Wednesday 28 February 2024

Wednesday 28th February

 A mainly unpleasant grey and rainy day.

Despite the rotten weather, there was a slight portend of spring with the first Lesser Black-backed Gull of 2024 seen by David Dinsley at Kinnabus.

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Tuesday 27th February

Rain and cloud with odd sunny spells in between.

Despite the not too great weather, it did feel a bit like spring with Dunnocks and Robins singing here at Bruichladdich and Song Thrushes at Kildalton.

Valerie Wilson was watching Choughs and a White-tailed Eagle at Sanaigmore and Steve & Lyn Rogers had had 43 White-fronted Geese at Cornabus.

Monday 26 February 2024

Monday 26th February

 A lovely bright and sunny day throughout.

Gary Turnbull had an impressive count of 5 White-tailed Eagles calling over Finlaggan this morning.

Whooper Swans seem to be on the move, with Mary Redman finding 20 on Claddach Loch  and James How noting 29 up at Gruinart. James also saw a Peregrine and 6 Woodcock at Gruinart.

Joanna Dailey on a return visit came across the regular Chough flock up at Ardnave - 24 in total, at least 17 of them colour-ringed, while over on Loch Indaal she watched a White-tailed Eagle chasing a gull, which presumably got away.

Other than birds, Mary Redman took a photo of some Marsh Fritillary caterpillars warming up in the sun.

Sunday 25 February 2024

Sunday 25th February

A cold but sunny and dry day.

Martin Armstrong saw a couple of Red Grouse at the Ard, Port Ellen this morning, while James How reports Golden and White-tailed Eagles at Gruinart, 10 Slavonian Grebes, 15 Long-tailed Ducks, single Scaup and the presence of Common Scoter, Red-throated and Great Northern Divers on Loch Indaal.

I took a walk up to Killinallan this afternoon and noticed 3 White-tailed Eagles together at the north end of Gruinart. All three flew off towards Ardnave as the tide rose and pushed them off the sand banks.

Visitor Valerie Wilson started her visit to Islay well, with the young Glaucous Gull asleep at the top of Loch Indaal, then the Red-breasted Goose on the west side of Gruinart in the afternoon. A little later she was at Blackrock where the Slavonian Grebes were accompanied by a Great Crested Grebe - quite a rarity here. It was rare enough for me to go straight out on receiving the Whatsapp message and go on a "twitch" for it. Unfortunately, despite close scrutiny of the various assembled ducks, grebes and divers there was no further trace of it.

This evening Mary-Ann Featherstone heard a couple of Tawny Owls calling at Kildalton.

Saturday 24 February 2024

Saturday 24th February

A dry, sunny but chilly day.

Jonathan Farooqi reported plenty of activity off Bowmore in loch Indaal this morning, with 20 Slav. Grebes, 20 Red-throated Divers, 15 Great Northern Divers, 1 Black-throated Diver, 25 Long-tailed Ducks, 100 Common Scoters, 100 Eider, 30 Red-breasted Mergansers and a single Scaup. (The Slav. Grebe and L T Duck numbers are quite high counts). 

Jonathan also found the Red-breasted Goose, 2 White-tailed Eagles and 5 Greenshank at Gruinart Flats, a Golden and White-tailed Eagle over the Ballygrant end of the Glen Road, 2 more White-tailed Eagles at Finlaggan and a Dipper at the Woollen Mill.

Louise Muir was on Islay seeing additional White-tailed Eagles at Kilmeny (a young bird) and Gearach (an adult) - so a possible tally today of 5-8 birds?. 

Margaret Brooke is back at Kilchoman where a Hen Harrier flew across her garden.

There was a bit of belated, but very welcome and interesting bird news from Jim Duncan and John Graham who had been on the island recently. They had taken a photo of a collared Greenland White-front that Ed Burrell confirms as a bird caught on Greenland in July 2008 that has been wintering on Islay every year since - a good age for a goose!

John and Jim also sent in a series of excellent photos of a couple of happily boxing Hares, followed by an attempted catch of the two Hares by a Golden Eagle, with an end result photo of a forlorn eagle and two lucky lagomorphs!

Great action photos - many thanks for sending them in - and thanks to everyone for their records which all go to the Argyll Bird Club database and help fill in an overall picture of  what and how many birds are here.

Friday 23 February 2024

Friday 23rd February

Very rainy overnight and into the morning, brightening to a sunnier, dry afternoon.

Martin Armstrong had an impressive count of 4 White-tailed Eagles over in the Cairnmore/Kilnaughton area this morning. 

The young Glaucous Gull was seen again at Bridgend this evening by Jonathan Farooqi.

Ash Cooper had another White-tailed Eagle, plus a Peregrine and 18 Choughs at Sanaigmore. 

Thursday 22 February 2024

Thursday 22nd February

Another day of two halves - this time a sunny morning giving way to a rainy and cloudy afternoon. However, this didn't deter the keener birders from getting out and about.

