Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Common Sandpiper - Peregrine

The dya th eweather changed and yet we managed to get some cracking biridng in, in th esouth eats. At Claggain we had Common Sandpipers all three Divers, Gannets , Eider and Mergansers as well as jumping Sea Trout! On our way out a Peregrine stooped infront of the Landy and shot off down the beach. We headed inland we watched a Ringtail going to ground and in the rain had a Snipe fest! Plenty flying up and down and one on a post too.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Golden eagle 2 Whimbrel 127

Having sent off our French folks on the plane with tears in their eyes and seen the Purple Sandpipers yesterday today we were watching Common Sandpipers, Whimbrel and a cracking fifteeen Black Tailed Godwits in full summer plumage. In the morning on the Rhinns we saw an eagle and then in the afternoon having picked up another group we had another on the high hill.
What a day, that with three Hen Harriers (2 Males) we were really enthralled at so many opportunities.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Corncrake Dawn

What a dawn; still and clear. The French team and I headed for Gruinart and the RSPB hide.
Not much at first light but with the rising of the sun and warming of the day we saw 13 Black Tailed Godwits in summer plumage, a female Garganey and a young Whooper Swans....then came the call - crex-crex, crex crex. Then...another. In the fields beyond we saw 27 Whitefronts and one Barnacle. What a morning and back for late breakfast.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Otter, Golden Eagle, Cuckoo

I was with some French folks who had come over from the Baie du Somme -Northern France.
We watched and they photographed an Otter at the strand at Loch Gorm House. We spent a good hour doing this in bright sunshine and excellent light. We then headed off for Red Deer and managed to find a Golden Eagle too, along the glen road. There were Golden Plover and Curlew on the high grounds and earlier a Cuckoo was heard calling. Brilliant.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Golden Eagle, Red Deer

After a rain filled night the day dawned bright but cloudy and it just got better by the hour!
We watched Red Deer on the hill at Storakaig and then just as we were finishing coffee a Golden Eagle flew down the glen and then right in front of us. Fabulous views in great light. Golden Plover, Lapwing and Corvids too and down at Lochindaal we had all three Divers too, in full sunshine and a warm westerly wind.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Peregrine, Owls and Bats

A dusk tour, and we headed out around Gorm, plenty of Hare and Curlew too and a cracking peregrine on a post before it flew off across the peatland. Up around Gruinart we spent a time with the bat monitor picking out Pipistrelle and Long Eared Bats. A cracking Barn Owl flew infront of us and then perched for all to see. Magical. On our way back a Tawny Owl sat in a tree for us to have a good look at before headed into the woods to hunt. What an evening!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Waders and Merlin

This afternoon we headed out with some regular clients. Immediately we found a hen Merlin just outside Port Charlotte storming across the fields. We headed for the high ground via Mulindry - a Glaucous Gull flew along the wee glen at Raw and we watched a Snipe and a Carion Crow.
We were out looking for eagles but they were busy elsewhere, however, there was a fine flock of Golden Plover all black and gold flying doing aerial acrobatics - superb! Returning to the Merse and Carnain we wader watched: Turnstone, Black tailed Godwit, Dunlin in summer plumage and 3 Curlew Sandpipers too. Such fun!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Seven days in the wilderness

Having said good bye to the Texa Rangers I am now back on Islay and they are homeward bound. It was a week of extremes in every way. We had some fantastic nature moments, discovering plants and new birds for many. Living off the land and coping with the wind chill that took the temperature to down to -5c. Brrr! Sorrel, Dock, Wood Sorrel, Primrose, Sweet Violet, Stinging Nettle, Hawksbit, Pignut, Lesser Celandine, Oarweed, Eggwrack, Sea Lettuce, Caragheen were all tasted and experimented with and we all now are working towards 101 ways to cook a limpet. It was too cold for fish, and some crabs were available but not as many as we all had hoped.

We looked at the archaeology and tried to imagine what it would have been like for the folks who inhabitated Texa and made a humble living from it. We did our bit too and became adept at cave dwelling, wall building and keeping a meagre fire going to warm and cook on as well as keep up our spirits. Wonderful. We made time for practising rescue techniques and field first aid too.
Below is not an oven ready bushcrafter but two of the guys training with a blizzard blanket.

We counted over 100 wild goats and as the days went by they became quite used to us and were watching us regularly. We spent time learning, sharing and observing. Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Gannets, Shearwaters, a handful of Sandwich Terns, Meadow Pitpits, numerous gulls inlcuding a Glaucous and a young Iceland Gull too. Shags and Greylags on nests. Raven and Buzzards were regular visitors as were Hoodies!

Watching the Golden Eagle - amazing for all!

Another year and yet another expedition passed....can't wait till the next!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

To Texa

Went to Texa this morning - flat calm and dropped off fellow intructors to prepare for the Bushcraft course starting this evening. Eider, Gt Northern Divers and Shags dotted about and on our return a Peregrine shot over us. I will be there, teaching, till next Saturday so more news then.......

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Yes it is up and running and if you have not seen it yet have a look at

Whinchat today at Saligo as I was out training with the Glasgow Wheelers guys.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

April - May Blossom

We were lucky today with the Wildwood Wisdom programme and with lots of children in the Hazel coppice learning about woodland management and building habitat piles. A Raven interrupeted our cocoa time - or did we it? Flying overhead and noisily commenting on our presence. We explored the woods, found some wonderful May Blossom and plenty of Primroses where we had cleared over the winter time. Although it hailed and rained a short while we were sheltered and the fire kept our spirits up. By lunchtime it had cleared up and we wandered around, finding a Roe Deer walllow and plenty of flora emerging too. Having made the habitat pile there was time to make bows and arrows and some hazel swords too. The new Factor came to visit and helped us back down the hill. A good time was had by all.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Ardtalla Adventures

Day two of three day camps. This time in the South East. We had a delayed start with a landy full of children and an Otter off Port Charlotte pier. Earlier, whilst out on my bike, 0700hrs,
the loch was still and there were three different groups of Pale Bellied Brents from Black Rock back to Bruichladdich. At Ardtalla there were plenty of lambs and on the coast Eider pairs, Oystercatchers and Great Northern Divers. We had the wee ones making hot chocolate on open fires, making shelters, playing games, cleaning the beach, watching the occasional fish jump (!) and listen to the Buzzard overhead.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Wildwood Wisdom on the beach

Running a Young Adventurers camp today for wee Islay People. We were based at Carnain
and set up the Tentipi early to give us shelter from the strong - gusting F7 - and cold northerly wind. We took advantage of the low tide and set out as an Arctic expedition to see the wreck that
lies at the mouth of the Sorn. It was quite a trek and we got the children to hold onto the rope that pulled Dylan, one of our young members who relies on an all terrain buggy to travel around in. It was great for all the children to do this and enable him to get there too! We played nature games, made a bird sculpture pictured here....
and did a beach clean too. Oh yes, and we stopped numerous times to watch the geese fly over head and see the Scaup just off the shoreline!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Otter, Snipe, Woodcock, Owl!

No, not the title of a new dance or song but highlights of the day. At midday when I was coming back from training there was an Otter feeding just outside Debbie's Coffee House in Bruichladdich. This evening, out for a dusk tour and as well as the magnificent experience of the Barnacles heading to the roost we also heard Snipe drumming, saw Woodcock roding and watched two, heard one, Barn Owls. Earlier, a Lapland Bunting had been seen at Ardnave too. What a super day!