Thursday, 30 April 2009

Thurs 30th April

There were several of this new sub species of Oystercatcher on the shoreline on the East side of Loch Gruinart this morning, standing about on one leg in the rain, and they were not too keen to get their photos taken. Needless to say they did show their other leg off proir to flying away!

Later on, just below Craigens Farm there was a Sedge Warbler singing away in the reeds at the roadside, it was quite difficult to locate and I tried to get some images of it but it was almost impossible to focus on the bird rather than on the reeds round about. There were some good close sightings of a pair of Stonechats later on and finally on the platform above the hide, was a Song Thrush nearby on a branch of a tree. Looking over the salt marsh and there were still a few Barnacle Geese still present, mixed through a group of around 60 Shelduck.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Wed 29th April

This morning, first thing at breakfast time, there was a male Siskin on the nut feeder out on the front lawn. There has been no sign of the woodpecker for a few days now, so possibly she has moved off, having said that she had been hereabouts for the best part of 5 months.
Another visiting birder reported this evening to say there had been 30 Whimbrel feeding in a field at Coultorsay down at Bruichladdich. He had also seen a pair of Adders up at Ardnave!
Over at RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, James had seen a Water rail this morning and heard a further 2 calling. There was also a male Ruff in full summer plumage on the floods, along with 4 pairs of Shoveler. James also had 5 separate Grasshopper warbler singing today. He also commented on seeing more "skydancing" being done by the Hen Harriers. JRH
Another comment being passed on, is that there appear to more sightings of pairs of Short eared Owls round Islay this year. There have been a few more reports of calling Corncrakes being heard.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Tues 28th April

On Sunday, while most of us were watching our "American Visitors", there was no sign of Michal. Yes, he was busy with his camera again, getting this image of a House Sparrow on a lichen covered branch.
Today at home there has been an increase in the numbers of Swallows around, several of them looking at the old nest sites, such as in the garage, in the dog shed, in the sheep shed, all the favorite old sites from previous years. There were also a few pairs of House Martins around too, the first here this year. At breakfast time, the Cuckoo was calling away, and then all of a sudden it flew off being pursued by 4 Jackdaws! The stubble field down at the roadend now has several Lapwings on it, and tonight there were between 50 - 60 Golden Plover on it too.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Mon 27th April

Almost forgot, another senior moment, Tracey e mailed me the final Goose counts figures from earlier on this month, and I had forgotten to pass them on. Here goes then, Barnies tallied up to 39,204 and the Whitefront tally was 5,521. Many thanks for the figures through the winter for all the counts folks. It is interesting to note, that there are still a few Whitefronts to be seen while out and about.
A friend along the road had a male Bullfinch in his garden the other day, in full breeding plumage, a sight not to be missed.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Sun 26th April

A phone call from Michal, alerted us to a "twitch" over at the RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart this morning. Not just one bird, but at the end it turned out to be a twitch of 4 different species. The initial call was for a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Long billed Dowitcher, and these were easily found after prompting from James, as they were quite close to a Shoveler, but skulking around the rushes in the floods in front of the hide. The next shout was for the Green winged Teal, and more was to come, in the sense that at one point, all three birds were in the same field of view in the 'scope at once, at 60x magnification! They were seen by quite a wide range of folk, as the Argyll Bird Club were over on Islay for a weekend meet, and several of their members were fortunate to be there. Some visiting birders also saw the birds and equally impressed. The other species that James had seen briefly was a Spotted Redshank which he saw briefly around 6am. JRH
Back to our usual birds, and Margaret and myself had seen several Golden Plover, some Ringed Plover and a few Dunlin in a ploughed field over at Ballinaby yesterday evening. Whilst over at Gruinart this morning, we noticed 54 Shelduck and 44 Barnacle Geese mixed in with some Gulls on the salt marsh below Craigens Farm. Back here at home, before breakfast, the Cuckoo was in full song. Later on I had another first, and I had to double check, a Wheatear on a bough of a tree. I have seen them often on the ground, on a rock or on a dyke, even a fence post but never before on a tree!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Sat 25th April

