Monday, 31 December 2007

Mon 31st Dec



Just an image of a Robin over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, to keep you all in festive spirit!Another misty morning again, but once the mist had lifted there were good sightings of Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, as well as the usual Geese. We also saw a female Hen harrier out quartering, looking for prey, all on the reserve. Down on the shoreline at Loch Indaal there were a few Turnstone, and further along 12 Pale bellied Brent Geese, I thought that they were all through by now as I had not seen any for a few days. In at the lochans beside Loch Gorm there were 8 Whooper Swans, and on the hedgerow on the roadside there was a male Stonechat. The birds in the garden at home are fairly polishing off the food on the table and from the feeders. I forgot to mention yesterday that there were 16 Chough flying here at the house late afternoon.
At this point as I sign off for 2007, I would like to thank everyone, including visiting birders who have contributed their sightings to me, as without their help, it would not have been possible to keep this blog going. I would like to especially thank James How (JRH) for his help when I was stuck off Islay as your Paisley correspondent, and also when I was on Jersey soaking up the sun in November. To all of you out there, have a great New Year and we will try to keep you up to speed with what's going on, here on Islay. IKB
A late entry from James, who had quick walk round Ardnave Point this afternoon, turning up a Snow bunting, 4 Purple Sandpipers, and a single Red throated Diver off Ardnave Point. Common seal at the mouth of Loch Gruinart with Grey seals round towards Nave Island. On the shore, some dead Triggerfish were seen. Back on the reserve at Loch Gruinart there was a Sparrowhawk and also a Merlin. JRH

Sun 30th Dec

Once the early morning mist had cleared it turned to be not too bad a day, weather wise that is!
The conditions later on, gave a good chance to do a quick count on Loch Indaal of 850 Scaup, which is a normal count for time of year, along with 19 Slavonian Grebe and a pair of Long tailed Duck, all far out in the Loch. MAO

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Wed.26th Dec - Sat.29th Dec.


Over at R.S.P.B. Gruinart Reserve there were 67 Twite, a high count, normally only in single figures. J.R.H.

A trip to the south east of the island produced several good sightings of Red Deer stags close to the road, a few Fallow and Roe deer were also seen. On the bird front some Long Tailed Tits were seen in the woodland at Kildalton, 2 male Goosanders were at Claggain Bay along with a Great Northern Diver was also present. On the way back to Port Ellen, a Golden Eagle was seen soaring over the hills and a Sparrowhawk flew across the road in the woodlands. On returning to Kilchoman, 2 Buzzards and another Golden Eagle were soaring over the cragg. On the lochans there were 8 Whooper Swans. M.A.B.

The Yellowhammer is still present on the R.S.P.B. Oa Reserve. A.K.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Fri 21st- Xmas Day

Well, I am sorry to report that not much has been reported, as we have all been busy doing other things with the run up to Christmas rather than being out with the bins trying to see birds for the blog. I had meant to put this up for to wish you all a Happy Christmas, but I could not get online to do so yesterday, so bettere late than never. I hope that you did not eat and drink too much and are now feeling the side effects....
Over here this morning it is rather windy, mind you the fulmars were in the last 2 mornings, will the ferry come in later on is doubtful, could be a bouncy crossing!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Wed 19th - Thurs 20th Dec



Yes, the Bar headed Goose ( or the Braehead Goose as some call it), that was initially seen back on the 8th of October has been spotted again today, Thursday. It was in amongst a field of around 2,000 Barnacle Geese over at Cornabus at Port Ellen, grazing away quite contentedly! It was good to hear that it was still around as I had recently asked through the blog if anyone had seen it lately. The last sighting was at Finlaggan by Steve Percival at the end of October, so where has it been for the last 2 months? Also seen yesterday were the Crossbills , 1 Red and 3 Green, over at Avonvogie in the Pine trees, only 4 this time whereas there were 5 earlier on in early November, or were they different birds? MAO
The Goose count at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve on Tuesday, gave us the following figures, 6,059 Barnacle Geese and 412 Whitefronts which is a high figure for the reserve. Also seen were 31 Meadow Pipit, 76 Sanderling (another high count), 1 Sparrowhawk and a single Black tailed Godwit. 4 Hen Harriers were also seen on Monday, while this afternoon there were 2 Greenshank down at the hide, and 20 Twite were noted, again a high figure for the reserve. JRH
A Short eared Owl was seen over the moorland at Gruinart, a late bird as they are not normally here at this time of year. A Golden Eagle and a female Hen Harrier was also also noted at the same time as was a single Jack Snipe. CF
I have just received a copy of "Birds of Argyll" written by the Argyll Bird Club, a well written book by several contributors which will keep me reading for a wee while. IKB

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Sat 15th - Tues 18th Dec



No, not an Islay Sparrowhawk, but this bird was one that we had the good fortune to observe close at hand when visiting the London Wetland Centre in early November.
Back home here on Islay, we are getting cold easterly winds, in fact there was a hoar frost on the grass this morning which is quite rare here! As it is cold, the feeders are being visited by numerous birds. Out and about yesterday, Monday, produced a total of 12 Buzzards, on a trip down round the Rhinns and back up to Bridgend, quite a lot in a small area really. We also had a Kestrel at the roadside, 50 Lapwing alongside the football pitch at Portnahaven, with 16 Curlew in a field closeby. 7 Whooper Swan were noted flying over Orsay Island en route to Ireland. Up at the top of Loch Indaal there were 34 Pale bellied Brent Geese.
Today, Tuesday morning, on Loch Indaal there were several small groups of Pale bellied Brent, totalling about 50 geese. Down at the lime kiln there was a female Hen Harrier, while at Gartontoid there was a Sparrowhawk. On the way home a Merlin was seen as well as a couple of Buzzards. IKB
On the Goose count last week, the Canada Goose (Parvipes sp.) was noted along with its 2 hybrid goslings, of Barnacle goose parentage. This particular goose has been seen here regularly during the winter over the last 6- 7 years, and hybrid young for possibly the last 4- 5 years. It has always been seen along with Barnacle Geese. MAO

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Thur 13th - Fri 14th Dec


On Thursday, this was one of a pair of Yellowhammer that were down feeding in the barley stubbles at the Coastguard cottages at Kilchoman. They were difficult to locate, let alone photoraph, as they were well hidden in the stubble itself. IKB
Friday, and a WeBS was carried out over at Loch Gruinart. On the floods, in front of the hide on the reserve, the following birds were seen, 1085 Teal, 265 Wigeon, 50 Shoveler, 49 Pintail, 105 Mallard, 2 Little Grebe, 1 black tailed Godwit and 44 Curlew. Out on Loch Gruinart itself, there were 15 Red Breated Merganser, 194 Bar tailed Godwit, 130 Curlew, 85 Turnstone, 81 Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 39 Sanderling, 210 Dunlin, 19 Grey Plover, 80 Shelduck, 2 Purple Sandpiper and 1 Peregrine Falcon. High figures for Turnstone and Sanderling. JRH, CF, RAS

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Wed 12th Dec

Out on the International goose count today here on Islay, the only birds of real note were 16 Pale bellied Brent Geese at Blackrock, and another Golden Eagle up at Ardnave, that is apart from the numerous Barnacle and whiefronted geese that were counted. CF
Female Hen Harrier seen at the reed bed beside the Coastguard cottages at Kilchoman, 3 Pale Bellied Brent at the head of Loch Indaal, beside the coalyard, while the 11 Whooper Swan remain at the lochans at Loch Gorm. IKB
Yesterday, again out on the International goose count, there were 13 Pale bellied Brent geese at Blackrock, 2 Pinkfooted Geese, 1 at Coullabus, the other at Ardnave. Also seen were 3 Hen harriers, 1 male and 2 female, 1 Merlin, a Golden Eagle and a Purple Sandpiper. CF & JRH
On Monday at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, there were 2 Greenshank, 1 Woodcock, 1 Peregrine falcon, 1 Goldcrest and 3 Whooper Swan. JRH

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Tuesday 11th Dec

A quick scan over the top of Loch Indaal from Bowmore yesterday afternnon produced 4 Long tailed duck, 12 Great Northern Diver, 3 Red throated Diver, 2 Black throated Diver and 6 Slavonian Grebe.
Today, a Sea Eagle was seen again, while at Claggain Bay there were 6 Great Northern Diver, 4 Red throated Diver, 1 Black throated Diver and 8 Goldeneye. The 2 male Goosanders and 3 Dabchicks (Little Grebe) are still to be seen on Loch Kinnabus. A single Waxwing was seen flying overhead at Lower Cragabus. The Crossbills were heard, but not seen, at Avonvoggie in the same plantation as previously reported back in October. RAS
The latest Goose Count figures for 4th and 5th of December are as follows, 47,926 Barnacle Geese and 6,726 Greenland Whitefronts. Many thanks to Tracey for the update.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Sat 8th - Mon 10th Dec

A late entry, just handed to me, was that of a Chiffchaff seen on the 25th of November in the garden at Kinnabus on the Oa. Also on the RSPB reserve on the Oa there were 80 Reed Bunting and a further 74 Rock Doves, large numbers for both species. There was also a solitary Yellowhammer, while this morning 3 Snow Bunting were noted. AK
Still, over that side, but on the south east corner, there was a single Sea Eagle with white tags on, denoting that it was one of this years' youngsters. Possibly trying to out do Catherine's Golden Eagle in the garden, Andy had 8 Coal tits and numerous Siskins on his bird feeders, as well as a Woodcock actually in the garden! RAS
Farmland bird survey, the other day at RSPB Loch Gruinart, turned up a Grey wagtail and 110 Linnets. The windy weather certainly did not help! CF
11 Whooper swan were down at the lochans beside Loch Gorm, different birds from the previous entry on the blog, as they had flown away on Saturday. MAB

