Friday 31 July 2020

Friday 31st July

Apologies about there not being any entries on the blog for the last couple of days, but time just has run away, but hopefully "normal service" will resume again..

Gary, this morning had seen an Osprey fishing at the mouth of the River Sorn at Bridgend. Later on he emailed a list of birds seen by himself..
"Back at pull in by Donald Bell's. Osprey flying off over trees towards Loch Skerrols. Other birds about 137 Oystercatcher, 100 Curlew, 17 Whimbrel, 5 Dunlin, 6 Greenshank, 41 Bar tailed Godwit 3 Black tailed Godwit."

So I wonder what the tallies will come to for the rain that has fallen on Islay during July, but hopefully I will give you more on that tomorrow night. Matt Jackson's weather station recorded a wind speed of 56mph this morning at 2 pm...

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Tuesday 28th July

Good friend Karen Graham who lives in Bearsden is back home from her recent holiday up North and I received this e mail through from Karen yesterday

"What a lot of noise from gulls yesterday over house. Looking out there was a buzzard low down over head which they had all ganged up on. Very noticeable is the increasing number of herring gulls and now buzzards in this urban area. Unfortunately, a neighbour is feeding gulls in his garden so often they now perch on our roof calling loudly. Now our car is a target at times and we are not in up North where it is part of life at this time of year from nesting to rearing young...."

Monday 27 July 2020

Monday 27th July

Yesterday, James saw an Osprey fishing at Loch Gruinart, mind you I forgot to ask if it had been successful or not.. He also had counted 65 Barwits as well as 24 Dunlin present there as well. Later on, over at Kilnaughton Bay he saw a Sandwich Tern and also 4 Whimbrel...

Sunday 26 July 2020

Sunday 26th July

Well, just I thought that due to the restrictions in place with the Coronavirus, there will not be a meeting of the Islay bird nerds on this coming Tuesday evening.  At least that is something out of my control. What a catch up, we will all be having once we do manage to meet up again...

Saturday 25 July 2020

Saturday 25th July

Before I forget, I think that due to the blessed Coronavirus, there will not be a meeting of the bird nerds this coming Tuesday evening, but I will check exactly the ins and outs of it tomorrow, and will tell you about it all on tomorrow night's blog....

Friday 24 July 2020

Friday 24th July

Yvonne McCrone who lives over close to Otterferry has been over on Islay for a few days , and Yvonne wrote to tell me that she had seen at least 12 Whimbrel on the newly cut field at Cornabus. Have there been any more sightings to confirm this? They were there yesterday and today. We also had one staying a while at Otterferry before I came over here. . by the sound of news coming through, I believe that there were Whimbrels that she had seen..

Gary had been out and about today as well, 
"Some sightings from today, 47 Bar tailed Godwits & 2 Black tailed Godwits amongst the curlew and oystercatchers. Male Hen Harrier quartering the moorland just outside Bowmore"

Thursday 23 July 2020

Thursday 23rd July

Gary sent some birds that he had seen yesterday.....
"Some sightings, two Corncrake calling out by Port Charlotte. On Uiskentuie strand at the spit some small flocks of mixed small waders, including Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Turnstone & Sanderling."

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Wednesday 22nd July

Dave Woods sent through the following seen on the RSPB Oa reserve...

"Wood warbler at Kinnabus yesterday plus 2 Goldcrest
2 Swifts feeding with a mixed flock of Swallow, House and Sand Martins over one of our sown bird crops today were first ones I’ve seen linger here, rather than just whizz through."

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Tuesday 21st July

Gary had sent me though this list of birds seen by him at Finlaggan yesterday...

"4 Buzzard, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 White-tailed Eagle, 7 Tufted Ducks, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Red-throated Diver, and also a large flock of Twite (100+)."

Monday 20 July 2020

Monday 20th July

Clive McKay's brother in law, Bob Young sent me through a list of birds which he had seen when over on Islay last week. Clive himself , many years ago worked at the RSPB reserve at Gruinart, so thanks to Bob and his list of birds seen...

