Wednesday 31 May 2023

Wednesday 31st May

The heat-wave continues. Should we be pleased at this lovely weather or be worried it is a clear sign of global warming and shouldn't be happening?

Margaret Brooke up at Kilchoman saves the day with the only bit of bird news: "Just disturbed a Sparrowhawk in the garden eating what looked like a young Starling. Corncrake still calling and the Chough still on the Machir."

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Tuesday 30th May

The sunshine continues unabated, high pressure, blue skies and warmth.

No bird news today, but I received this interesting response from Malcolm O. to my mention of disturbance on the beaches up towards Uiskentuie last night:

"In the 1980s and 1990s, up to 50 (perhaps more) pairs of Arctic Terns nested along the strand, mainly near the spit but scattered further north, and walkers, and their dogs, were subject to the usual aerial bombardment. I once came across a man walking along the road who was throwing stones at the terns. When I stopped and suggested he shouldn't do this, he said that he was being deliberately targeted and didn't see why he shouldn't try and get his own back! They gradually reduced during the late 1990s and early 2000s until the last breeding records seem to be of 30 birds nesting in 2003, then 3 pairs in 2011, and nothing since, though small numbers were by then nesting at Carnain, which appeared to be a new site, i.e. they had perhaps moved from Uiskentuie, but are not there anymore. Disturbance has obviously played a part, but Arctic Terns can be fickle in their choice of nesting site."

Monday 29 May 2023

Monday 29th May

The glorious warm, dry sunny weather continues.

Not much to report today - and all the action was on Loch Indaal between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich. This morning at about 9am there were 2-3 dolphins making their way up the loch from Port Charlotte, nicely close inshore for an appreciative audience of Feis-goers. There seems to be a build-up of loafing male Eiders, still in fine breeding plumage, on the loch - at least 20 this afternoon off Bruichladdich in small groups. The pier at Bruichladdich doesn't seem to have as many Black Guillemots nesting in it this year. I could only see 1-2 pairs, where I've had 4-6 in some previous years. But there is a lot of disturbance this week with so many folk on the island, so maybe they are keeping a low profile. 

Talking of disturbance: it will be a miracle if any of the Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers that may still be trying to nest on the beach from Bruichladdich up to Uiskentuie manage to hatch eggs and fledge chicks as there is a fairly solid line of camper vans parked all the way along, plus cars and beach-walkers coming and going in this lovely weather and big influx of Feis Ile visitors.

After seeing the "odd couple"  - male Velvet and female Common Scoter at Easter Ellister loch a few days ago and musing over what they do when not there, a little bit of the mystery was solved this evening. There they were, together, out on Loch Indaal just off the pier at Bruichladdich actively feeding. so at least we know where they go to eat!

Sunday 28 May 2023

Sunday 28th May

Another day of lovely late spring, warm sunny weather. Well - it would be wouldn't it - because today is the start of Feis Ile and Bruichladdich Distillery's Open Day - and they always have great weather.

This of course is a preamble to say that the island is full of visitors concentrating on visiting whisky distilleries and not bird-watching. Hence no bird news today. 

Slainte Mhath!

Saturday 27 May 2023

Saturday 27th May

The high pressure system with its light NW winds and dry and sunny conditions persists. 

Needless to say, the Grey-headed Lapwing hasn't arrived yet, but meanwhile David Dinsley reports another Spotted Flycatcher on The Oa at Kinnabus, while up at Kilchoman Margaret Brooke continues to see flocks of Choughs (30 today) and male Hen Harriers.

Friday 26 May 2023

Friday 26th May

A lovely day with clear skies, light winds and sunshine - but very little new to tell you: James How found a Little Stint at the North Hide at Gruinart and Steve & Lyn Rogers had 3 dolphins in Kilnaughton Bay.

Meanwhile, Jim Dickson our birding friend and colleague on the Argyll mainland is obviously suffering from a severe lack of rare birds and sent this map of the hoped-for trajectory of Britain's first ever Grey-headed Lapwing. It first appeared in Northumberland, then went north to NE Scotland and has now just turned up on N. Uist - a remarkable journey for a very lost Asiatic wader. Jim is hoping that it will soon be heading our way as it sets off on its way home. So keep a look out, but don't hold your breath..............


Thursday 25 May 2023

Thursday 25th May

 Another pleasant dry, warmish day with sunny spells, though very little bird news to impart.

