Friday, 15 October 2021

Friday 15th October

 A dramatic change for the better in the weather today with bright sunshine, light NW winds, warmth and, best of all – NO RAIN! This promoted a lot of birding activity from the various visiting birders – plus a lot of activity from the birds themselves, with quite a bit of movement. Here is a summary:

Whooper Swans: John Overfield noted 33 on Loch Indaal near Bowmore this morning – all heading off south, A count on Loch Gorm by Tim Daley of 42 at 11am had increased to 118 (including 21 juvs) by the time I got there at midday, with skeins arriving as Ed Burrell and I scanned the loch. A further 14 were on Loch Indaal this afternoon which eventually flew off south.

There were also 55 Teal on the small lochans off the main Loch Gorm and a high count of 156 Tufted Duck on the main loch.

Tim Daley had also ventured up to Loch Gruinart and, from his account, was clearly enjoying the birding in better weather “Finally a beautiful day and I was on the east shore of Loch Gruinart as the sun came up to the incessant yapping of thousands of barnacle geese, occasionally rising to crescendo as flocks took to the air. A couple of White-tailed Eagles certainly unsettled the throng when the eagles settled on the flats although a female Hen Harrier glided across with barely a murmur.” He noted 4 Pink-footed Geese and “a handful” of Pale-bellied Brents amidst the Barnies and a flock of 28 Choughs in the fields. Wades included c.120 Sanderling in tight-knit group with 6 Dunlin and a bit further along were 28 Ringed Plover. A Great Northern Diver, 4 Red-throated Divers and 2 Red-breasted Merganser were noted offshore.

Richard Belter had been up to Ardnave this morning in weather he described as “blue skies, sunshine, no wind - bliss!”. Skeins of Barnies were going over as he recorded single Snow Bunting and Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Divers and 6 Common Scoter.

Up at Finlaggan Gary noted Crossbills and Fieldfares and Redwings overhead and at nearby Achnaclach Woods. On the loch were 5 Little Grebes. 2 Golden Eagles were sky-dancing north of Finlaggan.

Elsewhere, John Overfield down on The Oa had further raptor activity with 3 Hen Harries “kettling” overhead appearing to be moving south. He also counted 13 Whooper Swans, 72 Greenland White-fronts and 4 Pink-feet on Loch Kinnabus and a flock of 50 Twite nearby. The White-fronts are building up in numbers slowly.

With lovely sunny conditions and a calm sea, I spent part of the afternoon counting brtds on Loch Indaal from Blackrock down to Port Charlotte. Best find was a gorgeous pair of Long-tailed Ducks at Blackrock, which I think are the first of the winter? There was also a high count of 15 Slavonian Grebes. Other tallies were: 14 Whooper Swans (all departed south); 162 Greylags; 21 Brent Geese; 70 Eider; 46 Common Scoter; 42 Red-breasted Merganser; 6 Scaup; 90 Shags; 12 Great Northern Divers; 18 Red-throated Divers; 10 Guillemots. I didn’t count the gulls, but there were the same large feeding groups homing in on shoals of small fish as yesterday, close inshore from Bruichladdich down towards Port Charlotte.

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