Friday 31 March 2023

Friday 31st March

A dry, fairly warm, sunny day with little wind –all very spring-like and pleasant.

A few folk were out and about in this quite decent weather:

Mark S. reports a Yellowhammer at Aoradh. Mary Redman had 20-30 Whooper Swans flying over Claddach in the morning plus a couple of Wheatears at Currie Sands. I had a quick look off Blackrock into Loch Indaal as it was fairly calm and saw a lovely Slavonian Grebe in full breeding plumage, then went in search of the Ring-necked Duck on Ballygrant loch but had no luck. There was a female Goldeneye, a pair of Mute Swans on a nest, a pair of calling Little Grebes, and Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in woodland on both sides of the loch. Jarred Johnson also had a failed attempt at finding the duck, and had to make do with 4 Chiffchaffs and a couple of Fieldfares between lochs Ballygrant and Lossit. I checked Loch Skerrols too, but that was very quiet, except for the drumming of another Great Spotted Woodpecker coming from a different side of that loch to the one I heard there last week. David Rosair managed to show his group a couple of Golden Eagles, single White-tailed Eagle and Sand Martin and another couple of Wheatears up at Finlaggan. This evening Ed Burrell and Dave Protherough reported from An Curran that there were 25 Whooper Swans and 25 Sand Martins flying north.

Thursday 30 March 2023

Thursday 30th March

Hello Bird Fans. A couple of late sightings from Jarred Johnson missed last night's entry - 2 WTE down around the Portnahaven area. Also c30 redwing NW over Kilchoman distillery and a couple of harriers around Loch Gorm. Thanks Jarred. 

On to today's news, and Gary reports an anonymous report of the first osprey of the year over "Islay estate lochs" yesterday. No idea which lochs, but it's getting to that time of the year. Marc Eden gets BOTD with 2 sandwich terns feeding off of Bruichladdich this evening, and a couple of sightings from David Rosair, per Peter, of glaucous gull in the usual place and the ring-necked duck still at Ballygrant Loch. 

It was a lovely Spring day, with redwings and wheatears both noticeable around Loch Gorm and the odd sub-ad WTE still knocking around at Gruinart. 

That's yer lot. Thanks to all. 

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Wednesday 29th March

A mostly windy, rainy sort of day with a brief respite of sunny weather in the afternoon. Unsurprisingly there was less bird news, but Marc Eden was still out there and turning up some good stuff. He was finding more wintry species - 60 Fieldfare at Loch Bharradail at lunchtime, then a mixed finch flock at Finlaggan comprising c.80 birds - Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Siskins and Redpolls. Later two adult Golden Eagles were seen over Loch Tallant. But his star find was at Loch Ballygrant - a drake Ring-necked Duck - the first this winter (if late March still counts as such) and a nice addition to the suite of rare wildfowl that we've had here, on and off, since last late autumn. 

A late addition to yesterday's birds is a Sandwich Tern seen in the evening at Port Charlotte, found by David Rosair and his group recently arrived.

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Monday 27th & Tuesday 28th March

A lovely sunny day on Monday gave way to cloud and rain today.

Bird news for yesterday included a count by Marc Eden of 7 White-tailed Eagles (1 adult, 1 sub-adult and 5 immature birds) on the ground near Loch Ruime near Sanaigmore – a slightly different location for these winter gatherings. Later, Marc saw the first Sandwich Tern of the year for Islay at Loch Gruinart and 5 White-tailed Eagles eating a Barnacle Goose at the end of the Killinallan road – were these the same as those seen earlier at Sanagimore? There was also a Greenshank up that way and a Richardson’s Cackling Goose and lone Brent Goose at Craigens. He also saw the old faithful Glaucous Gull at Uiskentuie.

Wheatears were found down at Claddach by Mary R.and at Glenegedale by Jarred Johnson, who also had a Chiffchaff at Kilnaughton and no less than 13 Sand Martins and 2 House Martins at Loch Skerrols. A couple of Sand Martins were also seen up at Ardnave by Steve & Lynn Rogers.

Today, despite the much less pleasant weather, a few folk were out there finding further summer migrants. The Glaucous Gull had moved up to Bridgend for a change of scenery, while Sand Martins and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were found at Loch Skerrols and David Dinsley had his first 2 Wheatears down on The Oa.