After I failed to see any skua passage yesterday, Gary Turnbull had a Great Skua in Loch Indaal by the Port Charlotte lighthouse this morning attacking a tern.

This afternoon on my way down to Kilchoman there were 4 Whimbrel and 3 Canada Geese on the fields at Ballinaby and a fine male Hen Harrier - another male Harrier was seen by Margaret Brooke at Kilchoman at the same time. Choughs were active at Kilchoman and Michal, back on Islay doing his Chough survey work noted a non-breeding flock of c.40 there on the cliffs just before I got there.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Wednesday 24th May

 A dry day of mostly grey skies and light westerly winds.

The Glasgow group sent in their report from their day's birding yesterday:

"We had a driving day hoping for short eared owls, covering the back road from Bridgend to Ballygrant to begin with. No owls but Red-legged Partridge seen. We then drove to the end of the road at Bunnahabhain and got Great Northern Diver, Common Sandpipers and Black Guillemot. At Bridgend were Arctic Terns and Bar tailed Godwit amongst the usual waders. We then drove round the Rhinns of Islay. Plenty of thrushes, chats and Hooded Crows, but no owls. We heard a single Corncrake just outside Portnahaven at about 4pm. We then headed back to Bowmore but were very surprised to see a pair of Velvet Scoter on Ellister Loch outside Portnahaven. A fabulous day and a fantastic trip".

That was yesterday. Today I stopped at the roadside loch at Easter Ellister and checked out the scoters reported yesterday. The pair were there, and as expected, the drake Velvet is in fact still paired with a female Common Scoter as it has been for many years past. A very easy and understandable mistake to make on the part of yesterday’s observers to assume that if you see a lone male and female scoter together that they are of the same species without looking too closely at the duller female. According to the records, this “odd couple” have been appearing on the same loch at times in summer since 2016. It is suggested that they may be the last vestiges of a wildfowl collection at Ellister going back many years before. It begs several questions: how old are these birds, as the wildfowl collection fizzled out ages ago? Where do they disappear to when not at Ellister (they aren’t seen there too often and then mainly/only in summer). Why are they paired – just a couple of old lost souls?

After a tip-off from Jim Dickson that the weather today might produce a bit of skua passage off Frenchman’s Rocks, I dutifully/gullibly went to check it out. It was pleasant enough – a mix of relaxed contemplation as I stared out to sea for one and a half hours combined with a frisson of expectation that at any moment “something amazing” might come into view. It never did! There was a steady passage eastwards (towards nesting cliffs on Rathlin?) of Guillemots with a few Razorbills accompanying them – probably over 1,000 in the time I was there. A steady trickle of Manx Shearwaters and Kittiwakes (50 – 100 of each) kept me awake and alert as did the 4-5 local Black Guillemots - but only 3 Fulmars passing by. Gannets were fairly numerous - heading to Ailsa Craig I imagine - but off the rocks themselves, in quite a rough sea there were always 15 – 20 Gannets swirling around, but never diving for fish.  With no skua migration to distract me I watched individual Gannets going around the rocks multiple times and wondered what they got out of it? Maybe seeing several seals in the turbulent water below gave them the notion that there were fish to be had?

The most exciting moment of my vigil, tucked into the rocks with my scope, was a lovely Otter that walked right past me just 10 feet away on its way down the rocks to the sea.

Elsewhere on the island, Ed Burrell reports a couple of drake Wigeon at Cornabus – another odd location/timing for this species. Still on The Oa, David Dinsley had a Blackcap singing at Kinnabus.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Tuesday 23rd May

Firstly, some notes from the Glasgow RSPB group from yesterday, clearly enjoying their time on the island:

"Had another great day on Monday. Went to the Oa and got a pair of Golden Eagles, Kestrel, Peregrine, Fulmar, a couple of Chough and a Rock Pipit at the American Monument. At the car park we got a single Twite on the feeders and when we arrived there was a baby Adder, about 6 inches long being very feisty making its way across the gravel.

Heading back to Port Ellen we got Stonechat, Whinchat and a Whitethroat along the roadside. At Kildalton, we walked to the boat house and got Great Northern Diver, Great Crested Grebe and driving back heard Chiffchaff, Cuckoo and Blackcap. After dinner we drove to Loch Gruinart and heard probably 1 Corncrake calling at the visitor centre (about 10.15pm) but as we drove back looking for owls we heard Snipe drumming, Grasshopper Warbler and lots of other small birds which I thought wouldn't be out at night."

