Tuesday 31 May 2022

Tuesday 31st May

 A perfectly pleasant end to the month of May - sunshine on the Rhinns, but apparently raining over at Laphroiag for the distillery Open Day during this Feis Ile week.

The little bit of birding that I did didn't produce anything to write home about. The only other note coming in was from David Dinsley who saw a Great Skua on the Monument Trail at The Oa this morning.

STOP PRESS: there is a note on the Argyll Bird Club  website this evening of a Wryneck seen briefly at Kinnabus this morning – searched for but not relocated.

Monday 30 May 2022

Monday 30th May

Cool northerly winds, but basically bright and sunny.

Mary Redman reports 3 Great Skuas at Claddach Loch last night.

John Miles sent in the following interesting account:

“Been involved in a seabird survey training course on both Saturday and Sunday. Main highlights were 2 Minke Whales off the Sound of Islay.on 28th May. At least 3 Harbour Porpoise. 3 Great Northern Divers coming into summer plumage.on 29th May in the mouth of West Loch Tarbert. 11 Red throated Divers.on 29th May in the mouth of West Loch Tarbert. Several flocks of Manx Shearwaters with the highest count of 36 birds in one flock..Mixed seabirds with one flurry of 46 Gannets feeding possible where the whales had pushed up the fish bait ball.”

I took an afternoon peek from both the Hides at Gruinart. There were a lot of very flighty Dunlin and Ringed Plover feeding on the floods – probably 50 of the former and 25 of the latter. A sub-adult White-tailed Eagle sauntered over producing a useful bit of pandemonium by putting up a total of 120 drake Mallard from the floods. Previously I could see 5-10 hidden in the luxuriant emergent vegetation so it was a bit of a surprise to see how many were lurking there out of sight.


Sunday 29 May 2022

Sunday 29th May

Another bright and sunny day, with a slightly cool NW breeze and just a few light showers towards the end of the day.

A late morning check of the hides at RSPB Gruinart produced a single Black-tailed Godwit and drake Pintail. A lone Barnacle Goose still with us is presumably unfit for the journey back to Greenland and resting here for the summer. The 2 pairs of Mute Swans now both have cygnets hatched. A Greenfinch was calling from the viewpoint – a sadly uncommon sound these days.

Saturday 28 May 2022

Saturday 28th May

 A pleasant day with no rain showers, just sunshine and a light NW breeze.

James How had been out on his “home-patch” at Gruinart finding the following good birds: 2 Water Rails, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 10 Whitethroats, 3 Whinchats, 1 White Wagtail. 1 White-tailed Eagle, 2 Sandwich Terns and 1 Little Tern.

He did substantially better than me as I did a very pleasant hike on the circuit from Ardnave Loch to Ardnave Point and back this morning. Apart from a trio of twittering Twite, Wheatears, Choughs and gazillions of sublimely singing Skylarks, there wasn’t a great deal going on. A calling Corn Crake crex-crexing by the farm buildings and an immature Great Northern Diver diligently diving deep were about the best birds. On Nave Island and associated skerries there was the constant, cacophonous, caterwauling call of no less than 320 Grey Seals lying low, lounging lazily on the rocks and beaches.  A couple of Roe Deer on Nave Island was odd – did they get there by accident or deliberately? Are they there to stay or will they try to swim back to the mainland? Does anybody know?


Friday 27 May 2022

Friday 27th May

The weather continues in much the same vein: breezy from the west with rain showers between some sunshine.

 We seem to be coming to that time of year when the spring migration is all but over and birding news is scant. However, I popped out and checked the hides at Gruinart this afternoon and found 4 Black-tailed Godwits still hanging on with us, as were two pairs of Wigeon. A sub-adult White-tailed Eagle put on a good show, putting all the birds into the air in a panic, making failed attempts to catch a Teal or two and eventually being seen off by irate Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings.

Ed Burrell messaged that the Iceland Gull is still present down at Cornabus – a late date for an Arctic species, but as Ed commented “why go to Greenland when it is this cold here?”

Thursday 26 May 2022

Thursday 26th May

Despite fairly pleasant weather - albeit still showery at times and a bit more breezy than previous days - there seems to be not much bird news to report. Thanks to Bob Mitchell for sending in his notes for today:

"On a drive around the Rinns, there were 2 Arctic Terns and a Tystie off Claddach, a Cuckoo on a wire near Ben Cladville and a Golden Eagle very close, disturbed from just over the wall by the road down to Kilchiaran, which was then mobbed by gulls."

