Tuesday 30 November 2021

Tuesday 30 November


Merlin, shared by Kim who spotted the posing bird of prey at Loch Gruinart reserve, taken a couple days ago. Today was a far wetter day with little birds on the move!

Chris Mills was also out today, spying the "Juv Iceland Gull again along the shoreline, Bowmore flying from Gaelic Centre to the harbour 10.15am, seems to have a routine!" The highlight of his day today being a lovely sightings of 3 otters playing in the kelp at Port A Rheidhlinn bay, near Portnahaven.

Monday 29 November 2021

Monday 29 November

Photo of the beautiful lighting this time of year, taken Saturday morning looking down the Irish Sea with The Oa in sight.

As forecast, a slightly milder day today compared to the weekend. A relatively nice morning but the day finished with rain and a gathering wind.

Chris Mills has kindly sent in his sighings from today:  Iceland Gull Juv around Bowmore & last seen SW of distillery

Glaucous Gull Juv NE of Bowmore

4 Scaup Loch Indaal off Bowmore with c12 Goldeneye

28 Whooper Swan Loch Indaal, 
12 Whooper Swan Ardnave Loch 

Loch Skerrols Lesser Scaup 1cy, 6 lesser redpoll, 25 siskin, treecreeper and gold crest.

From the Gruinart platform, ring-tailed hen harrier, little egret, and 3 bullfinch.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Sunday 28th November

 After further rain overnight, today was “the calm after the storm” – a much better sunnier day, with light, but cold northerly/north-westerly winds.

David Dinsley found a First Year Glaucous Gull down on The Oa at Kinnabus this morning and provides us with a photo. He also noted that the Blackcap seen there last week is still present.

David Wood had a Snow Bunting and Long-tailed Duck at Sanaigmore.

Back to Blackcaps – Mary-Ann Featherstone had a different Blackcap at Kildalton today – a male that she managed to get this good photo of – so it seems we have at least 2 that might overwinter with us.

Margaret Brooke up at Kilchoman reports 2 White Tailed Eagles above the Crag this afternoon and a Sparrowhawk visiting on most days.

Regular visitor, Chris Mills had been out enjoying this fine weather and supplies us with counts for various locations across the Rhinns::

Loch Indaal: Juv Glaucous Gull & 33 Whooper Swans (Bridgend): 20 Long-tailedT Duck, 10 Slavonian Grebe, 8 Common. Scoter Blackrock + 5 Great Northern & 3 Red-throated Divers and 30+ Red-breasted Mergansers.

 Sanaigmore; a pair of Golden Eagles and 6 Chough.

 Gruinart RSPB: (mainly from viewing platform): 3 White-tailed Eagles (2 of them on the ground), single ring-tailed Hen Harrier & Sparrowhawk; a Woodcock at dusk;

1 Little Egret (possibly 2); Grey Wagtail overhead; single Chiffchaff in trees by the viewing platform (a late date for here – is it another overwintering warbler?) 

FOOTNOTE: It has been suggested/requested that those of us writing the blog sign our names to our entries. Usually Mary Redman does weekdays and I (Peter Roberts) do weekends.

Saturday 27 November 2021

Saturday 27th November

After a stormy Friday, today was a little calmer, but still with cold northerly winds bringing occasional light rain showers verging on flurries of snow.

The only bird news comes from David Wood who reports 3 Snow Buntings and a Long-tailed Duck at Machir Bay this morning and a couple of Pink-footed Geese nearby at Kilchoman. Val Peacock, taking a walk through Foreland Estate flushed a Woodcock and had 2 White-tailed Eagles overhead.

Friday 26 November 2021

Friday 26 November

 Not surprisingly, there have been no sightings submitted today! A ferocious wind all day which won't calm down until later tonight.  Apart from a solitary raven this morning I saw very little birds braving the weather today, or people for that matter!


Thursday 25 November 2021

Thursday 25 November


Overcast and windy day. A real blast of cold wind which is continuing tonight and into tomorrow; the boats were cancelled this afternoon and have already been cancelled tomorrow, the plane is likely to follow suit, and SSE have issued a potential power cut warning. Day for being in front of the fire tomorrow I think!

James was out at Skerrols and found the lesser scaup, also a coot. 

