Thursday 30 April 2020

Thursday 30th April

Matt Jackson sent me the following birds seen by himself over the past few days...
"I had an Osprey by Loch Gorm on my way into work this morning, not far this side of Sunderland Farm. It had a huge trout still flapping in its talons! The House Martins have been back investigation my nest box today (they had a look last week then disappeared again) and there has been a Wheatear in the garden all week - it’s had a couple of altercations with its reflection in the window!" 

Matt also sent this one relating to the corncrakes around now...
"I also had heard a Corncrake from the house here at Rockside this afternoon."

I also believe that he was really fortunate to see a food pass between a pair of Hen Harriers earlier on this week.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Wednesday 29th April

Well, come tomorrow night that will be April in, and if I am not mistaken, a rather dry sort of a month, but like me you will have to wait until I hear from the various keepers of rain gauges around Islay, but watch this space, and on Saturday's entry I will give the stats.

Not much on the bird front tonight, but this morning out on the grass , we saw some feathers on the ground, they were probably from a Wood Pigeon, by the look of things.. Later on and when I looked out the window, there was a Sparrow recycle some of the feathers as it flew off to its' nest box with a few of the feathers in its' beak...

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Tuesday 28th April

Mandy sent the following e mail through to me this afternoon..
"I was lucky enough to be sitting in my front garden yesterday when a Cuckoo clattered past, making that weird gek-gek noise, chasing another one, and it briefly displayed on a nearby wall, fantastic. Then on my evening walk I could hear 2 distinct Cuckoos, one up towards Leek, and then this morning I saw them both on the telegraph wires, only one was calling though. Mike down at Kilchoman heard a Cuckoo this morning too, and saw a Swallow, and whilst I was on the phone to him he saw an Eagle high above Kilchoman crag."

I also heard that Ed Burrell has a Corncrake calling away over at Cornabus.

James had his first Whinchat of the year today, earlier on this morning he had seen a young Golden Eagle and also he had heard 4 Cuckoos calling away.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Caoimhe had heard a Corncrake calling away on the flats at Gruinart..... heard from the door of the bothy last night.

Monday 27 April 2020

Monday 27th April

Yet another similar entry from a month ago, just to let you know that there will be no meeting tomorrow night of the Islay Bird nerds because of the present legislation in place regarding the Coronavirus, social distancing and all that...  One day, we will all meet up, but in the meantime stay safe...

Mary-Ann had seen her first Swallow of the year today, and has been hearing the Cuckoo calling away on a regular daily basis..

Karen Graham has found her answer to the query that she had posted last night,

"Apparently Blackbirds do sometimes wash food before eating it according to Andy on RSPB website when you Google the question."

Sunday 26 April 2020

Sunday 26th April

A couple of birds from yesterday, through from Gary. "A Kestrel flew over woods beside his  house this afternoon. Male Hen Harrier across road at Gartmain and  away along the shore."

Petr emailed through with the following, later on last night...
"At least 3 corncrakes calling here at 8.30pm this evening between Bruichladdich and Conisby."

Bob gave me a shout on the phone this morning.. and he was telling me that he had seen  a Golden Eagle flying over his house a few days ago. Down at Octomore, Bob saw 3 first winter Med Gulls following the plough. On his way to Bowmore, he had counted 22 Whimbrel just past Blackrock.

Also interesting. In garden have a male blackbird often in. Yesterday twice noticed him with a worm which he dipped in bird bath before flying off. Why, to clean it or to wet it as its been so dry ? Cannot say I have noticed this behaviour before. Certainly the bird bath in use for drinking by all the birds and also for bathing. Or like the pigeons simply settle down in it like a cool bath and a dose off.
Karen Graham  from Bearsden had in touch with her question...

David Livingstone heard a GS woodpecker drumming away this morning in the woods at Ardenistle over at Laphroaig.

Lesley e mailed  through some great sightings through as well
"We almost had rain today, but not quite. Still there is a few hours to go. Biting wind again. Walk at Kilchiaran. I stopped to check a bird disappearing into a hedge when a large shadow passed over me. Golden eagle. As I opened the car door at Kilchiaran first 2 birds heard and seen Sand Martins.  Second Whimbrel of the week in the bay. Linnets in pairs and small flocks of Twite. One pair with nesting materials. One bird was colour ringed. L O/Y didn't see R.
A Common Sandpiper on the burn and my second Grasshopper warbler heard on way back. Close and clear view of Sandwich Tern and a GN Diver L Indaal before Bruichladdich.
Another great day."