Friday, 7 December 2007

Tues 4th - Fri 7th Dec

Quite a few bits and pieces to report from round Islay, so here goes...
The leucistic Barnacle Goose was seen again on Tuesday, down at Carnain where it was previously. With another Goose count taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, the counters have not seen the Bar Headed Goose which was seen earlier on. Has it flown on to somewhere drier? Also on Loch na Caiche there were 230 Teal, and on Loch Skerrols 135 Tufted Duck were counted, both higher figures for the respective Lochs at this time of year. MAO
Whilst talking of the odd sighting of a Buzzard with outstretched wings in an earlier blog entry, what about a Golden Eagle in your garden, it was not eating anything, but was quite content sitting on a rocky outcrop! CF
Just at the darkening on Tuesday there were 2 Woodcock, 12 Pintail, 4 Black tailed Godwit over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. 160 Whitefronts came into roost uop for the night before the light failed. On Wednesday, also on the reserve there was a single male Hen Harrier, the first for a while. A juvenile Peregrin was playing havoc in amongst a field of Rock Doves, although not with much luck! A Merlin was also seen later on. JRH
Up at Ardnave, there were several Kittiwake offshore along with 15 Greater Black backed Gulls. 25 Shag were on the rocks and 24 Ring Plover on the shoreline. Everything else was either sheltering or was blown away! Back down at Aoradh, there was a solitary Mistle Thrush. MS
On one of the small lochans beside Loch Gorm there was 7 Whooper Swan, whilst at 3 locations towards Bowmore there was a total of 34 Pale bellied Brent Geese. The Fulmars have proved good indicators of further stormy weather. IKB

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Sun 2 Dec- Mon 3rd Dec

The weather has calmed down here after the wind and the rain that we had on Friday and Saturday, although there were no ferry disruptions as far as I know. After the winds there was a young seal pup up on the shore at Machir Bay, looking a bit lost but at least it was still alive rather than a casuality. Looking back on that bad spell of weather, another odd sighting I had was that of a Buzzard sitting on a fence post, with its wings outstretched, just as cormarants do, presumably trying to get dried off. Not much point really as it was still pouring down at the time.
The birds on the bird table on Monday included 23 Greenfinches and 15 Goldfinches along with the House Sparrows, Blue and Great Tits. Looking out the other kitchen window, there was a Golden Eagle soaring past whilst I was having a cup of coffee.
Margaret and Tracey from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have given me the latest count for the geese on Islay. The count, the other week had 46,949 Barnacle geese and 7,980 Greenland whitefronts, wheras last year at the same count there were around 51,ooo Barnies and only 6,000 whitefronts. The counts so far this year have had over 49k of Barnies, but presumably the "extra" birds have moved on, while the Whitefronts are increasing all the time. There is another count this week so it will be interesting to hear from SNH what numbers we are at now, thanks for the info so far to Margaret and Tracey. IKB
The Hutchinsii Barnacle Goose was noted in amongst the rest of the Barnacle geese on Sunday, while a Merlin was observed near to the hut circles at Culbuie. JRH

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Wed 28th Nov - Sat 1st Dec

Well, the solitary Fulmar on Tuesday was certainly correct, as the weather has well and truly broken down with a lot of rain and wind to go with it. It turned out to be very windy on Friday and more so on Saturday. The big question now is, what is ahead of us now as there were 12 Fulmar in on Friday, or are they ahead of the game for the weather down South today!
With the weather being so dreich, there has not been much birding going on, even the birds on the feeders have been loath to come out. Having said that, the male Blackcap has gone, has it moved on, or has the Sparrowhawk taken it. There certainly was a thud on the kitchen window the other day as if the Sparrowhawk had taken something then, also this morning there is a pile of black feathers below the bird table, so are we now a blackbird down? MAB
There are still the odd late birds moving through, with 27 Whooper swan and 4 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal. There were numerous waders to be seen there too, including Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Bar tailed Godwit and Curlew. Further out, on the Loch itself, there were 3 Long tailed Duck. JH

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Mon 26th - Tues 27th Nov


Here is the leucistic Barnacle Goose which we took the other day down towards Bridgend. When we initially saw it, it had its head down eating grass and was more in the middle of the group, but was noticably a lighter coloured goose than its mates.
There were also 55 Lapwing flying along the shoreline over at Bruichladdich.
The story of the 2 House Martin fledglings sharing a nest with 4 Swallow has made the press with Margaret winning the star letter prize ,"In your garden" section, of the December edition of Bird Watching. The birds will again benefit as the prize is bird food, rather than another set of bins!
On Tuesday, there was a Fulmar in wheeling around in front of the crag, so look out for some stormy weather later this week, say probably Friday or Saturday. Over the last few winters I have noticed this pattern, does the Met Office know about this? IKB
A Pink footed Goose was amongst other geese around Loch Skerrols last week. MS
Also on the whole Islay picture, there have been numerous sightings of Sea Eagles this month, no doubt immature birds from Mull on a day trip over here. If anyone has seen any Sea Eagles over here, could they please let me know, and I will pass it on. AK
Here are some sightings from Jura for the last week, within a 200m stretch of road at Ardfin there were 2 Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and a Kestrel! There are a lot of Mergansers to be seen in the bay at Craighouse. Suicidal Woodcock on the go, as 14 were counted between Craighouse and Gatehouse (home) last Tuesday evening. Back on Islay, there was a flock of 20+ goldfinches sitting on a roof in Bowmore. LG

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Fri 23rd - Sun 25th Nov

Not much to report from here, apart from a reported sighting of a possible male Black Redstart which was seen at Ardnave by a visiting birder. Here at home, there was a Grey wagtail, while the male Blackcap is still dominating the bird table, even game enough to chase the blackbirds away. IKB
Off Islay, and James has seen the following down on a visit to Rutland Water. Lots of Great Crested Grebes, Dabchick, 1 Little Egret, 10 Egyptian Geese, several Goosander, 2 Green Sandpiper, Black tailed Godwit, Woodcock, lots of Tree Sparrows, Gr. Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Tawny Owl, Fox and Grey Squirrel. We certainly do not have the last 2 from your list here on Islay. JRH

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Tues 20th - Thurs 22nd Nov

Our Islay birds are certainly keeping me on my toes, this week at least......

On Tuesday morning, in the middle of the Goose count, a couple of low flying jets came down over Loch Gruinart, round the back of Bowmore and then away to Port Ellen. I wonder what the poor folk who were counting the geese at the time thought! There are still some Whoopers trickling through, with 34 at the top of Loch Indaal on Tuesday, not flustered by the jets. Neither were the group of 46 Pale bellied Brent geese near Bruichladdich. IKB
The 2 Goosanders, males I am told, are still on Loch Kinnabus on the RSPB reserve on the Oa, the Lapland Bunting and the Corn Bunting are still there too. There have been 2 separate sightings of different Sea Eagles, down on the South east corner of Islay. AK
There were 52 Fieldfare in the trees at Ballygrant after their annual pillage on the fruit on some Hawthorns! SMcG
Thursday afternoon produced 33 Shelduck at Carnain in amongst numerous other ducks, mainly Mallard, Wigeon and Teal. Going into Bowmore there were around about 20 Pale bellied Brent geese, exact number not 100% correct as they were viewed from the road on a bad bend. On coming home, they had flown on, as there was no sign of them. IKB
Up the back of Port Charlotte, there were 2 Chough, 3 Whooper swans, a female Merlin, a Buzzard and plety of Corvids out and about. Over at Blackrock there were numerous Scaup to be seen out on Loch Indaal. JH

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Sun 18th - Mon 19th Nov

Sightings from around Islay, coming in thick and fast from our contributors on many good bird sightings. Before I forget, many thanks to James for keeping the blog up to date while I was away, soaking the sun up in Jersey, only one wet morning, so no real complaints.... By the way, it is now James turn to be our off island correspondent, Rutland Water look out!

There were 38 Brent geese at Blackrock briefly on Saturday, resting up, before heading over the water to Ireland. Up on Ardnave Loch on Sunday, there was 2 Whoopers and 1 Mute Swan along with numerous Wigeon and Teal and 40 Greylag Geese. On Monday, 8 Whoopers were seen flying down Loch Indaal. GJ

On the Oa, on Loch Kinnabus there were 2 Goosanders, and on the RSPB reserve on the Oa there was a Lapland Bunting. While going over on the ferry to Kennacraig a Grey Phalarope was seen. AK

5 Snow Buntings were up at Ardnave while a Golden Eagle was observed down at RSPB Loch Gruinart. JRH

A Northern Chiffchaff was spotted in Bridgend woods on Monday by a visiting birdwatcher on Monday, and here at home we had a male Blackcap on the feeders, also on Monday. MAB

Saturday, 17 November 2007

12th November to 17th November

A quick update before I hand back to the blogmaster on his return from Jersey soaking up the Channel Island sun. (Although I believe they have recorded snow bunting, must have been soaking up the sun too.)
Some interesting comments were posted on the last entry to the blog, with yet more records that are worth a mention. DWT recorded otters at Kilnaughton and Ardbeg as well as 3 bottle-nose dolphins off Ardnave, 50 chough and a golden eagle at Kilchoman and also a goshawk some where on the Island, all recorded during there stay 3/11 to 10/11.
A WEBS count at Gruinart on the 12/11 revealed good numbers of wildfowl infront of the hide including 1,232 teal, 328 wigeon, 41 shoveler and 58 pintail. Wader numbers on the Loch were also good with large quantities of redshank having arrived (JRH). On the 13/11 at the Oa reserve (AK) reported a corn bunting and a male goosander. A goose count at Gruinart on the 15/11 produced a total of 12,700 barnacles and 605 whitefronts on the reserve plus a hutchinsii Canada goose. There was an International goose count on the Island during 12-13/11, but I have not heard any results yet. Today 17/11 (AK) phoned to say that he had seen a white tailed eagle on the Oa.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

5th November to 11th November

Before I get started on this weeks sightings there are some good records for last week that have come in via the blog:
01/11, 5 long tailed ducks in the sound of Jura
02/11, 2 Hutchinsii canada geese at Bridgend, white tailed eagle with white tags at Gruinart, 4 purple sandpipers and 2 arctic terns at Bruichladdich.
03/11, 4 snow buntings at Ardnave
04/11, Jack snipe on the Oa (All records FS, thank you!)

