Tuesday 31 March 2020

Tuesday 3st March

Well that's another month almost past, so tomorrow I will try to tell you the figures for the rain which fell into the various rain gauges round Islay... interesting stuff...

Morven e mailed through this morning to give me the figure for the Greylag geese from the International Goose count carried out the other week. The total came to 690 Geese, and as Morven said, that several of the geese are already paired up.... Thanks again to Morven for the info...

Mandy was back in touch this afternoon, saying that she had seen the Redwing in her garden again today...

Monday 30 March 2020

Monday 30th March

James yesterday had a Wheatear on the reserve at Gruinart, seen from his garden.

Peter has just noticed this evening from the house here in Bruichladdich, the first decent count of GNDs I’ve seen all winter out on Loch Indaal. A number of small groups were visible offshore totalling 36 birds. There were only 4-5 RTDs with them.

Please remember that there is NO bird nerds meeting tomorrow evening....  "STAY SAFE"

Sunday 29 March 2020

Sunday 29th March

Mary Redman was in touch by e mail  this morning...
"Saw an other 2 Wheatears yesterday, and she also saw  pheasant hen out the window this morning. It's lovely weather but freezing! My first sheep lambed, triplets! Spring must be here..."

Malcolm had also been in touch today..
"A local, who knows their birds but wouldn't describe themselves as a birder, has just told me of a male Marsh Harrier seen this morning flying below Sunderland. The description was fine - I was phoned for confirmation which I was happy to give. A pretty good date.
This good weather should make the geese think of departing, but the northerly wind may well put them off for at least a few more days. It would be truly glorious without the frost at night."

Mandy was in touch this afternoon with the following birds... Mandy lives in a cottage with spectacular views down over Loch Gorm.
"I've just seen a Redwing in my garden! It scuttled through the old tree near my shed and then just sat and looked at me! Amazing.
The other morning I did a sunrise walk down the track, 'dawn chorus' included white fronts, barnies and greylags flying over, ravens, skylarks, meadow pipits, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, wheatear! Then in my garden, great tit, blue tit, goldfinch, sparrows, chaffinches, thrush, blackbird. Lovely"

Karen Graham who is a regular visitor to Islay sent some sightings of birds seen lately in her garden in Bearsden..
"A great pick you up at times like this. A beautiful male bullfinch in full colour plumage on seed feeder. Must have a nest nearby. Regulars are all tits including a pair of long tails, sparrows, dunnocks, robins, starlings, blackbirds, wood pigeons, feral pigeons, Greater spotted Woodpeckers, few chaffinch and no goldfinches or Siskins which were present at end of February. She also had seen 2 Magpies"

Saturday 28 March 2020

Saturday 28th March

Peter was in touch, by email,  earlier on with the following statement..
"From my self-isolation in Bruichladdich (a precaution as I’ve come in from Tanzania NOT because I’ve got the lurgy!) I noted a Gannet in Loch Indaal. There have been some offshore I believe, but this may be the first of the season coming up into the Loch?"

Good friend, Armin Grewe who is usually over staying on Islay for Walkislay and other times on   holiday later on every year sent through some birds which he has been spotting while out for a walk close to Aldermanstone in Berkshire...

"This morning I spotted six Herons in a flooded field near the end of my walking route along the canal. I think that's largest number of Herons I've seen together so far, usually only see one or maximum 2-3. Oh, and in the background a Red Kite seemed to be chasing a smaller bird through some trees (unfortunately too far away to make out what the smaller bird was).

Yesterday I saw/heard three Jays. To be precise, I saw and heard one in a tree right above the towpath. And I could hear the other two calling, one on each side of the one I could see. One was somewhere on the other side of the canal, the other in the woods on the side of the towpath.

A few days ago I noticed a small volery (yes, I looked that up) of Long-tailed Tits, which is unusual, usually I only see Blue Tits and Great Tits along that stretch of the canal.

Quite a few Goldfinches about, which is nice as like their colours."

Before I forget, there will  NOT be a meeting of the BIRD NERDS this coming Tuesday, due to the Coronavirus. So, STAY SAFE, and sometime, we can all meet up again...

Friday 27 March 2020

Friday 27th March

Some sightings of birds seen by Mary Redman down and around Portnahaven
"I was out on my little walk out the village and saw my first Wheatear! Also a WTE spoofing the geese on Mackenzie island. There's plenty Redshank calling and I noticed a pair of Pied Wagtail at Claddach and by Queen Street. On Monday night I was coming home and saw a Barn Owl by Whin park. The Chough pair have been active over the village and at Claddach too."

