Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday 31st December

Another year almost in, so a great deal of thanks is due to all the various folk who have kindly shared their sightings throughout the year, it's thanks to you all out there that give me the info to help put together the entry each night!!! Today at lunchtime, Carol Andrew had a Jay down at Bridgend, the first sighting of one here on Islay since 1998! Yesterday, we had a male Hen Harrier on the wing down close to Gartmain, and another between Foreland and Rock Mountain. On the reserve at Gruinart, James had a flock of 26 Golden Plover and 6 Gadwall out from the new hide with 3 Greenshank out in front the old hide. Marc yesterday had the same birds at Gruinart as well, the Glaucous Gull was still at Bruichladdich, on the pond up behind Port Charlotte, a Wigeon and also a Moorhen. Below Rockside, a Merlin was chasing a flock of 32 Reed Bunting with no joy! Round at Coull, he had a hybrid Barnie X Canada amongst the Barnies there, also present was a large flock of Gulls and also 100 Lapwing and 130 Curlew present. Another visitor told Marc of seeing an Iceland gull at Uiskentuie, late afternoon yesterday. Today James had a male Hen Harrier on the reserve at Gruinart.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday 30 December

Thanks to James to writing the blog while I was down South in Surrey enjoying Xmas, think I missed all the stormy weather although there was frost on the cars when we headed for Gatwick yesterday morning.... we are not used to frosts over here!!! Down there, we saw Foxes(2), Molehills, Grey Squirrels, Green paratkeets, Green woodpecker, Magpies, Jays, Nuthatches, which we not see here on Islay, the odd Magpie yes, and the even rarer (to us) Green woodpecker. Yesterday Malcolm had a first winter Glaucous Gull in his garden at Bruichladdich, visiting birder Marc Eden had 7 Purple Sandpipers at Bruichladdich along with the Glaucous Gull, 130 Scaup on Loch Indaal with 5 Long tailed Duck also present there. Going over the moor to Gruinart, a Golden Eagle was seen above Cnoc Don, further on a flock of 60 Skylarks were noted and then on the rape field at Corsapol, 80 Twite were seen. Other visiting birders, Graham and Catherine Whitby had seen a Greenshank at Bun an Uillt.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday 29th December

Another nice day. I had a walk at Ardnave, just up the west coast far enough to enjoy the sand, sea and big swells. Saw a few birds- small groups of Ringed Plover and Sanderling on the coast, 10 Whooper Swans on the Loch and a Hen Harrier near the farm. Bob had also been out enjoying the break in the weather. He had done a count at Gartbreck: 2 Great Northern Divers, 36 Shags, 1 Cormorant, 5 Shellduck, 53 Mallard, 176 Teal, 2 Pintail, 1 Eider, 1 Goldeneye, 3 Red Breasted Mergansers, 3 Herons, 50 Oystercatchers, 14 Curlew, 3 Bar Tailed Godwits, 5 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover, 1 Grey Plover and 45 Lapwing. Best of all though, not far from his house nr. Port Charlotte, he had good views of a male Marsh Harrier. Bob was out on the hill yesterday near Bolsa and saw 2 Red Grouse and a Bullfinch.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday 27th December

I had a slow drive to Bowmore today, spending time birdwatching on the way. The windy weather made it difficult to pick birds out, but I found a few- 2 Long Tailed Ducks, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 2 Common Scoter, a Kittiwake and some Scaup. I met a birdwatcher who had seen a Snow Bunting at Ardnave and had 2 Golden Eagles over the Oa yesterday.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday 26th December

A lovely day, calm and sun, after so much windy wet weather. The wind on Christmas eve made the Whooper Swans move with 24 on the Floods at Gruinart. Otherwise, all the birds of prey were out hunting today, making good use of the weather break, 2 Hen Harriers and 4 Buzzards al over the reserve at Gruinart. Anyway, I am off to eat the Christmas scraps.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday 24th December

A stormy day- winds pushing water up onto the road around Loch Indaal, leaving the road covered in seaweed and rocks, with froth like bubble bath floating in across the Island. A few birds: A Merln and 9 Whooper Swans at Gruinart and 50 Pale Bellied Brents at Blackrock. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our readers.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday 22nd December

Computer and internet are up and running at Grainel again so I can up date you all with some Islay bird records. On Friday Mary had a trip around Ardnave- 9 Mallards, 1 Little Grebe, 20 Whooper Swans, 3 Mute Swans, 5 Wigeon, 126 Teal and 5 Goldeneye as well as 12 Choughs and 11 Reed Buntings at Garraeallabus. Mary has also been seeing a Barn Owl most Mornings in Portnahaven near the old primary school. On the reserve at Gruinart Hen Harriers have been frequent with 2 ring tails hunting today.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday 20th December

Tracey kindly sent through the figures from the International Goose count which was carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday with the scores on the doors tally through at 36,244 Barnies and 5,869 Whitefronts. The tally for the Barnies is well down on the 2 previous years, while the Whitefronts are up in number. Thanks to Tracey and the team from SNH for sharing these numbers to us. Been a funny old day with the weather, with the wind starting pick up this evening again, as long as it drops down tomorrow morning, I will be happy....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday 19th December

Yes, it was a windy night last night, and just before midnight, the power went on and off several times, and finally it stayed off, so it was off to bed, mind you I was just in bed, the power came back on, so I just stayed put, enough said... Yesterday, visiting birder Ian Stewart had seen a couple of Golden Eagles while he was down on the Oa. From the Gaelic centre outside Bowmore, on Loch Indaal, Ian had 8 Long tailed Ducks, up at Gruinart, a ringtail Hen Harrier was out on the reserve, and finally down at Bruichladdich 4 Purple Sandpipers were present. Thanks Ian for your birds.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday 18th December

Bob was out helping with the International Goose count today and had seen 2 White tailed Sea Eagles out over the hills between Newton and Ballygrant, earlier on at Carrabus Bob saw a Pink footed Goose amongst some Whitefronts. This morning on my way over to Gruinart, I had a first, briefly, a male Hen Harrier was sitting on top of a fence post before it flew off! At Grainel there were 12 Reed Buntings and along the road past Loch Gorm House, a Merlin flew across in front of us. Up towards Killinallan, a Snipe was flushed out of the roadside ditch. The wind (yet again) has started to pick up.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday 17th December

Time is flying past this month, the month is half way past already, and come to think of it in a fortnight's time, the end of the month and the end of another year, and in between Xmas has to fitted in as well, think of all those extra pounds that we will put on, and so easily too, not so easy to loose.... Bird news is scarce today, down on Loch Indaal, the usual culprits were around with Wigeon down at Gartmain. With the full moon last night and some of the geese used it to graze while it was light, net result was that they were roosting up around the head of Loch Indaal, having said that no sign of a White tailed Sea Eagle out on the wing looking for some easy prey... On the weather front, the wind has started to pick up and it is a lazy wind too, just going straight through you, better wrap up to keep warm tomorrow!!! The birds on the feeders today did not waste any time in devouring their food that was put out, another sure sign that the temperature is set to drop a few degrees...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday 16th December

Heard this morning, that the Reindeer got off Islay safely yesterday, relief all round! Today James did a count at Gruinart of the Geese present.... 5,413 Barnies (up on the last count), 342 Whitefronts (high for December), 49 Greylags, 11 Whoopers and 640 Lapwing. James was saying that there appear to be a few Whoopers still moving through, certainly on Friday I saw 4 at Coull and about 2 hours later they had moved on. Down at Rockside feeding amongst the silage for the livestock were some Whitefronts with Barnies in the next field, no sign of any Golden Plovers today!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday 15th December

Although it has remained dry here today, it was quite windy this morning, the ferry was disrupted and did not leave until 14.00, wonder if the reindeer left or not? Earlier on this week Nat and her team did a Chough count at various roosting sites round Islay with a tally of 103 Chough being seen. Earlier this week, I read that the Corncrake numbers were well down, but luckily for Islay, our numbers remained similar to last year with 87 calling males being heard. Yesterday down in one of the fields at Rockside there were around 50 Lapwing, 50 Golden Plover and a similar number of Starlings all hunkered up on the ground, trying not to get blown along....

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday 14th December

The weather has been rather windy over here today, with Calmac cancelling the morning ferries and with the ferries back to normal this afternoon,. More important it stayed dry for the Reindeer pulling Santa and his sledge through Bowmore, what a crowd turned out.... The "ice rink" had been moved indoors and proved popular by all accounts too. Well done to all those involved in organising both events. Natalie and her team yesterday had carried out a count on Loch Gruinart, their tally was as follows, 1 Heron, 183 Shelduck, 162 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 7 Mallard, 4 R B Merganser, 7 Pintail, 36 Shoveler, 1 Goldeneye, 198 Oystercatcher, 53 Ringed Plover, 445 Golden Plover, 95 Lapwing, 400 Dunlin, 174 Barwits, 96 Curlew, 36 Redshank, 5 Turnstone, 96 C. Gull, 5 LBB Gull, 181 Herring Gull and 6 GBB Gull. On Ardnave Loch, their scores on the doors were 63 Teal, 5 Tufted Duck, 39 Whoopers, 3 Goldeneye and 29 Wigeon. Thanks Nat.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday 13th December

Friday the 13th may unlucky for some, but not for us as we have several sightings for you tonight....almost forgot, the reindeer arrived safely, getting away home to Aviemore on Sunday could be a different story!!! Peter had seen the Pale bellied Brent at Blackrock today with over 45 Geese present. Ed had a Golden Eagle between Bridgend and Ballygrant, a Merlin at Gorm and a Goosander on the Laggan. James today had a count on the floods at Gruinart with his tally coming through at 3 Heron, 1 Whooper, 50 Wigeon, 86 Pintail, 57 Teal, 1 Mute Swan, 195 Mallard, 6 Gadwall,5 Curlew, 7 Redshank, 36 Greylag, 1 GBB Gull, 85 C. Gull, 6 H. Gull, 377 Lapwing, 94 Dunlin, 424 Golden Plover, and also 4 Stonechats!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday 12th December

Sorry folks, nothing much to report on the bird front today, was in touch with my usual reliable sources but with no luck.... Mid afternoon, the temperature was up to 13 degrees, and coming back down to the house then, I noticed Dandelions out in bloom, daisies out in the grass, the daffodils are through the ground and over in the wood, snowdrops are peeping through as well, come to think of it the first of the lambs will soon be here around the end of the month... Another happening tomorrow is the arrival of the reindeer who are coming to lead a procession through Bowmore along with Santa and his sledge on Saturday afternoon...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday 11th December