Mean time we have received information from the beachmaster/blogmaster on location, or vacation in Jersey. While travelling to Jersey a stop over at the London wetland centre produce a great array of birds including 5 bar headed geese (or is that Brae headed geese) loads of coots and great views of a sparrowhawk. On Jersey so far a few birds not often seen on Islay, include magpies (common), little egrets, jay, a marsh harrier and around 500 brent geese.

Back on Islay this weeks news. Its felt quite wintry this week, but the birds have been good.
05/11, grey phalarope (FS) at Gruinart, black scoter (again, one here last year) off Bruichladdich, mandarin drake in a field at Kildalton, 37 lesser repdols, 3 mealy redpols, 16 yellowhammers and 10 siskins, at Ardtalla, 3 Leach's petrels at Frenchman's Rocks (AS). A windy day, but good birding!
06/11, A kingfisher at Bridgend and 5 crossbills at Avonvogie (FS), snow bunting on the Oa (AK), and 65 twite at Gruinart.
11/11, A quick trip to the hide at Gruinart, a cold wind, but clear air revealed an otter moving through the channels while the geese looked on, and a young peregrine that attempted to catch teal repeatedly.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

31st October to 4th November

The blogmaster is away at the moment being a beachmaster on Jersey, so look forward to the Jersey update. In the meantime I will attempt to keep you posted of Islays latest.
Lots of whooper swans are still moving through the island, with 57 at Gruinart on the 31st.
A duck count at Gruinart on the 2nd revealed: 2022 teal, 408 wigeon, 33 pintail, 56 shoveler, 2 greenshank, 1 tufted duck, 8 black tailed godwits and 636 lapwing. Also on the 2nd a golden eagle at Kilchoman and 19 chough at Ardnave. At the Oa a possible rough legged buzzard showed briefly! On the 3rd a woodcock and barn owl at Gruinart.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Tues 30th Oct

The late sightings of the Hobby continues, with it being seen this morning, having a tussle with a Ringtail (female Hen Harrier), before flying off into the shelter/protection offered in some trees. GDY

Down on the guided walk at on the RSPB reserve on The Oa, the bird watchers were graced with 6 Merlin, 5 Golden Eagle, several chough and the sighting of a pod of Bottle Nosed Dolphins. RAS

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Mon 29th Oct

On Islay recently, there have been more numerous sightings of Merlin. A Golden Eagle was observed being mobbed by 2 Buzzards, before flying off. IKB & RAFOS
There was another sighting of a possible Hobby this afternoon, possibly the same bird that was seen over at Port Ellen last week. RAFOS
126 Whooper swan were at the head of Loch Gruinart, while inland, also at Gruinart there were 2 Lapland Bunting. Also there have been several small groups of Whooper flying south to Ireland, the largest number being 20 offshore at Machir Bay. JRH

Sun 28th Oct


Another week on Islay is past, so here are few notes....
Possibly the highlight of the week was this Little gull, a 1st winter bird heading south along the shore at Bruichladdich on Thurs 25th.
Barnacle geese appear to have had a reasonable breeding season, with around 11% of the flock being juvenlie birds, enough to give a small increase in numbers. Some intresting rings observed through the week, more than usual from both Ireland (caught by David Cabot on the Inishkea Islands) and Sutherland (caught by Carl Mitchell & the Highland Ringing Group at Durness), would indicate a good number of "passage" birds present on Islay. No new Svalbard birds this time but a couple of the regulars from there that seem to have moved permantly to the Islay population.
The number of White-fronted geese are low, are they possibly still in Iceland? No collars were read at all.
Canada Geese, at least 5, have been seen at various locations throughout the island.
An Arctic Tern was seen offshore from Bruichladdich on Monday 22cd, and also 3 Swallow heading south at Port Ellen. A Siskin was over at Coullabus on Tues 23rd, and there was 2 separate sightings of Golden Eagle, one an immature, the other an adult bird at different locations.
The Bar- headed goose was with the Barnacle Geese over at Finlaggan on Wed 24th. Also that day was a late Greenland Wheatear at Gruinart. SP

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Fri 26th Oct- Sat 27th Oct

Over at RSPB, Loch Gruinart reserve here on Islay, the following birds were seen, 2 Hen Harriers, 1 Merlin, 20 Pintail, 2 Pale Bellied Brent Geese, 153 Golden plover, 205 Lapwing, 302 Fieldfare, 357 Whitefronts and 1 Polecat ferret! Off reserve, and a Barn Owl was seen out hunting. JRH
A Little Gull was seen off Bruichladdich and whilst scanning through the numerous Barnacle Geese, 7 Canada Geese were spotted, 6 Hutchinsii and 1 Parvipes which was along with 2 Hybrids. The Bar headed Goose is still around, having been seen at the top of Loch Indaal and more recently at Finlaggan along the other geese. There have been several other sightings on the mainland, are they all escapees or what? SP

Friday, 26 October 2007

Tues 23rd Oct - Thurs 25th Oct

Around 100 Golden Plover and about the same number of Lapwing (Green Plover/Peewit) were over at Killinallan on Monday. MMcC

On Tuesday over at Ardnave, 7 Purple Sandpipers were noted, along with 1 Bar tailed Godwit, 10 Turnstone, 25 Chough, 60 Herring Gull, 60 Common Gull, 10 Eider and 15 Teal.
The influx of Fieldfare and Redwing continues, now on the West of Islay, but not on passage or in such numbers as reported previously. MS

On Monday, there were 5 Swallow over Kilnaughton Woods, and there was a bird of prey over the wood possibly a Hobby in company with the swallows. The bird was very vocal and the features noted could point to a Hobby, has anyone else seen it? There was a male Grey Wagtail feeding on the edge of a silage pit at Claggan Bay. On the way home , 17 Whooper swan were at Gartmain.
Tuesday, on the sea off Saligo there was a single Long tailed Duck, while up at Ardnave Loch there were Pochard and Goldeneye along with the Tufted Duck.
Wednesday produced 52 Teal down on the lochans beside Loch Gorm. There were also 2 Pink footed Geese amongst the Barnacle Geese at Kilchoman. Also noted were a pair of Whooper with 4 juvs. There was a dead juv whooper under the power lines at Rockside.
Late entries on Thursday included Jack Snipe and 2 separate sightings of Treecreepers, all in the Kilchoman area. C & TJ
Thursday produced 2 Little Stint at Carnain while inland a lot of Siskins have arrived. RAS

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Sun 21st Oct - Mon 22nd Oct

25 Whooper Swans were seen flying south from the Loch Gorm area early Sunday morning. There was a further 26 on the spit at Gartmain, with several other small groups scattered around Loch Indaal. The 13 Pale Bellied Brent Geese are still to be seen at Blackrock.
There was a single Shelduck along with 12 Pintail at Bridgend.
A Merlin was seen over the head of Loch Gruinart while there were 52 Rock Doves on a ruined roof nearby. On the shoreline on the east side of Gruinart there were 185 Golden Plover, 38 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin and 10 Ringed Plover. At Bun-an-Uillt there was a Long Tailed duck offshore.
Back at Loch Skerrols there was a Mute Swan with 4 juv.
On Mon. at the head of Loch Gruinart a single Grey Plover was seen amongst Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Redshank. The sight of thousands of Barnacle Geese coming in to roost at Gruinart was a sight not to be missed.
2 Mute Swans with 2 juv. at Bunnahabhain were seen at mid day. C.&T.J.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Thurs 18th Oct - Sat 20th Oct

This is an image of 2 Whooper Swan,taking off from Loch Gorm. Unfortunately, I was unable to get an image of the group of 150 over at Gruinart before they left! MAB


An otter was obseved at Bruichladdich, the first since the 1st of August. Out on the Loch there were 5 Red throated Divers, while inland there were 8 Snipe and 4 Teal on the Pools. GJ


A brief summary of the Corncrake survey for 2007.......
The survey of Corncrakes on Islay in summer 2007 showed a further increase in numbers from previous years. This year, the total number of calling males was 69, which is 10 more than 2006, and 17 more than in 2005. The majority of the calling males were found on the Rhinns of Islay, with the highest concentration of calling males was again on Gruinart Flats, there were 16 calling males on the RSPB Loch Gruinart Reserve.
Thanks to the Corncrake Initiative Scheme and the willingness of the farmers, most of the silage fields adjacent to where calling corncrakes were heard, were either cut after 1st August, some of them even after 1st September, with most fields being cut in a corncrake friendly manner, i.e. from the centre out, rather than from the outside in. By cutting in this way, this should help the survival of the chicks as they would tend to go to the outside edges of the field being mown, which hopefully will increase the number of corncrakes on Islay in future years. MS





A Merlin was seen over the moorland on Friday, with a single Snow Bunting also seen in the same location later on that day. MS


On Saturday morning there was another noticeable passage of around 4,000 Fieldfares over the South East of Islay, while over on the East we are only seeing the odd one or two, as well as a few Redwing. RAS

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Wed 17th Oct

A day of blue skies and towering white clouds over a turquoise sea with views over to Colonsay and Mull with Ben More in the distance. 16 Golden Plover flew over with Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone and Oystercatcher along the shore at Ardnave.
Kittiwakes and "Comic" Terns flew by with Shags and the occasional Gannet. Off Ardnave Point a Great Northern Diver flew in with a group of 5 soon after. A Red Throated Diver was also off shore.
3 Snow Buntings were in the dunes, and further on a flock of around 60 Twite.
Out over Nave Island a group of about 50 Swans (probably Whoopers) flew south.
In one bay where the seaweed was piled high, numerous birds were feeding on insects - 24 Chough, 40 Twite, and 50+Starling. On the edge of the tide were 6 Redshank, 1 Bar-Tailed Godwit, 10 Ring Plover, and 20 Oystercatcher.
5 Snipe were seen in the marshy area behind the dunes.
All through the walk Chough and Raven were seen and heard.
On our return, thousands of Barnacle Geese were out on the Flats at Gruinart, but best of all, at least 150 Whooper Swans. C & TJ.

