Friday 31 January 2020

Friday 31st January

Well in a few hours time that will be the end of January, so I wonder how much rain that we have had in comparison to previous tallies for January, as ever, you will just have to wait in suspense until the blog tomorrow, when all will be revealed..

Gary had faced up to the cooler winds today and in at Finlaggan, he had 7 Crossbills. And then shortly after that he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, 2 Bullfinches and also a further 5 Crossbills along the track up behind Bunnahabhain.

Up here at home the ringtail was present today, again having a meal.. The Barn Owl was seen last night staying there for over 3 hours and has been in already for the best part of an hour so far. No need for the winter watch series on the TV!!!

Thursday 30 January 2020

Thursday 30th January

Well, the winds certainly picked up with the midday ferry and also the evening ferry from Kennacraig cancelled out.. The sea out over Coull Point has been boiling for the best part of the last 2 days...

Up here at home we have been watching that Hen Harrier making the most of the remains of the Hare. This evening, we have been watching the antics of another "regular", the Barn Owl...All from the comfort of the house, honest, getting a bit  like Winter Watch on the TV!!!

Gary had braved the elements today... Down on the shoreline at Gartbreck, he counted 190 Wigeon, 150 Teal, 33 Mallard and over 100 Dunlin. Between the shore and the refuse tip , he saw 10 G b b Gulls, 89 H. Gulls, 21 C. Gulls, 45 B h Gulls and also 2 Glaucous Gulls.

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Wednesday 29th January

Morven was in touch today with the figures from last week's International Goose count which took place on Tuesday and also on Thursday last week... Wednesday had been cancelled because of the poor visibility.. The tally came to...34,795 Barnies, 5,588 Whitefronts and 730 Greylags. Many thanks to Morven and the team from SNH in sharing these figures with us.

Above is an image of 2 of our garden birds, taken this morning before the rain set in !!! Wonder what comment we would have received back from the BTO, if we had sent in on the their big garden bird watch???

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Tuesday 28th January

This is an image of a rather hungry Hen Harrier taken out on the grass today, it was tearing into a dead Hare that I had placed there around a fortnight ago... oddly enough the other day some of the Jackdaws had been in for the odd piece of Hare before but not as much as the Harrier who must have been there for at least 3 hours!!!! There was also a Jackdaw and also a Raven in but neither ventured too close. Finally, a Buzzard came and sat on top of of one of the fence posts.. The image is not that great as the windows were covered in rain...

Monday 27 January 2020

Monday 27th January

It was dry again today, but a bit on the cool side with the mercury never getting much of a shift in the thermometer...

Not much to report apart from the hooded crow out on the grass again today, later on there was a       buzzard down on the fence line watching what was going on... The pheasants which we have, have taken a great liking to eating into a small bucket of feed, which includes some aniseed...

Sunday 26 January 2020

Sunday 26th January

The weather has been a bit cooler today, in fact at one point this afternoon, we were glad to be inside, as there was a right dirty shower of hailstones, clattering against the windows, rather noisy, to put it politely..

On the bird front today, James had seen a couple of Bullfinches over at Bunnahabhain this morning. This afternoon, James was over for a cuppa and we were proud to show him some footage on our cameras of a pair of Barn Owls, and also some footage from a visiting Chough. I know it is early days but here is hoping that either bird would be looking for a prospective nest site... Earlier on, Margaret saw a couple of Hooded Crows out on the edge of the garden. 

Saturday 25 January 2020

Saturday 25th January

A much better day with the weather, no mists rolling around, possibly the odd spot of rain, but we did manage to see Ireland out on the sky line, the first sighting of Ireland for some time!!!

Mandy was in for a cuppa today, and she told me that she had seen a Barn Owl down at Foreland as she drove home the other night.

Friday 24 January 2020

Friday 24th January

Another odd sort of a day with the weather, with the mist lifting off and falling down over the crag for most of the day...

Yesterday afternoon, when I was over speaking to Donald Jones over at Coull, a Merlin zipped across the steading.. Today, up here, a Merlin came and land landed on one of the washing line poles, before flying away over the game crop. I am not complaining, nice to see one rather than that pesky Sparrowhawk!!! Early afternoon, out on the feeders, I spotted a Robin with a BTO ring fitted... Jack Fleming had his first Goldfinch, of the season,  on his feeders over at Gruinart today!!

Thursday 23 January 2020

Thursday 23rd January

A better day with the weather today, I even managed to see the crag today and over to Loch Gorm!!