Another good day over here again for the time of year, with the temperature in double figures... This afternoon, Mary had been up at Ardnave where she saw a Merlin out over the dunes, also there were 7 Ravens, a Buzzard and 2 Hooded Crows. Back down on Ardnave Loch, Mary counted 65 Teal, 5 Tufted Duck, 10 Wigeon, 9 Goldeneye, 1 Heron, 1 Pochard, 39 Whoopers including 3 juveniles and a family group of 2 Mute with 2 youngsters. There were also a further 2 Hooded Crows present there as well. Over the reserve at Gruinart James saw a Golden Eagle, while down at Blackrock he counted a group of 53 Pale bellied Brents.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday 10th December

For sure, it has been a day to see some raptors. Mid morning there was a Sparrowhawk cruising around above the wee wood here at the house. At lunchtime, the Buzzards were out crying about as they do. This afternoon down close to McNicoll's croft, a Merlin was seen and then coming home, another Sparrowhawk was down at the Coastguards'. In between times, there were 2 different groups of Pale bellied Brents on the go, one at Glenburn close to Blackrock, the others were along at Gortan, the exact numbers I was not sure of as I was driving and in the middle of traffic so could not slow down or stop, possibly the 40 odd group from Bowmore split in 2 groups...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday 9th December

The word dreich should not be used today to describe the weather, as it has been a not bad day considering that it is December.... Back on Friday, James had a count of the geese present on the reserve at Gruinart, a low count so I am told by James with the tally coming through at 3,475 Barnies, 260 Whitefronts and 34 Greylags. Also seen were a male and 2 ringtail Hen Harriers as well as a female Merlin. Today, James had a male and a female Merlin having a tussle above the floods... Peter had a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk over at Killinallan with a few Snipe down on the foreshore.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday 8th December

If yesterday was a dreich sort of a day, well I am not sure how to describe today, well it was dreicher if there is such a word, around midday the question was, "will it get any brighter today", the answer was NO. Cut a long story short only birds I saw was a small flock of 40 Golden Plover round at Ballinaby along with a few Starlings apart from the usual culprits on the bird table and the Pheasants.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday 7th December

Rather a dreich sort of a day out here, but for sure the wind has dropped, the ferries are sailing and the plane came in this morning, what else can you ask for??? On a different tack, not birds either, down at Bowmore there was a large mobile generator delivered in, possibly in readiness for a switch in the power supplies to Rockside as it is soon to get 3 phase electricity, we will just have to wait and see...Right back to the bird blog now, at Bowmore on Loch Indaal at Bunanuisg (where Islay Farmers used to trade from) there were over 40 Pale bellied Brent, hard to get an exact count as they bobbed about in the water, 10 Whoopers including 2 cygnets, a pr of Goldeneye, 7 Red breasted Merganser, several Wigeon. On the shoreline 11 Greylags rummaging around on the tideline, 3 Turnstone and a few Oystercatcher at the water's edge. Further along there were a few Mallards and the odd Redshank. Coming home down at the Coastguard cottages, a Peregrine screamed past putting everything up in panic! Nina had 4 Whitefronts with collars on, 2 HX, 3 HX, 5 HX and 3 HU, and I have passed these on to Ed who will update Nina with their history. I think that these are some of the geese that were caught and rung last Winter over at Ballinaby, but Ed can keep us right.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday 6th Decmber

Better get a move on and write this entry as the power is liable to go off at any point, don't fancy the lot of a linesman with the power companies over the past few days....Bob had been out today, up at Ardnave Point a male Hen harrier seen, on Ardnave Loch 47 Whoopers were present, coming back towards Gruinart along the road, a Sparrowhawk while on the reserve 300 Golden Plover were present, back down at Bowmore there were 42 Pale bellied Brent Geese. Amy today on the reserve had counted 40 Pintail and also 100 Shelduck. Peter was down on Machir Bay, and counted 35 Ringed Plover, on the tideline there were over 50 Rooks, 6 Chough and 12 Hooded Crows. Along on Loch Gorm there were 45 Curlew and also a pr of Goldeneye. Paul G. was on the phone to say that over the past few days that there have been more Goldfinches on the bird table over at Scannasdale outside Ballygrant. Paul has been seeing Hen Harriers regularly out behind Ballygrant of late as well. This morning, here at home on the grass in the garden there appeared to be more Blackbirds around, rather than just the odd one. The Goose count yesterday was cancelled because of the weather out and about....

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday 5th December

Apologies to those of who may have kept looking last night for yesterday's entry, well I did write it up but due some computer glitch somewhere, it just would allow me "publish" the said entry until today. And even then I had to wait until our power supply was restored, by which time it was almost midday today... On Monday Ed had seen 3 Hen Harriers whilst he was out round the Rhinns, later on up on Ardnave Loch, he counted 14 Goldeneye. On Tuesday, down at Uiskentuie, Ed saw an adult WTSE, and at Cruach behind Bowmore, 2 Golden Eagles were present. Yesterday, down at Ballivicar outside Port Ellen, Ed had a ringtail Hen Harrier flushing a Snipe. Also yesterday, James a Woodcock on the reserve at Gruinart, and also a count of 1,000 Golden Plover. James also was telling me that Ed's 2 Whitefronts with neck collars 21 and 22 are still present at Gruinart, so keep your eyes open for those neck collars and we will pass any sightings on to Ed. Thanks should be given to the hard working crews who have been working hard through today's weather in re-connecting us on again so quickly, well done lads! By the way the plane did not come today at all, while Calmac' evening ferry was the the only ferry connection here today, mind you I would not have thanked you to attempt either method of attempting to go to the mainland today, I heard that the strongest gust was 79 mph over at Airport today....Boy the sea was rough this morning!!!!

Wenesday 4th December

Well the weather forecasters have got it about right over here with the wind speed starting to pick up this evening, and also the temperature outside has dropped down too. Tomorrow is a another day with the winds forecasting to be stronger, the ferry at 0700 and 0945 have already been cancelled. Nina, who is over doing some research on Islay at present had been down on Machir Bay this afternoon and was taken on by the antics of some Twite in flight, wonder if they were making any headway, or just flying backwards? Apart from that Nina had 8 Ringed Plover and a Turnstone on the beach there and also 30 Common Gulls. I had noticed this morning that there were quite a few Gulls inland on the stubble at Rockside feeding on the ground where the spent wash from the Kilchoman Distillery had been been spread, possibly the worms had come to the surface...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tuesday 3rd December

Some more sightings through from Amy Cooper who is over volunteering with RSPB on their reserves here on Islay this Winter. The other day Amy had seen the following birds whilst walking up round Killinallan Point, 23 Teal, 2 Redshank, 2GND, 6 Oystercatcher, 1 Curlew, 3 Mallard and 8 Rock Pipits. Along at Gortantoid, Amy had 2 Coal Tits and a Great Tit. On her way back along the track, Amy saw 4 Reed Buntings.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday 2nd December

Today down on the "floods" at Gruinart James counted 430 Lapwing, 165 Dunlin, 3 Gadwall and 1 Goldeneye. Later on in the woods around Bushmills, James had 4 Woodcock, 1 Brambling, 45 Chaffinch and 2 Treecreeper. Along the actual woodland trail, Amy had seen 3 Mistle Thrush. Down at Gortan, Peter had 11 Pale bellied Brent Geese. Here at home, the bird table has been busy, wonder if they are feeding up for the wee, quick, cold snap that is forecast for later this week....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday 1st December

Yep, another month in, with the tally for the rain coming through at 4.25", another "relatively" dry month, better keep quiet until the end of December to get the overall picture for 2013!!! Speaking to Ed yesterday about his current work here on Islay with the Greenland Whitefronted Geese. The team have maanaged to catch and put collars on 3 geese. 2 were caught at Gruinart and fitted with GPS collars, numbers 21 & 22 with respective darvic rings on their legs being LL and SOY. The neck collars are blue while the rings on the legs are white. They have also managed catch another goose down close to Eollabus near to Bridgend with the neck collar fitted readin S1Y and the darvic leg ring 25, so if you manage to see any of these geese, let me know and I will pass on your sightings to Ed. Yesterday James had a group of over 40 Snipe flying over the reserve. Here at home, I think the Brambling has moved on, but I had a "close sighting" of a male Hen Harrier as it flew down over the wee hill behind the house before it circled up to above the big crag, same old story, right place, right time

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday 30th November

Visiting wildlife photographer, Marcus Conway sent through some sightings he had yesterday, at Bruichladdich, Purple Sandpiper were present. Up at Ardnave, Marcus had a Pochard present on the loch there, a Hen Harrier and also 25 Twite were also seen, while over at Bunnahabhain, a Black throated Diver was in the Sound of Islay. Today Ed, who is over doing work on behalf of WWT into the Greenland Whitefronts, had a quick scan along the shore at Bruichladdich with Purple Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Sanderling and some Pipits noted. Earlier on, in the bay at Port Charlotte, Ed had a GND. He was also saying that he has been listening to Starlings mimicing other birds, with one the other day trying to be a Barnie...The other day, I heard that the large flock of Starlings down at Gretna had caused a power outage when they landed on the overhead power lines!!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday 29th November

Another month almost in and most of the visiting birders have headed home, getting ready for Xmas one asks, buying pressies and thinking of Xmas cards, the annual round of parties over the festive period.... Yes, you have got it in one no birds around today, will have to keep an eye out for that Brambling, did it fly away as I had no food out whilst I was absemt? I was reading in a Bird magazine this afternoon about a pr of Ravens being seen down close to Peterborough, well Mike you should come up here and see the numerous Ravens on Islay....

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday 28th November

Back from a short trip out to the mainland, so many thanks to Dave down on the Oa for doing the blog in my absence. Today I have been at a meeting for most of the day, stuck inside looking out over a flat calm Loch Indaal, apart from a excursion to a different chair in the Dentist's.... Problem there sorted until the next visit!!! Marcus Conway had been over earlier this week and had seen Woodcock at Gruinart, over at Kilchoman, Twite and a Merlin were present with another Merlin over on the Oa. Close to ardbeg in the woods there were 3 Redpolls spotted.

Wednesday 27th November

Not much news sent through so just more birds from the Oa. Another good day for seeing raptors, with Golden Eagle, Merlin, male and female Hen Harrier, 3 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk all seen whilst out and about today. Yesterday 2 Goldeneye were on Loch Kinnabus, a Red Grouse was seen on the hill and a good count of 93 Rock Dove also at Kinnabus.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tuesday 26th November

Today the WWT guys, whilst carrying out research on Greenland White-fronted Geese, had seen 2 Golden Eagles and a Peregrine at Coille, Merlin at Kilchoman and Tawny Owl at Gruinart. On Sunday they also had a young Golden Eagle, a White-tailed Sea Eagle at Gruinart.
Back to today, James had 2 Goldcrest and 2 Hen Harriers also at Gruinart. Whilst RSPB volunteers, John and Amy, had 14 Yellowhammer, 12 Curlew and a Chough all at Kintra.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday 25th November

Whilst gathering sheep on the hills of the Oa today we saw 2 Golden Eagles, 3 Woodcock, 5 Snipe, and a female type Hen Harrier. Some counts from the Oa from last Friday included 427 Twite, 51 Chaffinch, 54 Golden Plover and a Grey Wagtail.
Today, Pete had seen a Water Rail well when flushed from a ditch at Bolsa Track near Port Charlotte. The saga in his garden continues with a very bold rook flying off with the food he put out for the Blackcap yesterday. Undaunted he has crushed another one of his fat balls and put that in a more sheltered spot in the garden in the hope that smaller birds may find it more accessible......