Ther was a sinlge Greenshank on the left hand flood in front of the hide at Gruinart. G.J.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Sun 14th Oct- Tues 16th Oct

Sunday, in the afternoon, briefly, I was kept out of mischief, and from doing much work as the others helped to sort out the sheep and tag them.

There were several movements of Brent Geese, albeit in small numbers! On Loch Indaal, there were 32 Grey plover, 121 Bar-tailed Godwit and just over 200 Turnstone. Down on the Oa, there was a probable sighting of a Gyr Falcoln. RAS

A drive up the Glen road on Tuesday morning, with stops for walking and birdwatching, produced Crossbills, Siskins and Coal tits in the mature conifers with their prolific cones. Further on a ring tailed Hen Harrier was hunting, being watched by a Buzzard. Across the valley a Merlin was being harassed by a Hoodie crow. Later on a Golden Eagle was tucking into a rabbit, whilst a juvenile tried to get in on the act. When the juvenile took to the wing, it was dive bombed by a group of Buzzard. Stonechats were along the roadside, with a Kestrel overhead and finally 30+ Fieldfare flew in, looking for invertibrates in the field.
Later on on Ballygrant Loch, there were 6 Dabchicks and 4 Mute Swans. In the woodland, a flock of Siskin and Redpoll were feeding on the alders, and a pair of Bullfinches were also noted. Finally 2 Golden Eagle were seen from near Port Askaig across on Jura, whilst a late Arctic Tern flew down the Sound, where Shags, Eiders and a few Awks were also seen. C & TJ

Monday, 15 October 2007

Fri 12th Oct - Sun 14th Oct

The spell of good weather continues, but for how long we all ask, as long as pay back time does not come too soon....

On Friday, at Loch Gruinart reserve, there were 16425 Barnies, 216 Whitefront, 43 Pale Bellied Brent, 10 Whooper, 242 Lapwing and 30 Snipe. JRH
There were 28 Whooper on Loch Gorm. IKB
While on Saturday, over at Lossit Loch a group of 14 Long tailed Tits were seen. There have been several other sightings of Long tailed Tits recently at various different locations through Islay but this has been the largest in number so far. SMcG
Also on Saturday, at Ardnave there was a group of 25 Turnstone observed on the foreshore. MS
Ardnave, turned up trumps again on Sunday, with a Snow Bunting, a female Greenland Wheatear, while out at sea there were a pair of Long tailed Ducks. Back on Ardnave Loch itself, 3 Slavonian grebes were present. Down offshore at Saligo Bay, several groups of Gannets were flying South . C & TJ
Meanwhile at Machir Bay, 3 dead Triggerfish were found, where their source of origin has yet to be established. JB

Friday, 12 October 2007

Wed 10th Oct - Thurs 11th Oct

Quite a lot of birds to report, so here goes.....

We can start off with the monthly Webs count, from over at Loch Gruinart, covering the whole estuary. 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 19 Shag, 1 Heron, 68 Wigeon, 1 Eider, 36 Red Breasted Mergansar, 255 Oystercatcher, 61 Ringed Plover, 149 Bar Tailed Godwit, 295 Curlew, 31 Redshank, 34 Turnstone, 33 Common Gull, 107 Herring Gull, 2 Greater Black Backed Gull, 1 Cormarant, 227 Dunlin, 4 Black Tailed Godwits, 8 Mallard, 16 Lapwing and 11 Grey Plover. Many thanks to Catherine and her counters for that information. CF

There was a flock of over 600 Golden Plover down at Portnahaven, while up at the head of Loch Indaal there were 300 Dunlin, 9 Little Stint, 1 White Rumped Sandpiper, 12 Bar Tailed Godwit, 120 Ringed plover, 50 Turnstone and 3 Snipe. RAS

Over at Loch Gruinart RSPB, there were 13,385 Barnies, 118 Whitefronts, 1 Canada (Hutcinsii), 6 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Merlin, 2 Mistle Thrush en passage. There were a lot of Blackbirds and Robins on the move too! The reason for the drop in Barnies is that they have already started to go in to groups round the island. JRH

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Tues 9th Oct

Forgot to put in Monday's entry that there were 22 Whooper Swans on Loch Gorm, sorry! MAB

Over at Loch Gruinart Reserve, there was a count of 20605 Barnies, 224 Whitefronts and 2 Pink-footed Geese.On the floods there were 319 Teal, 86 Wigeon, 25 Shovellors, 4 Pintail, 10 Black-tailed Godwits, a Peregrine on a fence post, along with 2 Fieldfares flying overhead. The Barnies are on time, but the Ducks are late in arrival. JRH

Out on the estuary, there was a Curlew Sandpiper, 8 Whooper Swans and a further 14 Black-tailed Godwits. MS

Monday, 8 October 2007

Mon 8th Oct




On returning from Port Charlotte this morning, we just stopped for a moment for a quick scan through the geese that were grazing on the stubble field, mainly Barnies and Whitefronts along with the solitary Pinkfoot, and then a double take, what were we seeing? Certainly not a Snow Goose, but indeed a Bar-headed Goose, where it had come from is open to discussion, was it infact a wild goose, or was it one that had escaped from captivity? There is an interesting article about the Bar-headed Goose in the October edition of "Birdwatch" magazine, in which it states that this species is the highest flying migrant as it crosses through the Himalayas on its annual migration. You can see the large wingspan which it has in comparison to the Barnies.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Fri 5th Oct - Sun 7th Oct

The Geese are certainly returning in their numbers, on Friday, at Loch Gruinart there were over 1300 Barnacle Geese, 7 Greenland Whitefronts and 45 Pale Bellied Brent noted. Also seen on Friday were 9 Pintail, a Green Winged Teal, 23 Black Tailed Godwits, 7 Grey Plovers and a Greenshank. A Peregrine Falcon and also a Golden Eagle were also observed. The count at Gruinart at 11am on Sunday was up to 10865 Barnies, 17 Whitefronts, 4 Brent and a solitary Pinkfoot. 22 Whoopers were also on the estuary and a single Redwing was seen. Out on front of the hide 2 family groups of Roe Deer, one of 4 the other 3, were seen grazing quite happily in the sunshine. JRH
Out and about, there was a group 0f 107 Lapwing, quite a few Twite at various locations while at home, Goldfinches were seen on seed heads and a new "house tick" with Long tailed Tits. On Saturday evening there was the sound of the Red Deer Stags roaring down the road. IKB

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Tues 2nd Oct - Thurs 4th Oct

Lest we forget, some late sightings, there was a Long tailed Skua on Loch Kinnabus on 19th Sept, while on the previous day 24 Whoopers were seen flying over the Oa (? en route to Ireland), 4 on Aros Bay and a further 12 at Laphroaig, all on the 18th. Also last weekend on Sun 30th Sept there was a srtong passage of Redwings and Fieldfares along the South East coast of Islay.
On Tuesday 2/10 at Loch Gruinart Reserve, there were 62 Brent geese, 38 Black Tailed Godwits, 4 Ruff and 16 Pintail. Today, Thursday from Gartmain on Loch Indaal, 150 Knot, 100 Bar Tailed Godwits and 450 Wigeon. Round at Crosshouses, a Jack Snipe flew across the road, almost giving another kind of statistic...... RAS
Today at Gruinart, the first of the larger flights of Barnacle Geese came in, with a final total this evening of 1340. JRH

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Friday 28th Sept - Mon 1st Oct

The dry weather is still continuing, although the forecasters are predicting rain around the middle of the week.
A few more geese are in, not many though, the Whitefronts were up to 20, while Barnies had dropped to 18, and a sinlge Pink foot! Greylags around Loch Gorm appear to be fluctuating, with over 1,000 to observed on Saturday, while on other days hardly any, less than 100 were seen over the same sites on other days. Are these just Geese moving through, or are they feeding elsewhere on Islay? On Loch Indaal there were 18 Common Scotors noted. G.J.
Whilst out and about on Monday, 3 Greenland Wheatears were seen, and at home there appear to have to have been a movement of Robins. On the lawns there were 2 Yellow wagtails getting grubs just after the grass had been mown. The Peregrine Falcon was up on his perch for quite a while, just casing the joint out, no doubt waiting for some Rock Doves to fly past! Have noticed quite a few Hooded Crows and Ravens. I.K.B.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Mon 24th Sept - Thurs 27th Sept

Well, the Paisley correspondent has returned from his hospital stay, not so many Magpies to be seen this time, even although I was in for almost 2 months, I was not really in form to do much bird watching! On return here on Tuesday evening, we had 2 Ringtails between the airport and Bowmore, and while Margaret was in the Co-op in Bowmore doing some last minute shopping a Peregrine flew overhead. It's great to be home, words cannot really explain..... At this point I would like to thank James R. How for kindly keeping the blog going in my absence.
The birdlife here is tremendous, we do not really appreciate it until you have been away for a spell. Today, Thursday, there were 20 Barnacle Geese, and 8 Whitefronted Geese along with over 500 Greylag on one of the the small lochans beside Loch Gorm, while up at Ardnave the were 2 Whooper Swans. I.K.B.
Over at R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart Reserve, this week, there have been a further movement through of Geese, Monday had 148 Pale Bellied Geese, Tuesday a show of 53 Pale Bellied Geese along with 20 Barnacle Geese (? same group as noted at Loch Gorm area on Thursday?) while on Wednesday there were 9 Whooper Swans. J.R.H.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Mon 3rd September to Sun 23rd September

A relatively quiet period as far as migration is concerned with lots of birds being reported further north, but not many reaching south to Islay, (although read on for a few highlights). The second part of September and through October is always the most exciting period to be on Islay.
Black tailed godwits have been continuous on the Gruinart floods throughout this period with 12 on 03/09 and 11 on the 22/09. Duck numbers have been steadily increasing around the Island, at Gruinart: 2 pintail 03/09 and on the 17/09, 252 teal. 13 wigeon and 6 shoveler.
A trip in a rather too small boat from Oronsay around the west coast of Islay and into Loch Indaal (09/09) had a few highlights to aleviate the motion sickness: 2 great skuas, 2 storm petrels, 2 black throated divers, lots of manx shearwaters, 2 basking sharks and a sunfish (JRH). On the 16/09 (AS) took a boat trip south of Port Ellen at about 3 miles out, 2 great shearwaters!, 45 sooty shearwaters and 30 storm petrels visited the boat.
At Gruinart on the 17/09, 1 great skua, a Greenland wheatear and 165 linnets.
The weather has definitely become more autumnal and now we are starting to see the for runners of Islays amazing goose invasion: on the 22/09 at Gruinart 12 barnacle geese and 18 pink footed geese. On the 23/09, 12 barnacle geese, 23 pink footed geese and 271 pale bellied brents (JRH).

