Friday, 31 July 2009

Fri 31st July

Well, another month almost in. The weather over here has changed quite a bit today, one could almost be mistaken for an Autumn day, as it turned out to be wet and windy plus a drop in the temperature too. A bit early for that, but there we go! The only birds of note yesterday, on the way out from here on looking out to the sea, or rather the Atlantic, over the Machir Bay and towards Coul Point and there were several groups of Gannets heading South.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Thurs 30th July

Whilst in this afternoon having a friendly blether, our visiting birding friend said that so far he had been unable to see an Otter, but on a positive note he had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle flying over the Sound of Islay from Caol Ila. He had also seen while here, a Merlin chasing after a Meadow Pipit.
Meanwhile this morning James had seen a pair of Spotted Flycatchers in the wood at Gruinart. Also at Gruinart, on the saltings at the top of the loch were over 150 Greylags.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wed 29th July

Another superb image through from Michal, of a White tailed Sea Eagle, taken when he was over in Poland earlier this month.

Back here at home I had to be content with the sight of a Golden Eagle out soaring high up on a thermal when I was cutting grass this afternoon. It was and still is dry, not like some areas on the mainland today!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Tues 28th July

As promised, the follow up image through from Michal of the 2 gulls fighting for the fish! Not sure who, if anybody won.

This afternoon, while out with a visiting birder we saw 48 Greylag Geese round at Ballinaby, the first group of Greylags that I have seen at this time of year, usually into August, but I suppose that is less than a week away now. The self same birder was well pleased later on at seeing Choughs and also hearing a Corncrake calling. There are still a few males calling, but obviously not as many as earlier on.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Mon 27th July

Michal sent me through some images which he took the other week while he was over in Poland. It all looks innocent enough, but watch this space tomorrow for the next image and a further twist in the tale!
One of the House Martin nests round the back of our house fell down yesterday, with the net result being that none of the young birds survived. Meanwhile the Swallows in at the porch at the back door have built another nest, probably to attempt to rear another brood.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sun 26th July

This identifying of birds must really be quite easy, a warbler yes, in the willows out in the garden, really quite straight forward a Willow warbler!
There are few around, obviously adults and their young.
I forgot to mention last night that we saw a single Turnstone at the spit at the top of Loch Indaal, so perhaps we will start to notice some birds on the move, what with the Whimbrel seen and heard the previous week by George and Malcolm.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Sat 25th July

Louise had been in touch yesterday, to say that she had seen 2 separate White tailed Sea Eagles over the Sound of Islay while on her way to work.
Still on the "fishy" theme this evening, at Loch Skerrols and eating our "scampi suppers" and just after commenting that there was not much sign of bird life, what appears out on the loch but an Otter, we were content watching it for almost 10 minutes while finishing off our tea. On the way home, there was a male Hen Harrier out quartering his patch and diving into long grass after it's prey.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Fri 24th July

Sorry about the confusion possibly caused late last night with the date for yesterday's entry, a senior moment on my behalf, as I did not read the calendar correctly!
Only a brief entry tonight, at home this afternoon there was a family of Greenfinches consisting of 2 adults and 4 fledglings on one of the hawthorns. Down at Bruichladdich, there were some Collared Doves. Since the Distillery has re-opened, I wonder if their numbers have increased down there with the possibility of feeding on any spilled grain!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Thurs 23rd July

I was speaking with Malcolm earlier this afternoon and he too remarked on seeing a couple of Whimbrel last Saturday, remember George commenting on hearing one too.
I also heard today, possibly old news to some, that 3 pairs of Tree sparrows had successfully reared 13 young down on the RSPB reserve on the Oa. Where these Tree sparrows have come from is still uncertain, but they may have come across the water from Ireland rather than Mainland Scotland is one train of thought.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Wed 22nd July

I took this image the other week, and it was not until this morning that I realised that I had not put any images of a Fulmar on before, matter is now rectified. The other reason for putting it on was that George said the other night that he had seen one over Loch Indaal, not that common a sighting from Bruichladdich.
There was a Grey Wagtail on the gravel outside the house, here at home this afternoon.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tues 21st July

