Saturday 29 February 2020

Sunday 29th February

A final correspondence through from "the Elite 5"
"On our way home after five nights on one of my favourite Hebridean islands... Islay.
On Wednesday, we made a 5 hour visit to the neighbouring island  of Jura that gave up fantastic views of 4 x White tailed Eagle along with 4 x Golden Eagle and crippling views of Sea Otter on the sands near the Ferry. Back on Islay, we called into Finlaggan...The seat of the "Lord  Of The Isles", only to have a  magnificent low level fly past by another two WTS Eagle plus a Merlin on a mission and three Common Crossbill feeding in trees around the main house.
Back in the bungalow we cracked open a bottle of 11 year old Lagavulin. Who would be a birder ??"

A quick conversation with the Rochdale birders earlier on, who told me that they had seen a Pink footed Goose amongst the flock of Barnies down at Port Charlotte this morning.

Friday 28 February 2020

Friday 28th February

The "Rochdale birders" are back over at present. So here are some sightings through from their first week of this present visit...

"Sightings for our first week’

Storakaig               Female Merlin and a Golden Eagle
Bunnahabhainn     10 Black Guillemots
                              1 Otter
Rhinns                   2 Golden Eagles being dived bombed by a Peregrine
Bridgend.              White tailed Eagle

Yesterday (Thursday) was our best day EVER on Jura, lovely sunny morning Paps covered in snow. Spectacular scenery.

Sightings               4 White tailed Eagles
                              4 Hen Harriers (2 male and 2 female)
                              1 Female Merlin
                              3 Crossbills
                              7 Buzzards
                              2 Otters"

Thursday 27 February 2020

Thursday 27th February

Perhaps there is no birds for you to read about, but do not worry, as I have been busy "thinking" ahead on what seed to buy for the wild flower mixes or can I make do with the seeds sown last year? Similarly the bird seed mixes are needing a wee tweak. If only, we could get a spell of dry weather to allow us to make some work on the seeds possible. This spell of weather cannot be that far off, but only after another spell of poor stormy weather forecast to come through this weekend!!!!

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Wednesday 26th February

Here are some more sightings through from "The Elite 5"

"Yesterday dawned with blue sky and an early showing of a very welcome SUN . Could this be the day ?.... sadly it was not to be.....It decided to snow.
Yet the " The Elite Five" ended the day in Bowmore at the Lochside hotel with a respectable days total and pancakes back in Port Charlotte
Hen Harrier  (male )       Gruinart.
Purple Sandpiper (10) Bruichladdich Pier.
Green Winged Teal     Gruinart platform.
Little Egret                    Gruinart
Peregrine.                             "
CACKLING GOOSE. Bridgend to Ballygrant
Hen Harrier ringtail  Glen Rd
Golden Eagle. Sub adult. Glen Rd
Siskin (45) Coal Ila Distillery.
Brambling also present at Coal Ila"

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Tuesday 25th February

Ken Reeves and his friends, "The Elite 5" sent through their highlights seen yesterday

"Once again the weather has been mixed with all seasons in a day. However we did manage..
Ringtail Hen Harrier.... Gorton
Moorhen 3 ...Port Charlotte
Pale Bellied Brent 37.....Gorton 
Slavonian Grebe 3 Loch Indaal.
Common Scoter 50 +    "
Long Tailed Duck 3         "
Scaup 3                            "
GND 5                               "
RTD 1                                "
Hen Harrier (male)   Gruinart
Merlin ... Skerrols "

James today watched a White tailed Eagle which was chasing the geese at Gruinart.

Monday 24 February 2020

Monday 24th February

Good friend from over the years, Ken Reeves arrived on Islay yesterday with a group of birders,
"Guillemot 30 +,  Black Guillemot 4, GND 9, BTD 7 , RTD 1, Kittiwake 4,  Greenland WF 900+, Redshank 5,  and a  WTSE  being mobbed by Gbb Gull and Herring Gull on the Jura side of the Sound of Islay as they sailed up to Port Askaig."

James had seen the following on the reserve at Gruinart today, Little Egret, Green winged Teal, Greenshank and also 2 male Hen Harrier

There will be no Bird nerds meeting this month as the most of the "team" are away over on the mainland.

