Friday, 22 September 2017

Friday 22nd of September

Today is the Autumn equinox, or to put it more simply, the length of daylight now is shorter than the darkness hours and will continue on that way until late December when the days will start to get longer again. Just hope the weather is not going downhill as well, as today it has been a pig of a day, although it was dry for a short time at first light this morning... Only bird sighting through is from James who saw a Peregrine fly over his house at Gruinart early this morning. On a positive note, I managed to put some bird sightings on the spreadsheet for JD and the Argyll Bird Club, mind you I do not want too many wet days...

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Thursday 21st September

James and Mark yesterday had seen 25 Snipe as well as 2 Hen Harriers up on the moor on the reserve at Gruinart and this morning, James had counted 12 Snipe in the same location. This afternoon while out for a short run down the "Glen road", on the moorland at the entrance to Avonvogie, we saw several family groups of Stonechats out and about. Here at home just after lunch, there were a pair of Buzzards flying high up on thermals above the crag.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Wednesday 20th September

One thing for sure, today I very much doubt if any of the combines were cutting any crops, perhaps they moved the machines from one location to another. The rain gauge is now over 4 inches so far this month, at one time we always used to say that September a better month for getting some decent weather, not true in 2017...
This morning Nicholas Watts from Vine House Farm sent me through an image the Tree Sparrows eating the Red Millet on his feeders, I reckon that there are over 200 sparrows in and on the actual feeders. Nicholas too is having his hands full trying to finish off his harvest as well..


Mike Peacock had been down on Machir Bay today, seeing a mixed flock of Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin. Mike also saw a Curlew Sandpiper amongst them as well. Up on the dunes, beside the bay, a Sparrowhawk was present, spooking everything all around. Wonder if it was the same bird that was having a look see, up here late afternoon???

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Tuesday 19th September

The farmers will be pleased, another dry day, and another day to get some more harvest cut, but the glass is dropping, so the rain is returning, with a wet day forecast for tomorrow..
Bob Swann was in touch regarding the Greylag goose with the orange neck collar on, seen on Sunday  evening over at Ballinaby. It was first fitted with the collar as a youngster, here on Islay at Gortachuirn which is up behind Bruichladdich  on the 30th of  January 2015. It was seen up on Colonsay in June the same year with a brood of goslings. It then returned to Islay and was seen 3 times on the Oa during the winter of 2015/16. In February 2017, it was noted on Rathlin and then a few days later on Fair Head, both in Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland and has now returned to Islay, at present... Many thanks to Bob for this data...
Gary today had seen a White tailed Eagle and also a ringtail Hen Harrier at Finlaggan, he also saw a Sparrowhawk over the moorland there as well. In the trees beside his house, a lot of wee birds have been present including Coal Tits, Blue Tits and also 7 Goldcrests. Down on the merse at Bridgend, Gary had seen a Peregrine playing havoc with the waders. There were several hundred Mallard and Teal also present, with Gary witnessing a White tailed Eagle taking one of them... Also down on the trees there, Gary saw an Osprey perched up.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Monday 18th Septembr

The farmers have been making use of the delayed spell of better, drier weather.. as well as their combine out, Rockside has been baling the straw and others are catching up with delayed silage making...better late than never!!!
Back to birds, Bob had been a walk out towards the old wreck that is visible at the head of Loch Indaal when the tide is out. He saw at least 50 Barwits and also a Peregrine. He was saying back at his home up behind Port Charlotte, he has been seeing more Skylarks around of late. This evening we counted over 38 Chough heading into the roost. The count for the Greylags came through at 2,178. Thanks to Andrew Kent and his team of counters.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday 17th September

A great day  out here today and yes the farmers got their combines going and managed to get a start made to the harvest. Round at Rockside, Andrew Woods was driving the combine on behalf of Kilchoman Distillery, with the moisture being 18.5%, which all things being considered was not too bad...


The Distillery have got their combine customised to advertise their machine...

Back on the bird front, not a lot happening apart from 10 Pied Wagtails on the lawn  at breakfast time, the Peregrine was watching life go by, the Swallows that are still here were hawking after insects over the game crop as were several Stonechats as they flitted about, 4 Dunnocks were also noted and this evening amongst around 300 Greylags at Ballinaby, one had a orange neck collar on, so better get in touch Bob Swann to find out its' history.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Saturday 16th September

A not bad day with the weather. Not the warmest, but it is looking like another dry day tomorrow, as I write the blog, the sun is streaming in the big window with a beautiful sunset in store...
Distillery Dave and Ann, his wife, had been up at the old hide at Gruinart where they great views of a juv. White tailed Eagle for quite some time. They also saw a ringtail and also male Hen Harrier. Up at Ardnave, over close to Traigh Nostaig, they saw 2 Greenshank and as they returned to their car, they saw 40 Black tailed Godwit and 6 Golden Plover. Down at Bruichladdich, 5 Turnstone, many Dunlin, and some Ringed Plover were present. Off Uiskentuie, they saw 2 GND and a Red breasted Merganser. Earlier this evening we watched a ringtail Hen Harrier as it flew past close to us, a Buzzard flew over the old church, low down while up on the crag a Peregrine was just sitting, watching the world go round... 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Friday 15th September

Better keep quiet as today, it has been a lot better on the weather front, so with a bit of luck, it may stay with us and allow the ground to dry up a bit... Mind you I was kept out of mischief, planting a couple of wee bags of Daffodil bulbs, so finger crossed that they do not get twisted about by the wind like the ones that we planted last year... I also spent sometime moving some plants around outside too. Yesterday afternoon I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier out quartering its' patch down behind Machir Bay. Today, we saw a single Red legged Partridge on the road below Carrabus. Jim D saw the ever present Little Egret as the ferry approached Kennacraig today on his way home. Thanks for your birds Jim!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Thursday 14th September

It is meant to September, normally a month of better weather for the farmers to get their combines out and get their harvest cut and home, not so this year, so far this month we have had over 3 inches of rain, the fields are sodden, so it will be difficult to get machinery to move around without getting bogged down...
JD had done some birding on his last day for this visit. At Frenchman's Rocks, a lot quieter today, but a Great Skua was seen, on Loch Indaal, 6 Arctic Terns, a Greenshank, 31 Common Scoter, 52 Wigeon, a Slav Grebe, a Greater Scaup, a juv BTD. At Cgaigens, Jim saw a juv Whinchat and Gruinart, 2 Peregrine, an imm White tailed Eagle, 2 adult Whoopers and a Barnacle Goose were present.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wednesday 13th September

Mary Redman yesterday had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier close to Claddach Loch and also a Dabchick on the water itself. Today, JD has put in another days' birding...  At Frenchnan's Rocks, Jim did a sea watch for almost 1.5 hours seeing 930 Manx Shearwater, 127 Kittiwake, 11 Fulmar, 2,100 large Auk, and an Arctic Tern, he also saw 2 Ruff and 2 Golden Plover in off the sea. Later on, he had a Grey Wagtail at Kilchiaran with 6 Red Knot and a Wheatear at Carnain. Off Bruichladdich, 5 Arctic Tern and a Sandwich Tern present, with a female Greater Scaup noted at Blackrock. A Sand Martin was present at Gruinart with 7 Gadwall seen on Loch Gorm.
Here at home, many thanks to the Electricity Boys as we lost power through the night, the long and the short was that they laid a complete new cable to allow us power again, so once again thanks to Rop, Shimy, Ross and Ant..

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Tuesday 12th September

Yesterday, Peter had seen a Wheatear when he was over at Glenegedale..
Today the weather improved quite a bit, no rain until after lunchtime and a few showers after that, and oh yes a power cut for almost 3 hours, power back on in time to make the tea, and better still, in time for me to write the blog, well done the local engineers who sorted the problem out..
JD has been out and about.. At Portnahaven,  he had seen 9 Turnstone, Bruichladdich held 94 Ringed Plover and a further 6 Turnstone. At Gortan, Jim had 2 Arctic Tern, 27 Common Scoter, 2 Slav. Grebes, 2 male Greater Scaup, and 4 RTDs. Along at Bridgend Merse, 2 Barnies along with the hybrid Canada Goose x white Greylag goose were present. Round at Gartnatra, 11 Blackwits were seen. At Gruinart, Jim saw 2 juv Ruff, 3 imm Pintail, 3 Wheatear and 2 Whooper Swan. Up at Coille, 2 Sparrowhawks were harassing a Buzzard and Jim saw another Sparrowhawk at Coultorsay.


