Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wednesday 30th November

Well, another month almost in, only a few hours to go and we are into December.....Not a bad day here although the wind has picked up again. Some more sightings through from last night's meeting. At Kinnabus on the Oa, David had 21 Whooopers, a flock of around 300 Twite, 10 Linnets and 2 Golden Eagles. There was a group of 12 Whoopers at Rockside while Gruinart had 30. James had a Peregrine coming off Loch Indaal down at Uiskentuie. Bob counted 30 Fulmars round at Kilchiaran and he also had a seen a Sparrowhawk at home. There was the general feeling at last night's meeting that there have been more Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds seen on Islay this Autumn.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tuesday 29th November

Like the most of the West of Scotland, we caught the rain today, certainly not as much as some areas though! A bit of a late entry, initially I was busy earlier, and then was out at the "bird nerds" monthly meet. It was great to see some visiting birders coming along too, well done to Ewan, John and "Badger" for coming out on such a stormy evening, better still they came over to Port Charlotte from Port Ellen. David travelled even further, coming from the Oa along with his wife Bonnie! Our visiting birders had seen Ringtail Hen Harrier at Eollabus at Bridgend. and in the geese there, they saw a Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp, and also another Canada, parvipes sp. Down at Leorin at Port Ellen, they had a Pink footed Goose. Up at Gruinart, they had another Ringtail, 2 Merlin on their way up to Ardnave, and at Ardnave itself they had 49 Chough. James had a Barn Owl this evening down "the hedges" at Sunderland.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Monday 28th November

Bob had been over at Bowmore this morning and had seen a Slavonian Grebe, a Red throated Diver and Red breasted Mergansers off Bowmore Harbour. Along at Gartmain, 5 Pale bellied Brent Geese were noted, while round the top of Loch Indaal, there were 2 Whoopers and another 12 further on. At Blackrock, there was a small group of Curlews and a single Pale bellied Brent Goose on the surf along the Uiskentuie Strand. Back at home, Bob has seen lots of Fieldfare and Redwing flying South down the Rhinns, a sign of colder weather to come? It was this time last year when the cold snap started to kick off.....

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday 27th November

The wind has dropped down a bit, and also it seems a bit colder too, never happy are we? For the most of the day at least it remained dry! Bob had a female Sparrowhawk this afternoon round at Loch Gorm. Yesterday while he was at Rockside helping beat at the shoot there, he had a mixed flock of around 500 Fieldfare and Redwing. David' down on the Oa today, had a count of 385 Greenland Whitefronts, 115 Teal, 1 Goldeneye, 1 Brambling and also a few Fieldfare and Redwing seen as well, all at Kinnabus.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Saturday 26th November

Sorry there is not going to be much on the blog tonight as the weather has not really been favourable for anyone that might have wanted to do some birdwatching, tomorrow is another day..... Thinking ahead, our monthly "meet" of like minded birders here on Islay takes place on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm in the Islay Natural History Trust in Port Charlotte, so if any folk that are over, you will be made welcome. We hold a completely informal meeting, and often adjourn along the road afterwards to the local hostelry, to talk about something completely different!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Friday 25th November

Just before we set off for Glasgow, the weather took a nose dive with several spectacular lightning strikes as we drove to the airport, capped with high winds and hail showers, but no panic and the plane left on time. The flight was okay but coming into Glasgow there were a few hairy moments, but we landed fine and got home this evening none the worse..... James returned home today and had a Long tailed Duck and 2 Otters in West Loch Tarbert. There was a hardy group of birders on the ferry who had been plying back and forward all day, and they had 12 Bottle nosed Dolphins in the Sound of Islay as well as a Grey Phalarope while James had 2 White tailed Sea Eagles there too.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thursday 24th November

Rather a blustery day out here, and give Calmac their due, there was no disruption on the ferries. Bob had seen a Buzzard having a tussle with a Sparrowhawk. The Sparrowhawk had a small bird in its' clutch, so no doubt the attraction to the Buzzard, the Sparrowhawk won and made of with its' prey...There were 60 Lapwing down at Rockside this morning while along at Sunderland there were around similar numbers of Rock Doves on a stubble field. Late afternoon, at Rockmountain, there was a small flock of 18 Fieldfare on the wing. Here at home, the small birds, Chaffinch especially, have been busy eating the food put out for them. There have been a pair of Coal Tits busy taking food away, no doubt storing it somewhere...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Wednesday 23rd November

Rather a miserable day out here today with plenty of rain, the wind through the night was quite strong too, may be the Fulmars are not that stupid coming in a few days before the wind picks up...Not really a day for going out birding... Bob had a Kestrel out hunting over the moor beside his house today, and he noticed Redwings and Skylarks flying South down the Rhinns of Islay. I was reading an old Birds magazine from 1966 last night and in it there was an article on the Loch Garten Ospreys and saying that all 3 eggs had been blown out of the eyrie in April in "an unusually severe gale that swept north- east Scotland in April" of that year. Another eyrie had its' single egg blown out too, and both nests were damaged. I wonder what numbers overall were lost in the winds that were here at the end of May this year.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tuesday 22nd November

