Saturday 31 October 2020

Saturday 31st October

 Well, the weather forecast is certainly proving correct, at one point earlier on, the wind speed on Dr Matt Jackson's weather station down at his house aptly called "Horizons" reached a mere 78mph at 9am... Some birds for you to read about, if the power does not go off again!!!

James sent through some birds last night,

Counted the white fronts 510. Also Golden plover 2005 altogether

Bullfinch , Greenshank as well as 3 White tailed eagle Juv. All on reserve at Gruinart

Jesse Wilkinson had spotted a imm  Little Gull  over the reserve as well

Dan Brown had seen the following birds yesterday

2 Yellow browed warblers, Todd's Canada goose, Gadwall, all seen on the reserve at Gruinart

And 2 Brambling in with the flock of Chaffinches over at Sunderland Farm

Hopefully I have got this image of the Black headed Bunting seen by Dan, be it very briefly on Wednesday morning... oops, no I cannot share it with you... another day possibly then!!!

Mike Bell had been out braving the elements as well yesterday...

Ardnave road: Merlin 1

Traigh Nostaig: good selection of birds including 42 Ringed Plover, 4 Grey Plover, 11 Sanderling, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 14 Turnstone.

Ardnave point: 1 Merlin, 29 Chough scattered and mobile so difficult to assess numbers.

Nave island: 2 ad WTE left SE towards Gruinart.

Loch Gruinart, wetland & fields: 1450 Teal today first thing, 1 imm WTE first thing, 1 Hen Harrier am & pm, 1 ad Peregrine, Ringed Plover 189, Golden Plover 1650, Lapwing 560, Sanderling 215, Dunlin 840, Barwit 238,  all good totals.

Craigens road junction: at least 4 Yellowhammer.

Bun an Uillt: 3 Goldeneye

Killinallan: 1 male Hen Harrier.

Friday 30 October 2020

Friday 30th October

Ed Hutchings who had been over this week with a group from Wildlife Worldwide sent me, this list of best birds seen by themselves:

Monday 26th

A pair of Golden Eagle at Loch Finlaggan late afternoon. Lots of Whooper Swan on the merse at Bridgend at dusk.


Tuesday 27th

Loch Gruinart: Both male and ringtail Hen Harrier from the south hide in the morning. Lots of Goldcrests in woodland and scrub between hides and centre. Migrants?


Wednesday 28th

The Oa in the early morning was very quiet, save a pair of White-tailed Eagle over moorland.

Kilnaughton Bay at late morning held 2 Great Northern Divers, a Black-throated Diver, a first winter Razorbill and 6 Chough on beach at western end. Leach’s Petrel off lighthouse at noon heading southwest.12 Ringed Plover on beach at Port Ellen.

Several Swallow heading west at Kildalton Cross early afternoon!


Thursday 29th

Merlin on post near Machrie Hotel early morning. Slavonian Grebe on Loch Indaal between Bowmore and Bridgend. No sign of Rosy Starling despite several passes!

Another filthy afternoon at Loch Gruinart, but a Yellow-browed Warbler was calling in woodland, as well as Lesser Redpoll near hides car park.

Some sightings through from Mike Bell, all seen yesterday morning, before it got away too wet...

Loch Gorm: Pochard 2 drakes

Bowmore shore: RTD 2,  GND 6, Slav Grebe 4, Pbb Geese 71, Eider only 1, Common Scoter 9, Long t duck at least 6 (3 drakes), RBM 32, Ringed Plover 13, Knot 27, Barwit 17, Tystie 1.

Whin Park: WTE 1 imm. up in the rain

Smelly corner: Shelduck 17

Gary, first thing this morning, counted 34 Whooper Swans down on the merse at Bridgend and shortly after that he had a count of 76 P bb Geese along at Gartmain.

Peter and Lesley had seen the American Wigeon on Loch Skerrols today.

Thursday 29 October 2020

THursday 29th October

 Mike Bell's sightings came in for yesterday as follows;

Machir Bay: WTE 2 imm 0725 hr left East.

Gruinart: Teal 1100, Pintail 84, Gadwall 2, Shoveler 30, Little Grebe 2, WTE 1 imm, Hen Harrier 2(1male), Peregrine 1, Dunlin c850, Grey Wagtail 1.

Ardnave point East side: Snow Bunting 1 male

Mouth of Loch Gruinart:  5 (2 full summer plumage) GND , 14 RBM

Loch Skerrols: Mute Swan 25, Whooper Swan 186, wigeon 470, American Wigeon 1 drake, Teal 172, Mallard 17, Tufted Duck 45

Today, the weather has not been great, rather a wetting driving dampness with more to come, so possibly the rainfall for the month up here might get into double figures by the end of the month­čś×

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Yesterday was the Naturetrek's final full day before heading back to the mainland today... So many thanks to Neil McMahon who has been sending their sightings through to me to use, so here are the birds seen by them... "Failed again to see the Rosy Starling at Bowmore! A male Brambling was heard calling in the large Chaffinch flock but not seen and the female Long-tailed Duck was still present along with 2 Eider.

We went to Loch Skerrols but the visibility was too poor to check through the ducks for the American Wigeon. There were still plenty of Whooper Swans just about discernible in the murk! Loch Finlaggan provided a male Hen Harrier, 4 Lesser Redpolls, Goldeneye and Little Grebe. A Great Northern Diver was off Bunnahabhain and a male Sparrowhawk, Goldcrests etc were along the road towards the distillery (plus three Roe Deer). We had a quick look for the Hoopoe but dipped again!

 A small flock of Pale-bellied Brents were on the north shore of Loch Indaal, a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier was at Kilchoman Distillery and another Roe Deer near Loch Gorm. An interesting-looking and huge first year female Peregrine was disturbed off a telegraph pole at Grulinmore - east side of Loch Gorm - possibly a 'Tundra' Peregrine...

Ardnave Point provided an adult White-tailed Eagle chasing Barnacle Geese, another adult male Hen Harrier, ca25 Choughs and ca50 Twite and another Great Northern Diver. We finished with a Barn Owl at Druim na h-Erasaid."

 So many thanks again to Neil along with his team of folk visiting and sending through their sightings. 

