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. Already for the fourth time Jeremy mentions the lack of rain on Islay, which is becoming a problem for some of the distilleries. A few weeks ago Mark Unsworth already mentioned the drowth as well which was affecting Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich distillery and from what I read in the national media, some of the other distilleries are affected as well. Islay councillor Robin Currie however also notices the good side and said: "There has been a long dry spell but I don't think anybody is really upset about it. They have been too busy enjoying the sunshine." The warm spring and lack of rainfall are not only affecting Islay. A Met Office spokesman said: "The Western Isles have experienced their driest, warmest spring for years, resulting in a water shortage for some of Scotland's most isolated communities."
The Islay Birds blog: On Thursday 19th of June Ian writes: "Some mixed weather so far this week, even a little rain. The wind dropped on the evening of the 17th to enable a quick corncrake count: 10 calling at Gruinart plus a spotted crake, grasshopper warbler, water rail and moorhen. A barn owl was seen on the Gruinart flats and a short eared owl. The rain brought out the toads and seemed to liven up the snipe, with drummers everywhere." and yesterday Ian wrote a remarkable sentence on his blog: "A wet day at last." I'm convinced this is a sentence you won't hear much on Islay, which makes it all the more clear that the lack of rain really is becoming a problem!
John Armitage from Portnahaven, who runs the Islay Birder Blog writes that birds aren't always a pleasure: "An absolutely glorious day, which started rather early!!! Of late there has been around 60 Starlings around the garden, mainly recently fledged birds. Whilst I've not yet worked out where they roost they appear immediately first light and feed on the open land surrounding the house. Until yesterday! A little after 0430hrs, even a bit early for me, I was aware of "activity" in the bedroom and awoke properly to find two of the birds had come in through the window and were flying around and squawking etc!" Continue reading.....This weeks Islay nature report by Jeremy Hastings from Islay Birding: This week has seen rain fall for the first time properly for nearly two months. Although there was a generous centimetre in our rain gauge it is still not nearly enough to make a difference. The ground is now cracking and 'scorched' areas are more and more obvious.
We have had several highlights this week with Golden Eagles being spotted around the main areas, Buzzards and Hen Harriers and a Scoter on a hill loch! The Corncrakes have been busy calling with 10 counted in the Gruinart Area, the Spotted Crake is still calling too and we watched Barn Owls hawking on a couple of Dusk tours this week.
Four late Barnacle Geese were seen at Ardnave and 32 Storm Petrels were reported off Port Ellen by a local fisherman. The Red Deer are getting on with their antlers although the ones we have seen are still in velvet and will be for sometime to come. The image of the Spotted Fly Catcher (right) was taken whilst we were at Ardbeg!
The Arctic and Little Terns at the head of Loch Indaal, are busy on nests and feeding successfully bring in sand eels to their young. Such a fabulous sight. There are plenty of Seals at Portnahaven and Gannets are back and forth from Ailsa Craig. Manx Shearwaters and Puffins are also passing regularly. The wild flowers are magical: Orchids, Ragged Robin, Campions, Vetch and lots and lots of Bog Cotton. Tormentil and Thrift cover the ground and sea cliffs and at the head of Loch Gruinart the Seas lavender has been wonderful.