Sunday 23 February 2020

Sunday 23rd February

Well after a gie rough stormy day over on Islay with wind registering a mere 72mph at one point, the weather has calmed down a lot, allowing Calmac to provide us with a ferry service again....The Finlaggan was full with several vehicles having to wait for a chance to use the later ferries on offer. So with so many visitors now away and now an exodus of some locals now as well, well we will just have to wait and see if we get some new kids coming over on the ferries to Islay to help us out with some sightings, please!!!

Saturday 22 February 2020

Saturday 22nd February

A bit of an early entry, but the power was off again so here goes...

Mike and Lesley made the correct decision in escaping Islay yesterday, with there being no ferries
sailing to Islay today.
"Sadly left the Island now, managed to get on the afternoon ferry. Spent a couple of hours car birding this morning and managed to get absolutely brilliant views of a Golden Eagle that flew over the car as we drove slowly over the moors on the Ballygrant to Bridgend road.
While waiting at Port Askaig for the ferry, an Otter with a fish in its mouth stuck its head about 50 metres from us, a great end to a great week on Islay."

All my other visiting contributors are now away as well, hence the reason for the blog being light on information, but as ever many thanks to you all for sending your sightings through.

Up here that pesky Sparrowhawk came past in an attempt to catch something to eat as the wee birds flew off in an escape mode, to which it failed miserably!! It came back in the afternoon, before the power went off, with the same poor result for it!!! Mind you we have not seen the Sparrowhawk up here, for some time now!!!

Friday 21 February 2020

Friday 21st February

Mike and Lesley's report through for you  to appreciate...
"We had a great morning at Gruinart yesterday. The sun brought out the birds on the woodland trail so it was nice to record Long-tailed Tit,  Goldcrest and Treecreeper. From the hide there were plenty of the usual ducks, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail plus lots of Curlew and a single Greenshank.
There were a couple of Oystercatchers feeding right in front of the hide when a female Sparrowhawk came hurtling towards one but just missed one and then sat on a fence post right next to the hide for a while. A distant Golden Eagle sitting on top of the hill, before we noticed 2 hunting juvenile White-tailed Eagles on of which downed a Barnacle Goose and began to eat the poor thing while it was still alive!  A very dramatic morning!"

Chris Corrigan's birds were as follows
"The best place today was the back road between Blackpark and Gruinart (B8017). Wonderful views of 2 Golden Eagles north of Lyrabus in the morning and a briefer view of a roadside Merlin in the afternoon. 
33 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Carnain late afternoon.
We also got a free exfoliation beauty treatment courtesy of a horrible driving hail shower!!!"

Garry and Wendy had made to most of yesterday
"What a change to have some bright sunshine. We walked from Ballygrant, up past Lossit Farm to Islay Sound. Our sightings for the day:
Carnain: Barnies, Greylags, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Mute Swans
Loch Lossit: Tufted Ducks
Flanks of Beinn Dubh: Herd of Red Deer
Traigh Bhan: White tailed  Eagle, GN Diver, and 11 Grey Seals"

John Matthews and his friends "The Port Ellen 4", headed home yesterday, but they had sent their final entry for this visit...
"I'm now safety back home after a 7.5h drive.  
Anyway, on our drive to Port Askaig this morning via the back road to Ballygrant we saw another superb male Merlin sitting on a fence post about 1 mile north of Barr.  Great little bird that sat for about 4 minutes before flying off."

Thursday 20 February 2020

Turday 20th February

Ed Burrell was in touch last night as follows:
"Just to say I've had two new birds for the farm today... A Moorhen and a drake Goosander. Gets us up to 96 now.".. Wonder what will bring the ton up?! Keep it up Ed, and you will get the magic 100 soon...

Gary and Wendy had been out for a wee while yesterday,
"What a miserable day ; definitely not much about. This is what we have seen:
Carnain: Barnies, Greylags, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Curlew,  Chaffinch, Robin and a very smart adult Grey Heron stalking food in the marsh near the cottage. Off Bowmore: Scaup, Eider duck, and Wigeon were present."