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday 24th November

A beautiful calm day. Out along the coast today past Ardbeg, with Islay canoe club, we had two sightings of White-tailed Sea Eagles, 3 Black Guillemots, and 10 Great Northern Divers. The GND's were making their unusual eerie call constantly whilst we were on the water.
Pete tells me he has a fine male Blackcap in his garden hedge at Bruichladdich. Concerned for its well being he has been trying to coax it with one of his fat balls, but so far it seems disinterested.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday 23rd November

Ian away for a few days and no news sent through as yet, so I thought I would just post a nice picture from yesterday of the twite flock on the Oa. Spot the greenfinch!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday 22nd November

Earlier on this week, the first International Goose count of this Autumn, was carried out with the whole of Islay being counted all on the one day, rather than some routes one day and the other day on the second day. Having said that when the International count is carried, it is done over 2 consecutive days with average count for the 2 days being the actual figure... So after all that the figures this week's count tallied through at 46,931 Barnies and 5,888 Whitefronts, not sure on the first count last year, but I think the Barnies could be down a bit. Thanks to Tracey and the team from SNH for these figures. The 2 days when the count was carried out was far from ideal. Malcolm this morning had a juv WTSE on the shore over on Jura between Feolin and Inver. Martin had been out  for a walk down at Avonvoggie today with 5 Crossbills being seen Also present there were 3 Bullfinches, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Snipe, a female Sparrowhawk, there were also many Robins and Wrens too. Peter and Pia saw 2 Red Grouse out towards Bolsa this morning. With Loch  Indaal being flat calm, Peter did a scan out over the Loch from the pier at Bruichladdich. Peter's tally was as follows, around 40 Shag, 4 Cormorant, 58 Red throated Diver, 23  GND, 2 Black throated Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 169 Eider, 5 Mallard, 56 Common Scoter, 49 R. b. Merganser, 1 Goldeneye, 48 Greylag and 1 Black Guillemot. There were few gulls around a total of 10 consisting of a mixture of Greater black backs, Herring and Common Gulls. Peter also had a female Sparrowhawk fly past along the shore.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday 21st November

Back on Tuesday morning, Malcolm had counted 7,800 Barnies resting up at the head of Loch Indaal. This morning while going into Bowmore Malcolm had seen 2 juv WTSE on the mud flats after the former blacksmith's at Pennycraig, no doubt sussing up which Barnie to have for eats!!! Ken and the Burbage birders had their last full day yesterday, they had an adult WTSE past Bridgend, up at Bunnahabhain a dog otter was present while in the Sound of Islay off Coal Ila, 2 Red throated Divers were seen. Thanks to Ken and his group for their highlights. Today, Peter had a Woodcock on the track leading to Bolsa up behind Port Charlotte. The Brambling is still present here at home and tucking in to the food on offer!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday 20th November

Peter has returned from leading a birding trip to Peurto Rico and the Dominican Replubic, needless to say he is feeling the cold! Peter had 12 Whoopers fly South down past his house yesterday. Ken and the Burbage Birders had another good day yesterday with the following birds seen. At Blackrock 141 Scaup, from the Generator station at Bowmore, out on Loch Indaal, 5 Long tailed Duck, 13 Slavonian Grebe, 20 Common Scoter, 7 Dunlin and 16 Ringed Plover. At Kilnaughton Bay, 13 Ringed Plover with 6 GND offshore. Along on the Claggain River a Dipper was added to their list. Back over on the Oa, a Kestrel was seen, a male Hen Harrier, a male Merlin while on the actual reserve, 2 Golden Eagles were seen from the car park and then going home, they had a small flock of 43 Twite at Risabus and finally 29 Barwits on Loch Indaal at Springbank. The Brambling was still here today on the bird table! I forgot to mention that the other day, Paul Graham had a Woodcock over at Ballygrant, and James had one on the resere at Gruinart last night
Next Tuesday evening, the Bird nerds meet up at 7.30pm in bar of the  Lochside Hotel in Bowmore for our informal meeting, all welcome if you are over on Islay!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday 19th November

Yesterday, the Burbage birders had seen 3 Lapland Buntings down below Rockside. Over at Gruinart, they had a Peregrine sitting on top of a fence post at the Visitor centre. Up at Ardnave Loch, 23 Whoopers and a Long tailed Duck were present. Also there were were 43 Chough. They also saw a male Hen Harrier just at dusk as they returned to Port Charlotte. Dave down on the Oa had a White wagtail yesterday and also a White tailed Sea eagle. Today over the reserve, ave had a flock of around 50 Fieldfare and another of 16 fly past, and also  40 Redwing overhead! Here at home I had to be content with a Brambling on the bird table!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday 18th November

Yesterday, the Burbridge birders group arrived here on Islay. Coming over on the ferry, they had seen 2 groups of Red throated Divers as they entered the Sound of Islay, 33 in one group, and 27 in the other group. Off Port Askaig they had 2 Black throated Divers and a Long tailed Duck. Today Ed had been down on the Oa where he saw a Hen Harrier, a Merlin and a Peregrine. Highlight was 2 Golden Eagles spoofing the geese on Loch Kinnabus. At Cornabus, Ed spotted 6 Pinkies amongst the other geese present there.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday 17th November

A quiet day with birds here today, all the folk that contributed over the past few days have headed home.... Going over to Gruinart this afternoon we had the usual Buzzard out on the wing. While having a cuppa with James and Sally, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past and put the Barnies up. Coming home, there were a couple of Stonechat on the gorse close to Coull. Here at home, there were a few Redwings around and in the dyke (wall!) up at Shepherd's cottage a Wren was calling away. Will have to try to educate the birds to come up there to get fed, once we move next year!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday 16th November

Thanks to James for yesterday's entry, could you really see me kayaking??? Thanks also to John Wilson for some of his sightings while he was here last week. As some of you may already know, John was the original warden for RSPB at Leighton Moss and remained there until he retired. Yesterday down behind Machir Bay, John had around 120 Golden Plover and also over 20 Chough seen there too. Dave Pierce had been over with another group from Naturetrek, think it is their their 3rd trip to Islay this Autumn , with another group over just now! They had been seeing Long tailed Ducks on Loch Indaal, 3 Purple Sandpiper at Bruichladdich, a flock of around 400 Twite on the Oa, around  90 Ravens on the Glen road, with 4 Black Guillemots and 1 Black throated Diver seen off Port Ellen as they left on the ferry.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday 15th November

A busy day for me today and busy emptying kayaks this evening. A few birds around the Gruinart reserve. A White Tailed Eagle juv sitting on the salt marsh surrounded by barnacle geese at dawn. 15 Whooper swans arrived in front of the new hide and a male Hen Harrier near the visitor centre.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday 14th November

Over at Claggain Bay today, John W. had 2 Long tailed Ducks, earlier on he had 2 Goldcrests and a Treecreeper on his way there. Later on he had a male Hen Harrier while over on the Oa. Yesterday Ed had 5 Goldeneye and 2 Long tailed Ducks on Ardnave. There appears to be some more Long tailed Ducks around this Autumn round Islay.  Wearing his official "hat" Ed saw 2 collared Whitefronts both caught and collared in Wexford, one was originally caught in 2001 and last seen back in 2007 and then had gone awol since then, until Ed saw it again.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday 13th November

Yesterday, there was a reported sighting of a late Swallow over the rooftops down at Port Charlotte by Carol Andrews. Today over at Gruinart, John W. had 3 Greenshank together and he also saw the Green winged Teal amongst the Teal present. Later on, John had a female Hen Harrier and over at Craigens a Grey Wagtail was present. Here at home there have been a few Greenfinches on the bird table and the Goldfinches are making a quick job on the Nyjer seeds each time when the feeder is refilled, a couple of years ago they did not want to know about Nyjer seeds, changed days!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday 12th November

John  W had 13 Ravens together up at Ardnave yesterday and thought that he saw from a distance the Snow Buntings that are up there at present. I was sent a tremendous image of one taken the other week by Gordon Yates, but you will have to wait as the old computer is holding together with a wing and prayer, just waiting on a new one coming through and then you can see it, promise... it will be worth the wait!!! John W also commenting on the lack of ducks on the floods at Gruinart and wondered if the Hen Harriers and the other raptors were causing the ducks to be away somewhere safer! Ed had been down on the Oa yesterday and had seen 2 Peregrines there, one of which was spooking the Mallards on Loch Kinnabus big style!! Sally Henderson had a Merlin sitting atop a fence post at Ardnave. Today Sally was watching an Otter in the bay past Ardtalla when a WTSE came into view, both less than 50 metres away....The WTSE then flew on inland. This afternoon we had a Peregrine fly across the road close to McNicholl' croft. Later on a couple of Buzzards were standing alongside a dead goose down at Whinpark, with  a Black back just waiting for its' share if any pickings were left!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday 11th November

Forgot to mention some birds from Natalie that she had seen back on Friday... Up at Ardnve Loch, Natalie had 11 Whooper Swans, 4 Mute Swans, 3 Heron, 3 Goldeneye, 3 Tufted Duck, 2 Long tailed Duck and 6 Mallard. Yesterday, Dave had 8 GND in Kilnaughton Bay off Carraig Fhada lighthouse. This afternoon from the car park on the reserve at the Oa, he had 2 Golden Eagles and then 2 Hen Harriers! Visiting birder John W. had a great sighting of a male Hen Harrier close to the cottage where he is staying this week. Later on, he had a Merlin close to Loch Gorm, over at Sanaigmore 21 Chough with a further 30 in another flock up at Ardnave. This afternoon, we saw a Peregrine sitting on a farmer's calf creep on the high road, just up behind Gartmain. The number of raptors around this Autumn are really great to see, having said that, not so many Kestrels have been seen of late. I have seen 2 dead geese over the last couple of days each being eaten by a Buzzard!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday 10th November

