An Islay Winter

February 21, 2010 at 3:13 am

Loch Ballygrant

We have just spent a week on our favourite Hebridean island of Islay with incredible Winter weather and four inches of snow on one day. It was an unique experience to walk around the lochs and woodlands with everywhere covered in deep snow and coated in frost

There have been good sightings of Hen Harriers, Merlin, Peregrine, Kestrels and of course the thousand of geese trying to feed in the snow covered fields. Good flocks of Golden Plover, Lapwings and Bullfinches have been seen. Yes, Bullfinches in a flock is almost unique but on one day we watched parties of four, ten and fifteen feeding together in the snow covered heather. They appeared to be eating the seeds deep inside the heather, something I have never witnessed before.

This year with the severe frost in January we arrived on Islay with the snowdrops in Bridgend woods at their very best. As usual it was a breathtaking carpet of white and on more than one occasion was covered in snow!

Two fantastic days were spent on Jura looking for Otters. On one of these days we followed an Otter for four hours. During this time it rested only thirty minutes and fished for three and a half hours with a success rate of one item of prey per minute. Conditions were perfect and some good video was obtained of it fishing, eating prey and sleeping. It is always a great challenge looking for Otters and the following day what was probably the same creature failed to give us any film!!