Thursday, 31 January 2008

Wet and Peregrine

This week has been just that - wet and windy. It is too easy to stay indoors doing chores - or reading various websites - I recommend - it always has a good quiz however, despite the driechness I have been out and about. Working in the coppice and birding here and there. Not without rewards: Four Chough up behind our house, plenty of Barnies and Whitefronts too.
Along the loch there have been loads of Oystercatchers and corvids feeding at Uiskentuie - the farmer has been muck spreading! At the merse yesterday - Wednesday - there were Dunlin, Ringed and Golden Plovers, a handful (7) of Knot and loads of Shelduck. Then a Peregrine stormed low over the sands and sent up everything - what a panic. It had it's radar on a wee Dunlin and closed in for the kill it. Took it to it's usually plucking knoll and as it settled down for a late lunch- of course being nature everything else eased back and got on with eating too.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Riding about and Purple Sands

No specific tours to report however have been out and about on the bicycle. It is a great way to see the nature and it's wildlife. The snowdrops are really pushing through all over and will be spectacular at Bridgend Woods. An Otter was spotted again at Shorefield and three Pink Feet stay loaf around the Merse. Purple Sandpipers at Bruichladdich are good to see. Only 8 as I pedaled past - there are probably more. Chough are active up behind the house. Yetsreday the children busied themselves with the garden bird watch and have been making feeders from Apples and sunflower seeds. (You push the seeds into an apple. It works pretty well.) Today is calmer once again and the temperature rose during the night. Last evening on our way back from supper at friends we stopped to watched two Barn Owls - fantastic.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Hazel and Geese

Have spent the past two days in the coppice cutting rods/wands for the SNH. The wood allows us alot of shelter from the really heavy weather we are having at the moment. Hail and snow yesterday and high winds today. Lots of wee birds in the woods, tit, finches and a couple of Woodcock. Out in the fields the geese hang on desperately feeding and making themselves fat.

The resident Buzzards called above me as I worked, his melacholic mew got stolen by the wind and at other times it cuts through the hazel like a knife. As I was working yesterday the trees and inhabitants went silent. I looked up and a dog was wandering around on the edge. A whistle from outside shreiked and it disappeared. It took sometime for the status quo to return but return it did. Snowdrops are starting to show!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Divers and Otters

What a super day! We headed east and enjoyed really close views of a Hen Harrier and Peregrine having a spate on one of the farms on the Oa. We then headed Ardtalla way and saw Barnies and Whitefronts loafing in the fields. Alot of Fieldfares and Redwing and Pipits in the more sheltered fields and along the coast Great Northern Divers, Black Throated Divers all fishing in a flat calm sea, the afternoon arrived in which was spent being enthralled by three Otters - what a priviledge. Amazing.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Raptors and rapture

We had great views of geese today including Pink Feet, Lesser Canada, Barnacle, Whitefront, Greylag and Pale Bellied. It was dry and there was little wind. We had cracking views of three Golden Eagles, Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Hen Harrier and a distant Peregrine too. Later on our return along the high road to the Oystercatcher accomodation two Barn Owls delighted us too.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Force 8 and Merlin

So the wind picked up today to gust force 8 as the rain swung round to the South West. At the start of a Goosefest we had a buffetting day on the Rhinns. Pink Footed Goose, masses of Barnacles, Pale Bellied Brent, Scaup, grebes, White fronts and all three Divers, several hen Hen Harriers and male too. Golden Plover, Twite and a terrific view of a female Merlin
to end the day.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Long Tailed and Coppice

Working in the coppice today cutting wands for SNH to use for goose scaring streamers.
Rain at first but then it lifted. As we stopped, to set the Kelly Kettle for a cuppa, a flock of 12 Long Tailed Tits went through - wonderful to see so close and alll around. The even more wonderful moment was when the crofter, who was with me, said it was the first time in twenty years that he had seen Long Tails!
Buzzards calling high above and in the glen beyond, a couple of Chough too. Geese in surrounding fields. A magical day working in an ancient place.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Choughed about

A super afternoon with folks from Norfolk. They had been vsisting for many years but never with me and wanted to see Choughs. Firstly though, in the clear air before later rain we had Gt.Northern Divers, Eider, Scoter, Scaup and Mergansers. Further along Loch Indaal we had
cracking views of Pale Bellied Brent and then we headed off for Chough. Over through Foreland the Northerly wind brought great views of Mull and a snowy Ben More before we headed Gorm way. No problems in locating five 'red billed' birds feeding around Machir and we enjoyed good views despite the worsening light.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Around Dunlossit

Spent the afternoon with a friend from Dolphin House, an Environmental Education Centre
in Ayrshire. We met at Port Askaig and headed for the woods behind. Plenty of Woodcock,
a Golden Eagle above in the blue sky with snow capped Paps as a background and two Crossbills too. A cracking day ending with a male Hen Harrier - over the fields beyond. Earlier this week afer the storm a Bittern had been seen - but only by Andy from Ardtalla!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Having met Dr Ogilvie out to count geese, he reported that a couple of Leather Backed Turtles had been found over the holiday period I realised that we were back on Islay in the rain and wind. In spite of all this I was encouraged to get out this mid morning around Loch Indaal:
Curlew, Oystercatchers, a single Snipe, twelve Pale Bellied Brent at Black Rock and a couple of distant Gt Northern Divers. Mergansers, Wigeon and Scaup hanging around in the ever worsening weather! Very different from the Pyrenees, France where we were watching Griffon Vultures and Red Kites, Serins and Bullfinches.