Sunday, 24 August 2008

Gathering till 5th September

Rhona and I are off to teaching and run workshops at the Gathering on Monday. We are meeting up with Tink down there.

Stuart is here running walking safaris. Hurray!
We will not be back till 5th September

Rhinns and French

Another perfect French day! We dropped in to see Stuart - who runs our Walking Safaris and ended up drinking coffee and birding from his terrace. Thanks! Loads of seabird movement; Gannet, Shearwaters, Auks and Kittiwakes too. Up along the west coast and Ringtails twice and Chough too. Linnet and Twite in wee groups. The off to the airport to bid them farewell.

Saturday, 23 August 2008


Yes, we went to Jura today. It was good for our French folks experiencing a really remote place. With sunshine and rolling clouds as well as a later storm! We had time to visit the marvellous gardens and also see Hen Harriers, Kestrels, several Corvids and plenty of sea birds: Gannets, Guillemots, 4 Scoter, Eider and the odd young Balck Guillemot too. We called in on Bruichladdich distillery on the way back and Debbies for a grounding coffee and debrief - it was raining by then......

Friday, 22 August 2008

French Folks and Missing Wife

Day one of a three day custom tour with a couple from Northern France. Down along the South East coast birding and whisky tasting - Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Lagavullin - goes very well! We had cracking views of Gannets and a couple of Skuas too as well as Merlin, Swallows, Martins, Common Sand and Oystercatchers. Then returning to Bruichladdich via Kilchoman and Machir Bay. Chough, Buzzards, Raven and two Golden Eagles. As to the missing wife ...well I hope that my responses to your emails are almost as good as Tink's! She is in another country at the moment way down south in Devon visiting family. Missing wife - I sure do!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

ITV and Otters

Today I was out with Martin Clunes of ITV making part of a programme about islands and Islay especially. We were watching and filming a great big dog Otter, trying wild food and having fun in the wilderness! Yesterday was spent preparing. Excellent chap, good fun crew to work with.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Sea Food Bisque!

Out in the south east teaching adults wilderness living skills. Today they were honing their wild cooking and having made a superb shelter and kept the fire going - no easy task in these damp conditions the skill of wilderness cuisine came into play. Plenty of birds to keep us occupied - Oystercatchers, Heron, Gannets and gulls and early this morning I watched a Treecreeper just at head height on a Beech tree finding breakfast too. With Mussels , Cockles and Limpets prepared on a bed of Sea Lettuce and Sorrel it was quite a feast. To finish a cup of Nettle tea in the warming sunshine. 

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Wet and Wild

After yesterday and a family bushcraft day where we did all the usual wilderness living skills AND witnessed lots of Sea Trout literally boiling in a pool at Gruinart this morning the tour was very wet and wild. Around the Merse where we found some shelter we watched waders; Dunlin, Sanderling, Redshank and Oystercatchers, the odd Bardwit and Curlew too, as well as the pair of Buzzards just sitting damp in a tree. It started to dry early afternoon but our folks had a ferry to catch and carried with them memories of a great holiday on Islay.

Friday, 15 August 2008


..was show day and it seemd that all of Islay were at it. Little rain and mostly bright meant
lots of folks having a good time, chatting, watching the beasts and horses and enjoying the falconry display. Rhona and I had plenty to do at the Islay Birding Stall as well as lots of visitors too. A good day was had by all.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Dawn, Merlin and Islay Show

We were out at 0400hrs today. Still dark but when we got to Ardnave the light was showing and th emist hung like a morning/mourning mantle. Four Chough sat on the barn roof and Greylag called from the loch. Lots of gulls were coming in and more Greylag too. In one group there were over 100 birds. There were alot of waders: Barwits, Dunlin, Plover, Oystercatchers and Curlew. We saw a Tawny Owl and lots of Buzzards and on our return a Merlin shot low over the moss. Later in the day Rhona and I with the help of her boyfriend Finn (thanks) prepared for the Islay Show tomorrow. Hopefully the sun will still be shining.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Back from the Wilds

