Welcome to this weeks Islay Nature and Wildlife report with, as usual, news from the Birds Blogs on Islay, a Nature report from Jeremy Hastings and other nature snippets. Picture right: autumn woods at Loch Skerrols.
Autumn is in full swing showing off it's many vivid colours which are a pleasure for the eye, specially when the sun is out. The days are getting shorter, the hills are colouring brown, the temperatures getting colder and mushrooms pop up in the woods. The first winter storms are peeking over the horizon, ready to strike when the season progresses towards winter. In the meanwhile the Geese are making preparations for their long journey south and some of them, the first quartermasters, have already arrived to inspect their winter grazing fields. Autumn is my favourite time of year and I found a nice poem by John Muir that reflects some of these feelings:
In autumn when the trees are brown
The little leaves come tumbling down
They do not make the slightest sound
But lie so quietly on the ground
Until the wind comes puffing by
And blows them off towards the sky.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn.
The Islay Birds blog: Ian writes about autumn too on Tuesday: "With the weather being kind to us again, the farmers are doing their best to get the few remaining barley fields combined and also the straw baled. The weather has almost got an Autumnal touch to it, good harvest weather with a hint of ground frost at night. The leaves are starting to fall off the Sycamore trees, they got a burning with the salt air earlier on." and on Wednesday Ian writes: "On Loch Gruinart itself, the group of 17 Brent Geese were still there." and on Thursday Ian is in an autumn mood when he writes: It was good to see the Geese again, but on the other hand, it brought it home to me that it is that time of year again, October next week and so the year rolls on. Continue reading.....John Armitage from Portnahaven, who runs the Islay Birder Blog only posted once and wrote: "The flats at Loch Gruinart held 5 LB Brent Geese and a party of Barnacle Geese were resting up in a field nearby, no doubt recovering from their recent journey southwards."
This weeks Islay nature report by Jeremy Hastings from Islay Birding: Another amazing week - warm and then cold, sun and then rain. With more Dolphins being spotted from the ferry, Marsh Fritillary Webs in the fields, Golden Eagles on the wing and a Cuckoo on a wire it has been quite a spectacular seven days. The Farmers now have all the harvest in and the birds just love gleaning in the fields. Rooks and Jackdaws in enormous numbers and wee Linnets and Twite also hang about in flocks up to 100! Skylarks and Meadow Pipits seem the default birds this week! We still have Swallows flying, although it seems the House Martins have finally departed for warmer climes. Some Barnacles and Greenland Whitefronts have been seen arriving. Only a good handful and then wind went round to the south so everything was on stop once more. This morning, Sunday, a friend had nine Whooper Swans heading over his house in Port Weymss. A Rose Coloured Strling has been around Bowmore all week. Sea Duck have been arriving as well: Scaup, Scoter and Pintail as well as large numbers of Wigeon and a few Slavonian Grebes as well.
A neighbour found this young Merlin in his byre with a Swallow too, after hearing much commotion! The Red Deer Rut is well underway with the hills fill of roaring and if you are lucky you may witness a clashing of antlers and a good fight too! There has been a French Film crew around once more this week making afilm about Whisky and Nature. I have been guiding them which has meant very early pre dawn departures for great sun rises and Greylags leaving their roosts. In the semi dark the sounds of dawn are amazing and occasionally we have witnessed Barn Owls have a final hunt of the night. Life in the nature goes every on and soon Autumn will bring us more and changes are afoot.