(The Great Crested Grebe is a scarce bird on Islay - only 33 records in 47 years to 2020 and only one previous May record - worth checking out and investigating???)

After last night's Corncrake survey, there was much talk on the WhatsApp page about the species today. On my route last night, where I was noting 6-8 in past years, I only heard two - both somewhere up behind Burnside, but another probably different bird has been reported calling at Conisby where there was only deathly hush at midnight last night! Other Corncrakes have been heard by Margaret Brooke up by Kilchoman and another at Ardnave. Louise Muir is keeping tabs on all these which will help (I hope) put a clearer picture together of how many we've got on Islay this summer.

In other news there appears to be "other birders" on the island who have not heard of the blog or WhatsApp! Jim Dickson found a report on Birdguides today of a pair of Velvet Scoter on the loch at Easter Ellister. There is often a male that mysteriously turns up in the middle of summer (it has been doing it for years and must be ancient by now) "paired" with a female Common Scoter, so if the female is a Velvet Scoter this year it will be a turn up for the books.

Monday 22 May 2023

Monday 22nd May

Another dry and sunny day with light winds - quite warm too.

Some further bird news for yesterday from the Glasgow RSPB group who are visiting and clearly enjoying themselves:

"We had a fabulous day at Loch Gruinart and Ardnave today. Highlights were really good views of a White-tailed Eagle from the hide and viewpoints and on the woodland trail, Sedge Warbler, Lapwings, Shoveler. On the Moorland trail we had excellent views of Wheatear, Linnets, Skylark, Whitethroat and Stonechat.

On the way to Ardnave, cracking views of a male Hen Harrier hunting along a gorse hedge. At Ardnave we saw a pair of Chough and lots of Sand Martins and a further ring tailed Hen Harrier seen a couple times. On the way back we watched a pair of Golden Eagles soaring then land on a rocky outcrop.  A Whinchat on the telegraph wire just beside us. Magnificent!."

Mark Shields reports 8 Canada Geese at Ballinaby - unfortunately the species is becoming more regularly recorded and seems to be establishing itself on Islay as a breeding bird.

Down on The Oa at Kinnabus, David Dinsley saw and photographed a Spotted Flycatcher - all too uncommon these days.

The first of the season's Corncrake Surveys is taking place this evening, so we may have some figures for you in the next few days on how this species seems to be faring.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Sunday 21st May

 Sunny, dry with a cool wind.

With visiting birders gone and the spring seemingly coming to a conclusion, there is little bird news today - two little birds in fact: A Bullfinch seen by Mary Ann Featherstone up at Kildalton and a Tree Sparrow from David Dinsley at Kinnabus.

Louise Muir reports plenty of Dolphin and Porpoise activity yesterday and today in the Sound of Jura.

Whilst it is always exciting and interesting to be able to write about rare and unusual birds seen on Islay, don't forget the common stuff! It is particularly useful to record any definite breeding records of the common species as these so often go unremarked simply because they are common and thought to be of no significance. There is surprisingly little known or recorded about numbers and distribution of Islay's common breeding birds, so do record these and let the blog know so that they can be logged into the Argyll and Islay database.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Saturday 20th May

A fairly grey, misty and cloudy day giving way to drizzle and rain by evening.

The only bird news was a sighting by James How of an immature Glaucous Gull back at Uiskentuie - probably the same individual that has been seen there on and off since January. There have been long-staying birds in the past and perhaps this bird, still not mature enough to breed, is not going to bother flying north to the Arctic this year?

Mary Ann Featherstone sent in this fine photo from Kildalton of the first Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly she has noted this year - much prettier than a Glaucous Gull!

Friday 19 May 2023

Friday 19th May

A more or less dry, cloudy and mild day, with little bird news to impart.

Our two main contributors od this week both had the last day of their week on Islay today. 

Martin Kaye emailed in reporting the following: Loch Indaal from Whin Park, 350+ Dunlin, 250+ Ringed Plover and 15 Shelduck. He also kindly commented "Our last report as we’re leaving the island tomorrow. Just to say thanks to those folks for writing the blog. It’s one of the factors that encouraged us to come to Islay". .

Tom Garner noted a quieter day with a Hen harrier at Kilinallan and a Red Grouse on the road between Gruinart and Loch Gorm.

