Sunday, August 31, 2008

30th August, 2008.

Well, if yesterday was quiet over the sea today was decidedley dead!!! The wind had changed slightly in that there was more south-east in it , which is a major thumbs down for seawatching. In essence , birds moving south are actually being moved away from the coast, so it wasn't surprising very little was on offer. I stuck it out just in case but, besides a very slow passage of Manx Shearwater and Gannet, very little else came through.

Spent time scouring local areas for migrants, but with no success. I eventually came to the conclusion the day was not to be mine!!!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

29th August, 2008.

Seawatching with SE winds is never the best conditions in which to expect really good passage , and so it proved today. Nonetheless nearly a thousand Manx Shearwaters went through in three hours with numbers of Gannets too. Of equal interest were over fifty LBBG's whose passage always commences around now and can be quite short lived. Habitually they migrate along the coast, sometimes in a band within 100m. of the sea over the land itself.

Waders were also on the move with Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Turnstone and Dunlin noted. There seems to be very few Arctic Skuas this year, doubtless a consequence of their apparent poor breeding season. By contrast low figures of Great Skua are a constant feature. An early Scaup flew south along with a few Arctic Terns but little else.

Later an examination of Loch Indaal showed the overnight situation to have hardly changed with both numbers and species of waders being the same as yesterday

Friday, August 29, 2008

28th August, 2008.

Another poor day with mist and rain at various intervals. Early evening on the Rinns saw an all enveloping mist blanketing the landscape in silence,more reminiscent of November than August!!!

A series of meetings , or contacts, during the day relating to future Raven work, the BTO Atlas or the upcoming Grey lag Goose count. Spent a couple of hours alongside Loch Indaal looking at waders but nothing present that was out of the ordinary. Numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling present and doubtless will begin to fluctuate widely as successive waves of birds migrate through. A single Osprey flew north.
Of common species the most noticeable are the flocks of Linnet and Greenfinch, both species appearing to have had quite a good breeding season. Several parties, but in lesser numbers , of Goldfinch are around and Pied/White Wagtails seem to be everywhere that provides suitable feeding.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

27th August, 2008.

A rather poor day with intervals of driving rain and mist, although quite mild. Attended the RSPB "Bat Walk" at Gruinart in the evening which was marred by poor weather in many respects. Nonetheless we had a series of views, and registrations on the bat detectors, and successive parties of Grey lag Geese flew over to their roost on Loch Gruinart.
I was amused by the thought of the gentleman, who's cottage is in a similar situation to mine, ie remote, blissfully unaware of 25 people staring intently at his porch from whose roof emerged the Pipistrelle Bats until he, in turn, looked out of the window. I couldn't help thinking what my reaction would have been .......casting a view around for the space craft I suspect!!! However we're used to strange goings on on Islay!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

22 - 24th August, 2008.

Across to University of Stirling to attend the British Trust for Ornithology meeting associated with bird monitoring in Scotland. Extremely useful and good to see familiar faces. The contribution of records so far relating to the BTO Atlas Project 2007-2011 is impressive and really encouraging.
Looking forward to a big "push" on coverage for Islay and Jura during the winter of 2008 and next year's breeding season, although that achieved so far is very pleasing.

16-22 August, 2008.

A relaxing week with my eldest daughter, Ashley, visiting so little birdwatching done. Time spent talking, walking, eating, reading and watching the Olympics!!!My television watching profile has been altered considerably with a conversion to
"Come Dine with Me", "Friends", a variety of Soaps ( what happened to Jack and Vera, Len and Elsie, Dirty Den .....seems I've a few episodes of various programmes to catch up on!! ). I've been persuaded to watch out for re-runs of "Sex and the City" or the new film. Worse still my very social positioning has been severely questioned....I'm not on Facebook! The realisation that my computer address book has fewer contacts than appears to be the case for most Facebook devotees suggests a tendency to reclusiveness!!

On more familiar ground we did have a gorgeous walk across to Frenchman's Rocks with the local Atlantic Grey Seals putting on a show just below us. How they can doze upright in a strong swell is very impressive, with only the occasional opening of their dark liquid eyes!! In wonderful holiday weather ( a contra for good birding ) odd Great Skuas were moving through as well as shearwaters and Gannets. A juvenile Cuckoo hanging around locally for a couple of days was a nice surprise.

All in all, a good time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

14th August, 2008.

With very light and variable south/south easterlies it was unlikely that sea passage would be particularly heavy and such proved to be the case with both Gannet and shearwater numbers down by half compared to yesterday. Lines of passage were much farther out and across a broad front making counting difficult, particularly with a species like Fulmar, the total south again being near a hundred.

Waders appeared to be taking benefit fron the situation with passage noted of Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Turnstone, Curlew, Whimbrel and Ringed Plover. Two single Arctic Terns flew south and odd Razorbill and Great Skua noted.