This male Blackcap was caught in camera by Michal today, it had been there for a few days, but his perseverance paid dividends!
A phone message from Louise on Jura earlier on saying that there have been 43 Pale bellied Brent Geese in the bay at Craighouse, just below the shop. Another piece of news was that a dead Golden Eagle had been found in Pig Bay right up at the top of the Northern tip of Jura. It had a ring on its leg, and turned out to be have been rung back in 1987, so probably had died of old age rather than anything else. LG
James reported in to say that he had seen 52 Black tailed Godwits this morning on the floods, while at Bruichladdich he had an Arctic Tern. Coming home this afternoon, he commented that the salt marsh at the head of Loch Gruinart was covered with numerous Golden Plover, Ringed Plover and Dunlin, but was unable to get an accurate count as he did not have his 'scope with him at the time. He had been told this afternoon that there had been 4 Dotterel seen in a ploughed field over at Upper Killeyan on the Oa yesterday. JRH
Another visiting birder, over for a few days, left a message to say that he had seen his first Common Sandpiper of the year at Port Charlotte today, and had heard a Grasshopper Warbler over at Loch Tallant, while at the top of Loch Indaal there were 53 Black tailed Godwits. Were these possibly the same birds that James had seen too?

Friday, 24 April 2009

Fri 24th April

Remember the Twite that James saw last weekend with coloured rings on it's left leg? Well, as predicted by James, the bird had been rung in Lancashire, back in early 2003 at a site at Cant Clough, this latter piece of the jigsaw came through from Chris and Tony Johnson who regularly visit Islay and contribute to the blog when they are here. Thanks for your info folks.
Back here at home, today on the feeders, and a new tick for the year, a male Siskin! There were 3 House Martin swooping over the pools down at Carnain this afternoon. James had heard his first Corncrake of the year over at Gruinart this morning. George had seen a Grey seal trying to eat a fish about 14" long, in Loch Indaal, again this morning, it did succeed in the end. He also had seen an Otter out in the Loch too, while on the pier at Bruichladdich there were 6 Razorbill. IKB, JRH & GJ

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Thurs 23rd April

I was speaking to a visiting birder this afternoon, who told me that he seen a Whinchat over at Bunnahabhain earlier on today. He was also saying that the other evening that he had been watching a Short eared Owl out hunting when it caught a vole. It took it's prey to a fence post when, out of nowhere a male Hen harrier appeared, and a tussle took place mid air with the Owl losing its grip on the vole. The Harrier acrobatically dropped its wings and scooped the falling vole about 6 feet off the ground and flew off with the vole as his prey! Needless to say, the Owl flew off with nothing.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Wed 22nd April

James had been out doing a couple of counts on the reserve at Gruinart earlier on this week. On the floods, the birds of note were as follows, 118 Teal, 12 Shoveler, 7 Pintail, 7 Black tailed Godwits, 1 Gadwall and 39 Wigeon. Out on the loch itself, there were 480 Oystercatcher, 102 Ringed Plover, 138 Dunlin, 37 Bar tailed Godwits, 95 Curlew, 25 Redshank, 10 Turnstone and 8 Sanderling. This morning on the flats, James had 2 groups of 8 - 10 White wagtail, 2 Barnacle geese, 38 Greenland white fronted geese, 1 Whooper Swan and 2 Black tailed Godwits. JRH
All I could count was 15 Goldfinches in and around the feeders along with the Greenfinches and Chaffinches here at home this afternoon. There is still no sign of any House Matins returning to their nests as of yet.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Tues 21st April

Looking back at Adrian Martin's comment yesterday about the "abundant Hen Harriers", we take them for granted on Islay, there are over 40 pairs here whereas in England there are only 14 pairs in total.
Today I saw a pair of Grey wagtails down on the burn, and one of the visitors in the cottages commented on how fat our Greenfinches were! Certainly, the Goldfinches and also the Greenfinches are still present in good numbers on the feeders and eating quite a lot of feed, although the nut feeders are not being filled as much now. I noticed with interest, a Lapwing defending her territoty today. Initially it saw off a Raven, and then immediately afterwards chased a Hoodie Crow off!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Mon 20th April

Several different sightings from visitors, so here goes. On Friday, while out with walkislay, 2 Sandwich Terns were seen over the Sound of Islay from the lighthouse at McArthur's Head. The same folk also had another couple of birds on Loch Indaal later on the same day.
Adrian Martin from Hampshire had been over on Islay last week, and was commenting on our different birds, "abundant Hen Harriers, Choughs, Great northern Divers and Gannets were all fantastic for us Hampshire folk, but standard fare for you". He was also fortunate enough to see a couple of Dotterel in a field by the car park at the RSPB reserve on the Oa on Thursday, and on Tuesday evening whilst out, he had heard a Snipe drumming. Thanks for that, Adrian.
Another visitor had heard 2 Cuckoos today, one down beside Foreland, the other over beside Loch Tallant.
Back to our locals, and Michal heard his first Corncrake calling this morning, over at the RSPB reserve at Gruinart, while James had his first Sedge warbler of the year. MS & JRH