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Wednesday 25th May

Another day of light westerly winds with sunshine and showers.

Bob Mitchell kindly sent in his notes:

“A walk in showery Bridgend Woods found only a pair of Bullfinches at each end, two very loud Song Thrushes and just Siskins and a Coal Tit on the feeders. Excellent views of a male Hen harrier and a WTE at Finlaggan”.

Mary Redman gave us an update on her Wren family, all looking well and cosy in their nest:

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Tuesday 24th May

 Another mostly dry and sunny day with a light SW breeze, but again the odd light shower.

The first Corn Crake survey was done last night, but “rain stopped play” at about 1.30am. No definitive reports yet, though apparently 8 between Gruinart and Ardnave is a reasonably good result.

Bob Mitchell sent in his notes for today: “walked to Gortantaoid point over the sand so just a few waders: Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers and Gulls. Rock Pipits at the Point, plus Otter prints from the sea. A Whimbrel near the car park and a male Hen harrier flew over the Gruinart road on the way up. 2 Twite were at Sanaigmore”.

Talking of Hen Harriers, David Livingstone sent in these photos of a male Hen Harrier he saw on the Low Road.

Monday 23 May 2022

Monday 23rd May

 A much nicer day’s weather, mostly warm, calm and sunny.

 Bob Mitchell sent in a report of birding today. He was at The Oa first where he saw Golden Eagle, 2 Choughs, 2 Kittiwakes, many Wheatears, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits plus a  singing Sedge Warbler. At Kintra were 3 Eider on the sea and later at Kilchoman a Sparrowhawk flew over.

 The only other bird news also comes from The Oa where David Dinsley saw a Bonxie this evening – see photo below.

Sunday 22 May 2022

Sunday 22nd May

A mild and fairly calm day, but also quite overcast with intermittent rain showers. 

But the rain didn't stop returning visitors Bob & Pen Mitchell from doing some birding and sending in the following report:

“Hi, this is Bob from South Derbyshire back on Islay. Between Ballinaby and Loch Gorm we’re several Stonechats, Whinchats and Wheatears, plus Curlews.

Walking west from Ardnave Point were 6+ Turnstones, 6+ Ringed Plovers, dozens of Sanderlings, a few Chough, 2 Golden Plover, a Barnacle Goose with ring and around Nave Island a few Little and Arctic Terns.

From the lookout at Loch Gruinart we’re Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whooper Swan, 1 Redpoll, several Willow Warblers and a Corncrake heard.

 Also a male Hen Harrier flying around above the NE corner of Loch Gorm and 40-50 Ringed Plover near the track to Saligo beach and then on the flood near the parking area".

Saturday 21 May 2022

Saturday 21st May

 A mostly sunny day, but with light westerly winds bringing in occasional showers.

No bird reports coming in today other than a flock of 28 Choughs up at Kilchoman, a couple of Whooper Swans on the fields at Gruinart RSPB and Lapwings with chicks on the wet fields at Ballinaby.

Friday 20 May 2022

Friday 20 June

 A mixed day with heavy showers, but a lovely evening after all. I've a feeling James rain gauge will show a wetter than average May, but time will tell! I often associate May as dry, sometimes too dry for the lapwing and redshank chicks, but lately the rain has saturated the fields. Although I've not ventured off the 'main road' to Gruinart for longer than I care to admit, I can imagine the pools on the flats are fuller than normal!

Very quiet on the birding front. Visitors Christine and Frank have been in touch with a report of 4 cuckoos flying and active together on the East side of Loch Gorm. Thank you both!

 At Claddach the wrens nest obviously passed inspection with what looks like 3 or 4 hungry chicks inside. Its a lovely nest, beautifully built. Its also a safe spot, away from the wind and rain! I'll need to watch for the fledglings and leave the shed doors open for them to find their way out.

Enjoy the weekend folks!


Thursday 19 May 2022

Thursday 19 May



Starting off todays records of a handsome hawfinch below Martin's bird feeders. A lovely from-the-kitchen-window spot!

