Last week saw the first Islay Wildlife and Birding Report and I received some very positive comments. Time for a follow up!
Amongst the many resources on the internet about wildlife in Scotland I would like to mention the wild about britain website and forum. This website has a huge amount of members from which several have visited Islay and who left their positive impressions for others to read. Trip reports and many pictures give a good impression of other people's experiences with wildlife on Islay. Richard Chew wrote a comprehensive report of his trip to Islay and also Rob Sutton wrote about his whereabouts on Islay and included some fabulous pictures. Picture top-right: Barnacle Geese courtesy of Rob Sutton.
The British Marine Life Study Society posted Teresa's picture of the Triggerfish which she found at Machir Bay. Apparently these type of fish wash up on the shore rather frequently given the many reports they have received and added on their website.
The Islay Birds Blog has three new posts this week and some of the contributors have done some extensive bird counting, given the following quote: "A count was done on the flats at Loch Gruinart at RSPB reserve which consisted of 1373 Teal, 2 Heron, 2 Moorhen, 1 Tufted Duck, 163 Wigeon, 70 Mallard, 59 Shoveler, 46 Pintail, 6 Mute Swan, 19 Greylag, 142 Lapwing, 2 Whooper Swan, Male Sparrowhawk, 34 Twite and 9 Grey Plover. The Grey Plover could possibly be the same birds on the estuary, but seen twice. The count for the Pintail was a good count as only 7 years ago, 6 Pintail was the number being counted. The Goose counts done last week were as follows, 40,325 Barnacle and 5,236 Greenland Whitefront Geese". That should give you an idea of what you can expect in this time of year!
Islay Birding Report by Jeremy Hastings: What a week we have had! Not only stormy weather but some great calm too. The snow on the Paps has now gone and the warmer Westerlies blew for a bit interspersed with Easterly and Northerly iciness (if there is such a word). On Friday it all blew up again and on my wee hand held anemometer it was gusting force 8 at Port Wemyss on Friday midday. The waves were spectacular as they crashes across the skerries around Orsay and gave the whole place a very salty taste!
Nature in this weather is interesting to say the least: Fulmars ? normally out at sea at this time of year, had gathered on their nesting sites ? being sensible and sitting it out! Barnacles and White fronts struggled in the fields and when they took off they just sailed away!
Nature wise it has been a great week: Already some birds are moving on their migration ? we had over 100 Redwing on Islay Estates ? all in one corner of a field. They will probably be here till early spring before they head north to their breeding grounds. Raptors have been most visible: Three Golden Eagles, 5 Merlin, Sparrowhawk and a couple of Peregrine all making themselves known this week on different parts of the island as well as Hen Harriers too.
I spent a day working in the coppice wood and was delighted to see a good flock of Long Tailed Tits working their way around. I have been busy cutting wands for SNH to use for supporting streamers in newly seeded field to keep the geese at bay! A system that works pretty well. From a game keeping point of view the shooting parties on Ardtalla and Islay Estates have reported records of Woodcock. This maybe be not what some folks wish to read but it is part of Islay life and whether one approves or not it is a big factor in the way the island is managed.
Today was the best of the week for me. My clients and I went out east to escape the wind and were treated to three Otters for most of the afternoon. One single Dog and a pair in two different bays. The flat sea and calm water meant fantastic views and very happy nature watchers!
Update: brian just told me that a Minky Whale has been washed up on the shore near Port Ellen last Friday. More about that, and perhaps a picture, in the next report.