Friday 30 April 2021

Friday 30th April

Some birds seen by Karen Graham yesterday, mainly up at Duncansby head, almost as far North that one can go on the mainland included the following...

"We thought we would see Puffins on the cliffs but not one was spotted. Large numbers of Guillemot and Razorbills along with Fulmar and Kittiwake. A number of Bonxies were weaving in and out hoping to catch one of the smaller birds in passing but they were keeping low above the waves.   Several Larks singing over moorland areas."

Lauren Stewart had seen the following birds at Gruinart... 

"There were 9 Whimbrel at Killinallan this morning. Lots of Grasshopper Warblers, Blackcaps and a GS Woodpecker around the reserve too, Mark also had a flock of Lesser Redpoll yesterday."

Thursday 29 April 2021

Thursday 29th April

 Nothing much to report to you all this evening, but last night Karen Graham was on the phone saying that she had seen over 1,000 Grelags arriving in at Loch Fleet which is up North, not the Loch Fleet down in Galloway!!!

Wednesday 28 April 2021

Wednesday 28th April

 Yesterday, David Wood and Martin Armstrong had seen a Brambling in Dave's garden down the Oa...

Also Jack Flemng sent me the following.... 

"We've had an almost resident flock of c. 20 goldfinch at the feeders in the garden - the most ever ‐ but by God they go through the seed - mostly by chucking what they don't like away"

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Tuesday 27th April

Some birds seen by Steve Wrightson seen yesterday over at Bunnahabhain included 2 Grey Wagtails as well as some Swallows, Shelduck and also a few Gannets flying out on the Sound of Islay.

I received through this e mail from Lauren Stewart, earlier on this evening, who now works with the RSPB on Islay as an assistant Warden.....

"Heard a Corncrake last night out on the flats at Gruinart along with some drumming Snipe. Lapwing chicks also running around the flats this afternoon."

Monday 26 April 2021

Monday 26th April

 All the below reports of birds seen were from Friday onwards... 

James had reported seeing the following birds yesterday evening...

"Really warm here today (Sunday) and things are starting to dry up.

Saturday : Black tailed Godwits 39 on the Floods, Canada geese 3 big ones on the Floods, Blackcap singing along the woodland trail, Whimbrel 2 Port Ellen and Common Sands 2 Port Ellen.

On Sunday : Grasshopper Warblers 2 singing, White tailed Eagle over Reserve at Gruinart."

Peter sent the folowing birds seen by folk as well...

"Magpie - one reported on the Islay Facebook page at Port Ellen on Saturday and another at Ardfin golf course on Jura via Louise Muir on Friday.

 Other records for Sunday:

A flock of 39 Whimbrel on fields just outside Portnahaven and a WTE sat on the rocks on McKenzie Island off Portnahaven"

Sunday 25 April 2021

Sunday 25th April

Good friend, Peter sent me through this e mail late on last night with some sightings seen by folk on Islay yesterday,

" Pia heard a Grasshopper Warbler singing at Foreland this morning.

 Mandy saw a late Redwing at Carnduncan and heard a Cuckoo there as well.

Lesley and I saw 20+ Black-tailed Godwits, a male Ruff coming into breeding plumage and 3 Canada Geese from the North Hide at Gruinart.

And finally, the Corncrakes have arrived with simultaneous records of heard birds this evening at Conisby by myself, at Cornabus by Dave Protherough.

Saturday 24 April 2021

Saturday 24th April

Steve Wrightson sent me the image of an Osprey which he had taken yesterday evening...

He also kindly sent me though the following image of the same bird on top of a post enjoying a fish supper...

Peter also sent me through the following sightings from yesterday as well....

"David Dinsley - the first Sedge Warbler on Islay today at Kinnabus, plus another Whinchat.

 Gary had seen 8 Whimbrel on the shore by the coal yard north of Bruichladdich.

Val Peacock heard a Cuckoo calling at Foreland"

Friday 23 April 2021

Friday 23rd April

 Peter sent me through the following birds seen / heard on Islay yesterday...