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Mon 27th August to 2nd September

Some Autumn movement of birds has been evident this week in some Autumn like weather.
27th August, 8 black tailed godwits, 12 knot and 356 greylag geese all at Gruinart. On the 28th August a quick look over the Loch at Gruinart revealed a bird of prey spectacular, 2 ospreys, 1 peregrine, 1 sparrowhawk and a hen harrier. Later an otter was visible from the hide also at Gruinart. On the 30th August 6 black tailed godwits, 1 little grebe, 3 gadwal, 1357 grelag geese and a single barnacle goose were all present around Gruinart.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Mon 14th August to Sun 26th August

Since the last posting the hills of Islay have gradually turned purple. Over the last two years the heather on the Island has suffered badly from heather beetle. This year it has recovered well. The Island looks resplendent in its coat of purple.
Of birds and beasts: An otter and 2 cubs was seen from the Port Charlotte to Portnahaven road on 14.08 (MC). Still in the south of the Island the basking shark, that was first seen off Port Charlotte some weeks ago is still in the area, but has moved south around the Portnahaven area. At Gruinart barn owls have been showing well 16.08 and 21.08, also at Gruinart an elephant hawk moth caterpilar and lots of dragonflies especially common hawkers 21.08 (JRH). On the 24.08 a peregrine, 2 shoveler and 6 snipe were seen at Gruinart. On the 25.08 on the north Rhinns lots of manx shearwaters and gannets were offshore, a whimbrel flew over heading south and a hummingbird hawk moth! was seen.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Sun 5th August to Sun 13th August 2007

Mixed weather and not much time spent birdwatching.
On the sunny days found a few birds.
The 5th August male and female sparrowhawks at Gruinart (JRH). On the 7th August a pair of bullfinches were seen on the Oa (GJ). On the 8th August there was a spotted flycatcher and a whitethroat at the visitor centre Loch Gruinart (JRH). I had a walk to check some reed beds on the 10th August and saw lots of young sedge warblers and reed buntings flitting in and out of the tall phragmites (JRH). On the 13th August (GJ) saw 2 sandwich terns at Bruichladdich and 200 greylags at Bridgend.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

1st August to 4th |August

Lots of reptiles and amphibians about on the island perhaps visable due to the rain showers (no its not Jurassic Park, just Islay). On the 01.08.07 turnstone, twite and 40+ chough at Ardnave (JRH) and 3 toads at Gruinart.
On 02.08.07 chough and a comon lizard at Gruinart (JRH)
On the 04.08.2007 at Gruinart, 2 tawny owls, hen harrier (seen regularly), 3 ravens and another toad.
Also on the 04.08.2007 our overseas correspondent in Paisley reported 5 magpies, 2 of which were attacking pigeons and 2 ravens (good for paisley). At 5.00 am on the 05.08.07 a fox.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Mon 30th July 07



No, this image has not been digitally enhanced, but this single Barnacle Goose appeared last week, and I was fortunate enough to see it amongst a group of 54 Greylags this afternoon. After a while the Greylags started to harass it! Last night there was a "late" Corncrake calling here at our house, still going strong as I went to bed around midnight. If he finds a mate there still could be time to raise a late second brood. I.K.B.

Over at Loch Gruinart Reserve, an Elephant Hawk Moth was caught in the Moth trap, while some Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were also found today. J.R.H.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Sun 29th July 07



These Greylag Geese were round the other side of Loch Gorm today, about 70 in number, but definately being seen in different locations. Out at sea, here on the West of Islay, strong passages of Gannets heading South again, while on land in the heat of the day I saw a Common Lizard about 10-12 cm out sunning itself on the concrete at the door of a friend's house!

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Sat 28th July 07

A Redpoll was at the hide at Loch Gruinart Reserve today. J.R.H.
We are now a Starling less after it was taken by a Sparrowhawk from the bird table and they both hit the kitchen window in the process. Two visitors to Islay watched a Golden Eagle being mobbed by 2 Buzzards giving them a great chance to compare the sizes of the birds together. M.A.B.

Fri 27th July 07

While out and about, we were fortunate enough to see several different birds of prey, female Hen Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin swooping onto and killing a Meadow Pipit. The Greylag Geese around Loch Gorm are spreading themselves through more fields rather than massing in one large group. Down on the beach there were 12 Dunlin and 22 Ringed Plover, along with a dead Gannet and also a dead Herring Gull. I.K.B.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Wed/ Thurs 25th 26th July 07



This willow warbler was in the poly tunnel catching insects, while its mates were making the most of what was in the garden! There are quite a few young Goldfinches out as well, while after some of the rain the young Blackbirds are busy probing for worms.

Out at sea, there have been sightings of numerous groups of Gannets returning South after their fishing trips.

Over at the mouth of Loch Gruinart, on the sand bar at the low tide, there was a group of around 50 Grey Seals loafing about, but not singing! I.K..B.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Tues 24th July 07

Whilst out and about, during the evening, we came across the grass field with the Greylag geese on it, the only difference was that now there are 163, and with 24 rabbits..... There were plenty of Stonehats and Whinchats around, while a male Hen Harrier crossed the road right beside where we were parked up. Saw our first Wheatear for a while too. There were 2 Greater Black backed Gulls out looking for carrion. M.A.B.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Mon 23rd July 07



Whilst going round the sheep this morning, I saw this rather, sad dejected Chough down beside the old water wheel. I managed to get quite close to it and it did not make much of an attempt to fly away. I went out later on and there was no sign of it, so what became of it I am not sure. Gape worms appear to be having quite an affect on them this year. I.K.B.
There were over 90 Greylag Geese on one of the grass fields close to Loch Gorm on Sunday evening. A.MacT.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Sun 22nd July 07

The good, sunny weather continues over here on Islay, while a lot of other places on the mainland are having heavy rain and severe flooding.
This morning on the overhead wires there were 52 Swallows, and on checking the artificial House Martin nest, I noticed that it was empty, so the 3 fledglings must have been successfully reared and flown their "nest". There were 3 young Grey wagtails in the garden earlier on, while on the nut feeders, there were 4 young Great Tits. I.K.B.
Over at Bruichladdich, a Mooorhen was spotted roosting in some Willows about 7 foot above the ground! G.J.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Sat 21st July 07

4 Greenshank were over at Gruinart today, the Redpoll was still around as well as 2 Moorhen. 2 Short-eared Owls were seen out hunting on Friday evening. J.R.H.
Here at home, there was a Willow Warbler, along with some young Blue tits over in the Willows in the garden. During the afternoon, there were 22 young Swallows on the overhead wires. I.K.B.
There was a report of a Basking Shark in Loch Indaal this evening. E.H.

Fri 20th July 07

Over at R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart Reserve there was a Greeshank, as was a Redpoll. In the good weather, there have been good numbers of Blue tailed Damselflies. J.R.H.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Thurs 19th July 07

A day for the youngsters.....
While coming back home from Bowmore, this afternoon, there was a young buzzard on top of fence post, and further along the road there were 3 young Ravens on top of a large rock, surveying all that was to be seen. Back home in the garden, there were young Goldfinches out and about, while earlier on we had observed a young Siskin on the feeders at a friend's house. Needless to say the camera was not at hand! M.A.B.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Tues 17th - Wed 18th July 07


No, this is not our "rehoused" House Martins from here on Islay, but an image from down South taken a few years ago. The new nest was an inhaler mask, and did the trick with the fledglings successfully reared.
J.R.H. reports from the Scilly Isles, Marsh Harrier, Little Egrets, (we occasionally get them here on Islay too!), along with singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs too.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Sat14th- Mon 16th July 07


This image of 9 young Red-legged Partridge was taken along the roadside, just last week, so rather a late brood. Partridges here on Islay do not breed very sucessfully , mainly due to our high rainfall! The young House Martins whose nest fell down the other week, who we rehoused into another nestbox have been quite lucky, with 3 of the young still surviving. Another nest, fell down after the heavy rain on Friday night, but the young did not survive the drop from such a height. After the good day on Sunday, during the evening, the Swallows and the House Martins were noticeable swooping over the wood outside the house catching food on the wing. I.K.B.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Fri 6th - Fri 13th July 07

Apologies for the lateness of the blog, partly due to my fault, and partly due to the fact that some of our contributors are away on holiday, J.R.H. in the Scilly Isles and R.A.S. on St Kilda!
35 Mergansers were observed at the mouth of Loch Gruinart. M.S.
Over on Jura, one pair of the Short eared Owls have successfully fledged 4 young, while down on the bay there was a sighting of Shelduck with a creche of 16 ducklings. Earlier on, in June, during a Sea bird survey between the North end of Islay and Colonsay, 2 Puffins were recorded. L.G. & G.M.
The Webs Count this week at Gruinart gave the following birds, 8 GBB Gulls, 2 LBB Gulls, 105 Herring Gulls, 22 BH Gulls, 151 Common Gulls, 1 Little Gull, 35 Curlew, 2 Whimbrel, 84 Bar Tailed Godwits, 268 Oystercatchers, 47 Eider Duck, 9 Knot, 16 Dunlin and 1 Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine was later seen taking an Oystercatcher, so should the count read 267?
There has been a regular sighting of a Tawny Owl over at R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart reserve. C.F.
Out and about on Islay there have several sightings of Raven out with their young. S.McG.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Thurs 5th July 07

Over at R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart Reserve helping with the guided walk in the morning. The first bird to be seen was a Short eared Owl out hunting, and soon after a male Hen Harrier quartering its patch. Down on the estuary, there were quite a few Shelduck about, but again not a lot of ducklings with them. In the afternoon, I was out trying to locate the Stone Curlew that had been reported again, but to no avail! M.A.B.
There was a sighting last week of a Black Redstart down on the Rhinns. J.S.A.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Wed 4th July 07

Great excitment at the home today, as one of the House Martin nests had fallen down on the ground with 4 young. After the initial panic, the problem was easily solved, but would it be successful? The remedy was to use an articial Marin nest, which we had not erected, and place the youngsters in it and hope for the best, we could not site it on the eaves but placed it securely on the window sill. By the looks of it, we have been successful as there are plenty bird droppings now by the new nest and several gaping mouths waiting to be fed. Hard to really establish whether we have 3 or 4 yougsters. M.A.B.

