Monday 28 February 2022

Monday 28 Feb


Last day of February and the first day of the meteorological Spring comes tomorrow.  It is very spring-like with pairs of mallards visible in the nearby lochs of Claddach and Ellister, pairs of birds courting such as 2 chough in sync over Port Wemyss this morning and the local pair of raven at Claddach; oystercatchers and lapwing back in territory; skylarks singing at Claddach and the Oa; and Margaret reported a lot of frogs and spawn in the ponds at Kilchoman.  The weather next week finally looks settled, here's hoping a bigger gap to the next gale.

Chris Mills has had an eventful day, the highlights as follows:

Purple sandpiper at Port Ellen shoreline, plus 10 great northern diver in the bay.  2 adult WTE seen on the drive there.   At Kinnabus on the Oa, 2 golden eagle and nearby a lesser black back gull seen among the herring gulls. At Kilchoman later he enjoyed a view of 2 WTE being moved by a peregrine, then a sparrowhawk hunting nearby.  In the dunes 12 chough and a displaying pair of ravens.  Driving back from Kilchoman to Bowmore this evening, 2 barn owl and 2 woodcock. The first of the barn owl seen perched on a gravestone at the old Kirk.

Kathy reported an adult WTE in the Ardbeg area, and Mike located the red-breasted goose near Coullabus. 

Todays photos are more from local enthusiast Billy Stitchell, of the Caol Ila black guillemots and a great Northern Diver in yesterdays choppy waters.

Thanks to all for your sightings. 

Sunday 27 February 2022

Sunday 27th February

Another blustery cloudy day of southerly winds, mostly dry, just a bit of rain in the evening. But the visiting birders have been doing the rounds again today despite the very windy conditions that caused the ferries to be cancelled again.

Iceland Gulls have been popping up feeding along the turbulent tideline around Uiskentuie/Blackrock for much of the day. The tally is at least 3 birds – 1 x 3cy, & 2x 2cy seen together by Chris Mills. Mike Coleman with the Heatherlea group found the Cackling Goose with Barnacle flocks at Ballymeanach – so still loitering towards the southern end of the Rhinns. He, like several others including Kathy Evans went to Loch Skerrols (where it was comparatively sheltered and the waters almost calm) to get their fix of Lesser Scaup. Both observers reported just the adult male and female today. Mike also had a 3cy Iceland Gull in the fields near Skerrols – possibly a 4th bird? Today’s report of White-tailed Eagles was one at Skerrols from Heatherlea and and two at Finlaggan from Chris Mills. Kathy Evans had 20 Twite in the car parking area at Ardnave and an adult Golden Eagle south of Saligo. Chris Mills got his Golden Eagles up at Mulindry and Bunnahabhain. Becoming almost rarer than Lesser Scaup, Chris noted that a female Great Scaup was present in Loch Indaal at the Gaelic Centre and nearby 2 Long-tailed Ducks and a Slavonian Grebe.

On a more sombre note, Avian Flu has now been confirmed in at least one Barnacle Goose found dead a couple of weeks back. Since then there have been several reports of sickly looking birds including one seen by George Jackson at Crosshouse yesterday.  Let us hope it doesn’t rip through our Greenland Barnacle Geese as severely as it has done with the Svalbard birds on the Solway.

Kathy Evans sent in this photo of the Cackling goose at Easter Ellister yesterday. (I think because of the perspective and the fact it is in front of the Barnacle, the picture makes it look bigger than it actually was - which was distinctly smaller than a Barny!)

Saturday 26 February 2022

Saturday 26th February

As a change from cold northerly gales with rain, and sleet, today was slightly milder with strong southerly winds and dry.

Chris Mills with his Norfolk Birding group arrived today seeing some good birds on the ferry journey: 35 Great Northern Diver, 5 Slavonian Grebe, 2 Red-throated Diver, Greenshank (Kennacraig harbour), 5 Razorbill, 10 Guillemot & 12 Black Guillemot.- mostly on the mainland side of the crossing. Closer to arriving there was a 2cy Glaucous Gull in the Sound of Jura opposite Port Askaig and 3 White-tailed Eagles over Jura on way in.