Elsewhere on the island, Peter was out again on the hunt for cranes:  " I did another circuit of loch Gorm today in a futile search for Cranes! The Tufted ducks were easier to count today and produced 32 birds. Also on the Loch were 6 Common Scoter. The fields round at Ballinaby still hold all those Ringed Plovers. They've been there for weeks now, presumably finding plenty of food without going out to  Gruinart or Indaal? There were 97 today, all spooked by a passing Peregrine. A pair of Redshank are also there with a couple of chicks." 

Laura was watching an adult WTE being mobbed by a buzzard near Loch Skerrols.

A late entry from Andy Robinson of a calling corncrake near the hide at Loch Gruinart.

From my own neck of the woods - a pair of common sandpiper on Currie Sands, a pair of chough over Ellister Loch, and a redshank over the house at Claddach.  

Thanks to all for your sightings,


Weds 18 May

 A very late entry for yesterday, but better late than never!

The common crane was reported again, this time in the fields below Carnduncan, near Loch Gorm.  Peter went out to seek it, but with no joy. He did, however count 57 ringed plover and 11 dunlin at Ballinaby, and 14 tufted duck at Loch Gorm.

James found a pair of gadwall at the Gruinart Floods, plus a yellow wagtail.

Lauren at RSPB LochGruinart attempted the WeBS in the poor weather, and shared the highlights: 

"21 shelduck, 100 oyster catcher, 136 ringed plover, 4 knot, 289 dunlin, 85 bar tailed godwit, 5 curlew, 1 turnstone, 123 common gull, 4 common tern, 1 little tern and a whimbrel


I also had 15 arctic terns at Ardnave today"

Ed reports that the Iceland gull is still with him at Cornabus. 

Vicci had been in touch after an other day out, this time on Machir Bay "A walk behind Traigh Machir revealed Sand Martin visiting nests, Meadow Pipits and at least one Twite. On the beach we saw Ringed Plover and 2 purple sandpiper" She also kindly shared these photos. Thank Vicci, Islay photos at last!

Finally Aidin reports of a singing whinchat outside Kilchoman Distillery. 

Thanks to all for your sightings.


Tuesday 17 May 2022

Tuesday 17 May

 Not a very nice day here altogether, though there are one or two sightings in...

4 corncrakes calling at RSPB Loch Gruinart, while on the flats a peregrine was mobbing a WTE (Mark).  From the South Hide, the male Garganey was spotted by Andy R. At Balinaby there is a lone barnacle goose still hanging on.  And Lauren spotted an osprey over Loch Gorm.

Ed over at Cornabus found a 2cy Iceland gull among the flock there. Apparently been there for a couple of days, but keeping its distance.

At Currie sands, a pair of chough by the bay, 2 turnstone and a common sandpiper feeding in a mound of fresh kelp.  While back at Portnahaven an other pair of chough were in flight over the village hall.

New visitor Vicci Johnstone has been in touch with the following from her day at RSPB Loch Gruinart:

"Good views of a black tailed Godwit from Taigh Tuath [North Hide] and two Teal and Shoveler. Plenty of lapwing, meadow pipit, sand martin, sedge warbler, black headed gull. Willow warbler, chaffinch  and wren vocal in the hedgerows on both woodland and moorland walk from RSPB car park. Swallows in large numbers on the road by Gruinart Farm and feeding young in the lean to by Bushmill. Several song thrush and starling as well as loud Corvids by the car park.

Coal tit, chaffinch, Blue and Great tits and Siskin on the feeders at the Woollen mill, but no redpoll."

Thank you Vicci!

The highlight of the day was a report of a common crane in flight to the north of Portnahaven. Seen on Saturday though only reported by the visitor today.

No photos submitted today, so I've raided my sister on Kerreras collection again, this time of a pair of hen harriers hunting over the heather.

Thanks to all for their contributions.


Monday 16 May 2022

Monday 16 May


David D on the Oa photographed this spotted flycatcher at Kinnabus. Thanks for sharing.

Andy was visiting the Islay Woollen Mill today and saw redpoll, Siskin, coal tit and more on the feeders there.

Argyll Birders received a report of a Marsh Harrier at Saligo this afternoon, on Mull at a similar time black kite was reported. Might be the weather for visiting raptors!

Thanks as ever for the contributions.