Tuesday 3rd July 07

Out today with George Jackson, for a welcome spot of bird watching! Several Gannets on the move out at sea, with a Sedge warbler heard being very vocal in an overgrown ditch on the roadside, but too elusive to be seen! Plenty stonechats, whinchats, wheatear, both adults and young were abundant in numbers. Skylarks were heard singing away in numbers up at Sanaigmore, as were a few Curlew. On the water there, were a few Eider along with youngsters. Meadow Pits were out and about with grubs for their young. At the end of our trip we commented on the lack of Harriers, a solitary Buzzard sat on a telegraph pole was the only raptor seen, no Owls either at all. G.J. and I.K.B.

Mon 2nd July 07

Islay chough summary, 2007
There are currently 50-53 nest sites occupied on Islay. Of theses nest sites, only around 30 pairs bred successfully. It has been a mixed year overall, with some pairs rearing large broods, up to 5 young, but others struggling to feed their young and losing part of or the whole brood during the nestling period.
The young choughs, of pre-breeding age, are at present in 2 flocks here on Islay at the moment. Around 65 - 70 can be seen at Ardnave peninsula and 25 - 40 around the Machir Bay area. At this time of year, the flocks of young birds are also joined by adult pairs with their recently fledged chicks. These noisy families are usually easy to spot as the fledglings are often following the parents relentlessly, begging for food! M. McC.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Sat 30th June - Sun 1st July 07

A Merlin was seen to be acting oddly in a garden over at Ballygrant, it had got a blackbird shouting off its alarm call from within a bush. The Merlin responded, by coming in to land on its perch, sourced the blackbird and took off, smashing its way into the fuschia bush, but to no avail with the blackbird flying off unscathed! S.McG.
The weather here on Islay has gone downhill, now that we are in July. We only had 3.5" of rain in June, mostly in big falls overnight followed by nice suuny days, a big contrast compared to the flooding endured and ensuing damage done to property over on the mainland. So today it is rather dreich outside, with not much sign of many birds on the wing, although the young Choughs from the roost were quite vocal earlier on, as is their norm, they cannot go about quietly! I.K.B.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Wed 26th - Fri 28th June 07

Barn owls and also Tawny Owls were seen out hunting over at R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart Reserve, while 2 lizards were seen out sunning themselves during the day. There have been several sightings of Adders around the island, during this spell of sunny weather! Also over at Gruinart, 3 of the Hen Harrier broods were rung with a total of 7 fledglings, apart from the normal metal B.T.O. rings, they also have a white plastic ring with black lettering, the female has its ring on the right leg while the male is on the left leg, so if you see any of them, please let us know. J.R.H.
Down on Loch Indaal, there was a good sighting, close inshore, of a Great Northern Diver. G.J.
Also on the other side of the Loch, there were 4 Red Throated divers, and a Peregrine Falcon while on an inland lochan there were a pair of Whooper Swans who may now be here the whole summer, having missed out on the Spring migration! G.D.Y.
Here at home, this afternoon, I watched the Peregrine high up, flying with the Swallows, nobody taking any notice of either party! M.A.B.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Mon 24th - Tues 25th June 07


These are 2 of the young owls that were rung last week.
This morning, on the bird table there were 12 young Starlings, while on other occasions we have had young Greenfinches trying to get their parents to feed them. I am not sure whether we are right to feed through the summer months, but it certainly makes life a lot easier for the adult birds, if there is a really good source of readily available food to feed the emerging brood.
Whilst out today we saw 2 male Hen Harriers flying together within 25- 30 yards of each other, and certainly flying together, rather than one bird trying to see the other off. There was a group of 5 chough at one place and another 3 further along the coastline, possibly still family groups together. I.K.B.
George has just returned from a few days over on Mull, where he had some spectacular views of the Sea Eagles, but unfortunately did not have his big lens on his camera when they were really close at hand! He also had a Turtle dove over at Ardbeg before going away, possibly the same one that was at Kinnabus. Andy is away to St Kilda, so I wonder what he will see out there.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Sat 23rd/ Sun 24th June 07

An evening walk on Friday, up the River Sorn from Bridgend was very productive. First of all was the Otter, 23 Pipistrelle Bats, along with 3 Daubenton's Bat, not bad going! A dipper was seen, as was 2 Woodcock and 2 Barn Owls. Several Roe Deer were also observed. It was on this walk last year, that a Sparrow Hawk was seen taking a Pipistrelle Bat! P.T.B.
On the way back from Port Charlotte, this afternoon, a snipe flew across the road in front of us, a Golden Eagle was close at hand, no need for the bins for an ID, and 14 Curlew on a silage aftermath field. I.K.B.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Mon 18th- Fri 22nd June 07

Hold my hand up for the wrong ID of the gull in the previous entry, it was a Herring gull, not a Common gull!
The Barn owl that I told you about in an earlier blog that laid 7 eggs, a record number for Islay, well 5 of the eggs hatched and were succesfully reared. Although one of the chicks was a little smaller, it was well fleshed when it was rung along with its siblings midweek. No cannibalism here on Islay in the nest, compared to the BBC Springwatch owls down in Devon! In the same vein, our swallows here at the house, were hatched on the same day, and fledged on the same day as the Devon swallows, with 4 fledglings here.
The shelducks at the top of Loch Indaal at Carnain, do not appear to have many ducklings with them, so have they been predated already, thinking of how quickly the brood of 4 on Springwatch soon became a solitary duckling!
A basking shark was seen from the ferry close to Colonsay on Wednesday.
There is a good showing of flowering foxgloves as well as honeysuckle too.
Over at R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart reserve, there has been several sightings of an Otter from the hide. 4 Black tailed Godwits and a shoveler with 5 young were also seen. Up at Ardnave Loch, a Tufted Duck was seen with 2 young. There have been several sightings of Short eared Owls reported this week around the island. Down on the Oa, 3 Swifts were seen and a Turtle Dove was at Kinnabus. A Dipper was on the small burn in Port Charlotte too. Pied Wagtails are out in force carrying grubs etc back to their ever increasing (in size) youngsters, as are the Swallows and House Martins here at home. I.K.B., G.K., J.R.H., P.Y.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Fri 15th- Sun 17th June 07

This an image sent to me by George Jackson of the Pomarine Skua which was seen earlier on in the week off Bowmore, obviously being asked to move along by a Common Gull!
The reason for the image of the Oystercatcher, in the previous blog, was that I saw one from my bed in Paisley! Does anyone out there know the poem about Magpies, as the maximum number I saw was 13, so any offers please?
Also whilst in the hospital, Louise was on holiday in the Lake District, okay for some... She had the pair of Osprey on Bassenthwaite as her top tick, along with Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Ring ouzel, Gooseander and Redstart. Back home on Jura, there are now quite a few Short eared Owls being seen, a pair of Great Northern Divers in courtship display with their synchronised swimming etc! L.G. & G.M.
Back on here on Islay there was a reaaly good sighting of a pair of Red throated Diver. D.B.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Tuesday 12th June to Thursday 14th June

The Blog manager is now back in residence, although he has kindly allowed me to up date the blog tonight.
Tuesday 12th June: An early start, as in Midnight allowed good counts of cornrake at Gruinart, as well as 2 spotted crakes, 1 water rail and a grasshopper warbler (JRH). Later, on the Oa, (AK) had a good day, recording 2 swifts off the cliffs, a spotted flycatcher, siskin and best of all a narrow bordered bee hawkmoth!
Wednesday 13th June: Another corncrake survey on the Island last night, with over 30 calling birds recorded in the one survey. Also 3 spotted crakes calling at Gruinart. Later from the hide at Gruinart a green winged teal was present also on the reserve was a mute swan with 6 cygnets and a teal with 5 ducklings (JRH).
Thursday 14th June: Colder and windier day, the birds were very quiet, good views of hunting hen harriers and short eared owl at Gruinart (JRH)

Monday, 11 June 2007

6th June to 11th June

Latest news from our Paisley correspondent is, 13 magpies and 2 pigeons from the hospital window, that's probably more magpies than have ever visited Islay.
On Islay there has been evidence of bird movement, with some good records.
On the evening of the 6th June a Stone Curlew (MC) was spotted at Ardnave, although searched for on the 7th, it was not seen again. Also on the 6th a Little Stint (JH) on the shore of Loch Indaal.
7th June: Produced a Blue Headed Wagtail (JRH) near Lyrabus on the road.
8th June: First Painted Lady Butterflies were seen, plus a Poplar Hawk Moth at Gruinart. Marsh Fritillary Butterflies have been reported from many sites all over the Island, it looks like it's going to be a good year for them.
10th June: A Pomarine Skua (GJ) was seen in Bowmore habour, being mobbed by Black Back Gulls, also 2 Red Throated Divers on Loch Indaal and a Spotted Flycatcher at Gruinart.
11th June: The Blue Headed Wagtail (JRH) still present on the road near Lyrabus, Gruinart.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

4th June to 6th June

The rain stopped and the sun came out, the weather must know when Spring watch is being broadcast.
4th June: Dunlin displaying at Gruinart (JRH) and 6 Yellowhammers around the Killinallen area (MS)
5th June: A male Gargany at Gruinart (AS) and also an Arctic Skua flying north over Loch Gruinart (BBC). On the Oa a swift was seen flying in off the sea (AK), I think this is the first of the summer.
6th June: A walk at Gruinart revealed 2 reeling Grasshopper Warblers, 3 Whitethroats, 2 Whinchats and 6 Stonechats (JRH). At Killinallen there was a single Bar Tailed Godwit in winter plumage (JF).

