Wednesday 31 August 2022

Monday 29th & Tuesday 30th August

 No idea what the weather is like on Islay as I'm not there, but close by on the mainland it is warm and sunny, so hope it is good back on the island.

A catch-up post for Sunday 28th was a sighting of 2 Ospreys over Loch Gruinart seen by Laura Nicoll.

On Monday David Wood had a Quail near The Oa car park - not many of these ever recorded on Islay.

Margaret Brooke reports the usual Hen Harrier and Sparrowhawk from her place at Kilchoman. The Sparrowhawk apparently taking a couple of her local Swallows and being generally "pesky" as Ian Brooke would have called it!

On Tuesday Gary Turnbull noted the first return of Great Northern Divers to the island with 3 out on Loch Indaal from Port Charlotte.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Sunday 28th August

 I've been in Northern Ireland this weekend at Ballycastle, so am not sure what the weather was like on Islay. However, ?I visited Rathlin Island today and peered across at Islay and it looked much the same as here: warm, dry and sunny - a gorgeous summer's day.

Fiona McGillivray had seen a fine, summer-plumaged Black-throated Diver off Caol Ila. Here on Rathlin  we saw a Thresher Shark and a IY Med. Gull in Ballycastle Harbour..

Saturday 27 August 2022

Friday and Saturday 26th & 27th August

 David Wood reports a flock of 23 Ravens and 3 Sparrowhawks on The Oa on Friday, Visitor Al Kitching staying at Kintra Farm saw a couple of Little Terns on the beach  there today (Saturday) and also a Marsh Harrier catch and eat a Moorhen while watching from the RSPB hides at Gruinart..

Thursday 25 August 2022

Thursday 25th August

 Quiet day on the reporting front, though judging from the increasing flocks of small waders there is plenty of movement around our coasts.

Only my own sightings from today to contribute - 2 chough on Currie Sands. One Barn owl just outside Portnahaven this evening,  and one snipe at Ballameanach cottages.

As ever, the blog is dependent on folk contributing sightings, whatever they are. From robins to rarities, it all contributes to Islay records and serves to continue the work of the blog as a recording place for sightings and a source of informations for any visitors.  So don't be shy folks!


Wednesday 24 August 2022

Tuesday 23 & Weds 24 August


Billys photo of the day taken on the sound of shags drying off.

Tuesday Peter was out and noted big numbers of greylag geese: 175 off Port Charlotte and an additional 240 from the North Hide at RSPB Loch Gruinart.  I haven't noticed their number go down at all at Claddach Loch. The WTE usually spook them but they must be elsewhere at the moment!

Today, Margaret at "Kilchoman Reserve" could see at least someone appreciated the mass thistles on the Machir, with a lot of birds feeding on the seed heads, and a ring-tailed hen harrier hunting over them.  The sparrow hawk remains a regular in the garden.


Monday 22 August 2022

Monday 22nd August


With no sighting reported today I have brought some of Jim's fabulous photos taken off the ferry the other day  of sooty and Manx shearwaters.  I like the changed colour of the sea in both, presumably inland water vs out in the sound.

Up at Claddach yesterday there were 2 chough on Currie Sands, 3 whimbrel near Windy Edge croft house (a favourite spot of theirs) and a wheatear along the track.


Sunday 21 August 2022

Sunday 21st August

Despite a dry, mild day with light winds and a good bit of sunshine, it appears that nobody (other than David Dinsley who saw two Black-tailed Godwits over at Loch Kinnabus) had been out birding and found anything to write home about.

I ventured to the North Hide at Gruinart this afternoon and saw another portend of autumn and winter in the shape of a White-tailed Eagle sat on the flats far out at low tide. This is the first I believe to be out here after the breeding season, and we can expect more sightings as the adults and young birds wander to where they can find food most easily - if I were a Greylag Goose I'd be looking over my shoulder these days to see what might be watching me!

Saturday 20 August 2022

Saturday 20th August

A moderate, blustery, westerly/south-westerly breeze with sunshine until late afternoon when it clouded up.

The Argyll Bird Club had a Field Trip today led by Jim Dickson et al  which involved sailing from Kennacraig to Islay and then back again – a sort of moving 4+ hour sea-watch. They got lucky with choosing the date as their tally of sightings illustrates:

The journey out to Islay included 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 7 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Terns.