"David Dinsley reports the first Whinchat of the year at Upper Killeyan plus a Ring Ouzel at Port nan Gallen on the Oa.

Summer visitors building up with this pleasant weather: Willow Warblers singing everywhere, Cuckoo calling on the High Road and Blackcap singing in the woods at Kildalton with Common Sandpipers seen and heard along the coast in several locations today. The group of 8 large Canada Geese still present in fields along the High Road at Leorin."

A few birds seen by Armin Grewe for you hear about, Armin sent me the email a few days ago and lives in Berkshire, but is a good friend to all of us on Islay...

"Not entirely sure, but it might have been the first for this season, on my way out during my morning walk I heard a Cuckoo. It was quiet when I returned though.

Earlier I saw a Starling chasing a Pigeon for some reason, they came up from behind me so I don't know what happened previously.

Also noticed two Herons flying out from the direction of the Heronry, I assume to their fishing grounds further afield."

Thursday 22 April 2021

Thursday 22nd April

 Some sigtings seen on Islay yesterday, sent to me by Peter,,,

"Louise Muir reported a Bonxie at the Jura ferry.

Mary Ann Featherstone reported the first 2 Arctic Terns at Cnoc Bay.

David Dinsley reported 2 Cuckoos and the first Grasshopper Warbler of the year at Glen Astle.

Peter had been out too but didn't see anything so exciting!"

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Wednesday 21st April

 We had right good natter with George E Jackson later on this afternoon and he was giving us a wee update on birds seen by himself and not forgetting his wife Pat.. On Sunday, he had put up his mist nets and carried out some ringing. He managed to to catch 16 Goldfinches, including one with a leg ring already fitted, and George was telling me that it was one that had been originally caught and rung on the 25th of April 2019 up at Shepherd's cottage!!!  He also caught 14 Chaffinches including a retrap bird that he had only initally rung last week at Coultorsay, George also had processed a Greenfinch as well...

Yesterday, he saw a White tailed Eagle fly overhead at Sunderland Farm and today at Coultorsay he had 2 Redpolls in the garden.

This evening James was in touch by e mail, with following birds seen on the reserve at Gruinart today...

"First Lapwing chicks seen on the Flats

Black tailed Godwits 188 North hide

Ruff, 2 North hide

White Wags,  4 – probably loads more North hide

Golden Eagle 1 Gruinart

Lots of Snipe and Golden Plover moving through"

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Tuesday 20th April

Peter had been out and about today and sent me through the following birds seen by himself when out..

"I did a circuit of Loch Gorm today and saw the following around Ballinaby:

245 Golden Plover plus a small mixed flock of geese containing 25 Greylag, 32 White-fronts and single Barnacle and also a Pink-footed Goose.

This evening, down at Octofad I had what appeared to be a pair of crows - one definitely a Hoodie, the other a Carrion - maybe a bit of hybridisation in the offing?

David Dinsley reports a male Blackcap at Kinnabus yesterday."

James was speaking to Margaret earlier on this evening, who said that he had a "good number of Blackwits" seen at Gruinart again today.

Karen Graham from Bearsden today had a pair of Siskins appeared on her seed feeder after thinking that they were all away!!!!

Monday 19 April 2021

Monday 19th April

 Gary Turnbull reported yesterday:

  • an Osprey harassed by gulls over the Sorn at Bridgend, then flew upriver
  • Juv Iceland Gull near Carrabus, and also 15 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Blackrock
Yesterday, Karen Graham had seen a Grey Heron on the roof of the house next door in Bearsden...Karen  also wondered if the said Heron could possibly have been attracted to their neighbours' garden pond???Today, she had went to RSPB Loch Lomand Woodland walk. Only people there. Spotted our first two Swallows of the year. 

Only other piece of news is that "Big Red" and myself cut the grass, late afternoon, it does not take long to do as "Big Red" has a whopping 52 inch cutting deck to do the job!!!

Sunday 18 April 2021

Sunday 18th April

 Not exactly a summer's day a bit on the cool side, so put off cutting the grass, another time and another day...."Big Red" and myself will cut the grass, here in no time at all....