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Sun 19th April

After a busy week being heavily involved with walkislay, normal blogging should now take over again, with the entries being more regular, sorry about that folks! By the way, we had another good week with even more folk turning out for the various walks on offer, great!
Back to Islay and its' birds and James starts the ball rolling. He backed up my thoughts that yesterday, we had a fall of Wheatears, as he had noticed them in greater numbers today on the reserve at Gruinart. During the evening on Saturday, he had heard Whimbrel and Golden Plover flying overhead while out with his dog. This morning he had heard his first Grasshopper Warbler of the year, and saw 3 Golden Plover in a field that were still here, as were 5 Greenland whitefronted geese. He also saw a Sparrowhawk, and on the reserve there was a Twite with coloured rings on its' legs, possibly one that had been rung in Lancashire, James thought. JRH
A visiting birder over on holiday, was in touch with some sightings today of a pair of Sparrowhawks, 2 pairs of Short eared Owls, and also a male Hen Harrier "skydancing", all on the Rhinns.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Thurs 16th April

Louise had seen a Pale bellied Brent Goose over on Jura, earlier on this week and she reckons that they are not seen that often over there.
Back here on Islay, and I saw a Swallow, the first for the year at home. Over on the walk at Gruinart this morning, and I saw my first Bluebells and Wood Sorrel flowering in the woods at the reserve, and noted a Coal Tit singing away in the trees. The blossom on the Gorse at present, is as strong a showing as I can recall for a few years, a sign of what to come one wonders!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tues 14th April

Yes, as predicted, I have been kept busy with walkislay. Certainly, not with actual walking but acting as a taxi, ferrying folk back and forward, to and from some of the walks. The weather was not so good today, but there were still over 60 folk out on the walks on offer today. The walkers on the "North" walks saw numerous Red Deer, Sparrowhawk, ringtail Hen Harrier, and while I was on one of my "runs" I saw a Yellowhammer. Not sure what was seen down on the Oa walk. The " North" walks should have been good for seeing the herds of Deer as they were both led by our local gamekeepers!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Sun 12th April

Susan McGhie was on the phone this morning to say that she had heard her first Cuckoo of the year over at Ballygrant.
Back here at home, and Margaret yesterday saw a pair of Shelduck, coming into the nest, with the drake flying back out as a decoy while his mate dropped straight back into where they have been in previous years. Is this the same ducks that were here when BBC Springwatch was here, back in 2007?
Down at Carnain, there were 11 Sand Martins flying over the pools, and while on a quick run down from here to the Oa, there was not many geese to be seen. This was confirmed by James How this evening, as he had noticed a big movement of geese flying North up Loch Indaal through the day today. James also had a Willow Warbler on the reserve at Gruinart this afternoon

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Sat 11th April

As forecast, walkislay takes over for the next week. Today, was the first walk led by DJ, and was well attended, with 37 folk taking part, the weather was great, no rain. DJ managed to have 3 different Golden Eagles on show, a Peregrine Falcon and also an Otter in the Sound of Islay. To cap it all Isobel, DJ's wife provided a welcome cuppa at the end and some freshly made pancakes! Wish I could have been there too!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Fri 10th April

One of the folk that have been staying with us this week was over on Jura today, achieving the summit on the Paps, and by so doing, bagged another Corbett. For those of you not in the know, a Corbett is a hill/ mountain over 2,500 feet while a Munro is one over 3,ooo feet. Coming back down to the ferry, they were fortunate enough to spot an Otter.
Forgot to say that yesterday between Rockside and Rock Mountain we saw 38 Hares in various fields, not bad going considering that there is quite a stretch through moorland. The blog may be light over the next few days as I will be involved with Walkislay, our local walking week, but watch this space all the same!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Thurs 9th April

We went over this morning to RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve and gave Rory Crawford some help with the guided walk which takes place every Thursday from now on through to late October. It was heartening to see such a good turnout, 26 in all, of all ages from the pre school kids to several senior citizens. We had met up with Rory back in November, and that time he was our Guide for the day on Aride in The Seychelles. He certainly was not wearing his flip flops or his shorts today! We were able to give our visitors today a good cross section of the birds that Gruinart had to offer, from a male Hen Harrier out hunting, seeing some of the Geese, a selection of woodland birds and several different kinds of Ducks on the floods. Near to the end of the walk I saw 2 House Martins, certainly a new tick for 2009 for me! The rooks in the Rookery in the woods were as vocal as ever!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Wed 8th April