Saturday 25 April 2020

Saturday 25th April

Karen Graham this morning when out for her daily walk, spotted a "parliament" of 14 Magpies on a large beech tree. What a racket....
 Back home, she had 4 Wood Pigeons enjoying themselves in her bird bath!!!

Mandy, yesterday had a male Hen Harrier out on the wing quartering its patch and then a small bird of prey flew past in a hurry. On her way back to her house she also had a Sedge Warbler and then 2 Groppers reeling away, one on either side of the road. Finally, Mandy had 2 Swallows ...

James was speaking to me earlier on with some birds for the blog as well... Yesterday, he had heard 4 Sedge Warblers and also a Gropper singing away. He also had seen a late Redwing. This morning, he had heard a Cuckoo calling away while his daughter, Eleanor had heard the Corncrake calling away down at Machir Bay..
James reckons now that all the geese have now moved away.

Friday 24 April 2020

Friday 24th April

Lesley had seen a Song Thrush with food and Cuckoo calling next to the house the other day.

Mandy sent me through this e mail
"Yesterday evening, as I started to walk up the Sanaig road, a Merlin flew across in front of me and off towards Loch Gorm, watched it over the field for a few minutes. Lots of Redshank calling down by the loch, and a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling, in a different spot this time. My neighbour had an Adder in his garden today!" 

Thursday 23 April 2020

Thursday 23rd April

Gary had seen the following birds today..
"Two cuckoos busy over the moorland behind the house, quite a few Wheatear around Finlaggan, seven Buzzard in the air around Finlaggan also two juvenile Golden Eagle in the air north & south of the Loch."

Val Peacock had the following birds seen at Foreland when she was out on a short walk there...
"1  Cuckoo, 1 Blackcap & a GSW drumming. (Seems like the species has really established itself on Islay over the past few years and is being noted in all suitable woodland across Islay)."

Mandy, this afternoon had seen a Golden Eagle and  also a Buzzard in the thermals above her house.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Wednesday 22nd April

Mary Redman e mailed some sightings seen by herself and her Dad,  Donald...
"I saw my first tern of the year in the bay here yesterday, not sure of species but it was 'quite' big.
Also there is a flock of around 20 Whimbrel feeding near Claddach. 
The Starlings are very noisy just now- including a Corncrake impersonator! 
My Dad had a magpie on his roof on Kerrera yesterday! I hear there's been a few sightings I'm Argyll, but he did get a shock! 
Hope you're all well, the sunny weather continues!" 

Mandy has also set through some sightings as well....
"This morning, I heard a Cuckoo down beside the phone box at the end of Loch Gorm, my first for this year.
4 red polls just flew over whilst I'm sitting in the sun in my front garden, this afternoon. Green veined white just flew round the front garden.
The Starling has added to its repertoire again- this time an adult male human saying a 3 syllable phrase, couldn't work out what it said!!!!"

Peter sent more birds for the blog, just great!!!
  • a single flock of 23 Eider near Bowmore on the fortnightly shopping visit
  • a single Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper on the shore near Bruichladdich
Lots of Willow warblers, Wheatears and Sand Martin about – plus Sandwich Terns offshore.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Tuesday 21st April

Not much to say on the bird front tonight folks... Having said that Gary had seen a pair of RTD on one of the lochs on Islay... Margaret checked the cameras at home today and she saw a Swallow in one of our sheds, so I am wondering as to whether it is one of the Swallows returned back there from .last year, There were 2 pairs that reared successfully youngsters there last year..

Monday 20 April 2020

Monday 20th April

Mary-Ann Featherstone had seen 2 Goldcrest over at her patch out past Ardbeg yesterday. Also yesterday Mandy and also Lesley had both seen their first Swallows of the year at their respective cottages.

Today Lesley e mailed the following sightings through to me today...
"Had my 2nd Swallow today so must be Summer Also 10am on way to Bowmore a Cuckoo- being buzzed by mippets."

Steve Wrighston who lives up at Bolsay, up behind Port Charlotte e mailed through some birds seen which "he thought you might like to know what birds have been about at Bolsay this week.
We've had 3 Wheatear this morning , there are lots of Willow warblers singing in the scrub on the lane.We've had our first Swallow. My wife and I watched a male Hen Harrier sky dancing and two males flying together over the forest. Reed Buntings and Stonechats are showing every day. The house is surrounded by singing Skylarks and chasing Meadow Pipits. All this is topped off by a brilliant sighting of a White tailed Eagle." 