Gary has been busy out in his garden today but still managed some birds for the blog....
" Golden Eagle displaying at hills behind Lossit Farm, 2 Chough backwards and forwards over moorland in front of house & a male Goosander taking of from Loch nan Cadhan flying over us towards Loch Finlaggan."

Mark Shields had heard a Chiffchaff in his garden yesterday up at Moulin and this afternoon James saw a male Yellowhammer in his garden across the road from Mark. 


Thursday 26 March 2020

Thursday 26th March

Gary was in touch this morning by e mail...
"Yesterday 10 Lesser Redpoll over moorland in front & behind house checking out willows."

Steve Percival was as in touch late afternoon, regarding the dead Barnie that Bob found. It was ringed on 19 July last year on the breeding grounds in SE Iceland by Carl Mitchell and a team of Icelanders (as a juvenile, hatched that year). This was the first record of it since ringing.  Bob told me later on, that he felt that the goose had been shot, but hard to be 100% sure as it was fairly well decomposed..

David Wood had seen a Stock Dove down on the Oa today, a new tick for the Oa records.

Malcolm kindly sent me this e mail regarding the policy being carried out by Calmac regarding ferry travel to Islay.
"CalMac at Kennacraig are now asking for confirmation from travellers that they have a permanent address on the island. Even if the great majority have realised for themselves that they shouldn't be travelling here, it might save a wasted journey for a small number." 
I believe that as of tomorrow, we are on a single ferry crossing with 2 return trips per day and only a single return trip on Sundays.
Also on the travel front, I believe that HIAL the overall company responsible for operating the airport, has said that all the airports operated by them will be shut for passengers from Sunday onwards....

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Wednesday 25th March

I was speaking to James this morning, and he told me that he had seen a Swallow on the reserve at Gruinart yesterday. Also on the floods at Gruinart, he had seen 2 Green winged Teal, but sad to say it was 2 drakes rather than a male and female...

The Horwich birders had a Chiffchaff in their garden earlier on today, so perhaps Spring is not that far away!!!

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Tuesday 24th March

Sorry folks but no sightings have been reported in today. So I can ask a big favour of any birders around, if you see a Sand Martin, a Wheatear or even a Common Sandpiper when you are over on Islay, please let me know, many thanks in anticipation!!!!

Monday 23 March 2020

Monday 23rd March

Morven sent through the tally from the International Goose Count which was carried out last week. The totals were as follows 33,202 Barnies and also 5,910 Whitefronts. Many thanks to Morven and the team of counters for these figures.

Gary had been out for some messages today and had seen the following birds:
"64 Red Knott, 6 Bar tailed Godwit, 11 Curlew, 54 Oystercatcher at Gartmain, male Hen Harrier at Finlaggan but best of all was this morning 2 Crossbills in tree at giant bird table in the garden."

Sunday 22 March 2020

Sunday 22nd March

Yes, it is an "odd" sort of a world that we are living in at present, the stories that we are hearing of regarding the Coronavirus. The stories about the folk who have been clearing shelves of toilet rolls, no eggs, no beer, no flour, no pasta and so the list goes on. Mind you with many pubs and hotels closing down, some of them are offering carry out foods/ or ready meals , an excellent idea as it will keep some of their staff in employment and save us having to cook the tea...

So, as you might have gathered from my rant, that I have no sightings of birds seen on Islay today, as like a lot of other "sensible" folk, most of us are self lock down.... So keep safe, and all going well I might have a more interesting entry for you tomorrow, hopefully!!!

Saturday 21 March 2020

Saturday 21st March

Speaking with Bob earlier on today and he was saying to me that he "feels" that at present that there are more Curlews and Lapwings displaying and also calling away at present this year, something positive to speak about at present... Something else of interest was that James has been noticing some more Barn Owl pellets...

Friday 20 March 2020

Friday 20th March

Gary had counted 202 Whooper Swans flying North this afternoon following the Sound of Islay.

Thursday 19 March 2020

Thursday 19th March

Gary yesterday had seen the following birds when he was out and about...
"Ring tailed Hen Harrier at Loch Tallant on the High road, 11 Buzzard in total along the High road, male Hen Harrier at Kintra, male Hen Harrier at Keppols. Crossbills showing well at Finlaggan."

