Thursday, 29 May 2008

Golden Eagles

A cracking morning birding, Chough, Raven, Greenfinch, Skylarks and Mipits. We then spent a considerable amount of time watching a pair of Eagles above Ben Tart a Mhill on the southern Rhinns. the sun shone and sky cleared.

Tomorrow I am off into the hills agin guiding, wilderness living and exploring with folks from Kent till Sunday....more news then.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Dawn and Day

An early start this morning with Corncrakes at Gruinart, Rooks and Jackdaws and we watched a Willow Warbler in and out of a nest for half an hour. Really wonderful to see. A Grey Heron stalked frogs in one of the ditches and Arctic Terns were along the strand. Certainly more than yesterday. Later we had a family bushcraft day - based at Carnain beach and accompanied by even more Terns, Oystercatchers and Shelduck . We watched a two parents with 10 young heading out the merse. Ringed Plover, Swans and Eider on the sea. The rain started to fall and is still doing so - even through Young Adventurers and now the 'flying teeth' AKA midges are having a ball!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Hen Harrier heaven!

We headed around the Rhinns and up to the hinterland too. Thrushes, Auks, Seals and Chats. We waited for eagles but no show - however we had five Harriers - four males one hen all in different locations. Superb - and the last one was yards from the landy. We all stood in awe watching it hawk. It was so very clear and close, binoculars became superflouous!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Setting sun at the end of a long wilderness week

We went and returned - the whole week living in caves, watching sun sets and amazing ourslves at the wildness of Islay. In the north of this magical place lies even more. Following the transhumance route the Cuiart Breac expedition found everything form Miwort and Orchids to Green Hairsteaks and emerging Marsh Fritillaries to seabirds and terns and a single male Hen Harrier. Common Sandpipers were busy on the high wee lochens and we feasted on Limpets, Pignut and Wild Goat. Marvellous. The folks did their John Muir Awards and managed to get completely intot he swing fishing and nature watching - even if the Red Deer were recipricating the watching at times! Whlist I was leading this trip with Roger from Bison Bushcraft, Stuart was taking folks out on walking Safaris watching Golden Eagles on the Rhinns - so we had it all ways...

I know...we are SO lucky!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Friday's Birds Saturday

I am writing this a day late - sorry! On Friday we had a great time around Loch Indaal and
down to Claddach. Arctic Terns, Plovers, Eider, Megansers and Gannets too. A Hen Harrier
and Merlin and Buzzard too. Greta Northern Divers were cracking in fuull summer plumage. Two Barnacles and Whitefronts as well. Today we headed northwards to Askaig for the afternoon. At the Merse the Carnain Swans with their cygnets still were around and there were huge numbered of Shelduck again. More Buzzards, Razorbills and other Auks too. Sedge, Willow and a Wood Warbler was a good find.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Wood Sandpiper Hen Harriers

A morning tour started with Shelduck at the Merse, Terns at Ionad Challium Chille Ile and the Carnian Swans with seven cygnets. From Eresaid we spotted a male Hen Harrier and a female in the heather doing what they do at this time of year - it is spring after all! In the distance, a Golden Eagle. In the afternoon, having seen a Wood sandpiper on a pool behind Bruichladdich, we took Ron and Manuela, of fame, out for a Bushcraft Sausage Sizzle up beyond Killinallan. It was such a perfect day and Campbell's sausages were delicious, cooked over and open fire on the beach. Brilliant. Mark Hancox, photographer, phoned to say that there was now a male and female Garganey at the RSPB wetlands on Gruinart. Thanks.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Marsh Harrier

Out again with Mark Hancox photographing Gannets at Frenchman's Rocks. The light was superb and opportunities wonderful. However, even more interesting was a female Marsh Harrier passing over us and heading out to sea! That and Manx Shearwaters, Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbill and a Peregrine kept us busy all day!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Photographer's Special

Out at 0400hrs this morning till dusk with Mark Hancox
a wonderful image maker who is here for a week. He wanted Gropper, Whinchat, Hen Harrier
and Golden Eagle and.... we got all of them (joy)- also some cracking pictures of Chough preening each other. All from the Landrover - a terrific mobile hide - save the Eagles,which were a wee
walk in the hills on a stunningly beautiful Islay day.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Pale Bellied Brent arrival and departure

this morning with clients we were looking around the top end of Loch Indaal. 37 PB Brents arrived up the loch and hung around for an hour then up and left climbing high and heading North. A wonderful sight and we were so privaledged to witness. Handfuls of Whimbrel are still coming in and so are Arctic Terns too. The sun shone and it was good to be biridng in the warm spring air.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Whimbrel and Arctic Terns

