Islay Nature Report 25 January - Burns Night

Jeremy Hastings: The rain has been pretty incessant. In order to obviate such wetness we escape out doors away from the cosiness of a warm stove and cups of tea into the teeth of the gail. Sometimes, I can join both my favorite outdoor activities together: naturewatching and cycling. If you have a bicycle it is a great tool for getting you close to nature and being part of it without any disturbance. You can stop and start whenever you need or feel the urge to. It is non polluting and keeps you fit too - and if you want to you can stop at Debbies in Bruichladdich for a coffee and look for Great Northern Divers off the beach - it happens!

Riding this week along the top of the Loch Indaal a fabulous group of Oystercatchers took off right in front of me gliding along a wee whilst keeping me company then sheared off heading for the beach. The light was just spectacular and for a moment everything was enhanced, the black and white of the birds, the steel blue grey of the sea and the streaks of wind whistling across the strand. Earlier, on the same ride I had met up with brian palmer, he of the magnificent Washing Machine Post. We rode out beyond Red Houses and up the glen and eventually returning via Mulindry. I noticed a hen Merlin on a post and then she flew alongside us, in the field next to the road. We were travelling at 30kph and the bird was equally happy. All of a sudden it took off across the greeness. What a view. 'Merlin' I cried but it was to no avail - we had already seen it and it was gone. Passing a moment in time. Continue reading....In the past I have had some amazing encounters awheel with birds. I remember one late evening, and unlikely for Islay, still spring night and as I rode along I was aware that I was being accompanied. I looked over my left shoulder and just above me no more that 1 metre away was a Barn Owl. We rode together for 1 kilometre! It was an exquisite situation. The stillness and quietness and my globe of light cutting a way through the darkness. Never to be repeated.

It is not always like that, a friend of mine was once attacked by a Buzzard - he did have alot of brown hair and it was the in the days before helmets - maybe it thought he was a rabbit. It was quite a shock!

Anyway back to this week, what with the Barnacles in new fields trying to find more grass and Purple Sandpipers finding yet more ways to get out of the wind line and House Sparrows (that we share our house with) tucking into the fat balls and peanuts, it has been an eventful week. If you wish to keep up with my adventures on a daily basis have a look at my twitter (yes truly)

Other relevant Islay Wildlife and Birding Information Resources:
- Jeremy's News Blog
- Previous Islay nature reports By Jeremy Hastings
- Islay Seasonwatch by Teresa Morris
- Islay Birds blog by Ian Brook
- Islay Birder blog by John Armitage

Tag: birding rain encounters cycling

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