Another day out goose counting in what turned out to be fine and mild weather conditions. A real joy to be out and seeing Islay at its best.
Our route took in Loch Gruinart and its wider surroundings , so bird variety was high , with quite high numbers of Barnacle Geese around too. Our early arrival on the Ardnave Penninsula, in the sense of starting there this time contrasted against it being the finish point, meant we caught the geese before any foddering out had been done. They're a lot easier to count when they've not been disturbed and have spread out in several flocks.
A nice female Merlin hunted along a wall line, and then conveniently perched close to the landrover , showing no fear whatsoever. Later, a realisation that a flock of passerines comprised exclusively of Reed Buntings was a reiteration of how common they are here and how lucky we are at not having experienced the reductions seen elsewhere. We've suitable breeding habitat aplenty on Islay and, therefore, seasonal food availablility could prove critical, but doesn't, given the number of stackyards around and stubble left overwinter. Years ago , when doing some winter ringing of Reed Buntings in West Yorkshire, some birds appeared to move south and south westwards in direct contrast to birds here that appear to remain. Another species about whose lifestyle and movements we could learn more if a ringing study was completed.
The mild and calm conditions immediately provoked what appeared to be territorial behaviour by Common Buzzards in two locations, with birds floating around in close pair formation over two traditional breeding woodlands..