Sunday 19 April 2020

Sunday 19th April

Mandy sent through the following birds,
"Last night I went for a dusk walk at a slightly later time and heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away, down towards Loch Gorm, and had a drumming Snipe above me." 

Saturday 18 April 2020

Saturday 18th April

Lesley had sent me through the following  seen by her this past week..
"A beautiful week with loads of sun which has brought out the birds, butterflies and bees.
Monday, I had my first Willow Warbler now 4 days later they are singing from every bush. One great view of a bird singing its heart out in a willow full of catkins and bumble bees.
After seeing one summer visitor, I thought I would try for another so went in search for Wheatears along the coast at Saligo on Wednesday and before long I had seen 8. As I turned into my drive there were 2 in the field.
Thursday it was Redwings on the move. I had upward of 100 feeding and moving in a very determined way. I also saw 2 Common Sandpipers and 2 male and 1 female Red breasted Mergansers displaying similarly to great Crested Grebes i.e. extending their heads and necks in the water and propelling themselves forward fast then sitting high in the water. A first for me. Stonechats are singing from the vantage points and all the garden birds are joining in. Primroses, violets and bluebells are out. Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies are on the wing. I have seen a pair of Merlin not far from my house. A fantastic week."

Mandy saw 2 Redwing at the bottom of the track this morning.

James saw a Little Egret as he drove across the flats at Gruinart this morning

Friday 17 April 2020

FRiday 17th April

Mary Redman was in touch last night, after I had written the entry for yesterday, honest...
"Today I heard one! I thought I heard a Corncrake yesterday but it was so quick and didn't call again, but today it was nice and clear.  Also a Willow Warbler calling away out the back, and I saw a Common Sandpiper at Port Wemyss yesterday."

Mary-Ann Featherstone was touch to say that she had 4 Arctic Terns and also noted that the Eiders are back, both seen yesterday out from where she lives on Islay. Today, in her garden, Mary-Ann was seeing Willow Warblers and hearing the noisy Coal Tits at the feeders there. She was also telling me that her friend who lives in Port Ellen has seen that the Rooks are back on their nests in the trees at the rear of her garden.

James was on the phone earlier on this evening, saying that he had an adult White tailed Eagle flyover Mill Cottage today. While walking along to the office at Bushmills, he had a Blackcap, and  back at home, he saw a House Martin.

David Wood was in touch to say that Bonnie, his wife had seen a Black Redstart in their garden this morning, needless to say he did not see it as he was out feeding the cows...  It can be a tough life sometimes, David!!!!

Thursday 16 April 2020

Thursday 16th April

David Barr was in touch back on Monday saying that he had just seen a Green Woodpecker when out with his 2 dogs over at Lochearnhead that morning...

Mandy has had a great day with the birds around where she lives on Islay...
"This morning I had the Redwing again in the tree at the rear of her house, sunning itself. Late afternoon, just sitting in my front garden listening to a starling going through its repertoire of the usual buzzard, curlew, crow, raven, gull, blackbird etc., then it threw in a bleating lamb!Exceptionally good. If it wasn't coming from the roof I'd have believed it was real ...And it has just did a chough too! And I've seen the willow warbler, appropriately enough in my willow in the front garden😄. Just heard a second willow warbler up here, one is calling close by and a second further away 😊"

Dr Matt Jackson had been down at Machir Bay, late afternoon
"Was out for my authorised bought of exercise this evening and heard my first Corncrake of the year down by the parking area at the beach at Machir Bay! There were also quite a number (20+) of what seemed to be mixed sand and house martins among the dunes along the middle and south end of the beach."

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Wednesday 15th April

Mary Redman yesterday had heard her first Grasshopper Warbler of the year, down close to Portnahaven..
Meanwhile, Mandy had  seen a couple of Linnet at the bottom of the track, on the fence. 

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Tuesday 14th April

Mandy was in touch by an e mail earlier on this afternoon,
"I heard a Willow warbler today for the first time this year, behind my house. I also saw 2 separate wheatears down the track, and a song thrush behind my house."