Once on Islay the group found 2x 3cy Iceland Gulls at Blackrock (Ashley Saunders had seen a 2cy bird there earlier, supporting the idea that at least 3 are present); 15 Twite & 30 Skylarks and 2 Chough were in stubble near Coull Farm. At Gruinart there were 15 Whoopers.and the dramatic sight of a White-tailed Eagle feeding on goose remains which then caught, killed and plucked another Barnacle Goose – yum-yum. At Loch Skerrols they located 2 of the Lesser Scaup - the adult drake and the adult female (Ashley Saunders had seen all 3 there earlier). In fields to the north of Skerrols were good counts of 40 Lesser Redpoll & c100 Fieldfares.

Our Islay Birding Whatsapp was working well today, as Ashley Saunders with his Oriole Birding group found a Cackling Goose at Wester Ellister and immediately put it on the App allowing Chris (and myself) to pop down and catch up with it shortly afterwards. Also down at Ellister were 2 more White-tailed Eagles and yet another at Carrabus.

Other visiting birders had been making the most of a dry day:

Will Scott checked Kilnaughton Bay again in case of rare divers, but found none. But on Loch Indaal from Bowmore he recorded 16 Eider, 35 Common Scoter, 5 Long-tailed Duck, 6 Goldeneye, 10 Red-breasted Merganser, 12 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Black Guillemot, 15 Great Northern and 1 Red-throated Diver and the first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the “spring” – even though it is still only late February.

Kathy Evans had 50 or more Fieldfares and a few Redwing at Finlaggan and a Golden Eagle near Bunnahabhain.

To round off the day, Ashley sent in a detailed description and record shots of three very odd-looking, possible/probable hybrid Barnacle x Canada/Cackling Leorin in the evening. Hopefully they will be seen again tomorrow, more photos taken and perhaps a conclusion made as to what they are. (Colin Bushell confirms that he saw either these birds or something similar when he was here last month - and Malcolm Ogilvie confirms that Barnacle x Canada hybrids have been recorded here in the past, sometimes helpfully with the parent birds making identification easier!)

Friday 25 February 2022

Friday 25th February

Slightly better weather today allowed a bit more activity from all our visiting birders.

Will Scott had an adult winter-plumaged White-billed Diver in Kilnaughton Bay (record shot photo below) with a total of 23 Great Northern Divers. There have been only 3 previous Islay records of White-billed – and one of those was dead! Later Will was back at Bowmore and reported 5 Brent Geese, 11 Eider, 58 Common Scoter, 3 Long-tailed Duck, 8 Goldeneye, 5 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Red-throated Diver,and 19 Great Northern Diver (that makes a total of 42 between there and Kilnaughton – a good tally).

Ashley Saunders saw a 3CY Iceland Gull at Uiskentuie and David Dinsley had a couple of drake Goosanders at Aros Bay.

Meanwhile Kathy Evans had also been to Kilnaughton, presumably missing the White-billed Diver but noting an adult Golden Eagle chasing geese inland. Then, back at Loch Skerrols, she found the Lesser Scaup still in situ – the adult male, immature male and a female along with a possible Tufted Duck/Ring-necked Duck hybrid. At Uiskentuie she upped the Iceland Gull tally to 3 birds – 2 3CY and 1 2CY.

Chris Mills found a 2CY Glaucous Gull opposite Port Askaig on a visit to Jura where he saw 3 White-tailed Eagles.

Thursday 24 February 2022

Thurs 24 Feb


Mary-Ann sent the attached image of two WTE seen over Fairy Hill to the SE of the island.  She also counted 22 curlew at Ardbeg.

