Tuesday, 31 March 2009

peregrine fly by

Cracking afternoon having got back from teaching kids in Keills about the benefits of cycling I was out with folks around Gorm till dusk. Sandmartins, Barnies, Whitefronts and Greylags. the good light enabled us to get excellent views of Teal, Goldeneye, Curlew, Lapwing and a Peregrine storming by. On our retune to Port Charlotte we enjoyed watching Great Northern Divers and coo-ing Eiders.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Vote Earth

what are you doing this saturday night....?


make your vote count

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Gyr falcon and correction

Lots of us went Gyr falcon spotting today - Ian Brooke found and photographed it - brilliant - well done! Yesterday I omitted the final calculation in the plane vs ferry - it has now been added so check the entry. For 5.1 full (29 seats) flights in/out of Islay you can use the ferry all year! On an average 'flight-out-of- Islay' week, it would mean that you only have a couple of days worth of flying compared to a year of the ferry...hmmmmmm

Friday, 20 March 2009

back from London out birding

Fabulous to be back. having travelled down to London all on public transport WITHOUT flying. Interestingly I was asked today about flying vs the ferry and coach to Glasgow. So I spent some time researching and using the magic calculators. If you have a return flight to Islay you use a total of 100kg of CO2 per flight - the smaller ferry uses approx 1500 tonnes of CO2 per annum - so if you wish to fly, then for 150 flights alone you could use an empty ferry for the whole year! ( and yes, it is possible to travel off Islay by other means than flying) As the plane only takes 29 passengers then it would only be 5.17 full flights to reach your ferry equivalent If you still insist on flying then try offsetting. Getting here needs consideration. Here's the good news: birding today was magical. Golden Eagle, Hen Harriers, Peregrine, Sanderling, Wheatear and House Martin were high lights. Finally at Killiallan a full summer plumage Red Throated Diver was a delight.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

sundays nature notes

It is that time again, the circle is almost full with the arrival of spring, the long winters have drifted back to a mostly distant memory. geese are spread out and seem to be more mobile, thinking of heading off. Divers are starting to take on their summer plumages and this week I noticed, and was able to share with clients, (which was even better) a Red Throated Diver in full summer plumage. Wonderful.
When one sees such a sight one cannot help but marvel at the box of unlimitless suprises that nature can gift us.

Spring is nearly upon us and already the lighter mornings and longer evenings bring people out of houses and preparing gardens, talking of nature and generally observing with eyes afresh. The light is always good at this time of year, clear and true. Showers pass and wind rattles doors and windows to remind us that winter can recall it's favour to spring.

This week I saw the first two lambs, banks of daffodils, Fieldfare and Redwing arriving and Long Tailed Ducks (Old Squaw) yet to leave. behind the house in sheltered corners Lesser celandine - Ranunculus ficaria - is clearly seen and Willows are in bud.

With the recent full moon barnacle geese have been flying and feeding at night and sometimes one can hear them over the house and quietly feeding in the fields at the back of Port Charlotte, as well as lots of other places. We must enjoy them to the last for soon they will be away , far away to iceland then Greenland to breed before their cycle begins once again.

Today, Lapwings and Curlews displayed and guarded territories, a hen Merlin sat in the lea of an old stone gate post and Gannets drifted past Saligo. The light was just perfect.

Spring, full of new hope and growth, is really nearly upon us. It is welcome and like the new born lambs we are happy!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Long Tailed Ducks

It was a strange day - weather wise. damp and misty but from a birding point of view we had some cracking views of ducks and waders. Pale bellied Brent at Blackrock - close enough for photgraphs and then a lovely Scaup flock just off shore. Barnacles rose from the grass to settle again as a grey heron flew over. From the Gaelic College we had superb views of Divers, Barwits, Turnstones, Dunlin - two with dark bellies, and a handful of Knot too. Displaying Goldeneye were a delight as well as 3 Scoter, a couple of Slavonian Grebes, one great Crested and a pair of Long tailed Ducks - as we picked them up the sun burst through for a magical moment. We finished at Skerrols with 26 Whooper Swans gently calling to each other amid rafts of Tufted duck.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Sun later with Golden Eagle

It started damp, and wet and windy and sort of cold but we had the landy to bird from and we found all three divers; Gt Northern, Red and Black Throated, Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones and Mergansers too. We then headed south from Bruichladdich along the west coast. Lunch was spent eagle waiting..... we were rewarded having watched Barnacles, Whitefronts and lapwing. the the eagle rose up into the, becoming blue, sky. fabulous. We finished with Chough and more divers. and now, as I write the sun shines in an evening sky.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Birding Japanese

Despite the utterly foul weather today we got out birding with Japanese folk. Starting in Bowmore we headed around Tallant, watching displaying Lapwings, Starlings and Heron too. Upon the hill a Golden Gagle was spotted being mobbed by ravens. It then disappeared, we got the kelly kettle out for some warming hot chocolate and then we picked it up again further down the glen. It closed on us and we could see it's golden mantle, head and plumage too through the murk. Later we had Chough, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Barnacles, Whitefronts, Fieldfare, Whooper swans and of course plenty of wee birds too including a cracking flock of Reed Buntings. Plenty of new species for our Japanese guests.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

connections....too stupid to save ourselves

...isn't about time we stopped whinging and actually took responsibility?

reading today

it is serious for birds and if you follow:

It shows that maybe the age of stupid is really upon us.

I have been struggling with how to lessen the use of our landrover and use a carbon offset scheme (even those have oddities about them). We already use biodiesel when it is available. One needs to sit down and spend a bit of time thinking about it. I have come up with a wee solution, making sure the routes I chose are more economic, and of course, less is more. Do I need to run the landy on a particular day. Can I walk or bike? We have had a serious eco policy for the time that we have been operating and stick by it!

As of today I am introducing Birding and Biking - and last year we came up with Walking Safaris - also, suprisingly more popular than we thought. Ask me more....

The main problem, as I see it, is over use of vehicles and office buildings. Why oh why, with the age of video conferencing, twitter, emails, ichat and skype do large organisations that purport to care about nature still insist their staff fly???!!! This is even more galling when I know that they really care about the environment yet cannot see that they are part of the problem. In fact we all are. Last week we had some highly eminent avi-scientsts on Islay to discuss the plight of the Greenland Whitefronted Goose. They came from Greenland, Iceland, Eire and the UK. They showed us how they had used aircraft to monitor and study the birds, in fact they arrived by plane. Hmmmm! An they said they all believed in global warming. It was seriously adding to the fall in numbers of these wonderful birds.We know global warming/climate change is caused by man's activities - and largely by flying. Can they not see the irony here? There are alternatives, yes some do take longer, some are not so convenient BUT how long have we got to stop this downward spiral? We, surely cannot be THAT stupid to realise this?

I think it is about time we started to help these organisations by getting them to look at their own actions and talking responsibility. Let's ask them, how green they really are, how many flights, how many car journeys, how much heating, how much lighting...? I think the answers maybe shocking. Afterall, whether we are an individual, large corporate or charity we have responsibility to make a difference. We have a reached a point now of, it is not what you do but rather what you don't do that makes the difference.

Start now. go on - press your go button! Don't be stupid!