Up at the croft moving creels we discovered a hole chewed in one. Judging by the spraint that fell out as we lifted it, it seems an otter got in it and chewed its way out! We've seen it come down through the field and over the wall to the beach, presumably after a wash at the loch, but it appears the creels smelt interesting enough to take it from its usual route march! Just glad it got out safely.


Wednesday 24 November 2021

Wednesday 24 November

 The only landscape photo I took today, showing there was some blue sky! Definitely the calm before the storm as the next 2 days look horrendous, weather-wise. This is Claddach Loch, which was created in the late 70's/early 80's as a water supply for Claddach.  The positive knock on effect for blanket bog habitat is evident, and it poses a good example of what can be achieved with peatland restoration. The Loch is also a valuable stop over for migrating birds down on the south western tip, presumably a nice break enroute to Ireland for some.

All eyes are still on Loch Skerrols; David Wood counted the 5 lesser scaup there this morning. On Loch Indaal Peter counted just 5 greater scaup, commenting how unusual a thought it is that the greaters and lessers are here in equal numbers. 30 red-breasted mergansers were also counted there, so too were 3 WTE over the Loch.

Gary found the red-breasted goose on the Ballygrant road, near Esknish.  And Margaret has been in touch with a sighting of the resident golden eagle over Kilchoman.

Driving out yesterday I saw a flock of 8 chough near Octofad, towards The Gleann.  Not much sightings today from me as I was busy checking fences!


Tuesday 23 November 2021

Tuesday 23 November

Orsay Island and Lighthouse, Portnahaven in a rather lovely sunset, around half 3 last Saturday.

The evenings are drawing in and thankfully it is getting colder at last.  Feels cleaner somehow. The crop of autumn berries have been cleared away, but there is a fantastic crop of berries in the Hawthorn bushes along the roadside throughout the island. As they can't be turned into jam or gin, the birds have no apparent competition. Though perhaps they aren't as tasty as the brambles! Driving through Bridgend there was a small flock of fieldfare in one bush at the edge of the woodland, and nearer the Gaelic College there were 3 pheasants that had taken the effort to fly up into the branches for a feed. 

The flock of lesser scaup at Loch Skerrols has been confirmed, reported as 5 in total: one female and 4 males. Nice record for Islay.  Peter also counted 9 whooper, 12 mute swan, 26 mallard, 27 tufted duck, 65 teal, 31 wigeon, 3 little grebe and the lone long-tailed duck is still present.  Peter also counted 25 whooper on Loch Indaal just outside Bowmore along with 6 mute, but no sign of 'my' little whooper yet.

Gary reported 6 bullfinch at Achnaclach woodland at Finlaggan, and 2 common crossbills at Finlaggan house.  A young golden eagle was spoofing the barnacle geese by the loch there.


Monday 22 November 2021

Monday 22nd November

A much more pleasant day today with light winds, virtually no rain and good sunshine, at least during the morning.

 Following on from the discussions about odd-looking Whooper Swans and reports of multiple Lesser Scaup on Loch Skerrols, today’s blog continues in a similar vein.


David Dinsley provided some further thoughts, insights and some photos on the subject of strange swans. He says:


We can’t rule out the possibility of Mary having spotted a Bewick’s Swan but without a positive ID, it’s hard to say for definite, but it's possible she had an encounter one of these strange looking Whoopers.


Up here on The Oa, last October, we all got a little excited at the prospect of a Whistling Swan on the reserve. Instead, we had two aberrant juvenile Whoopers with a small group of standard looking birds, these individuals were noticeably smaller with much darker nebs and in the field, they cut a different profile amongst the rest of the Swans - smaller and with a shorter neck. 


Reaching out to some connections I had in the world of wildfowl, these birds are recognised as potentially the result of inbreeding and at least three pairs have been observed in the past elsewhere.


Just when you think birding wasn't tricky enough.......”

Photos of aberrant Whooper Swan from Kane Brides WWT.

Photos of the aberrant Whooper Swans The Oa, David Dinsley.


The report of Lesser Scaup comes from visiting birder Adam Wilson and 4 were reported this morning via Birdguides – all young birds: 3 male and 1 female. Adam has photos that he will be able to supply when home next week. Today he was on Jura where he reported a possible 2 calendar year American Herring Gull.


Back down to earth with species providing no identification problems, Gary noted a couple of White-tailed Eagles upsetting the geese on Loch Indaal at Bridgend.