A really nice day over here today with the view up to Mull giving us the sight of the snow on tops of the hills there. This morning I went out and gave Bob a hand to do his Webs count from Bowmore down to Gartbeck with tally as follows, 5 GND, 3 Heron, 50 Shag, 3 Greylag, 2,500 Barnies, 51 Mallard, 260 Teal, 241 Wigeon, 13 Red breasted Merganser, 5 Eider, 2 Long tailed Duck, 6 GBB Gull, 120 Herring Gull, 20 C. Gull, 54 Oystercatcher, 40 Curlew, 3 Barwits, 13 Redshank, 12 Turnstone, 10 Snipe. Malcolm had 13 Whooper Swans flying down Loch Indaal, late morning.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday 9th November

Natalie had carried out the Webs count at Gruinart yesterday with the scores on the doors reading as follows, 2GND, 6 Cormorant, 4 Shag, 9 Heron, 69 Shelduck, 112 Wigeon, 56 Mallard, 2 Eider, 33 R B Merganser, 117 Oystercatcher, 38 Ringed Plover, 660 Golden Plover, 6 Grey Plover, 168 Lapwing, 56 Sanderling, 22 Dunlin, 139 Barwits, 110 Curlew, 71 Redshank, 41 Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, 11 Shoveler, 23 Pintail, 4 Gadwall, 30 BH Gull, 61 C. Gull, 47 H. Gull and 4 GBB Gull. Ian and Susan had seen a leveret while on the Moorland walk at Gruinart yesterday.  Thanks to Ian, Susan and Michael for their input over the last week, as ever greatwhen visitors feed their sightings to us to share with you all. Mark and Sally had been over the previous week and their visit had a sad sighting as they had seen a dead Water Rail on the road between Bridgend and Bowmore, with the poor bird struck by some vehicles.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday 8th November

Some birds through from the Naturetrek party who were over earlier this week, down on the Oa they had a male Hen Harrier, female Merlin, a flock of around 150 Twite, 25 Whopper Swans flying over the Oa, a Black Guillemot in winter plumage at Bowmore, with around 70 Scaup on Loch Indaal. Off Port Charlotte a 1st winter Arctic Tern was spotted, possibly the same bird that they saw the previous week.  On the Sound of Islay, at Port Askaig, 6 Common Scoter and a Long tailed Duck were added to their list. Yesterday, up at Ardnave, Malcolm had 20 Snow Buntings. Today, James had a Golden Eagle on the reserve at Gruinart. James also had a total count of 1600Golden Plover. Down in the stubble field beside the Coastgard cottages, Michael had a count of 22 Chough along with some Rooks, Jackdaws and Hooded Crows. Over at Gruinart, he had a Golden Eagle, possibly the same one that James saw, a male and female Hen Harrier, a Sparrowhawk spooking up around 80 Chaffinches at Craigens, along at Coullabus a large immature female Peregrine on a fence post! Over at Ballygrant Loch, 2 pr of Mute Swans, 5 Greylags, 4 Mallard, 1 Cormorant and a Heron. A walk through the woods there produced 120 Wood Pigeon, 2 Meadow Pipit, 12 Wren, 9 Robin, 19 Blackbird, 5 Song Thrush, 1 Redwing, 5 Dunnock, 1 Stonechat, 2 Goldcrest, and Treecreeper. Also seen were 5 Coal Tit, 7 Blue Tit, 8 Great Tit and 3 Chaffinches. Returning home Michael had a Golden Eagle at Erasaid on the edge of the reserve at Gruinart, the many Golden Plover, at Ballinaby a female Merlin and round Loch Gorm itself 2 ringtail Hen Harrier

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday 7th November

Yesterday James had a Brambling in his garden at lunchtime! This morning looking out at the willows in the garden here at home, there was a charm of at least 50 Goldfinches. Ian and Susan (visitors from Cumbria) had 2 GND and 2 Red Breasted Merganser in the bay below the Dower House past Kildalton. Michael had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier scaring off all the ducks away from the floods at Gruinart. The said Harrier kept quartering the floods but to no avail as it had already moved any "takings" on! Michael also had an immature Golden Eagle over the reserve this morning as well. Later on, a Merlin flew across the road as Michael headed into Bowmore. Finally coming home, he had a male Hen Harrier close to Foreland. The weather today, well, squally heavy showers with the wind gusting to 49mph just after 15.00 according to Mike's stats!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday 6th November

Yesterday, Bob and John O had been over towards Bunnahabhain. On the way there, they saw 3 Bullfinches on the overhead wires and several flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare migrating through. At Dunlossit, a male Sparrowhawk was seen, and back at Port Charlotte, John O had a Merlin fly past the kitchen window this morning! Michael this morning counted 28 Whoopers fly out to sea from down at the Coastguard cottage. Left behind in the field was a Pinkie along with the Greylags, and also a Pale bellied Brent amongst the Barnies!!! The 2 Long tailed Duck were still on Ardnave Loch, over at Traigh Nostaig, 36 Ringed Plover, 21 Sanderling and 16 Turnstone were present with 48 Chough working their way at looking for food in the sea weed. On the floods at Gruinart, a Hen Harrier put up a Blackwit. Over at Bun an Uillt, 71 Shelduck, 57 Pintail, 40 Shoveler, drake Gadwall, 19 R B Merganser, 2 Greenshank and 5 Turnstone were seen on Gruinart estuary. On the road back down close to Craigens, a Grey Wagtail was seen. Coming back to his cottage, Michael had 2 ringtail Hen Harriers.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday 5th November

A better day here with the weather, much better than the forecast which was predicted, glad they got it wrong.... Michael had been over at Gruinart today where he saw a ringtail Hen Harrier, a count of 216 Teal, 690 Golden Plover,a nd had another 6 Whoopers flying in from the North down into Gruinart. Up at Ardnave Loch, Michael had 4 Goldeneye, 2 Long tailed Duck and 75 Fieldfare, over at West Carrabus 220 Fieldfare were present. At Bridgend a WTSE was seen with 320 Golden Plover and also 100 Barwits. A walk in the woods at Bridgend produced 5 Long tailed Tits and a pr of Bullfinch with a Dipper on the River Sorn. Coming home, Michael had a male and also a  ringtail Hen Harrier close to  Loch Gorm

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday 4th November

Loads of birds- Yesterday Bob and John O were out birding. At Laggan Point they had a White Tailed Eagle, at the Laundry Loch 1000 Teal, 400 Wigeon and 12 Whooper Swans. At Skerrols, Lots of swans- 54 Mute Swans, 52 Whooper Swans, 68 wigeon, 1 Little Grebe and a Coot, at Blackrock 158 Scaup and finally at Gartmain a Sparrowhawk. Also seen yesterday a Green winged teal from the hides at Gruinart. Today Micheal had - 59 Hoodies (the crow sort) at Rockside, 3 Hen Harriers, 54 Pintail and 280 Golden Plover at Gruinart. He then moved on to Ardnave- 15 Snow Buntings, 55 Twite, 29 Ringed Plovers and 14 Rock Pipits and on Loch Indaal 36 Red Throated Diver, 17 Great Northern Diver, 23 Slavonian Grebes, 80 Common Scoter, 13 Long Tailed ducks, 81 Red Breasted Mergansers and 34 Pale Bellied Brents. Amy on the Reserve at Gruinart also found 1 Redpoll and 40 Fieldfares.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday 3rd November

Yesterday, after it dried up a little, Bob and his friend John O had taken a quick round out round the Rhinns. Gearch Forest held 20 Goldcrest and 6 Coal Tit . Off Frenchman's Rocks several Gannets and Kittiwakes were noted and coming up towards Carn on their way towards Port Charlotte, a Merlin was ahead of them! Several groups of Redwing and Fieldfare were also seen while they were out. This morning, George had a female Sparrowhawk at his home, offshore on Loch Indaal he counted 50 Common Scoter. Visiting birder, Michael had seen 2 ringtail Hen Harriers over at Gruinart, a Peregrine over at the Duich Lots, on the RSPB Oa reserve, 2 Golden Eagles, a ringtail Hen Harrier, Merlin and a Sparrowhawk. At Leorin, a Golden Eagle was seen on the wing while close to Storakaig 52 Ravens were present. At Blackrock, on Loch Indaal, 93 Scaup were present along with a Goldeneye. At Rockside, a pr of Hen Harrier were seen and then on a "game crop", there was a flock of around 130 Linnets.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday 2nd November

Yesterday, Gordon and Pauline Yates had a Sparrowhawk, a ringtail Hen Harrier, a Merlin, 40 Golden Plover, 1 Pale bellied Brent Goose along with the Barnies and also 5 Whooper Swans. At Bridgend, 200 Golden Plover and a WTSE were seen while up at Sanaigmore a Snow Bunting was present in the car park at "Outback Art". Gordon and Pauline, along with The RAFOS group headed back home this morning, so many thanks to you for sharing your sightings with us while you were over. Today, the weather has  not been very great, the rainfall since around 08.00 yesterday to around mid afternoon tallied through at least 1.5", boy was it was wet around midday today....Ed late afternnon ventured out and saw some Chough coming in to their roost behind Machir Bay

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday 1st November

Thanks to James for writing last night's entry. PC still on the blink but the wee laptop has come to the rescue.... As it is the start of November now, the rainfall for October tallied through at 6.75", glad to see the back of it! Robin from Yorkshire dropped in this afternoon for a blether and the obloigatory cuppa. Highlights so far from Robin were as follows, on Loch Gruinart close to Bun an Uillt, Gadwall, Grey Plover, and Greenshank were seen, Sanaigmore Bay had 2 GND and 2 Otters at the same time! On the darkening the other evening, a WTSE was causing concern to the Geese present. Today down on Loch Indaal, off Gortan, Robin saw a Goosander. Robin also commented on seeing more WTSE this visit compared to Golden Eagles!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday 31st October

Due to technical issues I am Blogging tonite. While Ian tries to shake the spooks out of his computer. A few sightings from Bob today, birding between the heavy rain showers. A Merlin and 2 Grey Wagtails at Duich and a large flock of 320 White Fronted geese at Newton.
Some records from the Nature Trek group bird watching on the Island for the last few days: Loch Indaal -6 Great Northern Divers, 5 Red Throated Divers, 6 Slavonian Grebes and about 100 Scaup. Ardnave - Peregrine, 32 Chough, 13 Snow Buntings and a White Tailed Eagle. Bridgend Woods- Tawny Owl. Bowmore- 1 male Long Tailed Duck. The Oa- 200 Twite, 1 male Brambling, Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier and a Snow Bunting.
Jura- 3 White Tailed Eagles, 1 Golden Eagle, Merlin, 5 Hen Harriers, 4 Great Northern Divers, 15 Whooper Swans and a female Otter with 2 cub.
There is thunder and lightening now so I think I will publish this post.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday 30th October