Louise was on the phone this evening and gave me some sightings of raptors over on Jura on her way home tonight and they were all after Craighouse. She had seen 2 Merlin, 3 Hen Harrier, 5 Short-eared Owls and 1 Peregrine.
Back here on Islay, I have not much to report apart from seeing 2 Yellowhammer over near to Persabus, close to Keills, my first for the year. Malcolm had seen a Short-eared Owl displaying over the moorland at Gearach this morning. Back here at home, just before tea time, a Buzzard flew overhead, carrying nesting material and I had noticed some Jackdaws doing the same, earlier this morning. The weather today, turned out better than expected although there had been quite a lot of rain through the night.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Tues 7th April

While down at Machir Bay at the weekend, Michal had the good fortune to get this image of a Glaucous Gull, surrounded by Common Gulls, Herring Gulls and a Lesser Black backed Gull.
Back to today, and on a trip over to Bowmore this afternoon, there appears to be fewer Geese around, but the figures through from Tracey and the team will give us a more accurate pointer.
The weather is wet outside tonight, and going by the weather forecast earlier this evening we are in for more over the next 2 days!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Mon 6th April

Just a short entry tonight to say that I had been speaking with one of our neighbours late last night, and he told me that he had seen a Ring Ouzel on Friday over on Coull Farm.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sun 5th April

Today the weather has been kind to us, after the rain on Friday night and Saturday morning, a grand sunny day, but again the wind has a cold edge to it. I noticed it especially when working in the poly tunnel this afternoon, down to my shirtsleeves, but it was a different world outside when I came out the door!
The Great spotted Woodpecker is still around, and certainly has got the hang of the nut feeder over in the trees. On the other hand, I have not seen any of the Coal Tits for a few days, so perhaps they have moved off. On the crag this morning I counted 15 Fulmars, a sign of a stormy weather in a few days time, but then again they will return sometime to nest. In some respects they are a bit like the Chough in the sense that they are quite noisy, often when I go out the back door into the garden, I hear them before looking to see them.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Sat 4th April

Ken Hall, our birder from Aberdeenshire returned home today, and was happy to see a Golden Eagle just before he left to go down to catch the ferry.
Back to yesterday, and George Jackson, while he was out looking for the elusive Gyr Falcon, was parked up at Ardnave Loch and had a good sighting of a Peregrine attempting to get a duck out of the water, but the duck was sensible enough to dive under the water at the last moment and avoid being caught. The Peregrine gave up after several attempts and went and rested up on a fence post close to George. George also had a male Merlin down on the flats at Gruinart.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Fri 3rd April

Our Aberdeenshire birder had seen the Green winged Teal on the floods in front of the hide at Gruinart yesterday.
Malcolm had been out Goose counting with Robin Bignall today on the "Gruinart Run" and just before midday on the Killinallan side of the loch, looking across it to the other side, to count the geese feeding at Garra-Eallabus, when they all got up in a panic. Malcolm also noticed that lots more geese, to the South near Gruinart Farm were also up in the air. It was then that he spotted a fast moving white bird flying quite low up the West side of the loch which flew on towards Ardnave. When they got round to Ardnave, about 45 minutes later, all the geese in that area were up in the air milling around. There was nothing obvious disturbing them, so they assumed that the Gyr Falcon was still around causing the upset. George came up asap, but to no avail. All George had to show for his troubles was a Kestrel.
All we could see today was our first Swallow of the year, down past Sunderland Farm. There were 19 Pale bellied Brent Geese down in Loch Indaal at same place as where the others were last night.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Thurs 2nd April

An image of Curlews over at Gruinart, taken at the weekend by Michal.
Another good, warm day over here although there is still an edge to the wind. At Loch Skerrols, I had my first Peacock butterfly of the year, but not much on the Loch itself, birdwise!
The Gyr Falcon had been seen earlier this evening, near to the phone box on the other side of Loch Gorm. Was it about to phone a friend, to get directions home, or has its' gps gone horribly wrong?
Down at Loch Indaal, there were 61 Pale bellied Brent Geese, with James commenting that he had noticed small groups moving through. He also felt that a few of our Geese have flown on, so it will be interesting to see the figures for this week's Goose counts.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Wed 1st April

March is now done and dusted, our rain gauge showed 4.25" for the month, which I felt turned out better than I thought it might have been, going by the initial wet days at the start of the month!
The Lancashire lads, Steven and Johnathan have headed back to the mainland, having enjoyed a few days with some good birds seen, many thanks for your input. Meanwhile our Aberdeenshire birder, had seen the Iceland Gull over at Bunnahabhain. He had been in conversation with other visiting birders, who by the sound of things had seen the Gyr Falcon. One of our neighbours who I saw this afternoon, had also seen the bird the same day as we had seen it, but had not realised what it was!