Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Islay Birds Tuesday


A cold and strong wind on Islay all day today with rain showers in the morning but sunnier in the afternoon. In the morning we drove around the perimeter of Loch Gorm, checking the fields for geese and marshy areas for general wildlife. Geese of three species were well-represented of course and waders included Curlew, Ringed Plover and Golden Plover. The strong wind meant that many smaller birds kept a low profile but we found Stonechats, plenty of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and good numbers of thrush species.

A short walk at Machir Bay allowed us to locate some Twite, a couple of which were singing in the grassy dunes, up to twenty Chough and good numbers of pure-looking Rock Doves. Most of the gulls on the beach were adults in superb summer plumage with a mixture of Common, Herring and Lesser Black-backed almost glistening in their different shades in the sharp light. Distant Gannets patrolled the mouth of the bay.

Following more roadside scanning we popped in to the burn-side location of the Islay Woollen Mill and Sarah located a Dipper working the stream above the weirs. Some feeders there attracted good numbers of Chaffinches and Blue and Great Tits. Lunch was a pleasant affair in a High Street cafe in Bowmore

We subsequently checked out Port Askaig but apart from a Black Guillemot and some distant Red Deer we couldn't see much in the bright spring sunshine. Some snow on the Paps of Jura reminded us that the temperatures had plummeted somewhat! Barry had spent some quality time in the hides on the Gruinart RSPB reserve and taken some excellent wildlife images, including some close Snipe. He also noted Greenshank and Pintail among other water-birds using this site.

We finished the birding day with drives down minor roads and scanning over the rolling moorland and freshwater lochs. New island birds for the trip included Red-legged Partridge, Tufted Duck and Barn Owl!


Neil M


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