The RAFOS team had been out and about around Islay yesterday, a White tailed Sea Eagle was seen flying over Claggain Bay. While they were doing the farmland Bird survey down on the Oa, a Sparrowhawk put up a couple of flocks with over 100 Twite in each lot. 40 Chough were noted up at Ardnave while a Blackcap was seen back home in the trees in front of the cottages. They also commented on seeing our large flocks of Geese, not only on the ground, but also the large numbers in the air too. Gordon and Pauline had been over at Bunnahabhain this morning and had seen an adult WTSE flying over on the Jura side of the Sound of Islay. Whilst they were there, an Otter was seen and 70 Redwing were counted flying South down the Sound. Earlier on they had a Grey Wagtail "fighting" against its' own reflection on the window of their cottage in Port Charlotte!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday 29th October

Latish entry again, no excuse really but it was bird nerds meeting, with 12 folk coming along, including 3 visitors. Yesterday, RAFOS highlights included a Merlin seen off the High road above Glenegedale Lots, a flock of 98 Scaup at Blackrock, Peregrine over the back of Machir Bay (? possibly the same bird that Ed had seen), and 2 Black Guillemot at Claggan Bay. Peter had 22 Common Scoter off Bruichladdich yesterday. One of the retrap Barnies that Steve had yesterday was initially rung 13 Years ago! Ed had a pr of Golden Eagles out on the West coast today, Emily had a ringtail Hen Harrier on the Oa walk this morning, George counted 40 Common Scoter on Loch Indaal today off Bruichladdich. Gordon and Pauline had counted 60 Twite, a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk up at Ardnave. At Bruichladdich they saw 20 Turnstone.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday 28th October

Forgot to mention last night that I had to empty the rain gauge out as it was full, normally it can hold the rainfall for the month but not the case this October...Highlights from the RAFOS group from yesterday included seeing a flock of around 200 Golden Plover, a Merlin and also a pr of Hen Harriers. Yesterday afternoon along at Rock Mountain we saw 8 Collared Doves together and this morning we had a 20 Redwing in the willows just on the edge of the reserve at Gruinart. This morning, Steve Percival shot the cannon nets and "caught" some Barnies, so James did a quick phone round to get helpers to come along. Job was all done by 1pm with 118 geese rung and recorded and also 2 recaught birds from previous years. Ed Burrell who has just come to carry some work with the Whitefronts over the next few months got a quick introduction to us all!!! Later on Ed was down on the Oa and had a Hen Harrier there and also a Merlin. Gordon and Pauline are back over for the week and had been out and about today. Loch Skerrols had 40 Mute Swans and 2 Whoopers flew in while they were there, 7 Whoopers were seen coming in to Gruinart with another 7 seen flying out over Port Ellen. Down close to the Airport, a male Hen Harrier was seen as was a Sparrowhawk. At Ardtalla, 100 Siskin were seen and finally at Gearach, 80 Redwing and 20 Fieldfare were present.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday 27th October

The weather over  here today has not been the best with a lot of heavy squally rain showers around, with the sea boiling away, the waves crashing over the rocks at Coull Point and further round at Saligo were really impressive!!! Back on Thursday, James counted 190 Redwings on the reserve at Gruinart. On Friday, he had a goose count, with the tally being 22,755 Barnies, 467 Whitefronts, 376 Greylags and a Canada Goose, hutchinsii sp. Visiting birder Angela saw the Red backed Shrike on Friday and again yesterday, still holding the same area close to Gruinart Farm. Friday evening, Emily had saw a Tawny Owl over at Gruinart and yesterday she had a Grey Wagtail over at Bridgend Woods sheltering from the rain!!! Some of the RAFOS group had seen a Golden Eagle out over the crag behind Machir Bay early this morning.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday 26th October

If the truth be told, this should be the entry for Sunday, but then again the clocks go back shortly, so you could argue the point that it was a Saturday entry (00.41 on the clock just now!) Yesterday, the Horwich Birders had seen a Common Tern, 1 Black throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe and 13 Pale bellied Brent Geese on Loch Indaal from Glenburn, just past Blackrock. Today, one of the RAFOS team who have just arrived had seen a Long Tailed Duck on Loch Indaal, off Bowmore, a good start to the week. The Horwich Birders, or rather Chris and Tony Johnson headed home today as did the Collinsons to Newtonhill just South of Aberdeen, thanks folks for your birds, and hopefully we will have other sets of "new " eyes this week on the look out for some birds for us!.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday 25th October

Just as well we manage to keep a few birds in reserve for you, as today the weather has not been great.... Some of our contributors, Danny and also Sheila Bancroft headed home today, so thanks for their birds while they were here. The Horwich birders yesterday had seen  12 Whoopers on Loch Gorm, and then seen 12 take off from Gruinart and head away. On Traigh Baille Aonghais up past Killinallan they had a total of 72 Sanderling, and also 92 Ringed Plover. Whilst parking up at the gate at Killanallan they saw a pr of Stonechats there. Up at Gortantoid, 2 Wrens, 2 Robins, 3 Reed Buntings, 2 Blackbirds were seen, as was a Peregrine which flew over low down and then headed off to the hills!Yesterday was the first day that they had not seen any Otters... The Red backed shrike had been seen again at Gruinart. Down on the Oa, Dave had seen a juv WTSE scaring the Geese present. Also on the reserve there were 2 Golden Eagles, Merlin, Buzzard and Hen Harrier. Dave had a count of 400 Whitefronts  with Twite numbers up to 420. other birds seen yesterday included 12 Redwing and 7 Whoopers. The Collinsons had seen 7 Pale bellied Brents down at Bowore today. The birders over with Naturetrek had seen 2 WTSE off Ardnave today and a Garganey amongst the Teal from the hide at Gruinart. Finally off the pier at Bruichladdich, some Common Scoters were seen but no sign of the Surf Scoter.
If you around on Tuesday evening, the "Islay bird nerds" will be meeting up, for their monthly meet, at the Visitor centre at Gruinart at 7.30pm. So if you are over, come along and have a blether, all welcome. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday 24th October

Yesterday, the Horwich birders saw a male Hen Harrier down behind the coalyard at Gortan and later on a Sparrowhawk flew across the Glen road. Loch Allen proved quiet but there were a few Redwings around. Earlier on around 9.30am they had counted 22 Whoopers on Loch Gorm with 40 flying South from Loch Gorm as well. They also counted a further 18 in the fields close to Gorm. In the early evening they counted 25 on Loch Gorm and 8 flying South from there. Other visitors yesterday had a Surf Scoter at Loch Gruinart, 5 Snow Buntings at Ardnave with a WTSE flying over towards Nave Island. At the top of Loch Indaal today, Danny had 80 Wigeon, 2 Red breasted Merganser and 16 Pale bellied Brent Geese.The Collinsons had seen a Golden Eagle down on the Oa along with several groups of Redwings. Here at home, 30 Fieldfare flew over at the back of lunchtime.. Peter had been over at Gruinart today and counted 320 Wigeon, 25 Pintail, 55 Red breasted Merganser along with 29 Pale bellied Brent Geese. The Bancrofts had seen 11 Whoopers flying South down Loch Idaal, while another 16 were seen arriving at Gruinart by David and Jane Griffiths to the annoyance of 2 Mute Swans already there! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday 23rd October

A few sightings through from last week to start with, George Newall had 150 Golden Plover down Machir Bay, Andy Robinson saw a juv WTSE down close to Kintra, it was even walking along the beach there! Mary on Monday had an Arctic Tern at Uiskentuie on Monday. Yesterday, the Horwich birders had a GND flying up Loch Gruinart, later on a further 2 were seen at Traigh Nostaig, with a flock of at least 60 Twite seen there too while in the sea there, there were 2 Otters having a bit of a squabble!!. They had 3 Snow Buntings in the dunes behind Ardnave Point. Coming back down from Ardnave, they had seen the Red breasted Shrike at Gruinart Farm. From the hide there was a Peregrine putting up the Teal and Lapwings from the floods, they also saw a Blackwit from the hide as well. Today there have been quite a few Whoopers coming and going, James counted 64 coming in to Loch Gruinart, Malcolm had 30 flying South down Loch Indaal , we had 19 coming to land at Rockside late afternoon. James was saying that there were more Whitefronts arriving today as well. The Bancrofts awoke to the Red Deer roaring away, and headed over to Jura where they had 3 Mute Swan, 3 Buzzards, several Pheasants, Hooded Crows, Chaffinches, Redwing all between Feolin and Craighouse and also a Red breasted Merganser at Small Isles Bay. Back on Islay, they spotted a Merlin down close to the airport. Finally, Clan Collinson had seen 2 Pinkies amongst the other geese at the top of Loch Indaal. They too had the Red breasted Shrike today, so it is still around!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday 22nd October

Martin saw the Red backed Shrike up at Gruinart today. Some sightings from yesterday now. The Horwich birders had at least 12 Slavonian Grebes along with flocks of Eider and Scaup on the top end of Loch Indaal. They also saw a male Goldeneye, 7 Pale bellied Brent and 3 Turnstone  there as well. Further on, down past Ardbeg they had seen an adult White tailed Sea Eagle and a male Yellowhammer close to Kildalton. There was an Otter seen in Ardlistillery Bay. Danny had been over that way as well and had a couple of flocks of Fieldfares, each with around 200 birds in each one. Along close to Sunderland Farm there were 8 Whoopers. Young Peter's father, Martin had heard a Siberian Chiffchaff  in the wood, Peter had a count of 21 Chough out over the dunes behind Machir Bay and 7 Linnets and some Twite. Later on, a walk at Ardnave had a Bonxie being seen, 5 Cormorant, a Gannet and a couple of Eiders offshore. On the shore there was a large number of Barnies, 3 Snow Buntings were noted flying over the fields there too, with a further count of 46 Chough. Team Bancroft today had 60 Fieldfare down at Eater Ellister, and also had seen Mistle Thrushes, Song Thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare all on the Rhinns. They also commented on hearing the Red Deer stags roaring away.
Before I forget, watch BBC1 tomorrow night at 9pm, the final episode of the "Great British Year" and it is covering Autumn, and I believe there is some footage from Islay....

