Sunday 28 February 2021

Sunday 28th February

 Peer e mailed the following earlier on this evening to me ...

"A quick note to say that Mark Shields had a Kingfisher in Bridgend Woods this afternoon."

Saturday 27 February 2021

Saturday 27th February

 George E. Jackson yesterday had seen a noisy lot of Chough out on the wing around midday, above the crag up behind Kilchoman, and when he looked up in the sky the Chough were possibly being alarmed by 2 Golden Eagles which were flying directly above the Choughs.... 

He also reported through the following to me as well...

"Back here at Coultorsay, more birds are using the feeders; mainly Chaffinches. Had 10 birds altogether this morning, so looking promising."

Friday 26 February 2021

Friday 26th February

 It is not just me that is getting forgetful as Garry forgot to write seeing some birds yesterday ...

"Forgot to mention,, two Lesser black backed Gulls wee present amongst the Gulls on the beach at Kilchoman. (Machir Bay).. Today, he had, a Golden Eagle over garden, male House Sparrow at the big bird table. Driving into Bowmore, a Barn Owl hunting the marsh between the salt mountain & the old smiddy where the late John Calderwood was the blacksmith."

James had  seen  2 Little Egrets and he counted 510 Golden Plover on the reserve at  Gruinart today.


Thursday 25 February 2021

Thursday 25th February

 Gary was in touch with the following birds seen by him today..

"Todd’s Canada Goose still at Ballinaby, several large Skylark flocks north of Loch Gorm and also over the Gruinart flats."

Lauren Stewart, the new kid in the team at RSPB, but based at Gruinart reported her birds from today...

"At Loch Gruinart this morning, there were two Little Egrets in front of the south hide and the woodland trail was full of bird song; Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Song Thrush and Blackbird. So lovely to hear signs of spring."


Wednesday 24 February 2021

Wednesday 24th February

 George E. Jackson was in touch earlier on today

"Yesterday, 2 Collared Doves wandering around under the sunflower feeder; seen tits, both Great and, less often, Blue coming to the peanuts - now usually in pairs. Late morning,  Pat had a Tree Sparrow near the young plantation at Foreland.

On Monday, a large Sparrowhawk zipped across the road in front of us, just before the Bruichladdich distillery."

We had a good natter and catch up with James earlier on this evening, and he told me that he had seen a Barn Owl on the reserve at Gruinart. Today, he had counted 70 Skylarks again on the reserve at Gruinart, these birds were new arrivals according to James.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Tuesday 23rd February

Later on last night we watched the Tv and lo and behold who was on the silver screen but Donald James MacPhee. Great to see you DJ...

Then tonight, we have been watching another program with Simon King which was about 9 years old or so it claimed to be on the credits at the end of the program... In one part of the footage I was sure that I saw Helen Moncrieff who spent a year working over here at Gruinart...

By the way, the weather today has not been that great, with all the ferries being cancelled and as well as that the wind speed was tipping a mere 77 mph at one time earlier on... A day for not going outside !!!!

Monday 22 February 2021

Monday 22nd February

Another good day with the weather, but probably the lull before the storm, well that is how I am reading into the weather forecast which I saw earlier on. Even Calmac have cancelled  the first ferry coming and leaving Islay tomorrow....

Another wee announcement is that with the current Covid regulations still in place, there will be no Islay bird nerds meeting tomorrow evening... We will eventually return to normal and meet up sometime, better safe than sorry

Sunday 21 February 2021

Sunday 21st February

 Peter sent me this through later on last night...

"I had a message from Ed Burrell that he'd seen a Gadwall on Loch Cornabus today - apparently the first he has seen there."

Today, Gary had seen some White tailed Eagles 

"This morning six White tailed Eagle over the trees at Bridgend merse. Then on way home about 5 pm,  three juv / sub ad on the sand at Bridgend."

Saturday 20 February 2021

Saturday 20th February

James me sent me through this list of birds seen by him on the reserve at Gruinart yesterday ..

"3 White tailed Eagles, 2 Peregrines, 1 male Hen Harrier and also 2 Little Egrets

Yesterday, (Thursday) a Barn Owl was seen

All on the reserve

Weather grey and wet – although there was the odd patch of sun yesterday, (Thursday).

Friday 19 February 2021

Friday 19th February

 George E. Jackson sent me this through yesterday...

