Monday, 30 June 2008

Wildwood Wisdom Camp

Arrived back on Islay yesterday afternoon. Racing through Northern France with plenty of others hardcore cyclists was something else and the odd time I did manage to get my eyes to th esky I saw plenty of Swifts, Herons and the odd raptor too. The sun shone. back to the wet and today we depart for a four day local youngsters camp. We hope it will not rain all week!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Next Monday

Today we were running Wildwood Wisdom with the Young Adventurers at Port Ellen and then at Bowmore too. Tomorrow I am off to London with Brian Palmer he of
fame to ride as a team 'Velo Club d'Ardbeg', from there to Paris in three days - a mere 600 kms, in the international cyclo -sportive Londres-Paris, crazy thing to do,but should be fun. Not only will we be racing Tour De France style (closed roads, transponders and masseurs) but also for charity. (Thanks to all who have sent support). We will be back on Islay next Monday.
meanwhile, Stuart Graham is running the walking Safaris, with Tink in the office.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Marsh and Hen Harrier

Around the Rhinns again today. Cracking views of Arctic Terns on the shingle and a Scoter on a wee lochen! Chough a wee bit laetr and then, a male and female Hen Harriers doing conecting around a nest site - no food being passed although we suspect that is why the female rose. We also watched a Skylark feeding young and a Marsh Harrier around Claddach. I wonder if this was the one that we last saw a couple of weeks ago? A Grey Wagtail sat on a rock enabling us to have great views and Fulmars are busy on their nests at Kilchiran.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Hen Harriers and Buzzard Snake

We headed up into the hills in the morning on a bright and sunny day - it had rained during the night. We watched Curlew, Red Deer and a distant Eagle. Then onto the south Rhinns where there male and female Harriers, Lapwing Chough and Raven too. Gannets out to sea and an occasional wet afternoon. We watched a Buzzard with an adder in its tallons - amazing sight and close enough to be really clear. Redpoll, Twite and Wheatears in quiet places and now, as I write, the sun is shining and it is warmish too.

Last Night Early Morning

Having spent most of the day preparing for the all th esummer camps we organise I headed out with clinets for another dusk tour - still light at 2300hrs. We watched Terns, Arctci and Little, Eider in eclipse and listened to bats on the 'bat-o-meter'. 5 Corncrakes all calling and rustling about and 2 Barn Owls hunting. Did not get back till this morning! A fantastic time and still dry although wet during
the night.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Barn Owl Bonanza!

More of the owls later, for this morning we were watching Hen harriers, Common Sandpipers, Chough and Lapwing. Then to the coast and strand for Little and Arctic Terns; fabulous. By dusk we headed for Gruinart and listened to five Corncrakes and watched a Barn Owl hawking for over 30 minutes! Then we saw another and a Tawny Owl popping out of th ewoods, dropping down to take a mouse and head back in. With bats flying too we had the most amazing day!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Hen Harriers

We had a wet and windy day today - great - the land needs it so much - and it did not detract from the birding too much. Little and Arctic Terns, Gannets, Manx Shearwaters, Seals, Greylags and Turnstones as well as Curlew and 6 Whimbrel off the sea at Lossit. The highlight was a male and female Hen Harrier together. Stuart, who runs our walking safaris
also had a wet but successful morning with his group; Heath Spotted Orchids, Ragged Robin and plenty of Bog Cotton too. They got great close views of a Siskin, saw a Heron being mobbed by Common Gulls and watched Seals, Plovers and Redshank along the coast. Very enjoyable.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Open Day Port Ellen

We were at the Port Ellen School open day sharing the experiences of building the Round House with parents and grandparents. Good fun despite the rain that edged us indoors by the end.

They collected alot of bits and pieces for a time capsule that we are going to bury beneath a 'new' standing stone.

