Wildlife 4 Kids - Family Friendly Wildlife watching on Islay

Fiona MacGillivray of Green Bug Productions sent me an email today with a link to a new and interesting Islay Website. Being an ecologist, artist and mother of a young child herself, she realised that it's important for families to get to know the best and safest places for them to observe and learn about the wonderful wildlife on Islay. Fiona MacGillivray has lived on Islay for 14 years undertaking work with RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the local Islay Natural History Trust. Surveying all manner of flora and fauna, managing a natural history centre and leading and organising wildlife activity sessions with families and schools.

The new website, named Wildlife 4 Kids, is all about family friendly wildlife watching on Islay. On the new site Fiona gives general information and also what wildlife can be found where which is split up in three sections called birdwatching, mammals and habitats, rockpools and minibeasts. In this section you can also find a map with wildlife images, clicking on them will send you to a new page with information and images. Another interesting section is the sites to visit section with an overview of twelve places on the island and it's main features and wildlife. Continue reading......

Islay Host to International Meeting

Islay will play host to a landmark international gathering of bird conservationists and government policy makers bidding to halt the rapid decline of one of Europe’s iconic birds, the Greenland White-fronted Goose. Over fifty experts from throughout the world range of these geese are expected on Islay between 24th-26th February to develop an international action plan to help them survive. Organised by Scottish Natural Heritage, in partnership with the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study group, the three day conference and workshop will bring together experts from Greenland, Iceland, Ireland and the UK in response to growing concern that declines in both breeding productivity and population numbers now threaten the survival of these geese.

The world population peaked at 35,600 in 1999. Numbers have since tumbled by nearly a third to just 23,200 last year. In Scotland, SNH has listed the geese for conservation action under the Species Action Framework. SNH Area Officer Rae McKenzie said: 'It is fitting that we host this international gathering here on Islay now, whilst the geese are present. At this time of year visitors, delegates and conservationists alike can see at first hand how the geese are part of Islay’s characteristic winter landscape and understand how their migration binds together far flung neighbour countries in a common effort to ensure their survival.' Conference Chairman, and SNH Head of Policy and Advice Professor Colin Galbraith, said: 'This conference... will bring all the knowledge, experience and expertise on Greenland White-fronted geese together here on Islay. Our objective is to distil these elements into a robust strategy to manage the risks and threats to the birds’ survival. Continue reading.....

Carl Reavey Interviews Gordon Yates

This year Gordon Yates and his wife Pauline will be presenting 'An Arctic and Hebridean Odyssey', the first half of which is shot in Greenland and Spitzbergen with some lovely shots of walrus, bearded seals, and exotic birds such as the ivory gull. The second half will be tour around some of the other Hebridean islands with footage from Arran, Jura, Colonsay and Skye. The many hundreds of Ilich who have previously been to a Gordon Yates film show will need no persuasion to return, but if you have never been and have even a passing interest in wildlife, then please do come to the INHT on Thursday evening 19th February for what is one of the natural history highlights of the year.

Wildlife photographer Gordon Yates has visited Islay some eighty times since 1976, shooting hundreds of hours of film concentrating largely on the island’s spectacular birdlife. He now spends an average of ten weeks a year here, splitting his time between his native Lancashire where he films wildlife among the Pennine Hills he loves, and journeys to more exotic locations.

Gordon was first introduced to the wonders of nature at the age of four by his father who had a 'mild interest' in natural history. He was held up to peer into the nest of a hedge sparrow and Gordon still remembers being amazed by the delicate moss-lined structure holding four lovely blue eggs. His interest was also developed through watching those early ground-breaking natural history programmes; particularly 'Look ' with Peter Scott which first showed the revolutionary 'Woodpeckers' film shot by the German photographer Heinz Seilmann. Seilmann had filmed the interior of woodpeckers nests by cutting away the back of the nesting tree’s trunk - and put together a half hour programme, in black and white, which caused an absolute sensation at the time. It received viewer ratings similar to the FA Cup final. Continue reading.....

Canvasback Duck on Islay

I like birds, in fact I love to observe them, but I'm far from a real birdwatcher like Jeremy Hastings, Ian Brooke or John Armitage who all live on Islay. My "life list", a list of birds spotted in my lifetime, is rather short, specially compared to these experienced birdwatchers. I do however can imagine the excitement one must have when witnessing a very rare bird, and that's what happened to John Armitage from Portnahaven yesterday, when he spotted a Canvasback. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says: "a Canvasback is a large diving duck, the Canvasback breeds in prarie potholes and winters on ocean bays. Its sloping profile distinguishes it from other ducks." It further states that the Canvasback is from North America, so how did it end up on Islay? John Armitage has been trying to find more answers as you an read in his entry from yesterday. The birding forum has a special breaking news topic on this sighting and a picture too. Congratulations John!

Tag: birding wildlife canvasback