Many thanks to both and to other visiting contributors for keeping the blog going with their sightings.

I spent a little time up at Dunlossit at lunch time being shown the active heronry that I couldn't find at Loch Allan earlier this spring. Keeper Alan McDonald kindly took me to a well-concealed heronry tucked into a conifer plantation half a mile away from the original site - the birds having moved when the trees had to be felled some years ago. All was quiet and the chicks seem to have fledged by now from about 10 nests. Good to know that they are still thriving.

Thursday 18 May 2023

Thursday 18th May

Dry, but damp with light cloud this morning, becoming misty and drizzly in the afternoon - but a slightly better evening again.

Late news from yesterday:

I popped out to check at Bridgend for the National Woodcock Survey and was pleased to see a roding bird over the woodland as I watched from the Livestock Market car park.

Martin Kaye was over on Jura finding 2 male Hen Harriers. 2 Cuckoos seen and others heard, 12 Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper. Back on Islay he found Tufted Duck and 3 Common Scoter on Loch Gorm.

Anne Johnson was over to Jura today visiting Lowlandsman Bay, finding a male Hen Harrier, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, a calling Cuckoo, single Whinchat and a pair of Stonechat with 3 recently fledged young.

Back on Islay, our visiting birders covered substantial chunks of the island:

Martin noted 2 Cuckoos seen on the road from Port Charlotte to Kilchiaran, Lesser Redpolls on wires above Bunnahabhain, plus Whitethroats and a Dipper on the river near the Woollen Mill.

Steve Clough ventured to Ardnave scoring a ring-tail Hen Harrier, 14 Choughs, Little Tern, 30+ Bar-tailed and 100+ Black-tailed Godwits, 100 Dunlin, 14 Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel and a Great Northern Diver.

Tom Garner had a male Hen Harrier and a Golden Eagle down on The Oa along with 3 Whinchats, singing Grasshopper Warbler and Cuckoo. Back at Port Ellen he found 8+ Great Northern Divers still with us, including 3 in full breeding plumage - always a lovely sight.

Meanwhile, Mary-Ann Featherstone confirms a Corncrake still calling at Port Wemyss over the past 4 nights.

Louise Muir reminds us / asks us to report all our incidental sightings/hearings of Corncrakes (here on Islay and anywhere else for that matter) on the RSPB's website under the "report-a-corncrake" section with the rather lengthy link below:

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Wednesday 17th May

 Another pleasant mid-May day on Islay. 

Steve Clough was down on The Oa and found Grasshopper Warbler singing a mile before the RSPB car park, a Whinchat at Kinnabus and a couple of Choughs out at the American Monument.

Tom Garner was over on Jura for the day and reports 6 breeding-plumaged Great Northern Divers in the Sound plus a Red-throated Diver flying north. There were several Cuckoos calling, a flock of 11 Wood Pigeons near Inver along with a Red Grouse. Also on Jura, Louise Muir reports a Treecreeper at Ardfin.

Back on Islay James How had a couple of somewhat out-of-season Pink-footed Geese on Loch Gorm while Margaret Brooke notes Corncrake calling again up at Kilchoman.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

Tuesday 16th May

Occasional light rain showers, but otherwise a pleasant sunny day.

I was out yesterday evening doing my random square for the National Woodcock Survey. It produced no Woodcock and far too many midges.

Andrew and Anne Johnson. wrote in to say they are having a week’s walking/birding holiday on Islay and saw the following at Saligo: 4 Turnstone in summer plumage, 12 Sanderling and several nesting Common Gulls on eggs.

Martin Kaye was birding on the Rhinns and noted several Cuckoos and mating Arctic Terns on Orsay Island, At Loch Gruinart there was an adult White-tailed Eagle which made a kill and a Little Egret. A male Hen Harrier was at Machir, where there was a count of 60 Ringed Plovers, 1 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling and 2 Turnstones in stunning breeding plumage.

In other news:
Mary-Ann Featherstone saw Barn Owl at Glenegedale last night and a a pair of Mistle Thrush at Ardilistry today.

Tom Garner noted further Hen Harriers and Cuckoos on the Rhinns plus 22 or more Choughs at Machir Bay. 