Yesterday was Mike Bell's first full day on Islay of this visit when he had seen these birds..

A male Peregrine south side loch Gorm.

Loch Gruinart: Whooper Swan 7, Teal 850, Pintail 28,Shoveler 27, WTE 1 imm, Golden Plover c1300, Dunlin c300, Greenshank 4.

Ballinaby, Pinkfoot 1 seen with WF,  WTE 2 imm, Chough 4

Saligo Bay, Golden Eagle 1

 Very few birds Bridgend or the Bowmore shore of Loch Indaal at midday."

Mike was telling me earlier on that he too had seen the American Wigeon in at Loch Skerrols today.

James braved the elements today and managed these birds on the reserve at Gruinart...

Goose count today – lots of geese possibly hanging around reserve after night feeding with the bigger moons

"Barnies – 20740, White fronts – 468, Greylag – 8, Pink foot – 1, Leucistic goose on flats

White tailed eagle juv on loch – caught a goose, Peregrine- back of Flats, Yellowhammer 2- Near Craigens turn." 

Gary today had seen the Rose coloured Starling in at the co-op in Bowmore today. He had also seen 3 different WT Eagles in at Bowmore and around Loch Indaal and also 3 different Goldies seen in around Ballygrant area as well

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Tuesday 27th October

 Rather cool outside today, so probably the reason for an early entry..

Mike Bell is back over for his annual Islay fix, he came over yesterday on the ferry leaving Kennacraig at 13.00, so here are some birds that he had seen yesterday...  "Not the nicest day for travelling.  3 Tysties in the Sound of Islay. The Golden  Eagle showed well, initially at Rockside 4.15 pm then c.5 pm appeared behind the cottage with a Pheasant and flew off south up the burn."

Neil McMahon and the team from Naturetrek had seen the following birds etc when out....

"We spent some time at Bowmore this morning in an effort to espy the Rose-coloured Starling but no joy. Three GN Divers flew south quite high over the village and a light passage of finches south included a single calling Tree Sparrow quite high up! Either it's the Gruinart bird or as a species they are on the move! One or two Sparrowhawk(s) were trying their luck with the Starlings and the female Long-tailed Duck was still present. On our drive from Bowmore to Bridgend there was a small gaggle of Pale-bellied Brents on the shores of Loch Indaal and a flying immature White-tailed Eagle that veered off south. 

At Port Askaig, (overlooking the Sound of Islay) we saw a Gannet, 12 Kittiwakes, a light passage of Eiders, a Sparrowhawk and a distant White-tailed Eagle. Jura was similarly wind-blasted as Islay and we failed to see any Otters. There were 6 Great Northern Divers (five adults) at Craighouse plus 2 Black Guillemots and 2 Long-tailed Ducks. Small birds in the trees/bushes included a Siskin, Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests. A Grey Wagtail and several Rock Pipits were around the beach and burn outlets. An adult male Hen Harrier was seen briefly at Feolin."

Dan Brown, one of the film camera men who are over until mid November had been out and about too..

I  forgot to mention a female Goosander at the mouth of the Laggan river on 24th October.

I have a few more sightings from yesterday afternoon including:

juv Iceland Gull and adult Sabine's Gull on the west side of Gruinart Estuary

Green-winged Teal and Wood Sandpiper on the floods at the RSPB reserve,

Brambling with the Chaffinches west of Sunderland Farm.

Steve Percival had a Cackling Goose on the flats and then at Grainel.

Mid morning I received this e mail through from Dan,

Today there’s a drake American Wigeon on Loch Skerrols and Snow Bunting at Smelly Corner (Carnain). 


Monday 26 October 2020

Monday 26th October

Dan Brown is over with several top filmmakers at present. No doubt today would have challenged them, but Dan sent me through some sightings seen by themselves so far... See what effect of some great home baking does for your birding...

"I just wanted to drop a few sightings to you as we are out and about every day (except today in my case).  There is currently a juvenile Iceland Gull on the west side of Loch Gruinart (I can see it from our window :)).

 24/10 Todd's Canada on the merse at Bridgend

23/10 Yellow-browed Warbler in the woods at Bridgend plus what sounded like Spotted Sandpiper calling from the merse creeks

Plenty of GNDs in Loch Indaal, plus 3 Long-tailed Ducks and a handful <10 Scaup."

Neil McMahon along with his guests from Naturetrek had braved the elements and went out birding ...

"Yesterday, and my colleague Keith had a brief view of the Rose coloured Starling, at about 7.45am on TV aerials in Shore Street, Bowmore opposite The Lochside Hotel. It didn't linger! Other birds from the hotel looking out on the loch included the female Long-tailed Duck again, a Black-throated Diver, one or two Red-throated Diver(s), 3 Eider, a Slavonian Grebe, 2 fly-over Twite, a small flock of Knot and a flock of 18 Pale-bellied Brents just north of the village on the edge of the loch (plus 2 more Long-tailed Ducks including a drake). 

We looked for the Hoopoe around the old corn mill but didn't see it. There was a Treecreeper in the woods there. We drove down the west side of Loch Indaal in very blowy conditions. We couldn't find any Purple Sandpipers at Bruichladdich just a Grey Wagtail, 2 Rock Pipits, a Red-throated Diver and an Eider. A roadside Ring Ouzel and Mistle Thrush south of there quickly vanished into the bracken and it was an awkward piece of road for us to park anywhere near so we reluctantly had to leave them!

The journey south was mostly quiet but there were good numbers of Grey Seals at Portnahaven against a very dramatic backdrop of crashing waves, strong gusts etc! A male Merlin and 2  Choughs were nearby at Claddach. We took the minor road back north doing a circuit to Port Charlotte which resulted in a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier and 5 Red Deer. We saw the striking leucistic Common Gull on floodwater at Machir Bay and a distant flock of Choughs nearby. 6 Pale-bellied Brents were at Loch Indaal by Rubha Ban late this afternoon. Apart from some close Roe Deer and a series of Brown Hares during the day that was our lot! Hoping to ferry over to Jura tomorrow in gentler conditions!"

