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. There is also some extra information about the Rowan Tree which Ian is writing about on his blog. First however a link to a website where someone praises the beautiful island of Islay and it's wildlife and at the same time mentions that Islay is probably one of the best woodcock shoots available in Scotland. The website is the Woodcock Hunting and Shooting site and the article I mentioned was posted there today by someone who visited the island last winter. I don't like hunting myself but for those interested here is a link to the article.
The Islay Birds blog: About a week ago Ian wrote that Gordon and Pauline Yates have returned home. "Gordon had been watching a nest site of a pair of Hen Harriers, with the male bird kindly obliging by coming in with 9 feed passes in just under 4 hours! Gordon had seen 10 Black Guillemot off Bruichladdich Pier, and also noted 3 young Kestrel fledge from one of the few successful nest sites here on the island." Gordon has updated his blog in the meanwhile and you can read about his and Pauline's whereabouts at www.gordon-yates.com.
Yesterday Ian wrote something interesting about Rowan trees: "On Thursday, on the way down to Bruichladdich I noticed 3 Rowan trees at Foreland laden with red berries, is this early, or is it possibly a sign of an early/hard winter to come?" A brief check on the internet showed that there is a lot more mythology and folklore about the Rowan Tree, specially in the Scandinavian countries. In the British Isles the Rowan Tree has a long and still popular history in folklore as a tree which protects against witchcraft and enchantment. I can recommend a visit to the trees for life website for more information about this mystical tree. Continue reading.....This weeks Islay nature report by Jeremy Hastings from Islay Birding: The penultimate week of July and the sun has shone, the wind blown, it has also rained and been very still too. At times it was midge heaven and enough to drive one mad but most of the time it has been good, very good indeed! We have been aware of and witnessed the migration southwards already! Whimbrel have been passing through â€“ I counted 97 with a birding group yesterday morning at Kilnave â€“ resting at the top end of Loch Gruinart on their way south. Smaller birds too. We have also seen Redpoll, Twite and Linnet also apparent with young. We even had a Wheatear at the top of Beinn Bheigier! At Proaig (picture right) there were Common Sandpipers, Ringer Plovers and a good handful of Artic Terns although the ons at the top of Loch Indaal seem to be less in number. Several Whinchat are around and with the Rowan in full fruit their red/orange berries attracting Mistle Thrushes. Offshore we have seen small groups of Scoter and the odd Great Northern Diver. Strangely enough the single male Corncrake that has been around the Kilrhin Church at Port Charlotte has been calling in the early morning!
The wild flowers are still spectacular: Bog Asphodel, Purple Loosestrife, Euphrasia, Rosebay Willow Herb and plenty of orchids too. The good weather looks to continue but as I write tonight â€“ Sunday â€“ there is a chilling sea har outside and views across the loch are not possible. Hopefully the sun will burn it off tomorrow ready for another week. I will be working with a group of children on a wilderness camp for five days at Gortantoid doing conservation work and nature watching as well as camp and bushcraft.