James has returned from his holidays spent down on the Scilly Isles, I am not sure how much birding he did there, perhaps I might find out later this week when I catch up with him! Having said that he has given me some sightings.....
At Kennacraig, from the ferry on Sunday, he saw an Osprey catch a fish and fly directly over the ferry itself. Coming up the Sound of Islay to Port Askaig there were a few Red throated Divers seen. Back home, on the reserve at Gruinart on Monday, James had 2 Hen Harriers, a Short eared Owl and also 4 Greenshank. Today, on his way down to work, he had an adult Cuckoo, possibly a bird passing through as they normally move on once all the eggs are laid, certainly I have not heard any for a wee while. This evening, he had a Whitetroat on a bush outside his window at home as we spoke!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Mon 20th July

George was on the phone earlier with some sightings over the past few days. On Friday, he had seen a young female Peregrine Falcon take off and fly away, on closer inspection by George, at where the bird had flown from, there was the remnants of a young Rook! On Saturday, he had heard a Whimbrel, so that must be the start of the Whimbrels moving through now. It has been quite noticeable of late, that the male Eiders have gone into moult.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Sat 18th July

While going down to Bowmore earlier this evening, there were a pair of Mute swans at the mouth of the burn that enters Loch Indaal close to Blackrock. I had been speaking to Malcolm about these Swans earlier in the week, and wondered if in fact that these were the same pair that had hatched a brood of 5 young at Carnain in late May, could all the young have been predated? The other question is, are these the same pair that successfully reared the cygnets last year? On the positive side of things, at lunchtime there was the sighting of 6 Mistle Thushes, no doubt 2 adults and 4 young, down on the heather beside McNicol's croft.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Fri 17th July

This is not the young Robin that I missed the other day here at home, but instead another one taken over at Gruinart yesterday morning on top of one of the cattle feeding trailers. And yes, it did have two legs. The blog is a bit light tonight as I have busy cutting grass this afternoon, and before that it was thistles and rushes in the fields!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Thurs 16th July

This Linnet was perched on the fence up at Ardnave this morning, it was not really perturbed about me, as I was less than 5 metres away from it. A quick visit up to Ardnave from Gruinart was quite productive. On Ardnave Loch itself, there were a pair of Mute Swans showing off their 5 cygnets, 2 separate sets of Tufted Duck with ducklings, one of them had 7 young and also a Mallard with 4 ducklings. On the wing, there were several clutches of young Swallows as well as Sand Martins over the dunes and further along the road the good sighting of a lot of House Martins also on the wing.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Tues 14th July

Whilst out this evening showing one of the families in the cottages a young Peregrine Falcon perched on the crag, we were fortunate to see Ravens, Chough and also Jackdaws, all within a few minutes of each other. Earlier on they had seen Siskins in the wood, while this afternoon, I had some Hooded Crows on the ground close at hand, out on the Machir beside the road.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Mon 13th July

It sounds like the same old tape again, it has been another good sunny day here on Islay today, but it has just started to rain, but by the sound of things that is possibly going to be the weather for the next few days!
On the birds front, the few Fulmars that still remain on the crag have been quite vocal, as has been a Buzzard as it was soaring on the thermals. Down on the ground, there was a welcome sight of a young Robin, needless to say by the time I got the camera out, the fledgling had flown off.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Sun 12th July

This Arctic Tern was "patrolling" along the shoreline down at Loch Indaal one afternoon in June, no doubt it was protecting its' nest which was down below somewhere. If my memory serves me correctly, a short while after I took this image, somebody was walking along with their dog, to which the Tern took exception to, and started to dive bomb the person. Why do people walk along there, knowing that they will be swooped upon by the terns at this time of year?
On the other tack, the rain came last night as forecast, and it has just started tonight as I write, I should not complain as it was another sunny day, I do not mind the rain as long as it falls at night!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Fri 10th July