"John Matthews and the Port Ellen 4 had been out on their last day of this present visit. 
The Merlin yesterday made our holiday.
Also yesterday, the weather certainly put a damper on the birding and the spirits!
We tried the Oa first & had a very nice male Hen Harrier on the Oa road immediately north of Kinnabus farm.  The "Oa Twite flock" were great but kept their distance and were with about 40 Rock dove.  Sadly, no eagle.
Loch Gorm yielded nothing so we camped in the hides at RSPB Loch Gruinart.  Nice to see 30-40 Bar-tailed Godwits associated with a large flock of Dunlin (200+) on the flats.  Other than that, the "usual suspects" were seen - Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Heron, Oystercatcher, BH gull, Common  gull, Mute & Whooper swan, Shelduck, Barnies, White-faced geese & probably some I've forgotten!

Chris Corrigan e mailed some sightings from yesterday, oddly enough he  commented on the poor weather as well:
"What a day! We resorted to a distillery tour!
Morning - 4 Scaup and 5 Long-tailed Ducks off Bowmore
Late afternoon - the drake Green - winged Teal seen from the Loch Gruinart North Hide late afternoon"

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Wednesday 9th February

"John and the Port Ellen 4" has sent through their birds which they saw yesterday..
"A better day weather-wise and we targeted areas that we thought might yield raptors.  
Area easy of Loch Gorm : WT Eagle (juv) traversing the track between junction of B8017-18 & minor road south of the loch.
Near Grulinbeg (B8018): Peregrine.
Near Garra Eallabus (minor rd to Ardnave Point): spectacular views of a perched Merlin (male) in the low rays of the sun.
Loch Gruinart RSPB : female Hen Harrier
Sadly, no Golden Eagle to make the "Big Five" in one day!
Buzzards everywhere!  Where have they suddenly appeared from? We don't remember there being so many in previous visits.  It's like being at home."

Gary and Wendy had stayed at home at Carnain yesterday but still managed to see a variety of birds
"Their list today is all around Carnain: Barnies, White fronts, Greylags, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Starlings, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Mute Swan, Pale bellied Brents, mixed flock of Redwing, Fieldfare, two Golden Eagles, and a Hare."

Chris Corrigan and Helen had braved the elements yesterday and "had seen a flock of around 120 Twite in a field at Upper Killeyan. Later on, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Great Northern Divers, 1 Red-throated Diver and the Common Scoters, Eiders, Goldeneyes and Red-breasted Mergansers off Bowmore (but no Scaup). Not easy viewing in the choppy seas!"

Mike and Lesley had also been out and about, seeing the following birds on Islay,
"On the Oa yesterday morning, a ringtail Hen Harrier on the way up sitting on a fence post. A few Fulmar from the Monument and thanks to  Chris Corrigan who showed us the Twite flock  down there as well. Located a Ringed Plover behind the Gaelic Centre at Bowmore. On the Gruniart Road, great views of a Peregrine. At Ardnave Point 30 Chough then back at the car park a flock of 27 Twite. On the road back we passed 'The Port Ellen 4' who were admiring a handsome male Merlin, so many thanks to them for showing us."

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Tuesday 18th February

Gary and Wendy emailed the following to me last night, referring to their change of plans for yesterday,
"The weather turned out worse than we thought it would today and we didn't in the end get to Portnahaven on the bus. Very little to see around Carnain but we did have a visit for about 8 minutes from a ringtail hen Harrier over the pond behind the cottage. Also seen were some Barnies, Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Jackdaw and Blackbird.  A Hare was also seen."
John and the team of the "Port Ellen 4" had ventured out in the atrocious weather and managed to see the following birds yesterday:
"Loch a'Chnuic: Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, R b Mergansers. Claggain Bay: 5 GND & 1 BT Diver, Tysties, Shag, 10+ Oystercatcher & Ringed Plover. WT eagle over woods to the South of Cluanach. Bunnahabhain: 4 GND, Tysties, Cormorant. Caol Ila : Shag.
Obviously the main 3 geese sp, Buzzards, Hoodies, Ravens etc all over."