This morning George E. Jackson phoned in to say that he had just seen a large Canada Goose amongst the Barnies, down close to Sunderland Farm, by the sound of things, probably a Todd's Canada goose.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Sunday 25th October

Back on Friday, Steve Percival caught and rung another 79 Barnies down at Smelly Corner.....                "It was 2 January 1987 before we had a successful catch of Barnacle Geese on Islay. Under the stewardship of Malcom Ogilvie, we caught 302, a total for a single catch that still remains unbeaten! He helped train me, together with the Durham University cannon-netting team headed by Peter Evans, and a  few years later I had my own cannon-netting licence. In February 1989 my wife-to-be Tracey joined the team and we’ve never looked back. 33 years later we’ve now ringed over 3,500 Barnacle Geese on Islay. We are now also ably assisted by our 2 girls, Emily and Lucy, who have grown up with October and February half-term goose-catching trips to Islay".

The other day, George E. Jackson had seen a flock of over 50 Chaffinches in the bushes down at Aoradh cottage which the wee cottage on the roadside just at the foot of the road leading up to Rockside and Kilchoman Distillery.

Yesterday had been Richard Belter's last day of this present visit, so thanks to Richard for sending in his sightings of birds seen by him when he has been over. Yesterday morning, Richard saw a Barn Owl at first light along the Gruinart flats. Down at Claddach, he had a passage of Gannets and some Auks as well. Finally in at Loch Skerrols, he saw the Whooper Swans that are present there. 

I received an e mail through from the Naturetrek group led by Neil McMahon who are over at present with their sightings of various birds seen by them yesterday.. 

"A female Long-tailed Duck and a Black Guillemot were around the pier and breakwater at Bowmore this morning plus the usual Rb Mergansers, a few Eider and a Goldeneye. A nice flock of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin have roosted on the breakwater at high tide the last two days. 

We looked down on Loch Skerrols from the road that leads to Scarrabus and saw nearly 100 Whooper Swans plus some Mute Swans on the water plus good numbers of Tufted Ducks and Wigeon. 1-2 Sparrowhawk(s) showed interest in a flock of ca100 Chaffinches in a stubble field which also contained at least a Skylark. A very windy north shore of Loch Indaal attracted a small flock of Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit.

We spent the rest of the day at Loch Gruinart where the group fully enjoyed the amazing spectacle of thousands of Barnacle Geese and much smaller numbers of Greenland White-fronts, Greylags and a couple of families of Whooper Swans. Didn't see the Wood Sandpiper but there was a Black-tailed Godwit from North Hide and Roe Deer, a flock of Pintail and distant Bar-tailed Godwits from South Hide. The woodland trail sheltered at least 3 Goldcrests and we heard Bullfinch. A Tree Sparrow flying around the barns at the farm was a surprise! The road through Gruinart Flats was good for 200 Golden Plovers, Stonechats and 3 Lesser Redpolls.

The track on the east side of the loch provided us with a first calendar year White-tailed Eagle, a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier, 3 Goldeneye and 5 Greenshanks. A stubble field on this side contained a few Yellowhammers and up to a dozen Skylarks. A flock of ca40 Linnets flew through and a Roe Deer was present too."

James was in touch with some birds seen by himself, he had counted 257 Barwits, 16 Grey Plover and also 37 Knot yesterday. This afternoon, he had a male Hen Harrier seen close to An Sithean on the edge of the reserve as you head down towards Loch Gorm

Saturday 24 October 2020

Saturday 24th October

Well that's it again another week in and and a new set of birders have arrived... and also some have headed home, so thanks to you all for your birds when visiting here and sharing your sightings with us....

Yesterday was the last full day for Eddie and Elaine as well as Mike Hill before heading on the ferry this morning. Mike sent me through this e mail referring to yesterday's sightings.

"On the beach at Machir Bay first thing were c300 Barnacle Geese, c60 Curlew and several hundred gulls. A Great Northern Diver flew into the bay and fished for a while before flying off north. 

A couple of Lesser Redpoll were in the trees next to our cottage this morning. Checked the local Barnacle Geese flocks for the Cackling or the potential Todd's Canada Goose but no sign. Lots of Gannets fishing down in Saligo Bay.

On the way back to the cottage, between Kilchoman Distillery and coastguards cottages, a male Hen Harrier   flew across the road and then headed towards Kilchoman church."

New arrivals on the island are a group visiting here led by Neil McMahon on behalf of Naturetrek. So here is the birds seen by Neil and his group yesterday..

"Highlights included a drake Long-tailed Duck off Bowmore Pier and a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier south of Bowmore heading towards Port Ellen. Our visit to the RSPB reserve at The Oa was very enjoyable in great weather to see a hunting juvenile Golden Eagle, an adult male Hen Harrier, ca100 Twite with some Linnets, Greenfinches and Goldfinches and a Redpoll and 2 Chough that flew past the American Memorial. From Port Ellen, we took the road past Ardbeg east towards Claggain Bay seeing 2 Otters, good views of Fallow and Red Deer and a fine adult White-tailed Eagle."


Friday 23 October 2020

Friday 23rd October

Mike Hill sent his birds seen on Wednesday and also yesterday 

Weds 21st

A Chiffchaff briefly early morning in the trees next to the burn besides our cottage. A White -tailed Eagle flew in inland over Machir Bay. Along the road to Saligo Bay, in amongst the Barnacle Geese, were 8 Whooper Swans, 2 Pink-footed Geese and a Canada Goose. It looks like it wasn't the Cackling Goose so could be the Todd's Canada Goose that has been around. At Loch Gruinart were lots of Pintail, c200 Golden Plover, 2 Grey Plover, 4 Greenshank, a flock of Sanderling and all the usual geese. Back at Machir Bay late afternoon there were 59 Ringed Plover with 4 Sanderling for company, 40 Curlew flew over, 24 Whooper Swans came from the SW and at least 2 GNDs on the sea. There were other divers but the sea was quite choppy and only had binoculars with us.