Gary had a nice count of 8 snow bunting in flight near Ballygrant.  At Scarabus an Iceland Gull, while at Gartmain he spotted a Glaucous.  Steve Williams reported 2 Iceland gulls at Uiskentui/Black Rock area.

Will Scott reported his highlights: 9 GN diver at Kilnaughton, WTE near the airport, 2 Slav grebes and 5 GN diver off Bowmore, and a long tail duck in flight.  Ring-tailed hen harrier and a little egret at RSPB Loch Gruinart. Over on the eastern side of Loch Gruinart, a GN Diver, both golden and WTE, merlin and 110 pintail.  At the Oa, a young WTE, peregrine and 50 twite.

Thanks to all for their contributions.

Very cold tonight, and the hailstones hammering the window don't encourage the notion that Tomorrow is to be a nice day! We shall see...

Perhaps inevitably though nonetheless sadly, bird flu (HPAI) H5N1 has been recorded on Islay from a Barnacle goose tested on the 9 February.  Nature Scot reminds us of the advice not to touch dead birds at this time, and report any single dead waterfowl, single bird of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of any other species to DEFRA 03459 33 55 77.

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Weds 23 Feb

 An other day, an other gale.  A few more waders about down the Rhinns - at Port A Rheidhlinn, Claddach, were around 20 redshank in a flock.  Further up the hill were one or two lapwing and a flock of 10 curlew, with an other similar sized flock at Craigfad.  At Currie Sands were 4 skylark near the house.

Will was out and about with his reported highlights 3 GN Diver Kilnaughton Bay and 1 Loch Indaal, 2 male Bullfinch Bridgend Woods.  Male Hen Harrier near Port Ellen.  Male Hen Harrier, 900 Golden Plover, 100 Dunlin, 2 Little Egret, 20 Fieldfare RSPB Loch Gruinart. Also 86 Pintail on the eastern edge of Loch Gruinart. 

Margaret reported a ring-tailed hen harrier over the "Kilchoman Reserve".

To add some colour to todays post, some images from Billy Stitchell taken a couple of days ago in the sunshine.

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Tuesday 22 Feb

 Billy Stitchell took this photo of the 'Caol Ila penguins' as he calls the local black guillemots, looking fresh in their summer plumage.

Billy also shared this lovely image of a flock of lapwing, taken yesterday, showing off their beautiful iridescent green backs.  I've noticed ravens in their territories displaying, as well as mallards pairing up in the nearby lochs.  Spring is unthinkable just now with all this rain and wind, but it is just around the corner...fingers crossed! 

Will Scott shared his sighting from today:

5 GN Diver Kilnaughton Bay and an immature WT Eagle crossed the bay towards the Oa. 
Little Egret and 6 Pale-bellied Brents Loch Indaal at Bridgend.
3w Iceland Gull inland of Machir Bay.
Adult WT Eagle chasing Barnacles near Ellister.
Female and drake Lesser Scaup on Loch Skerrols still plus Goosander and 20+ Fieldfare on the hill behind. 

While Mary-Ann reported a pair of shell duck in Cnoc Bay.

Monday 21 February 2022

Monday 21st February

Prolonged strong westerlies all night into early morning gradually calmed just enough to allow a ferry to come and go by afternoon. Mostly bright and sunny, so a few birders got out and active.

Will Scott sent in his sightings for today: 4 GN Diver in Kilnaughton Bay off Lipachlairy, 2 Lesser Redpoll and 3 Siskin near Kintour, Golden Eagle north of Port Ellen, mobbed by a Common Buzzard’ White-tailed Eagle chasing Barnacle Geese near the airport, Male Merlin on the salt marsh at Loch Indaal, 1w Iceland Gull headed east out of view over Loch Gruinart RSPB plus 5 Whooper, 2 Little Egret, 250 Dunlin, 2 Goldcrest, 7 Whoopers Ardnave.

David Dinsley had also seen and Iceland Gull, but a fine adult (see photos below) and clearly a different bird to the one or more that have been around during winter so far. It was seen at Kintra river mouth just before the golf course.

