Little Owl Success

July 20, 2019 at 2:59 pm

This year my local Little Owls have produced two young and one of these is this week’s blog photo. Global warming is not very kind to our Owls and regular periods of heavy rain can be fatal for for breeding Owls. Both pairs of Short Eared Owls that I was watching in the hills have failed and four pairs of Long Eared Owls have only fledged six young. The rains have also been unkind to two of the Kingfisher pairs that I watch with both nests flooded once again. More photos of the Little Owls are in the gallery.Click here

Winter Bonus

July 14, 2019 at 3:06 pm

In March one of the winter storms resulted in a collapse of the bank along a local stream. It resulted in the exposure of a ten foot high vertical sandy bank which was immediately discovered by Sand Martins upon their return in April. Now, three months on, twenty pairs of Sand Martins have reared two broods of young  resulting in more than one hundred young fledging from what was initially a disaster area. Let nature take its course comes to mind. click here

Wader Disaster

July 7, 2019 at 3:52 pm










This weeks photo is of a Common Sandpiper on Islay and this species has had a very successful year this year unlike most of Islay’s other waders. The glorious Spring weather that we all enjoyed was a disaster for such waders as Lapwing and Snipe. Whilst their eggs hatched OK the young were unable to find food in the parched conditions and such hot spots as the RSPB reserve failed to produce any young at all, which is unprecedented. The Common Sandpipers were lucky in that they are still migrating to Islay and so missed the parched conditions.
This weeks gallery includes a variety of photos from our Islay visit and despite the cold and wet conditions the sun did shine on some days but the temperature never exceeded 18C. Click here

Where Eagles Fly

June 30, 2019 at 6:15 pm










Whilst most people visit Islay to see its Harriers,Chough and Geese it is becoming increasingly popular with the Eagle fraternity. Mull might be the most popular island for Eagles but Islay is rapidly catching it up with Sea Eagles now a common sight as you travel around the island. The one raptor that is difficult to find is the Kestrel and many people leave Islay, after a visit, with more than one hundred species but without a Kestrel sighting. There is an abundance of prey available for the Kestrel so competition with other raptors can only be the reason for the demise of our commonest bird of prey.Click here

Harrier Magic

June 22, 2019 at 6:19 pm









One of the attractions of Islay in early summer is the good numbers of breeding Hen Harriers. Wherever you go around the island you might expect to encounter the immaculate hunting males, even on the Golf Course! All the females are on nest duties so if any of those are seen they are probably failed birds.
This weeks Gallery is the result of three weeks working a male who had two females. One was a full adult with yellow eyes with the other a three years old bird who was moulting some primary feathers. Enjoy the photos which were taken in-between some appalling weather! Click here

Corncrakes and Whiskey

June 15, 2019 at 8:51 pm

We have now returned from our summer visit to Islay and once again the number of calling Corncrakes are down on previous years. Cold weather has not helped but this recent steady decline was blamed on the withdrawal of Government subsidies that paid the Islay farmers to leave their fields until after the 1st August, allowing Corncrakes to rear two broods of young. Some haymaking was already underway as we left Islay this week but is this early harvesting the real reason for the Corncrakes decline? – I fear not.
The Whiskey industry of Islay is going from strength to strength with one new distillery opened this year and another planned for next year. By then vast amounts of Barley will be required and already the once flower-rich meadows of Islay are being turned into continuous fields of Barley which are of no use to the Corncrake. I fear that we are already on a downward spiral of Corncrake numbers and serious research is now required to address this trend.Click here