Back to normal after a few recent "technical hitches". After the promise of good weather the outcome was rather disappointing with mist and light rain at various intervals throughout the day. Not the best day to be standing out on Jura for several hours doing survey work, but there you go!!
Not an exceptional or active day by any means but sightings of Red-throated, Black-throated and Great Northern Divers ( seen below ) in the Sound of Islay lifted the spirits somewhat.
Two other sightings were noteworthy. Last winter (2010) I discovered some Light-bellied Brent Geese in a secluded location on Jura. There was no further opportunity to check the outcome at the end of last season, or earlier in 2010/2011 for that matter, but I was pleasantly surprised to see 20/25 today at the same location. Whether they are actually there all winter, or move in from elsewhere in spring, is open to examination. Certainly the "Islay birds" seem to have reduced in number in recent times! Another item to add to the checking out list!
The other sighting involved a Golden Eagle on the Islay side of the Sound. Circling over a dark hillside, its general shape and colour were lost in the gloom and darkness, but its "golden head" continued to show quite prominently! Later it sat hunched atop a crag for some time until it was lost in a wave of descending mist.
On the way home I called in at Loch Skerrols where numbers of Whooper and Mute Swans are still present along with numbers of Wigeon, Goldeneye, Teal, a male Shoveler and three of the long staying Coot. At the head of Loch Indaal a pair of Long-tailed Duck in breeding plumage showed well.