On a more “mundane” level, (but actually quite a useful record given how infrequently we record our common birds – and what an unusually large number are involved) Malcolm Ogilvie had a count of 80 House Sparrows at his feeders today.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Sunday 20th February

A dry(ish) sunny(ish) morning deteriorated into the expected rain and gales by mid/late afternoon. But at least it was comparatively mild with a westerly gale instead of a northerly storm! It is forecast to be extremely windy overnight, gradually lightening to a breezy, but sunny afternoon tomorrow.

Despite nasty weather our visiting birders were out and about and turning up some good birds.

Will Scott sent in the following: “Please find below some summaries of today’s sightings from myself, Graham Scott and Poppy Rummery. We spent most of the day exploring by car given the weather!”

Lipachlairy to Carraig Fhada lighthouse - 25 Kittiwake offshore, 3 GN Diver present. A846 B8016 junction north of Port Ellen - ringtail Hen Harrier. Saltmarsh off Bridgend - 10 Pale-bellied Brent at high tide.Red-breasted Goose with 891 Barnacles south of Carrabus farms. Kittiwake sheltering at Port Wemyss. No sign of the Cackling Goose near Ellister amongst 100 Barnacles. Carrion Crow present with Hoodies - not sure if they’re scarce”. (Yes over here on Islay they are quite uncommon).

Will found the Red-breasted Goose at 1pm and kindly put the sighting straight onto the Islay Birds WhatsApp group, which gave myself and Iain Leach a chance to see it this afternoon. It is a long-staying, but very elusive bird, and was still in the same field with the c.900 Barnacle Geese at Carrabus at 4pm - a really gorgeous bird..

I walked the beach from Traigh san Luig to Uiskentuie this morning finding a couple of dead Fulmars on the tideline – I wonder how many seabirds have perished out at sea in these ferociously windy and wet conditions? 

Saturday 19 February 2022

Saturday 19th February

A better day's weather (at least compared to the previous couple of days). Cold, but sunny and dry until the evening after sleet and rain showers overnight. The forecast for tomorrow looks bleak again!

Birder Iain Leach arrived today, sneaking in between yesterday’s storm and tomorrow’s gales. He started off well finding a 1W Iceland Gull just east of Bowmore and a 1W Glaucous Gull on rocks at Sanaigmore. He also had a few sightings of the island’s raptors – juvenile White-tailed Eagle at Gruinart, Merlins at Ardnave and Loch Gorm and a ring-tailed Hen Harrier also at Loch Gorm.

James How had, what I believe, is one of the highest tallies of Purple Sandpiper for quite a while – with 12 seen up at Ardnave – a regular hang-out for the species this winter.

Friday 18 February 2022

Friday 18 February


Unsurprisingly, there were no sightings contributed today.  The forecast snow came in with the morning and was gone by lunchtime as it usually does here on the Rhinns.  No sledging yet, unless you climbed one of Jura's Paps! Todays photos from Billy Stitchell of a view of the Paps from Islay, and a bullfinch spotted on a walk to Loch Ballygrant.

Bitterly cold here today, with the winds picking up as the day went on.

Yesterday a ring-tailed hen harrier flew along the coastline near Carn, Port Charlotte as I drove up the road.

Thursday 17 February

 An other 'better late than never post'!

Ben Shakespeare took this photo on the drive between Bowmore and Port Ellen. I'm sure local birders may have an idea of which tree it is!

Lauren over at RSPB Loch Gruinart got in touch with the following:

Lucy (our new residential volunteer) saw a goldcrest in the woodland trail this morning and we have also done our WeBS count this afternoon.