Sunday 21 November 2021

Sunday 21st November

Despite yesterday's blog post saying no birds had been seen, it seems at least one person was out and about as  Mary Redman's dad counted a group of 5 Chough yesterday at Octofad quarry.

Better weather today: just a very few light showers of rain during a mostly sunny and dry day with a fairly cold northerly breeze.

David Dinsley started the ball rolling with sightings from The Oa of at least one Tree Sparrow with the House Sparrows and a male Blackcap feeding on apples at Kinnabus this morning - I wonder if the Blackcap is just a very late migrant or going to overwinter?. Meanwhile at the opposite end of the island, Mary Redman noted an odd looking swan on the loch at Claddach. It was like a Whooper, but smaller, but flew off before a full ID or photos could be taken. Bewick's Swan is a first thought, but extremely rare on Islay. Others on the WhatsApp group commented that we had a couple of “odd” swans, smaller and with dark bills last year that we tried turning into Tundra Swans (the N. American race of Bewick's), but in fact were small, aberrant Whoopers. Hopefully Mary’s mystery swan will show up elsewhere on the island and better views will allow its true identity to be worked out.

Up by Glenegedale Martin Armstrong had a Brambling on his bird feeder this morning and this afternoon over at Kilchoman, Margaret Brooke had 2 White-tailed Eagles and 1 Golden Eagle flying above the crags behind her house.

Finally, a report was posted on Birdguides (at 12.52pm to be precise) of 3 Lesser Scaup (including 2 males) on Loch Skerrols today. Hopefully the observer can be contacted for more information and the birds confirmed by other birders tomorrow. There has been a single first winter male Lesser Scaup reported there earlier this autumn, plus a couple of young/female Ring-necked Ducks and possible/probable Greater Scaup – along with numerous Tufted Ducks.

So, with this and the mystery swan it is all eyes open and searching for odd wildfowl tomorrow.

Saturday 20 November 2021

Saturday 20th November

 Another day of variable, quickly changing weather: occasional sunny patches between showers or bouts of heavier rain with blustery winds and cooler temperatures.

With weather like that and a "change-over" day when any visiting birders might be leaving or arriving, there were no bird notes posted today..

Friday 19 November 2021

Friday 19 November

Stuart located the red-breasted goose and the cackling goos in the same barnacle flock below the RSPB Loch Gruinart Visitor Centre this morning.  His notes from yesterday - a black throated diver near Port Charlotte, 4 purple sandpiper at Bruichladdich, a pair of golden eagle at the Oa plus around 90 fieldfare and 30 twite.  Thank you Stuart for your sightings this week.

I counted a flock of 60 fieldfare at Claddach, and was feeling pretty pleased with that high count until Dave Wood at the Oa got in touch with a count of over 400 at Lower Killeyan.  

Marin noted 2 little egret at Gartmain.

Thursday 18 November 2021

Thursday 18 November

Not much to add today from weather or birds!  Peter Kennerley successfully located the cackling goose at RSPB Loch Gruinart, and noted the red-breasted goose had been located by other visitors earlier today.

Driving to Bowmore today, I saw a white-tailed eagle overhead at Bridgend.  Hard to miss!

The evenings are drawing in, but more noticeable are the dark mornings - this morning it was near 8am before the sun light keeked through.  Strange time of year when it is dark when you leave for work in the morning, and dark when you get home.  You appreciate the weekend at this time of year!

Full moon tomorrow, along with an almost total lunar eclipse tomorrow morning. In the UK this will start around 9:02am, lasting for 3 hours. It will be a bit difficult to feel the effects of in the daylight! We'll have to wait and see if the cloud allows us good sightings.  The moon keeps the geese out till late, I imagine giving them a chance for peaceful grazing without eagles harassing them.  

This is also the time when the woodcock traditionally arrive. Commonly referred to in the gaming calendar as the 'Woodcock Moon".

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Wednesday 17 November


Grey and gloomy day, the car read 11 degrees but the wind chill was biting!  Above photo from Bowmore Harbour around lunchtime.

The Ribble Bird Tours continued their adventure on Islay.  3 black-throated divers, 6 long tailed duck on Loch Indaal viewed from Black Rock, around 70 pale-bellied Brent with 'a couple' of dark bellied among them at Smelly Corner. Between Gruinart and Ardnave, 4 WTE and 2 golden eagle were counted, along with nice sighting of both male and female hen harriers.