Mary-Ann Featherstone had seen a male Hen Harrier and also a Cuckoo down close to where she lives down out between Ardbeg and Ardtalla.

Monday 13 April 2020

Monday 13th April

Mary-Ann Featherstone who lives along the coast from Ardbeg Distillery sent through some birds of interest..
"The Cuckoo arrived on the 8th, only 1 at the moment, we often get 3 calling at once.
The Greater spotted Woodpecker is tapping loudly in the trees.
Tawny Owls calling day and night most days since last week.
Grey Herons seen in pairs.
Great Northern Diver in the bay."

Sunday 12 April 2020

Sunday 12th April

James was in touch today. Today, he saw 4 Wheatears seen out from Mill Cottage, and then yesterday in his garden he had 2 Willow Warbler, a Redpoll, a Goldcrest and also a Sparrowhawk.

Gary had sent me through some sightings
"Some birds from today, on Loch Finlaggan. 17 Tufted Duck, 5 Mallard, 1 Mute Swan, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Red throated Diver.  7 Common Crossbill were present in trees at the house."

Saturday 11 April 2020

Saturday 11th April

Peter last night was in touch..

"A single Sandwich Tern was seen off Bruichladdich – I think it is the first Islay record this year, though there have been at least two earlier records in April in Argyll"

Some sightings of birds came through from Mandy this morning

"Last night at dusk two groups of 20 white fronts headed towards Loch Gruinart, and around 60 grey lags on the ground, scattered throughout the fields below the track.
Curlew calling, then this morning ravens cronking away." 

Friday 10 April 2020

Friday10th April

Yesterday Mary Redman had seen her first Swallow of the year flying across the bay down at Portnahaven. Also yesterday in the early evening, Mary counted over 100 Redwing flying past, up behind the village.

Mandy has also sent some sightings seen by herself
"Tuesday, at dusk 200 white fronts and 300 barnies flying towards Loch Gruinart, then on Wednesday at dusk 50 white fronts, then last night nothing (apart from the usual 20 or so greylags in the fields).
Yesterday and the day before a calling chough flew over.
Last week, there was a flock of around 50 skylarks at the top of the track, some dust bathing.
Last night, I heard a mistle thrush singing at dusk."

Gary sent me through some birds seen and heard by him
"Willow Warblers arrived last night, loads singing today, male Hen Harrier quartering over the moorland behind house, Greenfinch, Chaffinch & Goldfinch at the big bird table." 

David Barr who before was called Distillery Dave, but now living in  Lochearnhead reported in this evening with some birds..
"Rock Pipits , Kestrel and Wheatear, all seen while out for his walk (with Ted and Ella, his dogs) in Glen Kendrum."

Thursday 9 April 2020

Thursday 9th April

The other day Lesley had seen a Peacock butterfly out in her garden..

This morning I had an e mail through from Yvonne McCrone who lives over close to Otter Ferry on the mainland, her brother and nephew farm down close to Port Ellen, and keeps an eye on the blog.
"She had seen 5 Swallows at Otter Ferry yesterday. Also Richard in Strathlachlan has seen Redpoll and Nuthatch.
All good wishes from Loch Fyneside.  
Yvonne "

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Wednesday 8th April

David Wood sent me through an e mail in which he told me that Duncan McNeill had seen a Little Tern yesterday down on the Big Strand. It was there again this morning as well.

David Wood had seen a Blackcap down on the Oa reserve today.

Peter was in touch earlier on this evening saying that he has seen 8 Black Guillemots (Tystie) on the pier at Bruichladdich. He was also telling me that Val Peacock had an Adder out sunning itself.....

David Barr was speaking to me a wee while ago and he was saying that he had seen 3 Goldfinches this morning, in the garden of his house at Lochearnhead. David often also sees some Goldeneye on the loch itself when out walking his faithful dogs, Ted and Ella...

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Tuesday 7th April

David Wood yesterday had seen 4 Sand Martins and a Swallow down on the Oa yesterday.

I have just heard that the British Bird Fair which should have been held in August down close to Rutland Water has been cancelled, another victim of that virus.....

Monday 6 April 2020

Monday 6th April

What a mess this country, in fact the whole world is in with the dreaded Coronavirus still causing a lot of people  a tremendous amount of inconvenience, and that is putting it politely. To think that this virus has spread all over and not really showing any real signs of abating... As you might have gathered there are no reported sighting sightings of any birds on Islay today....

