Friday, October 8, 2010

A day of Light -bellied Brent Geese.

A necessary change of schedule led to my not being on Jura, produced a slightly disjointed day but, in the end, a very successful one. The wind was still pretty robust at times with the early sea showing high white-capped waves until it reduced in late morning , only to rise again later.

A sea watch showed various birds to be on the move. Several parties of Light-bellied Brent Geese went through south, as did Golden Plover. Good numbers of Auks were also finally on the move, a few Manx Shearwater, a steady stream of Kittiwakes and Gannets, a couple of late Arctic Tern and singletons of Red-throated and Great Northern Diver. Suddenly passage subsided over the sea so I turned to completing WeBS counts for the BTO , the national monthly survey of waterfowl numbers and other "water" birds.

Whilst counting Outer Loch Indaal, upon which there was only a few Red-throated and Great Northern Divers, a flock of around 70 Golden Plover swept through south at high speed and a flock of circa.50 Light-bellied Brent Geese vacated southwards. The variety of waterfowl on various lochs was high ( I never made it to Inner Loch Indaal which would have doubtless boosted things still further!!). Tufted Duck numbers had again risen at Loch Gorm to reach well over a hundred, good numbers of Mallard were present and the first three Goldeneye of the year. Whilst present there , Wigeon and Teal were difficult to count precisely due to them feeding and resting under the bank away from the ever rising south south easterly wind!! A journey past Loch Gruinart showed good numbers of Light-bellied Brent Geese there too, so a significant movement had obviously taken place over the last 24 hours with most of the birds making for their major wintering quarters in Ireland. The RSPB WeBS count will shed light on the numbers they'd received. It's not unusual for this sort of "stopping off" behaviour to occur in either spring or autumn, very often in response to prevailing weather conditions. It will be interesting to see whether the year on modest increases we've enjoyed on Islay continue to our small wintering population.

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