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Tuesday 16 November

The weather is a back to normal, wet and windy as seen in the view of Port Charlotte above. Still unseasonably warm though with the temperature hovering around 10 degrees. The wind is to get up for an other fierce day tomorrow.  Despite this the The Ribble Bird Tours were out and about, spying no less than 5 WTE over Ellister this morning, being mobbed by 2 ravens and a buzzard.  They also successfully located a cackling goose by Kilchoman Distillery and the 'star birds' at Loch Skerrols.

Mark at Loch Gruinart counted 1428 golden plover there today, that'll help him get to sleep tonight! Also 583 Greenland white-fronted geese were counted in a roost count yesterday.

David at The Oa reported a flock of 270 fieldfare there at the visitor carpark.  David also kindly sent in the following images from last Thursday when over 100 twite were ringed.

Monday 15 November 2021

Monday 15 November


A cracking day today.  The photo above of one of my favourite stretches of coastline: looking north to Lossit Bay from Frenchmans Rocks.  In one of the gullies along this stretch my great-great Uncle took shelter with his skiff (fishing boat) as an over-familiar Orca had taken an interest in them.  Easily bigger than their wee boat, it's not hard to believe the young lad with him scaled the cliff face like a shot as soon as they neared land, without a backward glance! My great-great Uncle waited in the gully till the Orca left, the boat too precious to abandon.

Out walking here I put up 2 snipe from the long grass and was lucky to watch 2 otter feeding.  Overhead were separate small flock of twite, goldfinch, and  fieldfare. At Claddach Loch I counted 7 visible lapwing on the edges.

Ribble Bird Tours were out enjoying the day reporting the American wigeon and lesser scaup are still present at Loch Skerrols, while at Loch Gorm they encountered a ring-tailed hen harrier.  At Ardnave they counted 23 chough, an immature WTE over the loch at the car parking area, with another WTE over Nave Island itself.

Sunday 14 November 2021

Sunday 14th November

Awful weather for much of the day: grey, cloudy, drizzle and mist, but at least not too cold or too much wind. Any resident and visiting birders sensibly stayed indoors. The only observation came from Ribble Bird Tours as they arrived this afternoon into Port Askaig and saw a White-tailed Eagle. I hope the weather improves for their visit and this great first sighting will be a portent of other good birds for them during their stay.

Saturday 13 November 2021

Saturday 13th November

 The weather not quite as good as forecast, but mainly dry, calm, and sunny spells between clouds.

I was out morning and afternoon on the proverbial “wild goose chase” with friends visiting and keen to see the Red-breasted Goose. We had wonderful views of tens of thousands of Barnacle Geese as we checked every massive flock on both sides of Loch Gruinart and up to Ardnave – but no RBG. But it was there and we were just unlucky. Both Mark Sullivan and Bob McMillan had good looks on the Ardnave road north of the RSPB Visitor Centre. Bob provided a fine photo of the elusive little blighter (see below). (Mark also saw the Cackling Goose up by Kilchoman Distillery).

We did count 480 Lapwing on Loch Gruinart amidst large numbers of Ringed and Golden Plover, Dunlin, and Bar-tailed Godwits. A drake Goosander and 2 White-tailed Eagles added further interest. We also had 5 Goldeneye on Ardnave Loch while watching the Choughs go to roost.

David Wood had a short time to check Loch Indaal at Bowmore and Blackrock, He reported “Perfect conditions for scanning the loch". A quick look produced 5 Long-tailed Ducks, 9 Scaups, 23 Slavonian Grebes, 18 Great Northern Divers, 3 Black-throated Divers, 9 Red-throated Divers and 70 Brent Geese.

Friday 12 November 2021

Friday 12 November


A wild day here today, very strong winds so any bird id had to be quick!  Huge seas off the west coast.  The photo here at Port A'Reidhlein, Claddach where around 50 gulls were feeding with 4 eider where the burn enters the sea.  Overhead a flock of 60-70 starling and around 12 (visible) turnstone on the shore. A busy spot on a blowy day!

The sheltered lochs harboured this seasons star finds still. American wigeon and lesser scaup at Skerrols (Bob McMillan) with a long tailed duck and 45 whooper swan (Peter Roberts) and the ring necked duck on Gorm with 4 pochard (Peter Roberts).  From the North Hide at RSPB Loch Gruinart Peter counted 8 greenshank and 34 redshank.  Mark Sullivan later saw an Arctic Skua harassing the gulls there.   Mark also went on to 'Smelly Corner' where he counted 62 pale-bellied Brent with knot, turnstone and ringed plover.  Peter added 2 little egret at the same spot.

