Welcome to this week's report with some snippets of Ian's Birds Blog and Jeremy's wildlife whereabouts. The Islay Birds blog mentions a pair of Buzzards that were displaying, the male initially carrying a large twig/small branch in its talons and doing a fly past, several times, before eventually coming to land down beside the female. There is a nice image of a snow bunting pictured near Ardnave. Furthermore Ian mentions that the month of March has come in like a lion with high winds and lashing rain. A quote from Wednesday's post: "With the lull in the current stormy weather there was a chance to carry out the "Beached Bird Survey" on the Big Strand below Laggan Point towards the Airport. The only casualties found were a single Shag and also a Razorbill. Possibly with the recent high winds other birds could have been buried in drifting sand, or on the other hand there were no other birds which in itself would be good!"
This weeks Islay nature report by Jeremy Hastings from Islay Birding: It has been a wild week â€“ winter returned with a vengeance on Monday and continued into Tuesday too. Big winds and hail and high Tides held everything to a standstill. On Tuesday we watched Chough struggling along the escarpment at Uiskentuie and the Rooks who seem to crowd around the muck that is regularly spread along the grassland there were hugging the ground! Wednesday was absolutely cracking and I was out with the new Factor of Islay Estates. We watched Chough, saw a pair of Golden Eagles, found a fledgling Rock dove (very early) and spent a lot of time Roe Deer watching and photographing them. You will see from the images I took that the Buck(male) is â€˜in Velvetâ€™ this means his new antlers are still growing and the velvet is to protect them as they become strong ready for the summer months and eventually the rut. Fabulous. In the coppice woodland the work is already showing rewards with primroses popping up everywhere! A handful of Snow Buntings, that have been very mobile are now settling at Ardnave and one can regularly get good views of them. Gordon Yates, film maker extraordinaire, has been up imaging them. There will, no doubt be a review elsewhere! Continue reading.....Further to the images of Roe Deer, on Islay, very little is known about the numbers and they seem to appear in all sorts of places. Primarily, in Britain, it is a creature of mixed woodland but, as shown on Islay it is expert at adapting to a variety of habitats. It can even be seen in town parkland and other â€˜open spacesâ€™ if there is enough cover for it to rest up. Interestingly enough, Roe Deer have been around since the Mesolithic Period, but in Medieval times it was almost hunted to extinction and, in fact by 1700 it was indeed considered extinct in England south of the Peak district and in Wales too. It even disappeared in Scotland except for the Highlands and Islands. Re-introductions in Southern England gave it a chance to repopulate. Although once, a over hunted sporting quarry, itâ€™s recovery is due to estate owners and keepers making sure it grew steadily, in fact, so much so that it was once again, at the start of the 20th Century, had to be driven in large hunts and even snared (ugh!) in order to control itâ€™s spread. Strangely enough nobody knows the number of Roe Deer in Britain although there are plenty of estimates varying from 0.5-0.7 animals per suitable hectare. Using these figures we have been able to calculate that in Scotland alone there are now between 500-600,000 of them! They do a lot of damage to crops and young woodland and so although a great creature to watch they do come in conflict with agriculture and other interests. Originally the Lynx would have been its main predator â€“ they are only present in southern Europe and if you wish to see them you will have to go to Spain! Interestingly, in our coppice there are a family and we are trying to work out a habitat management programme in which we have some sacrificial young growth that allows the Roe deer to enjoy and live in the woods as must as we do. I personally think this is possible although we are still on a very steep learning curve. From a cuisine point of view Roe Deer produces delicious venison â€“ so much so that the Queen celebrated her birthday with a meal of Roe Deer venison!
Beautiful capture of two Roe Deer