After an absence of one week I'd like to welcome you back to this weeks Islay Nature and Wildlife report with news from the bird blogs on Islay, two nature reports from Jeremy Hastings with Geese and bird migration news and other relevant snippets from the last two weeks.
First another fenomenon of mother nature... Yesterday I wrote about the first storm on Islay last Sunday and Monday and at the moment of writing the wind is still very strong with gusts up to 40Mph. Today the ferries from Kennacraig are redirected to Port Askaig and it looks like this situation can occur more times this week, certainly on Saturday when again 56Mph winds are predicted with waves well over 20 feet. The Magic Seaweed website gives detailed information about the current and predicted wind strength and wave height on Islay's westcoast.
The Islay Birds blog: Ian writes on Thursday: "On Oronsay, James had 40 Grey Seal Pups on shore and reckons that there are around 300 pups over on Seal Island just off Oronsay." In the same report Ian mentiones several groups of whooper swans which I also saw that same day flying in a V-shape towards the south in the evening sunlight. Later on I saw many of them at Loch Indaal. There is also a very nice image of a Goldcrest on Ian's blog and a picture of the swans too. Continue reading.....
Hundreds of Gulls and Jackdaws in a field near the Monument at Bridgend
Last weeks Islay nature report, nr 40, by Jeremy Hastings, the Islay Wilderness Guide: Another wildly spectacular week. The weather has bounced back and forth with cold, rain, wind and sun and of course bringing with it hopeful movements of of birds from far away places. Autumn, like Spring is a time of movement and arrivals as well as departures. years of natures ways have gotten us used to these opporunities and for nature watchers it is like a super delicious meal. The strater being that of birds gathering - the last few swallow did that this week, then there is the main course of new arrival - Barnacle Geese in their thousands - the RSPB at Gruinart had their largest arrival in one day last Sunday! and to finsih we have some suprises like long tailed Ducks, Scoter and Divers showing themselves in Loch Indaal. All is not finsihes however and Whooper Swans arrive - and if you look carefully enough waders also can suprise and delight; Black tailed Godwits, Plovers and Dunlin and not forgetting Sanderling too. One may even be lucky to see a vagrant or two- astray that has go off course from the far west Atlantic. Yes it is that time of year and we are happy - happy to part take in this marvellous mystery of migration and even more so at witnessing it on a day to day basis.
Barnacle Geese at Loch Gruinart
This weeks Islay nature report, nr 41, by Jeremy Hastings, the Islay Wilderness Guide: World on the move - another wild week on Islay! Lots of birds arriving and just as many departing. Swallows have been less apparent. Although at Port Charlotte 3 have been seen around the back of the Lochindaal Hotel and up beyond the old school. Ducks off the shore around Loch Indaal have been good to see too: Long Tailed, Scoter, Wigeon, Scaup and Eider. Whooper Swans (cygnus cygnus) have been piling in with large numbers seen overhead heading south. These are such fantastic birds in flight - so graceful and full of majesty too. Interestingly they need large areas of water to live in, especially when they are still growing, as their body weight cannot be supported by their legs for long periods of time... so spends much of its time swimming, straining the water for food, or eating plants that grow on the bottom. The Whoopers that come to Islay have bred in Iceland although they have been know to breed in Northern Scotland and Orkney too. Very rarely it can be found in North America. Their main target is England noteablely the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reseves of Slimbridge and Welney Marshes. A handful do overwinter here on Islay. These magnificent creatures pair for life and and their cygnets (young) will hang about with the parents all winter. As they arrive and disappear as migrants they hold a special place in European folklore. I have found a particularly beautiful video of these creatures which was made in Japan. A long way away but stunning all the same. Of course the Barnacles are still the stars of th eweek spreading out to Bridgend as well as Gruinart BUT we did have two cracking Golden Eagles along the Glen Road yesterday afternoon. Fabulous.