Above are some of the flock of House Sparrows, Linnet and Twite that were on the game crop this afternoon, at one time I counted 131 lbjs in the air before they dropped in to the seed heads.. Earlier on, I had counted 36 Goldfinches up on the big niger feeder and around the other feeders. Oh yes, I managed to finish cutting the grass as well, another job done for the time being.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Monday 11th September

This poor spell of weather, not to beaten, I tried to cut the grass with varying amounts of success, got some cut, not a lot, but on the downside, the rain stopped play 3 times, mind you I did manage each time to stop before getting too wet!!!
JD thought otherwise and went out to carry out a spot of sea watching at first light, but the weather beat him there.... but he had seen other birds while out and about later on..  A Wheatear at Kilnave, 6 Golden Plovers at Gruinart, along at Coullabus over 50  Pied and White Wagtails were present. Down at Gortan, a Sparrowhawk was seen , off Carnain,  6 Knot with 2 Arctic Terns and a count of 22 Common Scoter between there and Bowmore. Tomorrow might be better, fingers crossed!!!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sunday 10th September

An absolute pig of a day with heavy squally showers sweeping inform the sea, and not much improvement in the forecast for a few days ... Just as well we are not "trying" to grow barley for one of the Distilleries.
Yesterday, Mike Peacock had seen 2 Brent Geese off Port Charlotte, possibly the same birds that Carl had seen. Today Jim D's top birds were a female Sparrowhawk and a Wheatear between Claddach and Portnahaven. Here at home, we had seen a Greenfinch, the first one we have seen in almost 5 weeks. I wonder, with these high winds as to whether we may get some "different" birds dropping in, we can but hope!!!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Saturday 9th September

A drier day out here, but possibly not for long.. So some of us been making the most of it!!

Gary this morning had an Osprey out from Gartmain, Carl had seen a couple of Brent Geese down at Port Charlotte. This afternoon Jim Dickson had a couple of Brent Geese at Gruinart, but no sign of the possible Little Stints. Jim also had 2 Slavonian Grebes at Gortan, out from the coal yard on Loch Indaal. This morning, Distillery Dave and myself made use of Jim Dickson and so the 3 of us did the WeBS count in the absence of Bob and Lesley. It was raining at the start, but after a few minutes it dried up and off  we set towards Gartbreck... Our birds seen included 144 Greylags, a Red throated Diver, 2 Cormorant, 35 Shag, 22 Oystercatcher, 82 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 7 Redshank, 19 Ringed Plover, 21 Lapwing, 37 Dunlin, 7 Barwits, 2 Snipe, 1 Ruff, 7 Heron, 10 Black headed Gulls, 322 Herring Gulls,12 CommonGulls, 2 Lbb Guls, 9 Gbb Gulls, 5 Kittiwake, 5 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot, 2 Red breasted Merganser, 7 Mallard, 1 Long tailed  Duck, 42 Eider. We also saw a Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard, a ringtail Hen Harrier . We saw many Rock Pipits on the shore, as well as some small flocks of Goldfinches and a few Linnets enjoying the shoreline seed heads!!!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Friday 8th September

Another miserable sort of the weather, yet again...Mike got the stats back from BTO relating to the Manx Shearwater which he had found dead down on Machir Bay, on the 4th of Sept. It was rung as a first year bird at Bardsey Bird Observatory on the 5th of Sept 2004, a mere 4,747 days ago!!
Gary today had been down for a walk along the River Sorn from the Woollen Mill. On the River itself, he had seen a Dipper with Goldcrests and Long tailed Tits heard calling away in the trees. Mark and Phill had joined forces today and carried out the WeBS count on Loch Gruinart with their birds counted as follows: A Pale bellied Brent Goose, 2 Barnies, 234 Greylag, 380 Ringed Plover, 238 Dunlin, 16 Barwits, 2 Blackwits, 14 Knot, 121 Curlew, 29 Sanderling, 9 Turnstone and a Peregrine. They also reported through a possible sighting of 2 Little Stint up on the shore below Kilnave.
Jim Dickson arrived over for a week's birding, so here are some of Jim's birds seen today, 30 juv. Blackwits, an adult Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, ringtail Hen Harrier, 3 House Martin, 1 Shelduck and 4 Knot all at Gruinart. 4 Greenfinch were at Kilnave with a Merlin at Ardnave also a male Hen Harrier at Coull. Finally Jim had a Willow Warbler along at Sunderland Farm. Here at home, I saw 3 families of Stonechats on the game crop this morning as well as one of the House Sparrows caught and rung by George E Jackson in the Spring. It was up close to the house and I managed take some images of the leg ring and matched the ring numbers.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Thursday 7th September

Another mixed day with the weather again, with more rain forecast for tomorrow...
Yesterday, James had been out to help with counting Greylags, and all going well I should get the tally through from SNH for tomorrow's entry. On his trip out, James had a Sparrowhawk, a Grey Wagtail and then an Osprey seen out on Loch Gruinart. Up at Ardnave, James counted 21 Chough and saw Grey Seals with pups over on Nave Island. Today, here at home, Margaret spotted a male Chaffinch with a BTO ring on its' leg, possibly one that was caught and rung by George E Jackson here previously.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Wednesday 6th September

A similar sort of a day today with the weather, but we will not be beat, got all my jobs done, just fine, a happy bunny again.. Forgot to mention on the blog last night that I had a Snipe down below the pond, in the rushy area.. Gary had seen an Otter up at Bunnahabhain, and reported that both Song Thrushes and Mistle Thrushes are starting to flock up over beside here he lives.
Today, Mike and Peter had carried out a sea watch at Frenchman's Rocks. I was also glad to hear that Bob had been out with them too, no excuse now Bob, another few weeks and you will be driving again. Their birds were as follows, 997 Manx Shearwater, 23 Fulmar, 4 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 29 Auk sp., 3 Tysties, 1 Arctic/ Common Tern, 10 Gbb Gull, 339 Gannets with another 150 feeding around the Rocks, 7 Great Skua, 12 Sanderling, a Whimbrel and a Storm Petrel. Today, Phill was leading the guided walk down on the Oa where he had a pair of Golden Eagle displaying well, 4 Chough close to the American monument and also a Kestrel nearby. Here at home, on the game crop the Linnets have been joined by some Twite, possibly the ones that Mike had down at the Machir Bay the other day...

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Tuesday 5th September

Been a better sort of a day although there has been the odd shower thrown in for good measure... So in between the rain I have been out on the wee tractor topping some of the grass that has not been cut so far this year, and then after that I took the big strimmer and cut in places that the tractor would not go, and if the weather holds tomorrow, I should finish that job before lunchtime... After tea tonight, we took some time out and sat in the hut for the best part of an hour...2 top birds came by, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the game crop and landed down on the wall and remained there for the best part of 5 minutes.... Later on a Sparrowhawk flew past and carried on up the gully. The usual wee birds were around Linnets, Goldfinches, a Robin, a Dunnock, Great Tits, Blue Tits, House Sparrows, Starlings, Jackdaws and some Pheasants as well. 3 Hooded Crows were out on the machir, and a few Greylags were flying back to their roost, with a Buzzard perched up on the crag. Earlier on a Wren was out beside the hut too with some Stonechats hopping along the wall.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Monday 4th September

Well, you will all be relieved to her that it has stopped raining, although a low swirling mist this morning caused the flight from Glasgow to Islay was delayed. This afternoon, the cloud broke and it has turned out to be a not bad day, with the sun streaming in through the window as I write this entry. Mike made the most of the afternoon, with a walk along Machir Bay producing 51 Ringed Plover, 11 Sanderling, 2 Dunlin and a dead ringed Manx Shearwater... Mike also had a flock of 30 Twite and also saw 2 nearly fledged Sand Martins at their nest hole. . On the game crop, here at home, the Linnet numbers were up to over 60 today, and this afternoon, we had a Peregrine sitting on the march fence between Coull and Ballinaby. We also had 2 charms of Goldfinches below Coulererach, one of 40 birds, the other with at least 70 in number.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sunday 3rd September

You might want to search somewhere else tonight if you want to read about Islay's birds as today has been a total washout with wall to wall rain, not a lot but enough to keep me inside all day... I have not crossed the doorstep today. One person who might be pleased is JD, as I completed off the data base records for Islay for August and e mailed them to him...
Our good friend Marsali sent through her rainfall figures at Mulindry for August. Her tally was higher than last year for August, coming to 149 mm, or  5.96 inches, if you still think of the rainfall in imperial measurement... Thanks again Marsali.   The forecast for the week does not bode well either, with more rain forecast, say no more. Might have some birds for you tomorrow, no promises!!!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Saturday 2nd September

Not a lot to report tonight.... This morning, Mike had a Common Sandpiper down at Port Charlotte. Here at home, the Redpolls and also the Siskins that have been "resident" since the Spring have not been seen since before the Birdfair, but on a positive note the Stonechats are still around!!! Tonight, the wind has picked up and I feel that could be a wee change working in the weather with possibly some rain coming in over the next few days... Just as well that we have spent most of the day outside, working in the garden... 