The journey back from Islay included: 5 Sooty shearwaters, 2,000+ Manxies, 1,650 Kittiwakes, 100+ Gannets, 1 Bonxie, 8 Arctic Terns, 2 Commic Terns, 3 Sandwich Terns, 350+ Guillemots, 2 Red-throated Divers,

Jim sent us this camera-back shot of one of the Sooties:

Here on
Terra Firma Mary Redman watched an Osprey fly over Portnahaven village hall in the morning. I did a check on the hides at Gruinart in the afternoon and found a Little Egret. More interesting (to me at least) was a group of 6 crows – 3 Hoodies and 3 Carrions. On closer scrutiny the Carrion Crows appeared to have a very few duller, slightly paler feathers on their upper flanks. I wonder if they were hybrids?

Friday 19 August 2022

Friday 19th August

 Very changeable weather today - sometimes bright and sunny, at other times cloud and heavy rain showers. With a moderate SW breeze a couple of like-minded souls resorted to sea-watching. I took off with Roger Broad to Frenchman's Rocks and did an hour from 9.20 this morning. A count of 608 Manxies streamed by along with a couple of Sooty Shearwaters. Two Bonxies, 12 Whimbrel, a handful of Gannets, Kittiwakes,  and Fulmars plus possibly the first 4 Purple Sandpipers of the autumn were recorded. Out on The Oa, David Wood was also watching and had a much better total of Sooty Shearwaters - minimum 18 - amidst "thousands" of Manxies, plus an Arctic Skua.

Eslewhere Merlins were seen at Kinnabus c/o David Dinsley and Craigens this afternoon c/o Roger Broad. James How had  few goodies on Loch Gruinart during the day including 3 Ruff and an Osprey along with lots of Pied and one White Wagtail, several Sanderling, a Golden Plover and plenty of Dunlin and Ringed Plover.

Roger Broad was delighted to finish his visit on Islay with a sighting of lots of  what I believe are Heather Solitary Bees - Coletes succinctus  - always good to have other wildlife interests if the birding fizzles out!

Thursday 18 August 2022

Thursday 16th August

 A weird day with all the weather happening at some point throughout.  Weren't sure whether to be in jackets, tshirts or wooly jumpers!

Peter today had 2 sandwich terns near Port Charlotte. Myself; 2 chough near Craigfad, a wheatear just outside Port Charlotte, 3 raven just outside Portnahaven and a flock of 11 snipe near Claddach.

Over at Kilchoman reserve Margaret had a golden eagle out on the crag,  while near Saligo a ring-tailed hen harrier and a merlin near  Balinaby. 

On Monday, Lucy over at RSPB sent in the highlights of the WeBS there.

Some highlights from the WEBS today at Loch Gruinart.


1 Sandwich Tern

161 Oystercatcher

244 Ringed Plover

49 Lapwing

481 Dunlin

103 Curlew

83 Redshank

49 Common Gull

76 Herring Gull

7 Arctic Terns

2 Greenshank

5 Black-tailed godwits

Thanks to all for your sightings!


Wednesday 17 August 2022

Weds 17th August


Mixed day today, very Autumnal as Billy's photo of the day shows! Autumn berries of rowan, bramble and wild raspberries are underway adding plenty colour as the flowers begin to die back.

Putting up an early blog yesterday appears to have backfired with the following submitted by Peter after I posted:

"Roger is over for a few days and saw a couple of Sooty Shearwaters amidst about 300 Manxies on the ferry crossing yesterday (15th) evening - somewhere between Gigha and Islay.

This afternoon Roger, Val and I walked out to Ardnave Point. 
Main birds of interest were 2 Bonxies over Nave Island, a flock of 45 
Twite up towards the top of Loch Gruinart, 9 Black-tailed Godwits in 
Loch Gruinart and a flock of c.350 Linnets near Ardnave Loch - I'm sure 
that's the largest flock I've seen on Islay.

Today, Gary had the marsh harrier again, but this time located near Cross House. Peter stopped off at Loch Gorm counting 35 tufted duck.  Near Claddach, a raven was tucking into a meal atop the small hill on the turnoff.  


Tuesday 16 August 2022

Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th August

A bit of rain but no bad thing after the intense sun last week.  Though the farm nearby that took a chance to cut hay ran out of time; silage it is!