In other news, we had reports of Islay being “surrounded” today by more Alpine Swifts – 4 over at Ballycastle, Northern Ireland and 2-3 in Oban and elsewhere in Argyll. Surely there must be one here too?

Thanks to David Livingstone sent in these photos of one of his recent rambles:

Sunday 26 March 2023

Sunday 26th March

A lovely day of bright sunny, quite warm weather – most appropriate given that we put the clocks on to British Summer Time last night.

The Nature Scotland team sent in some additional records for yesterday 25th March:

Loch Gorm - 20+ Tufted Ducks and 2 Slav Grebes.

Loch Indaal (scanning from Bowmore) – apart from the female Surf Scoter reported yesterday were a Black-throated Diver, 30+ Great Northern Divers, 15+ Red-throated Divers, 50+ Red-breasted Mergansers, 30+ Slavonian Grebes, 1 Little Grebe, 6 Long-tailed Ducks, 8 Goldeneye. 130+ Eider.

Kintra - 5 Long-tailed Ducks, 15 Great Northern Divers.

Other news from yesterday comes from Fiona Mcgillivray who saw a House Martin at Port Wemyss – first for the year here.

Today’s bird news includes some very spring-like records of new arrivals, nesting and migration:

Summer Arrivals: Jarred Johnson had a Wheatear at Gruinart this morning and no less than 8 at Ardnave this afternoon. Along the woodland trail at Gruinary he heard the first Chiffchaff of summer on Islay – or was David Dinsley’s 2 Chiffchaffs at Kinnabus the first? Jarred also had a Sand Martin at Ardnave.

Migration: there were several flocks of Whooper Swans moving through today on their return journey northwards. Jarred first had a group of 8 at Gruinart, then a flock of 62 dropped in. Steve & Lynn Rogers had 53 over Kilnaughton. James How notes that by the evening there had been several groups of whoopers moving north at Gruinart today, the largest flock being a whopping 96. Also on their way north were 10 Redwings seen by Jarred at Gruinart.

Nesting: Ed Burrell notes his first Lapwing incubating eggs at Cornabus this evening.

Other Stuff: There were the usual 4 Little Egrets at Gruinart where up to 4 White-tailed Eagles and a Golden Eagle were noted. 3 more WTE were at Cairnmore woods near Port Ellen and yet another down at Lossit/Kelsey area. Rarity of the day was another relocation of the long-staying Red-breasted Goose by Mark Shield up at the Gruinart North Hide.

Non-Avian: the sunny summer theme continues with sightings of 4 basking Adders at Foreland, Common Lizards at Glenegedale and Peacock, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies hither and thither.

Corrections; Regarding yesterday’s note about duck hybrids, Malcolm Ogilvie clarifies and corrects my note saying: “hybrids of 121 species of ducks have been recorded, some species with just one hybrid, while Mallard has hybridised with over 60 other species. The total number of duck hybrids known amounts to over 400. One obvious reason for this is that wildfowl have for long been kept in enclosures with multiple species in a single enclosure. Perhaps fortunately, the great majority of hybrids are infertile!"


Saturday 25 March 2023

Saturday 25th March

 Weather forecasts were a bit out today - it was generally much nicer than predicted, with a lot more sunshine and lighter winds than anticipated.

Theo from the Nature Scotland group sent in these two photos last night of a presumed hybrid Mallard x Pintail seen from the Gruinart hides and Mark S. had seen this "lame duck" wandering along the woodland trail earlier this week. This prompted our resident wildfowl experts to start posting pictures of other horrible hybrids and the comment that there are at least 121 variations of duck hybrids including 60 concerning Mallards. Why is this hybridisation so common in wildfowl compared to other bird families?

Anyway - today's news of "real birds" is as follows:
The female Surf Scoter was still showing in Loch Indaal off Bowmore and the female Marsh Harrier turned up right over by the airport for a change. I saw my first Sand Martin of the year at Ballinaby, while Mary Redman reports a group of 9 Chough down her way at Claddach and Jarred Johnson had 50 White-fronted Geese near Ballygrant and 5 Crossbills at Finlaggan. 