Friday, 1 September 2017

Friday 1st September

Well, that is August out of the way again, the tally here for the rain came to 4.4inches, almost 2 inches less than last year at the same time, time for that to change very quickly, let's hope the farmers get a chance to get their harvest in before it gets too wet...
Yesterday, Mike and Peter had a count at Bridgend Merse and the surrounding mud flats as the tide was outish... birds seen came to 2  Sanderling, 55 Ringed Plover, 178 Dunlin, 227 Oystercatcher, 251 Curlew, 3 Knot, 29 Wigeon and 29 Barwits. Today they had done an hour down at Frenchman's Rocks where their birds were as follows : 181 Manx Shearwater, 201 Gannet, 29 Fulmar, 7 Kittiwake, 38 Shag (all perched on Frenchman's rocks),  17 Razorbill, 15 Awk sp., 1 Tystie, 1 dark phase Arctic Skua, and a Sand Martin in off the sea!! David Formby had been up round Ardnave today noting the following, 24 Chough, 4 Curlew (inland), around 40 Linnet, a pair of Ringed Plover with a very young pulli, and 2 Dunlin. Coming back down from Ardnave, he followed a Sparrowhawk along the road for around 100 yards.. Here at home, Margaret had 3 Wrens and a young Robin at the back of the garage this morning, and late afternoon, directly over the house a couple of Buzzards were wheeling around in a thermal. 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Thursday 31st August

Many thanks to James for putting the entries on the blog in may absence.. Quite a few entries this evening for you to drool over in envy. Last Saturday, Gary had been out with clients and saw an Osprey out over the Sound of Islay at Bunnahabhain, a Peregrine was present at Kilchoman with good numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling  seen down on Machir Bay. Mike Peacock yesterday saw over 200 Dunlin, 150 Ringed Plover, a Greenshank, 4 Red Knot, 41 Barwit, 70 Curlew and 2 Shelduck. David Wood this afternoon had a count of over 400 Manx Shearwater loafing around out from Lower Killeyan on the Oa. Also seen were 2 Sooty Shearwater, 11 Chough and a Sparrowhawk. David Formby had seen a mixed flock of over 50 Linnet and Goldfinch on the game crop at Kilchoman along with a couple of  Stonechats. Good numbers of Swallows and the Starling flock seems to increase every day.... A male Hen Harrier was quartering  over the lochans below Rockside.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Wednesday 30th August

A good burd nurds last night with lots of records gathered up from the birders: Mike and Pete had been sea watching at Frenchmans Rocks: 341 Manx Shearwaters, 447 Gannets, 27 Fulmars, 34 Kittiwakes, 1 Guillemot, 3 Razorbill, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 5 Arctic Skuas all dark phase, 5 Bonxies, 3 Red Throated Divers all in 1.5 hours watching. Joan reported Goldcrests and Coal Tits on the Gruinart woodland walk. Pete and Pia had great views of 6 Golden Eagles at the Oa on Sunday and also White Tailed Eagles and a Crossbill in the Ballygrant area.
While we we bird watching from Bruichladdich pier we saw 1 Common Scoter, 2 Guillemot, 2 Razorbill and 2 Sandwich Terns.
Today at Loch Gruinart a look across the Loch revealed: 620 Dunlin, 120 Sanderling, 5 Knot, 1 Greenshank, 21 Black Tailed Godwits and an Osprey.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Tuesday 29th August

A lovely sunny afternoon and Berd Nerds to look forward to tonite at Bruichladdich. Had a quick look across Loch Gruinart this afternoon as I had noticed a few more waders building up -  200 + Dunlin and a scattering of Sanderling, also a Ruff and an Osprey.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sunday27th August

I spent the afternoon in the South East of Islay yesterday and found one stag Fallow deer and a couple of Greenshank. Back at Gruinart the Peregrine is still hunting the Loch area and the swallow and Martins are building up on the electric wires.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Friday 25th August

There was a VERY lot of rain last night, so I have been out on the reserve letting water away to the sea, so that we can prepare the wet grassland for the Autumn/ winter. Peregrine on the mud of Loch Gruinart, also Greenshank and a Wheatear on the shore. Yesterday a Swift was reported over Ardnave Loch.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Thursday 24th August

Back on Saturday, Mike Peacock, Peter Roberts and Martin Armstrong had carried out a hours' sea watching down at Frenchman's Rocks. Their tally was as follows: 1435 Manx Shearwater, 340 Gannets, 41 Fulmar, 6 Kittiwake, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Bonxies, a dark phase Arctic Skua and 14 Shag. Yesterday, Mike saw a pod 12 Bottle nosed Dolphins off the lighthouse up at Rhuvaal.

Next Tuesday, it is time for the Islay bird nerds meeting, which will take place at the pier at Bruichladdich at 7pm. I know that several visiting birders will be around, so feel free to come along.

Earlier today Louise sent through the figures from the 2017 Corncrake survey, which came to a total of 75 calling birds, a slight decrease on the year, not sure if we had a larger or smaller fall in birds compared with other places.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Wednesday 23rd August

Boy, what a thunderstorm we had last night, and it was still rumbling away at midnight when I went to bed. Just as well that we have sandy soil as there was a lot of rain as well.
Last week while  I was away, Mike Young had seen an Osprey down at Loch Gorm. Coming back up from Rutland yesterday, Dave Wood had seen the Little Egret at Kennacraig and from the ferry as he was coming over, he saw a Storm Petrel. Today, Gary had been out with 2 clients. Over at Ballygrant, they had seen a White tailed Eagle, an Osprey was flying high over Loch Gorm, a Peregrine was seen flying past the memorial cross at Kilchoman, down below at Machir Bay, Chough were present. Up at Ardnave a Hen Harrier was seen, and also a Bonxie was seen at Loch Gorm. Gary reported that flocks of Goldfinch, Linnets and Starlings were starting to build in numbers. No Otters were seen on their travels!!!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Tuesday 22nd August

Thanks to James for holding the fort while some of us have been down at the birdfair at Rutland... a great event to attend, one year I really should make the effort and get round all the marquees , rather than looking at the plan in the brochure, and take time to hear some of the lectures..
We had an eventful trip down as the Herdwick Inn in the Lake District where we should have stayed was shut, unknown to us, nobody had told us, so fortunately, Gary was fresh to the driving seat and drove down to Rutland. We got held up with diversions, but made it down by 11.30 pm, as there were nowhere locally that could fit us all in. On the positive side of things, last Wednesday we had  an easy time out around Rutland Water before meeting in with Nicholas Watts at Vine House Farm where we  spent almost 3 hours on a conducted tour around his farming enterprise. Vine House Farm has donated over £1.25 million to Wildlife Trusts around the UK.


Gary helped Nicholas to feed the Tree Sparrows with Red Millet, watching on is Margaret. Nicholas last week  rung his 1,000th young Tree Sparrow of this season.

Monday 21st August

Sorry Missed a few blogs - I was away. It has been very showery on Islay and we have been struggling to get the silage in from the Gruinart Flats on the reserve. On Sunday the forage harvester broke down and the fields have had to be baled.
I had a few birds from the Ferry today: Lots of Guillemots still with chicks in tow, Lots of Kittiwakes plus good numbers of juveniles, 2 Red Throated Divers and 2 Porpoises.



Gruinart Flats

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Wednesday 16th August

A wild and wet day- distinct autumnal feeling

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Tuesday 15th August

Not a bad day with lots of farms out cutting and making silage, either second cut or Corncrake friendly depending on the farm. A look around the reserve at Gruinart revealed: Greylags 568 and with them 1 Canada goose (maybe from Colonsay population?) and also one white goose of mixed origin, 11 Mute Swans, 4 Herons, 15 Teal and 3 Mallards.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Monday 14th August

Well, the van is packed and ready to set in motion tomorrow morning on our trip to Rutland. All of us that are going are a right sociable, friendly lot so if your around at the Birdfair, come along. Better away and treble check there is nothing left around that should be in the van...

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunday 13th AUgust

Well, last night I never saw any of the meteor storm that was due, Margaret did spot one but that was all. On the positive side of being out late at night, yes, the Corncrake is still calling over in the "glen". This evening, I counted at least 45 Chough flying in to the roost. Through the day, we have been kept at it by trying to double check that we have everything ready to take for our trip to Rutland... As far as we can think of, all fine ready for the off on Tuesday. Our stand at the British Birdfair will or should look completely different, mainly because we have been fortunate in being able to have a double stand rather than a single stand, so perhaps we might get a better chance to get visitors attracted in to our stance and better still, get them to come to visit Islay, so if you are going to the Birdfair, come along to Marquee 7 and we are opposite to Speyside Wildlife, enter our free holiday competition, better still enjoy some of our famous hospitality... come and meet some of the faces behind the blog as well .... Bob will not be down this year, but Lesley and Gary will be down to help out in his place, David Wood from the Oa will be present, as well as his sister Sarah, Margaret, myself, Andy Robinson and also Carl, so come along.....