Sunday 15 May 2022

Sunday 15 May

 A nice day for the most part, though heavy showers towards the end of the day.  This morning a cuckoo was calling from the overhead wires above the burn which divides the two villages of Port Wemyss and Portnahaven.  Nice to hear, and for the superstitious if you hear the cuckoo, you'll live an other year.  An other superstition tied with the cuckoo was that it was very bad luck to hear the first one on an empty stomach. My dad wouldn't leave the house without eating at least a biscuit until he heard the first of the year!

Elsewhere on the island, James had a spotted flycatcher at Loch Gruinart this morning, while Andy R. spotted a pair of shoveller on a small pool on the drive up to Ardnave. David D. on The Oa noted a solo whimbrel on Kilnaughton beach, then a pair of twite feeding on the grass near the Co-op in Port Ellen.  Jackie and Daves last day today, they enjoyed good views of 3 GND today off Ardnave coast, while overhead 2 golden plover and one greenshank flew over Ardnave loch. High above Loch Gruinart at WTE was being mobbed gulls.

Thanks for all sightings today folks, its not much of a blog without them!

No photos today, not even from Billy!  So instead I've borrowed from my sister on Isle of Kerrera who enjoyed the resident grouse lekking while out on the lambing rounds.  The red grouse was especially easy to photograph after taking offence to the quad bike engine!


Saturday 14 May 2022

Saturday 14th May

Crisis time at the blog, with 66.6% of the team unavailable due to covid and Saturday night partying. Soooo, here we go. A busy day South of the Laggan - Hannah had bottlenose dolphins off Laphroaig, first reports we've had for a while. Double D had a house martin at Kinnabus, his first of the year. Mary-Ann had 2 red-throated divers off of Kildalton, and visitor Andy Rhodes had 4 twite at Upper Killeyan. Andy also had a juv WTE at Gruinart. 

Jackie Wedd reports golden eagle, hen harrier, whinchat, cuckoo and lapwing and chick from the Glen road. At Sanaigmore, she had a GND and tystie in the bay. 

James was out and about early at Gruinart today, with 6 singing blackcaps, 1 gropper, 4 treecreepers, 2 bullfinches and 2 whinchats. Gruinart Flats yesterday had a calling corncrake and 9 canada geese. 

Scott from RAFOS sent a summary of their sightings over the last days, including bonxie at Ardnave, RTD at Claggain, WTE feeding at Gruinart and hen harriers at Loch Gorm. He says "the wind and weather has our group with a slightly lower species count that on previous Spring visits, but not by too many. As RAFOS prepare to depart, we wish those at Islay Birds and blog all the very best and look forward to our next visit!"

Back at you, Scott, many thanks for all your sightings as usual, and hope to see you all back here soon. 

Many thanks to all our contributors. No photos sent in today, so one from my moth trap last week. According to Malcolm, this is only the third Islay record of cockchafer beetle, which says more about how under-recorded most things (apart from birds!) are here, I think. So get recording, birdy folk! Byeeeee

Friday 13 May 2022

Friday 13th May

 Friday 13th! Unlucky for some, but isn't every day?  Certainly unlucky for what looked like a fledgling jackdaw, squished on the road near Craigfad.

Starting off with a quick apology to Jackie Wedd yesterday, who I had renamed Wood. Sorry Jackie, autopilot was driving the touch-typing!  Jackie was out today on the Rhinns where she enjoyed more cuckoo activity - a pair courtship feeding while being mobbed by 2 meadow pipits. Perhaps the love in the air drowned out the pipits activity.  She also was treated to close up views of a Roe deer at Loch Gruinart woodland trial.

Out tonight along the Bun Othan Coastal path, Port Wemyss, there was close views of sandpiper, plenty gannet and of course few inquisitive grey seal.  Up at Claddach Loch, an other(or the same) bonxie was in taking a wash.

No photos today, so I borrowed this charming view of a blue tit, taken 3 days ago by Billy, Caol Ila. Thanks to all for the contributions.


Thursday 12 May 2022

Thursday 12 May


The last of Jims photos, showing both dark and light bellied Brent geese.

Nice day out today, a flock of 7 whimbrel over by Frenchmans Rocks while I was doing my rounds.  At Claddach Loch, a house Martin among the swallows and sand martins. First of the season for me.