Sunday, 3 June 2007

30th May to 3rd June

Ian is temporarily out of order, but still recording for the blog with a report of 6 magpies from Paisley Hospital ward window.
We will endeavour to keep the Blog up to date with the latest stunning reports from the Spring Watch Island in the sun (well its raining at the moment).
30Th May: The Orchids are coming into flower at this stage mostly Heath spotted, and Early Purple (at Ardnave). The Hen Harriers are more active now with the young starting to hatch, and several Short Eared Owls have been seen.
31st May: We had a report that the last goose, the Gruinart Barnacle had succumbed to much grass. A Quail was heard during evening sound recordings by the BBC on the Gruinart flats. Also calling at Gruinart in a fine medley of wet grassland bird song were 2 Spotted Crakes, 4 Water Rails and an ample supply of Corncrakes as the chorus.
1st June: A corncrake count on the South Rhinns produced few Corncrakes but 5 barn Owls
2nd and 3rd June: Too much rain for birwatching!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Mon 28th/Tues 29th May 07

Monday, I was foolish enough to climb two of The Paps of Jura and I am still recovering. Not much birdlife to be seen but Common Sandpiper, Dipper and 4 Heron were observed. There were 2 ravens flying above us when we were on the top. There was also growing on the top small clumps of Sea Pink!! I.K.B.
Tuesday, over at Gruinart there were 57 Bar Tailed Godwits and 16 Arctic Terns. C.F.
The first of the corncrake surveys has taken place with over 35 calling birds heard.
The B.B.C. Springwatch programme has now started with good footage of Islay's wildlife.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Sun 27th May 07

Out this morning up the back of Port Charlotte, and observed 4 Chough, 2 Snipe a male Hen Harrier out quartering the ground. Later on in the day, there was a single Great Northern Diver at the top of Loch Indaal, a Golden Eagle over above the Glen Road, as was a male Merlin. In the woods around Bridgend there were 2 Treecreeper, while a Grasshopper Warbler was heard. J.H.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Sat 26th May 07


This is one of the Barnacle Geese that have not yet returned to Greenland, amongst the sea pink at R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart Reserve. M.S.
A Short Eared Owl was seen carrying food back from Jura to Islay across the Sound of Jura. N.C.S.
Out for our last walk before going home, round Loch Gorm, 3.5hrs walking, and Hen Harrier, Sand Martin, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Common Sandpiper Heron, Oystercatcher, Curlew, and Reed Bunting were all observed and numerous Brown Hares were also seen. D.S.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Fri 25th May 07

The first of our swallows have hatched their clutch of eggs which is early for Islay. Yesterday,
over at Gruinart we were fortunate to see the Green winged teal again, a pair of Moorhen with chicks at foot and Heron fishing for eel. Later on there was a heron being mobbed by 3 Lapwing for being in the wrong place! Another Heron in flight was being mobbed by 2 gulls in the hope of the Heron dropping its food! A pair of Shoveller and also some Shelduck were also observed. The Mallard that hatched eggs in early April was spotted with her 3 large ducklings swimming along behind, no doubt the predators had not noticed them before now! Later on, in the evening, there were a couple of Red Deer Stags coming down off the hill.
In the early hours of Friday we were out doing the first of the corncrake counts, but we will let you know the figures once we collate them together next week. A Water Rail was heard and also 3 Spotted Crakes over at Gruinart. M.A.B., J.R.H.
3 Barn Owls and 2 Tawny Owls were also heard whilst out doing the Corncrake count in the wee small hours. M.S.

Thurs 24th May 07

There have been some late sightings of a pair of Barnacle Geese at Blackrock, and a further 4 over at Ardnave. Also out and about Snipe have been heard drumming, with the number of Greylags around Loch Gorm increasing. Several sightings of the ring tail (female Hen Harrier) out hunting, indicating that some of nests could have hatched. Whitethroat out singing too, while a Wood Warbler was observed. A Short eared Owl was seen over the moorland, while over the hills a Golden Eagle was seen. J.H.
Another Wood Warbler was seen on the other side of the island, singing its head off. R.A.S.
Breagha (Gaelic for beatiful!), the Barn Owl, ( Gaelic Cailleach- Oidhche) to be seen at the Islay Natural HistoryTrust web cam, now has got 5 got chicks, 2 large and 3 small. M.R.L.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Wed 23rd May 07


Most of today was taken up with the exploits of the pair of Shelduck taking their brood of ducklings from their nest in an old burrow to the water. The ducklings themselves could not be more than a couple of days old. This year for some reason the adult birds took a right turn on leaving the burrow and headed inland with 7 ducklings. Around 3 hours later, and about 1.5 miles on, they got to the water minus one of the brood. The going was certainly hard, across tussocky grass and even through long heather, but it was heartening to see them swimming off at the end. We reckon that this is about 15 days earlier than previous years. After all the drama, when we returned to the burrow, young Ravens were to be seen along to the left, possibly the reason why the Shelduck had taken the long way out to water. I.K.B.
There have been several different sightings of Pheasant with young at foot, again a good fortnight ahead of sightings in other years. J.A.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Tues 22nd May 07

More work on Ringed Plovers and nothing really new to report (unless I have missed it!) The "candidate" pair of plovers for filmed stardom suddenly seem not to be doing very much at all. Typical!! J.S.A.
3 Little Terns were seen over in the Gruinart area. M.S.
2 Water Rail were heard calling at the weekend over at Gruinart, and the pair of Garganey are still to be seen at the R.S.P.B. Loch Gruinart reserve. J.R.H.
The White-tailed Sea Eagle that was seen on Sunday, was seen again yesterday, this time over the back of Bowmore/ Bridgend area. I.B.
With this recent spell of good weather (for Islay!) quite a few adders have been seen! C.F.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Mon 21st May 07


A cracking good night, it could be said.....6 corncrake and 2 possibly 3 Spotted Crake plus excellent views of a Polecat Ferret. A fine night which turned quite cold eventually, this then being the prelude to a very warm day. BTO Ringed Plover Surveys until mid-morning, which also included trying to find a suitable breeding pair for filming for the forthcoming BBC Spring Watch programme. Watching various pairs is like an ever unfolding episode of Eastenders with love, domesticity, disputes, evictions, agression, the lot! Charming little things! Surprisingly one pair have 3 youngsters already, several others appear to be starting the process and others may have lost their nests due to last weeks high tides and poor weather.
Searched various woodland block for the reported Green Woodpecker of yesterday, but to no avail. A party of Long tailed Tits and one of young Treecreepers seemed early. Views of Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Bullfinch were nice for here. J.S.A.
Marsh Fritillary and Green Hairstreak were seen over near Bunnahabhain. A group of Yellowhammers were also present while out in the Sound of Islay, 2 Great Nortern Divers were observed. B.W.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Sun 20th May 07

Weather has calmed down today and the sun is shining again! In the woods around Bridgend, a woodpigeon was seen, we have more resident Rock Doves on Islay than Woodpigeon. Also on the River Sorn there was a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher. S.McG.
A White-tailed Sea Eagle was seen being mobbed by Crows before flying off. S.C.
Quite a few of the shore nesting birds, like Common Gull and Ringed Plover appear to have lost their nests after the high tide coupled with the strong winds on Friday night. M.A.B.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Sat 19th May 07

Big waves, big troughs and high winds overnight and until lunchtime brought the promise of some good seawatching! Unfortunately the wind wouldn't just back round far enough, so whilst there was a good showing of all the seabirds you might expect ( Gulls, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Fulmar, Kittiwake, a few Auks and Terns), a passage of Great Northern Diver and Great Skua. The hoped for Skua passage that had been experienced in the Uists yesterday wasn't replicated, not even to species! Certainly the weather also raised expectations of Leach's Petrel but, again, nothing materialised and now the winds are lessening. Drogba saved the day finally! J.S.A.
A Little Gull was observed off Bruichladdich. J.H.
There were 57 Greylag Geese in one field beside Loch Gorm and several had goslings at foot. C.F.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Fri 18th May 07

A day marred by changeable and extreme weather. Eventually all thoughts of survey work were abandoned so spent the time committing the few observations generated to paper!
Despite this, some nice views of species like Hen Harrier and Chough. Raven and Hooded Crows are noticeably active at the moment and doubtless up to no good! Spent the latter part of the afternoon and evening in discussion with various mainland colleagues about the significance of the wintering Diver populations in Loch Indaal or in the stretch of sea between Kennacraig, the ferry terminal on the mainland, and Islay. J.S.A.
Out and about on the Rhinns, Whitethroat, 2 Cuckoo, odd Whimbrel, Whinchat, male Hen Harrier out hunting and a pair of acrobatic Chough that were very vocal! J.H.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Thurs 17th May 07



Rather a miserable day here, the weather that is!

This heron was seen taking off the other day, it was moving on after having being mobbed for quite a considerable time mainly by Lapwings.