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday 21st October

This is a more sensible time of the day to write the blog !!! Enough said... Made a quick dash over to Gruinart around midday and yes, got the Red backed Shrike, there was also a Blackcap there too. The number of times you hear of folk going to see a bird and missing it....Yesterday our Horwich friends had  a GND on Machir Bay, and in front of the hide at Gruinart a Blackwit  and then a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past, they also managed to see the Shrike too.Young Peter had 4 Sanderling down on Machir Bay along with 20 Ringed Plover and he also had a male Hen Harrier on his way down there. Yesterday, Mary McGregor's sister or rather Mary Redman's sister (cos Mary got married on Saturday) had a WTSE down at Claddach on her Granny's croft close to Portnahaven. Mary herself had a Wheatear at St Kiaran's church, between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich and also she had a Barn Owl in Portnahaven in the evening. The Bancroft team had a male Hen Harrier down at Easter Ellister this morning. Young Peter and his Dad had a male Blackcap and a Brambling here in the wood this morning.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday 20th October

Sorry folks, it has been one of those days, what with folk dropping in for a welcome natter this afternoon and just as I was about to do the blog, another friend came in and, well we have a good catch up of events on and off Islay, looking at the clock it is almost time for Monday's entry!!! Right then, here we go.. Yes, the Red backed Shrike has been seen again over at Gruinart by visitors as well as some locals too. Visitors yesterday had seen 40 Chough up at Ardnave, the Horwich Birders had another 18 early yesterday morning here over the dunes at the back of Machir Bay, they also had the WTSE up on the top of Loch Indaal, a male Hen Harrier as they headed up to Sanaigmore and another round Loch Gorm. They counted 70 Twite in a flock at Sanaigmore as well as seeing a Sparrowhawk there too. The North end of Machir Bay held 53 Ringed Plover and 6 Sanderling and out in the Bay itself, 2 GND. Over at Loch Tallant, there were 80 Fieldfare along with some Mistle Thrushes and a few Redwing. They also had seen a Treecreeper in the wood back where they are staying. Today after checking out the Shrike, Peter had headed over to Gortantoid, on the way there he had 2 Greenshank on Loch Gruinart as well as a WTSE. Highlights at Gortantoid included 2 Goldcrest, 2 Blackcap and a Treecreeper. The Bancroft group had a Golden Eagle down on the Rhinns this morning, 4 Curlew at Bruichladich with a charm of Goldfinches spotted at Octomore. Young Peter Collinson had a Swallow this morning here over the wood, a flock of 50 Redwings, heard a Fieldfare, 16 Twite, the wood itself had lots of Chaffinches and Goldfinches, 6 Robins, 5 Blackbirds, 21 Jackdaws and further out towards the crag 40 Rock Doves. Going over to Gruinart, a male Hen Harrier was spotted, at Gruinart, Barnacle Geese galore, 31 Whitefronts, 50 Shelduck, 2 Barwits, and a Peregrine while he was going round the moorland trail. The top of Loch Indaal held even more Barnies.. and best still 2 different WTSE, one perched was an adult bird, the other which was flying was an immature bird.  A great start to Peter's stay with Whitefronts, WTSE & Twite all now added to his list.  Should really be a Monday entry now....

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday 19th October

James kindly sent this image taken today on the reserve at Gruinart of a juv Red backed Shrike. It showed quite well and has been seen by by quite a few of our local bird nerds, might even get a chance to get up there tomorrow, as today has been manic for a Saturday, changeover day again...Possibly only the third ever record for Islay...
Yesterday the Horwich birders had been at Loch Skerrols, and met in with Andrew and Jane! Birds seen there were 30 adult Mute Swan and 7 cygnets, 1 Wigeon, 1 Coot. On Loch Ballygrant, 2 Mute Swan and 2 Whoopers. On Loch Indaal they saw 2 Slavonian Grebe along with a flock of  Scaup, there was also a flock of Eider present there too. Coming home, they had a male Hen Harrier on the flats at Gruinart.
Today, Danny had a Snow Bunting up at Ardnave and Sharon Bancroft and her friends saw a Golden Eagle over close to Coal Ila Distillery, minds me of my time spent on holidays way back at Coal Ila! They also had Guillemots in Bowmore Harbour and finally 2 Buzzards at Easter Ellister.
Thanks to Andrew and Jane for their sightings over this past week, as they are now away back home.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday 18th October

Yesterday our Horwich birders had been out and about. On their way over to Gruinart they had at the former Kilchoman school, on the hawthorn berries 12 Redwing along with 12 Blackbirds (migrant type), all gorging themselves on the available food.  Up at Bun an Uillt, they saw 2 Greenshank, from the new hide at Gruinart, a female Sparrowhawk, and from the old hide a ringtail Hen Harrier. Also seen from there were 1 Ruff, 2 Snipe, and many Teal, Wigeon and Lapwing. From the viewing platform a Swallow was hawking  along the trees.  Later on, off Ardnave Point, a GND was spotted and several groups of Gannets were seen flying past.  6 Turnstone were seen on the rocks, and they even were fortunate to watch an Otter loafing about for the best part of an hour...Back down at the farm steading at Ardnave, a group of 40 Golden Plovers were present. Earlier on in the morning while it was still raining, they did some birding from the shelter of their cottage and saw at least 65 Reed Buntings coming in to shelter in the trees from the squally showers. Finally at Ballinaby they had a Whitefront with a collar on reading 3HX, possibly one that was "collared" there last winter. Dave down on the Oa, has seen some of the ones that were fitted with collars last Spring down there again. Finally Andrew and Jane had seen an immature White tailed Sea Eagle up behind Bridgend being mobbed by Gulls as it flew over...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday 18th October

Rather a lot of rain through the night, but it turned a not bad day once it cleared up... Yesterday afternoon, the Horwich birders had seen the following, 1 GND at Saligo  along with Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Shag and Eiders. Above Traigh Fleigien Beag were 90 Golden Plover and in the dunes behind were 2 groups of Twite on the grass, one tallied at 36, the other 12. Other visitors had told them of seeing Snow Buntings further up the coast from Saligo as well. Peter had a Sparrowhawk on his garden at Bruichladdich today and Bob saw his first Woodcock of the Autumn along with a few Snipe just up behind his house at Port Charlotte. Andrew and Jane had 8 Sanderling and 41 Ringed Plover down on Machir Bay, at Loch Gorm they had a male Goldeneye, pr of Tufted Duck and 8 Reed Buntings. They saw a Merlin opposite Kilchoman Distillery, a ringtail Hen Harrier and a Kestrel at Ballinaby and then a Peregrine at Grainel road end. Finally on the former distillery pond at Port Charlotte 2 Moorhen were present. Coming back home this evening we had a Barn Owl on the flats at Gruinart and another just before Sunderland Farm. There was also a reported sighting of an American Golden Plover down on Machir Bay by a visitor, but no more details apart from that. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday 16th October

The Horwich birders had a Swallow at Smelly corner this morning, down on the Rowans at Foreland they counted 20 MistleThrushes. On Loch Indaal, just after "Cash Kelly's" former house at Blaskrock, a male Goldeneye was  present with some Red breasted Mergansers. On the  River Sorn they had a Dipper and also a Grey Wagtail. Coming back along the top of Loch Indaal they had 6 Barwits and "hoards" of Barnies and also Wigeon. Along on the stubble below Rock Mountain, 4 Whoopers were present and a ringtail Hen Harrier was out over the pools along beside Loch Gorm. The "vols" at RSPB had been out on the Oa doing a "field survey" yesterday with their tally being 322 Twite, 24 Reed Bunting, 66 Linnet, 150 Starling, 14 Stonechat and a Yellowhammer. A Merlin and a Hen Harrier were also seen. Andrew and Jane today 9 Pale bellied Brent at Bowmore along with some Turnstone, at Craigens a Merlin, over the flats a ringtail. On the flats, 4 Pinkies and a leucistic Barnie. The floods held  2 Blackwit, 2 female Pintail, Shoveler, Teal and Snipe. James carried out a count late afternoon at Gruinart, his birds tallied up as 28,980 Barnies, 18 Pinkies and 1 Canada hutchinsii sp. Coming home this evening, we had a Barn Owl was sitting on a fence post at Ballinaby. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday 15th October

Ann and Noel Hands from Warwickshire who had been staying over on Jura last week sent some of their sightings through... On their last day, on their way down to the ferry they had 3 different Owls within 2 miles of each other. It started off with a Barn Owl, then a Short eared Owl and finally a Tawny Owl on a fence post at the side of the road. They had been over on Islay one day and had been down at Gruinart and had seen the WTSE putting the geese about, "a re run of the clip seen on the Hebrides, Islands on the edge"...The geese were put up again by a Peregrine and by the Eagles another time. On their way back to Jura they had 3 different male Hen Harriers.  Natalie and Emily had carried out a count on Loch Gruinart yesterday with their tally being as follows, 1 Cormorant, 3 Shag, 11 Heron, 19 Shelduck, 132 Wigeon, 18 Teal, 46 Mallard, 51 RB Merganser, 28 Pintail, 16 Shoveler, 182 Oystercatcher, 1 Ringed Plover, 231 Golden Plover, 86 Sanderling, 228 Dunlin, 84 Barwits, 216 Curlew, 9 Redshank, 28 Turnstone, 7 Greenshank, 87 BH Gulls, 70 Common Gulls, 172 Herring Gulls and 7 GBB Gulls. Early this morning Andrew and Jane had seen a Barn Owl and Fieldfare down at Portnahaven. Later on they had a walk round Ardnave with over 30 Twite seen, 15 Chough, 2 male Snow Buntings, 6 Yellowhammers (inc 3 males). Also seen were Great Tit, Stonechat, Goldfinch, and a female Merlin. Finally down close to Gruinart Farm they saw a Sparrowhawk and close to Port Charlotte a Peregrine. Peter, this morning had a young Golden Eagle being mobbed by a pr of Buzzards and a Raven on the High road just behind Bowmore and this evening there were 8 Pale bellied Brent on the shore at Bowmore. George had a Tufted  Duck on his ponds, a new tick for the ponds, and he also saw a Buzzard following the Barnies today....Visitors from Lancashire had a great sighting of 2 WTSE flying in the Sound of Islay as they came in to Port Askaig this afternoon. Been a great day, look at all those sightings....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday 14th October

Another glorious day out on sunny Islay, and what a great sunset to finish the day off with... Lots of birds for you all to ogle at, better still you all say!! Last Thursday, Emily at Loch Gruinart had seen a Barn Owl along the flats at Gruinart, on Friday over on Jura, she had 2 Dippers on the Corran river. Yesterday she had been watching the White tailed Sea Eagle out over Loch Gruinart. Today it has still been around there all day, and taking 2 geese for eats....Emily had seen the leucistic Barwit out on the Loch, think that could be the same returning bird that has been seen in previous years! David and Brenda along with Peter Donaldson had seen a Raven over on Orsay island. Large flocks of Goldfinches, Twite and Chafiinches were seen at Gruinart, up at Ardnave they had 71 Golden Plover and on Ardnave Loch there were a pr of Dabchicks. Andrew and Jane yesterday had 12 Stonechats between Port Charlotte and Portnahaven. In Ballimony forest, Coal Tits, Goldcrest, Woodcock and Kestrel were seen.  Today on Loch Indaal from Blackrock, 10 Slavonian Grebe, 134 Golden plover, 12 Knot, Blackwits and over 350 Wigeon. River Sorn held a Dipper and a Grey Wagtail, Claggain strip Long tailed Tits were present and finally on Loch Skerrols, over 40 Mute Swan and a Dabchick. Today, James had a Golden Eagle over the reserve at Gruinart. A female Sparrowhawk was seen to take a Teal from in front of the hide. Later on out over the flats a male Hen Harrier was seen and from the hide 3 Blackwits, 2 Ruff and a Greenshank were seen.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday 13th October