"Winter first: Yesterday evening, Matthew asked for comments/identification on a photo of 2 birds he'd seen last Saturday feeding out in the open, on the snow covered grass round the Bowmore hospital. Turned out to be a very good picture of two Woodcock.

Spring next: Today (Thursday) as well as increasing numbers of things getting into song - Blackbirds, Song thrush, Great tits, Robins - there was a Cormorant on rocks just north of Bruichladdich with a full white thigh patch, trying to impress, a possible Mate? Then, non avian, at the top of the Machir Bay beach, a wee clump of Coltsfoot with bright yellow flowers almost full out.

All very cheerful and full of the joys of Spring!!!"

Gary sent through these birds seen by him yesterday:

"Some sightings Thrushes & Chaffinch singing in woods beside house.

At Bunnahabhain 1 GND, 2 R b Merganser, 17 Shag, 4 Cormorant. 5 summer plumage Black Guillemot.

Male Hen Harrier over territory at Ardnahoe Loch with another Male Hen Harrier over territory at Finlaggan. Summer plumage Black Guillemot also at Caol Ila & Port Askaig."


Thursday 18 February 2021

Thursday 18th February

Mark kindly sent me through the WeBS count figures which were done earlier on this week on Loch Gruinart: 171 Lapwing, 2 Redshank, 5 Snipe, 7 Mute Swan, 546 Teal, 1 Dabchick, 2 Little Egret, 32 Whooper Swan, 111 Mallard, 90 Wigeon, 40 Shoveler, 3 R b Merganser, 109 Pintail, 58 Curlew, 4 Grey Heron, 2 H. Gull, 1 G b b Gull, 95 Dunlin, 746 Golden  Plover, 2 Common Gull and also 3 B h Gull 

Karen Graham sent me this email yesterday...

"Here a warmer brighter day with a feeling of spring to come with the first crocuses out adding a touch of purple amongst the other bulbs. 

Sitting looking out to back garden and the Sparrowhawk  swooped in. All birds took off and the squirrel munching on nuts went rigid and stayed like that for nearly 10 mins. The birds now coming back, the Sparrowhawk has departed without a catch this time."


Wednesday 17 February 2021

Wednesday 17th February

Good friend Armin Grewe sent me though this e mail late last night ..

"Well, I think after the long and dark winter it's starting to look up. Today, was the first morning this year I could go for my walk without my head torch, as it finally gets light early enough. And to add to that I spotted an old acquaintance (maybe) today:

Almost at the end of my outbound leg I spotted a Little Egret flying up from a flooded track next to the towpath. Unfortunately didn't get to see much of it as it quickly disappeared behind some trees. But on the return leg I spotted it again in a field not far from where I had first seen it. Now I'm wondering if this is the same bird as the one I spotted last year? The place I spotted the bird last year is only about a mile away...

Apart from that I saw a nice female Bullfinch fairly close up in the sunshine during my afternoon leg stretch walk yesterday. Sadly I couldn't watch it too long as I had to get back to the home office for yet another video call (at least the call turned out to be useful for a change, as I got some useful data and information out of it)."

Great to hear from you Armin

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Tuesday 16th February

 Peter sent me through this e mail earlier on this evening..

"There has been a group of 10 Brent Geese in Loch Indaal yesterday and today, wandering between Bruichladdich and Smelly Corner.

 I don't usually feed the birds in my garden because of the dogs, but with the horribly cold weather in the previous few days I nipped out, bought feeders and all sorts of goodies for them on the assumption that they'd be desperate for food. Desperate they may be, but it clearly takes them a while to find new food sources and they haven't yet found my offerings yet! Now the weather has gone pleasantly mild again and they can fend for themselves again."

By the way, last night I started to watch the Zoom meeting led by the INHT , a talk on the "Geology of Colonsay" given by David Webster, unfortunately for me I managed to loose the connection, so I did not see it all...

This evening, there was a short film on the One Show on BBC 1 given by Roy Dennis who I knew when he was the warden on Fair Isle back in the 60s. The film included some footage relating to Roy's work relating to the work put in by himself and others and the re introduction of the White tailed Eagles 

Monday 15 February 2021

Monday 15th February

George E Jackson sent me through an e mail earlier on today and I have gleaned some of the birds seen by him as follows

"On Friday morning I ventured down to Machir Bay; there were 3 Mistle Thrushes which were joined by a single Lapwing on the grassy area. First Mistle Thrushes I've seen for a good while. Nothing else except a small number of forlorn looking gulls. 