Mary Redman had a White-tailed Eagle down at Octofad this afternoon and Steve Clough had Hen Harrier up at Keills plus 6 Wood Pigeons at Ballygowan,

Jim Dickson made a day visit and sent in a full report: 4 Whimbrels at Easter Elllister and 2 at Ballinaby where there were 15 Ringed Plover and 7 Dunlin. Loch Gorm held 4 Common Scoter and 16 Tufted Ducks. Up at Gruinart were a single Gadwall, 2 drake Wigeon, 2 Whooper Swans, 2 White-tailed Eagles, and 300 Dunlin and Ringed Plovers.  At Oitir were a couple of Little Terns with another couple over Ardnave Loch. Further up Ardnave were 38 Arctic Terns at Eilean Beag , with 121 Oystercatchers on Ardnave along with plenty of Lapwing and Redshank chicks, 10 Wheatears, 23 more Whimbrel, 26 Chough, a Great Skua, 2 Black-tailed and 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, along with various other bits and bobs. Down at Portnahaven he found 6 Great Northern Divers passing by and later at Bowmore he counted 30 Common Gulls on nests, several Cuckoos and good numbers of Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats.

Thanks to everyone for their detailed contributions.

Monday 15 May 2023

Monday 15th May

A decent sunny and dry spring day today with a few folks out and about birding.

Martin Kaye sent in a summary of his day: Sedge Warbler in reed bed behind Kilchoman Manse and 25+ Choughs over the house. Male Hen Harrier and a White-tailed Eagle (2nd winter?) around Loch Gruinart and 9 Tufted Ducks on Ardnave Loch. From Ardnave Point, both Common and Arctic Terns on Eilean Beag plus a roost of 34 Redshank. Finally 3 Dunlin in summer plumage at Saligo Bay.

Ed Burrell sent in a note about Wood Pigeons - not a hugely exciting species, but we don't often get large numbers here so his count of 17 on The Oa is noteworthy and coincides with a note from Tom Garner who comments that he saw a "surprisingly large number" at Gruinart yesterday. and another note from Jim Dickson saying that there were 11 on Tiree this morning.

Tom also noted Cuckoos at Bunnahabhain  and Port Askaig and a Golden Eagle at Bholsa where there were two summer-plumaged Great Northern Divers.

James How had BOTD with a Little Egret at the Gruinart South hide and a Wood Sandpiper at the North hide - only about 30 records of the latter on Islay, most of them in May.

Sunday 14 May 2023

Sunday 14th May

Light cloud and fine drizzle to start the day, but giving way to brighter, sunny spells in the afternoon.

Martin Kaye and Carole Nelson arrived yesterday for a first birding visit to Islay and noted "After emerging from the fog bound ferry today (Saturday 13th), we went down to Machir Bay, had a Wheatear, Sand Martins and Stonechats in the dunes. On the north end of the beach, there were flocks of Ringed Plover and Sanderlings. Several Choughs flew over, and a Cuckoo could be heard". Today they report  a Golden Eagle on the Mull of Oa and 2 pairs of Whinchats on the road away from the reserve.

Other news for today comes from Fiona McGillivray who heard Corncrake calling down at Port Wemyss and from Tom Garner who had a variety of birds - male Hen Harrier between Gruinart and Ardnave this morning where a total of 23 or more Choughs were counted. Another male Hen Harrier this afternoon along with a White-tailed Eagle and Little Tern over Loch Gruinart. Mark Shields notes 5 Canada Geese on the floods at Gruinart.

Saturday 13 May 2023

Saturday 13th May

 A day of two halves:  half of Islay over at Port Ellen, The Oa and up towards Kildalton being in mist and fog all day, while over on the Rhinns we basked in sunshine.

David Dinsley ventured from the foggy side to wander Bridgend Woods where he saw Spotted Flycatcher and 4 singing Blackcaps. Back on the foggy side Mary-Ann Featherstone reported Treecreeper and Cuckoo in Kildalton Woods, 

Val Peacock counted 6 Great Northern Divers off Port Charlotte in the morning. Visitor Tom Garner had great views of a Minke Whale off the Sound of Jura, plus a variety of the usual species: Cuckoos at Port Ellen and Gruinart, Hen Harrier on the high road from Port Ellen to Bridgend, a couple of Golden Eagles at Gruinart and an adult White-tailed Eagle that was doing the rounds and seen by several others of us from Ardnave to Gruinart. 