Better day with the birds as well.. James sent through some of his birds that he had seen while out and about....He had a Peregrine and also a Golden Eagle out over Borichill Mor, over the reserve at Gruinart, a juv. White tailed Eagle was seen, while over Loch Gruinart itself, another Peregrine was seen. On the floods at the reserve, the drake G w Teal was still present and then back at the steading at Gruinart, he saw a Grey Wagtail.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Wednesday 22nd January

Went down to David Wood's talk at the Islay Natural History Trust last night. A very interesting talk/ presentation given by himself on his sabbatical trip to Turkey last September. The main thrust was to help count the many migrating birds of prey, sorry Dave can't remember the figures, but a lot!! The only negative side was that there was a very poor turn out from folk attending the talk....

For the last couple of day up here the mist has been down shrouding the crag, and has been quite thick at times, no visibility to the bottom of the garden for most of the time!!! Mid afternoon out on the feeders and roundabout I counted 36 Goldfinches, but none with any rings fitted... There was a male Chaffinch with one on though!!!

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Tuesday 21st January

When I was speaking to Ed yesterday, he told me that he had seen a Dipper over beside him at Port Ellen, a tick for Ed on his own patch...

This evening I went down to the IHNT's talk which David Wood gave. More on that one tomorrow night.

Monday 20 January 2020

Monday 20th January

Forgot to mention last night on the blog about a "new" Blackbird that was down on the grass eating up some gingerbread which I had thrown out there earlier on. My description is correct in that it was a "Blackbird". I have seen Choughs down on the grass, Jackdaws are real scavengers, seen every day outside as well as our normal Blackbirds... Sometimes we even have the odd Hooded Crow, but this one was special, a Raven ... James had to have a quick through his bins at it!!!

Sunday 19 January 2020

Sunday 19th January

An e mail through from Ron who writes the Islay blog
"I couldn't believe my eyes when I returned home from Ardnave early in the afternoon when I spotted a White Tailed Sea Eagle on top of a Barnacle Goose close to the RSPB Gruinart visitor centre. When we pulled over the Sea Eagle flew off, dropped the Goose which escaped, and landed a few metres further on the grass next to another Sea Eagle!! I couldn't believe my luck. I've never seen such a spectacular display of these majestic birds. It's already hard to spot one so close by, now I had two of them on the ground in front of me. After some 10 minutes or so they flew off scaring some more Barnacle Geese further out towards Craigens"

If you go to Ron's blog you should be able to see some tremendous images which he took of the 2 White tailed Eagles.

James up for a welcome cuppa and catch up this afternoon. James had also seen the White tailed Eagles which Ron had seen at Gruinart , with James seeing them this morning. When he was out and about James had also seen 2 Golden Eagles soaring around over Loch Cam. 

Saturday 18 January 2020

Saturday 18th January

You should know the old saying.. " better late than never".  I was reading elsewhere of a reported sighting of 4 Dark bellied Brent Geese seen last week down at Gartbreck.. so I will await any further news on that one, as ever I will keep you posted on it should I hear any further news about it!!!

Friday 17 January 2020

Friday 17th January

Possibly the weather has been a lot calmer today, compared to some days earlier on this week, still not that great for birding...

Just before midday, when going in to Bowmore today, I saw a small group of 10 Scaup, close inshore just opposite where Islay farmers once traded from many years ago.

Next Tuesday, I believe David Wood is giving an illustrated talk on his recent trip to Turkey, but maybe somebody can send me more details through and I can share with you... so watch this space!!!

Thursday 16 January 2020

Thursday 16th January

Yesterday, James had seen 2 Woodcocks on the reserve at Gruinart...

Today, I saw a House Sparrow outside on the feeders with a BTO leg ring on... Shortly afterwards a colourful wee Blue Tit  was on the suet pellets.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Wednesday 15th January

The weather, needless to say is the top topic tonight, as because of it being such a miserable sort of a day, not much on the birding front tonight... The ferry decided to set out from Kennacraig at 6 pm this evening and should be setting back over to Kennacraig shortly. Apart from the winds, there have been quite a lot of dirty, squally showers in the mix, one late afternoon, well, it was full of hailstones, clattering against the windows, not nice!!!

Bob saw an adult Iceland Gull down at "smelly corner" at lunchtime.