An other visitor counted around 350 lapwing on the flats at Loch Gruinart with some curlew.

The forecast is better tomorrow, let's see what the wind may have blown in!

Thursday 11 November 2021

Thursday 11 November


2 photos taken from the same spot overlooking Port Charlotte just one hour apart.  A bright and breezy morning gave way to a raining gale in the afternoon.  

Driving out the village this morning I saw my first woodcock of the season. It apparently used to be said they would arrive on the first full moon of November, but this year that event is late in the month.  I've heard from local gamekeepers that this year there was a big fall of them last week with that Northerly wind.  At Octofad 2 WTE were high above the farm, but not so high to be missed by the 500 or so barnacle geese who rose from the fields in fright.

Today was Phil and Mike's last days.  Thank you both for your contributions to the blog and WhatsApp group, greatly appreciated. Hear from you both next time!
Mike was looking over Loch Gorm and counted 5 pochard and 2 goldeneye with 104 tufted duck.  SW Kilchoman were 45 fieldfare and 35 redwing.  Opposite the Whin Park entrance were 2 little egret, then on Loch Skerrols the American Wigeon was still present.  A golden eagle was seen an hour before 2 WTE at Cnoc Don Mor.

For Phils last day he sought out the cackling goose before a pesky golden eagle put the flock up, disturbing his chance to find the red-breasted goose. What a complaint to have!  Gary spotted a 'cackling/canada type' goose in a flock near Eorrabus.

At RSPB Loch Gruinart, James' highlight was one golden eagle, 2 WTE and a carrion crow.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Wednesday 10 November

 A quiet day here with strong winds. I'm afraid I took no photos today, will try to remember tomorrow.

It's goodbye to Peter and Alice Hughes today, who left on the morning ferry after a good holiday here. Thank you for sharing all your sightings during your stay.  On his last morning, an adult WTE over Portnhaven, and from the ferry at Port Ellen numerous kittewake, 3 black guilliemot, then on the crossing plenty guilliemot sighted and great northern divers.

Mike Bell emailed with his sightings: "Another interesting day. First thing a cock merlin on the roadside fence by Kilchoman coastguard cottages. A very good total of shorebirds on the high tide at Traigh Nostaig with 76 ringed plover, 12 grey plover, 212 sanderling, 37 dunlin, 7 purple sandpiper and 41 turnstone. A white-tailed eagle was on the point and another came in off the sea and flew down Loch Gruinart. I could only find 4 chough today, they've been  elusive for me this holiday. There was a ring-tail hen harrier over the Gruinart fields and an impressive c.2200 golden plover. Later I had a golden eagle and 48 curlew at Lossit. At Portnahaven I had fabulous views of the 2 adult white-tailed eagles riding the wind just above me before they flew off north."

On the drive to Ardnave Mark Sullivan reported both the cackling and red-breasted goose in the same barnacle geese flock. 

On Jura there was a report of a dipper at Ardfin in the burn next to the boathouse.

And lastly Phil Hyde got in touch with a sighting of 2 purple sandpiper opposite the distillery in Bruichladdich. The first report of the season of these regular visitors to this beach.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Tuesday 9 November

No bird photos today of a beautiful day of sunshine, so you'll have to settle for this rather lovely view looking over towards Northern Ireland from Currie Sands. The sea was huge, and still unseasonably warm. The wave breaking in the picture has a local name of the 'old man', I'm not sure of the Gaelic spelling unfortunately but phonetically pronounced 'boh beat-nach'.  There is a reef which causes an especially big wave, even on a calm day.

Gary was out down the Bunnahabhainn road this morning and spotted a kestrel on the lines on the drive down.  Good mixed flocks of thrush emerging from the woods, then 7 bullfinch and 2 common crossbill.  A further 2 common crossbill flying from the plantation to Finlaggan house, and a WTE in the area too.

Mark saw the red-breasted goose among the rabble on the flats at RSPB Loch Gruinart. While at Loch Skerrols Jonathon had the 'stars' of the season still present along with a moorhen and both WTE and golden eagle in the fields beyond.