Corncrakes were noted at Ardnave (one calling from nettles and flags) and 2 close to the RSPB Visitor Centre. Om the small skerries near Nave Island a flock of c.150 Whimbrel was an unusually high tally.

Friday 12 May 2023

Friday 12th May

A quiet day on whatsapp, Double D had a chiffchaff at Ghiol and Kinnabus, and Margaret had a male harrier over at Kilchoman. 

Elsewhere, George Jackson emailed to say he saw 7 knot at Uiskentuie on Thursday night, 1 of them in what Hot Ed would call sum plum. Thanks George. 

An anonymous American visitor at Loch Gruinart reported a green-winged teal on the floods, presumably the same one from a few weeks ago. There's possibly 6 calling male corncrakes at Gruinart now, with another location on the Flats picked up by James this morning. 

Mary-Ann had 21 species in her moth trap last night (about 20 more than we managed!) including this small magpie.

That's all. Peter is back tomorrow, and I think we can all agree that is not a moment too soon. Good night and good luck. 

Thursday 11 May 2023

Thursday 11th May

Lauren gets BOTD today with a singing male yellowhammer at Loch Gruinart. Mary-Ann had a pair of bullfinches at Bridgend and Margaret had corncrake and cuckoo at Gruinart. And that was it, bar an interesting report of a mystery dark-bellied tern near Kilnaughton from Steve Rogers. Worth keeping a look out for. Bye!

Wednesday 10 May 2023

Wednesday 10th May

In corncrake news, a good chance there's now 5 males calling at RSPB Loch Gruinart, either that or one REALLY loud one. Anyway, Mary also had a new bird down in Portnahaven. Margaret's is still going at Kilchoman. 

In other bird news, Annie had a cuckoo being pursued by a blackbird, I saw a sparrowhawk catch a robin and Steve Rogers had newly fledged house sparrows at Emerivale. And that's your lot. Bye!

Tuesday 9 May 2023

Tuesday 9th May

Absolutely NOTHING in the email inbox or whatsapp group today. Sigh. But corncrakes are calling at Ballinaby, Saligo, Kilchoman and between the hides at Gruinart. There's plenty of whimbrel around, with the group of 50 or so still in the reseed at Ballinaby.  A full adult WTE passed over the Gruinart Flats around lunchtime, tangling with a couple of resident buzzards as it went. Near Saligo there were 66 dunlin, 54 ringed plover and 9 turnstone. 

Down at The Oa, Annie had 2 WTEs, 2 curlew, golden eagle, fulmar, wheatear, linnet, gannet and twite. And that's about as hard as I can flog this dead horse. Bye! 

Monday 8 May 2023

Monday 8th May

At Gruinart, James from the telly gets BOTD with his traditional Spring drake garganey at the South Hide. There are 7 late whoopers on the flats.

Margaret had 2 fulmar on the crag, and both saw and heard her corncrake today at Kilchoman. Hot Ed had a pair of bullfinch at Cairnmore. 

Malcolm saves us from no picture hell with this guy - Islay's very first lunar marbled brown moth, caught in his garden at the weekend. He reports..."a first for Islay and, with a couple of records on Colonsay, the third for the vice-county. It's common enough in the southern half of England, but scarcer in the north with scattered records in western Scotland. It is a rather worn specimen, they are rather brighter and better marked when fresh."

Well done Malcolm. Thanks very much to all the above. Cheerie!

Sunday 7 May 2023

Sunday 7th May

Steve Rogers keeps the show on the road single-handed today with reports of things around Emerivale - orange tip butterflies, cuckoo, whitethroat, siskin and sedge warbler among the highlights. Thanks Steve. There was a male ruff north of Saligo. Hee haw else to report. Byeeee!

Saturday 6 May 2023

Saturday 6th May

Dave Wood clearly wasn't swearing his oath of allegiance this morning as he suspiciously managed a full count of Loch Indaal between Bridgend and Bowmore before lunch - results were 19 whimbrel, 380 dunlin, 3 grey plover, 68 ringed plover, 136 oystercatcher and single redshank, common sand, barwit and curlew. 

Mary got in touch to say that the terns around Claddach and Orsay Island are back, and she heard a corncrake between Portnahaven and Port Wemyss. It looks like there might have been a mini corncrake influx yesterday, James thinks there are now 3 on reserve at Loch Gruinart, plus WTE, a lone barnie and an arctic tern. James also had a big wader flock on the loch, at least 635 dunlin and 285 ringed plover. 