Thurs 22nd

At Machir Bay between 0800 and 0900. A Peregrine flew over, 21 Whooper Swans, 3 Shelduck, a flock of c15 Twite landed near me briefly and out at sea, 15+ Gannets went north and 2 Shearwater sp went south very distantly. At our cottage a small flock of Siskins went over east and 36 Whooper Swans went SW. Along the road to Loch Indaal was a single female Brambling in with the large Chaffinch flock. On Loch Indaal were 12 Red-throated,1 Black and  at least 2 Great Northern Divers along with several Common Scoter and 8 Eider. 20+ Whooper Swans flew along the far side of the loch. Down at Portnahaven/Port Wemyss were 2White-tailed Eagles, and adult and a juvenile. According to a local birder they had been around a while taking advantage of the pupping Grey Seals. A Merlin went low over to Orsay. Back at the cottage late afternoon was a single Golden Eagle off to the east which was mobbed by a Peregrine before drifting over towards Loch Gorm.

Steve Percival sent me through this e mail last night..."Another Cackling goose up at Eorrabus this morning, and 2 cracking W T Eagles on the shore at Bridgend"

Also yesterday, Richard had seen the albino/ leucistic Common Gull down on Machir Bay in the morning. At Bruichladdich, Richard had a Tystie, a Gannet, some Eider and he saw 7 RTDs as well. Over at Blackrock, Richard counted 50 Common Scoter. Peter in the afternoon had also seen the albino/ leucistic Common Gull down on Machir Bay as well.

Eddie and Elaine yesterday had seen the Wood Sandpiper out from the North hide yesterday

The Hoopoe was seen in the Bridgend are again yesterday, by whom I do not know..

David Wood was in touch with some birds counted down on the Oa...

"Rough estimate of 400 Redwing around the Oa yesterday.

We’ve had a bit of a count this afternoon and had 1670 today, real total will be much higher, this was from just 4 different groups. Also 350 Fieldfare today. Merlin present as well. "

James had also noted seeing a movement of Redwings at Gruinart yesterday and today he had counted

"White fronted geese 412. Didn’t count the Barnies

 Golden Plover, a flock of 1315 on the Flats

Teal 1555 on Floods

Linnets a flock of 295 on one of the bird crops"

Lesley today had the Wood Sandpiper  at the North Hide.

Thursday 22 October 2020

Thursday 22nd October

Peter sent me though this e mail yesterday relating to the 2 Whooper Swans which he had seen down on Loch Skerrols on the 16th of October...

"I've had a super-quick response from WWT regarding the  2 colour ringed Whooper Swans that we saw on Loch Skerrols on 16th October. Here are the details:

Both are male birds and both were caught as adults at Caerlaverock on 14th February 2019. Both were seen back at Caerlaverock from October 2019 to late February 2020.

I presume that is where they might be headed this winter?"

Stewart and Alison McCormick had the following birds seen yesterday:  

Two ‘lines’ of Whooper Swans flying south west (a dozen in each) near Port Ellen, probably moving on.......    At the Oa, 2 Reed Buntings and a 2 Twite. Enjoyed watching 2 Choughs for twenty minutes not far from the car parking area on our return from the reserve walk.

Later on at Claggain Bay 3 GND and a pair of Red breasted Mergansers close in to shore provided fine views. 

Yesterday's birds from Richard came through as follows: At Gruinart he had 6 Eiders, several Turnstone, some RBM. also some Common Gulls and also a flock of over 200 Golden Plovers. Down at Blackrock, Richard counted 50 Common Scoter, 4 Scaup, 12 RTD, 1 GND, 12 Shag. Along at Bruichladdich, he saw 2 Ringed Plover and a Rock Pipit with 6 RTD and also a Gannet on the water , down at Port Charlotte, seen off the pier there, Richard had 5 RTD and also a Razorbill. Finally late afternoon, he saw some of the male Pintails displaying over at Gruinart, a distant W t Eagle and also a group of 15 Whoopers flew in.

This morning, we counted a fly past of 29 Whooper Swans heading out to the sea and on to Ireland. Then late afternoon, we watched a W t Eagle being chased by 2 Buzzards out over the crag. 

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Wednesday 21st October

I can see that the blog tonight is going to be short and sweet if my computer and my temper lasts that long!!!

So here goes, give it a try... 

Stewart and Alison McCormick are over for the week, and sent me through their birds seen yesterday..

"Making the best of this dreich week on holiday visiting Islay.....

Yesterday, Loch Skerrols was basking in some rare sunshine. 100 Whoopers and 30+ GWF on the Loch, and good numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings in the field by the access road. At Machir Bay, 35 Ringed Plovers in the field overlooking the beach, a single Turnstone on the beach. A male Merlin on the phone wires near Kilchoman was a bonus as we headed back in the rain. "

Thanks for your birds folks...

Richard Belter had a Golden Eagle seen over the reserve at Gruinart yesterday and from the North hide, he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier. Later on when he was driving over the hill between Gruinart and Loch Gorm, he saw another ringtail Hen Harrier who was having a tussle with a Merlin. Finally, Richard had seen the Swans and also the Whitefronts in at Loch Skerrols as well. 

Mike Hill yesterday had seen these birds as follows:

"Thanks for the info regarding Golden Eagles. We had tried The Oa on Sunday without luck but was lucky enough to see one late this afternoon on the west side of the road back to Kilchoman from Loch Indaal. It was distant but we watched it for around 5 minutes. A great sight. Also had at least 8 GWF geese along the road in with the barnies and greylags. Had a look around Bowmore this morning and this afternoon for the Rose-coloured Starling but no joy. On the rock sea-wall at Bowmore this afternoon were 30+ Ringed Plover and around 20 Dunlin. Down at Port Ellen there was 6 Red-breasted Mergansers off the beach"

 Eddie and Elaine had been out and about today seeing the following birds for us...

"We spent some time on the Oa today, sunbathing in the unseasonably balmy weather and were somewhat surprised to find a Common Whitethroat, sat on the gate by the farm no more than three yards from us. We seem to be specialising in late summer visitors on this trip!

On the way there, we had excellent views of a Barn Owl at Blackrock, on the grassland in front of the Sunderland memorial, at about 9 a.m. "

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Tuesday 20th October

 Another dreich sort  of a day, so may be just as well that I  kept some sightings from yesterday!!

Mike Hill had a Merlin zip across the road in front of him down at the Coastguards' houses late yesterday afternoon.

Teresa Morris had the GWF with the collar fitted to it  yesterday and I received some more information on the goose through from Tony Fox this afternoon.. 