Yesterday Lucy reported the marsh harrier at Loch Gruinart, while I noted a wheatear at Claddach and noticed a few more solitary swallows about. 

Mark noted 2 whimbrel near Saligo today.


Sunday 14 August 2022

Sunday 14th August

A distinct change in the weather today with thunder and heavy rain showers this morning giving way to slightly brighter, conditions with lighter clouds in the afternoon.

Margaret Brooke has been enjoying fly-bys of a female Hen Harrier up at Kilchoman today.

Down at The Oa David Dinsley saw the juv. Little Grebe again on Loch Kinnabus along with a juv. Cormorant, while visitor Andy Harris reports a Peregrine perched up on a telegraph pole near Loch Gorm. I wandered down to the RSPB hides this afternoon and found the first Black-tailed Godwits of the autumn – 4 of them feeding in the damp vegetation from the North Hide. From the overlook at the South Hide there was a group of 6 juvenile Bullfinches perched up on the wires – always a good place to find this species.

Saturday 13 August 2022

Saturday 13th August

 It has been another bright, sunny, dry and quite hot day with little wind to cool things down.

A note was received today from visiting birder Jo Hossell who is touring Islay by bike:

"We have been staying at Arichalloch cottage at Balimony since Sunday. We saw a female hen harrier quartering the rough grassland between the cottage and the conifers on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings and we have seen a white-tailed eagle twice, again by the cottage - the first time on Tuesday late afternoon and the second this morning being mobbed by a buzzard!  We also saw 9 chough by Lossit Bay on Thursday and a dozen oystercatchers flying past the beach at Kilchoman today."

George Jackson has also sent in a few observations for yesterday:  "A juv. Redpoll in Coultorsay garden - my first for this season; an hour later, a Whimbrel heard over towards Loch Indall. About 8.00pm at Uiskentuie strand there were ca. 30 mostly young alba Wagtails and c.50 Ringed Plover and Dunlin + 2 Turnstones."

The only bird news for today comes from the two RSPB Oa Davids: a Whimbrel at Kildalton and a Little Grebe on Loch Kinnabus.

Presumably George’s Whimbrel yesterday and David Wood’s today are the beginning of an autumn return.

Friday 12 August 2022

Friday 12th August

 Another wonderfully warm, sunny day, but mercifully not as hot as in the south of England.

A couple of interesting, less common species were seen today – Louise Muir reports a Kingfisher at Kinuachdrachd, right up in the northern tip of Jura. Down on The Oa at Kinnabus David Dinsley had seen a couple of Swifts.

Elsewhere, Andy Harris reports a Sandwich Tern over Gruinart this evening. I wandered out to the RSPB hides at Gruinart this afternoon, but it was quiet. A total of 6 Buzzards and a flock of 45 Oystercatchers was all I could muster. But in amongst the thick growth of vegetation that is currently being munched down by the cattle there were 1-2 small patches of visible open water, so maybe something of interest will show up?

Rather less quiet today will be the heather moorlands of the Scottish highlands, Yorkshire dales and elsewhere as it is the "(In)Glorious 12th ", when the guns start blasting away at as many Red Grouse as they can shoot. There is a very good opinion piece in The Scotsman about grouse shooting that tells the grisly story far more eloquently than I can – do check it out:


Below is a screen capture of David's Marsh Harrier from yesterday.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Thursday 11 August

 Show day today, so not surprisingly nothing much in the way of sightings!  David D. on the Oa did report a female marsh harrier this afternoon though, no way of knowing if it's the same bird that has been seen at Gruinart.

Below a series of photos of an adult WTE taken by Billy yesterday. 

Weds 10th August

Todays images from Billy from a walk around the Scarrabus area. 

Margaret reports of a male hen harrier hunting below the crag at Kilchoman reserve, and a sparrow hawk hunting in the garden.

At Port Wemyss, 2 chough flew over the house towards Portnahaven, and later a peregrine followed sa similar route.  A visitor here reported a possible hobby out towards Claddach.