Up here at home, mid afternoon when I looked out at the feeders, there were around 10 Chaffinches and also 10 Goldfinches in and around the feeders, but on closer examination with my bins there were 2 Chaffinches and also 2 Goldfinches fitted with BTO rings on their legs, so must keep an eye out for some more birds with leg rings fitted. Thinking back, the other day there has been a Starling seen quite often lately with some bling  fitted ...

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Tuesday 14th January

I think that I should apologise as the other day when I put the WeBS count through from Mark and Sarah, well for some reason the last column with the birds which they counted on the Floods at Gruinart did not show.... but so here we go with their birds seen the other day..
4 Herons, 105 Wigeon, 189 Mallard, 1 R B Merganser, 675 Lapwing, 82 Barwits, 88 Curlew, 6 Mute Swan, 6 Whooper Swan, 690 Teal,  1 Dabchick, 1 Little Egret, 10 Greylags, 1 G w Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1,005 Golden Plover, 7 B h Gull, 68 Pintail, 48 Shoveler, 3 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe and also 4 White tailed Eagles.  

John Miles e mailed through some final birds seen by the group which he had been helping son John lead last week, Iola Williams was also helping to lead their group... On Thursday, they had good numbers of GND, RTD and a few Slav Grebes seen on Loch Indaal. They also had 8 Scaup, 20 Long tailed Ducks with numerous other birds seen including a Little Egret and also a White-tailed Eagle, both seen at the head of the Loch. On their way round the Rhinns, between Portnahaven and up past Kilchiaran and back down to Port Charlotte, they had 4 different Sparrowhawks present. On Friday, over at Gruinart before heading home on the ferry,  they saw the Little Egret and also the Green winged Teal, and also over at Bunnahabhain they saw 4 Golden Eagles. Thanks to John, Ewan and Iola as well as their team of visiting birders for their sightings when over on Islay.

Remember, that on the entry on the blog yesterday I mentioned about the strong winds, well I received a figure of a 74 mph gust at 1pm yesterday which was recorded by Matt Jackson's weather station down at the Rockside road end. 

Monday 13 January 2020

Monday 13th January

Bob, yesterday had carried out his WeBS count, but it was not easy with cold wind, rough sea and very bright sun!!! Bob counts from Port Charlotte up to Blackrock.
GND 1, Slav Grebe 7, Cormorant 5, Shag 38, Oystercatcher 34,Turnstone 6, Ringed Plover 28, Dunlin 21, Knot 7, Eider 16, Red breasted merganser 17, Common scoter 13, Long tailed duck   3 Pale bellied Brent 7, Glaucous Gull 1, H. Gull 46, C. Gull 49 and G.b.b. Gull 3.

Think that Bob, like Gary, made the correct decision to do their WeBS count when they did as the weather  with the strong winds would have made it impossible today...

Sunday 12 January 2020

Sunday 12th January

Gary had gone out today and did his WeBS. Rather cold by the sounds things, but job well done...
Gary's count is from Blackrock back round to Bowmore
GND 11, Red breasted Merganser 18, Cormorant 1, Shag 33, Slavonian Grebe 8, Eider 3, Scaup 12, Mallard 106, Goldeneye 2, Wigeon 16, Teal 31, Shelduck 30, Common Scoter 63, Dunlin 1, Turnstone 8, Redshank 31, Oystercatcher 226, Curlew 145, Grey Heron 2, Mute Swan 5, Black headed Gull 70, Common Gull 145, Herring Gull 259, Great black backed Gull 13.
Barnacle Geese 3510, Brent Geese 52, Greylag 51, Greenshank 1, Little Egret 1.
Male Hen Harrier 1.

Late this afternoon, Peter and Mark were up visiting us and when I was outside with them, Mark spotted a male Hen Harrier drop into the game crop... Peter got his bins on the bird as it flew away shortly afterwards, carrying its' prey which Peter reckoned to be a vole!!

Saturday 11 January 2020

Saturday 11th January

Here are the results of the WeBS count which Mark and his 2 volunteers carried out yesterday at Ardnave Loch, on Loch Gruinart and also on the floods at Gruinart...

Ardnave Loch
Loch Gruinart





Red Breasted Merganser


Ringed Plover






Bar Tailed Godwit





Common Gull


Herring Gull


Great Black Backed Gull






Mute Swan

Whooper Swan


Little Grebe

Little Egret


Green Winged Teal

Tufted Duck

Golden Plover

Black Headed Gull




Jack Snipe

White Tailed Eagle


A job well done folks, as I doubt if you would have managed them today, or even  over the next few days as the weather is not looking that great here!!!!