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Saturday 12th August

A greatly improved day with the weather today, not much to report tonight but there seems to be more Pied Wagtails around. Earlier on this evening, we saw a Stonechat down at the Coastguards with some grubs in its' mouth, a short time later, along the road a Wheatear was sitting on the road, causing us to slow down before it flew off. Round at Ballinaby, thee was an ever so small Hedgehog on the roadside, doubt if it will make through the winter. As the weather was better today, I took the chance and cut the grass, and also put larger guards on some of the trees/ bushes, so in that department, I am well pleased...

Friday, 11 August 2017

Friday 11th August

Not a lot going on outside today due to the weather, it was rather a dreich, dreary sort of a day rather than heavy rain all the time, all the same one would probably have got wet, the only good thing was that the windy conditions kept the midges away!!! Luckily I saw this Redpoll and a Goldfinch out on the feeders..


At one time there were 10 Goldfinch on the feeder this afternoon, which is a slight increase in numbers compared to the other week when there were hardly any around.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Thursday 10th August

Well, at least it did manage to stay dry for the local Agricultural show, but the wind has started to pick up this evening, so perhaps there is a wee change working...Yesterday evening, our good friends Ken and Karen had heard a Corncrake calling at Kilchoman, and today they saw a Merlin down below at the Coastguards. Steve Wrightson saw a Hen Harrier fly overhead while he was at the show. Gary and Sam along with some friends had gone down to Portnahaven, late afternoon, seeing Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Golden Eagle.  2 Hen Harriers were present near to Kilchiaran. Back over closer to their home, out of Ballygrant, Buzzard, Hen Harrier as well as 2 White tailed Eagle were seen.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Wednesday 9th August

Today, the weather again has been kind to us, with wall to wall sunshine. and as I write this entry, the sun is still streaming in the big windows, a nice complaint...
Not a lot going on as most of the folk  here on Islay are busy getting ready for the local Agricultural show which is being held tomorrow, down at Bridgend, so fingers crossed that it stays dry, and just as important, no midges...
We saw the Golden Eagle out over the crag, again along towards the masts behind Kilchiaran. This evenin,g there were a couple of Buzzards out towards Rockside. As I write this entry, the Choughs have just flown past, noisily, on their way to the roost.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Tuesday 8th August

Another day almost in, infact in a few minutes it will Wednesday, so I had better hurry up... Gary yesterday had been out with clients and had seen an Otter over at Bunahabhain, his first sighting of one for some time. They also saw a White tailed Eagle for some time too. Just after breakfast this morning, I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier fly over the garden, and Margaret saw another one around midday , again over the garden, possibly the same bird. Late afternoon, we saw a distant Golden Eagle away out along the crag towards the radio masts above Kilchiaran. Tonight, the Corncrake was still calling away outside the house.... Made it, still on Tuesday, but only just..

Monday, 7 August 2017

Monday 7th August

Around lunchtime today we watched a Golden Eagle wheeling around above Machir Bay. It was keeping a watchful eye on a kite, no not a Red Kite, but a kite being flown by a holiday maker for at least 5 minutes!!!! Distillery Dave spotted a male Hen Harrier down beside Loch Gorm as he headed home after his work. Out on the grass beside our house, 9 Song Thrushes were present this morning along with 3 Blackbirds..

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sunday 6th August

This past week, well for most of the week, most of the Islay team from Islay have been over on Coll. The weather according to James was not too bad... On the ferry going over there, they saw several Bottle nosed Dolphins and a Minke Whale, as well as Puffins on the water. Coming home on Friday evening at Kennacraig, James and Phill saw a Little Egret and also a Greenshank as they approached the ferry terminal. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Saturday 5th August

A glorious day with a beautiful sunset to finish the day off, just great.... Alistair Hart this morning had gone to carry out a sea watch at Frenchman's Rocks, only problem was that he managed to sit on his  pencil, so breaking it and it beyond repair.. Alistair still managed a list of birds seen... Skylark, Mipit, Wheatear, Carrion Crow, Raven, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Greater Black backed Gull, Shag, Cormorant (12 flying together at one point), Guillemot, Razorbill, Tystie, Fulmar, a pale phase Arctic Skua and 2 Bonxies. Later on, Alistair has seen a Peregrine on a kill between Port Mor and Portnahaven.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Friday 4th August

Mike Peacock and Peter Roberts had been out on Loch Indaal in their boat yesterday and off  Port Charlotte up towards the lighthouse they had heard a Corncrake calling, back around the lighthouse, not out on the loch! Before I went to bed last night, at around 11pm, I too heard a Corncrake calling over towards the wee glen leading up to here from the Coastguards, the same bird that Margaret had heard shortly before, would I ever doubt my wife's hearing??
This morning Mike and Peter had done a spot of sea watching at Frenchman's rocks, off Portnahaven for almost 2 hours with the birds flying in a South easterly direction, their count came to 503 Manx Shearwater,123 Gannets, 52 Kittiwake, 60 Fulmar, 8 Shag, 8 Razorbill, 17 Razorbill, 1 Arctic Skua, 4 Black headed Gulls, 2 Tysties, 4 Turnstone and a Whimbrel. They also saw 11 small geese, presumed to be Brent Geese, which are not not normally seen until mid to late August, earliest Scottish record were of a group of 11 Brents seen off Machrihanish (down at the tip of the Mull of Kintyre) on 19th August in 2005,  I believe.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Thursday 3rd August

Sorry about the latish entry tonight, but been one of  those days, better late than never.. we have been kept busy today, trying successfully to get some jobs completed for Rutland, almost there now, but not sure where "there" is!!!
Alistair Hart had been down in Bridgend Woods where he saw a pair of Spotted Flycatcher and he also heard at least 2 Willow Warblers singing away. This evening, after work, Distillery Dave had been  down at the Machrie for a round of golf.. He heard a pair of Peregrines and their youngster being very vocal. He also heard a Corncrake calling whilst out on his round. Just at 10 pm, here at home, Margaret heard a Corncrake calling, the first here this year!!
Our good friend, Marsali kindly sent through her tally for the rainfall for July, over at Mulindry, a mere 4.68inches, drier for once than us, and almost an inch at that!! Having said that, I believe that they had quite a lot of rain last night as did Bowmore, which we did not get!!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Wednesday 2nd August

Here at home this morning there were 4 Song Thrushes and 3 Blackbirds all having a good "howk" (dig) around out on the grass, no doubt looking for some tasty worms. Paul Graham reported through to say that he has heard 4 different Corncrakes calling over at the Machrie while he was having a round of golf today... Gary, today had been watching a pair of adult Hen Harriers along with their 2 young as they were out "practising food passes", from a vantage point off the "high road".  Rather a watery looking evening sun, so maybe the rain is not that far off again...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Tuesday 1st August

Well, as promised, the dreaded total for the rain that fell into our rain gauge  came to 5.5 inches. Last year the figure for July was 4 inches which I thought was a lot, say no more..
Yesterday Alistair Hart had heard 2 Corncrakes still calling away up at Sanaigmore. Here at home, the flock of Linnets were still present out from the "hut". A better day again with the weather, for how long is another question... The end is in sight, with all the distilleries having given some of their finest produce for folk to sample at the Birdfair, apart from one of them, always the tail end Charlies. Islay Ales have sent through some of their beer and also Walker's Shortbread have again been really kind in helping us with some of their shortbread, and as we have a double stand this year, our stand will have a completely new look, so come along in marquee 7, in the usual place, opposite Speyside Wildlife, and meet some of the faces behind the blog...
As this is meant to be about birds, I took this picture of a Wagtail earlier this year...


Monday, 31 July 2017

Monday 31st July

Well, that is July almost over but you will just have to wait until tomorrow night when I will tell you all how much rain we heave had. The weather has been quite good today, got the rest of the grass cut and now, this evening, guess what, well it is raining again... Margaret this morning saw a hen Pheasant out with her brood of 11 newly hatched chicks. This evening, Margaret counted 23 Chough on top of the crag before heading in to the roost. on the seed heads on the cover crop down from the hut, over 40 Linnets were having their supper. On the hemlock heads, there were several Willow Warblers while the young Blue Tits and young Great Tits were still around with some Swallows swooping over the pond and along over the cover crop, good to see...

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sunday 30th July

A better sort of a day, although there were a few drops of rain this morning, not a lot, but enough to stop me cutting the grass which I eventually managed to do this evening, job done..
Back on Friday, James  saw 4 Sandwich Terns over at Kilnaughton Bay. Yesterday, James saw 15 Sanderling playing "chicken" with the waves over at Sanaigmore... This afternoon, we saw a couple of young Blue Tits out from "the hut", great to see, as it shows that they must have bred close to here. Margaret earlier on spotted a Peregrine perched away along the top of the crag. As I write this entry, Margaret has just seen 17  Chough out sitting, sunning themselves on the rock face of the crag.