Another great day, infact I do not think that there has been any rain at all this last week, but according to the weather forecast there is a change coming in tomorrow afternoon. While going on a short walk round the crag this evening, a Grasshopper had a close call as it landed on my arm, and instinctively I went to crush it as I thought it was another Cleg, but luckily for the Grasshopper I looked for once!
In many ways, this summer has been good for birds being successful in rearing broods of youngsters, but here at home I feel that the same cannot be said for the House Martins, some of the nests have fallen down, whether the mud has been too dry when the nest has been built. Another thought is possibly that the mix is wrong, and that the soil here is has a higher sand content, and so not binding together the same. Certainly other sites, especially at one house up towards Ardnave, it looks like being another good year there.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Thurs 9th July

The birds on the island have been quiet and hence the reason for no entry since Monday. I was taken aback last night in an article that I had been reading about Hen Harriers. I know that here on Islay that we have quite a good strong breeding population of around 50 pairs, compared with only a total in the high teens in the whole of England, that was last year. This article stated that by mid June of this year, there were only 9 nesting attempts, a decline of more than 50%. On the RSPB guided walk at Gruinart this morning, we saw 2 separate Harriers out hunting, it is not surprising how we "locals" take them for granted while many of our visitors watch them for a long time and comment on actually seeing one.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Mon 6th July

Malcolm e mailed in this morning to say that one of his neighbours had seen at least 5 Crossbills yesterday morning in a garden at Bruichladdich, including 4 male birds.
Also this morning, I was speaking with Michal about this years tally for Corncrakes, and it certainly looks like that we are on for a similar count to last year, of just over 80 calling birds. It is good that there are so many, as it was not that long ago the count was as low as only 4 birds, and that is within the last 10 years.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Sun 5th July

The reason for no entry yesterday was really quite simple, it was Saturday, which means for me at least, changeover day in the cottages and this week in particular, all the cottages had to be cleaned and got ready for another set of visitors, some new ones as well as some that have been before. The net result is that not much chance of any birding getting done by myself anyway! Today, has not been much better as I was helping a friend with his sheep this morning, a bit of a barter as he often helps out with ours! After lunch, as it was still dry, it was out with the flymo and cutting some grass for a couple of hours, you see I am a believer in doing jobs when I am in the mood for doing it and it does not seem so hard to do it. What about the birds then, well after cutting the grass and watching some earlier games of the Tennis, we went up round the crag and saw the Buzzard out soaring on the thermals, as well as some Fulmars too. Returning back down and there were about 20 lbjs on the new trees, but as I did not have my bins with me I was not 100% sure of an id, but fairly confident that they were some young Stonechats that had recently fledged. Later on, while going down to Bruichladdich for the papers, Friday's and Saturday's I hasten to add, we had a male Hen Harrier down below Rockside, close to the road, and then at Woodside a Ringtail. Coming home there was a Sparrowhawk perched on a rock.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Fri 3rd July

With there being a recent spell of decent weather, that was before it broke down, the farmers are well up to date with their work, many have got their silage fields cut and lifted, and the clippers have had a good start to shearing the sheep. With the silage fields cleared, there has been an influx onto the aftermaths of Rooks, which in some ways is interesting as there is not a Rookery close to hand, but there was well over 100 Rooks down at Rockside the other day.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Thurs 2nd July

It might not have come to much rain yesterday, but fortunately I remembered to empty the rain gauge which indicated we had 2.6" for June. That was just before 8 o'clock this morning, and in less than an hour we had 0.75" by 9am! Surprisingly, there was little sign of flooding, although someone told me that the Co-op in Bowmore had to shut because of the rain!
Back to birds, and Michal had heard a Spotted Crake calling on the reserve at Gruinart while he was out last night. Overall, there were not so many Corncrakes heard in the areas where he was compared to when he had covered the same run in June. Also, this morning, Malcolm had seen a Swift flying South over Bruichladdich.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Wed 1st July

This Greater Black backed Gull was down on the shoreline below the coal yard on Loch Indaal this morning, what I am not sure of was the prey that was at its' feet, as I was parked up on a bad place, on the wrong side of the road and on a corner. So, I had to take a quick shot and move on, I have a feeling that it could possibly have been a seal pup, but I did not really get a good chance to get a good id.

A visitor reported in to the Islay Natural History Trust, to say that they had seen a Hobby, up the back of Port Charlotte earlier in the week and had a Great Skua over Loch Indaal today.