Sunday 5 April 2020

Sunday 5th April

Today, James saw a Green Sandpiper flying over Islay ....

Gary was also in touch with some birds seen by himself
"Some birds for today, a Yellowhammer was back on the big bird table. Ring tailed Hen Harrier seen over the moor above Finlaggan. Three Swallows were over the moorland."

Karen Graham had a female Bullfinch on her feeders in Bearsden this morning.....

Saturday 4 April 2020

Saturday 4th April

Gary sent some birds through....
"Some sightings from yesterday & today,
Yesterday, a male Hen Harrier at Finlaggan, 1 male Wheatear in field above Finlaggan. Second male Wheatear was seen up behind Scanistle. Today, a Peregrine flew over my house."

I was speaking to James earlier on this evening and he was saying that he had seen a White tailed Eagle at the head of Loch Indaal this morning and then shortly afterwards he saw a White Wagtail out from Mill cottage.

I was in touch with Dave Pierce regarding a Golden Eagle that Jim Dickson had seen over Jim's house at Cairnbaan this morning, but sorry to say that Jim's bird was not the same one that Dave had made initial contact with me about. But, on a positive note from Dave who told me that his bird was back in the district on Thursday night. It passed through Mull after departing Jura, then roosted in Morven. In the mean time, Dave has offered to try to find more details for us on Jim's bird, so watch this space...

David Barr was in touch today as well, reporting from Lochearnhead where he now lives. He had a Red Kite fly past the other day. He is enjoying having the sound of Curlew echoing around the glen in early evening . Seem to be resident in  the fields in front of the house. While out with the duo Ted and Ella, his 2 dogs, this morning had two Nuthatch together searching the trees for breakfast !

Karen Graham today was in touch as well..
"Looking out of kitchen window and a male Goldcrest was going round back door spiders webs in search of insects. During the winter I did not see a Goldcrest at all as I have done in past years so was delighted to see this one. A nest must be nearby."

Friday 3 April 2020

Friday 3rd April

Well, thanks mainly to the coronavirus, I am sorry  to say that there are no birds for you to read about tonight...  By the way, it sure is stopping most of the birders going out and about. I was in touch with Matt  Merritt, the other day and he told me that the proposed trip up to Scotland the other week had been cancelled, but hoped that it might be scheduled for the Autumn possibly.... Matt is the editor of the Bird watching magazine. Another topic that came up was about the Bird Fair at Rutland normally held in August, but again by the sound of things might well be cancelled out. Once I hear of anything further about the Bird Fair, I will let you know.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Thursday 2nd April

Gary emailed through some sightings from today...
"2 male Hen Harrier at Finlaggan, White tailed Eagle high up over hills, 3 Red breasted Merganser on loch, 7 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe.
Linnets singing on territories. Sand Martin on Loch Finlaggan."

Some sightings through from James as well,
"a Merlin was seen as I was driving across the Flats and managed to read a few Barny rings from the Kitchen window - Good old ULB was there as usual he has been coming to this field since we moved into Mill Cottage (and probably before)."

James was saying that he had 5inches of rain at Mill cottage and he told me that the rain gauge at Shepherds cottage for the months Feb/ March came to 9.5 inches a total for both months as I forgot to empty it out at the end of February...

Dave Pierce was in touch regarding the Golden Eagle which he has been tracking...
"She roosted Monday night at Gleann Ullibh on the south end of Jura. Next day travelling northwards virtually the whole length of the island before crossing to Mull."

Great when others contribute to the blog....

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Wednesday 1st April

Dave Pierce who leads tours for Naturetrek and has led tours to Islay in the past, was in touch with some interesting information on a Golden Eagle, and no, it is correct not an April Fool's spoof...
"I just though you'd be interested to know a Golden Eagle from one of the territories I have been monitoring in my Badenoch district visited Islay.  It fledged in July 2019. It arrived on Islay near Port Askaig at c1800 hrs on Sunday. It's a tagged female and roosted on the N side of Beinn Bhan around Ulilt Ruadha. The next morning she flew S to be midway between Leorin & Leorin Lochs before heading back north & off the island."
Thanks for your info Dave, much appreciated...

As promised, some info on the rain which we had on Islay during March. Dr Matt Jackson's rain gauge down at Rockside road end held a mere 2.92 " for the month while Marsali's came to the best part of 4.56" over at Muindry, exactly the same figure that she had back in January...