At Ellister Loch, the Velvet Scoter drake has returned with his common scoter duck.  Been a regular visitor to the Loch for around 10 years.  It must be 2010 or 11 that I was asked to check the Loch for common scoter, and saw a velvet drake see off the common drake from a pair. Escapee or otherwise, a beautiful bird to see.

David D on the Oa spotted a Manx Shearwater off shore.

Jackie Wood has returned with todays highlights including red-throated diver and 2 great northern divers off Claggain Bay, with a flock of 7 whimbrel in nearby fields.  South of Bowmore, a male hen harrier, a large flock of 40+ oystercatcher at the head of Loch Indaal.  At Ardmore House, Kildalton, she saw both male and female cuckoo.

James reported that the garganey at the South Hide and the tree sparrows by his house are still present.

James has also put out a request: This is a request rather than a report: Does anyone have good images of white tailed eagles hunting geese or 3 or more white tailed eagles together – preferably around Loch Gruinart. I am putting together a report for SOC and would like to include some images. Images would be credited to owner.

Thanks to all for todays sightings.


Wednesday 11 May 2022

Weds 11 May

 An other of Jims photos from the weekend, this time of a white-tailed eagle off to devour its hard earned dinner - a brown hare.

Today's highlight was a handsome male garganey seen from the south Hide at RSPB Loch Gruinart.  

Scott and the rest of the RAF Ornithological society have been enjoyed carrying out WeBS counts over the past 2 days.  Yesterday they surveyed Loch Indaal with good numbers of the 'usual suspects'. At Ardnave their survey included 120+ whimbrel with a single black tailed godwit among them, while at Loch Gorm they noted barnacle geese, and at nearby Saligo 7 golden plover with around 20 ringed plover.

They continued today with WTE at Bunnahabhainn, Gruinart and near Keills. Golden eagle near Bunnabhainn. A little egret from the north hide at Loch Gruinart.

Chough sightings from yesterday were around 30 at Kilchoman Church, and further 7 at Balinaby today.  I had feeding pair at Currie Sands today too.

Thanks as ever for taking time to share your sightings.


Tuesday 10 May 2022

Tuesday 10 May


Todays image of a golden eagle kindly from Jim Dickson from his visit. I've saved others for the coming days.

Sightings have quietened down after the busy weekend.  Peter reported the heronry at Loch Tarbet on Jura had at least 6 nests. Louise noted the heronry at the Manse on Jura was active though no nest count yet.

Lauren was at Ardnave today with 2 bonnie, 5 arctic tern, 15 whimbrel, 8 turnstone, 68 dunlin and 2 knot.

My own highlights from today - a solo chough flying and noisily calling overhead in Port Wemyss. In the shed, the wren nest in the coil of rope now has eggs! We will keep a wide berth, luckily we have no need for the rope.  Near the old wave power the terns have been noisy, but I tend to keep my distance once they arrive, respecting their space and my head!

Thanks to Peter and Mark for covering the blog this past month. The blog is a group effort but with lambing I haven't been pulling my weight recently! Thanks for all todays sightings.


Monday 9 May 2022

Monday 9th May

No more news of the junco, but despite the rain there's about a gazillion other sightings to get through, so here we go.

Scott and his 10 pals from the Royal Air Force Ornithological Society had 1 canada and 1 barnacle goose amongst the 50+ greylags near Kilchoman, 14 eider and 19 rb merganser at Bowmore, 2 GND and 6 gannets at Claggain Bay, 1 hen harrier at the airport, 40+ knot between Bridgend and Bowmore and 2 dippers at the Woollen Mill. 

Jim spent the day enjoying the weather and seeing a little egret, 79 barwits, 2 blackwits, 5 whimbrel, 19 knot, 1 sum grey plover, 238 ringed plover, and a whopping 80 swallows, all at Gruinart. He also had 7 golden plover at Ballinaby, 24 whimbrel at Coull and 8 sum GND on Loch Indaal. 

James gets BOTD for the 2 tree sparrows on his garden feeders, and David Dinsley had a corncrake at Machir Bay in mid-afternoon and a solo house martin at Laphroaig. 