"Just back home after being ‘released’ for a delightful week in Gruinart. Made a note of birds we had seen in Gruinart/Ardnave. Amazingly over 40 different species when you tot them up.  
House Sparrow
House Martin
Sand Martin
Meadow pipit 
Reed warbler
Reed bunting
Ringed plover
Pied Wagtail
Mallard & duckling
Eider & duckling
Mute swan & cygnets
Little tern
Black headed gull
Common gull 
Herring gull
Mistle thrush
Bar tailed Godwit
Hooded crows
Ring tailed Hen Harrier
Peregrine Falcon
Golden Eagle"

Sunday 19 July 2020

Sunday 18th July

A few birds through from Karen Graham who normally living in Bearsden, but at present up North on holiday

"Just in from walk along beach part of which is a rocky shore. Usual suspects there, Herons, two Oystercatchers scolding in passing, Pied Wagtails, but also several Linnets with make looking very colourful hopping amongst rocks and seaweed.
Quite a few young Herring Gulls on house roofs in village and has been the case for many years but luckily not on ours but they do use our house and car for target practice."

Saturday 18 July 2020

Saturday 18th July

I was speaking to James earlier on this evening and he was saying tat he had seen 3 Blackwits flying in from the North yesterday and they flew up to the top end of Loch Gruinart. Today, he had seen an Adder out sunning itself.

Gary was in touch, last night, just after I had posted last nights'  entry on the blog, he was telling me that he had seen 3 Peregrines fly past Bunnahabhain while Sam had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier while she was waiting for Gary coming to pick up from her work at Ardnahoe Distillery...

Friday 17 July 2020

Friday 17th July

I know that for some reason or another there was no entry on the blog yesterday, so I thought again this evening and lo and behold managed to get "in", so here goes... Having said that, it is only the first time that you have not had an entry this year!!!

Gary was in touch earlier on today (Friday)v with some birds seen up around and close to where he lives...

"A few birds about today, up at Finlaggan male Hen Harrier sitting on fence post, numbers of small birds rising in flocks of Chaffinch, Goldfinch & Reed Bunting. Also flock of 25 Mistle Thrush at field on entrance to Finlaggan site."

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Wednesday 15th July

Peter sent through this e mail relating to an Oystercatcher seen over the past few summers down at Port Charlotte...
"Thought this might be of interest for your blog regarding the sighting of a colour-ringed Oystercatcher on Islay (all information courtesy of Val Peacock):

  • A colour-ringed bird was ringed at Dawlish Warren, Devon on 4th February 2018, where it was presumed wintering and was seen there until at least 10th February 2018
  • Seen back at Dawlish Warren on 5th August 2018 and again on 29th January 2019, where it is presumed it wintered
  • Seen at Port Charlotte, Islay on 13th May 2019
  • Seen back at Dawlish Warren on 4th July 2019 and again on 1st December 2019
  • Seen back at Port Charlotte on 30th March 2020
  • Seen again at Dawlish Warren  on 5th July 2020
So this bird seems to be faithfully returning to Islay to breed each year, and leaving for its regular wintering area of Dawlish Warren in Devon surprisingly early - as it has been noted there on 4th & 5th July in consecutive years. Although this seems an early departure from its breeding grounds, it is apparently quite usual, and gives them time to breed and rear young. They reach potential wintering areas to moult, winter there and begin returning north to breeding areas in early spring - so perhaps about 5 months on Islay and 7 months in Devon each year for this bird! Presumably many of the Oystercatchers that breed on Islay depart south early, being replaced by others migrating through and wintering on Islay from other populations further north?

On another note: I checked with the lucky folks in Bowmore who had the Rose-coloured Starling in their back garden on 18th - 19th June. They confirmed that it stayed there until at least 2nd July. Shame it was all during lockdown when few birders could get there to see it."

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Tuesday 14th July

Malcolm sent an e mail through last night referring the TV program which was screened the other night about the Fens...

"Just watched, and thoroughly enjoyed, the programme on the Fens. It had some wonderful photography. Just when you think that it has all been done before, and along with some new angles and new stories."

Monday 13 July 2020

Sarah Bedford kindly sent me through her WeBS count for Ardnave Loch and also for Loch Gruinart

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

Common Tern

Arctic Tern



Mute swan
Whooper swan


Common sandpiper


Black-headed gull

It might have helped if I had been able to condense Sarah's work down a bit, but things were not working for me tonight, so my fault again...

Sunday 12 July 2020

Sunday 12th July

Margaret is in the middle of a long distance phone call, worse still, it it is taking a longtime to catch up with old Islay friends.. The folk who I started the conversation off with were Keith Findlay and Susan McGhie who moved away off Islay and have been living in Perthshire. Boy, what a team, we were in the old days....

Saturday 11 July 2020

Saturday 11th July

Well, I did manage to stay awake last night to watch the tv... Yes, Nicholas Watts was featured in the program, the program was very interesting along with first class photography. We have been friends of Nicholas and his family since we met originally at the Bird Fair at Rutland a good few years ago...
Nicholas and his wife Ann have stayed on Islay several times, and we have visited him at Vine House Farm along with Gary and also Lesley when down at Rutland a few years ago... good to see you last night Nicholas and also your grandson as well...

