It was a special afternoon today because Mark and Helga from Islay Studios visited the Netherlands this week and we met them both today. They had a nice time over here and I had the chance to show them around in the area where I live. Afterwards we had lunch together in Noordwijk before we dropped them off at the airport. It was good to meet up with them and talk about our favourite island.
Back to another Mark: already some time ago I found a trip report about Islay from Mark Finn who runs the site Birdwatching Breaks and visited Islay several times. The trip report I am referring to was from December 29th to January 3rd in 2003. I'm always keen to read other people's reports and write about them on the blog and I would like to quote a few paragraphs for you:
December 29, cloudy with occasional rain showers, 7c. Passed Port Ellen maltings taking the back road to Bridgend. Quickly found flocks of Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted Geese feeding on grassland. Common Buzzards also encountered. At Bridgend we stopped on the north side looking over the exposed mud of Loch Indaal. Barnacle Geese roosting in there thousands. Waders present were Eurasian Oystercatcher and Bar-tailed Godwit. December 30th, overcast with sunny spells, cool winds. 4c/7c. Travelled west to the depopulating village of Portnahaven the most westerly point on Islay. The harbour is a quiet backwater holding Northern Lapwing and Eurasian Curlew but little else. En route to Bruichladdich a pair of majestic Golden Eagles entertained us at close range, superb views. December 31st, overcast with persistent drizzle, 4c. Headed down to Kintra near Port Ellen with the weather deteriorating en route. Fields here held Fieldfare, Redwing and almost 500 Common Chaffinches feeding in a stubble field. Golf course had Greenland White-fronted Geese. Returned north to Loch Skerrols (second picture) where our luck changed as we located a vagrant Canada Goose and two Pink-footed Geese feeding with the two common species. As dusk fell thousands of geese came into view one of natureâ€™s spectacles. In the evening we enjoyed a Hogmanay meal and afterwards a firework display. Continue reading....
January 1st, overcast with occasional showers, 4c. We went along the High Road to Ballygrant and turned right to Port Askaig. Stopped at the woodlands where a Goldcrest flitted in front of us. A beautiful male Hen Harrier flew over the wood looking for prey. Decided to end the day again at Loch Gruinart as the weather was starting to deteriorate. Usual birds present outside the hide including the sought-after male Green-winged Teal. January 2nd, persistent rain with strong winds, 4c. Today was truly miserable weather-wise making birding almost impossible and birds especially passerines hard to find. We headed towards the cliffs of Sanaigmore checking agricultural fields for pipits, finches and buntings in addition to geese. Ended the day looking into Loch Indaal. A weather dominated day although we recorded the second highest day total of the tour. January 3rd, sunny and cold, 3c. Today dawned bright and clear with ice on the windscreen of the minibus. An early breakfast before making the journey down to Port Ellen for the 0955 ferry back to Kennacraig. Arrived at Glasgow Airport where we said our goodbyes. An end to an enjoyable and productive few days on Islay.