"AAY was an adult female caught at Craigens in February 2017, which has wintered there or thereabouts every year since."

Yesterday, Steve Percival had seen a Cackling Canada goose up at Grainel over at Gruinart. He also had a W t Eagle down at Bridgend as well.

Also yesterday, Richard Belter had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier on the reserve at Gruinart and counted 40 Pintail there too. He too had seen the W t Eagle down at Bridgend as well...

Today, well the weather did not deter Eddie and Elaine Prince from seeing a juvenile Yellow Wagtail out from the North Hide at Gruinart.

James today had carried out a count of the geese present on the reserve at Gruinart with his totals coming to " Barnacle Geese 15,868, Whitefronts 239, Greylag 28, and a Peregrine"

Monday 19 October 2020

Monday 19th October

Mike Hill yesterday down on the Oa had a Merlin harassing a flock of Goldfinches. A couple of Choughs and Ravens, 4 Stonechat and a flock of around 40 Linnet.

Back at Kilchoman from just beyond the military cemetery we watched double figures of Choughs heading to roost as the sun went down

Peter last night counted the Starlings coming in to the roost at Bruichladdich Pier and got an amazing tally of 903 in the mumeration.

Yesterday, Lesly Silcock had a juv. Great spotted Woodpecker on the feeders in her garden

Today, visitors, Mark and Alison Cockburn had seen "a Rose-coloured Starling at the side of the Co-op in Bowmore.  We are here for a holiday until Saturday.  I had given up on the day and was getting a paper.  Just shows you that you see birds when you don’t expect to."  So we are all wondering as to whether this is the same bird that has been around for some time now...

James today had a Siskin in his feeders at his garden.

Tressa Morris had seen a Greenland white fronted goose in a group of 12GWF at Craigens with a neck collar fitted to it, so I await Tony Fox's reply.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Sunday 18th October

 Richard Belter had the Wood Sandpiper seen out from the North hide at Gruinart again today..

Bob Davison had carried out his WeBS count from Port Charlotte round to Blackrock today with his tally coming to as follows:

2 Grey Heron, 2 Gannets, 5 GND, a single raft of 40 Slavonian Grebes, 20 Shag, 2 Cormorant, 17 Herring gull, 3 Gbb Gull, 12 Curlew, 26 Oystercatcher, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Turnstone, a single Eider, 9 Mallard, 6 R B Merganser and also 40 Common Scoter.

Steve Percival saw a single Todd's Canada Goose over at Gruinart this morning.

Mike Hill this morning saw a flock of Goldfinches and also 12 Redwings over at Kilchoman.

Eddie and Elaine Prince had   e mailed trough some sightings seen today...

"We spotted 2 Harbour Porpoises off Ardnave today, which prompted a closer inspection of our corpse than we had made earlier, revealing that it too was one of the same. Very little left of it now though, and the sand has almost buried that. 

Two Curlew Sandpipers were on the sands of Loch Gruinart"

Saturday 17 October 2020

Saturday 17th October

Eddie and Elaine Prince are back over for another Islay fix, and they sent me through their best birds seen during their first week here..

"Most of our finds have already been reported by others (Wood Sandpiper, first light last Sunday, Swallow at Ardnave farm yesterday, and a couple of Golden Eagles frequenting Loch Gruinart), but we've also had 109 Sanderling with the Dunlin, 2 Razorbills, 1 Grey Plover and a couple of Greenshank, and we'll send you our full list when we leave in another week. We thought you might first be interested in the washed up corpse of a juvenile Dolphin, about halfway along the beach on the east side of Ardnave, which is attracting lots of attention from Ravens and the odd Eagle."

Mike Hill had sent through some sightings seen by himself today...

"Loch Indaal...     Bowmore side. 2WTE, one of which caught what appeared to be a skate. Lots of PB Brent Geese and Barnacle Geese and several RB Mergansers. 150+ Golden Plovers. 

Bruichladdich side....    6 GN Diver, one BT Diver, 12 Common Scoter.  

Machir Bay..../  25+ Ringed Plover, Sanderling and several Chough. Sparrowhawk being mobbed by 2 Hooded Crows. Male Hen Harrier behind Kilchoman cottages."

Friday 16 October 2020

Friday 16th October

Yesterday, David and Nancy had ben over on Jura and by the sound of things, I take it be that they saw more or less the same birds that Jonathan Alder had seen. Today David and Nancy had seen a few Scaup as well as some Common Scoter off  Blackrock. They also saw the Cackling goose round amongst the Barnies present at Ballinaby.

Peter was in touch to say that yesterday, he had seen a Curlew Sandpiper amongst some Dunlin, up on Loch Gruinart... Val Peacock had a Brambling on her garden feeders down in Port Charlotte yesterday

Today Richard Belter had seen a GND and also a RTD over at Claggain Bay. Just after the Dower House, he had a Fallow Deer out in front of him as it crossed the road...  Later on, he had counted 8 Scaup at Blackrock, 40 Common Scoter and also 2 Slav Grebes present there too...

Peter today had seen and counted the following birds when in at Loch Skerrols.... "The loch was very lively with at least 155 Whooper Swans and 350 Wigeon. Several of the Whoopers had yellow colour rings with black letters on that could be read when they up-ended! Two were Z J S  & Z H V. I'll start trying to find out where they are from and report back."

This morning, we had the W t Eagle sitting out on the old wreck, seen from Whin Park out towards Bowmore a distant bird but a definite W t Eagle for sure!! Better was still to come as just before we had our tea, we saw another W t Eagle being chased along the crag by many corvids, what a sight. About 30 minutes earlier on we had the male Hen Harrier flying away over the top of the Lamb Hill and also watched some Choughs gracing us with a noisy flypast!!!

Thursday 15 October 2020

Thursday 15thOctober

David and Nancy Massie had been over the "other side"  of Islay yesterday...

"Oa: Male Sparrowhawk and a single flushed Snipe.

Road between Port Ellen-Claggain Bay: 1 Golden Eagle,  2 WT Eagles, 25 Fieldfares, 5 Barn Swallows.

Goose field at Port Ellen: 1 Pinkfoot"

Will try to find out from David whether he saw the pinkie at Leorin possibly at Cornabus, but will let you know tomorrow night...