Friday 10 July 2020

Friday 10th July

Almost forgot to mention that on BBC 2 this evening at 9pm there will be a program called "A   Year in the Fens"  I believe that it may well include footage taken on Nicholas Watts farming enterprise, so if you can't see it this evening I am sure that you should see it on the BBC I Player.

Thursday 9 July 2020

Thursday 9th July

James kindly send me through the following list of birds seen from the north coast of Islay

Golden eagle
Hen Harrier
Yellowhammers several singing
Red throated diver
3 otters, mother and 2 cubs

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Wednesday 8th July

Well, I emailed through to the office at Bushmills today, but as of yet no reply. The other day, James did tell me that they were having problems with their internet connections. Perhaps if I had phoned up I would have been able to get some answers for my questions!!!!  Tomorrow is another day...

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Tuesday 7th July

We have just been watching one of our resident Hedgehogs outside munching its' way through some food ...When you initially go outside, it can't half run away quickly, before returning to eat the food on offer!!!!

Must tie a knot in my handkerchief tonight, so hopefully to remind me to give the RSPB team round at Gruinart a phone call, to see if they have been able to work out the total number of Corncrakes heard calling on Islay this year...

Monday 6 July 2020

Monday 6th July

Thinking back to last night's entry about the Blackbirds "alarm calling", well this afternoon  I discovered the remnants of a Blackbird down in the garden, and by the looks of the poor bird, the culprit had been a Sparrowhawk.. And yes, Angus is sleeping on the window seat as ever!!!!

An e mail though from Karen Graham who is on holiday up North for a few days. The long and the short of it was that she saw an Osprey on a nest along with its' youngster while the male bird was perched on a nearby tree.

Sunday 5 July 2020

Sunday 5th July

Like a lot of other places today we have been having quite a few dirty showers of rain appearing out of nowhere.. having said that, in between a couple of showers this evening I ventured for a stretch of my legs, initially I heard a Blackbird alarm calling and then shortly afterwards another one calling in a similar way ...The thing that amused me that Angus (our cat) was sleeping in the house, the plot thickens!!!!

Saturday 4 July 2020

Saturday 4th July

Yvonne McCrone told me the other day that they had had a nest  over at Otter Ferry with 4 young Barn Owls in it, which they successfully rung with the BTO rings.. She was also saying that there are a lot of voles around this year, so a great source of food for the owlets.

Friday 3 July 2020

Friday 3rd July

Last night/ early this morning James had heard another 2 Corncrakes calling on the reserve both in new locations...  Later on this morning, he saw 5 Redpolls in his garden at Mill cottage. James was also  saying that his rainfall figure at Mill cottage was just short of 4 inches with little rain falling in the first half of the month!!!! The rain that fell into our rain gauge at Shepherd's cottage was a mere 3.75 inches...

Thursday 2 July 2020

Thursday 2nd July

Good friend, Marsali was in touch this morning to tell me about her rain fall which tallied out at 5.08 inches for the month....

Meanwhile, James had seen an Osprey flying over Loch Gruinart, the first he has seen for some time. Along at the RSPB office at Bushmills, he  had seen a Chiffchaff and also a cracking male Bullfinch.

Another good friend Armin Grewe emailed some sightings seen while out for his early walk along the canal, close to where he lives...
"First I saw a pair of Green Woodpeckers in small trees/bushes right next to the towpath, maybe 20-30 feet ahead of me. They then flew off, across the canal where they disappeared into the trees on the other side of the canal.

Walking on may be another 30-40 feet I look up into one of the small trees on the verge of the canal, between the towpath and the canal, and what did I see? A Great Spotted Woodpecker, pecking away at the tree. It didn't seem to be bothered by me standing on the towpath, so I watched it for a minute before having to move on as work was calling.
Maybe 1/4 of a mile down the canal I then saw and heard two Jays. As mentioned previously, there seem to be quite a few around of them this year."

Finally, Chris and Tony Johnson sent their tally for the month, a mere 5.75 inches, so top of the class to them...

Wednesday 1 July 2020

As promised the rainfall for June came to 3.22 inches on Matt Jackson's rain gauge.. more Islay figures tomorrow night, I promise you!!!

Yvonne McCrone sent through the rainfall figure for Otterferry rainfall for June...4.25inches. Some bird news from Yvonne tomorrow night as well, as ever watch this space...