Mike Bell was along at Gartbreck with the highlights being an adult WTE, a male hen harrier, 105 bar-tailed godwits, 4 grey plover and 19 turnstone among the usual waders.  he also counted a large flock fo 33 twite, with 3 further smaller flock of 5,9 and 14.   North of Lyrabus he had both male and ring-tailed hen harrier, peregrine,  both imm. golden eagle and WTE.  Back at Kilchoman he enjoyed the local golden eagles showing well at dusk.

Monday 8 November 2021

Monday 8 November


White-tailed eagle, Peter Hughes. He counted 2 from the hides at Loch Gruinart this morning, as did Mark Sullivan, plus one at the top of Loch Indaal.

At Currie Sands this morning, I watched a juvenile white-tailed eagle acting oddly, rising and falling just out of sight on a small hill.  My terrier was missing at this point so, fearing the worst, I ran over only to discover the dog apparently had stolen the young birds breakfast! As she was tucking into what was left of a fresh rabbit, the young eagle was rising and falling above her. It did give me an incredibly close encounter though, and I was able to 'call off the dog' and the eagle returned once we left.

Driving back from Bowmore around lunchtime I saw an other WTE over Gortan, escorted by hooded crows.

Mike Bell had a good day:  "Today I had a male hen harrier at Carnain. Along the sheltered Bowmore shore of Loch Indaal around midday there were red-throated diver 2, great northern diver 7, slavonian grebe 2, whooper swan 16, brent goose 64, wigeon 374, scaup 8, eider 22, common scoter 24, long-tailed duck 11 (9 drakes), goldeneye 4 and merganser 77. On the Loch Skerrols circular walk there were fieldfare 40, redwing 40, goldcrest 1, siskin 19, redpoll 9, linnet 40 and bullfinch 4 with a white-tailed eagle over Cnoc Dun Mor at c.1400 hr and a golden eagle there at 1545 hr."

Peter H. continued his day out and just NE of Bowmore had 'tremendous' view of a male long tailed duck (photo), 7 common scoters, 45 pale-bellied Brent, eider and goldeneye.  On the beach a male merlin tucking into a goldfinch lunch. At Bruichladdich a flock of around 20 twite were feeding on the shoreline.

Phil Hyde was checking out Loch Gorm for the ring-necked duck without joy, however he did count 90 tufted duck and 4 pochard.  At Loch Skerrols the American wigeon, long-tailed duck, and little grebe were seen. Mark Sullivan was also at Skerrols and was able to spot the lesser scaup still present there. 
Attachments area

Sunday 7 November 2021

Sunday 7th November

A dry day for a change, but still with strong, quite cold winds until a bit of a calm by late afternoon.

Gary Turnbull had a Snow Bunting at Glen Burn, near Carnain this morning, where Dave Beaumont found the Little Egret this afternoon. Nearby at Blackrock in Loch Indaal Phil Hyde had counted 20+ Eiders, 8 Common Scoter, 15+ Red-breasted Mergansers and a Slavonian Grebe. Pete Hughes at Blackrock later added 8 Scaup and 1-2 Long-tailed Ducks to the tally. Pete was also up beyond Bunnahabhain and got lucky with a close inshore Little Auk, plus a couple of Otters.

Elsewhere there was a group of 5 Greenshanks at the RSPB North Hide this morning and some of the same “goodies” relocated in the afternoon – 5 Pochard still with Tufted ducks on Loch Gorm and the American Wigeon and Long-tailed Duck still present on Loch Skerrols.

Saturday 6 November 2021

Saturday 6th November

Some late news from yesterday with James How’s WEBS count from Gruinart Floods: Mallard 43, Wigeon 229, Shoveler 34, Teal 934, Pintail 67, Mute Swan 2, Whooper Swan 1, Little Grebe 1, Black-tailed Godwit 6, Curlew 3, Snipe 2, Jack Snipe 2, Lapwing 201, Golden Plover 2060.

A very cloudy, stormy day today with constant often very strong winds from the west accompanied by a lot of rain for much of the time. Birding was understandably, much reduced. Dan Brown, who had contributed so many great sightings to the blog this week, departed today, his final notes being of a total of 5 immature White-tailed Eagles over Cnoc donn Mor behind Loch Skerrols this morning, plus a great photo of his final WTE of the trip seen as he went for the ferry (see below). All the remaining blog entries were made from safely inside and away from the nasty weather and revolved around how many geese (Barnacle and Greylag) the ever-increasing population of White-tailed Eagles might eat in a year.