Johnathan Alder had been over on Jura today and seen at West Loch Tarbert -

 Golden Eagle, Male Hen Harrier low overhead for 10 minutes, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover

Twite, Yellowhammer, Red Breasted Merganser and some Teal

This morning Richard Belter had a walk round Ardnave Point where he had the following birds seen...

3 RTD off Nave Island, mixed flock of Linnet and Twite, a number of Golden Plover, 2 Chough plus

some Ravens.

Late afternoon, Richard had seen the Wood Sandpiper as well as a Cackling goose out from the North hide at Gruinart.

Dave Wood had been out up the top side of Islay today and saw the following birds..

"A wee trip up island today, on Loch Indaal from Blackrock 2 Wt Eagles, 70 Common Scoter, 8 Scaup and 5 Slav Grebe, further round to Bowmore were 54 Pb Brent. " 

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Wednesday 14th October

David and Nancy Massie sent me through the following birds seen  by them yesterday..

"Loch Gorm: 6 Redwings

Loch Skerrols: 160 Whoopers, 48 Tufted Duck, 100+ Wigeon

Finlaggan: 16 Fieldfares

Glen Road: 20 Fieldfares

Gruinart, North Hide: 4 Black Tailed Godwit, 18 Bar-tailed Godwits, 300+ Golden Plover, 1 Wood Sandpiper, female Sparrowhawk tried to take a Lapwing right in front of hide-spectacularly close!"

Ron McNab who hails from Linlithgow had seen the Wood Sandpiper as well at Gruinart from the North hide yesterday.

There was a reported sighting of a Short eared Owl seen over at Gruinart from Jack Fleming. 

Richard Belter had the Wood Sandpiper at  Gruinart this morning, he also saw a Merlin chasing a pipit on the woodland trail at Gruinart and then  mid morning, he saw a Cackling goose amongst the flock of Barnies over at Ballinaby.

Our good friend, Bob Davison had ben looking out his kitchen window, just after lunchtime today had a Golden Eagle spoofing the geese up from the field below his house, down towards Port Charlotte. It continued on flying out over Loch Indaal towards the Oa..

Visitor Johnathan Alder too has been making full use of the better spell of weather which we are having on Islay at present...

At least 2 WTE at Ardnave, ringtail Hen Harrier, many Chough, flock c150 Twite, 2 Razorbills, Raven, Golden and Grey Plover.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Tuesday 13th October

David and Nancy Massie had gone from Kilchoman, down to Bruichladdich and on through Port Charlotte to Portnahaven and returned to Port  Charlotte by Kilchiaran yesterday. They had seen the following birds when out..

"Bruichladdich; 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Snipe (sitting on small rock offshore) 3 Ringed Plovers

Port Charlotte: 2 Grey Wagtails, 14 Turnstones

Portnahaven: Very cooperative Redwing at the road side

Back road north gave us Golden Eagle, male Hen Harrier, Kestrel as well as a Buzzard"

Today, Richard Belter had seen the impressive sight of the geese returning to their roost at Gruinart. Over at Bunnahabhain, he saw some Gannets flying past and then at Finlaggan he had a flock of over 20 Fieldfares and then when driving down the Glen road, he saw 2 mixed flocks of Redwing and Fieldfares. Finally at Blackrock, he had seen 20 Common Scoter seen out on the top of Loch Indaal.  

Some top birds seen today by Johnathan Alder included 

"WT Eagle low flyover Loch Gorm plus male Merlin. Ringtail Hen Harrier Loch Gruinart."


Monday 12 October 2020

Monday 12th October

Visitors David and Nancy Massie sent me through their sightings seen yesterday 

"Loch Gorm: All the usual geese, 8 Tufted Duck, 4 Stonechats, 3 Twite, 2 Buzzard

RSPB Loch Gruinart: Thousands of geese, Barnacles Greylags White-fronts, Mute and Whooper Swans, Hundreds of Common Teal, 20+ Shoveler & Pintail, 1 Curlew

Ardnave Point: Flock of 46 Twite, 6 Golden Plover, 1 Chough, 1 W t Eagle, 1 Common Snipe flushed."

We were speaking to Lesley Silcock today and she too had seen the Wood Sandpiper out from the North hide at Gruinart yesterday as well.

Richard Belter had been out and about today. Over at Gruinart, he had seen 3 Blackwits, and also a male Hen Harrier along with numerous geese and also a Sparrowhawk. Down at Bruichladdich Richard had seen 2 RTDs, a GND, a Tystie, 16 Common Scoter and also 6 Eider. Down out from the  old Wave Turbine station, all he had was line of Gannets flying past. Returning to Portnahaven from Claddach, a Golden Eagle was seen with an obliging Redwing siting on top of the fence beside the road. Finally up at Sanaigmore, Richard had 2 Chough down on the dunes there with 4 Ringed Plover and he also saw a Grey Plover down on the bay there too.

Sunday 11 October 2020

Sunday 11th October

Yesterday Peter Roberts had carried out a sea watch for an hour down at Frenchman's Rocks in the morning...

"191 Auk sp. 105 Kittiwake, very few Gannets, but 1 Black-throated Diver the best bird."

 Johnathan Alder had seen the following birds,

"Seen on 10th October - male Hen Harrier near Kilbride plus Snipe flyover.

Today 11th October - 2 juvenile Golden Eagle on the Oa, plus Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, male Hen Harrier, Raven and Kestrel. 4 Chough showing well near the monument, Twite, Whinchat."

Lesley Silcock was telling Margaret that she had seen a Yellow browed Warbler along the Woodland trail at Gruinart today.

First time visiting birders from Reading, David and Nancy Massie sent me a list birds seen by them yesterday...

"Road north from Port Askaig: flock of 15 Yellowhammers, 5 Mute Swans on sea, Buzzard, Goldcrest, Mistle and Song Thrushes

Bowmore flats:  thousands of Barnacles, 55 Brents, 12 Whoopers, 4 Wigeon, 1 Ringtail Hen Harrier, 2 Curlew

Loch Gorm: Greylags, Whitefronts, Barnacles, Pied Wagtails."

Returning birder and contributor on the blog, Richard Belter gave a list on the phone with his "top" birds seen today..