 One of them had flown away by the time I got the camera out, honest....

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Saturday 29th July

Just as well that I emptied the rain gauge yesterday as more rain fell through the night and it only really stopped mid morning...Thomas Miller and his student friends sent through some sightings from Tuesday 25th. High over Gruinart they saw a young Golden Eagle being mobbed by some Gulls. Later on up at Ardnave, they saw a small flock of around 30 waders, mostly Sanderling along with some Ringed Plover and a single Turnstone feeding on grubs in the rotting kelp along with some Gulls and a few Chough. Last night we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier as we headed over towards Saligo Bay. We also saw another ringtail along the flats at Gruinart close to the turn off up to Craigens. This evening, we watched as the flock of 50+ Chough returned in to their roost. Down on the thistle heads on the edge of the game crop there was a mixed flock of around 60 finches, mainly Goldfinches and Linnets, good to see the Goldfinches back again after being posted as awol a few weeks back....

Friday, 28 July 2017

Friday 28th July

A few more days, and that is almost another month in again, time goes past a lot quicker when you get older, or so  I was told a few years ago and it may well be true!!! As the weather has not been that good today, not a lot to report on the birds front. Peter and Pia had heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away as they walked down at Foreland this morning. I managed to take this image of some of the Siskins along with a Goldfinch this afternoon out on the niger feeder.


Almost forgot to mention that I had to empty the rain gauge today as it was full, and that is before the end of the month, say no more...Yes, it sure has been wet for July!!!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Thursday 27th July

Back on Sunday Jack Fleming saw 6 Swifts over his house at Gruinart. This morning, Jack watched a family of 4 Hen Harriers as they hopped along from one fence post to another on one of the fences along the flats at Gruinart. Today, Gary had a ringtail and also a male Hen Harrier close to island Farm This morning, below Carnduncan, we had a cracking view of a male Hen Harrier as it flew across the road. This evening in a very short space of time, less than 10 minutes, I had a family of Great Tits, Willow Warbler, female Lesser Redpoll, House Sparrow, Wren, Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Swallows, Jackdaw and Starling all seen from the "hut". To finish it all, I had a flypast of all the young Chough flying in to the roost and then when I got in to the house the heavens opened...just made it!!


Wonder if these Sparrows know their way to the "Islay stand " at Rutland???

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Wednesday 26th July

Yesterday Adam Haynes and his Dad had walked out from Ballygrant, past the lochs, through the woods and returned back to Ballygrant along the track beside the side of the road from Port Askaig. On Ballygrant Loch, they heard 2 RTD calling away and saw a Mute Swan and also a Little Grebe.  In the woods, they had lots of Siskins, Redpolls, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Long tailed Tit and Willow Warblers. On their way back along the track/ path a Whitethroat was seen. Yesterday evening the "bird nerds" met up, we had 10 folk in total, which made the washing up a bit easier...Visitor Alistair Hart had different tale to tell about his journey home to Portnahaven... He saw a Hare, a Stoat and also a Red Deer between Wester and Easter Ellister, no birds seen...
The rain came as forecast, the best part of an inch dropped in to the rain gauge in the last 24 hours!!!!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Tuesday 25th July

A new contributor  tonight, with Adam  Haynes sending some sightings through... The other day Adam had seen a female Common Scoter, 5 Sanderling and Dunlin on the Big strand beside the airport, while out on Loch Indaal RTD and Eider were seen. Yesterday down at Machir Bay, he heard 2 Corncrakes calling, 2 Peregrines seen, 2 Sanderling seen on the beach, lots of Chough milling around and also 2 Golden Plover seen in the fields behind the bay. On Loch Indaal, Adam had seen many Barwits, a Greenshank and also 2 Redshank. This evening Peter Roberts and Mike Peacock had a Grasshopper Warbler in the reed bed down at the Coastguards.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Monday 24th July

Yesterday, Distillery Dave, Lesley and myself carried out the WeBs count from Bowmore down to Gartbeck, in Bob's absence.. So here are the birds counted by us.. 5 Mute Swan, 46 Greylag Geese, 1 GND, 4 Cormorant, 7 Shag, 54 Oystercatcher, 65 Curlew, 10 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 5 Ringed Plover,  1 Turnstone,  3 Ruff, 28 Dunlin, 15 Bar tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Heron, 17 Eider, 24 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon, 23 Herring Gull, 6 Black headed Gull, 2 Lbb Gull and 2 Gbb Gull

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sunday 23rd July

Another top  drawer day with the sun shining through all day, almost too hot to work in, a nice complaint if nothing else!!
Gary yesterday had seen 3 Little Grebes on Ballygrant Loch, later on he saw a White tailed Eagle. Helen Brown  from Ardnahoe saw an Otter run across the track as she was out for a walk at Ballygrant Loch. Today, Botswana Dave got a chance to do some quality time birding by himself for a change.. In the farm steading at Aoradh, he saw Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Sedge Warblers with the Swallows present, being kept busy feeding their young. On the flats, Dave saw a ringtail Hen Harrier. On the woodland trail Dave saw young Robins, Willow Warblers and also Treecreepers. At the North Hide , the pair of Mute Swans were seen along with their 5 cygnets. He also commented on seeing plenty of young Mipits on the fences and in the fields, until they all took for cover as a Peregrine flew through.
Mind the Islay bird nerds will be meting up here at 7pm on Tuesday evening... see you there!!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Saturday 22nd July

Yesterday, Gary had seen 3 Little Terns and counted 30 Dunlin at Carnain while over at Gartmain, he saw over 70 Barwits. James, yesterday had seen 4 Swifts while he was up at Ardnave. Today, James saw a Greenshank on the reserve at Gruinart. Also today, Alistair Hart had an excellent sighting of a Whitethroat, between Port Wemyss and Portnahaven and later on great views of a Raven up behind Claddach. Today, while out and about, mainly from here at Kilchoman and over to Gruinart, we felt that were more Wheatears and also more Pied Wagtails around. On the way home this evening there were 3 Buzzards together below Carnduncan.
The monthly Islay Bird nerds meting will be held here at Shepherd's cottage at 7pm on Tuesday evening, so if you are around, feel free to come along.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Friday 21st July

Nothing much going on outside, out here today as it has been rather wet, but late afternoon, it did stop, the wind dropped too, so possibly a perfect night for the midges come out, but come to think on it, they go to bed too, you do not really hear of folk getting bitten by midges at night?? With being "stuck" indoors today, Mr D should be pleased with me, as the Islay sightings are bang up to date again!!  A quick walk round the garden proved fruitful with a family of Willow Warblers on the hemlock heads and a family of Great Tits present in the Willows. 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thursday 20th July

Yesterday, James had a Peregrine over the reserve at Gruinart, he also had a Swift. Yesterday too, Gary had scanning over the sands (tide out!) between Bridgend and Bowmore seeing over 100 Oystercatchers, 65 Curlew and 17 Barwits. Gary has also been spotting some Swifts as well while he has been out and about over the past few days. This morning, we saw an Osprey perched on a post down on the side of Loch Gorm . On our way home, we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier as it flew across the road in front of us below Coulererach. At home, mid afternoon I counted 47 House Sparrows on the fence below the hut... Been a not bad day with the weather here today, although it might be a different story tomorrow, with rain forecast from midday onwards, we will just take what comes...

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Wednesday 19th July

Well, as predicted last night, the weather went downhill, almost spot on at 4pm, it has rained quite heavily since, with not much let up in the near future. Possibly just as well that we live at the top of a hill/ ridge... The windows look like the windows that Fishmongers used to have with the water streaming down them, showing my age now!!
Yesterday Thomas Miler, one of the young birders who are here for 3 weeks, had seen 2 Peregrines in a stoop in to the Choughs present behind Machir Bay, possibly young birds training up, as no doubt adult birds would have had a kill... Later on, Thomas and his friends, saw a juv Golden Eagle on the wing  at Carnain. Also yesterday, Mark spotted a Swift at Gruinart and also 40 House Martins. James later on saw 2 Swifts over the reserve. It was Mark's first Swift of the year.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tuesday 18th July

Another tremendous day with the weather, warm for here and also this evening, a bit of a breeze, so I think that most of the birdwatchers must have gone to the beach today... I took the chance today and carried on weeding round the wee trees and bushes, perhaps I maybe planted too many!!!  All I have to report this evening is a Buzzard chasing after some Rock Doves at Leek and then a distant Heron flying over Coille were seen as we drove round Loch Gorm this evening.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Monday 17th July

Yesterday Distillery Dave had been up at Sanaigmore where he saw a Peregrine carrying prey in its talons. Also up there Dave reckons that there are still 2 different Corncrakes calling as well. I was told the other day of one calling down behind Machir Bay. Visitors from North Queensferry had  seen a male Hen Harrier at Kilchoman and tonight had watched the young Chough coming in to the roost this evening, and now a cracking sunset, what a place to live..
Today, I have been kept out of mischief, trying to put the final touches together with various folk to put together our "Islay" stand for the British Birdfair held next month at Rutland. This year, we have really fortunate in obtaining a double stand, so with a bit of juggling and getting some new banners too, we shall have a completely different look to our stand... and as ever a great team of folk to man the stand, more about the Birdfair another night nearer the time...