Loch Gruinart:

Shelduck – 91

Wigeon – 101

Mallard – 17

Red breasted merganser – 6

Oystercatcher – 94

Ringed plover – 26

Golden plover – 1940

Lapwing – 286

Knot – 300

Sanderling – 120

Dunlin – 20

Bar tailed godwit – 206

Curlew – 66

Redshank – 8

Turnstone – 28

Common gull – 185

Herring gull – 43

Great black backed gull – 2

Greenshank – 4

Peregrine – 1

Shoveler – 8

Pintail - 37 


Ardnave Loch:

Whooper swan – 13

Goldeneye -3

Mallard -4


Loch Gruinart Floods:

Mallard – 141

Mute swan – 4

Teal – 1073

Wigeon – 68

Shoveler – 54

Pintail – 126

Curlew – 41

Lapwing – 31

Redshank – 13

Snipe – 1

Grey heron – 2

Little grebe – 2

Whooper swan – 19

Little egret – 2

Black tailed godwit - 1

Thanks Lauren and Lucy!

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Wednesday 16 February

 Jim Dickson captured these images yesterday of the 4 lesser scaup on Loch Skerrols.  

Storm Dudley arrived on schedule this afternoon around 3pm.  Incredibly heavy hail showers with strong gusts of winds.  The morning did have some calmer spells - Val took a chance of a walk earlier and had 4 bullfinch along the Bolsa track just outside Port Charlotte.

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Tuesday 15 February


Billy Stitchell (Ballygrant) took this striking photo after investigating why his bird feeders were especially quiet this morning!  The sparrowhawk looks equally puzzled.

Local birders were too busy stripping the shelves of the local Coop ahead of this weeks double-storm bonanza. "Dudley" is to kick in tomorrow afternoon, with "Eunice" expected on Friday.   With snow forecast with the storms, a local entrepreneur is selling sledges! Truly looking on the bright side.

Monday 14 February 2022

Monday 14th February

A brighter, sunnier, mostly dry day with moderate northerly winds inspired Jim Dickson to pop over to Islay for the day to catch up on the Lesser Scaup on Loch Skerrols. We spent a productive day, finding 4 Lesser Scaup still present – three could be some of the little group that has been with us since late autumn 2021 – a 1W male and 2 1W females. The fourth bird was the recently reported new arrival – a much “spiffier-looking” adult male. Jim managed to get at least a few record shots of these birds which he’ll send on later.

There were also 17 Tufted Ducks, 130 Teal and single Little Grebe, juv Mute Swan and Goldeneye at Skerrols. Along the way we saw an immature Iceland Gull at Bridgend and 4 Greater Scaup off Blackrock along with a high count of c.800 Common Gulls just north of Bruichladdich.

Thanks to two sets of visiting birders for further contributions to the day's observations:

Barry Reed joined the WhatsApp group today and sent in the following sightings: 3 Great Northern and single Red-throated Diver and Purple Sandpiper at Bruichladdich; 20 Chough and 15 Twite at Sanaigmore; 11 Whooper Swans, 4 Goldeneye and 11 Choughs at Ardnave; a male Hen Harrier on Gruinart flats and a Barn Owl at Lyrabus.

Karim & Ellen Labib sent in some notes for this afternoon birding on the Rhinns – 2 Little Egrets and 100 Golden Plover at Loch Gruinart, followed by a male Hen Harrier and female Merlin on their way from there to Loch Gorm and a couple of White-tailed Eagles and 2 Chough up at Kilchoman.

Sunday 13 February 2022

Sunday 13th February

 Another wet day - cloud and drizzle for much of the time and the island looking very water-logged.

Everyone sensibly staying dry indoors, the only bird reported being a Dipper on the River Sorn in Bridgend Woods when Mark Shields was walking his dog Fred.

Suggestions of a bit of brighter weather tomorrow - fingers crossed.

Saturday 12 February 2022

Saturday 12th February

A brighter, sunnier and much milder day, though still with too much rain at times.

