I suppose this fortnight, until the end of June, could be said to be the quietest of all the year on Islay in many respects. Last evening that vast expanse of water, Loch Indaal, carried an almost insignificant number of birds compared to its role in winter when hordes of duck and waders abound, and at passage periods when successive waves of migrants occur. The passage of high Arctic waders has finished, indeed the first returning birds will soon be encountered. However, resident numbers of breeding birds remain such as Mallard, Shelduck, odd Teal, Mute Swan and waders like Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Curlew and Redshank. Some are failed or non-breeders, some accompanied by their clockwork broods of youngsters. The occasional Red-throated Diver can be encountered too, feeding well out in the loch along with odd auks.
Occasionally an odd Whooper Swan or Barnacle Goose might remain due to being slightly injured and unable to undertake the long migration back to their breeding grounds. At the moment a single, injured Greenland White-fronted Goose has been in the Port Charlotte area consorting with Grey lag Geese and spending its time wandering up and down a valley from one wetland area to another.
We ought not to grumble,of course,given our long list of "avian attractions" we play host to ( Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Chough , Corncrake, Black Guillemot, even Hooded Crow ) , all of which are apt reward for the visitor. On the other hand, anticipation of the commencement of autumn migration fires up every birder's enthusiasm and such is not now long away.
Two species continue to register as being around in lower numbers than previously. The normal colonies of Arctic Terns appear not to have formed to the same extent as in previous years and Greenfinch now seems to be at a very low ebb. This latter trend commenced at the end of last breeding season with few juveniles around, very few birds over the winter and seemingly depressed numbers of breeding pairs this spring. Terns do fluctuate, of course, and they can soon move away if first breeding attempts fail, but both trends are worrying.