David Livingstone watched a White-tailed Eagle taking a Barnacle Goose in the air at Kintra this morning.

A Glaucous Gull identified as a 2Y was seen by several observers today at the top of loch Indaal - Steve Lister pointing out that it must be a different bird to the other older immature bird that has been hanging around Uiskentuie for months. Jonathan Farooqi found the Red-breasted Goose again today on the Gruinart Flats this evening. Other sightings include Golden Eagle up at Carrabus, Hen Harrier  near Machrie, 2 Canada Geese at Ardnave and a flock of 40 Ravens up at Laggan Bridge.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Wednesday 21st February

The day started out grey and rainy, but slowly improved with some sunny spells in the afternoon.

Visiting birder and wildlife photographer Ash Cooper sent in a few records from the last few days:

17th: 6 Little Egrets at RSPB Gruinart

18th: a male Marlin nr Ardnave Loch

19th: a flock of c80 Linnet in stubble fields between RSPB and Ardnave Loch, c.15 Yellowhammers near Ballitarsin, being chased by a Marlin and 8 Ravens flying around the American Monument on the Oa

20th: a flock of c.75 Twite in stubble fields nr Sunderland Farm, and a Golden Eagle over the moorland on W side of Loch Gorm. He:took this great shot of a male Hen Harrier up at Glean Mor yesterday.

Also on 20th: Jonathan Farooqi is back birding on Islay and noted a single Pink-footed Goose at Kilmeny and a Carrion Crow at Kintra where he read neck collars ADX, AHD & ADZ on four collared White-fronts. Malcolm O.& David Dinsley confirmed that they were all ringed at Cornabus in winter 2017/18 and have been regularly seen in that area this winter.

Steve Willis had seen a young Glaucous Gull up at the top of Loch Indaal yesterday evening.

Today's news: Val Peacock  watched a male Hen Harrier hunting and displaying out over Ballimony where a Woodcock and a couple of Buzzards were also noted. Ash relocated the Glaucous Gull up at the top of Loch Indaal (photo below - is it the long-staying bird or a different one?), while Jonathan had found a Russian White-front with the Greenland White-fronts at Gruinart and got distant views of the elusive Red-breasted Goose from the RSPB Visitor Centre.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Tuesday 20th February

The day developed into something tolerably pleasant with plenty of sunshine if a bit breezy, and it was good enough to get me out in the afternoon to the Gruinart hides.

Nothing sensational was seen, but it was full of activity with large numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover, smaller groups of Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank and 3-4 Greenshanks showing in good light. The ducks were numerous and a delight in the sunshine. 10 Whooper Swans were pootling about and a Little Egret present.

Monday 19 February 2024

Sunday 18th & Monday 19th February

A grey, drizzly day on Sunday meant very little birding news, though Mary-Ann Featherstone reports a total of 200 Lapwing north of Port Ellen mobbing a Buzzard.

Today was a little bit brighter - mostly dry with a bit of sunshine at times. Gary T. saw a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers towards Lily Loch - always good to receive records of this species to assess how many pairs might be breeding.

David Dinsley saw a Snow Bunting down on The Oa and Steve Williams watched a Golden Eagle over the Glen Road in the afternoon.

Malcolm O. sent in a note to say that 4 White-fronted Geese were caught at Kintra on Saturday and fitted with numbered neck collars. They were seen just a few km away at Coillabus today, but any further sightings of these or any marked White-fronts (including numbered leg rings) would be gratefully received.

Saturday 17 February 2024

Saturday 17th February

Ghastly weather today - at best overcast, grey and misty, at worst, grizzly, or breezy with rain.

Understandably, the birding news is limited, though Steve Williams did get out and found a White-tailed Eagle and Hen Harrier up at Gruinart.

Otherwise, there was a note posted on the Islay Facebook page that Malcolm O. picked up on regarding birding etiquette on Islay. There has apparently been some fairly dodgy and potentially dangerous behaviour from a photographer (presumed to be a birder) who has parked up in awkward places on bends on our narrow roads to wander off and take pictures. It is sometimes quite frustrating when something good is seen in a spot that is unsafe to stop in. However, the plea is to be careful and thoughtful to other road users, and find somewhere that is safe to pull off the road and if necessary walk back to where you want to be.

Friday 16 February 2024

Friday 16th February

 A grey, dreich sort of day - but mild and calm.

Steve & Lyn Rogers saw a Barn Owl last night near the airport.

Today there are further reports from Steve Percival and Steve Williams of the Red-breasted Goose in the Gruinart area and the two Cackling Geese up at Skerrols - a lone Pink-footed Goose with them.

The Kingfisher was seen again by Steve Williams at Bowmore Harbour, while Gary Turnbull was seeing Golden Eagles at Carrabus and the Glen road, a Merlin at Newton and Hen Harrier at Scarabus, plus Crossbills on the Cluanach road near the Abbatoir.