Friday, 13 June 2008

John Muir Award

Spent the morning at Keills giving out John Muir Awards - 74 children on Islay have got them and we still have more going for the next level. The youngest ones are 7 and the eldest 14, so good news for everybody. On our return we made time to watch the Terns on the strand.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Gorm Scoter

Colder today with a brisk northerly becoming NWesterly. At Storakaig we watched a high male Hen Harrier passing over Ben Bhreac heading west. Then over to Loch Indaal to watch Arctic and Little Terns. In the afternoon we ended up at Gorm, 2 Scoter on the freshwater and another two Hen Harriers too. A lone Pink Foot hung out with a gang of Greylag. Sixty species today!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


Strange but true, after birding all day with folks we were out agian till this early morning Owl watching and listening to Corncrakes. It was chilly and the sky was clear so even at 2300hrs it was still to be dark. During th eday we had some amazing views of Arctic terns and Sanderling as well. Chough and Godwits too. From Bruichladdich pier we had Great Northern and Black Throated Divers. But most amazing, and the bird of the day, was a male Hen Harrier that circled us, caught two items of prey - vole/mice and then flew alongside the landy - overfilling our binoculars. Quite extraordinary.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Arctic Tern Grey Sky!

The rain fell this morning and it was certainly damp although it did not erode our views of some magnificent Atctic Terns at the Uiskentuie Strand. The landy meant we had a mobile hide and we were able to get really good views without disturbing these long distance travellers. We also watched Dunlin, a couple of Sanderling and Eider too. Onto Machir Bay for plenty of Chough, Sandmartin and Lapwing. Great.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Golden Eagle, Blue Sky

.....Yes, it was and warm too! Up in the hills beyond Bridgend and Dun Nosebridge we watched Ravens, plenty of them and then high above a Golden Eagle floated across - right across the Glen and back again, a Buzard was there for comparison and the Ravens gave it a hard time. nearby the landy a Reed Bunting fed on the ground. Curlew, Redshank, Shelduck and Oysercatchers added to our Australian and Peebleshire clients enjoyment of the day.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Wilderness Living

For the past two day we have been out in the wilds, living off the land and watching nature, discovering plants and njoying wonderful beetles and Butterflies - especially plenty of Marsh Fritillaries. We have seen everything from Orchids, Sundews, Worts and seaweeds through to Cinnabar Moths, Buzzards, Fulmars, Redshank, Lapwing and nesting Curlew. Magical. Cooking seafood on open fires, leaving no trace of our whereabouts and tracking deer and otters too. The weather has been kind for us and we returned bronzed and with spirits lifted. Red Deer watched on as we hiked back heavy in our sadness to leave but lighter with raised hopes and new skills to practice and develop.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Hen Harriers and Orchids

The sun shone till midday then became overcast and as I write now is raining. However
we saw all three Terns on Loch Indaal, Arctic, Common and Little. Gannets out west and two male Hen Harriers too. Plenty of Shelduck and Eider as well. On the hill we found Tormentil, Orchids and Lousewort as well as Milkwort and Bog Cotton. At the merse; Ringed Plover, Dunlin and a single Knot amongst them. Very strange! A good day's birding.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Gannets and Puffins

A cracking day birding on the Rhinns again - spending a considerable time at Frenchman's Rocks. Gannets by the dozen, Shearwaters, Razorbill, Arctic Terns and two Puffins really close in on the sea just below us. We also had a glimpse of a wee pod of Dolphins moving through too. A great day for our custom tour honeymoon couple from Germany!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Golden Eagle 1 Trout 30!

We headed for the hills on Friday and have just returned. Guiding three chaps from Kent who usually only see Islay in the winter whilst coming here for the geese. Well, summer was really here and we watched an Eagle fly over our wild campsite and a Peregrine taking a Mallard just thirty steps from where we camped, witnessed a Hen Harrier hawk the hill, listen to Snipe drumming and a cuckoo calling well into the night and enjoyed Common Sandpipers as we fished the rare and high lochens. Plenty for tea each evening and enough catch to put back too!

Dragon flies, Otter prints, Adders and beetles kept using looking and watching for three uttterly peaceful and magical days.