Phil Hyde braved the elements and noted 2 Little Egrets and a White-tailed Eagle at the north end of Loch Indaal and later saw a couple of adult male Common Scoter, a Black Guillemot and Black-throated Diver off Bruichladdich Pier.

Friday 5 November 2021

Friday 5 November


With Teresa away, we are without the rather spectacular photos she kindly shared during her stay. Above is the view looking out from Port Charlotte. There is a great norther diver in view, and (about 20 seconds before my phone eventually responded), there was around 100 barnacle geese in loose flocks flying overhead.  The wind got up by the evening in time for the forecast gale tomorrow. The Portnahaven Bonfire night went ahead and was, as usual, fabulous.  

What the wildlife must think to Bonfire night I don't know, but Portnahaven is known for its wild nights so perhaps it's all too familiar...

November has brought us the first glaucous gull (Dan Brown) of the season, so it is officially winter now, not just chilly! A snow bunting was seen by Dave flying over Kinnabus on The Oa.  White-tailed eagles today were seen at a few different locations; 2 at Loch Gruinart (Pete Hughs), 2 adults and 2 juvenile Gartbreck (Dan Brown), one immature at Portnahaven (Phil Hyde), one at the top of Loch Indaal (Dan Brown).

Phil also had 8 pale-bellied Brent geese go by Portnahaven early morning, and later on Loch Skerrols the lesser scaup, American wigeon, and long-tailed duck. On Loch Gorm Dave Wood noted a ring-necked duck with 4 pochard and some tufted ducks.

Martin Armstrong was on the Woodland Trial at Loch Gruinart and had a fleeting sight of a phyllosopus warbler there.

I had my first fieldfare of the season with 8 near Octofad farm on the drive up county.

Thursday 4th November

 More sunshine than rain today, still with a cool northerly wind.

A late House Martin at Lagavulin seen by Neil McMahon before his group’s departure this morning. Thanks for all your records his week.

Dan Brown found a European race White-fronted Goose amongst our regular Greenland birds on the Killinallan side of Gruinart.

Pete Hughes was on The Oa finding Snow Bunting, 2-3 Golden Eagles, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine and a flock of 19 Twite at the RSPB car parking area.

Jonathan Willet saw similar birds on his visit to The Oa, and confirmed the American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup and Long-tailed Duck still present on Loch Skerrols.

The 5 or so Bottle-nosed Dolphins were still doing the rounds of Loch Indaal today, being seen at Port Charlotte in the morning, then up at Bruichladdich heading back south at lunchtime and finally beyond Port Charlotte towards Nerabus in the afternoon.

After a long stay on Islay contributing regularly to the blog, Teresa Morris left today – thanks to you too for your sightings and great photos.

(European White-fronted Goose with Greenland White-fronted Goose - c/o Dan Brown)

Wednesday 3 November 2021

Wednesday 3rd November

Drake lesser scaup on Loch Skerrols today (Dan Brown), first on Islay since 2009! Also there among the crowds were one ring-necked duck, the American wigeon, and a female long tailed duck.

Neil was further south on The Oa, and enjoyed 3 golden eagles throughout the visit there.  Also a 'mobile' snow bunting,  3 twite at the carpark, and a ring ouzel crossed the road on the drive up.  But was it just to get to the other side...?

Twite, with thanks to Julian Cook.

Dan also visited the Oa and had 4 white-tailed eagles (WTE), 3 golden eagles, 2 hen harriers (one of each), a male merlin, a peregrine, a snow bunting (same one as Neil?) and 18 twite.

Neil then set off to Loch Skerrols to see the birds seen this morning by Dan, which he did so and more - 6 WTE together in the distance over the hills.  A male hen harrier north of Port Ellen with a WTE.  Late afternoon at Loch Gruinart Neil had good sightings of the cackling goose, a pink-footed goose and a ring-tailed hen harrier.

Male hen harrier, again thanks to Julian Cook.

The northern lights are apparently putting on a show tonight folks, I expect good photos tomorrow please!

Tuesday 2 November 2021

Tuesday 2 November

 An other lovely photo shared from Teresa.  She had 21 whoopers fly over Craigens today. 