Down on Loch Indaal, he had a W t Eagle, 6 RTDs and also 50 P b Brent Geese. At Gruinart, he saw thousands of Barnies, 100 GWF, 6 Pintail, 14 Whooper Swans and also a ringtail Hen Harrier. He also saw a ringtail Hen Harrier at Gruinart as well as a Wood Sandpiper out from the North Hide there as well. Down on the Oa, Richard had seen a mixed flock of Twite and Linnets and another Ringtail.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Saturday 10th October

Returning birder/ wildlife photographer Teressa Morris is back over for another Islay fix.. She kindly sent me this image through of some Whooper Swans taken yesterday at Craigens... okay, see this pc, why will it not behave and do as I ask it for once, sorry abut that folks.. so instead you can make do with the usual old text and no images... AS my report card used to say "must do better"

"On Friday, there were 92 Whooper Swans on the stubbles at Craigens  and more were seen later flying in. 

Teressa also saw late afternoon yesterday on the RSPB flats a female Hen Harrier and a W t Eagle."

Today was Jacqui and Neil Relph's final day and they had a not bad day by the sound of their sightings..

"We saw a Golden Eagle down on the Oa, the odd Barnacle Goose at Gruinart, WTE this afternoon  at Loch Indaal and a hunting Barn Owl about 6 pm this evening.

We have had a wonderful time in Islay and rewarded with great views and great birds."

Just great when visitors send some of their birds through for me to share with you to read what is available for folk to see when visiting Islay and Jura. So keep them coming through folks...

I was speaking to Islay Heads this afternoon who told me that he had seen a Barn Owl out hunting this morning as he drove up to his work at Kilchoman Distillery.

Friday 9 October 2020

Friday 9th October

 Visitor Jacqui Relph sent me through last night,

"We had the Hen Harrier again at the Oa today and also, either a Peregrine or a Merlin, it was quite close but moving to fast to get a really good look, more brown than grey. Also a couple of Buzzards on the way off the reserve.  At Port An Eas, 2 Chough and a Whinchat, on the road just near the lighthouse at Singing Sands."

Another pair of visitors, Jonathan and Alison Alder, e mailed this set of birds seen yesterday

"We're staying on Islay for 10 days based at Port Ellen, having been many times before based at Portnahaven. Male Hen Harrier on minor road off B8016 about 2 miles before Ballygrant, plus Golden Eagle over ridge of Beinn Dubh. Ringtail Hen Harrier near Bridgend adjacent to A846, where we were parked looking over Loch Indaal waiting in vain for WT Eagle."

Peter Gill had a quieter sort of a day yesterday, but made up for it today.... Up at Gruinart, they counted 47 Whoopers, and out from the South hide at Gruinart, he had 40 GWF amongst the many Barnies and also Greylags seen there. Also present was a cracking male Hen Harrier there too. He then  had a Golden Eagle along the South side of Loch Gorm. There was a Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk noted there down by the side of the loch itself. Further along the road, he had 2WT Eagles and another Peregrine, along past Sunderland. He also had several Buzzards on his travels. 

Bob today had seen a Little Gull when he was coming back home out of Bowmore and then at Gartmain he had counted 70 P b Brent geese along with the ever increasing flock of barnies present there as well.

Gary emailed his birds seen today, as follows

"No sign of the Hoopoe this morning, spent an hour down at Whin Park.

Lots of Whooper Swans flying in from the north, found one flock of 40 at Bridgend.

Lots of Redwing flying through as well.

200+ Golden Plover on the sand at Bridgend. Two hybrid Canada / Barnacle Geese amongst the Barnies."

Around about 6pm , we saw 2 groups of Whooper Swans down on the stubble fields at Rockside, possibly around 70 birds in all.

Thursday 8 October 2020

Thursday 8th October

 Well, here goes fingers crossed and all that... mainly sightings from yesterday but better late than never!!!

Peter Roberts had carried out a sea watch down at Frenchman's Rocks for around 90 minutes yesterday morning..  1 GND, 2 RTD, a Manxie, 6 RBM, 475 Auk species, 133 Gannets and also 601 Kittiwakes.

Visitor Jacqui Relph had seen 3 Golden Eagles down on the Oa, and then as she drove back to Port Ellen, she had 2 Hen Harriers. She also saw a Rock Pipit and also a Razorbill over at Claggain Bay.

Peter Gill had a Peregrine fly overhead as he was scanning through the geese at Gruinart and then a wee while later on, he had a Wheatear on the roadside. Down at Bridgend, he saw a White tailed Eagle sitting watching all that was happening around and then a second WTE flew in. Also present were 14 Whooper Swans. Loch Ballygrant there were 2 Dabchicks, but no Tufted Ducks seen. Over at Finlaggan, Peter had a probable Golden Eagle seen.

Gary phoned through and told Margaret that he had seen the Hoopoe down in the Bridgend area this morning, a long staying Hoopoe for sure...

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Wednesday 7th October

Sorry folks got a wee problem tonigt with my computer, but if you check out the blog tomorrow, should have it sorted by then, a promise, rather than a threat...

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Tuesday 6th October

Rather a poor sort of a day with the weather, it was that bad I got a wetting twice as I was caught out in a couple of dirty showers when working out in the garden... say no more on that count

Almost forgot the rainfall figures from around Islay for the month of September Dr Matt Jackson's weather station came in at 3.8 inches, up her at home it was 4.35inches with Marsali beating us all at 5.84 inches over at Mulindry.

Peter Gill today had seen 3 House Martins down at Bruichladdich, a Wheatear was seen at the side of the road round at Lossit, with a Grey Wagtail seen on the burn leading down to Kilchiaran bay. Finally Peter had counted 13 Whoopers up at Craigens this afternoon.

James today had seen a Yellow browed Warbler on the reserve at Gruinart and also counted 9,320 Barnies, 2 small Canadas or Cackling geese and also  2 P b Brents as well.

Peter Roberts met in with James who kindly showed him the YBW, and  another tick for the Autumn, the arrival of 10 Greenland white fronted Geese. Peter also had a single Ruff out on the floods at Gruinart.