Wednesday 10 August 2022

Tuesday 9 August

Photos from Billy of the 'Caol Ila wagtails'.  He counted 14 feeding in the bushes in front of the still house.
Andy found an Osprey over Loch Gorm while out birding and Margaret a golden eagle above the crag at Kilchoman reserve. It was a hot day, so no doubt they were enjoying the thermals.  
Tuesday before the Islay Show is traditionally the day the volunteers come together at the show ground to erect the main event marquees, it was a very busy place in the hot sun! It's a chance for folk to meet before the hectic day itself, but also to make sure nothing needs repaired or replaced.  How nice to see the show back again after 2 long, strange years:  the field is taking shape nicely.  For those of you visiting the island this week please note "everything shuts for the show", so worth checking your plans to see what might be open that day.


Monday 8 August 2022

Monday 8th August

 A reasonable dose of sunshine, warmth and dry conditions today. Margaret Brooke reports a Golden Eagle over the crags up at Kilchoman, while George Jackson had a low-flying White-tailed Eagle heading south along the edge of Loch Indaal at Bruichladdich. He also saw a Gadwall on Loch Skerrols later in the day. Visiting birder Andy Harris found the best of the bunch with a Marsh Harrier from the South Hide  at Gruinart this evening - presumably the same bird that has been seen a couple times in the past week or 10 days?

Sunday 7 August 2022

Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th August

 It is "more reliable" Pete back after a month away birding in Australia and unreliably forgetting to do my first blog yesterday! Apologies..........................

Yesterday the weather was fairly dry and sunny. James reported that the Marsh Harrier was still present at Gruinart from the North Hide. Mary had seen a couple of White-tailed Eagles at Currie Sands - an adult and immature, possibly 2nd year bird.

Today the weather was much less pleasant with drizzle, rain and overcast conditions until at least lunchtime, drying out a little thereafter. Presumably the grotty weather has kept everyone indoors as there are no bird sightings to report other than a Greenshank and a male Hen Harrier at Killinallan..

Saturday 6 August 2022

Friday 5 August

 Better late than never post for Friday!

Billys photos today from the Finlaggan area.

Mark reported an Osprey heading south over Loch Gruinart. Meanwhile James headed north to Ardnave and counted 325 grey seals on Nave Island. Must be a record?  While there he noted one bonxie, over 25 kittiwakes, several gannets and a few Arctic terns. 

Over to the more reliable Peter for the weekend after a month away.


Thursday 4 August 2022

Thursday 4 August

 A nice breeze today with some cracking heavy showers! The island is heavy with visitors: Portnahaven and Port Wemyss is lit up this evening for a change.  There was a young piper in the bay this evening making the most of the acoustics of the village.

James reported a flock of 94 oystercatchers coming in to land on Loch Gruinart at lunchtime, the start of the waders gathering to move.

Mark noted a barn owl at Loch Gruinart this evening, while I only managed to record a small sparrowhawk here at Claddach. 


Wednesday 3 August 2022

Weds 3rd August


Couple of nice photos of a young wagtail by Billy today, taken on the new 'Loch Indaal Way' path connecting Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte.

I'm back after lovely week on Kerrera with family, enjoying views of 3 juvenile cuckoo being fed by tireless meadow pipit from the garden, and tawny owl in the evening.  

Back on Islay we set off for a short walk at Bridgend woods near the Woollen Mill where I was treated to the sighting of a dipper, doing its 'thing' on the River Sorn. 


Tuesday 2 August 2022

Tuesday 2nd August

Dave Wood had 3 bonxies and an arctic skua from the ferry today, and an osprey catching a fish at Kennacraig. 

Margaret's run of form continues with 5 ringtail HH sightings in her garden. 

A beautiful pic of a marsh helleborine from Gordon Yates to finish with - thanks to all

Monday 1 August 2022

Monday 1st August

David Dinsley wins today with a fantastic find - a small pod of Risso's dolphins off the coast of The Oa. I'd guess there aren't many sightings of them in Islay waters, and even fewer photos, so well done Double D. 

The only other news today is from Margaret, who had a golden eagle over the crag at Kilchoman. 

Sunday 31st July

Saturday 30th July - James had a female marsh harrier and the barnacle goose still hanging on at the North Hide. There was an arctic tern at Carnain and a WTE at Duich Moss. Margaret had 32 thrushes and blackbirds plus a wheatear in her garden at Kilchoman. 

Sunday 31st July - Gary had an osprey getting chased by gulls at Uiskentuie. Gordon was in touch with some great photos which we will share with you this week, including this otter, one of 5 different sightings he had on Loch Indaal this week. Thanks to all