Saturday, October 16, 2010

14th October, 2010. Here at last!!

A wonderfully calm day with flat water and grey conditions of visibility!

A day on Jura which opened with the view of a White-tailed Eagle looming over the Port Askaig ferry terminal as it made its way down the coast. Despite being out for several hours afterwards I never saw it again, although a Golden Eagle sat, sentinel like, for a long time on an exposed crag on the Islay side of the Sound.

Despite the supportive conditions little was on the move, as previously. Sightings relieving the tedium included Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk and close views of a Harrier jet (!), but few seabirds were in evidence.

Returning to Islay much later the few Barnacle Geese which had arrived yesterday had been supplemented by many more. At least 1500 were at the head of Loch Indaal, with small parties joining them at intervals and other groups peeling away and flying northwards across to Loch Gruinart. A flock of 21 Whooper Swans exchanged muted bugling calls, a sound I think is particularly evocative of this time of year when they're passing through. One carried a yellow leg ring which, as they gradually moved towards me, I'd visions of being able to read. Suddenly the volume and intensity increased and, as one, they rose and flew off SSW, doubtless on their way to an habitual wintering area in Ireland or on the Solway Firth.

Many of the geese were resting, often an immediate prerogative after an exhausting flight. Others busied themselves preening and simply taking time out, with others it would seem in the sheer nature of things ,moving around and calling out all the while, which made for a very dynamic throng. Their arrival like this is almost a spiritual event each year and with our landscape until next spring never being bereft now of their calls and presence. The Grey lag Geese, which have been utilising the merse over the past few weeks, appeared to accept this major intrusion and the whole area was one of pleasant confusion!! Amidst all this, a flock of over 50 Pink-footed Geese rested quietly on an exposed sandbar, presumably before contemplating the next leg of their journey further south.

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