Friday 10 January 2020

Friday 10th January

Gary sent through some sightings from yesterday,
Over at Bunnahabhain - 17 GND, 51 Shags, 11 Cormorants, 4 Common Guillemot, 10 Black Guillemot, 4 Great black backed Gull, 12 Herring Gull, 5 Common Gull, 9 Black headed Gull, 1 adult Glaucous Gull, 12 Eider, 5 Crossbills with  2 White tailed Eagles seen over on Jura. Gary also had seen an Otter as well.
Today, around lunchtime, down towards Sunderland Farm, he had seen a juvenile Golden Eagle.

Some sightings seen by ourselves... Around 10 am,  a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen out through the gable end windows as it flew past along the fence line. Later on, closer to lunchtime, the Sparrowhawk was noted out through the big window, as it battled against the ever increasing wind, and a few moments later we had a male Hen Harrier out along the bottom of the crag. Early afternoon, down on the merse at Bridgend, the Little Egret was present between Blue Houses and the auction mart. Coming home and a Merlin flew across the road directly in front of me down at McNicoll's Croft.

Thursday 9 January 2020

Thursday 9th January

Some sightings seen by the birders in a group from Nature Scotland, led by Ewan Miles, father John and assisted by Iola Williams.

On Tuesday, in the atrocious weather they had seen a Buzzard, a male Hen Harrier and a Merlin as they made their way over to Gruinart, where they had seen the drake Green winged Teal. Up at Ardnave they counted 36 Chough on the dunes with 8 Goldeneye seen on Ardnave Loch itself. Yesterday, they had gone down to Port Ellen and round to the Oa. At Kinnabus, they saw over 70 Twite with 2 pair of Golden Eagles seen and then shortly afterwards they had an adult White tailed Eagle. A Peregrine was present out towards the American monument.  Along the coast,  past Ardbeg Distillery, GND, RTD with an Otter seen close to the shore there as well. They also had a Grey Wagtail, Treecreeper and also Goldcrest. Down at Kintra, they watched a Carrion Crow and a Hooded Crow tucking into some prey.  Up past Leorin, they were fortunate to have a great sighting of 20 Red Deer Hinds, quite close to the road. 
Finally, last night when coming back from Bowmore, they had a Barn Owl out hunting along the verge side, just after Carnain.

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Wednesday 8th January

Some sightings from over the last two days, seen by Gary
Yesterday at Uiskentuie strand, 2 White tailed Eagle flew over. Today, Gary saw 3 White tailed Eagles down the Moss Rd, male Hen Harrier over fields, with Bar tailed Godwits present on the shore of Loch Indaal.

James today had counted the Geese on the reserve at Gruinart:
Barnacle geese              6,930
Whitefronts                     284
Greylags                            10
Also seen by James were  
Little Egret                       1
Green winged Teal           1
Golden Plover                 685 that were in one field there was another big flock around so not sure  of an exact total
White tailed Eagle            1

All I can add is that we had seen a Blue Tit, out on the Suet pellets on the feeding station, yesterday and also today again. The wind has dropped a lot today.... better not speak too soon!!!

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Tuesday 7th January

It was certainly windy yesterday, but today the wind speed has increased somewhat with wind blowing strongly all day, or so it seemed. They claimed on the STV weather forecast that we had winds up to 60 mph on Islay, who am I to question them?? The ferry sailed over this morning and again this afternoon, but tied up has not returned this evening!!!

Marsali sent me her information on her weather station over at Mulindry... 

December's rainfall in 2019 was 231 mms or 9.24"   That was the wettest month since January 2018.
The total for the year is 1478mms or 59.12", the wettest since  2016 but not the wettest ever which was 2014 at over 70"

Thanks for those figures Marsali, much appreciated as ever.

Monday 6 January 2020

Monday 6th January

Well, today the wind has huffed and puffed all day and fortunately enough for us not a lot of rain in the mix for once, the ferry has sailed back and forward, not like a lot of other places on the West of Scotland where the ferries were cancelled out...

Returning visiting birders, Iola Williams, John Miles and his son Ewan are over for a few days  leading a group of birders. They came over this afternoon with John coming in for a welcome cuppa in return for payment for some birds seen since arriving...