Chris Corrigan had been out yesterday as well
"A blowy and showery walk round Ardnave today where we managed to see a flock of 20 Choughs
2 Long-tailed Ducks (1 from the Gaelic Centre and 1 from Bowmore) along with Common Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, Eiders and Goldeneyes.  All out on Loch Indaal. Needs to be a bit calmer!"

Mike Russell was in touch last night, again Monday's sightings 
"My partner Lesley and I are on Islay this week, up from Sussex. Today we walked through Bridgend Woods, lots of song, Song and Mistle Thrushes, Chaffinches, Wrens and Robins and we also  heard  a Treecreeper. Really pleased to get a great view of a Dipper as well.
In the afternoon, went to Laphroaig where on the beach had good view of 2 Otters, also number of Rock Pipits."

Many thanks to our visitors for sending their birds through and allowing me to share them with you...

Good friend, Lesley Silcock was in for a cuppa today, and she told me that she had seen a group of  7 Blue Tits together on her feeders at McNichol's Croft. This morning, as she was driving up to here at Shepherd's cottage, Lesley watched a Merlin zip into the verge of the road and emerge out unscathed a moment or two later, with its prey being proof that it had been successful in its acrobatics!!

Monday 17 February 2020

Monday 17th February

A few birds through from Gary and Wendy, all from yesterday
"Very windy and heavy squally showers today, and nothing much around.Our sightings for Sunday areas follows, Carnain: Oystercatchers, Barnies, Shelduck, Curlew & Blackbird. "

I received a couple of sightings from Chris Corrigan, who I believe could be staying the cottage next
door to Gary and Wendy at Crosshouses...
"Arrived on Saturday, for a week. Looks a bit wild! Staying at Cross House, Bridgend.                      29 P-b Brent Geese down on the shore this morning. A Woodcock on the Loch Gruinart Woodland Trail but nothing else out of the ordinary."

The "Port Ellen 4" had also been out and about in the great spell of weather, we are having at present!! "Quite a bright day considering the rather fresh Scottish breeze (!) making birding a challenge. Sunday's main sightings were - 
Finlaggan woods: Crossbill (only 1) at the Y junction of the track, Coal Tit, Reed Bunting, Buzzard, Skylark on track to woods.
Ardnave: Chough, Whoopers & Goldeneye (we didn't venture to the beach!).
Gruinart RSPB: G W Teal, Little Egret, Pintail, Shoveler, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Buzzard, Wigeon, Whoopers, Mute Swan, Teal, B H gull, Whitefronts & Barnie's.
Nr Lyrabus (B8017): Merlin."

Sunday 16 February 2020

Sunday 16th February

The "Port Ellen 4" had seen the following birds yesterday
5 GND along on Claggain Bay. Female Sparrowhawk at the Sron Dubh turn to the standing stones/Enclosure.
Juv White-tailed Eagle at Gruinart + Hen Harriers (2 male + 1 ringtail), 2 Greenshank, Green-wing Teal, Little Egret, Pintail, Shoveler, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser BB Gull & Dunlin.
Male Hen Harrier at Grainel + Dunlin, Ringed Plover & Pale bellied Brents at Blackrock.
The "normal" geese, Buzzards, Mergansers, Tysties etc elsewhere.

A few birds seen yesterday by Gary and Wendy
"What a foul day, but  what a surprise to have 5 minutes of sunshine in the afternoon. Now back to rain. Didn't expect to see many birds today, but this is our list:
Carnain: Barnies, Brents, Oystercatchers. Drive from Kilchoman to Carnain: Mallard, Pheasant
Around Bruichladdich: Pale belied Brent geese"

Saturday 15 February 2020

Saturday 15th February

Gary and Wendy enjoyed the better weather yesterday, and walked up to Loch Cam behind Scarrabus. Their  sightings yesterday were: Carnain: Barnies, Shelduck, Blackbird, Mute Swan
Walk up to Loch Cam: Buzzard, pair of Stonechat, Song Thrush, Chough, Whitefronts,  Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Bowmore: Wigeon,  Eider 

James returned over to Islay on the ferry , quite a rough crossing by the sound of things,but top birds seen for James were 3 White tailed Eagles seen together when the ferry was coming up the Sound of Islay. Today, he had spotted a Pink footed goose on the reserve at Gruinart.

