushing waders and waterfowl including Bar-tailed Godwits, Turnstones, 2 Greenshank, 7 Sanderling, 1400+Golden Plover & over 70 Pintail. Also 2 Chough present.

Offshore from Bruichladdich a single drake Common Scoter, 3 GN Divers and 2 RTDs, with a Grey Wagtail onshore .

Today, when coming home, we had 4 Red legged Partridge down "The Hedges" at Sunderland Farm and I am led to believe that these were not released birds... Over at Ballinaby, we counted 14Whoopers resting up there. Back at home, Margaret counted 10 Blackbirds out on the grass with 4 Redwings present there as well.

Old chums from Bolton had seen a male and a female Blackcap in a garden down in Port Charlotte today.