Welcome to this weeks Islay Nature and Wildlife report. Jeremy is into mushrooms and mentions wild food and I found something interesting in the wild as well as you can see in this amazing picture (there's a bigger one here). I took this picture in the Bridgend Woods, at the back of the Bridgend Hotel. It's a fungus called Dryad's Saddle. It's botanical name is Polyporus squamosus and this fungus is common and widespread in Britain and Europe. The fungus is found on most deciduous trees favouring Sycamore, Beech, Elm and Ash. I found a good source of information on the internet, which is the Arboricultural Information Exchange. I have emailed my picture to them and hope they can use it in their extensive database. About the Dryad's Saddle they write: "The fungal bracket is fan shaped and appears annually during the summer. It has a yellowish upper surface painted with light brown scales; white below. The flesh smells of meal and is initially succulent becoming dry and corky with age. The bracket grows on a stalk, sometimes in clusters. The brackets can reach a size of up to half a meter across. It can be found on low stumps but is usually seen higher on the tree stem. It is especially common on old pruning wounds.
The Islay Birds blog: On Tuesday Ian mentions the fact that just before the Isaly show the weather had broken down: "As it is Show week over here, needless to say the weather has broken down, but going by the weather forecast tonight, we may be lucky and have a better day on Thursday, fingers crossed!" The weather had somewhat improved and it was reosonably good on Thursday. Ian also wrote that there were 58 Greylag geese near Loch Gorm. Are they early winter guests or were they just too lazy to migrate with the others?
John Armitage from Portnahaven, who runs the Islay Birder Blog, wrote on Monday: "Seawatching was quite productive with ca.4500 ManxShearwater and ca.1800/1900 Gannet moving south." Later that week John writes about a serious disease amongst the rabbit population: "Rabbits.... myxomatosis is affecting many of the rabbits on the island. The big warren above the house, doubtless the reliable larder for the local eagles, Buzzards, Raven and Hooded Crows has been hit hard, although not terribly far from that area, at Claddach, the populations appear not to have been affected." Let's hope this terrible disease doesn't spread too much since it can wipe out entire rabbit populations. Continue reading.....
This weeks Islay nature report by Jeremy Hastings from Islay Birding: Although we have had plenty of weather this week from blazing sunshine to driving cold rain it has not stopped nature on itâ€™s on bound journey through August. The Hoopoe that has been around for sometime is still turning up here and there and a Rose Coloured Starling has been seen in Bowmore. There have been literally hundreds of Greylag Geese arriving on Islay getting everybody exciting thinking that an early winter is around the corner. Probably though the poor weather in the north has driven them south. The Osprey around Skerrols has been showing on occasions and the fisherman continue to report it. (And catch few fish â€“ competition eh?). The folks going for Salmon on the Sorn have seen a Kingfisher - no difficulties for them. On Gruinart the Sea Bass and Sea trout have been splashing around and some people have had Bass and trout for supper on more than one occasion this week!
With Show Day taking up much time - and welcome time too people have not been out and about as much as usual. However I have been able to collect some mushrooms and make some delicious meals from the fields this week. Mushroom in fine Olive Oil with Red Peppers and Blackberries is one. We also broke open the Brumble â€“ a traditional drink of Whisky and Brambles. Made last year it is absolutely delicious and with some friends last night we enjoyed a fine aperitif! It is a fine accompaniment to smoked Venison and freshly cooked Mushrooms.
Birds of prey apart from the ones at the show Falconry Display have been dodging the poor weather although we had a cracking Merlin half way up Ardnave and Chough in the early morning on Wednesday â€“ in misty light before the sun really got going. By Friday it was all change and back to waterproofs and yesterday we struggled to hold binoculars still... Flowers seem to manage and so do wee young birds still trying to grow in this random weather.