Yesterday morning, Martin had done a quick garden survey and had the following birds in his garden over at Glenegedale, just above the airport. The tally was as follows, 9 Greenfich, 15 Chaffinch, 3 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 8 Coal Tit, 2 Dunnock, 4 House Sparrow, 1 Robin, 3 Blackbird and 3 cock Pheasant. Thanks Martin, good to hear of some birds from a different area of Islay. This morning, Carl saw 11 Whoopers flying South over Loch Indaal.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Monday 21st November

Carl had been over on Jura yesterday, and had seen a Sparrowhawk at Knockrome, a Dabchick and a Great Northern Diver at Craighouse. At Corran Sands, Carl had 5 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin while at Keills Coal Tit and Stonechat were seen. This morning Bob had been over at Bowmore, and in the harbour, he had 2 drake Goldeneye, at Gartmain a male Peregrine was chasing the Rock Doves. 4 Whoopers and 150 Wigeon were also there. Along at Blackrock, 42 Pale bellied Brent were counted. Mary and David Mason had done a count on Loch Gruinart the other day, with the following birds noted. 1 Cormarant, 1 Heron, 40 Shelduck, 46 Wigeon, 38 Mallard, 6 Red breasted Merganser, 327 Oystercatcher, 8 Grey Plover, 551 Lapwing, 186 Bar tailed Godwit, 220 Curlew, 57 Redshank, 58 Turnstone, 36 Herring Gull, 1 Lesser Black backed Gull, and 1 Black backed Gull. On Ardnave Loch, they had 18 Whoopers, 2 Mute Swans, 2 Little Grebe, 3 Goldeneye, 32 Wigeon, 9 Tufted Duck and 7 Curlews. They also had seen 3 Otters feeding at different points on Loch Gruinart. Coming to work this morning, Mary had 2 Woodcock, just out of Portnahaven.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sunday 20 November

A good day out here, must try and have a look at the forecast for the week as there were a few Fulmars in at the crag this morning. Up at the old church at the top of the hill, just after breakfast time, there was a fair old racket going on with a verbal fight going on between the Jackdaws and the Choughs, the Jackdaws in the end gave up and flew off, with the Chough mostly resting up on the old building...... James had 8 Woodcock on the reserve at Gruinart today. Bob and Martin had been down at Gartbreck and their scores on the doors were as follows, 35 Mallard, 245 Teal, 170 Wigeon, 4 Eider, 12 Red breasted Merganser, a mixed flock of 300 Barnies and Whitefronted Geese, 1 Shelduck, 5 Goldeneye, 126 Oystercatcher, 163 Curlew, 10 Redshank, 236 Bar tailed Godwit, 545 Lapwing, 25 Turnstone, 3 Knot, 13 Snipe, 2 Heron, 3 Great Northern Divers and 38 Shag. The large flock of Golden Plover of over 1,000 were still present but difficult to count as they were in the air.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Saturday 19th November

A fantastic sunset over here this evening, so all going well, a better day tomorrow..... David Wood has sent through some sightings from The Oa today. On Loch Kinnabus there were a pair of Goldeneye along with 190 Greenland Whitefronts. Also seen were 1 Merlin, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Goldfinches, and smaller numbers of Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares on the move through. This morning down at Blackrock on Loch Indaal, 47 Pale bellied Brents were present, around 80 Scaup were seen further on and coming home there were 2 Peregrines sitting on the crag just before Rock Mountain while there was a large flock of Barnacle Geese at Sunderland, and I was not up to counting them!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Friday 18th November

Rather a miserable day out here folks, but it is the time of year for it, whether we like it or not! Today, James had carried a count on the "floods" at Gruinart, with the scores on the doors tallying as follows, 1135 Teal, 2 Little Grebes, 12 Gadwall, 64 Shoveler, 55 Pintail, 77 Mallard, 177 Wigeon, 1 Pochard, 4 Greenshank, 3 heron, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 2 Mute Swans, 20 Lapwing, 8 Whooper Swans, 1 male Hen Harrier and a Sparrowhawk. Coming home the other evening, at Erasiad on the edge of the reserve, James had a Tawny Owl.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Thursday 17th November

Well as predicted, the rain arrived, and so it turned out to be rather a squally day with the wind and rain...If you look down our list of "contributors", you may notice a few changes in the names, Catherine Fotheringham has left RSPB, but still is here on Islay, so hopefully we can still persuade her to give some more input! Catherine's post has been filled by David Wood who has come up from Norfolk. Michal Sur's contract with RSPB has ended for this year, and Michal has gone to Aldabra in The Seychelles, to do some contract work out there and to avoid our winter weather and he should get a sun tan rather being weather beaten here on Islay. The post of assistant warden to James at Gruinart has now been filled by Mary McGregor who has contributed to the blog over the last 2 summers. We wish them all well in their respective new jobs.