They saw a ringtail Hen Harrier fly across the Sound of Islay to Jura as the ferry approached Port Askaig. Down on the merse at Bridgend, the Little Egret was present, along with Greenshank and a number of Teal were seen there as well. On their way on towards their accommodation at Kilchoman, they had seen a male Hen Harrier up from Grainel. Shortly afterwards, a flock of 20 Fieldfares and 6 Redwing and finally they had seen a couple of Buzzards.

Mid morning, here at home, the pesky Sparrowhawk came past and had the brass neck to perch up on the feeding station before deciding to move on... and I did not get in a panic about him being as close to me at all!!! About another 30 minutes elapsed before, and we had another regular grace us with his presence, the male Hen Harrier floated past us along the fence line and not much above it either, great to see so close...

Sunday 5 January 2020

Sunday 5th January

Graeme Ruthven (from Aberdeen) sent another e mail through with the birds that he had seen on last Sunday and also some seen from the ferry on his way back over to Kennacraig last Monday.

There was an adult White Tailed Eagle near Lagavulin also a Little Grebe on the sea near there in the morning with a Great Northern Diver. A large flock of Common Scoter in Loch Indaal right out in the middle of the loch, there was a small flock of about 10 Scaup close in at Bowmore.
Later on, in the afternoon he went back to Ardnave point where he saw an immature Golden  Eagle, 2 possibly 3 White Tailed Eagles and 2 ringtail Hen Harriers just north of Loch Gruinart cottage, it was an amazing hour of birding....

On the return ferry crossing on Monday morning he had 9 Great Northern Divers, 3 Black Throated Divers, 3 Red Throated Divers and finally 2 Slavonian Grebes near Kennacraig.

Another "Islay convert", by the sounds of the emails which I got through from Graeme, many thanks for your sightings, most welcome as ever...

Saturday 4 January 2020

Saturday 4th January

Christine Menzies had a male Chaffinch fly into her patio doors earlier on today but after a few minutes, it recovered and flew off. She has had a male Hen Harrier flying past recently and a Sparrowhawk nearly had one of her garden birds for lunch last week. Christine moved over to Islay last year and now lives down in Port Ellen.

Gary was in touch telling me that he had 5 Crossbills at Bunnahabhain and also a  Golden Eagle was seen over the moorland behind Ardnahoe Loch today. He was also telling me that he had several enquiries through about his Wild Islay Birding trips, better still some folk have already booked him, nice one Gary. Check Gary out on the link to him down on the right hand side of the blog..

Graeme Ruthven was out with David Jardine at Gruinart last Saturday, but went to Ardnave afterwards where Graeme had an adult White tailed Eagle on the way sitting on a fence post also a Merlin at Ardnave Loch and 21 Chough. On the way back, he had a male Hen Harrier and another sighting of a Merlin. Later on, Graeme had a juvenile White tailed Eagle near Portnahaven.

Friday 3 January 2020

Friday 3rd January

Some sightings from today, through from Gary...
2 juv White tailed Eagle on sand at Bridgend, Little Egret in creeks on the merse there as well, 1 ad White tailed Eagle at Gartbreck.
On his way home, Gary had stopped at Esknish and viewed through the Barnacle Goose flock and found a Cackling Goose amongst them.

All I can add to Gary's sightings was that over the big crag up here at home, mid afternoon,  a pair of Buzzards were seen out on the wing.

Thursday 2 January 2020

Thursday 2nd January

Well, the weather has not been that great out here today with a good few squally showers in the mix, with the wind whistling around as well.. we did manage to have the ferry sailing, in and out of Port Askaig, at least we do have 2 ferry ports to use here on Islay...

This morning, late on, James had a White tailed Eagle over the reserve at Gruinart. Up here at home, the wee birds were seen more often in at the feeders, especially a good number of Goldfinches were present, along with some House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Great Tit, Blue Tit with a Robin in as well.  A few Choughs were seen out on the wing, while this morning there were a couple of Ravens heard "cronking" away on the old church...

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Wednesday 1st January, New Years Day

Well as I finished off last night, hope you have had a quiet New Year, I know that we were in bed and probably sleeping by midnight... Not exactly party animals!!!!

No sightings really to report  to you, but I can tell you that the rainfall up here for December came in at 6.5 inches in total, making it the wettest month in 2019.  The total for 2019 was 48.3 inches, which was slightly drier than 2018 when the tally for the year came to 48.5 inches. The only other thing I can tell you is that the temperature has been on the brassy side outside, with one of those lazy winds that blows straight through you, rather than round you, say no more!!!