The Port Ellen 4 are back again - they were here last February, arriving on Thursday

"Had a great 1st day of birding, on Friday.

2 Golden Eagles  - 1 over Dun Nosebridge and 1 in the Storakaig area
2 male Hen Harriers - 1 near & over Loch Eighinn (nr airport). 1 at Grainel Farm.
Long tailed duck, G. N. D., Slavonian Grebe, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Eider, Rock Pipit & R. b. Mergansers - all close from Bowmore Pier.
Scaup, Shelduck, Redshank, Ringed Plover + some of above from the Gaelic centre.
Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Song & Mistle Thrush, Grey Wagtail & Robin from Bridgend woods.
Obviously White fronts, Greylags & Barnies  with Raven, Jackdaw, Rook, Buzzards & Hoodies in various places."  

The wind has been blowing away all day with ferry not coming over, until mid afternoon, quite glad that we were not on it... The wind speed topped at 65 mph on Dr Matt's weather station at 9.30 am. The plane flew in this morning, no bother....   

Friday 14 February 2020

Friday 14th February

The other day, Albert and Hazel Percival had seen a pair of Golden Eagles, close to where they were walking up beside the former Kilchoman School, no, not next door to here which was the Rockside school... 

Yesterday, Phill Catton was honing in his skills as a shepherd down on the reserve on the Oa.. When they were gathering the heft of sheep off  Glenastle, he had seen a Kestrel and also 2 pair of Red Grouse, the Red Grouse were a really good bird for the reserve, not that common on Islay. Better keep the shepherding up Phill, better than a desk job!!!

Thursday 13 February 2020

Thursday 13th February

Gary and Wendy had been out 

"The weather has been really lovely here today. Nice to have it so calm, but the wind quite cool. We kept warm walking from Bridgend up around Daill Farm and the ruined chapel. Their bird list was as follows;
Carnain: usual Barnies etc
Bridgend: Greenland Whitefronts, Meadow Pipit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Long tailed Tit, Robin,     Treecreeper and also 6 Song Thrush."

Please note that the weather forecast over the next few days is not so great, the ferry tomorrow morning is already being diverted to Port Askaig, all because of Storm Dennis coming this way...

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Wednesday 12th February

Gary and Wendy have been in touch with their list of birds seen. "It has been extremely rough down  at Carnain over the last two days, but yesterday they had all the Indaal Barnies feeding on the grass next to their cottage for most of the day which was fantastic and at least they were not annoying the local farmers !!  Sightings from Wednesday: Carnain; Little Egret on the pond by cottage, White tailed Eagle flying over them, followed and  being mobbed by a dozen Barnies which they have never seen before, Barnies, Oystercatcher, Greylag, Blackbird, Starling, Jackdaw, Mallard, Mute Swan, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Robin, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Pied Wagtail, Curlew, Shelduck, Rock Pipit and Raven."

Up here at home, a different sort of a day, with the wind being a lot calmer, no need to walk at an odd angle, leaning into the wind.. mid you the temperature was not that warm... Late afternoon, I saw a Raven flying in to its' nest up the gullie from here carrying some nesting material , a branch which I reckon was about 2 feet long. It certainly would not have managed to fly with it the other day in the wind!! There was also Buzzard sitting on the top of the crag watching the Raven as well as me ... I counted a group of 42 Jackdaws having a right good howk  (or digging) down in the field below the crag, a Hare was also seen hopping around in amongst the "game crop" and also 3 cock and 7 hen Pheasants were seen along in the field beside the Hare.

Before I forget, the group from Norfolk birding, led by Chris Mills had a total of 110 birds seen when they were over last week, a not bad figure considering the weather and that they left on the Thursday rather than being here another couple of days, but they went back to the mainland early rather than waiting to possibly discover that the ferry might be cancelled. As ever,  many thanks for your birds folks...