Today David Wood has managed some bird sightings before the weather closed in. At Risabus, on the edge of the reserve at the Oa, he had seen 8 Bullfinches, and noted several mixed flocks of Fieldfares & Redwings with some Blackbirds seen with them. David also had a Merlin too. Visitors from Edinburgh had a Long tailed Duck off Ardnave Point.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Wednesday 16th November

Another great day out here with the weather, but going by tomorrow's forecast, the rain is coming back.... Today Malcolm had been out goose counting, and on the estuary at Bridgend, at lunchtime, he had a count of 10,800 Barnies along with 4 small Canada Geese, 2 Pale bellied Brent and 1 Pinkfooted Goose. At Ardlarach, out towards Gartbreck, there were around 1,100 Golden Plover and 60 Turnstone. Fieldfares and Redwing were in good numbers all around. On Loch Nigheadaireachd (near to Laggan Point), 25 Whooper Swans and around 200 Wigeon were present. An immature Golden Eagle flew within 20 yards of them when they were out counting yesterday! Bob forgot in yesterday's birds that he had 58 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal. Today, at home, he made up for yesterday's missed Eagle, with one flowing low past his house, almost a "garden bird"! Today from home, he had Kestrel, 2 Hen Harriers and several Buzzards. We were over at a meeting at Gruinart this afternoon, and the geese were a sight to be seen, and at one point they were all spooked together and took off, the sound was something else.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Tuesday 15th November

Well, that's the month half in already, not that I was really here anyway....They always say that time moves quicker the older you get, am I digging a hole for myself ??? Today George had 4 Greenfinches on his bird table down at Bruichladdich, the most he has had there in the past 4 years. Also present were 10 Goldfinches and a Dunnock while up on his ponds George saw a Moorhen. Bob had gone down to the Oa to see an Eagle, but no joy, so he had to make do with a Kestrel close to Kinnabus, on the road there was a Snow Bunting. In amongst the geese at the top of Loch Indaal, he had the leucistic Barnie and also 2 cackling Canada Geese. Up at Loch Cam, Bob had a male and female Hen Harrier. On his travels, they had seen several flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare moving through. Back home at Port Charlotte, Bob had a Merlin on a fence post in the garden. Here at home, the last couple of days we have had a Coal Tit on the feeders, the first for the year. Over the reserve at Gruinart, James today had a Golden Eagle and a Hen Harrier while at Killinallan he saw 2 Merlin. The leucistic Bar tailed Godwit was present at Ardnave. James had a count of 21,713 Barnies in the Gruinart area today along with 883 Whitefronts, 12 Pale bellied Brent Geese and 68 Greylags.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Monday 14th November

Many thanks to James for keeping the blog afloat whilst I was away on "annual leave", nowhere exotic this year, nowhere warm, no complaints. We were up on Skye for a week, Kestrels were common, as were Hooded Crows, we saw Golden Eagles too, as well as the odd Hen Harrier. After that, over to the other side of Scotland to Portmahamock, close to Tain. Different countryside there, but good birding on Loch Fleet, there was a new hide, hidden away, in fact we almost missed it! There was another good hide down close to Nigg which was also great to visit, both hides were great for waders etc with a Sparrowhawk upsetting the waders at Nigg! On to Perth, birdwatching on the back boiler now, and a chance for Margaret to carry some retail therapy out, and for us both to look at some new ideas.... We also caught up with old friends which was great, one of whom I had not seen for almost 40 years, so a lot of catching up there.... On the ferry, we spoke with a lady who we had met on Fair Isle a few years ago and is over on Islay this week to catch the geese, so no doubt will meet up with her before the week is out! Will get back to Islay birds tomorrow, and again thanks to James for holding the fort...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sun 13th November 2011

Had a trip to Loch Skerrols today, great weather and lots of birds- no American wigeon, 3 pochard and 4 gadwall. At Loch Gruinart a golden eagle flew over the reserve at lunch time.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sat 12th November 2011

A beautiful day not a cloud in the sky all day, then in the evening that lovely soft silvery Islay sky. I walked around Killinallen and had fantastic views all day. Bird wise- interestingly there was a flock of 29 great northern divers off the beach at Killinallen and on the sand a flock of 64 sanderling. Bob had 9 woodcock up at Rockside.
Last night on the way to Port charlotte there were 3 owls at Erasaid wood, 2 barn owls and 1 tawny, a good start to the evening.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Fri 11th November 2011