It was Colin Bradshaw's last full day on the island and he told us of the following:

2 White tailed Eagles along cliffs at Nerabus [photo below)

At Ardnave:there were still 10 Whooper Swans, and flocks of Chough totalling at least 26 birds along with further sightings of 2 young White-Tailed Eagles. At Loch Gorm there was a male Hen Harrier, and finally a tally of birds at 
Gruinart: came to 1750-2000 Golden Plover, 350 Bar tailed Godwit, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Sanderling, 750 Dunlin, 6
Snipe and a couple of Bullfinches.

Also up at Gruinart today were 2 Little Egrets seen by Mark Shields, seen from the South Hide.

Friday 11 February 2022

Friday 11th February

Colin Bradshaw sent in some further notes for yesterday:

His Iceland Gull was at Portnahaven for most of the day and allowed him to take the photo below.

He saw 2 White-tailed Eagles soaring over the ridge about 800 metres south of RSPB centre at Gruinart, then a Hen Harrier apparently  cooperative-hunting with a Merlin near Coullabus, with another (adult male) Hen Harrier at Gruinart flats and an adult male Harrier at Port Charlotte just before dusk. There was also a Sparrowhawk at Octafad and 2 Bullfinches in some woodland just up the Kilchoman road from Bruichladdach.

A fairly dry, sunny but cold day today until the wind strengthened and blustery showers ensued by late afternoon. James How sent in the following: 101 Knot  and 3 Greenshanks at Gruinart followed by a White-tailed eagle, Jack Snipe, 7 Purple Sandpipers and 80 Sanderling at Ardnave.

Thursday 10 February 2022

Thursday 10th February

Sean Minns provides a bunch of interesting sightings from yesterday and today:

Yesterday (9th February) up at Ardnave he counted the following: 18 Chough, 10 Golden Plover, 50 Lapwing, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 61 Knot, 35 Oystercatcher, 10 Redshank, 10 Whooper Swan, 5 Goldeneye. He also had a particularly high count of Common Gullc.1000, feeding in the fields around Ardnave.

Loch Gruinart produced a Grey Plover, c500 Golden Plover, c100 Lapwing and c30 Dunlin, while Portnahaven and Bruichladdich turned up numerous Otter sightings - 2 at Portnahaven with  3 to the north and 2 to the south of Bruichladddich.

Today Sean seems to have covered most of Islay again plus a trip to Jura! His highlights were as follows:

Blackrock - 5 Scaup, 3 Red-throated Diver, 11 Great Northern Diver, 3 Slavonian Grebe,1 Long-tailed Duck and 25 Common Scoter. Gaelic Centre - 20 Pale-bellied Brent Geese. Port Ellen - 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Loch Skerrols - 1 male and 1 female Lesser Scaup and the “dodgy” hybrid Aythya sp. Gruinart - 1 female Hen Harrier. Jura - 1 Golden Eagle seen distantly

He commented “It was our last full day today. Back to the mainland tomorrow morning. A very enjoyable stay and hope to come back again soon.”

Many thanks Sean for sharing all your sightings.

Mary Redman finishes the bird notes for today with a Barn Owl seen at Port Wemyss just a little earlier this evening.

Wednesday 9th February

Colin had a 1W Iceland gull at Portnahaven in the late afternoon. The 3 lesser scaup and his possible tufted hybrid are still at Loch Skerrols...

...and it was another busy day for white-tailed eagles. Colin watched this bird chase and kill a barnie at Craigens...

...and then had a 1st year bird near Ballimony. There was one adult over Eresaid in the morning and 2 sub-adults at Gartbreck in the afternoon, and Sean and Steve got this great shot of 3 together at Saligo... a ringtail harrier flushing a jack snipe at Kilchoman cemetery. Sean and Steve seem to be enjoying their Islay visit, and have also had 60 twite in stubbles near Gartbreck (Tues 8th). I'll take a leaf out of Ian's book and save the rest of their sightings for later, as I don't think we'll get many today!

Huge thanks to Colin, Steve and Sean for their sightings and pictures. 

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Tuesday 8th February

I've resolved not to talk about the weather - as it's February you can just assume it's pretty bleak unless I say otherwise. Fortunately there's some keen visitors over...