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Tuesday 1th February

Here are the figures that Mark, Lauren and Sarah got on the WeBs count on Friday 7th:

Out on Loch Gruinart - E&W
Red-throated-diver 1
Grey heron 1
Shelduck 134
Wigeon 101
Mallard 8
Goldeneye 1
Red-breasted merganser 2
Oystercatcher 144
Ringed plover 18
Lapwing 50
Sanderling 153
Dunlin 119
Bar-tailed godwit 212
Curlew 25
Redshank 30
Turnstone 35
Black-headed gull 1
Common gull 75
Herring gull 46
Great black-backed gull 4
Greenshank 1
Lauren also had 14 Chough at Tayovullin

Ardnave Loch
Lapwing 4
Oystercatcher 7
Mallard 14
Mute swan 2
Little grebe 2
Teal 8
Goldeneye 8

Gary and Wendy yesterday had braved the elements and had a bracing walk from Carnain along to Bridgend seeing Goldeneye, Snipe, Buzzard and also 3 Song Thrushes

The wind steadied up at 65mph today and was quite constant at that rather than being gusty, with the sea boiling again out over the rocks at Coull Point.

Monday 10 February 2020

Monday 10th February

Gary did his WeBS count from Blackrock back round to Bowmore yesterday. The weather was not as bad as they were making out. Just blustery...

4 GND, 7 Red breasted Merganser, 3 Shag, 3 Slavonian Grebe, 8 Eider, 60 Mallard, 3 Goldeneye, 34 Wigeon, 37 Teal, 50 Shelduck, 17 Ringed Plover, 11 Dunlin, 12 Turnstone, 2 Redshank, 136 Oystercatcher, 55 Curlew, 20 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 29 Bar tailed Godwit, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Golden Plover, 15 Black headed Gull, 61 Common Gull, 53 Herring Gull, 5 Great black backed Gull, 28 Brent Geese, 32 Greylag Geese, 800 Barnacle Geese, 3 Whooper Swan, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier.

Gary and Wendy also been out on Saturday and also briefly yesterday as well  seeing a few birds for us
Sat: Bruichladdich, Pale belied Brent Geese, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant
Sun: Carnain, Pale bellied Brent Geese, Shelduck, Barnies, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin and Grey Plover

Forgot to mention that the wind yesterday at Dr Matt's topped a mere 70 mph  in the morning and this afternoon, it only got up to 67 mph, although there have been quite a few dirty squally showers. The ferry sailed this morning making a crossing in both directions, and the plane came over ... 

Sunday 9 February 2020

Sunday 9th February

James counted the floods the other morning at Gruinart… This was the first WeBs count which I have received through from this weekends' counts...
Tufted duck 1
Gadwall 1
Golden plover 2
Shoveler 53
Teal 808
Lapwing 575
Mallard 172
Wigeon 109
Curlew 94
Mute swan 7
Little egret 2
Pintail 80
Redshank 1
BH gull 10
Common gull 12
Whooper swan 16
Snipe 1
Heron 2
 And the Green-winged Teal is still present there!

Saturday 8 February 2020

Saturday 8th February

I received some birds seen on Wednesday and o Thursday from the "2 Steves and Julie". 
On Wednesday at Bridgened Woods saw 2 Dippers, and a  single Coal Tit.  On Jura,  we saw Tystie, 1 White tailed Eagle and really good view of Otter in Craighouse.
On Thursday 6 February, They  had a fine look at 30+ Choughs in glorious sunshine up at Ardnave then on our third visit to the just fantastic Loch Gruinart, amongst the usual suspects, we found a lone Little Grebe, single Greenshank and a couple of Yellowhammer. In the morning, we saw a Gannet and Shag at Portnahaven. As ever, many thanks for your sightings folks, the blog would be a lot "quieter" if folk did not send through what they had seen.... Much appreciated!!! I believe that they had seen 90 species when they were over here for the week.
James on his way home last night had seen 2 Tawny Owls on the reserve at Gruinart.

Chris Mills's sighting of the Fulmar the other day has again proved correct , with it turning out to be rather windy here today, the ferry came first thing this morning, and as I write, it has just set out for another return trip to Islay this evening. The top speed on Dr Matt Jackson's weather station was 67mph at around 16.00 earlier on!!!