I was down at Port Ellen in the afternoon and counted 8 Whooper Swans at what appears to be a new outfall associated with the rebuild of Port Ellen Distillery. This is attracting large numbers of greylags, mallard, corvids and gulls. I'm sure someone with the necessary, devotion, will-power and know-how could carefully check through all those gorgeous immature gulls and rustle up something rare....................

Thursday 15 February 2024

Wednesday 14th & Thursday 15th February

A couple of days of varied, but mild winter weather - sun and showers yesterday and fairly overcast, misty, drizzly today.

Nothing reported yesterday, but a few bits and pieces coming in today:

Steve Percival noted 2 Cackling Geese with the Barnies at Bridgend, also seen by visitor Tricia Cuninghame at Gruinart this morning. White-tailed Eagles also noted - 2 seen by Gary Turnbull and later by Tricia on their usual rocky island at the mouth of the River Sorn at the top of Loch Indaal. From the other side of the island, Ed Burrell sent in a note of a Carrion Crow seen by Larry Griffin at Kintra.

Gary also watched a couple of Otters at Carrabus Burn near Blackrock this morning.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Monday 12th & Tuesday 13th February

Not a lot of bird news to report over the past two days of blustery, sunny weather with sometimes heavy rain showers. Yesterday Gary Turnbull noted flocks of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits  enjoying the sun in the fields and pasture up at Finlaggan, making it sound almost spring-like. Today Malcolm Ogilvie passed on a Facebook message that John Cameron saw a Kingfisher on the pier at Bowmore this morning. This prompted a response from another Islay resident saying that they had seen one at Port Askaig pier last August!

Sunday 11 February 2024

Sunday 11th February

Mostly dry and sunny today, with occasional showers - not too bad for winter.

The Red-breasted Goose rediscovered yesterday was seen again at Loch Gruinart today by Steve Percival. Other than that, I noted 18 or more Brent Geese along the coast of Loch Indaal this afternoon from Uiskentuie down to Bruichladdich.

Saturday 10 February 2024

Thursday 8th - Saturday 10th February

Back from my travels to a very wintery Islay - strong winds, cold and occasionally rainy, which by all accounts has what the weather has been like for much of the time I've been away. No surprise then that there is not a lot of bird news to report.

On Thursday, Martin Armstrong saw 3 White-tailed Eagles down at Easter Ellister, while yesterday, James how saw 3, probably different White-tailed Eagles up at Gruinart along with a Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and 3 Woodcock.

Today Ella Simpson had another White-tailed Eagle at Gruinart, plus a Barn Owl hunting followed by a much more exciting find - the Red-breasted Goose on Gruinart flats.

But there is plenty going on for anyone interested in birds at all levels. The latest edition of our local newspaper "The Ileach" out today tells all! The front page covers recent workshops, some of it in the Gaelic medium, run by the RSPB at Gruinart for primary school children. Inside pages have articles on Jura's Primary School taking part in the RSPB's "Big Schools Birdwatch"; a fairly detailed report by NatureScot on the status of the Chough on Islay and another piece promoting Islay's Winter Birdlife Festival. The latter being a series of events organised partly in Gaelic, by the RSPB, BTO and ICCI and running between 21 - 23 February.

Thursday 8 February 2024

Wednesday 7th February

 A beautiful winter's day today on Islay.

Mary Redman was treated to a Short-eared Owl this morning at Octofad, followed by a White-tailed Eagle at Claddach. She also had a pair of Chough hanging around all day and a flock of around 20 Curlew. 

In Bruichladdich, Sam watched an otter eating it's catch - Malcolm has been seeing a number in this spot frequently including a female and two well-grown cubs and, separately, a dog otter. 

Thanks all!

Wednesday 7 February 2024

Tuesday 6th February

 Hip Hip Hip Hooray. The sun most definitely had his hat on for (most) of today! 

Thanks to Louise Muir for her sightings today. First a Little Egret at Craigens and after a few reports we've had in of Snow Buntings the last few weeks, Louise managed to spy a Lapland Bunting at Killinallan!

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Sunday 4th and Monday 5th February

The tap has been turned on full the last two days on Islay. Rain, rain and yet more rain. A walk down the road at Gruinart on Monday evening through endless puddles did mean spying a host of frogs. 

Thanks to Dave Wood who reported seeing a snow bunting on the Oa on Monday.

Sunday 4 February 2024

Wednesday 31st January - Saturday 3rd February

The dreich weather continues on Islay. On Thursday I had a ringtail cruising the flats at Gruinart, and two White-tailed Eagles sat at the top of Loch Indaal, admiring the admittedly very cloudy view. 

Saturday saw a break in the weather and some welcome rays of sun between the showers. Iolo who's visiting from Orkney, took a trip up to the hills beyond Killinallan, and was rewarded with two White-tailed Eagles close to the beach and two Golden Eagles close to Sgarbh Dubh.