This late afternoon on a sunny and calm Loch Indaal off Port Charlotte there was plenty of seabird action as shoals of tiny fish leapt about on the sea's surface. I counted 24 Red-throated Divers, 39 Razorbills, 4 Black Guillemots, single Common Guillemot, 3 Common Scoter, 6 Eider, 55 Red-breasted Mergansers and 4 Gannets joining the fray at times. 

There was further tantalising news of no less than 3 Alpine Swifts on the northern cliffs of Rathlin today. We can see Rathlin clearly from Islay, but my 'scope isn't quite strong enough to pick out the swifts! 

Friday 24 March 2023

Friday 24th March


A much drier, warmer and sunnier morning than forecast gave way to more cloud and occasional rain in the afternoon. Winds continues from a southerly direction.

Summer migrants still seem to be very late, but there was our second Wheatear of the season seen by Lucy Atkinson at Port an Eas this morning and Ewan Miles, Theo De Clermont and Jack Waldie from Nature Scotland had our first 2 Sand Martins of the year up at Ardnave Loch along with another couple of Wheatears. They also saw the American Wigeon on Loch Gorm again today, after its “rediscovery” yesterday, while Marc Eden “rediscovered” the long-staying female Surf Scoter with 15 Common Scoter off Bowmore.

Later, the Nature Scotland team spent a couple of hours checking through all the Barnacle Geese around Gruinart / Craigens and found a lone Pale Bellied Brent Goose but no Red-breasted Goose. They found a near summer-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit on the Gruinart reserve and also c31 Knot, c28 Dunlin, 17+ Bar-tailed Godwits. They also found the juv Glaucous Gull back close to its usual haunts just east of Blackrock on Loch Indaal.

I did a walk to the Iron Age fort at Dunosebridge – just to be out in the open in case one of the mythical Alpine Swifts might zoom past - but none did – (there were sightings yesterday on Rathlin Island to our south and Oban to the north). However, there was another lone Brent Goose with a big flock of Barnacles up at Neriby. A drive along the Glen Road and a walk out to Ballygrant Loch didn’t produce any further summer migrants, but it was a lovely sunny morning to be out.

Back at Port Charlotte in the early afternoon there was a fair bit of feeding activity concentrated just off the pier attracting 34 Red-breasted Mergansers, a couple of Eider, 1 Black-throated and 3 Red-throated Divers, a couple of Guillemots and at least 10 Razorbills.


Weds 22 and Thurs 23rd March

 Apologies for the double-late post.

The rain is still heavy here on Islay but when the sun shines, it's spring! Birds are gathering in pairs and displaying or making nests.  The mallard ducklings ought to appear soon.  I noticed a lot more pied wagtails in the fields this week and more lapwing flocks.

The WTE remain busy sitting around, apparently doing nothing - 5 at the head of Loch Indaal yesterday (thanks Marc).   The American wigeon is present among the Eurasians on Loch Gorm.  An interesting report of a juv Glaucous gull at the top of Loch Indaal, can it be the same bird that remained at Uiskentui so long?

Otherwise quite quiet on the birding front as everyone is in search of the Alpine swift who may fly overhead, though with these winds you'd need to be fast!

Thank you all.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Tuesday 21 March


Photo from reliable Billy, the only one on the island with a camera it seems at times!  His feeders have been busy with goldfinch, greenfinch and robin.

Beautiful start to today with pairs of chough by the village and Claddach.  I often associate St Patricks day with the first of our wheatears and like to make the effort to be first.  I was pipped to the post though with Ed reporting Islay's first of 2023 at Cornabus!  In my defence I was busy clearing drains all morning, most definitely looking down.

This cheery herald of spring on the spring equinox was just what was needed, inspiring Peter to go out a-hunting.  He didn't find much of note to report. "At Skerrols 15 tufted, 5 goldeneye and a couple of lesser black-backs. Then to Loch Gorm keeping an eye skywards in case an Alpine swift might appear - it didn't of course! Loch Gorm had a further 15 Tufted Ducks, 2 more Goldeneye and 35 Teal. Then to Machir Bay where another couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls popped up along with 17 Ringed Plover. I returned via the other side of Loch Gorm at Ballinaby where an adult White-tailed Eagle flew by, a male Hen Harrier quartered the shoreline and another 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on the wet fields there with 4 Canada Geese that were much to hefty to try and turn into Cackling Geese! So the rarities and first summer migrants (apart from the LBB Gulls) will have to wait for another day."

