From this week onwards Jeremy Hastings of Islay Birding will submit a weekly report with the highlights of Islay wildlife and special sightings of birds. The report will appear on Sunday nights on this blog added with other snippets of interesting wildlife news. Jeremy also has his own news blog with regular updates. Another good source of Islay birding information is Ian Brooke's birds blog. For those of you who don't know Jeremy, here's a short introduction:
Jeremy Hastings runs Islay Birding and Islay Bushcraft which are all about Islay's wildlife, wilderness, culture and birds. Jeremy offers customised tours in his Landrover Defender for both private individuals and specialist groups. This is a fabulous way to get acquainted with the stunning wildlife Islay has to offer, whatever your level of interest or experience. A trip with Jeremy is great fun as well as a unique learning experience. During his tours over the island Jeremy covers all aspects of (wild)life on Islay. Due to the quality of his tours Islay Birding is the first wildlife experience in the whole of the UK who was awarded a five star grading by VisitScotland in 2007!
Jeremy's report of week 2: This week has been quite hectic with high winds ? the highest at 120mph! ? at the airport on Tuesday night. Plenty of birds about. Long Tailed Duck and hundreds of Scaup off the Ionad Challuim Chille Ile, Pale Bellied Brent and Purple Sandpipers at Bruichladdich. Chough in Port Charlotte and at Gruinart a Bittern was seen but only once ? presumably blown in by the storm. Yesterday, Saturday, whilst out at Dunlossit there were Woodcock, a pair of Crossbills, a male Hen Harrier and a magnificent Golden Eagle. There was a blue sky and white snow capped Paps of Jura, absolutely magnificent.
Natural History News by Malcolm Ogilvie: A dead Loggerhead Turtle was reported by a visitor last week on a beach at Ardnave. On inspection, it was found to be remarkably undamaged. The carapace was 62 cm long and 57 cm wide, so it was by no means a large specimen, up to 100 cm or more has been recorded. There have been a small number of other records of this species washed up on Islay, including one found (just) alive on Machir Beach a few years ago which was rescued and released into Loch Indaal. Either it or another one left some tracks on Saligo Beach shortly afterwards.
Update: On January 6 Teresa Morris found an exotic fish washed up on the shore of Machir Bay. It's some sort of Triggerfish although it's not exactly known what the exact name is. There is an article in the Oban Times this week about a similar fish being found further up the coast on the mainland. If more info comes available I will publish it here and if there's anyone with more information please contact me. Read more about this exotic fish at wikipedia
Triggerfish found on the beach at Machir Bay
Iain Mitchell contacted me today and gave the following explanation: "Re the fish found at Machir Bay it is probably a Grey Triggerfish (Balistes capriscus) which have been found washed-up on shores as far north as Lewis recently. These fish have been regularly caught by anglers in the English Channel and the Welsh side of the Severn Estuary when fishing for Wrasse. The fish have steadily been a regular occurrence up the West coast which has been similar to the Bass which can now be caught off Islay beaches including the head of Loch Indaal. Bass are now caught around the whole of mainland Britain. Possibly all down to warmer seas?" Thanks Iain for your contribution!
Gordon Campbell contacted me in March and told me that about 10-15 years ago, his father (Hugh Campbell, Portnahaven) found one just like the one in the picture on the Big Strand. Thanks Gordon!