Friday 7 February 2020

Friday 7th February

Yesterday morning, Chris Mills had seen a Fulmar fly away from the crag out towards the sea, little wonder the wind has picked up... In the afternoon, Chris had seen  2 different Golden Eagles soaring away, over above at Coull. They appeared to be taking great delight in spoofing the big group of Barnies....

On Thursday, Gary and Wendy Ruffell had seen a Golden Eagle in front of the cottage that they are staying in, when over on Islay, down close to Carnain.
Today (Friday): Carnain,  Grey Plover, Barnies,  Bowmore; R b merganser, Scaup, Redshank, Song  Thrush, Eider, Wigeon. Up at Cnoc Don:  Snipe, Buzzard, Raven and some Greylags were present. Late afternoon, they had a ringtail Hen Harrier fly over the pond behind their cottage.

Thursday 6 February 2020

Thursday 6th February

Some more sightings through from the "Hampshire birders", Gary and Wendy seen yesterday.
Golden Eagle, White tailed Eagle (both on beach at Carnain after killing a barnacle goose), Raven, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Hooded Crow. The following were seen while driving to Bowmore from Carnain; Red throated Diver, R b Merganser, Redshank, Scaup and Wigeon.

Chris Mills  along with his clients from Norfolk birding had been down on the other side yesterday..
At Rockside, they had a Merlin. Over at Kinnabus on the Oa, they saw a flock of 150Twite, 2 Golden Eagles displaying, and also a male Hen Harrier as well as loads of Whitefronted Geese. At Ardbeg, a Grey Wagtail was present as well as a Redpoll, while along at Loch an t Sailein, an Otter was out for a swim.. 2 White tailed Eagles were spotted as they drove out towards Claggain Bay. At Claggain Bay itself, they had 10 GND, 2 Tysties, Common Guillemot, Kittiwake and Gannets seen there. Back along at Callum Sharp's house at Kildalton, they saw 8 Yellowhammers present on the feeders. Finally on Loch Indaal on their way back to their accommodation, they counted 70 Eider, 9 Slav. Grebe, 2 RTD,  Common Scoter, and also 2 L t Ducks

Wednesday 5 February 2020

Wednesday 5th February

Some sightings in from yesterday, from our various different groups of visiting birders who have kindly sent them in for me to use... 

The "2 Steves" and Julie had been out in the strong winds down on the Oa, where they had a small flock of Twite and also a Peregrine. Later on, they had seen  2 juv  Golden Eagles when they were along at Claggain Bay over the moorland. Offshore, a Razorbill was present.

Chris Mills and his clients from Norfolk birding had seen 2 White tailed Eagles soaring past as they were getting ready to go out for the day where they are staying this week. Between Kilchoman School and Grainel, they saw a ringtail HH, only about 10 metres away from Craigens, a male Merlin was present. Down on the head of Loch Indaal, a White tailed Eagle was sitting around... 2 Snipe, 6 Redpoll, 2 Crossbills and also 2 Tree creepers were spotted in at Loch Skerrols. Over at Bunnahabhain, they had another Crossbill, then down at Finlaggan a further 9 Crossbills were added to their list for the day. They then saw 3 Golden Eagles as they drove down the Glen road past Storakaig. On their way past Cash Kelly's house and in the bay at Blackrock, they had seen 6 Slavonian Grebes, 12 GND, 3 RTD, 3 L t Ducks, a Scaup and also a Tystie. To finish their day off,  they counted 20 + Chough flying in to the roost  at Kilchoman.

Returning birders from Hampshire, Gary and Wendy are back over for another trip... Round and about their cottage at Carnain, they had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier, 19 P b Brent Geese, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Shelduck, Snipe and some Dunlin.

Jack Fleming was telling me this morning, that he had been hearing a  Tawny Owl as well as a Barn Owl last night down at his house on the Gruinart Flats... 

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Tuesday 4th February

Gary sent through some sightings seen yesterday..
2 Crossbills at the fir trees at Bunnahabhain, two Red breasted Merganser at the mouth of the river.
Up at Finlaggan, a Grey Wagtail at the cattle feeding station and also a Merlin hunting the Willow bushes over the moorland.