Finally Dave reports 4 crossbill in the woods at Bunnahabhain, plus 2 juv and one adult golden eagle.

It has been raining constantly since 3pm. My newly cleared drains will be well tested!

Monday 20 March 2023

Monday 20th March

 A rainy morning cleared in the afternoon. Not too much wind and quite mild. The remainder of the week may continue in the same unsettled way.

No bird news to report today.

Sunday 19 March 2023

Sunday 19th March

Derek Polley reports on another boat trip from Ballycastle today to Ardnave and Gruinart. It sounded like the wet morning was a bit of a wash-out, but a much better afternoon. He was happy with views of “loads of Barnacles and White-fronts - where we are seeing 6 is good”

At Gruinart this afternoon a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past the front of the hide, then 3 Golden Eagles over the hills directly opposite the hide. Finally a White-tailed Eagle gave stunning views over the field between the hide and the visitor centre. It flew within 50 m of the hide. His verdict: “absolute stonking megatick”.

Other news came in from Derek Killick who enjoyed a couple of dippers and a pair of Grey Wagtails on the Sorn at the Woollen Mill. Later a Slavonian Grebe in full breeding plumage in Loch Indaal off Bowmore was a fine sight. Ed Burrell noted his first returning Lesser Black-backed Gulls of the year at Cornabus, where Lynn & Steve Rogers found Woodcock amongst other species.

Both Ed Burrell and Jim Dickson reminded us of a recent influx of Alpine Swifts into the UK. Many of them are in the west, and one was seen on Mull on 16th. The weather looks not very conducive to make a swift of any species very happy, but do keep an eye up towards the sky…………………

Saturday 18 March 2023

Saturday 18th March

An overcast, drizzly, grey and at times foggy start to the day gave way to a much brighter afternoon, but it went back to grey and drizzly by evening.

Jim Wells and his birders from northern Ireland have come over in their fast boat in the past couple of days. Yesterday they reported 7 different sightings of at least 3 White-tailed Eagles, plus Choughs, 4 Little Egrets, close views of Twite, Hen Harriers and woodcock. Today they found more of the same and supplied a few nice photos of White-tailed and Golden Eagles for the blog - many thanks.

Eslewhere, Elliott Bowman reported 6 Choughs in one of his fields at Cragabus and I can confirm that the juv. Glaucous Gull is still at Uiskentuie.

Thanks to Malcolm Ogilvie for his response to my request for information about heronries. Do keep the info flowing..........

Friday 17 March 2023

Friday 17th March

No bird news coming in tonight, but Morven Laurie has kindly forwarded the recent international goose counts as follows: 29,067 barnacles, 5168 white-fronts, 768 greylags.

A couple of requests for information that anyone out there may be able to help with:

GREY HERONS: This species has been censused nationwide on occasions since the early 1900s and there is a further census going on this year.  If anyone is aware of a heronry on Islay please let us know. They are often small, obscure and tucked away in a different place to previous years - so we may not be aware of them.

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS: After colonisation and a rapid increase in recent years, I wonder if they are fizzling out on Islay! I've not been hearing them so much or hearing of people seeing them so often as 2-3 years ago. If you hear or see one please let us know.

Thursday 16 March 2023

Weds 15th and Thursday 16th March


An other beautiful image from John Spiers via the Argyll Bird Club. This is a stunning capture of a WTE being closely watched by the wintering marsh harrier at Gruinart, hoping it might spook a snack out of cover!

Apologies for the double entry, a busy day and time just disappears before you know it!

Yesterday Malcolm reported our recent exotic visitor, the magpie, south of Claggain bay.  "LP" on the WhatsApp group gave a good account of a peregrine successfully hunting a common gull, going onto feed nearby.

Peter stopped by Loch Skerrolls today and found 2 drake goldeneye and a great spotted woodpecker in the nearby woods.