Margaret today had seen 6 Hares out chasing each other around out in the game crop...

I see that Calmac have decided to stop taking any new ferry bookings for anyone wishing to travel on the ferries until the 15th of July. Some of the hotels and restaurants on Islay and Jura have been quite inventive in that you can order a carry out meal, or better still they are offering to deliver your food direct to your house!!!

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Wednesday 18th March

Mid afternoon today, Helen Brown saw 2 Whooper Swans land on Ardnahoe Loch.

Today, I  heard that Gary has decided to stop to take folk out around Islay, due to the Coronavirus bug that is sweeping all over the world at present. I believe that all the distilleries on Islay are shut to visitors, as is the Pottery at Persabus. There is even talk of the ferry services being cautious of taking passengers, but we will just have to wait and see.... Walk Islay is cancelled as is the Paps race on Jura and today we heard that the Feis is cancelled as well...

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Tuesday 17th March

"Dave and Jean got out this morning before the rain and went to Gruinart for the 4th time
to try and find the Green-winged Teal and this time tey did, from the South hide.
There was also a drake Gadwall from the same hide along with a Greenshank and 3 Snipe.
From the North hide they saw 3 White-tailed Eagles."

James today had a spell out of the office and his top birds included ...
"At Gruinart, 2 White tailed Eagles, a Golden Eagle and also a Hen harrier. He also had a Snow Bunting up at Ardnave."

Monday 16 March 2020

Monday 16th March

Dave and Jean Killick had today seen a juvenile White-tailed Eagle in front of their cottage at Coullabus. Also today they had seen the following birds when on a short trip round the Rhinns..
At Portnahaven, there were a few Fulmars and a good number of Gannets flying South.
At Kilchiaran Bay, there were at least 10 Fulmars, 8 Eider, 2 Great Northern Divers and 2 Tysties.

Sunday 15 March 2020

Sunday 15th March

Yesterday Dave and Jane Killick had been up at Ardnave,

"On Loch Ardnave there were 5 Goldeneye and a Slavonian Grebe. On the dunes we counted at least 7 Choughs, a Rock Pipit and just south of the loch we saw a single Twite with a Reed Bunting. "

Saturday 14 March 2020

Saturday 14th March

Yesterday Dave and Jean Killick
" We spent the day on Jura where the highlights were a juvenile White-tailed Eagle, Merlin, single Rock Pipit, several Great Northern Divers along with a single Redwing and a small flock of 12 Fieldfares. 
On our way home there was a juvenile Golden Eagle just off the road between Loch Indaal and Coullabus close to Cnoc nan Nathrach. "

Friday 13 March 2020

Friday 13th March

Mark Dawson yesterday sent some sightings through as follows..
"Terrible weather but still some sightings. Bowmore pier had 2 close up GN Divers and a fly by WT Eagle. Port Ellen had 3 Eiders sitting next to the pier. Bunnahabhain had a GN Diver and 2 Golden Eagles circling the hills behind"...

Dave and Jean Kellett also had been out yesterday...
"It’s been horrible here today, gales and heavy showers and all our birding was done from the car.
At Ardnave there was a pair of Goldeneye on the Loch and a good number of Choughs floating about.
Driving around Loch Gorm a Sparrowhawk escorted us down the road and then as we had lunch down at Machair Bay, 5 Snow Bunting appeared in front of us but flew off within 5 minutes.
Nothing else of note today but the Snow Bunting was a first for us on Islay."

James today had been out counting the geese on the reserve at Gruinart, plus one or two other species seen there as well...
"Barnies           5275
Whitefronts       283
 Little Egret          2 on floods
Golden Eagle       1
L bb Gull             1 on floods"

Thursday 12 March 2020

Thuirsday 12th March

Yesterday Dave and Jean Killick had been out and about
"We have been dodging the showers. We started around Bowmore where we spotted a Great Northern Diver and 2 Scaup.
Loch Skerrols was quiet except for a small flock of Tufted Duck and a pair of Bullfinches in the woods. In the fields at Eallabus there was a flock of at least 31 Skylarks.
Our last stop was a walk from Ballygrant through to Lily Loch. On Loch Ballygrant we found 3+ Little Grebes and as we walked through, we found a single Brambling, 12+ Redwings, a Grey Wagtail and a Great Spotted Woodpecker."