Colin was at Loch Skerrols, seeing the 3 lesser scaup, a merlin and an apparent tufted x ring-necked duck hybrid. He describes it as "like a male tufted but with grey flank sides and white vertical mark at front of flank patch (though not as obvious as RND)". At Coullabus, he had a brief view of a cackling goose before losing it in a flock of barnies. A little egret at the head of Loch Indaal and a 3rd year golden eagle at Lagavulin were the highlights of the rest of what he calls a hard day. 

Sean and Steve had a smart male long-tailed duck on Loch Indaal and a couple of WTE, 1 over Gartnatra and 1 over Eresaid.

Our very own Mary had 4 fulmar over MacKenzie Island this morning.

Some details through from Tony Fox (from Aarhus University in Denmark, who co-ordinates Greenland white-front goose ring resightings) about the two collared birds that were at Carnduncan yesterday. Orange V3C is the more interesting, having been caught and ringed at Loch Ken in Galloway in winter 2008/09. It was present there again in winter 2009/10, and then made the jump to Islay, where it has been seen every year since 2010/11. Greenland white-fronts generally have pretty strict fidelity to their wintering sites, so it is unusual to see a bird change like this - presumably a result of pairing up with a bird that winters on Islay. V3C was seen in South Iceland in autumn 2010 and 2016, presumably whilst on the way to Islay. This bird has now been recorded 4 times in the same location at Carnduncan since December 2021. 

Monday 7 February 2022

Monday 7th February

Colin Bradshaw was out and about again today, searching in vain for cackling or red-breasted geese between Gruinart and Eorrabus. He did have a greenshank at Gortantoid and a male hen harrier at Killinallan, plus a sub-ad male at Tormisdale. 

Sean Minns and Steven Bowie are over for a few days and did well, despite the ropey weather. Highlights for today included a 2CY Iceland Gull near the gaelic college, 3 lesser scaup (2m 1f) no location given but presumably at Loch Skerrols, 30 common scoter and 5 PB brent on Loch Indaal, an imm WTE near the Machrie, a golden eagle and 4 twite at The Oa and 2 merlin (1m 1f) around Gruinart. 

RSPB volunteer Lucy Atkinson had 2 little egrets at the Gruinart South Hide and a golden eagle over Eresaid. 

Here's the full history of DA3, the barnacle goose Shona-Isla found dead last week. Nothing wildly unusual - the majority of the sightings being around Gruinart in October each year, reflecting the importance of this location at that time and the amount of observers there. The Iceland sighting is nice, the May date presumably meaning it was one of the small but growing breeding population there. 

Two neck-ringed white-fronts were at Carnduncan today, details on those when we get them. Thanks to all for your sightings today.

Sunday 6 February 2022

Sunday 6th February

 Another fairly nasty day - cold and windy with icy gusts and squalls of rain and sleet. It did try and brighten up a bit in the afternoon though.........

Visitor Colin Bradshaw was the only one sending in records today: "3 Golden Eagles together - an adult, first year and probably a 2nd year, all near the wood north of Lyrabus. Also a. Peregrine at the same place. A female Scaup and Great Northern Diver off Blackrock and a. Little Egret Gruinart. Male Hen Harrier NW corner Loch Gorm. No sign of either Red-breasted or Cackling Goose.

Thanks Colin:- and hope you'll get lucky with the two rare geese during your stay.

Saturday 5 February 2022

Saturday 5th February

 I had just typed in my assessment of today's weather; " A real stinker of a day", when I noticed that Mary Redman had sent in an email with exactly the same phrase! Great minds think alike - and it truly was horrible weather - quite cold with strong winds and almost unrelenting quite heavy rain.

Despite that she was out at and posted sightings of a Great Black-backed Gull at Claddach with a BTO ring on and another fighting with a Raven over some carrion outside Port Ellen where she also saw a Great Northern Diver. At Octofad she noted a white-winged gull in a large mixed flock. Back near to home she also spied an Otter at Currie Sands.