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sunday 16th July

A big change in the weather with wall to wall sunshine, so we both worked away outside for most of the day... Margaret set to and cut  most of the grass while I was kept of  mischief weeding round some of the trees/ bushes. Think my arms are tingling a bit with pulling nettles, and yes I was wearing gloves and my shirt sleeves were down rather than rolled up!!! Margaret saw 2 Peregrines  "playing about" with a Raven. One the Peregrines peeled off and chased a lbj and then returned to annoy a Fulmar, no malice intended. This afternoon we set about trying to clean around the pond, I was surprised that the water was quite warm, not that I fell in it!!! This  evening it is rather dull outside as I write this entry, so possibly a sign that we may be getting some rain through the night, but it is not forecast...

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Saturday 15th July

A miserable sort of a day out with it being damp for most of the day, and also here at home, low mist, we could not see the crag for most of the afternoon. But having said that after 6 pm the mist lifted and it dried up, so we went out to the "hut", and were able to see a juv. Golden Eagle, a Buzzard, 2 Peregrines and also 2 Ravens out over the crag.. down on the fence at the edge of the game crop, there was a small flock of around 20 Linnets, popping back and forwards between the fence and the thistle heads. On the seed heads, over on the other side of the wee field, a couple of Willow Warblers were dodging about, with the Greenfinch  with its' fledglings was present on the feeder directly in front of the "hut", as was a Great Tit when we first went out. The Siskins are still enjoying the niger seed with the 4 Hooded Crows are hopping around on the grass. Earlier on, I spotted a hen Pheasant come out of the game crop wearing a purple leg ring which indicated it was one of the birds that Margaret had reared from hatching, as the digger driver disturbed the nest when moving soil  around  before we moved up here 3 years ago....


An image of the same hen Pheasant, sporting her purple leg ring, on the garden wall next to the old graveyard, taken back in May this year on a windy day...

Friday, 14 July 2017

Friday 14th July

Yesterday, Tom G had seen 2 Peregrine with 2 young over at Kintra. Today, by chance, we met in with 2 young visiting birders, both studying at Oxford University who are over on Islay for 3 weeks, their first visit, and what a great time they have been having... On their first day, they had seen Golden Eagle, White tailed Eagle, Chough and Hen Harrier. On Tuesday, they had a Whinchat family seen on the reserve at Gruinart, with Corncrake and also Quail heard too, and yesterday, Thomas and Joe had seen 2 Grey Wagtail and also a Dipper on the River Sorn at Bridgend. Up here we were able to show them several Wrens that were popping around, the Lesser Redpolls along with the Siskins on the big niger feeder.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Thursday 13th July

Yesterday, Gary had seen a White tailed Eagle fly over Keills and then up towards Bunnahabhain, he saw a pair of Bullfinches. Yesterday We saw a Red legged Partridge on our way to Bunnahabhain just after Ardnahoe. Today, Gary had been out with clients. They saw a male Hen Harrier at Finlaggan, later on, a ringtail was seen up towards Ardnave. At Ardnave Loch, they saw 4 Black tailed Godwits in summer plumage and while going over the Glen road 2 Swifts were spotted. Here at home on the feeders, earlier on, an adult Greenfinch plus 3 youngsters, proof that they must have bred!!!


One of the House Sparrows out behind the garage yesterday morning..

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Wednesday 12th July

Another great day again, all day although there was a low hiugging mist which hid Loch Gorm at first light... I saw it at the back of 5am and got up and watched the day roll in, quite a spetacle watching the mist rolling away. They said on the weather forecast this evening that Islay was one of the coldest places in Scotland last night, down to a mere 5 degrees... so I managed to get some snaps of the morning..


Looking over to Rockside Farm and the old Pagoda on the right, with the new Pagoda surrounded by scaffold in the centre, with the mist shrouding Loch Gorm, a great sight...
Back to birds, there was a House Sparrow on the wooden fence beside the garage.. a Fulmar out on the wing, one of the few remaining Fulmars nesting here now on the crag. There were over 30 pairs nesting when we came here back in 2000, now only 3 pairs are there... Along the barbed wire fence, a Willow Warbler was out as well, with a Stonechat on a fence post. Along the march fence, a family of Linnets kept floating back and forward between the top wire and then down over on to the seed heads. Out on the Machir, a Hare was having a tidy up. And that was all seen by 6am, well worth getting up for, honest!!!


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Tuesday 11th July

What a glorious day it has been and even at 9pm as I write this entry, there is not a cloud to be seen, mind you I am not complaining...
Tom G today had been down below us here on Machir Bay that is... Out along past Granny's rock  Tom had a very vocal Peregrine mobbing a Buzzard. He also saw a family of 5 Ravens as well as 7 Chough all out on the wing. Back along Machir Bay, up towards the North end or Coull Farm, Tom heard a Corncrake calling. Later on along at Rockside, he saw a pair of Peregrines. Yesterday afternoon Mandy and myself had the monthly look at the birds round at Rockside. It was great to see some Whinchats along with their broods out and also a few Reed Bunting with young out too. The Swallows were out hawking over the barley crops growing for the Distillery


This is one of our "friendly" Blackbirds who comes to beg for food, think he has his beak full this time for sure!!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Monday 10th July

Yesterday, although the weather was not that great, I managed to take the Siskins out on the big niger feeders, only 14 birds in total including several youngsters, all being watched by an envious Goldfinch..


Back to today, a nice sunny day again...Tom G. had seen a Golden Eagle on the coastline on the Sound of Islay. Visiting RSPB members from Switzerland, Brigitte and Claude had seen a Great spotted Woodpecker up past Knocklearach, towards Storakaig on the Glen Road and then another down at Loch Allan.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sunday 9th July

Been a bit of a pig of day here today, wall to wall dampness, or rain, coming to the best part of half an inch, but we will not that put us off.. Gary had been down at Ballygrant Loch where he saw 3 Little Grebes and 14 Tufted Duck on the water with Long tailed Tits present in the surrounding trees. Here at home, we have not ventured far but by watching out through the windows, we have had seen some "missing" birds..


The Sparrowhawk was on top of the empty drum which serves as a big feeder for the Pheasants, but not in use at present!!! Today, while I was out (in the rain!!) 2 Wrens were down dodging about, on some of the seed heads. Up nearer the house and we spotted 2 birds with BTO rings on, but could not read them. One was on a Starling, the other a male Chaffinch, wonder whether if they were some of the birds rung here by George E Jackson back in April???  Need the camera out to get some happy snaps of them, so we can look at their bling, another day...

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Saturday 8th JUly

This morning, Tom G had seen a Short eared Owl out hunting as he came out of Portnahaven. Later on and over the other side of Islay, while walking from Ardtalla up to the summit of Beinn Bheigier, Tom took this image of a Buzzard carrying of an Adder in its' talons..


Tom had also seen 4 Golden Plover in breeding plumage and many droppings from Red Grouse while on his walk.
This evening, we saw 2 juv White tailed Eagles as we came over the hill from Loch Gruinart to Carnain.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Friday 7th July

Some more rain through the night last night and then low cloud, but by early morning the cloud lifted and gave us a not too bad a day.. We had a Wren hopping along the garden wall mid morning, the first I have seen here for some time. Later on there was a Whinchat down below the "game crop". Today, Tom G had walked from Bowmore round to Laggan, seeing many Dunlin on his walk along with Oystercatcher and Shelduck in good numbers too. Top bird was a juv. Golden Eagle at Laggan Point.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Thursday 6th July

Just a wee photo taken earlier this week of the cover crop that we sowed back in April for the birds to enjoy later on, at present is the bees are loving it, on the sunny days!!


This morning, here at home, the Whitethroat was present again, with a Stonechat further down, towards the pond. Earlier this evening, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past. This morning, Mark had a Bonxie, 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 Buzzard chicks almost fully fledged. Little Terns, Arctic Terns and a GND were also present a Mark went round Ardnave. Tom G. had been out past Gortantoid, up past Killinallan, where he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier and found a Mipit's nest with 3 eggs in it.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Wednesday 5th July

Today, Tom G had spent some time over on Jura. Up past Inver, North of Feolin he saw a male Hen Harrier and also 2 Kestrel. Here at home, we saw a ringtail Hen Harrier up on a thermal above the crag, never seen that before... Later on, there was a Buzzard sitting on a rocky outcrop along the crag wtching all that was going on round about. Just before tea time, a Peregrine was flying directly over the house. This morning, I came in to the house and what was in the house but that greedy male Blackbird, so I quickly moved the cats through the house before they caught the bird before I could... It took sometime get the bird caught.. earlier on, it had followed me into the garage, unknown to me!!