Chris Mills and his group from Norfolk birding had seen the following birds yesterday,
W T Eagle in the morning 2 miles West of Kilchoman distillery & 3pm a Golden Eagle same area.
Bruichladdich, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 18 Turnstone, 18 PB Brents
Gartbreck - 3 Purple Sands, Slavonian Grebe, 6 Knot
Bridgend, Loch Indaal - 51 Ringed Plover, 60 Dunlin.
Gaelic centre, Bowmore  22 PB Brents
1 Golden Eagle over the ridge behind Kilchoman House.

Also yesterday, the "Southern migrants" consisting of the 2 Steves and Julie had been out as well.
We saw a little party of Scoters off Bowmore distillery and three male & one female Eider in Loch Indaal after Bruichladdich, on way to Bowmore.
No long tailed ducks yet!!!

I should point out that the weather yesterday was not that great for seeing birds, so well done folks...

Monday 3 February 2020

Monday 3rd February

Some birds seen by Chris Mills and the guests over from Norfolk birding yesterday..
"Had a cracking day. Started with Male and ringtail Hen Harrier near Saligo, plus 16 Ringed Plover there. Then Gruinart from platform 2 WT Eagles both on the ground , the Drake Green-winged Teal, 2 Greenshank, 2 Snipe, 2 ringtail Hen Harrier, 6 Whoopers, 2 Little Egret, 3000+ Golden Plover & Stonechat. Also out on estuary 10 Grey Plover.
Then Sanaigmore road juv. Peregrine, 2 Male Hen Harrier, 2 Golden Eagle.
Ardnave Point mid afternoon - 36 Chough, imm male Hen Harrier, 40 Twite, a hunting Merlin chasing a Snipe, 7 Goldeneye, 2 G N Diver & an Otter feeding for 30+ mins mid Loch!
A pretty amazing day by anyone’s standards!" 

Distillery Dave had the really good sighting when out with his dogs, a Merlin screamed past, down at Rockside road end, late yesterday afternoon.

Julie and Steve Corney and their friend another "Steve" sent some of their sightings through seen on Friday and on Saturday. It is their first visit to Islay.
"Just finished second day on fabulous Islay, here are some highlights.
Friday.... Gruinart, ringtail hen harrier, and lovely flocks of white fronted & barnacle geese
Barn owl East Ellister later on.

Saturday,  Red throated diver at Sanaigmore Bay.  At Gruinart 2 whoopers , bar tailed godwit , thousands of golden plover, female goldeneye and an otter!"

Sunday 2 February 2020

Sunday 2nd February

Yesterday, Chris Mills along with his group of birders from Norfolk Birding arrived on Islay for hopefully a week of great birding here on Islay, weather permitting..

Coming over on the ferry yesterday, they had seen 2 W t Eagles over the Paps of Jura as they ,approached Port Askaig. On Islay, itself they had seen a male Hen Harrier, just out  of Ballygrant. Down on Loch Indaal, they had 4 Long tailed Ducks, 50 Common Scoters, 7 Scaup, a RTD and also 20 P b Brent Geese.  Last night on their way in to Bowmore, they had spotted a Tawny Owl perched on a tree close to the road around Carnain and the further on a Barn Owl sitting on a fence post at the side of the road. Thanks Chris and to your guests for your sightings, keep them coming.

James had seen a Golden Eagle flying overhead at Mill cottage yesterday, hope that it was not having a look at your chickens...

Saturday 1 February 2020

Saturday 1st February

A much better day with the weather here today, practically rain all with little wind either...

Talking about the weather, well, I have got the rainfall figures for here plus some other from round about as well for January. We had 3.75 inches up here, old friend Clark had 3.5inches down at the croft leading down to Machir Bay and also new contributor Dr Matthew Jackson was in today for a cuppa and he told us that his tally for the month was 2.9 inches. Matthew is one of our doctors on Islay and is George E. Jackson's son and lives down at the road end  leading up to Rockside.

On the bird front, so far, not much to tell you, but the Goldfinches were making the most of the food on offer. "Dr Matt" was well impressed with the number of Pheasants that come to enjoy our food as well....