Islay Nature & Wildlife Report 23

Welcome to this weeks Islay Nature and Wildlife report with a contribution from Jeremy Hastings and the highlights from the other wildlife and birding blogs on Islay. Picture right: Sunset seen from the old pier at Port Wemyss, May 2008.

The Islay Birds blog: On Monday 9th of June Ian writes: "Malcolm Ogilvie had been contacted by Richard and Mavis Gulliver who live over at Port Ellen. They had a sighting in Port Ellen bay on Saturday morning of what they believe from their description, of 3 killer whales!" and on Sunday June 15th the lack of rain is mentioned on Ian's blog as well: "The birds are busy and active with lots of fledged young starting to appear. Groups of stonechats, goldcrests and greenfinches, as well as a brood of corncrake chicks at Gruinart, whilst at Kilchoman the starlings are gathering in the willows. The breeding waders at Gruinart mostly have young now and have moved to the very few wet areas. The dry weather forcing the birds to group in high densities around the wet flushes."

John Armitage from Portnahaven, who runs the Islay Birder Blog, writes on Sunday 14th of June about the missing Golden Eagle chick: "Sadly it seems the Golden Eagles within the recording area have lost their youngster this year despite it reaching an advanced stage in growth. The site is a coastal one and it appears the youngster fell from the nest into the sea. Hopes were that it had somehow been "retained" below the nest but no evidence has emerged. This has apparently happened on a previous occasion and is a penalty associated with such a precarious location."

Gordon Yates has returned from Islay after a five week trip with news about the Peregrine in his post All good things come to and end. Gordon also writes: "As we were leaving Islay on Friday a pod of six to eight Dolphins provided an ideal send off". Continue reading.....This weeks Islay nature report by Jeremy Hastings from Islay Birding: The sun shines and clouds pass over, looking heavy with rain but none falls here! This is obviously lovely for the holiday makers here – they have probably had the best weather for several decades but for those involved with anything to do with nature are suffering: the farmers, the distilleries, the wildlife itself!

Views now turn to brown as grass is burnt by the incessant sunshine, farmer can only fertilise the ground when wet or when there is rain imminent so this is bad news for silage and for the beasts that rely of good grass throughout the year. As there is no wetness there is a distinct lack of insects, one only need to look at often one has to clean the windscreen of the Landrover to see that it is only dust that needs washing off – not wee black dots! Lack of insects puts pressure up the food chain and Chough are feeling the pinch with poor results of nestlings or even failures per se. Hirundines (Swallow, Martin etc.) need constant supply of flying insects and wet areas to take mud from to make nests too. This is not so obvious and closer to home the regular House Sparrows, of which we have had up to 24 sharing our wee cottage with are down in numbers too. Even Distilleries are laying folks off due to lack of water so things are pretty glum at the moment.

For your interest though, we have had 3mm of rain on 5 June, 5mm on Thursday night 22 May, 5mm on Saturday 17 May and 1 cm on 5 May. The last 'proper' rain we have had on the Rhinns was 9-12 April and that was 2cms! However all is not doom and gloom; Arctic and Little Terns are nesting on the strand. I love the image attached of the Arctic tern along the beach – thanks to Sarah Jones who took it whilst we were birding this week. Note how white the rump is – good ID point! Eider and Shelduck parade their young in the shallows and Hen Harriers are busy too. A Red Necked Phalarope was seen at Gruinart and there seem to be plenty of waders and Corncrakes who now have young so good news in some places! Interestingly Snipe are still drumming and a Spotted Crake still calls – obviously on the vain look out for a mate……hey ho!

Tag: nature birding wildlife

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