I managed to get this Common Gull siting on its' nest the other day while we were over at Gruinart

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Tuesday 4th July

A miserable start to the day, in fact there must have been quite a lot of rain last night as our rain gauge is just short of 0.5" so far this month. We have had a better afternoon and yesterday evening, yet another glorious sunset. Tom G. had a ringtail Hen Harrier as he drove up to Ardnave and saw the Mute Swans present along with their 6 youngsters on Ardnave Loch itself. Here at home, there were  2 Buzzards out soaring over the crag, mid afternoon. After watching them for a wee while, one of the Buzzards peeled off and flew on. Then, out of nowhere a couple of Peregrines appeared out of nowhere and started to dive bomb and harass the remaining Buzzard that was still there. The end of the story is that the remaining Buzzard flew away unscathed..  The Whitethroats were present in the game crop again today.  

Monday, 3 July 2017

Monday 3rd July

A better day, out here and we managed to get the grass cut! Earlier on, before getting the wee tractor out to cut the grass, I saw 3 Whitehtroats, down below the garage, the first I have seen here this year!!!  Gary today had been out with clients. Over at Bunnahabhain, they saw a male Hen Harrier, a Bullfinch at Bridgend, and a Red breasted Merganser along at the spit past Uiskentuie. Gary also commented on seeing many Whinchats while they were out. Returning visiting birder, Tom Garner is back over for another "fix", almost up to 30 visits he was saying to me... Today was spent over around Bunnahabhain and over to Bolsa. At the base of Mala Bosla, he saw a Merlin chasing after a Mipit, a Buzzard was present at Bunnahabhain. Tom commented on seeing plenty of Yellowhammers on his walk. He also saw 3 Kestrels while he was out.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Sunday 2nd July

Another mixed day with the weather again, not too wet, but enough dampness on the grass so it was not cut today, fingers crossed and tomorrow is another day... heard that before somewhere!! Not much to report through on the bird front, but on a positive note, the appeared to be more Chaffinches around and a few Goldfinches present here today as well as numerous House Sparrows as well. There is a pile of feathers over beside the garden wall, so perhaps we had a Sparrowhawk visiting some time today as the locus was in a similar place to where we have seen one perched on the wall...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Saturday 1st July

As promised, the rainfall figures for June, nothing really out of the ordinary for here, a mere 3.6 inches for the month. We have had it drier in other years and also it a lot wetter as well.... Marsali over at Mulindry had 3.9 inches and also made the same comment ,"an average sort of a month". This morning it started off looking great, but by mid morning, the dampness was on, fortunately the wind kept up, otherwise the midges might have had a field day..
Yesterday Gary been down on the Sound of Islay where he saw a White tailed Eagle perched on a rock on the foreshore. Later on, he was speaking to a visitor up at Finlaggan who had seen a couple of Golden Eagles in the air over the hills behind Finlaggan. A short time afterward Gary had an Osprey flying with a fish in its' talons over the visitor centre at Finlaggan. Old Sandy was telling me that he had seen over 50 Swallows hawking over the rye field round at Ballinaby yesterday.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Friday 30th June

Well, that is almost another month in and come to think of it half of 2017 is almost past. So come tomorrow evening, as ever I will be able to reveal as to how much rain we have had in June, wetter than last June, but by how much? As it has been dry outside today, I have been  out in the garden for most of the time. I did manage see some birds mind you... 2 Peregrine flew over the top of the crag, 2 Ravens came out and practised some acrobatic flying stunts, a nicely coloured Linnet on the garden wall, a male Redpoll was a pleasant sight along with the colourful Siskins quarrelling amongst themselves on the feeders. On the back doorstep, the "friendly" male Blackbird waited patiently for Margaret to come out with his food... and then there was the daily flypast by the neighbourly Choughs while out on the grass our 2 local Hooded crows brought their 2 youngsters to show them off to us.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Thursday 29th June

Gary had been out and about doing some birding by himself today. Down at Gartmain where the burn enters Loch Indaal, Gary noticed more Gulls around... They included 4 Gbb Gull, 6 Lbb Gull, 12 Herring Gull, 33 Common Gull, a B H gull, 16 Oystercatcher, a Redshank and 2 Sedge Warblers. Round Loch Indaal, at Carnain, Gary had the following birds, 20 Ringed Plover, 12 Pied Wagtail, 10 Rock Pipits, 20 Meadow Pipits, 40 Blackwits, 4 Knot, 11 Dunlin, 45 Oystercatcher, a Curlew, 7 Linnet, with and an Osprey flying/ gliding west towards Uiskentuie. Back  on Loch Finlaggan, Gary had 19 Tufted Duck, the drake Ring necked Duck, a Cormorant and a Red throated Diver. Here at home, the Goldfinches are not so common for sure, the Starlings are up in numbers as are the Siskins with 12 counted out on the feeders this morning at one time. In fact there has ben a constant stream of Siskins coming and going for most of the day. The big flock of Jackdaws were not seen here today, but we did notice them on a recently sown reseed field over at Rockside...

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Wednesday 28th June

Been a not bad day with the weather and possibly another beautiful sunset coming shortly..  so, I have been busy today, weeding round some of the numerous trees that we have planted since moving house, almost 3 years ago.. and more importantly I sent the last couple of months of sightings from the blog through to "JD" and the Argyll Bird Club. I was "in the mood" this afternoon/ early evening and more than half of June is now done as well... can I do it up to date on the first of July and really surprise JD, with the June birds??? I am making no promises on that front....
On the bird front, Margaret saw a Peregrine carrying prey in its talons as it flew along the front of the crag. Margaret thought it looked like a young Jackdaw. Mid afternoon, there was quite a racket of birds outside, on inspection, around 250 Jackdaws were circling around over the old church next door.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Tuesday 27th June

Yesterday, Gary had seen a couple of Red breasted Merganser off Uiskentuie at the top of Loch Indaal, the first for some time. He was also saying that the Grasshopper Warbler was still "reeling" away opposite his house. Early this morning, just after midnight, we went out to hear any calling Corncrakes were about. In total we only heard 4 calling males, not as many as in previous years. There were also quite a lot of moths out as well, no Owls, a Grasshopper Warbler was heard with a Hedgehog seen too.. Goldfinches not so common on the feeders at home, but the Siskins were present.  

Monday, 26 June 2017

Monday 26th June

It is rather calm outside at present, and surprisingly, no midges are out, better not speak too soon, as we might go out around midnight and listen for any calling Corncrakes..
Today Peter had a count of 65 Bar tailed Godwits at the head of Loch Indaal. Gary today had been out with clients and reported in this evening to say that they had seen the drake Ring necked Duck and also a Red throated Diver on Loch Finlaggan.. The Rose coloured Starling was still present over at Laphroaig. Here at home, there appeared to be not so many Goldfinches around. It was great to see some young Swallows out hawking over the game crop. Last years crop is not as good as we had hoped but the same mixture to which I added some Oilseed rape seed sown late April, looks really well, so fingers crossed for the seeds for the birds to eat later on.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sunday 25th June

Yesterday evening as he was cycling home from the bowling at Bridgend (the secret is out now lad..), Distillery Dave had seen an Osprey at the head of Loch Indaal, carrying a fish in its talons as well, a late fish supper!!! This morning, Gary had 2 Bullfinches at Bunnahabhain. This afternoon, the Bird nerds met up, and started out on our planned walk, but needless to say we got caught in some rain showers, and we gave up.. and returned to base. We even had time for a cuppa & biscuits and a right good catch up around the table. We also managed some bird watching as well. Top bird for sure was a great view of a male Hen Harrier out on the wing less than 60 metres away. Other birds seen included a distant Golden Eagle, a Buzzard and a Peregrine as well as a close fly past by 4 Chough. So, all in all, not that bad for a dampish afternoon. Oh yes, we saw some Hares running about, out on the Machir as well.
Gary has just set through this image of the Rose coloured Starling which he took yesterday.