Having been running yet another wilderness living camp since the weekend - this time for boys. Rhona and I taught fire husbandry, selter building, water purification and finding food. They had plenty of fun, meanwhile Stuart was guiding folks at th ebottom of the Rhinns, plenty of Gannets, a couple of Bonxies and a possible Pom. Skua so good for him and his gang too!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Saturday Birds

Yesterday despite the foul weather in the morning I was out with folks as it promised to clear by midday and by 11.00 we were wader watching on Gruinart: Sanderling, Dunlin, Barwits and Curlew, Plovers as well as plenty of Oystercatchers and the odd Grey Heron as well. We headed southwards seeing hirundines feeding at Couillabus and Red Deer on the hill. Raven footered about on Borachill Mor. At Carnain there were more waders yet no sighting of the poss. Bairds Sandpiper from earlier in the week. Buzzards hung around on the trees behind us and Pied Wags were feeding young. The sun even managed to shine!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Bushcraft and wilderness living day

Out on the South East coast today. Lovely weather and a great time. Teaching an extended family how to be comfortable in the wild places: Fire Husbandry, Shelter building, finding food and water. Such fun an dlaughter. We watched Grey Herons, Herring Gulls, Oystercatchers, Turnstones and Curlew. On our way back a Sparrow Hawk exploded from a scruby hedge sending finches everywhere!

Thursday, 7 August 2008


So it was. We travelled from Caol Ila to Bruichladdich. No Otters at the distillery but good views of Jura, Mull and a superb view of a Ringtail at Finlaggan - we watched it for a good 1/2 hour. Wheatear, Linnet, Dunnock, Goldfinch and Buzzard too. Then down to the Merse. We scanned
the departing tide line and found plenty. Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover - including an albino one and a Little Stint too. Then a possible Bairds Sandpiper. We all looked carefully noting the diagnostics including the long projecting primaries but the light was variable and it was quite mobile so I was not happy to call it 100%. I telephoned Catherine at the RSPB to pass on the message and John Armitage too. We headed on and found Andy form the RSPB at the other end of Uiskentiue and told him. He had a suspect one the day before but again too far to commit. We left him to head off to find it. We ended at Debbies, Bruichladdich, for a coffee; Great Northern Diver, Gannet and Black Throated Diver for afters! Returning to the Merse, via Blackrock; Scoter, Eider and Shags, to finish and drop off our clients. The sea was even further out so viewing was not as good, although as we arrived everything went up as a Peregrine stormed through. Cracker!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Snipe 3 Swifts 2

A cracking day's birding with some superb vews of super birds. Apart from Gannets and Shearwaters at Claddach, earlier we had 2 Swifts float past at eye level and 3 Snipe flying overhead. With Linnet, Pipits, Chough and to finish, a Golden Eagle, sitting on a post which, obviously, was the icing on the cake of a marvellous day.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Family Wilderness Day

having spent the last Saturday drying out and sorting kit then going on to oragnising and riding
The Ride of the Falling Rain VC d'Ardbeg 100mile cycle event on Sunday, today found Rhona - our high capable assistant and I teaching a family about wilderness living skills. We had time to seal watch and carefully observe four Eider Duck eating mussels - just hwere we wanted to be. Most amusing. The sun shone and we enjoyed the good weather - fishing, fire lighting and cooking wild food. Fantastic. Meanwhile Stuart was out with a birding family watching Gannets at Claddach.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Wild Stramash and baby Vole

Back home after a week in the wilderness. Hen Harrier, Goldfinches, Linnet and a handful of Twite as well as plenty of Swallows too. Lots of plants to ID and insects as well - like this Gold Ringed dragonfly.
The youngsters explored, did some conservation work (Rhoddie bashing) and spent a night in the caves. They also realised how hard it can be when the rain is non stop for three days! Meanwhile Stuart - yes the splendid knowledgeable chap who runs the Walking Safaris has also been busy with showing folks the Gannets feeding off Portnahaven, enjoying wee birds and Buzzards too. Best all all though he was with a group this afternoon observing a baby vole. There's something!