The last day of the year continued generally wet, grey and windy, with occasional brighter spells.
A little bit of bird news came in from various folk doing their last birding of 2023:
Mary-Ann Featherstone noted Goldcrests at Kildalton amongst her usual Great, Coal and Blue Tits.
Visitor Calum Scott confirmed "Old Faithful" the 2Y Glaucous Gull was still in situ at Uiskentuie - a good bird to start your year list tomorrow! Calum also saw 6 Scaup (sadly almost as many as we ever see here now) and a few Slavonian Grebes and Great Northern Divers off Bowmore.
Clive McKay did a short watch at Loch Gruinart in the early afternoon, finding, amongst other things 39 Shelducks, 410 Bar-tailed Godwits, 450+ Dunlins. 2 Greenshanks, and 3 Little Egrets.
Phil Edwards made more of a day of it and his detailed report follows:
"The forecast had been promising a nice day which we had planned to use to walk out to Killinallan Point. Sadly, said forecast changed at the last minute to rain which we duly got. Not to be deterred, we started the car outside the cottage at Smaull at 09.00 and a male Hen Harrier flushed from the adjacent ditch, so a great start. In the next 20 minutes as we drove along past Ballinaby and Carnduncan we had a male Sparrowhawk, an immature male Kestrel, and a Buzzard, then a ringtail Hen Harrier. Gruinart Flats was pretty empty so we headed up the east side of Loch Gruinart where there was a range of common waders and waterfowl at high tide including one Great Northern Diver and a male Goldeneye. By Bun-an-uillt there were 119 Oystercatchers feeding in a field. It was raining hard at Killinallan, so since we had obtained permission to drive through the locked gate, we continued all the way to Gortantaoid. Although pretty bird-less (12 Rock Doves and 20 Common Gull being about the sum of it) it was still interesting to get to see a new place on Islay after all these years. We headed back down the loch where a Little Egret flew by and there were two Grey Wagtails opposite Craigens Farm while I searched through the Barnacles unsuccessfully for the Red-breasted Goose. Given the wind had dropped we headed to Blackrock via Uiskentuie where a female Barn Owl was present by the junction. Ahead of black skies and rainbows, most of the waterfowl were very distant from Blackrock, but I managed c.200 Common Scoter, 70+ Eider, four pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers, seven Great Northern Diver, two Red-throated Diver, nine diver sp., and three Slavonian Grebes. With the deluge upon us, we beat a hasty retreat with a second unsuccessful search for the RbG on the Flats. That just leaves me to wish all Islay birders and those who read the blog a very Happy New Year"
Thanks to everyone who has helped write this blog in my absences during 2023. Thanks too to all who have read and contributed records and photos to the blog and the associated birding WhatsApp in 2023. Your records are invaluable, are added to the database of the Argyll Bird Club and form a useful base-line data set.
Here is a splendid final photo c/o Phil Edwards - a lovely bird to finish the year with...