Up at Kilchoman, Margaret's corncrake is still crexcrexing away. 

The only picture I've been sent today is this beauty from Peter...

...who it should be noted is currently in Saudi Arabia. That's all. Cheerie!

Friday 5 May 2023

Friday 5th May

Another week has blown past. Here's what birdies got spotted today. 

It's still fairly quiet for corncrake sightings around the island, though Margaret's is still going at Kilchoman and the Gruinart one is still calling intermittently. Please let us or RSPB know of any you come across. 

Steve Rogers had a pair of common sands at Kilnaughton, and Mary-Ann had a ringed plover at the head of Loch Indaal. David Dinsley saw a female cuckoo getting appropriately harassed by mipits at Kinnabus and a male harrier around the Upper Killeyan car park. Mandy had a singing whitethroat at Carnduncan. There were 14 whimbrel on Gruinart floods tonight. 

Jim Dickson reports news of a honey buzzard on Coll yesterday, so people not wishing to watch an old man put on a hat tomorrow have the perfect alternative. Nowt else to say, other than here's a whinchat at The Oa, from Double D. Thanks to him and all the other contributors today. Cheerie!

Thursday 4 May 2023

Thursday 4th May

Happy Star Wars day, folks. 

TV's James How was walking to work this morning and bumped into a corncrake crossing the road at Gruinart. There were waders galore feeding around Ballinaby and Saligo - 2 blackwits, 124 whimbrel, 10 dunlin, 12 ringed plover. Kate Hannett had cuckoos at Persabus, Ardmore and Springbank. Double D had another Greenland race wheatear at Upper Killeyan, and Steve Rogers saw this blue jellyfish... Kilnaughton. I hope it's a blue jellyfish, anyway. 

That's your lot. David Dinsley sent us a great photo but I dare not put two pics up on one day. It's not Christmas. I'll keep it back for tomorrow. Thanks very much to all the above. 

Wednesday 3 May 2023

Wednesday 3rd May

No doubt about BOTD today, a spotted flycatcher seen by Dave Wood down at Risabus. Cuckoo reports came in from Steve Rogers (Emerivale), Mary-Ann (Avonvogie) and Margaret (Kilchoman), who also had her corncrake calling again. Karami and Alan had 2 WTE at Killinallan, plus 55 barwits, 25 knot, a mixed flock of dunlin/ringed plover and whimbrel present. 

The only other report today is of 2 unidentified terns at Kilnaughton from Shona-Isla. Shona-Isla  supplied this incredible sketch, which may or may not be of one of the terns, it's hard to tell. 

Tuesday 2 May 2023

Tuesday 2nd May

I should write more passive aggressive blogs about lack of sightings, we have lots to get through today. Deep breath. Here goes...

Karami and Alan Ure are back on Islay for another week and have been busy. Today they had dipper and grey wag in Bridgend Woods. At Ardnave, 2 goldies, a chough, ringtail harrier, whimbrel and a "huge" mixed flock of sanderling, ringed plover, dunlin and turnstone. Whimbrel sightings in particular continue to be regular, with 59 at Ballinaby and a separate group of 54 north of Saligo today. 

The corncrake at the Gruinart VC is still calling during the day. Margaret had her own one crex-crexing away up at Kilchoman, plus cuckoo, chough and barn owl all in the area.

Down South, Mary-Ann had 3 cuckoos and 2 GNDs calling at Kildalton, and this absolute bobby-dazzler of an emperor moth. 

David Dinsley heard "several" groppers around The Oa, plus had 8 whinchat and a greenland race wheatear near Kinnabus. Dave Protherough saw a female sprawk at Ballyvicar, and Annie from RSPB had 2 goldies and chough on the weekly walk around the American Monument. 

Massive thanks to all the above for their sightings. Cheerie!

Monday 1 May 2023

Monday 1st May

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month, as Mary would say if she was blogging. She'd then go on to tell you about Margaret reporting a corncrake calling at Kilchoman. Despite having nothing to work with in terms of sightings, she'd mix in a story about what she was up to on the farm, what she saw around Claddach, and what a great afternoon it was, and we'd all be happy. It would be knowledgeable but informal, and as close as we'll get to an authentic Islay voice in a world dominated by old English men with beards. 

Sadly Mary isn't blogging today.