I'm now returned to Islay from "the south" and have commenced a week's birding on home turf with a visiting friend. The weather promises a fairly mixed bag of conditions with today being fine, except at the very outset, but with a stiff south east wind.
Whilst we did some seawatching in the morning , nothing particularly exceptional was happening, although the procession of Manx Shearwater, Fulmar, Gannet, a few Kittiwake and an odd Red-throated Diver provided interest. Four obvious "Greenland" Wheatear were near to Portnahaven ( as were two later at Gruinart ) but little else appeared on the Rinns.
After an initial scrutiny of Loch Indaal we moved to Loch Gruinart which was alive with waders! Several hundred Dunlin and Sanderling fed out on the exposed Flats together with lesser numbers of Redshank, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and Ringed Plover. Out on the merse 16 Barnacle Geese were feeding and resting and we had a nice party of five Pintail feeding below us in a channel All in all we located at least five Greenshank, possibly seven, feeding along one of the longer lenses of water before we left to go back to Loch Indaal and catch the tide coverage in an optimum state (we didn't ).
Unfortunately the south esat wind had forced the tide well in to the upper parts of Loch Indaal and waders were all over the place. We set up close to one of the usually favoured roost positions where numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover were in evidence along with a couple of groups of Common Gull and Black-headed Gull. Suddenly a more interesting wader walked slowly across the sand and shingle, along with a Ringed Plover and Dunlin, and settled behind a line of detritus to gain a little shelter. Its slim shape, smaller size than Dunlin, and, most importantly, attenuated wings, indicated the Baird's Sandpiper, which had been around in this area a few days ago, was obviously still here!! Great stuff. Whilst we had reasonable views of it the blustery conditions weren't very kind and eventually all the waders moved off elsewhere and couldn't be located. A good start to the week!!