Last night just at the darkening before the light faded completely, Armin had an Otter over at Saligo Bay. Moments later, when it was dark he saw a shooting star in the sky, needless to say the camera was packed away.  Andrew and Jane are back over and had seen a couple of Whooper Swans along with some Whitefronts at Octomore, out on Loch Indaal they had seen 3 RTD. Also yesterday, David and Brenda from Yorkshire had been over on Jura and saw 2 Grey Wagtails up at Lagg. Back on Friday, James had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle over towards Port Askaig. Today, James had a Golden Eagle down on the Oa, back home later on, he had a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk. This morning, I went out to help Bob on his count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck with our tally being as follows, 6 Cormorant, 76 Shag, 6 Heron, 1500 Barnies, 400 Greylag, 8 Pale bellied Brent, 2 Whooper Swan, 27 Mallard, 36 Teal, 5 Wigeon, 3 Eider, 30 Red breasted Merganser, 25 GBB Gull, 80 Herring Gull, 100 Common Gull, 3 BH Gull, 25 Snipe, 51 Oystercatcher, 12 Curlew, 4 Barwits, 4 Redshank, 5 Dunlin, 4 Turnstone, 3 Ringed Plover, 440 Golden Plover, 69 Lapwing. Bob counted 520 Wigeon all together at Gartmain and also 18 RB Merganser at Uiskentuie prior to meeting up. Also further out on Loch Indaal, there was a Black Guillemot. Peter had been up at Gruinart and the sky was full of Barnies. Other geese seen were a Canada hutchuinsii sp., 4 Pinkies and also 2 Whitefronts with collars. He also reported seeing some Swallows today. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday 12th October

Been a great day with the weather out here today, good for time of year, dry and sunny although still an edge to the air, time of year I suppose! Peter had seen the immature Sea Eagle "worrying" the Greylags on Loch Gorm again this morning! Earlier on, on the Rowans down at Foreland, Peter had 20 Redwings, some Fieldares, some Song Thrushes and a few Mistle Thrushes, all making the most of the berries on offer. Armin had a Buzzard being worried by some crows on his way over from the ferry at Port Askaig this afternoon.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday 11th October

Yesterday, Peter had  stunning  male Hen Harrier out  over Loch Indaal near Bowmore. Then a wee bit further on, an immature White tailed Sea Eagle at the head of Loch Indaal. James had count of the geese at Gruinart yesterday as well, the scores on the doors were 36,040 Barnies, 474 Whitefronts, 5 Pinkfoots and a Canada hutchinsii sp. Other birds of note included 11 Blackwits, 14 Whoopers and a Golden Eagle. Today, visitors had seen a White tailed Sea Eagle having a go at the Geese on Loch Gorm. It tried several times but no joy. Earlier on, this morning a low flying jet flew over....On their way back to the cottages our visitors had a Merlin and above the wood, a Sparrowhawk flew past with a Peregrine sitting atop the crag late afternoon. At Gruinart this afternoon, Mary had a small flock of 15 Fieldfares. Yes, it's that time of year with it all kicking in.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday 10th October

Not so windy today and better still, it remained dry, all the same it was not as warm as the start of the week when I was out cutting the grass in short sleeves... As you might have gathered I have not heard much from anyone today, but at Rockside this morning amongst the Greylags there were some Barnies and a few Whitefronts as well. There were 4 Whoopers down there too the back of 8 o'clock this morning before they headed off to Ireland!
Before I forget, on the TV later this month on BBC1 on the 23rd of October at 9pm, the program, "The Great British Year" has some footage taken on Islay. The camera work on last night was first class... so try and remember to watch it when it comes on and I will try to remind you to tune in as well!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wednesday 10th October

Yes, as predicted, the geese arrived in numbers today.... James did a count at Gruinart at 5pm with his tally coming out at 31,570 Barnies, 300 Whitefronts, 9 Pink footed Geese and 2 Canada Geese hucthinsii sp. There also had been 17 Whooper Swans there today. From the old hide at Gruinart, Bob and George had 3 Hen Harriers, with the ringtail trying its best to get a duck, but with not much luck. They also had seen 3 Blackwits, a Pintail and a Pale bellied Brent Goose there as well. There were also around 4,000 Barnies present at the top of Loch Indaal. Malcolm had 7 Whoopers fly South down Loch Indaal, late afternoon.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday 8th October

Forgot to mention last night that Bob had seen Stonechats and Whinchats the other day when he was over on Jura. Also last Saturday, Martin and Helen from Liverpool had stayed overnight on Jura in their camper van and commented on the noise with the Red Deer now all calling away, as they are now starting to rut. Today the wind has started to move round a point or two, net result is that some more geese are to be seen. Mid afternnon, at Gruinart, Mary had counted 601 Barnies, 24 Pale bellied Brents and 3 Whitefronts. There had also been 23 Whoopers but they only touched down for an hour before heading on to Ireland! Bob just at daylight had heard Fieldfares flying overhead, later on down at Octomore there was a flock of over 200 Skylarks on the barley stubbles. Down at the lighthouse on Loch Indaal at Port Charlotte, a Sparrowhawk was out flying above the whin bushes there.
If you are around tomorrow afternoon at 4pm from the Visitor centre at Gruinart, there is a "Wader walk", no doubt there will be the odd goose and some ducks to be seen at the same time.....If the geese are coming in, it is a sight to be seen, a bit like Heathrow with all the planes coming in to land!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday 7th October

Yesterday, down at the new hide at Gruinart, Bob had a male Peregrine sitting on a fence post watching all that was going on. Then a few moments later, a large female Peregrine swooped along the loch and put up 48 Redshank and 3 Dunlin. Later on at the head of Loch Indaal, Bob had 120 Pale bellied Brent and then down at Kintra, a Bonxie was seen. Finally back at Port Charlotte, a Swallow was present. Today, here at home, there was a Peregrine sitting up on the crag. Is it the same bird that keeps an eye out on the Rock Doves???

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday 6th October

Peter and Pia had been up to Gortantoid today, not a tremendous lot around, but their tally included 4 Wheatear, over 20 Pied Wagtail and a cracking male Hen Harrier. On the Gruinart flats , on the Craigens side, a flock of over 200 Greylags along with a large hybrid Greylag x Canada Goose! Mid afternoon, back down at home at Bruichladdich, Peter had 80 Pale bellied Brent flying South down Loch Indaal. James had done a quick look round the reserve at Gruinart and saw the following, 40 Pale bellied Brent, 84 Barnies, 3 Whitefronts, 322 Golden Plover, 465 Wigeon, 1 Grey Plover, 2 Blackwits, 1 Hen Harrier and 9 Pintail. Here at home mid morning there were around 45 Rock Doves in a flypast, and as I was speaking to some visitors up at the old church, some Chough flew past, noisy and nosey as ever, they sure are great characters ... Turn back the blog exactly 1 year and 20,000 Barnies had arrived at Gruinart, perhaps they will come later this week once the wind changes round a bit....

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Saturday 5th October

Yesterday Carl had lots of Swallows hawking for food out on Loch Indaal out from Port Charlotte. Also yesterday, Peter had the return of the 5 Black Guillemots to the pier at Bruichladdich, after a long absence, but now showing off their winter plumage... Further out were 17 Common Scoter and 3 RTD. Today Peter had been up at Killinallan and had seen a Greenshank amongst the waders present including Curlews and Barwits. He also had seen a Wheatear over there too.  Later on, over Loch Gorm, Peter had 14 Whitefronts flying. Around midday we had 120 Barnies on Loch Gorm itself along with several hundred Greylags on the water as well. Early this evening, there was no sign of the Barnies on Loch Gorm, although the Greylags were still there, and a quick spin over to Gruinart, but no Barnies noticed there either, sheltering up behind the sea wall out of our view no doubt!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday 4th October

Been a busy day down at the Auction market with a sheep sale on, with buyers in from the mainland. The regular buyers were present plus another 3 buyers who I cannot remember seeing before, all in all it all helped to make a good sale for those of us who had stock present. Back to the purpose of the blog then, Islay and its birds.... Bob had been out and about today and counted 156 Barnies over on the reserve at Gruinart, the Ruff was still present amongst the Lapwing. Coming over this way to Machir Bay, Bob noticed more Wheatear and Stonechats around, a Merlin and out over the sea, 21 Barnies on the wing. Sam and Garry had 9 Whitefronts at Gruinart today and also a Peregrine too. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at Carrabus on their way to Gruinart and at the head of Loch Indaal they had 20 Pale bellied Brent Geese. Not just the farmers have had a good day!!!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thursday 3rd October

Forgot to mention last night that we had a charm of 35 Goldfinches in the wood here at home yesterday afternoon. Back on Sunday James had 14 Greenland Whitefronts fly over the reserve at Gruinart. Today, at Gruinart, there were 24 Barnies and 1 Whitefront. Garry and Sam had been over on Jura today, several ringtail Hen Harriers were seen and some Yellowhammers close to Keills on Jura. The rain today has hampered any thought of bird watching.....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wednesday 2nd October

Yesterday, Sam and Garry had been down the Port Ellen area and had headed out for a walk from Kintra, and while they were getting blown about in the wind, they managed to see a pod of 4 Bottle nosed Dolphins. Today up beside his house behind Port Charlotte, Bob had 2 Merlin, a Sparrowhawk and a male Hen Harrier. We had 3 separate Wheatears today, one at Saligo, another at Coull, with the final one being seen at the Coastguards. Earlier on we had a ringtail Hen Harrier , just before the turn off up to Craigens at Gruinart. The big influx of geese has not happened as of yet, but they won't be far away!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday 1st October

Yesterday, Sam and Garry had been over at the Sound of Islay. Looking over towards Jura they spotted a couple of Buzzards, then a moment later a Golden Eagle came into view, and then to cap it all a White tailed Sea Eagle to put the icing on the cake. Later on in the water, they had an Otter! This morning we had a great sunrise, click on the link to the INHT and look at the image taken by Malcolm this morning! September is now behind us with the rainfall tallying through at 4.1", last year it over 6" if memory serves me right! Today Peter had 4 Guillemots close inshore at Bruichladdich, with 5 Common Scoter and a RTD further out. Here at home there were 3 Buzzards out above the crag first thing this morning. After breakfast, there were a few Swallows hawking along past the trees and this afternoon down at Rockside a Greenland Wheatear was present.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday 30th September

Some birds through from yesterday... George had 7 Snipe when he was up at Ardnave, Carl at Kilchiaran saw 15 Curlew, 2 Snipe, 2 Heron and a Wheatear. Over at Carrabus he had seen "lots" of Wheatear and at Coullabus he had a House Martin. Down at Port Charlotte tonight, Carl has seen numerous Swallows. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday 29th September

Almost another month in, been a great day with the weather, Red Admirals out making the most of it. Sam and Garry had a Small Copper and a Peacock butterfly out at Gruinart. On the bird front, they had 27 Barnies, 6 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 3 ringtail Hen Harrier, 6 Shoveler, over 200 Golden Plover on the reserve. Out on Loch Gruinart, waders seen included Curlew, Oystercatcher, Barwits, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Redshank and some Shelduck. On their way to Gruinart , round Loch Gorm they had seen a dozen Snipe, numerous Skylark, and another ringtail. Later on they had a Golden Eagle, Sparrowhawk, and 5 different Buzzards, Along from Uiskentuie a further 2 Buzzards and a Peregrine were added to their list for the day. A good start to their week....

