Fancy A Fish?

June 29, 2014 at 6:45 pm

pair Kingfishers


After more than forty years and hundreds of hours in my hide I have finally filmed the male Kingfisher offering the female a fish. It lasts only a couple of seconds and her acceptance of the fish binds  the pair together ready for breeding. Copulation usually follows and it did but I am saving those photos for the blog in a couple of weeks time – it will be well worth the wait! Click here

A week of brilliant weather has had me out every day and it looks like an exceptional breeding season helped by an explosion in vole numbers. Barn Owls, Long Eared Owls and Little Owls are all benefiting,  as have two pairs of Kestrels that I have also found.

Around one moorland reservoir two Grasshopper Warblers were reeling away as thirty Small Skipper butterflies were on the thistles. Redpolls seem to be everywhere. On the down side a Little Owl was a road casualty nearby.

At home four young House Sparrows are about to fledge which all helps the national plight of the House Sparrow. So much for the total insulation of our attic !


June 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Hen Harrier14
Islay is in the top three places in Britain to see breeding Hen Harriers. The display flight of the male is called skydancing and consists of undulating flights, rising and falling and is difficult to film as it usually performed some distance away. The female on the other hand is much more active around the nest and during our three weeks on Islay I acquired some action shots of what is most probably Britain’s most threatened raptor. click here.

In the last week I have spent many hours in the hills looking for nesting birds. Kestrels, Kingfishers and many wading birds all seem to be doing well in the present settled weather so let’s hope it continues. The woodlands are now full of fledged tits, especially Long Tailed Tits and Redpolls which are having a brilliant breeding season.

In the garden a pair of Bullfinches have brought all four of their young to feed. Reed Buntings are now only occasional visitors.

Islay’s Seabirds

June 15, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Black Guillemot
Not many people visit Islay in Summer to watch seabirds. However, the Islay coastline is home to many different species of seabirds and during the last three weeks I have been filming many of them. Click here.

During our last week on Islay there was a huge emergence of Marsh Fritillary butterflies with up to 94 seen on the RSPB reserve on one day. On one small walk on the North West coast we encountered 13 but over the whole area there must have been hundreds. Mid Summer on Islay is a magnificent time to visit and with only five hours of rain one afternoon the weather for our visit couldn’t have been better.

Back home in the garden there are now many juvenile birds from Blue Tits and Great Tits to Starlings, Goldfinches, Redpolls and even a young Great Spotted Woodpecker. Four Woodpigeons together was a garden record.

Corncrake Spectacular

June 8, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Last week’s superb weather has had Corncrakes calling from all over the west side of Islay. In one evening alone I encountered eight different birds and whilst I did not see everyone of them some gave me great views. Best of all one climbed up a drystone wall and then stopped on top to preen – just unbelievable! Click here.

Early one morning when I was filming Black Guillemots I heard alarm calls from gulls and looking up an Osprey flew over my head and out to sea towards the rising sun.

Following on from the masses of Bluebells the island is now yellow with the best cover of Yellow Flag we have ever seen.

Greenland Bound

June 1, 2014 at 12:36 pm

A week on Islay with fabulous weather and wildlife.

In a newly sown barley field, away from the shore, upto forty one Sanderling were finding an abundant supply of leatherjackets. Many of these birds were now acquiring their Summer plumage and within two days all had left for the long journey to Greenland.

Black Guillemots are delightful birds to encounter in Summer and one spectacular dawn I took some flight shots, against the light,as they enjoyed the sunrise.

This is our ninety ninth visit to Islay and the bluebells are the best we have ever seen. The  first Marsh Fritillary butterfly appeared on the 27th with no doubt many more to follow. Roe Deer are all over the island and we have also seen two Otters one fishing on a fresh water loch which is a first for us. Click here for this week’s gallery