In this weeks Birding report more information about the Gannet, which is definitely one of my favourite birds. Gannets are large black and white birds with long pointed wings and long bills. They can be best observed at sea when they are hunting and you can spot them as well from land. Gannets hunt fish by diving from a height into the sea and pursuing their prey underwater, which is spectacular to see. Gannets are colonial breeders on islands and coasts such as Bass Rock off the coast of North-Berwick in Scotland. I took this picture last year and the white colour comes from the thousands of nesting gannets and their droppings! (click on the picture for an incredible high res image) The UK, and mainly Scotland, hosts about two thirds of the world's population of gannets. Check out Gordon's website for a close up Gannet picture
The Islay Birds blog: "Andy from RSPB reports in today saying that there has been quite a passage of both Song, Mistle Thrush and Blackbird. Also noted were increase in numbers of Goldfinch and Stonechat." And there is a lovely image available of a stonechat. On Friday 28th of March a special report was submitted: "A new bird for Islay was seen earlier this week at Craigens, a Little Bunting. It was observed by Jez Blackburn who works with the BTO. The Little Bunting was a first for Islay and only the third record for Argyll, the first was found dead at Skerryvore Lighthouse in 1985, with second seen on Tiree in Oct '07 by John Bowler. Malcolm Ogilvie says that it is regular in small numbers in the Spring and Autumn, but most records are from Orkney, Shetland and down the East coast. West coast records are uncommon." In his Saturday report Ian says: "Today, it has been rather wet with the ground saturated, and already we have had over 5" of rain this month, even allowing for the drier spell which we had earlier on in the month. Tonight, it is drier and the stars can be seen clearly." Continue reading.....This weeks Islay nature report by Jeremy Hastings from Islay Birding:
Easter being early this year has no accounting for Spring so as we opened our Chocolate eggs and hoped for spring flowers the climate was still harsh. Cold northerlies had us walking on southern beaches and sheltering from biting squalls. Gannets Sulair patrolled around Claddach and Frenchmanâ€™s rocks. Rock Doves shot up into the air scarcely floating, more driven, from perch to perch. An odd Shearwater Sgrail was noted over rough white horses. A Male Hen Harrier Breid-air-toin beyond Gearach was good and pleasing to see as it hawked the glen. We watched for some considerable time as wee birds escaped as it lugubriously flapped the hunting line below the radar height of its prey.
On Tuesday Islay Estates had their Red Deer count. Twenty people on the hill and over 2000 Red Deer counted. More about this and how it works next week. Thursday was glorious and Geese still feeding in odd places â€“ a wee filed behind Port Charlotte amid newly born lambs! Also at Bruichladdich there were still quite a few Purple Sandpipers and three Great Northern Divers too. A Little Bunting was seen at Craigens on the east side of Gruinart. If confirmed, it will be a first for Islay! Little Buntings are vagrants to Britain let alone the West Coast of Scotland. They breed and live in the high taiga of North East Europe and Russia. But with all these northerly winds we have been having it is not surprising that things will become blown in!
Saturday and the weather had not really improved but I was out with clients watching a distant Golden eagle and some nearby Chough too. Best of all however was in a stubble field near Kilchoman we watched over 300 Golden Plover in full summer plumage. White Wagtails and a couple of Wheatear too. Elsewhere SandMartins have been seen. Wonderfulâ€¦. And yet another sunset too!