Two other brave souls contributed bird notes in this wet and wild day. James How who had 2 White-tailed Eagles and a Little Egret on his home territory at Gruinart and a male Goosander and a second winter Glaucous Gull just outside Bowmore. Gary Turnbull found a Glaucous and an Iceland Gull at Gartmain - both of them juvenile/young birds.

Friday 4 February 2022

Friday 4 February

Absolutely freezing out today with strong winds and hail showers throughout.  There was blue skys and sunshine too which  may have given some respite to the small birds who found shelter.

Unsurprisingly not much sightings today! But Billy Stitchell in Ballygrant shared these images from his feeders of a grateful audience in Ballygrant.

Blackbird, house sparrow, goldfinch, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, siskin, robin, and dunnock on and around the feeders.  He didn't see the merlin which was checking out the feeders yesterday.

Further communication and guidance from NatureScot regarding the potential of bird flu on Islay.

"To date, no cases of avian influenza have been confirmed on Islay or elsewhere in the Scottish wintering range. If you find a single dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), a single dead bird of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of any other species (including gulls) at the same place at the same time, you should report them to Defra’s GB telephone helpline: 03459 33 55 77 . It is advisable that you do not touch these birds. 


Further advice can be found on the Scottish Government webpage."

Thursday 3 February 2022

Thursday 3 February

(Photo credit

Yesterday NatureScot announced the suspension of shooting of Greenland Barnacle geese on Islay, as Avian flu cases in Ireland increases in Ireland.  Given the proximity and the evidence of the interchange between geese and swans wintering in Ireland and Islay, it is a real concern.  Indeed, Shona-Isla reported a dead goose found at Ardtalla on 30 Jan. This bird was originally ringed 4 years ago in Donegal.

Counts of the Svalbard population that overwinter on the Solway has shown a 38% decline on last year. I have yet to receive any reports on Islay but it seems unlikely it will be avoided.

Elsewhere on the Island at Guinart, James had a count of 110 fieldfare. It is noticeably colder this evening as yet more strong winds and heavy rain builds up.

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Wednesday 2 February

A few sightings shared today. Margaret at the Kilchoman reserve enjoyed spectacular views of a pair of white-tailed eagles.  She also counted 9 chough up on the crag at Kilchoman, the most she's counted this winter.  Mark counted 10 whooper swans at Ardnave Loch, and a little egret at 'smelly corner'. 

Forgot to report Gary's Iceland gull on Sunday, seen at Scarabus road end.

Quiet down my end today, although on my drive 'up country' I was lucky enough to see an otter in the sea off Carn, then a solitary curlew in the fields near Port Mor.  Near the villages this morning there was a particular loud 'bird' which kept us entertained...

The Northern Lighthouse Board appears to have been dropping supplies, or maybe staff to check the buildings, or maybe even just for the hell of it. (Photo by Tom Evans)

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Tuesday 1 February

 Pinch and a punch for the first of the month!

February is the 'nearly there' month, not quite spring but getting there. It is the oddly satisfying month (for me anyway) in that it perfectly aligns with March, starting on the same day of the week. Nice and neat on a wall chart calendar.

Not too much on the birding front unfortunately so you will have to make do with the Claddach report - 2 snipe spooked from their cover, one song thrush by the beach, 3 ravens out towards the gullies, 4 hooded crows on the wall above the house, a wren singing, on the beach itself a single great black-back, single herring gull, and single common gull each flew overhead.

I have started to feed the sheep expecting triplets over the weekend, so naturally the rest of the flock are lined up at the fence looking very unimpressed to be left out! There is still plenty of grass but as one of my favourite weather expressions will warn you - "winter always has a sting in its tail", so best no get too complacent!

Monday 31 January

 An other late entry, no sightings submitted as folk recover from the weekend. the storms were fierce, although it wasn't too bad here compared to over 90mph gusts on the Western Isles.