David Dinsley who is now in place, as he replaced Phill Catton as Dave Wood's assistant down on the Oa, has had an eventful baptism. he was present to se the Hoopoe last week, and then the YBWs on the Oa yesterday and today he had seen on the loch at Kinnabus of the possible N. American race of Bewick's Swan called Whistling Swan. It flew off before anyone else could get there to check it out. Peter believes it may be only a 3rd for UK if it turns out to be an accepted record?

Monday 5 October 2020

Monday 5th October

It has been some day out here today, the wet weather has not deterred Dave Wood and his  team down on the reserve on the Oa as they have seen 7, yes, 7 Yellow browed Warblers. 

Peter also sent me through his take on the YBWs

"I was tipped off by Jim Dickson that Yellow-brows were flooding in to the Hebrides and that I should go out and look for one on Islay.

Yesterday (Sunday) I did just that by going all the way to Gortantaoid beyond Killinallan where I saw my first Islay YBW (and I think Islay's 4th record) a few years ago. I spent several hours there searching the likely spots but found nothing at all. Today, I received a note via RSPB that The Oa was "heaving" with YBWs - well at least 5, which more or less doubles the islands total in one go! I was just about to head off there to take a look when I thought "if the Oa has several, then surely the Rhinns must have some too?". Thus I selflessly decided to forego the certainty of watching "someone else's" birds on the Oa in order to find my own and contribute to the data pool.  Thus I spent several hours today searching as much suitable scrub, bushes and trees from Portnahaven up to Port Charlotte. Needless to say I found nothing other than my first Redwing of autumn and got soaked with rain in the process. Tomorrow, if the weather is OK I shall give in, go to The Oa and ask David Wood to show me a Yellow-browed Warbler!"

Yesterday, visiting birder Jacqui Relph, a visitor for the week, also saw a White Tailed Eagle at Loch Indaal. It sat on the wreck for a while before it scared the geese! 

Peter Gill, yesterday, had a Redwing close to Sunderland Farm, and then he had a Barn Owl out on the wing in the car headlights, over towards Gruinart. This morning Peter had the Wt Eagle down at the top of Loch Indaal. Down on the Oa, he saw a Hen Harrier, and also soon afterwards, a Kestrel was seen close to Kinnabus where he saw a flock of  present, Along towards Kintra, a Merlin flew along in front of them.

 George E Jackson e mailed his birds at lunchtime, down at Machir Bay there was a Grey wagtail. where the northerly burn comes out of the dunes - first one I've seen down there. Also a couple of Stonechats and two pairs of Choughs; on the grass fields alongside the road were at least 4 Rooks with the crows.

Sunday 4 October 2020

Sunday 4th October

Peter Gill who contributes some birds when over on holiday, returned to Islay yesterday for the week. Peter had seen 2 Hen Harriers as he drove up to where they are staying yesterday...  Today round at Craigens, he counted 17 Whoopers with another 2 male Hen Harriers seen on the reserve at Gruinart. Finally he had 6 Choughs, seen together over at Saligo Bay. 

Another visitor, Nick Rentmore had seen a Yellow browed Warbler down on the Oa this morning.

All I can report tonight is that we had a very vocal group of around 10 Long tailed Tits seen this afternoon, once the rain had stopped.... this morning just before I had my breakfast, when trying to count the birds out on the feeders, they all got spoofed by the local Sparrowhawk as it flew past.

Saturday 3 October 2020

Saturday 3rd October

 Gary had braved the elements today and managed to send some birds seen by him this morning..

"Loads of Barnacle Geese landing on the sand at Bridgend and Gartmain this morning. There was a small brown goose amongst them that I couldn’t I’d. Also a cross Barnie / Canada Goose.

Female Pintail at Gartmain, Golden Plover. Over 100 Brent Geese below the Gaelic college.

No sign of Hoopoe."

James had been out for a count of the geese etc. He had counted the following birds on the reserve at Gruinart..

8,635 Barnies, 2 small cackling Canada Geese, a Pink footed Goose, 2 Ruff present out from the North Hide and also a Sparrowhawk was seen nearby, He also counted 405 Greylags on Loch Gorm.

Up here at home we had 5 Linnets seen out on the Willows, a Siskin in the feeding cage, the first for along time, and then mid morning we saw a great visitor soaring about, not even flapping its wings at all, a White tailed Eagle and at the same time we saw a Golden Eagle which was flying along the top of the crag. Great to see them at the same time, boy what a size the WTE is  compared to the Golden Eagle. Then around 11am a Buzzard was seen  again, out along the crag

Friday 2 October 2020

Friday 2nd October

Peter had  this afternoon counted the following out on Loch Indaal seen out from the pier at Bruichladdich at 16.30

Red-throated Diver - 23 

Great Northern Diver - 5 

Eider - 71

Black Guillemot - 7

Common Scoter - 44


Val Peacock reports an egret from Port Charlotte last night. Doesn't know which species, but it stood out clearly - seen after dark, in the moonlight on the rocks near the pier!

James reported through to say that there was an influx of Barnies, 1075 by mid afternoon with more arriving in as he counted them..

Louise had heard that the Hoopoe was still present today, down in a garden in Bridgend.

Pat Jackson was saying to me that today she feels that there has been more Blackbirds around today in their garden

Thursday 1 October 2020

Thursday 1st October

 Gary had been out this morning along his wife Sam, who spotted some of the birds..

Down where the River Sorn enters Loch Indaal they had a White tailed Eagle. Along at Blackrock,  5 Scaup, 32 Common Scoter  and also 7 R TDs were present on the water there, up on Loch Gorm they had seen a Pochard, 2 Slav Grebes, 147 Tufted Duck, 32 Barnies, loads of Greylags, and also 16 Mute Swans. They also had seen 7 Yellowhammers on the land as they drove round Loch Gorm.

Peter today had been over at Bowmore and on his way home stopped at Gartmain, he counted the following birds from there... 66 Pale bellied Brent Geese; 102 Barnacle Geese, 37 Red-breasted Mergansers and 65 Wigeon. A walk along the sand at Uiskentuie provided 56 Turnstone mixed in with about 45 Ringed Plover.

This morning, we had a ringtail Hen Harrier fly past here, and also last night the Sparrowhawk was out sitting on a fence post, as long it says that far away from the wee birds I do not mind...