Gary had also braved the elements yesterday as well...
"Went looking for the Lapland Bunting on the Coullabus road. No joy but had over 30 Reed Buntings at wee quarry near Lagstoban. Male Hen Harrier up at Finlaggan."

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Wednesday 11th March

Back on Monday, Lesley managed to carry out her WeBS count from Bowmore along to Gartbreck , before terrain came along.. Birds counted by Lesley were as follows... 51 Barwits, 23 Curlew, 40 Golden Plover, 40 Oystercatcher, 3 Ringed PLover, 7 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 85 Barnies, 19 Greylags, 5 R b Merganser, 13 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 32 Wigeon, 5 Eider, 8 Mallard, 12 Shelduck,  3 Redshank, 9 Gbb Gulls, 1 Lbb Gull, 48 H Gulls and 19 Common Gull.

Today, Mark Dawson had been out with some sightings sent through as follows..
"I went over to Jura today hillwalking. There were 5 Snow Buntings below the summit ridge of Beinn an Oir. 6 RB Mergansers close to shore just north of Craighouse. A White tailed Eagle seen from a high point of road 2 miles south of the Feolin Ferry and 2 GN Divers just off the Ferry Pier at Feolin itself."

James too had sent an email through...
"A slightly better day today, not quite so many hail showers. Setting the sluices ready for the spring when it does finally come. Skylarks singing and Lapwing displaying, plus lots of frog spawn in ditches.
Also on the reserve, Sunday afternoon: Jack Snipe, Water Rail, Skylarks 110, Greenshank, and other side of Bowmore, a Lesser black backed Gull."

Tuesday 10 March 2020

tuesday 10th March

Mark Dawson sent me through this e mail earlier on this evening...

"I arrived on Islay today for a couple of days of birding so have been following your blog in recent weeks to look for the best areas...
Thought you might like to know that at Ardnave today there were 25 Choughs (23 were together in 1 flock on the ground just before I got back to the car!). There was also a flock of around 40 Twite."

Monday 9 March 2020

Monday 9th March

Dave and Jean Killick are back over doing another stint of birding on Islay and sent me through  their top birds seen on yesterday and today..
"On Sunday 8th in the south hide at Gruinart we saw a distant Golden Eagle way over to the east.
Sadly, we couldn’t find the Green-winged Teal but did see 2 Greenshank, 3 Snipe, 2 Little Egrets and 2 Whooper Swans amongst all the usual wildfowl.
Today, the 9th we walked from our cottage at Coullabus along the moorland road to Loch Indaal and
as we walked back we stopped for a coffee and saw some Sky Larks in a field together with a stunning male Lapland Bunting going into breeding plumage."

Ron from Islay Info had also seen a Little Egret out from the Visitor centre at Gruinart yesterday, a new bird for Ron to add to his list

Sunday 8 March 2020

Sunday 8th March

Gary carried his WeBS count today, from Blackrock round to Bowmore..
Great Northern Diver 8, Red breasted Merganser 14, Cormorant 2, Shag 9, Eider 21, Scaup 4, Mallard 66, Goldeneye 3, Wigeon 123, Shelduck 53, Common Scoter 69, Ringed Plover 21, Turnstone 2, Redshank 20, Oystercatcher 280, Curlew 111, Common Snipe 1, Bar tailed Godwit 2, Grey Heron 1, Mute Swan 5, Black headed Gull 67, Common Gull 436, Herring Gull 128, Lesser black backed Gull 1, Great black backed Gull 9, Barnacle Geese 3503, White fronted Geese100, Brent Goose 1, Greylag Geese 49

Gary also saw a White tailed Eagle over Persabus.

Saturday 7 March 2020

Saturday 7th March

A final e mail  from "The Rochdale Birders" with some birds seen over the past few days seen when over here for this visit...
"13 Crossbills at Finlaggan around the house garden, 1 Goldcrest  at Avenvogie, a Female Hen Harrier at Gruinart and also 5 Hares seen boxing at Port Charlotte"

Gary e mailed some sightings seen by himself yesterday....
" Over at Bunnahabhain all three divers, 7 Great Northern, 2 Red throated & 1 Black throated Divers.
Also 7 Common Crossbill in the fir trees."

Friday 6 March 2020

Friday 6th March

Sarah Bedford had sent through the WeBS counts which she had carried out today...

