Jeremy Hastings: Quickly, winter once again hit with a vengence this week. Apart from ice and snow on the hill it was a bitter north wind that had everything looking for even the slightest shelter. The garden birds ate and ate and ate. Peanuts and seeds being decimated on a daily basis. And so when winter bites it does so with sharp teeth. This is good for us all. The geese are still busy finding food and going from field to field and we see more birds round and about too. lapwings and Golden Plovers and Curlew between Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte, always a delight to see and hear too.
Up the glen across to Kilchirian the resident Hen Harrier and Merlin fly searching for wee birds to hunt. There are plenty of those that the moment, meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Finches abound and will exploded from the landscape at the slightest sniff of a raptor (bird of prey). Some creatures are no so fortunate as we witnessed this week with a untagged Sea Eagle that had taken, we think, a Grey Heron. of course the Heron would have also had it's fill of wee fish or frogs... and so the circle continues. Continue reading.....
This seems a wee bit doom and gloom on reading back, however it is nature and it is red in tooth and claw, a Hare gets hit by a car, a Buzzard has breakfast. It is the way things work and without such then it would be a very different place.
Then there is the calmness of the view in the early morning, from here in Port Charlotte. The sun rising over a white backdrop, Bowmore nestled in a blanket of peat smoke and glistening reflections of a blue loch. Look carefully and maybe an Otter will (wow!) appear or a Great Northern Diver float along. If one is very lucky, like this week, an Iceland Gull will fly in front of you, distinguishable by it's all white wings telling one of the lands that it has come from. Interestingly I was cycling at the time, heading out to Bridgend to see the Barnacle Geese. My cycle computer read 25kph and as I rode the gull flew alongside - both of us checking each other out! For half a kilometer it flew beside me and then it dived off over the Pale Bellied Brent Geese. It was looking for something to scavenge.
We know it is winter, and as we return from our wrapped up watching we can sit around the peat fire, savouring a dram and sharing stories of what we have seen this day. sometimes it is very little, sometimes lots. But it is enough to know that we liev here and witness what we see on a daily basis. There is no rush.
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