Back at Coultorsay, in the garden the Blackbirds have continued tucking into the apples - probably 10 to 12 altogether. A small number of Robins and Great Tits, one Coal Tit, one Blue Tit and a single Goldcrest been on the feeders (which were swinging nearly horizontal at times); the weather seems to have dampened the Starlings nest prospecting for the present."


Sunday 14 February 2021

Sunday 14th February

 Another windy day again, no ferries again and yet again no daily newspapers in the shops.. Not that I often buy one anyway!!!

Just as I was about to go out to feed the birds this morning, the phone rang and who was on the other end of the phone, nobody else other than Wally White. We had  a right good catch up and I was able to mention to him that we had seen a sparrow entering into one of the nest boxes which he had made and given to us. This morning, once Wally and myself had come off the phone, we happened to look out and see a Blue Tit having a look see at another of Wally's boxes. Early days for them breeding perhaps, but may be a place to get some shelter from the weather... but I will try to keep you up to date with any further news on Wally's nest boxes and who uses them. 

Saturday 13 February 2021

Saturday 13th February

Another dreich. miserable kind of a day again, but for once, we did get some SNOW with a strong wind blowing in the mix as well. The wind speed on Matt Jackson's weather station recorded a wind speed of 72 mph, all I can say is that I was glad that I was not outside when it recorded that puff of wind earlier on today!!

I read with interest, the other day, about the current state of play regarding the Fair Isle Bird Observatory, regarding the state of play regarding the rebuild and also regarding the post of the warden and his wife who is employed at the supervisor of the hostel.  

Friday 12 February 2021

Friday 12th February

Peter was in touch today... 

"I had a "first" this morning when I saw through the window 2 White-tailed Eagles glide past as I lay in bed! Given the freezing cold, windy weather at the moment it is tempting to stay warm in bed for longer to see what else I can add to my list."

Lesley yesterday had seen a field full of Golden Plovers and today when out for a walk along the River Sorn, she saw a Dipper.

I see that Calmac operated a splash and dash service ovr to Islay this morning with no further sailings coming over after the ferry returned to Kennacraig, with no sailings coming over tomorrow at all...

Thursday 11 February 2021

Thursday 11th February

Not much to report through tonight, mainly because of the cold weather.. So we took the plunge and ordered some more bird food, only to be told that it might be a day or so longer than normal for getting it delivered to us. We still have got some food left but I am sure that the birds will be pleased of whatever they might get from us..  There was a pesky Robin out this morning and he was glad of the food that we had given him. Several Blackbirds were seen flying around, chasing each other!!!

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Wednesday 10th February

George E. Jackson was in touch by e mail earlier on today with some sightings.. 

"Two days ago winding up the day's gardening there were thousands of Barnacles coming off the fields south of Bruichladdich, apparently gathering on the shore before going to roost at the top of the loch. First time I've seen them doing that.

This morning (Tues) I saw 3 Golden Eagles together get up from the Gruinart 'flats' and drift off southwards. Then Pat saw a WTE down near Octofad this afternoon.

Interesting that you have had the Oystercatchers coming into your 'garden' the last two days. Again, before we read that, Pat had commented on seeing more Oyks around on fields etc, away from the shores. Wonder if there has been a cold weather movement of birds escaping from the conditions further east in Scotland or even Europe.

We have had the first few birds taking advantage of the new feeders I've got up - only a few as yet: Great Tits, Robins, one Chaffinch. Up to half a dozen Blackbirds have taken advantage of the apples scattered in different places around the garden."

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Tuesday 9th February

Apologies to you all folks, as I must have forgotten to "publish" the entry on the blog for last night, so now it is up. You might well get 2 days worth of ramblings from here... 

Come to think about it , there is nothing really new here today, the new birds, the Oystercatchers are still present out on the grass, but only 9 in number, so I am presuming that these are the same 9 that I saw yesterday afternoon. Yet again more Oystertchers than Goldfinches.

The weather has remained a bit on the cold side again, but no snow, not that I really want it!!!

Monday 8th February

Peter sent this through later on last night, the birds were all seen yesterday...

" A belated note for birds at Loch Skerrols today:

·        A pair of Golden Eagles flying around together beyond Skerrols near Knockdon

·        A young WTE over the Loch

·    c.25 Tufted Ducks, c.45 Mallard and c.30 Wigeon and 8 Mute Swans on the Loch itself"

Lesley sent me through the folowing birds seen by her over at Gruinart today...