Ardnave Loch
Loch Gruinart

Great-northern diver





Tufted duck



Red-breasted merganser



Ringed plover










Bar-tailed godwit




Common gull


Herring gull


Lesser black-backed gull


Great black-backed gull





Mute swan

Whooper swan


Little egret


Black-headed gull







Thursday 5 March 2020

THursday 5th March

Some  sightings seen yesterday by Gary
"From Finlaggan 4 White tailed Eagles high up, 3 Golden Eagles, 11 Buzzards, 1 Hen Harrier, 3 Sparrowhawks & 1 Kestrel.
At least 9 Crossbills."

Christine Menzies had seen the following birds yesterday as well...
"2 Golden Eagles and 2 Buzzards down past Kildalton Cross in the afternoon."

Wednesday 4 March 2020

Wednesday 4th March

Marsali has kindly sent me though her rainfall tallies for January and also for February from over at Mulindry..."The rainfall for January was 115mms or 4.6” and for February 235mms or 9.4”   The paper we get said that it was the wettest February since records began but we had a wetter February in 2014.   I think it depends on where you live and how much water actually reaches the gauge".
The rain gauge at Matt Jackson's house at Rockside road end came to 6.35 inches for February !!!.

The Rochdale birders had sent some sightings through from Monday and Tuesday..
"On Monday, we went to Claggain Bay .  Black throated and Great northern Divers. Good view of male Peregrine, on a wall at Leorin on the High Road. Adult and juvenile Golden Eagle at Cladville on the Rhinns. On Tuesday, at Storakaig... 3 Golden Eagles together over the hills, with a male Hen Harrier quartering its patch. Down at Finlaggan, 4 Crossbills were present.

Mark Shields commented on the following today
"A nice day on Islay for the first time in a long time. The flats at Gruinart are suddenly full of frisky lapwings! Also around the reserve…436 Dunlin, Greenshank, 4 Sanderling, 109 Skylark and a single Sparrowhawk" 

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Tuesday 3rd March

Gary sent through some sightings  for me to use on the blog for you all to appreciate...
"Some sightings from yesterday,
Bunnahabhain - 5 Crossbills in fir trees at distillery,
Finlaggan - 6 Fieldfare in fields around steading,
Esknish - 2 Lesser black backed Gulls amongst Common Gulls in field after Barnacle Geese had moved on."

Monday 2 March 2020

Monday 2nd March

Richard Wesley had been over last week  leading a group from Lorn Natural History Group
"We recorded 91 species during that period, slightly down on my expected total, but the weather was against us most days, including a snowstorm on Wednesday.  The records include our return journey from Port Ellen to Kennacraig.

We met Ken Reeves and his fellow birders from Leicestershire and exchanged a few sightings, they seemed a knowledgeable group.  We all enjoyed our stay on Islay with excellent accommodation and as always fabulous birds.  If you're interested in any of our photographs from our visit they can be found on the 'Lorn Natural History Group' Facebook Group page."

If I can remember correctly "Ken and the Elite 5" had a tally of 95 different species seen.

Sunday 1 March 2020

Sunday 1st March

A few comments back through from Ken Reeves who led "the Elite 5"
"This was, for me, the best year for birds even though every day the sun shone, it rained, it snowed and the wind blew ! Ken managed with help from Steve Lister to record 3 x Greenland Whitefront  neck collars  and 27 Barnacle darvic leg rings . 
With birders from Leicestershire, Yorkshire and Norfolk , it was mind blowing !!"
Many thanks for your birds folks...

Gary who owns Wild Islay Birding had sent through some sightings seen when he was out over the last couple of days 
"Yesterday, along coast north of Bunnahabhain – juv White tailed Eagle, 2 Kestrels, 1 Merlin & 1 Otter. 
Today – Kilnaughton – 21 Shag, 3 Cormorant, 7 GND, 3 RTD, 1ST Gannets (11) of the year.
Cornabus – 300 Barnacle Geese, 31 Herring Gull, 10 Common Gull, 21 Black headed Gull, 1 Great black backed Gull & 1 juv Glaucous Gull, numerous Lapwing, 30 – 40 Skylark & male Hen Harrier.
Bowmore harbour – Red breasted Merganser, Goldeneye, Slavonian Grebe, Long tailed Duck & Red throated Diver (all in harbour)."
This morning, Helen Brown who lives up at Ardnahoe had seen a Mistle Thrush in her garden, the first that Helen has ever had at Ardnahoe..