After letting herself down with BonxieGate yesterday, Mary has bounced back like a champ with this one - the grisly scene left by the larvae of parasitic braconid wasps emerging from the unfortunate marsh fritillary caterpillar that they've been eating away internally since they were injected directly into it as eggs. I think the wasps are cotesia bignelli or cotesia melitaerum, and I had heard that one of them is rarer than the marsh fritillary, so I don't want any wasp witch hunts going on as a result of this. Anyway, pretty cool, and it took your minds off the junco for a minute, I guess?

Thanks to all. 

Sunday 8 May 2022

Sunday 8th May

So the main news is there is no more news of the junco. Despite the best efforts of several folk, it has not been seen at all today. Peter and his group stopped by a couple of times as they covered South Islay. They did get a pair of whinchat at Kinnabus, "a few" twite at Upper Killeyan, 2 common sandpipers at Uiskentuie, and a pair of WTE. 

Jim made it over in search of the junco but had to be happy with winning Bird Of The Day for 2 dark-bellied brents with one pale-belly at Carnain, plus a lone blackwit. Later in the day he had this young goldie at Gruinart...

Visitor Nick is over for a week and emailed us his sightings from his walk around the Battery at Bowmore, including whimbrel, whitethroat, ringed plover, turnstone, shelduck and wheatear. 

We finish with worrying news from bandit country, aka Portnahaven, where Mary has apparently lost her mind, as she claims the below photo "clearly" shows the bonxie she saw at Claddach Loch earlier. If anyone has seen Mary's mind, or indeed her bonxie, please let us know. 

Thanks to all for reading and sending stuff in. Tioraidh!

Saturday 7 May 2022

Saturday 7th May - Dark-eyed junco

Only one thing worth talking about today, and that's Mary's kestrel just outside Portnahaven. 

Just kidding. Bird Of The Day, and probably Bird of the Year, goes to this fabulous dark-eyed junco, found this morning in a private garden in Kildalton by a chap called Bob (whose surname hasn't filtered through to me yet), and then photographed by David Wood, above. Jim Dickson was in touch to say that this looks like a male, and if accepted, it will be a new species for Islay and Argyll. It's a North American bunting and they usually turn up in the UK in spring, with around 10 previous records for Scotland. So the twitch will be on! Hopefully all the extra attention will turn up something else good. Please let us know any further sightings. 

Dave Protherough's partner Emma also had a corncrake at Cornabus. James was out early on the hill at Gruinart, and had 5 singing groppers, 4 whinchats, 6 whitethroats, and 4 calling water rails. 

Thanks to all the above. 

Friday 6 May 2022

Friday 6th May

Good evening Bird Fans. Here we go again with another round-up of *checks notes* all the best sightings from the island today. 

Hot Ed Burrell reports whimbrel, sanderling, dunlin, ringed plover and oystercatcher at Kilnaughton last night. Mary sent us news of Billy Stitchell's 5 cuckoos at the Lily Loch, including this one...

Peter gently eased in his tour group from Kent on Day 1 of their Islay trip, with suspiciously round-numbered flocks of 80, 25, 25 and 45 whimbrels split between Ardnave and Kilchoman. He thinks the total of 175 is close to a record count. Elsewhere, the group had 9 blackwits at the Gruinart North Hide, 16 dunlin and 6 golden plover all in summer plumage at Ballinaby, plus 12 ringed plover. A little egret at Killinallan completes their day. 

Margaret wins the one they suddenly all want, Larval Stage Lepidoptera of The Day, with this garden tiger at Kilchoman. 

This will be my last post as I'm leaving to set up an islay caterpillars blog. Thanks to everyone as usual for their sightings and pictures. 

Thursday 5 May 2022

Thursday 5th May

Hi Bird Fans. Early May - a key time in the Islay birdwatching calendar. Let's see what was in the Islay Birds postbag today...

Peter Gill was back in touch to say he had 50+ turnstones on the coast north of Bruichladdich yesterday, plus 2 arctic terns below the gaelic college, with 30-40 lesser redpoll and a WTE at Kildalton today.

Visitors Ian and Anne Cockburn spotted 17 knot (some in breeding plumage) and 4 blackwits at the head of Loch Indaal. Michal had 60 whimbrel at Coull, 7 golden plover at Saligo and a flock of erm, 1 barnacle geese at Ballinaby. Lauren had an osprey near Loch Gorm. Laura gets Bird of The Day with this late instar marsh fritillary larva at Loch Gruinart. The butterflies will be on the wing later this month. I didn't read that from Laura's palm, I googled it. 