"4WTE feeding far shoreline LGruinart from new hide. Also large nos sm waders - Dunlin, + 31 Shellduck +
Close in Teal in sun in  pristine plumage. Also seen there was a Little Egret"

"Attempted to count the geese at Gruinart – but rather a lot of birds of prey:

2 Golden Eagles, 2 White tailed Eagles, although I believe Lesley had 4, 1 Merlin and 4 Hen Harriers"

Just before lunchtime. looking out on our grass another "tick" for the house list here, 23 Oystercatchers, more than the total number of Goldfinches, easily pleased I am sometimes!!! They stayed here for some time having a good probe/ howk in the grass before flying away. Mid afternoon there were still 9 present but down in the adjacent field to us...

Sunday 7 February 2021

Sunday 7th February

Another bitterly cold day with that darned wind blowing in from the East again... 

Today around lunchtime, James had 2 Golden Eagles flying around over the reserve at Gruinart, down on the estuary at the same time he saw 4 White tailed Eagles on the ground...  Anothr pair of Eagles were seen by our local vet, Beth Newman as she was driving along the road up from Foreland earlier on this week...

Speaking to David Barr earlier on this evening, and he was saying that he saw 2 Red Kites along with 2 Buzzards flying overhead where he now lives at Lochearnhead, this morning while out walking the dogs...

Saturday 6 February 2021

Saturday 6th February

Well the number of Goldfinches has increased, not a lot, but upwards to number 4, also seen was a female Chaffinch with a BTO ring on its' leg. The weather has not been that great again for seeing many birds around...

Apart from watching the tail end of the rugby on the TV and then the program which I plugged, not a lot happening out here today... 

Friday 5 February 2021

Friday 5th February

Just a wee reminder to watch the TV tomorrow evening at 7 pm and see the program , well some of it is about Fair Isle... It is titled 'Stormborn' - animals surviving in countries on the Northern edges of the Atlantic Ocean.

Today, we had a new "tick" for the year, we had 3 Goldfinches in on the bird feeders, so fingers crossed that they were suitably impressed with food on offer, so we will wait and see if they return, possibly with some more new  friends!!!

The wind appears to have dropped but it is still "gie snell"...

Thursday 4 February 2021

Thursday 4th February

Well the wind did blow today, certainly not a strong as yesterday for sure, but as it was blowing out of the East, it was still biterly cold...  Something positive was that the ferry did manage to sail back and forward, although it came to Port Askaig rather than chancing its' luck and attempting to tie up at Port Ellen this morning!!!

James today had seen a Kestrel and also a Sparrowhawk over the reserve at Gruinart. 

Before I forget, on Saturday evening at 7pm on BBC2 there is part of the programn about Fair Isle. It is titled 'Stormborn' - animals surviving in countries on the northern edges of the Atlantic Ocean. So I had better try to watch it myself...

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Wednesday 3rd February

Another windy day, with it topping a mere 54 mph  at the back of 5 o'clock this morning.. Calmac provided us with a splash and dash service today  with the first sailings and also the evening sailings also being cancelled..

By the way, there are no bird sightings through tonight... but I can give you the rainfall from Dr Matt Jackson's weather station for January and it came in  at 3.6 inches. Other contributors who are known to many as the "Horwich birders" sent their tally figure for  January and their figure came to 5.3 inches... They also commented on a covering of snow yesterday morning, but the rain came and the snow disappeared....

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Tuesday 2nd February

The wather has remained much of the same as yesterday  but with the wind blowing continually strong all day but luckily for us, no snow and only a wee drop of rain, not a lot thank goodness...

This afternoon George E. Jackson had sent me some birds seen by him and his wife Pat over the past few days...

"Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle over the garden Saturday; pair of Chough, same yesterday and Glaucous Gull  seen Uskentuie/Blackrock strand yesterday."

Monday 1 February 2021

Monday 1st February

Well, as promised the rainfall figures up here came to 5.1 inches for January..  There were a few dry days but and a lot of wet days through the month as well, so we will see what our other weather watchers have had as their rainfall tallies for the month... Today, it has been dry so far, but with a bitterly cold wind blowing in from the East.

This afternoon, when out in the garden Margarert saw a Buzzard flying low over the garden, I should have seen it as it flew quite low and close to me, well that is what I was told....

I was reading on the Fair Isle Bird Obsevatory web page that the Great Tit is still present, so I wonder as to whether it is infact the longest ever staying Great Tit on Fair Isle???