Not too much to report today - A beautiful morning with a classic sun rise. I spent most of the day at market selling lambs. While I was there the weather gradually moved in, its supposed to be good tomorrow though. I did manage to see 9 gadwall on the floods at Gruinart this afternoon.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Thur 10th November 2011

Sorry I missed a day- a busy day. We had a cloudy day on Wednesday, but its back to sun-shine today. On Wednesday at Ardnave Mary and I counted 21 ravens, 6 grey plover, 3 goldeneye, 50 chough, the leucistic bar tailed godwit and an otter. At Kilchoman later, I saw a male merlin. Bob reported 100's of thrushes at Gleanmore- blackbirds and redwings. On Loch Indaal- 100 mallards, 60 teal, 80 wigeon, 25 shelduck, 350 curlew, 10 lapwing, 8 redshank, 85 oystercatchers and 400 bar tailed godwits.
Today Thursday, Bob had a kestrel, 2 merlin, 1 hen harrier, 3 buzzards, 80 fieldfares and 2 woodcock- a bird of prey festival just west of Port Charlotte. I also had a report of 2 golden eagles from Jura just north of Craighouse.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tue 8th November 2011

A goose day- Malcolm e mailed with a record of 37 pale bellied brent geese on Loch Indaal near the Foreland road end. At Gruinart, Mary and I did a reserve goose count and found most of the geese in one massive flock. We counted a total of 9588 barnacle geese, 516 white-fronted geese and 50 greylags. Whilst looking for geese, we saw 130 lapwing, 15 whooper swans and a kestrel all at Gruinart.
Blackbirds were everywhere today, in small flocks along all the roadsides, including one unfortunate in the claws of a sparrowhawk.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Mon 7th November 2011

Over the weekend at the Oa up to 5 golden eagles, merlin, lots of redwing a few fieldfare, song thrush and blackbirds, 6 chough and a big sun. Over Kilnave a sub adult white tailed eagle.
Another lovely day and at the Oa 450 twite twittered in the fields. On the Rhinns skylarks were on the move, with 120 in one stubble field, watched carefully by a sparrowhawk and a merlin. A kestrel was seen on the Strand. The bright moon and clear skys have allowed the geese to feed all night, so all day the geese have been resting up on the mud. At Loch Gruinart the geese rested with a small flock of 63 golden plover.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sun 6th November 2011

Sorry I missed a night, it was such a beautiful clear still night I lingered too long watching the fire works to blog. In way of catching up, yesterday Bob had- Great northern diver at Bowmore, sparrowhawk and American wigeon at Loch Skerrols as well as 140 scaup at Black Rock, 15 ringed plover at Bruichladdich and a hen harrier at Geannor house. Today Bob reported that there were still 2 snow buntings at Machir bay and whilst gathering the sheep I had a male hen harrier at Kilchoman. Another beautiful night clear and cold.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Fri 4th November 2011

A sunny day at last. Sorry got my report wrong yesterday the redwings and fieldfares were at Kildalton. Today there were redwings and fieldfares all over the place. Out side the house I had one flock 36 fieldfares and at least 45 redwings. Also at Loch Gruinart today a total of 4 pale bellied brents, 92 greylags and 392 white-fronts.
A few days ago you may remember we reported a white tailed eagle with a yellow wing tag which had a 2 on it, with closer examination this bird was found to have a radio tracking device on it, after a phone call or two we found that it was part of the east coast of Scotland reintroduction scheme.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Thur 3rd November 2011

Lots of thrushes on the move. Bob reported fieldfares and redwing at Port Charlotte and at Ardnave there were redwing all along the road side. Golden eagles also featured at Loch Gruinart with the 2nd year bird still putting the geese up, and adult bird at Ardnave.

Don't forget to watch Islay on Autumn watch tomorrow night.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Wed 2nd November 2011

It was a windy day with redwings blown in on the easterly gusts. The geese at Gruinart were moved around by a 2nd cal year golden eagle.

There has been a lot of leucistic birds reported recently and at last, after a few attempts, I have managed to upload some pics:

1. A bar or black ? tailed godwit at Ardnave.

2. A linnet at the Oa.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Mon 1st November 2011

I emptied the rain guage this morning a grand total of just under 9 inches of rain for Gruinart. The Island has been amazing for birds of prey this last month, with all the resident and visiting birds very much in evidence. Carl reported from Port Charlotte a sparrowhawk, a merlin at Ballinaby and a peregrine at Coull all on Sunday. Also yesterday I had a report from visitors of 200 chaffinches at Sunderland Farm. Today at Gruinart there were 20 black tailed godwit, 3 greenshank and 7 pale bellied brents. The American wigeon was still at Loch Skerrols.