A nice day today, with the usual heavy showers of course! Warm enough for butterflies: red admiral, small tortoiseshell and peacock butterfly all noted on Jura today. The Nature Scot (nee SNH) crew were out goose counting, hopefully I'll hear of the findings over the next couple days.  The island is a lot quieter now the October school holidays are over. I heard today that this October was among the busiest on record for RSPB Loch Gruinart.  Going forward into November the farms are busy prepared to put the tups (rams) out with the ewe for lambing in Spring. 

Dan was on Jura today, he had a Siberian chiffchaff near the school in Craighouse. His notes: "Very nice day on Jura today but incredibly just one Golden Eagle. Really fantastic passage of passerines along the east side of the island today with hundreds of finches and thrushes arriving including a number of flocks in off the sea over Sound of Jura. Rough totals are 550 Fieldfare, 1000 Redwing, 70 Brambling (largest flock 35 feeding on timeline just north of Craighouses), 350 Chaff, 175 Siskin, 7 Redpoll, 110 Goldfinch. Plus aforementioned Sibe Chiff. Also 3 Ringtail Harriers, Merlin, 2 Otters. "

Peter checked Loch Gorm today and counted 230 tufted ducks and 5 Pochards and a ring-necked duck (female).  He also counted 200 rock doves at Sunderland. 

Jonathon Willet "Two Little Egret at TrĂ igh Cill an Rubha at dusk. Earlier on 3 Slav Grebes seen to SW of Carraig Dubh, one female Scaup with some Eider there too. 5 Lt Duck seen far off in the middle of Loch Indaal. 4 Bottlenose Dolphin off Port Charlotte first thing this morning plus 10 GND, 3 Rtd and 2 Black-throated Diver. Tens of Sanderling, Blackwit and 3 Grey Plover from the viewpoint nr. the south hide at Gruinart. Plus m and f Hen Harrier. Pintail, Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon in the N pool. A few Barnacle Geese too, plus the RB Goose, seen at same location as the previous posts today."

The red-breasted goose he mentioned was seen today on the Gruinart flats, visible from the hides. 

Mark Shields

Monday 1 November 2021

Monday 1 November

Pinch and a punch for the first of the month.  A nice nip in the air, though it is still relatively warm and plenty of rain with it. Chatting to someone from the Ballygrant area today, they were telling me they had hailstones this morning! It's been a very odd year, weather wise.

Mike Bell got in touch with his sightings:  "2 golden eagle at Kilchoman first thing. The cackling goose was by the road at Aoradh at 0900 hr, the long-billed dowitcher was on the flood with 5 black-tailed godwits, more ducks with 1600 teal, 280 wigeon  57 pintail, 18 shoveler, 1 little grebe and a male hen harrier. 23 Whoopers on the estuary with another 26 arriving at 1325 hr, 1480 golden plover on the fields. In the channel at the mouth of  Loch Gruinart there was a little auk which gave nice views, a lot of seabirds far offshore." Dan Brown also had the dowitcher, seen from the North Hide at Loch Gruinart.

The drake American wigeon was sighted today (Neil McMahon) at Loch Skerrols, and the Cackling goose was very obliging today with good views from the roadside for many.

Julian Cook

Neil also reported 4 golden eagles, one WTE and a merlin looking towards Jura from Port Askaig this morning, at Loch Skerrols a ring-tailed hen harrier and 30 siskin.  5 pochard on Loch Gorm, 2 WTE from the South Hide at Loch Gruinart, and one golden eagle above Kilchoman Distillery.

Dan was at Ardnave, noting an exceptionally quite day with only 4 chough and 55 twite.  On the drive up, a male hen harrier.  This evening at Loch Gruinart flats, an other male hen harrier plus a ring tail, 4 golden eagle and one barn owl.

Driving from Bowmore this afternoon around 4pm, the tide was very high though I still spotted a WTE opposite Whin Park turning and a little egret at smelly corner. No need to even stop the car.

Teresa shared an other stunning shot of the heavy squalls overlooking Loch Gruinart from Craigens. She noted 31 whooper swans heading south 

A small pod of bottle nose dolphins were high into Loch Indaal around lunchtime today with good sighting from Bruichladdich pier for those lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. As I was waiting in Port Charlotte, a heavy shower was making its way up the sound. A large flock of geese flew over the village heading east towards Laggan Point. Not much salt marsh to roost on with the high tides, so Plan B is in place for the night.