As ever, many thanks to visiting birders for your birds, we had sightings through from John and Jonti Wilson, Graham & Rosemary Bell and also our good friend Armin Grewe, thanks to you all.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Saturday 24th June

Earlier on in the week while down on the Oa, Graham and Rosemary had seen 20 prs of Fulmars. Yesterday, on their way  up to Sanaigmore, they had a male Reed Bunting at the roadside, and then further on, in a clump of goat willow, a family of 3 Willow Warbler. 2 Buzzards were seen over the wooded area beside Briago. Up at Sanaigmore itself, a Corncrake was heard, a group of 8 Twite , which were all feeding before flying off, a Whinchat was present with another family of 3 Willow Warbler also noted. Out on the shingle behind the bay, a colony of around 20 nesting Common Gulls were seen. Coming back round by Ballinaby,  2 Corncrakes were heard, with a male Hen Harrier out on the wing just prior to that. Another Buzzard was seen at Foreland with another 2 noted over the trees at Islay House. In the Community Gardens, a male Bullfinch was seen. Yesterday evening, Jonti Wilson had counted over 50 Chough as they flew in to the roost on the crag, the Raven came out to try to defend its' patch... This morning Mike Peacock had seen a drake Velvet Scoter along with a  female Common Scoter off Port Charlotte. Can he claim it be a house bird??? Gary, this morning had a male Hen Harrier quartering the ground behind his house. Later on Gary saw the Rose coloured Starling over at Laphroaig, while he was there a Merlin zipped past over the rocks! Here at home Margaret and her sister Liz saw a hen Pheasant with 7 newly hatched chicks alongside her this afternoon. Earlier on, we counted small flock of 14 Lapwing as they flew across the road down at Sunderland.
If you are around tomorrow afternoon, mind the bird nerds are meeting at Rockside at 2.30 for a walk. And if we have time, we may well go in for a welcome cuppa afterwards, so any visiting birders can come along and put a name to the face!!! All welcome...

Friday, 23 June 2017

Friday 23rd June

Yesterday, Graham and Rosemary had seen 3 different sightings of Hen Harriers over at Gruinart, up at Ardnave they a count of 55 flocking Lapwings. They also saw 3 different Buzzards around the reserve, while out on the estuary there was a flock of 30 Shelduck. Finally, round at Ballinaby, on the newly ploughed field, they counted 23 Lesser Black backed Gulls.  This afternoon, we went over to Laphroaig and were fortunate to see the Rosy coloured Starling.
On Sunday, we are holding the monthly meting of the Islay Bird nerds, a change from the usual Tuesday evening time. We will be meeting up at Rockside Farm, in the car park at 2.30pm for a walk around to see what is present, so mind and bring some money to get a cup of coffee and cake in the cafe afterwards....many thanks to Kilchoman Distillery for allowing us to visit.. so see you there there, if you are around...

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Wednesday 22nd June

Yesterday, Gary had been out with clients and saw 2 Bonxies at Loch Gruinart, a White tailed Eagle in the Kilmeny area and also the drake Ring necked Duck along at Loch Finlaggan. Today, John Wilson and his family were over on Jura, and they commented on how many Whinchats were present. This afternoon, Louise had a Golden Eagle over Loch Gorm, shortly afterwards a sub adult White tailed Eagle came by and then finally, a male Hen Harrier flew past. Here at home the Redpolls are still enjoying the niger seed...

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wednesday 21st June

Back on Sunday, Armin took this image of a Curlew, close to the roadside at Lossit, on the Rhinns. By its' behaviour it seemed be trying to distract Armin away, so probably on territory...


Yesterday, John Wilson had been down on The Oa, and had seen a Golden Eagle and also a Hen Harrier. Later on he had a Spotted Flycatcher  in the trees around  Kildalton and then another along towards Ardtalla. George Newall, before he left yesterday had 3 Greenfinches, over in the trees after Gearach towards Kilchiaran. Visitors Graham and Rosemary had seen several pairs of nesting Arctic Terns on the shingle in some of the bays around Portnahaven. An hour's sea watch out towards Frenchman's Rock produced 200 Gannets and a Bonxie flying South. later on they saw a Cuckoo being mobbed by a Mipit at Carn below Port Charlotte. Here at home, there were  5 Siskins on the feeders earlier this evening.
I received a reported sighting of a Rose coloured Starling seen over at Laphroaig today, but the info was a bit sketchy, but will let you know if I hear anything more on that one...
You should have been here last night as what a beautiful sunset was seen, should have got the camera out to show it to you all... another oops, sorry...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tuesday 20th June

Gary yesterday had managed to get some birds while out with his clients. On the South side of Loch Gorm, they saw a Golden Eagle out over the ridge. At Rockside, they saw a Whinchat, down at Coultoon, a pair of Whinchats were present and then down on Claddach Loch, they saw an Arctic Tern fishing. Returning visitors Graham and Rosemary, back for another Islay fix, had seen a Dabchick, Tufted Duck and also the Ring necked Duck on Loch Finlaggan. Round at Ballinaby, on the ploughed field, there were several Curlews and some Lapwings with chicks there too. Today on the guided walk on the Oa  today, they were  over the moon with seeing 2 Golden Eagles. Later on at Kilnaghton Bay, Common Sandpiper and Pied Wagtail were present. Late afternoon, Margaret saw a Golden Eagle up at Sanaigmore.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Monday 19th JUne

It is either a hunger or a burst this birding, yesterday the entry was full and full of goodies, tonight, the cupboard is bare... The mist rolled around for most of the morning and then burnt off to give us a cracker of an afternoon and evening with more sun forecast for tomorrow. This evening, outside on top of one of the old telegraph poles, a Song Thrush was singing away good style for quite some time. Earlier on, over at Gruinart, close to the road leading to Craigens there were 3 very young Lapwing chicks on the verge on the side of the road, a risky place to be, to put it politely...

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sunday 18th June

Been a bit of a dreich sort of a day here at base today with the mist in for the most of the day, not a lot of wind, net result, the midges came out..
Some sightings through from George Newall who has been over for the best part of 3 weeks. On the 31st May, he had a Spotted Flycatcher and 4 Chiffchaff in at Loch Skerrols and also heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker there as well. At Bowmore Harbour, George saw an immature Kittiwake. 3rd of June, at Claggain Bay Arctic Terns and Common Terns were seen and the following day, 4 Sanderling were at Gartbreck. On the 6th on the Big strand, below the Airport, George had 3 Little Terns, some Arctic Tern, a male Hen Harrier and also 20 Sanderling. On the 9th, he saw Reed Buntings feeding young and heard several Corncrakes as well as several Snipe drumming while at the reserve at Gruinart. On the 11th June, he had a female Blackcap at Kilnaghton. A walk from Bridgend up the River Sorn  produced Dipper, pair of Grey Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher, later on the same day George heard 2 Corncrakes calling at Sanaigmore. The next day (12th) George had seen 2 Bullfinches beside wee lochan between Gearach and Kilchiaran, while at Kilchiaran itself, a Whitethroat was seen. On the 15th George saw a Corncrake up at Sanaigmore. Gary yesterday had seen 2 RTD at Claggain Bay, some Little Terns on the Big Strand, heard a Great spotted Woodpecker in the trees at Finlaggan with the drake Ring necked Duck out on the water there. Over at the  former Kilchoman School, Gary had a Spotted Flycatcher and finally a ringtail Hen Harrier down at Blackpark. Also yesterday, Carl had 2 Bonxies (Great Skuas) close to Killinallan. Coming back on the evening ferry last night Peter Roberts had  350- 400 Manx Shearwater and around 150 Gannets, closer to Islay, rather than the mainland... Peter also had a Common Porpoise from the ferry as well. Steve Wrightson yesterday had a Short eared Owl out beyond Craighouse, a Golden Eagle was seen while coming back to ferry at Feolin and today, he had a Corncrake with 2 chicks down at Machir Bay. This afternoon, we had a Golden Eagle out on Borichil Mor and then a male Hen Harrier close to Culbuie.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Saturday 17th June

Armin sent this image of a Snipe drumming, taken yesterday evening over at Gruinant..


Armin's image clearly shows the tail feathers out which cause the drumming sound, good one Armin.

Returning visiting birder, John Wilson is back again for another Islay fix. John popped in for a catch up this afternoon and told me of seeing Reed Buntings and Sedge Warblers down at the reed bed leading to Machir Bay. Later on, we watched our "local" Chough pair trying to coax their 3 youngsters out from the nest. It  took them a week last year, so we will see how long it takes this year.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Friday 16th June

It may have been dry today, but think that the birds have disappeared.. Having said that the Goldfinches are still coming into the niger feeder here at home with the House Sparrows along with their young. Other long staying "now resident" Redpolls, Greenfinches and also  Siskins are still here, nice to see as usually they just appear for a brief stay and then move on... I hope that I am proved wrong, but the 2 broods of Pheasant chicks have not been seen over the last couple of days. Could they have perished with all the rain??? Coming back home this evening, the Shelduck was present at "smelly corner" with several large ducklings, not sure of how many were there... Yesterday evening, Armin had a ringtail Hen Harrier just after Leek and then a male and a ringtail up towards Culbuie. Today, Armin had another ringtail along at Rock Mountain as well as another male, but I have had a senior moment as I can't remember where...no excuse for old age!!!