James had sent me through the following email a wee while ago...

"A few birds – I bird watched my way back from the office (yes, I know it is Sunday, but... )

100 Black tailed Godwits – amazingly counted them twice got 100 both times, 1 Ruff, 3 male Gadwall

1 Merlin, Loads of Sand Martins and a scattering of White Wagtails.

 All seen from the hides"

Saturday 17 April 2021

Saturday 17th April

An e mail came in today from George E. Jackson with some birds seen by himself and also his wife Pat...

"Not a lot to tell - weather been fine for 2+ days, so garden has had priority. Keep hearing Curlews in the distance then when I look around there's just a cheery Starling laughing at me!!!

Wednesday evening Pat was pleased to hear 4 Chiffchaffs and 1 (our first for the year) Willow Warbler at Foreland. Then I read James's comment about the big arrival yesterday, Thursday. So this morning, Friday, I headed to Foreland again to encounter about 30 Willow Warblers on the same route Pat took, but only heard 1 Chiffchaff. A Grey Heron upped and departed northwards from the small lochan near the 'Tile factory' ruins. [Looking at the remnants of the wall buttresses etc, I wonder whether some speculative archaeologist in a few millennia will claim it as a rectangular stone 'circle' carefully oriented on something!].

Meanwhile, back at Coultorsay there were ca. 90 Greylags on the field below he house, with 14 large Canadas - have to wait and see whether all these move off before long.

The finches continue to clear the sunflower seeds at a prodigious rate.. need to order some more!!!!"

This evening, I received a list of birds seen/ heard around Islay today through from Peter...

"Jack Snipe between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich seen by Dave Dinsley. First Blackcap of the year at Cornabus seen by Ed Burrell. Cuckoo at Kildalton sent through to Peter by Mary Ann Featherstone"

Friday 16 April 2021

Friday 16th April

Peter today had been out. making the most of the sunny day by the sound of things which is just as well as there is some rain forecast in a few days time.. Over at Storakaig, which is on the Glen road between Ballygrant and Mulindry, he counted a flock of 80 Golden Plover.

I read a worrying piece of news earlier on this evening, basically that Motmot Travel have called it a day, with the brother and sister team deciding to retire, they will be missed.. "Gone, but not forgotten."

Thursday 15 April 2021

Thursday 15th April

 Peter e mailed me through the following birds seen recently on Islay....

"David Dinsley reports a Carrion Crow at Ghiol on the Oa on Tuesday.

Yesterday, David Wood saw a Magpie at Mid Cragabus while Mary-Ann Featherstone reports from Kildalton  that - "The woodpecker is tapping daily. The first Cuckoo arrived yesterday morning."

Some birds seen by James on the reserve at Gruinart...

"Willow warbler invasion- lots of willow warblers arrived yesterday all singing this morning

Geese- pretty much all the geese have gone – moved  away mainly on Monday/ Tuesday

Bullfinch on reserve yesterday, Sandwich Tern and Common Sandpiper Bruichladdich yesterday

This morning on reserve, Chiffchaff 2, Redwings still lots around, also seen was a Swallow

 And yesterday, Neil MacGillivray, saw a Cuckoo on reserve."


Wednesday 14 April 2021

Wednesday 14th April

Matthew phoned yesterday evening to say he'd seen an Osprey (tucking into a very large fish) on a roadside telegraph pole overlooking Loch Gorm - he got a photo on his phone but by the time he returned with his better camera, it had cleared off.

As George E. Jackson was driving home from Uiskentuie, yesterday afternoon, there was a Grey Heron on the rocks just north of Bruichladdich - first one he has seen there for at least 3 weeks. 

Tuesday 13 April 2021

Tuesday 13th April

David Livingstone, had seen 3 Sand Martins when he was out on the Golf course at the Machrie this morning, David's first Sand Martins of the year....