Up at Claddach yesterday a WTE came in via MacKenzie Island and flew overhead looking down at me before soaring off inland.  Up at the loch there was a merlin while down at the bay the chough were feeding again.  In the neighbouring crofts there is a young whooper who has been seemingly left behind, strong enough to fly from field to field, but not to cover any real distance.  It does seem bright enough though, usually feeding and moving around.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Tuesday 14 March

 A day of 2 distinct seasons, starting with snow, hail and sleet going on to finish in glorious sunshine!

Yesterday when I was leaving the house in Port Wemyss around 10am, a huge flock of barnacle geese were overhead heading inland and north to Loch Indaal. As I drove around to Portnahaven a WTE was being harassed by the gulls. Coincidence...?

Up at the croft a pair of chough were feeding at the bay, this makes 4 round 'my' area as there were an other 2 down by the village.  The Oystercatcher numbers have been growing and I stopped to check for the flagged ringed TTE from last year who was in the fields with its young with sheep wool wrapped around its tags and hobbling it legs. I was delighted to see him/her in the field with a large flock, no wool in sight!  Though I never heard back, I am understand there is a ringing project in Dublin bay.

George reported bullfinch and greenfinch on his feeders. The first since last autumn.  Dave report a purple sandpiper at Bruichladdich, Peter located 2 woodcock at Loch Allan, while James had a golden eagle at Ardnave while at Gruinart a WTE, 4 little egret and a few lesser black-backs.

Todays photo from John Speirs who was over on Islay with Argyll Bird Club.  It shows a WTE with a deformed beak.  There is an other with a radio tag who was caught in a malnourished state, so this presumably makes 2.  I had a budgie like this once.  Somehow I dont think I would manage to clip this ones beak armed with a towel and a pair of nail clippers!  It's made it this far though I imagine the winter is easier with a supply of carrion.   Here's hoping it continues into adult hood.

Monday 13 March 2023

Monday 13th March

 A cold NW wind and occasional rain made it seem that spring is still a long way off. Some time at the RSPB hides at Gruinart produced a grand total of 5 Little Egrets again along with a Greenshank on the floods at high tide. 

Sunday 12 March 2023

Sunday 12th March

 Cloudy, rainy at times, but not too cold. A walk to the American Monument was wet with few birds! The immature Glaucous Gull remains in residence on the beach at Uiskentuie.

Saturday 11th March

 The wonderful weather fizzled out at about lunchtime, and by evening it was wet and windy and very unpleasant.

The only bird of note was the long-staying Marsh Harrier seem again up at Gruinart.

Friday 10 March 2023

Friday 10th March

With the weather reports of snow-chaos in many areas of the UK we should be feeling very smug and happy on Islay today - a glorious day of bright sunshine, no wind and enough warmth for a decent heat haze when out birding.

Mark Shields reported 6 White-tailed eagles toying with a Barnacle goose on the flats at Gruinart this morning. Apparently plucking it a bit, but not killing it and eventually the poor creature flew off. I think we should set up a counselling service for traumatised geese?

James how reported 8 White-tailed eagles up there at lunchtime and by the time I popped up to the RSPB hides in mid afternoon there were 9 loafing about and causing the Barnies to be on the alert. On my way there the female Marsh Harrier flew along parallel to the road at Jack's house. From the north hide there was one Little Egret successfully fishing. A total of 15 Whooper Swans were present on the floods.

Thursday 9 March

 Some sightings on this cold, dry day from Ewan and John on the Nature Scotland wildlife touring group.  At the Oa they caught sight of a merlin, then down at Kintra discovered a dead little auk, then 3 very much alive long-tailed ducks in the sea nearby. Their hunt for the red-breasted goose was hampered by a lot of WTE activity putting up the flocks of barnacle geese, but then success at last near Craigens! The female Marsh Harrier is still to be seen at RSPB Loch Gruinart, then round Loch Gorm 2 ring-tailed hen harrier.  Then off Portnahaven, a gannet. First I've heard of for a while.

At Uiskentui, mr/mrs Reliable the Glaucous gull was still present.  I took a walk there in the late afternoon and discovered the attraction could be attributed to the 3 dead seals on the high tide mark along with a few  very decomposed barnacle geese. 