On the Rhinns again today with a group of Canadian birders. Excellent light and views of Divers on Loch Indaal, Common Sandpipers and a cracking male Hen Harrier at Port Wemyss. This is rarly seen there, more often on the Portnahaven side. Plenty of Lapwing, Gannet fishing
and Manx Shearwater. Several young Lapwing too and lots of wee birds with food for young.. Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Sedge as well. A report of a Marsh Harrier is interesting at Portnahaven. At Frenchmans' Rocks therewere over 50 Arctci Terns resting up. We headed back with 8 Chough overhead at Tormisdale and Fulmars at Kilchirian.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Corncrakes and Hen Harrier

At 0400hrs it is still dark but when I set out for our dawn tour and picked up the folks, the light was coming through but unfortunately, no sun! (If that makes sense!). We really enjoyed a dawn chorus behind Islay House and as the light improved were delighted to see a Roe Deer Fawn, hear tits, finches and Thrushes welcoming the new day. A Buzzard drifted over the field and as it was so still the flying teeth(midges) started flying. They were not enough to put us off and soon a Corncrake started crexing. Later along one of field edges we enjoyed seeing a male Hen Harrier sitting on a post waiting for the morning mist to burn off. Dawn. Islay. Brilliant!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Corncrakes and Whitethroats

What a glorious day! Full sunshine and good views. Stating at the Gruinart flats where we met Ian and Margaret Brooke busy birding - check out their which records RSPB and friends sightings. Very good and up to date. We listened to Corncrakes, watched Lapwings and several ducks on the wetlands. Then off down the Rhinns, grey Seals, a cracking Roe deer doe with a newly born young suckling and, of course, Gannets, Shearwaters and small group of feeding Storm Petrels. A singleGolden Eagle casting it's shadow across a well groomed field and Chough too. Shirt sleeve order all day!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Spotted Crake Sunset

A cracking tour starting early morning and ending late tonight. In fact I have just got in at 23:35 hrs.! We saw Whooper Swan, female Garganey and plenty of different waders and corvids too. An Osprey disappeared over Ballygrant towards the loch. Then having headed out for Gruinart in the evening we witnessed a most exquisite sunset from
Borachill Mor - the sun relecting in a wee lochen - unforgetable. Down over the flats and towards Ardnave Snipe drumming, Corncrakes, Chough in the dusk and silent too, Barn Owls, and Tawny. And.... a Spotted Crake to finish. Utterly magical!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Sea Har Whimbrel

The day dawned well but as we headed down towards Port Weymss and having seen Lapwing, Auks and Buzzards as well as several Warblers; Willow, 'Gropper and Sedge, we became enveloped in mist. Luckily it rose by midday and we had great views from Frenchman's Rocks of Gannets, Seals and Fulmar. Whimbrel moved norh out of the Har and were great to hear. A distant Golden Eagle over Tormisdale ended our sunny and glorious day.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Whooper Swan - Red Deer

The weather broke this morning, cold and wet but by the time we headed off the clouds had lifted. We headed up to the high hills to watch Red Deer and on a wee lochen we found a single Whooper Swan hanging out with a Shoveller, Teal and Mallard and loads of hirundines (Sand and House Martins and the odd Swallow too) fly catching. As we climbed higher we came across several Stags who watched us curiously but were settled. It was great to see against such a dramatic background of hill, heather and dancing light.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Golden Eagle

Down to Portnahaven where we spent time watching the Seals - amd listening to them! Gannets and Shearwaters passing and Common Sandpipers piping. A sunny day and gentle wind. Later we watched an Eagle hunting and returning with prey. Fanatastic; what with Chough, Fulmars and a pair on Dunlin on a crofters muddy pool - it was quite an outing.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Whimbrel and Divers

We headed out along a flat Loch Indaal this morning; 7 Great Northern Divers off the pier in assorted plumages - most interesting for our Flemmish birders. Then Razorbills, Common Guillemots and Black ones too! We headed up along to Gorm and found Chough, Sedge Warblers,4 White fronted Geese and plenty of Lapwing on nests and very protective too! And a single Black Tailed Godwit.