Peter had helped Lesley with her WeBS count today from Bowmore to Gartbreck with the following results:

"GND - 3

Heron - 1

Shag - 12

Mute Swan - 1

Brent Goose - 2

Barnacle Goose - 1

Greylag - 6

Eider - 11

Wigeon - 6

Teal - 2

Mallard - 1

Shelduck 14

Oystercatcher - 60

Grey Plover - 2

Golden Plover - 155

Ringed Plover - 79

Lapwing - 5

Dunlin - 6

Sanderling - 17

Redshank - 5

Curlew - 6

Whimbrel - 1

Snipe - 3

Turnstone - 51

Common Gull - 52

GBB Gull - 51

LBB Gull - 3

Herring Gull - 61

B H Gull - 1


While doing the WEBS we had our first Swallow of the year, plus a White

Wagtail. We went over to Laggan Point later and had  a pair of Wheatear

and another Whimbrel.


Finally, this afternoon we've had some consistently lovely, sunny weather!"





Monday 12 April 2021

Monday 12th April

Gary e mailed to say that the Whimbrel that he had seen yesterday was over at Cairnan/ Crosshouses...

Sunday 11 April 2021

Sunday 11th April

A good list of birds seen by Dave Woods and another list seen by Peter.. This first list was seen by Dave...

"Male Ring Ouzel today, plus 1 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. 3 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine and 1 Manxie offshore on Friday, 3 Hen Harrier yesterday"

Peter sent me though this followowing list of birds seen, including the WeBS count which he had helped Bob carry out this afternoon...

"Saturday 10th: I went out to Lossit Point for the first time ever in 20+ years of living here and saw 2 Black-throated divers offshore.

(Also a report of a Cuckoo from a local on the Oa)

Sunday 11th: A walk around the Lily loch area this morning produced 5 Yellowhammers at a pheasant feeding station, plus Chiffchaffs heard and a single Willow Warbler seen.

This afternoon I was out with Bob Davison to do his WEBS count from Port Charlotte to Blackrock. Another spring migrant seen was a single White Wagtail near Bruichladdich. The WEBS produced the following:

GND - 10
Slav Grebe - 1 (in lovely summer plumage)
Gannet - 8
Cormorant - 3
Heron - 1
Razorbill - 6
Greenland White-fronts - 50
Greylags - 40
Brents - 13
Mallard - 5
Shelduck - 3
Red-breasted Merg. - 6
Eider - 79
Herring Gull - 34
LBB Gull - 3
GBB Gull - 10
Common Gull - 38
Sandwich Tern - 7
Oystercatcher - 46
Snipe - 5
Redshank - 4
Purple Sand - 5

Ringed Plover - 4

OTHER REPORT:  Whimbrel seen at Bridgend Merse (from Gary Turnbull)."

Saturday 10 April 2021

Saturday 10th April

 I believe that David Dinsley had seen 2 Common Sandpipers over at the Laggan Bridge today...

I was speaking to my old mucka David Barr, a short time ago and he was telling me that he is hearing the Whaups, or rather the Curlews calling away in the morning when out walking the dogs...

Friday 9 April 2021

Friday 9th April

Well it is with some sadness that the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was announced today. I only met him the once, when he awarded me the Gold Award in the Duke of Edinburgh Award, many years ago. The actual cermony took place in Edinburgh Castle a long time ago!!! Back in the last centuary....

Thursday 8 April 2021

Thursday 8th April

George E. Jackson had sent me through the following,  seen by himself and his wife Pat over the past few days... 

Saturday 3rd - Finlaggan, midday - 7 Tufted duck and a pair of swans (at the very far end of the loch, so didn't confirm species); a Curlew singing/bubbling vigorously somewhere over to the east side; one Buzzard the only raptor over the plantation trees. Driving out there were at least 5 Redwings (they kept popping up from the tussocks so perhaps more), and one Wheatear, just past the Finlaggan House. Further along the road 3 Golden Eagles soaring/displaying at times quite low.

Back at Coultorsay, a hectic couple of hours late afternoon - caught and ringed 27 birds [11 Chaffinches; 6 Goldfinches; 6 'various' garden species and best of all, 4 Siskins which we hadn't seen till then in the garden].