No bird photos today, instead you'll have to make do with this of the beautiful sunset from Port Wemyss.  Later there was heavy snow with lovely big flakes, but undoubtedly will not be there in the morning!

Thursday 9 March 2023

Weds 8th March

A freezing start to the day, but the sun is warm once you find a sheltered spot! 

Sightings and pictures from Billy who was out West towards Kilchoman and treated to the sighting of a flock of golden plover, buzzard, chough and lapwing.   Nearby in the flooded pools near Loch Gorm, a flock of teal balancing on the ice.  Near Ballygrant in a walk in the woods he was joined by gold crest flitting about in the pine trees.

Over by Claddach some of the fields have nice flooded pools this time of year with lapwing, curlew and pied wagtail feeding nearby (once the ice melts).

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Tuesday 7th March


An other of Billys cracking photos to add colour to todays blog.  

A beautiful but very cold day on Islay, a keen frost and a light cover of snow overnight but the warmth of the sun during the day soon melted it all.

Today Kathy and John returned home, thank you for your contributions to the blog.  It is only through the WhatsApp group that we can collate local sightings and keep the blog up-to-date.

The new David Attenborough series "Wild Isles" starts this week on Sunday 7pm.   It looks to be an amazing series showcasing Britains wildlife, and Islay features throughout. Most notably a sequence of WTE hunting and capturing a barnacle goose.  The sequence took 2 years to capture, a case of being in the right place at the right time exactly.  So many things could go wrong:  follow the wrong eagle in the camera, the shot obscured by thousands of geese etc.  On the One Show the Producer and one of the camera men were discussing this particular shot as the highlight of their work, and it served as an example of how hard being a wildlife cameraman can be! Looking forward to seeing the end result!

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Monday 6 March

 Getting colder today with temperatures to drop further still on the forecast for the coming week. The false spring has drawn to a sharp end!

The north winds will be halting  any migration attempts. As such, the unwavering presence of the glaucous gull continues at Uiskentui Strand.  Kathy also ventured down towards Portnahaven where she located a sub-adult male hen harrier then on the drive towards Kilchiaran one WTE and 3 golden eagles very high.   Later at Bowmore, an adult WTE by the Gaelic Centre.  

At Claddach over the weekend there was a WTE, 2 chough, 2 separate flocks of passing whooper swan on the loch, and lapwing spread out on the neighbouring 'Windy Edge' croft.  A sparrowhawk was spotted flying low over the fields, making me realise I really haven't seen many this winter. Near Craigens farm yesterday 4 pied wagtail were feeding in the fields. Nice to see them returning.

Even with the cold wind-chill, when the sun came out there was a heat to be felt. So it shouldn't have been surprising to see the marsh-fritillary caterpillars taking the chance to warm up in the sunshine on a sheltered clump of grass.  It should serve as a warning to be careful of sleepy adders when out walking at this time of year!

Sunday 5 March 2023

Sunday 5th March

All quiet on the bird front today, with only Kathy Evans' sightings of male and female harriers on the Glen Road to report. Kathy also saw the glaucous gull in the usual place. Malcolm took the time to write in to give some context - "In the dim and distant past, actually 1986, a first-winter Glaucous Gull spent the 1986-7 winter sitting on the end of the shingle spit which juts out from the Uiskentuie Strand. It was in the same place for the following three winters, gradually maturing until by 1989-90 its plumage was close to being adult. There are a few summer records of it during that period, but, unlike in winter when it seemed like a permanent fixture on the spit, it clearly went elsewhere for some of each summer, though it isn't known where. Perhaps the present one at Uiskentuie is preparing to follow suit!".

Thanks to Malcolm and Kathy

Saturday 4th March

Hello bird fans. Here we go with Saturday's sightings.

Kathy finally caught up with the RBG at Craigens and sent us this pic...

...from John Ridley. Elsewhere, Kathy had the glaucous gull at Machir Bay. Only joking, it was at Uiskentuie. Has anyone actually seen it flying?! 

And that was it, apart from 2 WTEs over Kilchoman reported by our very own Margaret Brooke. 

