Saturday, July 9, 2011

Slight changes afoot? 9.7.2011.

Out early and had the "reward" of coming across three different male Hen Harriers hunting over separate and previously known breeding areas , which was quite encouraging as the season so far has been far from uplifting. Hopefully they've all got good broods!

A migration watch over the Sound of Islay showed a definite movement north (?) of adult Common Gulls ( no southward moving birds at all! ) and a couple of small parties of immature Eider moving through. Contrasted against personal studies looking at movements off the west coast of Islay these movements are really intriguing, maybe little more than local , but somehow I don't think so given the Common Scoter which went through recently. Some birds do seem to use the Sound as a short cut through to feeding areas in the more open waters to the SE of Islay between us and the mainland, others appear to use it as a direct migration route ( Common Scoter, Grey-lag Goose, Arctic Terns , Kittiwake). Friend and colleague , James Wolstencroft, completed various studies off mainland Argyll coast a few years ago and had very little moving in what is the Sound of Jura and yet the remaining member of the questioning triumvirate interested in this subject, Andy Schofield, had Arctic Skuas moving east along the south coast of Islay in spring that were obviously going to move northwards through the Sound of Jura. If you're confused at this point, then I recommend a peep at a map ( the Sounds in question are either side of Jura ). Certainly few, if any, Arctic Skuas move through the Sound of Islay in any season and the once thriving colonies on Jura are now a thing of the past. So more work needed I think!

The new ferry, Finlaggan, appears to be back in service after a couple of failures since its inauguration, its more rapid appearance up the Sound disturbing a Red-throated Diver , which I'd not located previously so a bit of a win-win situation!!

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