Already the third Islay Wildlife and Birding report this week and "as usual" I want to point out a website with some interesting wildlife pictures of Islay. Philip Kirkham is a wildlife photographer who lives in Lancashire and travelled, amongst others, to Africa and the USA where he took some stunning wildlife pictures. On our trips in May and October we witnessed, on several occasions and every time near Loch Gruinart, that buzzards were attacked by ravens and vice versa. Nature in the raw and we were so lucky to witness this. Last year in October Philip made a trip to Islay where he witnessed a similar event as we had witnessed and he took an amazing picture of a very angry buzzard. Later on Philip and myself emailed and he told me that he is a regular visitor of Islay and his brother in law is one of the RSPB wardens on Islay and acts as his personal bird guide!
The Islay birds blog has had a few updates as well and Ian mentions the high winds from the last days including another goose count at Loch Gruinart, which was interesting because last weeks goose count saw 40,325 Barnacle and 5,236 Greenland Whitefront Geese and only a few days later someone else did a goose count and counted 4,618 Barnacle Geese and 331 Whitefronted Geese, more about that in Jeremy's entry. Other interesting sightings: 3 Hen Harriers were also seen out quartering over the reserve hunting for prey. Other raptors seen were a Sparrowhawk and a Merlin, as well as a Barn Owl.
Jeremy's report of last week: We have had a wealth of weather this week. From cold easterlies to wet westerlies and on Wednesday night a fall of Ice/Hail and snow powdered most places white and still lies on the hills. See if you can spot the White fronts in the field below Octofad in the image.
There are still plenty of Geese around although they seem to be spreading out farther afield so the large numbers are not so obvious. Although from the figures following their numbers are up. This can be for many reasons: some time they can be missed or just, more likely movements from elsewhere to Islay where the weather is less inclement! (Ha-ha!) Goose count figures from Scottish Natural Heritage, 41,991 Barnacle Geese (+1,666 on the week) and 5,662 Greenland White fronts (+426). At dusk, though you can still capture this amazing return to the roost. Northern heading migrants, Fieldfare and Redwing have been in evidence the past few days with large numbers Around Bridgend Woods sand down on Ardtalla. Anywhere, in fact where there is ?shelter? and good feeding on green fields full of worms!
This magical winter landscape means that we can enjoy, if one wraps up well enough, such marvels as a hawking Hen Harrier, desperate for hiding food to a wee Robins fussocking around the Whin in search of a wee grub or two. All of us need to feed and at this time of year, with the cold and wet it is even more paramount.
The sea holds lots of mysteries too. Great Northern Divers and Black and Red throated too are visible if there is not too big a swell and sea duck hang around in large flocks ? namely Scaup, Eider and small groups of Scoter too. A handful of Long Tail ducks are still hanging around ? I saw them on Wednesday from the Ionart Challuim Chille Ile. Along Loch Gorm four Whoppers loafed ? and yesterday ? Saturday there were seven and at Springbank we had a cracking Merlin although this morning whilst out with Velo Club Ardbeg we did not see any. A couple of Buzzards accompanied us along by Gorm east ? but by then we had th e wind at our backs and were able to look around a bit more! Now it is quiet, even the wind has died and Loch Indaal is flat calm.
Port Charlotte and the snowfall of last week