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday 28th September

Today, Bob had walked out to Gortantoid along with Peter and Pia. Along the track going there, they saw 6 Wheatear, along with Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. In the small scrubby group of trees just before reaching Gortanoid, Wrens, Robins, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Mistle Thrush were seen. At Gortantoid itself, several Stonechats and Reed Buntings were present. The return leg back along the track produced Linnets, a few Twite and over 20 Pied Wagtail. On Loch Gruinart, a female Goosander was seen. Here at home, a Peregrine flew over mid afternoon.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday 27th September

Yesterday, on the reserve at Gruinart, James had 3 Hen Harriers, a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk. Today, on the reserve down on the Oa, Dave had a Yellow browed Warbler. When I was down there this afternoon, a Peregrine flew past. Visitors this evening commented on seing flocks of Linnet and Twite up in the dunes behind Machir Bay, and yes, again there are still a few Swallows around...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday 26th September

Yesterday, Carl reported through seeing Swallows down over Loch Indaal at Port Charlotte, out hawking around looking for food. Further out on Loch Indaal there were some Gannets while up at Octomore he had a Hen Harrier.... Today, there are still a couple of Swallows around here and James was telling me this morning that there is a brood still on the nest over at Carnduncan! This morning, on our way round Loch Gorm, there was a charm of 30 Goldfinches which flew ahead of us all the way from Coull to just after Saligo Bay. Also at Coull was a ringtail Hen Harrier out on the wing. Over at Gruinart this morning James had a Merlin and also a Ruff flying around with the Lapwings. The 8 Barnies were present still at the head of Loch Gruinart along with the Greylags roosting up, so no more Barnies yet...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday 25th September

On our way over to Gruinart last night, we saw a small flock of around 25- 30 Golden Plover at Coull. James on his way home after Bird nerds, had a Corncrake walk across the track leading to Grainel! This morning, there were 5 Swallows here in a fly past, they certainly did not stay long! There was also a Sparrowhawk up towards Shepherds cottage a wee while later on. Carl had 8 Comic Terns fly past Bruichladdich this morning. This evening there was a Sparrowhawk at Coull and a ringtail Hen Harrier there too and at Ballinaby a couple of Buzzards were out flying about.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday 24th September

On Friday, over on Jura a Great spotted Woodpecker was seen at Tarbert and Gordon Muir, Louise's other half had 3 Snow Buntings on the West coast of Jura. Yesterday, James had a White tailed Sea Eagle flying over at Keills.Also yesterday, late afternoon, Frank Warren had a Kingfisher on the River Laagan up at the bridge overthe "High road". Today, on the overhead wires up beside his house James had a mixed flock of 115 Linnet and Twite. At the birds nerds tonight, we had 13 folk along a mix of visitors and locals, the craic was good, good to catch up with each other.... birds not so good but a Ruff was seen amongst the waders. A Hen Harrier spoofed the ducks as well, and a Peregrine was on the straining post in the fence line, just watching all around...Carl was in contact today saying that there had been a large number of Swallows around Port Charlotte yesterday and there appeared to be none today, and James was saying that at Gruinart yesterday a good number were present but very few today, so perhaps they have headed South, certainly none here at home today either...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday 23rd September

Been a good day out here for time of year, this afternoon I was out in the garden with a short sleeves T shirt on, no jersey... just great! This morning I had helped Bob with his count from Bowmore down to Gartbreck. The birds were as follows, 2 Heron, 62 Shag, 10 Cormorant, 30 GBB Gull, 300 Herring Gull, 300 Common Gull, 35 BH Gull, 9 Gannet, 10 Oystercatcher, 117 Curlew, 189 Barwits, 6 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 3 Snipe, 4 Turnstone, 1 Black Guillemot, 16 Ringed Plover, 2 Golden Plover, 9 Lapwing, 1 Barnacle Goose, 985 Greylags, 2 Shelduck, 3 Mallard, 83 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 10 RB Merganser and 24 Eider. Earlier on Bob had 180 Wigeon, 30 Eider, 64 RB Merganser, 300 Greylags, 2 Scaup, 6 Mute Swan & 2 Whooper Swan at Gartmain. Yesterday, Carl had 6 "Comic" Terns fly past Bruichladdich and he also commented on seeing more Herons around Loch Indaal. Visitors had a Little Stint out from the new hide at Gruinart yesterday.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday 22nd September

Possibly this morning,  we started with an overcast day, but come mid afternoon, the sun broke through and what a glorious evening we are having now. Raymond was probably right in turning his straw in anticipation of baling it, he even moved the combine table out to the field and possibly finished cutting his barley, who am I to ask.... Not much on the bird front today, flocks of Linnets, Twite and Goldfinches around on the seedheads. Some of the Pheasants that have not been seen for a while have started to reappear showing some young in tow, certainly not released poults as the youngsters are quite tame like their parents!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday 21st September

Down in the Machrie field at Rockside Farm today, there were 4 corners to the field as usual, but each corner had its own group of birds present. There were some Rock Doves with a few Hooded Crows along side them, in another corner, over 200 Greylags with 2 Whooper Swans, another corner held some Jackdaws and finally a mixed group of Gulls. Later on this afternoon, a Peregrine Falcon flew over the house and put up the Rock Doves off the crag.... earlier on and a bit higher up,  the Air Ambulance had flown past! On Tuesday evening, the Islay Bird nerds will be meeting up at Gruinart at 6.30pm at the RSPB car park, and we aiming to go down to the new hide for a spot of bird watching, all welcome if you are around, see you there....

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday 20th September

A really quiet day on the bird front, nothing to share really but there are still a few Swallows around yet. Just noticed the other night that the blog has passed the 2,000 entries, another milestone in the blog's short life from a humble start back in May 2007...Many thanks to all of you out there that have contributed and others who have encouraged us to keep it going!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday 19th September

Thanks to James for writing the entry for the blog for the last couple of days while I was over in Glasgow... Yesterday Louise had a Lapland Bunting when she was out past Loch Gorm yesterday. Also yesterday, Bob had been out with the German visitors again, this time a walk round Ardnave Point. On their walk, they had 130 Sanderling, 2 Redshank, 3 Barwits, 20 Turnstone and a Peregrine. Returning back towards the farm steading they had a flock of 80 Twite together, and had also seen several smaller groups before that. They also counted 35 Chough there too. Visitor Andrew who is over for a few days had a Buzzard on top of a rocky outcrop out past Ardbeg towards Kildalton. I, too had my fix when I was away, a Magpie... rare here on Islay, and on Tuesday afternoon, a Fox out in a garden in Bearsden, a major twitch that would have been here!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday 18th September

Some sun today, but still cold. Mary was out at Gruinart and noticed a fall of Skylarks and meadow pipits. The 8 Barnacle geese were still present although most of the Brents have moved on. 2 Ring tailed Hen Harriers hunting over the Flats.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday 17th September

Aah at last I am signed in - Satellite broadband is a challenge we have to bare.
Out and about around Gruinart today, the water levels on the Floods are rising and birds are starting to arrive. A big count of 530 Teal in front of the new hide, also 25 Pale Bellied Brent geese and now 8 Barnacle Geese on the Loch. On the Flats a plump Greenland Wheatear

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday 16th September

In between the squally showers today, Bob managed to take a couple from Germany out for some birding. In the dunes behind Machir Bay, they had small flocks of Goldfinch, Linnet and Twite. Overhead were 7 Chough, 3 Curlew and 3 Blackwits flew past. Also overhead, a Peregrine came out of nowhere and zapped a Buzzard! From the new hide at Gruinart, 300 Teal, 50 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank and a female Peregrine were also seen. Coming along past the wood as they returned to their car, there was a mixed flock of House Martins, Sand Martins and Swallows swooping low catching their food on the wing. Also on the reserve today, James had a Merlin.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday 15th September

Yesterday, before the weather broke down, Bob did the walk from Bowmore down to Gartbreck. His tally was as follows, 1 Redwing, 350 Greylag, 3 Shelduck, 48 Mallard, 5 Teal, 6 Wigeon, 45 Oystercatcher, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Barwits, 2 Greenshank, 7 Turnstone, 4 Heron, 10 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 32 GBB Gull, 300 Herring Gull, 450 Common Gull & 60 B H Gulls. Today a different day as forecasted! James was out today and counted 176 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 3 Barnies, 6 White Wagtails, 5 Blackwits and a Sparrowhawk all over at Gruinart. Martin, mid afternoon had been over at Sanaig and had several groups of Pale bellied Brents flying South, and also a few Arctic Terns fly past as well. Down at Portnahaven, Mary had 25 Pale bellied Brent fly South, and in the harbour there was a Grey Phalarope. Bob had a male Hen Harrier out over Bolsay Moor while Pat had a Sparrowhawk back at their house! The wind touched 48 mph along on Mike's weather station just after midday, glad I was not on the ferry today... they used Port Askaig today....

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday 14th September

Yesterday Paul and Kathleen Robinson had seen 16 Pale bellied Brent geese and also a Peregrine over at Gruinart. At Coull, they had 20 Golden Plover. Today Paul and Kathleen are away home, so thanks for sharing some of their sightings while they were here. Also yesterday, Bob had taken a run out round Loch Gorm. He had a count of 52 Ravens, on research the collective name for them could be an unkindness of Ravens, a constable of Ravens or even a conspiracy of Ravens....All seen along at Sunderland. Also on the stubbles there, Bob counted a total of 980 Greylags.  Further on, he had a young male Hen Harrier, and down on Loch Gorm there were 52 Tufted Duck. Going further on round the Loch, Bob had a tally of 9 Stonechats, a Sedge Warbler, 2 Wheatear and another male Hen Harrier.