Also witnessed was a Buzzard being mobbed by Jackdaws earlier today. There were a considerable number of Dunlin at the top of Loch Indaal, with several whimbrel being noted round Loch Gorm. I.K.B.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Wed 16th May 07

Some late news from yesterday, as today has been rather wet.
There was a sighting of a Golden Eagle being mobbed by a Buzzard on the Rhinns, the pair of Garganey over at Gruinart were seen mating and a pair of Grey Wagtails were seen on the Sorn at Bridgend, one of Armin's birds from Walkislay in April! R.G.B & C.B.
Over on the Oa, a Carrion Crow was seen with a Hooded crow! M.S.
Peregrine Falcon mobbing a Buzzard over at Gruinart. J.R.H.
There was thought to have been a brief sighting of a Honey Buzzard on the Rhinns. R.R.
Also on the Rhinns, Whitethroat were heard singing, Fulmar were seen, along with Gannets moving south. Also noted were Curlew and Lapwing both with young. J.H.
Meadow Pipits were seen carrying food back to their nest. Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and Greenland Wheater were present around Loch Gorm. Yesterday's Stonechat image was taken then! I.K.B.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Tues 15th May 07


Update from Jura , sightings this past week have included a Short Eared Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Song thrush in full song, single Magpie (rare bird over here!), Eider Ducks are building in numbers.
A Mute Swan was seen defending territory against Greylag Geese, Eider and Shelduck!
On the bird table, there now appears to be a dominant pair of Siskins. With more Swallows around, there were 7 pairs all trying to establish nests in a barn!
There was also a really close sighting of a Great Northern Diver, but needless to say no camera to hand! Stonechat and Wheatear were observed all around. L.G. & G.M.
A day spent out doing BTO survey work, either Ringed Plover Surveys or WeBS counts. The latter were completed over the Outer Loch Indaal in near perfect conditions given the very light winds and excellent visibility. Great Northern Divers are still hanging on, a few parties of Common Scoter were evident and small numbers of Guillemot were using the outer reaches but, strangely enough, no Razorbills were present on this occasion.
Many of the waders now appear to have passed through (unless they were part of the "first wave"). Remnant numbers of dunlin, Turnstone and Whimbrel apparent, but "Arctic" Ringed Plovers appeared to have left. However, from past experience, there's three weeks left for more to pour through! J.S.A.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Mon 14th May 07

An Osprey was seen with a fish, at Loch Gruinart in the late afternoon. C.F.
The Lesser Yellowlegs, Garganey and Green Winged Teal can still be seen at R.S.P.B. Gruinart reserve. At the top of Loch Indaal, there was a good showing of Dunlin in summer plumage.
Corncrakes are to be heard at more locations around the island. House Martins are straight back into nest building while there appears to have been a further rise in Swallows over the weekend. I.K.B.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Sun 13th May 07

Some late entries from last week.
The Green Winged Teal was observed over at Gruinart on Friday. G.J.
Also on Friday, 3 Canada Geese and a single Black tailed Gowit were seen. C.F.
Late Friday evening at Gruinart, 2 Spotted Crake and 7 Corncrake were heard, and another single Black tailed Godwit was seen. J.R.H.
Today, several Gannets were fishing in Loch Indaal close to the rocky shore line below Port Charlotte. Later on 30 chough were flying in the Machir Bay area. On a previous occasion some of the chough were seen mobbing a Buzzard! I.K.B.
Also today, in Bruichladdich, there was the return of a "tame" Lesser Black-backed Gull which feeds off the bird table, absent for over a year at least! G.J.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Sat 12th May 07

The Lesser Yellowlegs and the Garganey are still to be seen at Gruinart. All our Barnacle Geese and White-Fronted Geese have now gone. There were 17 Arctic Tern on the spit on Loch Indaal, while over 70 Dunlin were at the top of the Loch along with 10 Sanderling mostly in summer plumage apart from the odd one or two. Two Turnstone were also seen with them. There was a good sighting of a group of 15 Great Nothern Diver off Bruichladdich Pier. Around Loch Gorm, there was the flock of 18 immature Chough out flying around before going back to the roost. The first Stonechat family were seen, both male and female along with 3 recently fledged young. There were two different groups of Whimbrel, one of 11, the other 25. A Grasshopper Warbler was observed and heard, while a pair of Twite were also seen as well as a pair of Whinchat further along the road. R.G.B. & C.B.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Fri 11th May 07

Time for reflection with our garden birds, on the bird table especially. During the winter months more was seen of Great, Blue and Coal Tits, not in such numbers now, but still getting up to 8 Goldfinches in at one time, along with the odd Greenfinch and Chaffinch mixed in too. There are still the regular 4 Siskins, while the Goldcrest and a Treecreeper were both seen the other day.The Blackcap that was here through the winter has not been seen for a few weeks. Newcomers to the table now are a pair of Collared Doves while the House Sparrows have now mastered the nut feeder! S. McG.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Thurs 10th May 07

The Lesser Yellowlegs along with the Garganey were still to be seen at Gruinart today. Corncrake now arriving in numbers, up to six calling males heard at Gruinart, with two at another location, and another four nearby, and then there are the single calling birds round Islay above that! R.A.S.
Noticable passage of Gannets observed off the west coast, probably birds from Ailsa Craig. R.G.B. & C.B.
Loch Indaal had a pod of 16 Bottle Nosed Dolphins, up as far as Port Charlotte. K.W.
There was a further 3 BND observed by the children from Port Charlotte Primary school when they were busy doing their beach clean! E.H.H
There were 82 Whimbrel, 8 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling also in Loch Indaal, mid afternoon. M.A.B.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Wed 9th May 07


Yes, it's that time of year again with all the birds starting to pair up again, to mate and lay another clutch of eggs. Several pairs of Ringed Plovers have been seen sitting already. This bird was taken down on the foreshore in Port Charlotte, last year, completely ignoring all that was going on all around her!
Meanwhile on the Barn Owl monitor in the Islay Natural History Trust Visitor Centre in Port Charlotte, the third egg hatched today. There are 7 eggs in total in the clutch, but I will keep you updated as to how they get on. I.K.B.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Tues 8th May 07

Many more Arctic Terns are around with two "colonies" already busy with display.
At a time when Lapwings are being overtly protective of their newly hatched young, it's a sobering thought to see increasing numbers of "high Arctic" waders arriving, such as Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Sanderling, which have yet to make the exhausting journey northwards to reach their breeding grounds and begin the process of mating, incubating eggs and nurturing young. Having said that, to see the emerging plumage of Dunlin and Turnstone is a real joy and, hopefully, refuelling here will ensure their safe journey to areas most of us will never have a chance of even seeing. J.S.A.
Ballygrant Woods produced a Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher, and also 2 Blackcaps, the lone Whooper still remains, and a group of 25 Whimbrel were seen near Loch Gorm. R.G.B. & C.B.
Last weeks sightings over on Jura, included a Grasshopper Warbler, Snipe drumming, several sightings of Hen Harrier out quartering looking for prey. A Willow Wabler in full song, 6 Yellowhammers and a pair of Siskins at a bird table. L.G., G.M.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Mon 7th May 07


After the excitement of yesterday evening, with the Lesser Yellowlegs at Gruinart, I'd high hopes for today! Such was not to be the case. However, all was not wasted as a good selection of seabirds had been on the move in the morning, the majority of the Great Nortern Divers are in full summer plumage and doubtless will be leaving soon and newly arrived Arctic Terns were in evidence.
After being "mobbed" by a Rook, an immature Peregrine at Gruinart made two half hearted swoops, but then simply flew at the corvid and took it to the ground! J.S.A.
A solitary Whooper Swan still remains in the Bridgend area. J.H.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Sun 6th May 07


This morning at Loch Gruinart, there were 75 Gannets, 5 Arctic Terns, 2 Little Terns, 40 Bar Tailed Godwits, 12 Dunlin and a solitary Whimbrel. J.R.H.
In the early evening, from the hide, a superb Lesser Yellowlegs was observed along with a pair of Garganey and yet another 2 Ruff.
3 corncrakes heard from the hide, more calling birds are now being heard around the island. J.R.H., G.J., M.S., J.S.A., I.K.B. & M.A.B.

Sat 5th May 07

This is an image taken late afternoon on Thursday 19th April. There were over 560 pale bellied Brent Geese in total on Loch Indaal, a record for Islay!
Three rung birds were observed and all traced back to having been rung in Northern Ireland. The following morning, they had all gone, an impressive sight while they were here. I.K.B.
A group of 7 Greenland Wheatears were seen on Gruinart Reserve as well as the Spotted Redshank. At Bruichladdich there were 2 late Purple Sandpipers, a Common Tern and an Arctic Tern. J.R.H. and G.J.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Fri 4th May 07

Many Whitethroats heard around the island today, also a close sighting of a male short-eared owl in the early morning mist. G.D.Y.
A passage of 120 Whimbrel was observed off the pier at Bowmore in the morning, as well as a
good showing of Great Northern Divers in summer plumage in Loch Indaal. R.A.S.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Thurs 3rd May 07

24 Whimbrel at Loch Gorm. At Gruinart, the Spotted Redshank was present again along with Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck and Shoveler. Several Heron were also present along with a Moorhen, Lapwings, Redshank and Mute Swans. A Male Hen Harrier was observed hunting at the side of the road. M.A.B.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Wed. 2 May 07

Little of note over the sea early morning excepts feeding gannets. Still good numbers of Great Northern Diver on Loch Indaal and a few auks. Summer migrants appear to have improved in numbers with Sedge Warbler being more widespread and a few Grasshopper Warblers around. An adult Golden Eagle near Loch Gruinart was mobbed by two Buzzards and provided a fine spectacle for quite a period. The reserve at Gruinart, had one possibly two, Ruff but little else except a male Pintail, a pair of Wigeon and the odd Shoveler. Visits to various woodland showed several Blackcap, a Wood Warbler and even a chiffchaff singing lustily. Spring lambs, butterflies and wild flowers in profusion will most certainly be a memory of 2007. J.S.A.
There was also a good sighting of two Otters in the Bruichladdich area, initially out in the sea and then on the rocks at the shoreside G.J.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Last week

A little egret was seen at Gruinart on Thursday, 26th of May. Also seen at Gruinart on 28th May were two spotted redshanks. Earlier on in the week, there was a strong passage of black tailed godwits along with quite a few whimbrels. Also on the 26th there was a bottle-nosed dolphin observed off Port Charlotte. I.K.B