A day spent on Jura completing survey work. An initial bonus was a Short-eared Owl in the early morning on moorland north of Feolin and,later, two dark phase Arctic Skuas high above the Sound, which then turned east over the adjacent grass moor and commenced to "sail and circle" over what used to be a quite important breeding area for several pairs within the last fifteen or so years. Numbers have dwindled, and become more widespread on the island (Jura), making them difficult to survey, but any presence is to be welcomed. A report from 2009 suggested a pair had actually had a territory on Islay but no firm breeding evidence was available. Certainly a survey I completed for the RSPB on Jura in the early part of the decade suggested the population was down to single figures, several previous "colonial" breeding areas had been abandoned and that birds (then) were much more dispersed. My concerns, even then, was that it seemed likely we might lose them (locally) altogether, so current sightings are exciting to say the least! The population is distinct,of course, in being the most southerly regular enclave in the UK.
As I write this the weather is beginning to flex its muscles and there seems a likelihood we can expect both strong winds and rain within the next 24 hours. Hopefully so, as we can certainly do with the latter as some grassland areas on poor,thin soils are already turning a golden brown more reminiscent of grassland in the Mediterranean than one bordering the Atlantic!! By contrast, the good, dry weather of late has seen a frantic dash to get silage cut and gathered in advance of any unsettled period.