Tuesday 6th - am. a R t diver very close in to the rocky spit at Uiskentuie, where there was also a male R b merganser. At dusk over Foreland plantation a Gt spotted woodpecker headed towards the trees round the main house, presumably to roost. Pat had seen Tree sparrows there a couple of days earlier.

Wednesday 7th - late morning at Foreland again, in the plantation, a Stonechat and two Goldcrests. All afternoon at Coultorsay there was a build-up of Starlings in the garden, probably about 200, being very noisy.

It looks as though things are really on the move.

Wednesday 7 April 2021

Wednesday 7t April

 No, this was not taken from anywhere  but for sure the weather from Fair Isle on Monday and Tuesday this week...

"Prevailing Northerly wind gusting up to around 75mph and regular heavy snow showers on both days, with the wind speeds decreasing very slightly on 6th"

I also noted that the "ever present" Great Tit is still to be seen...

Tuesday 6 April 2021

Tuesday 6th April

 James was on the phone earlier on today and he was telling me that he had heard a Chiffchaff calling away down in the trees below the farm steading at Gruinart this morning and then as he was talking to me, a Sparrowhawk flew past....

Karen Graham from Bearsden had been watching a pair of Bullfinches in her garden this morning, but they were making the most of some buds on her cherry tree.

Another comment from James, yesterday he had the headlights on while driving along the road in the snow!!!!

Monday 5 April 2021

Monday 5th April

Peter sent me this comment, earlier on this evening...  

"The first 2 Sandwich Terns on Islay seen at Port Charlotte yesterday and one at Bruichladdich today in between all these snowy showers."

If I am correct the birds seen yesterday off Port Charlotte were spotted by Dave Dinsley with Peter himself seeing the single Tern out from Bruichladdich....

Sunday 4 April 2021

Sunday 4th April

Nothing to report on the bird front tonight, but instead I can give you an update on the rain fall that has recorded on Islay for the month of March. Marsali had exactly the same amount of rain in her gauge as last year which was 116mm, or 4.56 inches in old money.... Matt Jackson's rain tally came to 3.13 inches for this March while last year his tally was 2.92 inches for March...

By the sound of things, I believe that the weather is to turn back to some cooler weather over the next few days with some snow being talked about, being thrown in for good measure. 

Saturday 3 April 2021

Saturday 3rd April

 Peter yesterday checked the Sand Martin colony site halfway between Bruichladdich and Uiskentuie and noted that a few Sand Martins are already back there. It is a substantial little colony with over 100 holes, so he hopes whoever owns it doesn't excavate for sand and gravel during the imminent breeding season. There were also 9 Pale bellied Brent Geese on the shore in the same area. 

Mandy today had  just been watching two juvenile/ immature Golden Eagles soaring above Carnduncan, there looked to be some display kind of behaviour, with formation flying and a bit of flipping, then after 5 minutes or so they separated, and the one that was still above Carnduncan was buzzed by a Buzzard until it left towards Loch Gorm.


Friday 2 April 2021

Friday 2nd April

David Wood sent me through this report from some survey work carried out by the team down on the RSPB reserve on the Oa today..

"We did the Oa cliff survey today, combined total of 30 Wheatear, 2 Swallow, 2 Sand Martin were the migrant highlights. Other birds seen included 2 immature WT Eagles, 5 Peregrines, 69 Tysties, 2 Hen Harriers, 7 GNDs"

Peter emailed to tell me that Lesley had seen a Spotted Flycatcher in her garden this morning, a great sighting, the first for the UK this year probably...

Thursday 1 April 2021

Thursday 1st April

Peter was in touch by e mail earlier on this afternoon....

"I forgot to include in yesterday's notes that there was a lot of seabirds feeding in Loch Indaal yesterday. All packed together and very active were the usual gulls, shags and a few divers and gannets. Most notable was a high count of 55 Red-breasted Mergansers in with them.

TODAY: Today's birds include the first Islay Willow Warbler seen by David Wood at Kinnabus. I had at least 6 Wheatears close together at Kilchiaran."