Later in the day odd Wheatears appeared around home , suggesting the arrival of passage birds given none had been noted for a couple of days.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

13th August, 2008.

After a rather foul day yesterday, today was gorgeous, with open skies and warm sunshine, and it was relatively calm.
An early seawatch, after watching the women's Olympic cycling time trial and our medal success (!!), produced little variety but nearly 5000 Manx Shearwaters south in two hours, passage then falling off dramatically. Well over 100 Fulmars also went south, with one single migrating "flock" of 23! Gannets, as ever, a few Oystercatcher, a Curlew and Whimbrel comprised the rest.

A wide variety of typical autumn waders on Loch Indaal but nothing exceptional.

Rabbits....myxamatosis is affecting many of the rabbits on the island. The big warren above the house, doubtless the reliable larder for the local eagles, Buzzards, Raven and Hooded Crows has been hit hard, although not terribly far from that area , at Claddach, the populations appear not to have been affected

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

11th August, 2008.

Although the wind had only backed a few points it made a huge difference to sea passage compared to yesterday! In the same time period less than half of the Manx Shearwaters and Gannets went south contrasted against the 10th and there was little else on the move either. Three Bar-tailed Godwits south and the odd Kittiwake comprised "the rest". Blustery conditions and the wind more south west saw the birds working hard and moving through at half the speed too!

After hearing of other Wheatears on the coast farther north in the recording area it seems likely that all birds were migrants. None were in evidence this morning and nothing appeared to have arrived that was new (except the weather , which deteriorated as the day went on!).

Monday, August 11, 2008

10th August, 2008.

Fully mobile again!!
One of the things that characterizes this time of year is the large gatherings of Meadow Pipit along some of the less disturbed roads in the moorland areas. Doubtless those present at the moment are "local bred" , but as autumn proceeds the numbers are obviously turning over quite frequently, as migrants and "locals" alike move through. The population in winter is quite low by comparison. 60/70 birds on the track this morning was typical.

Seawatching was quite productive with ca.4500 ManxShearwater and ca.1800/1900 Gannet moving south. A few waders were in evidence too, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and a single Ruff. Other seabirds involved included Kittiwake, both Great and Arctic Skuas, Fulmar plus a lone young Puffin on the sea , the only auk seen.

Young Wheatears were in a couple of places and will soon be moving on. Warblers suddenly seem to be very few and far between!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

3rd/4th August,2008.

A bit restricted at the moment due to a damaged ankle but progressing!!! The 3rd (Sun) had unexpected and awful weather after hopes had been raised for change. The whole predicted weather system has now changed completely for the next few days.
The 4th was a gorgeous day with butterflies much in evidence locally ( Ringlet,
Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown and Green-veined White ).

Throughout the day it was interesting to see a (small ) progression of warblers moving through the garden. Willow Warblers and a Whitethroat, and all juveniles, feeding for a while before setting off unerringly on their southwards migration across an open field to the next scrub-clump.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

2nd August, 2008.

An absolutely splendid day.....yes, sunshine and warmth!!!! A minimal wind and, altogether, a nice day for birding.
The sea saw a consistent passage of Manx Shearwater south, Gannets moving north and south , presumably on feeding forays, with the odd Kittiwake and Fulmar between although no auks!!!
The Inner Loch area saw a good selection of waders ( Oystercatcher, Curlew, Knot, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit and Redshank ) with some passage of the latter too. Care must be taken with the varying bill lengths of Curlew to avoid presumption of Whimbrel and the yellow legs of odd young Redshank to avoid imagination!!! Hopefully the message will get around!!!
An Osprey perched on a perfectly positioned post for hunting on Loch Gorm but undoubtedley was frustrated by the now increasing water levels in terms of searching for prey, due to the excessive recent rain.

Local to home an immature Whitethroat early in the day and Willow Warbler later suggested an ongoing imperative passage of summer migrants. Oh, yes, I can actually spell deteriorate!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

1st August, 2008.

If yesterday was bad today detioriorated still further, with steady downpours being heavier at intervals and then, thankfully, coming to an end in late afternnon.Within an hour small birds were in evidence along the track from the house ( 4/5 Willow Warblers, 2 Wheatears and at least two Whinchats with what I presumed were "local" families of Stonechat and Reed Bunting ). Another hour saw the summer visitors having moved away, doubtless relieved their migrations could resume in better conditions.
The forecasts look more reasonable for the next few days with favourable conditions developing for seawatching midweek ( SW veering NW ) and, from Sunday, nights being suitable for operating a moth trap.

31st July, 2008

Awakened early to the rain absolutely lashing the front of the house ruining all thoughts of a seawatching session. Eventually it abated whilst I was on my way to the RSPB Gruinart office to discuss various survey work and to agree allocations relating to next winter's Atlas work ( on the day the breeding season work finished!! ).

Very little seems to be around but such is likely to change soon. "My" Swallows have ventured outside but it makes me wonder what the odds are on their survival with the weather being so bleak overall.