Cattle Egret on Islay

Last Saturday Ian Brooke made report of a Cattle Egret and published some more images today. Apparently this is the first time ever that a Cattle Egret has been seen on Islay. Ian also has an image of the Egret on his blog. Today, when Teresa Morris of Islay Wildscapes left Islay, she had an encounter with two Egrets and managed to take some pictures of one of these first time visitors on Islay. I don't know much about this beautiful bird, Wikipedia has the following information on it: The Cattle Egret is a cosmopolitan species of heron found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones. Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, it has undergone a rapid expansion in its distribution and successfully colonised much of the rest of the world. The Cattle Egret has undergone one of the most rapid and wide reaching natural expansions of any bird species. It was originally native to parts of Southern Spain and Portugal, tropical and subtropical Africa and humid tropical and subtropical Asia. In the end of the 19th century it began expanding its range into southern Africa, first breeding in the Cape Province in 1908. Cattle Egrets were first sighted in the Americas on the boundary of Guiana and Suriname in 1877, having apparently flown across the Atlantic Ocean. It was not until the 1930s that the species is thought to have become established in that area.

The species first arrived in North America in 1941, bred in Florida in 1953, and spread rapidly, breeding for the first time in Canada in 1962. It is now commonly seen as far west as California. In Europe the species had historically declined in Spain and Portugal, but in the latter part of the 20th century it expanded back through the Iberian Peninsula, and then began to colonise other parts of Europe; southern France in 1958, northern France in 1981 and Italy in 1985. Breeding in the United Kingdom was recorded for the first time in 2008 only a year after an influx seen in the previous year. In 2008 cattle egrets were also reported as having moved into Ireland for the first time.

Cattle Egret

Tag: birding wildlife cattle egret seasonwatch

First Geese Arrive on Islay

On Wednesday 30 September Ian Brooke wrote the following entry on his blog: "James's count for today tallied through at 6,695 Barnacle Geese, 185 Pale bellied Brent Geese, 1 Canada Goose hutchinsii sp, 4 Pink footed Geese & 5 Greenland Whitefronted Geese. Most of the Geese arrived this afternoon, rather than in the morning." This means that the annual geese migration has started and in the next weeks many more geese will arrive on Islay with Loch Gruinart being their first port of call. Last year most of the Geese arrived on the 5th of October and it looks like this year they are a wee bit earlier. The annual migration of the geese is, from a birding point of view, Islay's biggest returning event and to remind you how wonderful it is I have included a video I took last year in October. Enjoy!

Tag: geese birding nature migration

Barn Owl Webcam Islay

In between all the people that gather to visit their favourite distilleries, the several ceilidhs on the island and all the other activities of the Islay Festival one could easily forget that there are a lot of other very interesting things happening on the island. How about a couple of barn owls that can be seen live through the Owl Webcam somewhere on the Rhinns of Islay? The webcams are installed by the Islay Natural History Trust, same as last year. Here is the story so far:

The 2009 Owl Cam season: For this second year of our owl cam, we now have two much smaller cameras than before, giving a better view of the whole box as well as higher resolution pictures. We have left the two old cameras in place and these can be seen as circular glowing lights. The images should be in colour during the daytime and in black and white in the evening and at night. Latest news - 30th April 2009. The owl laid six eggs this year, starting in late March, and two young have hatched in the last few days.

It's a bit difficult sometimes to spot all the fluffy youngsters but from what I have seen there are now three chicks that hatched and I'm not sure what happened to the other eggs. It's best to have a look for yourself at the Owl Cam, it can be very entertaining at times!

Corncrakes are arriving on Islay

Teresa Morris of Islay Wildscapes sent me the following info this morning: "Today has been a beautiful early summer morning, at last the wind has gone and the warm sunshine has been encouraging plenty of wildlife activity. Whilst at the RSPB Reserve Loch Gruinart I met Rory Crawford one of the RSPB staff watching out for Corncrakes. Last night with the calmer weather there had been an influx of Corncrakes to the Reserve although the first birds were recorded from 20 April. Rory was hoping to have his first ever sighting of a corncrake and his ambition was fulfilled he was delighted! One was seen near to the visitor centre moving through the nettles, flag irises and ditch. The following is a sound track of its call:

Rory extends an invitation to anyone who is interested in learning more about corncrakes to join him on an evening walk "Calling all Corncrakes" on 20 May, 7pm starting from the RSPB Reserve Visitor Centre, Loch Gruinart.

Loch Gruinart Flats