Thanks to all. Cheerie!

Saturday 4 March 2023

Friday 3rd March

Couple of nice images from Billy after a walk around Ballygrant Loch.
It was Kens last day today. On the ferry to back to the mainland he counted 114 great northern divers, 19 red-throated divers, 6 Slavonian grebes and 3 harbour porpoises.  Thanks Ken for all your contributions.

Also returning to reality was Chris, who tells us his birding list was 115 species while on Islay! Thanks Chris. 

Valerie took a turn to Kilchoman and located the 2 jack snipe at the marsh, then round at Saligo 20 twite.
Kathy took the time to report that the glaucous gull is still at Uiskentui. That gull certainly has a favourite spot!  Finally as the evening drew in, Margaret had a count 18 chough above the crag at Kilchoman reserve.

It's been a lovely settled spell of weather this week with a spring like feel in the air,  but it has been steadily getting colder.  Looking ahead next week looks much the same, with cold winds from the north meaning the met office has announced yellow ice and snow warnings for the NW and eastern coast.   Not quite time to pack away to big coat yet!


Friday 3 March 2023

Thursday 2nd March


Last photo from Simon for todays blog of the red-breasted goose, demonstrating how easy it is to miss among a few hundred barnacle geese.

The cackling goose was leading today's seekers on a merry goose-chase! First seen at Skerrols before the flock was put up, then later discovered at Earrabus.

Jim was over with David J. today and found the American wigeon drake at Loch Gore, 2 hybrid barnacle/Canada geese outside Bowmore, the juv Glaucous gull at Uiskentui, 2 drake gadwall and 6 little egret at Loch Gruinart, a yellowhammer in song. At Loch Gorm area a male hen harrier, plus 6-8 golden eagle and 3 WTE.   But alas, no red-breasted goose today! 

Thanks to all for your contributions.

Thursday 2 March 2023

Wednesday 1 March


A cracking photo from Simon again, this time of the 2 whitefront races side by side. "The Greenland white-fronted goose has a darker plumage and orange-yellow beak, while the European or Russian white-fronted goose has a lighter plumage with a bright pink beak."

The contributors to the WhatsApp group (details to join on the right) have had an other busy day, helped by the lovely weather and sunshine.   Chris started his day over towards Kilchoman, reporting Merlin, female hen-harrier, WTE plus a large mixed thrush flock of over 200 birds, mainly fieldfare, around 40 skylark and their first linnet of the trip! In the marshy area of Machir Bay he was able to count 15 common snipe plus 3 jack snipe.  In fields nearby he located a cackling goose among a huge barnacle goose flock.  Later at Bridgend 2 adult and one immature WTE could be seen high above, the surf scoter located again off Bowmore, then late last night he heard at least 2 tawny owls calling in Foreland Woods.

Steve located the red-breasted goose south of the RSPB Loch Gruinart Visitor Centre. From the carpark at The Oa there were 80 twite, and high above 5 WTE above Kinnabus.  Later at Claggan Bay Steve counted 7 black-throated divers, 10 great-northern divers and a red throated diver.

Lastly, Louise reported 2 WTE above Port Askaig, while Valerie located 2 pink footed geese with white-fronted geese opposite Esknish Farm turn off, Ballygrant.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Tuesday 28 Feb


Photo from Simon of a young WTE during his stay here on Islay. He returned home a few days ago and we are thankful of his contributions!

No northern lights on Monday night to be seen, at least not as visible as Sundays. Low cloud scuppered most peoples views.  But on the birding front people had more success.

Valerie kicked off the day with a surf scoter among the common scoter flock off Bowmore.  The flock was later counted at 108 by Steve who also noted one Slavonian grebe and one black guilliemot.  Valerie also noted the red-breasted goose at Craigens mid-morning, and the marsh harrier at Loch Gruinart. A little later she was able to catch sight of an ermine stoat.  We have an unusual population on Islay where only some go white in the winter, not all.

Chris was at RSPB The Oa reserve where he counted 95 twite at the feeders in the carpark, and elsewhere a ring-tailed hen harrier and a WTE.   Later at Ardbeg he spotted a single pink-footed goose with around 30 greylag.

Thanks to all for you sightings.