Big thanks to all our contributors today. 

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Wednesday 4th May

 A damp sort of day – sunny but with a fine wet mist in the morning and evening.

Visiting birders, Michael & Eileen Poore, sent in a photo of a lovely White Wagtail seen on Monday.

 We also have notes for the last few days from Chris Fletcher who has been birding widely across the island and obviously enjoying seeing plenty of the regular species. Some of his more special sightings include:

 Monday 2 May: 4 Arctic Terns Bowmore. Cuckoos at Finlaggan & Ardnahoe.

 Tuesday 3 May: more Arctic Terns at Bowmore, a Great Skua at Port Wemyss

 Wednesday 4 May: a Marsh Harrier near the Airport.

 Peter Gill sent in his sightings for today: “Not much to report. A Whinchat near to Loch Gorm and a single Whooper Swan on Gruinart flats”.(It is rumoured that the Whooper Swan is not the healthiest or fittest example of its species, so may be with us all summer).

Up at Kilchoman, Margaret Brooke reports “22 cavorting Chough- a good count for this time of year. While down on The Oa David wood saw “A weird looking white wagtail with brown wings”. – photo below. The other resident, birding David – Dinsley – saw a Greenland Wheatear at Stremnishmore on The Oa and 32 Whimbrel at Ardbeg.

Tuesday 3 May 2022

Tuesday 3rd May

A cloudy, dull day, but dry until late afternoon when a few spots of rain ensued,

I wrongly attributed the sighting of a Ring Ousel and Great Skuas yesterday – the acknowledgement should go to visitor Peter Gill, who sent in further notes today: “Today we heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker near to Loch Allan, also there were two Little Grebe on Loch Ballygrant + a Chiffchaff seen/heard in Ballygrant woods. Also 2 Little Grebes busy building a nest towards north end of Loch Finlaggan. Also a Golden Eagle seen over road to Bunnahabhain

James How sent in the following notes:

At Ballinaby: Whitethroat singing and a report of 2 calling Corncrakes.

 On Loch Gruinart: a total of 58 Whimbrel. Dunlin and Ringed Plover starting to move:

Dunlin 230, Ringed Plover 85, Sanderling 1, Turnstone 2.

Monday 2 May 2022

Monday 2nd May

 A cooler, cloudier day but light winds and no rain made it perfectly acceptable!

Visiting birder Chris Fletcher kindly sent in his notes for today. He had the first record this year of a Ring Ousel, which he saw down at the American Monument on The Oa and took the photo below. He also mentioned 3 Great Skuas seen from the ferry near Port Askaig as he arrived last Friday.

Michal Sur, back on Islay doing various bits of environmental work says “tell the blog man that there are Cuckoos everywhere: 2 at Conisby, 1 at Octofad, 1 at Ballimony and 1 at Gruinart."

I took an afternoon look from the hides on RSPB Gruinart. It is still all quite quiet, The two notable  sightings were 78 Whimbrel from the North Hide – one of the highest single flock counts on Islay – accompanied by 5 summer-plumaged Black–tailed Godwits and a couple of Knot – one in winter plumage, the other full breeding. At the South Hide another high count was noted, but a less welcome one of 22 Canada Geese.

Sunday 1 May 2022

Sunday 1st May

As promised by the forecasts, the rain had stopped and it was a tolerably pleasant, partially sunny day with light winds.

Chris Fletcher had seen 3 Arctic Terns off Bowmore yesterday evening in the rain.

Reports came in of Whimbrel “hither and thither” -  2 at Craighouse, Jura yesterday from Louise Muir and 7 more yesterday at Ardnave. Today there were 14 at Ardbeg courtesy of Mary Ann Featherstone.

Margaret Brooke reported the usual fly-by of a male Hen Harrier up at Kilchoman and a couple of notes from Michal Sur and Laura Nicoll came in saying that 2 Corncrakes were “crexing” around Kilchoman and Machir Bay.

The late afternoon and evening was quite calm allowing a brief check with a scope over Loch Indaal northwards from Bruichladdich where there were an impressive 32 Great Northern Divers scattered across the water, most in superb summer dress.