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A Close Encounter

November 9, 2008 at 1:24 pm


Well here we are home again after a spectacular two weeks on Islay and with a heavy month of film shows ahead.

As I drove up the drive to the Golf Club on my first day back I noticed a Carrion Crow feeding in a field to my right, suddenly a Peregrine Falcon flew downwind in front of the car rapidly homing in on the Crow. At the last minute the Crow realised the danger and avoided the hundred miles per hour stoop of the Peregrine – it was like being back on Islay again!

I encountered my first local Fieldfares of the Winter this week – a flock of twenty. There are few Rowan berries this year but the Hawthorne crop is very heavy so it is now the search for the Waxwings as they move down from Scotland. We had none last Winter so lets hope for better luck this year.

An unusual sighting this week was a Roe Deer on the Golf Course at dusk. The first I have encountered overwinter.

Whooper Delight

November 2, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Whooper Swan

After last weeks stormy weather the last seven days have been much better with the last two being the best Autumn days I have ever seen on Islay. We have had four days with snow on the hills which is unique for October

At long last we were able to film a large gathering of Whooper Swans resting and feeding in a stubble field. It was interesting to watch some of the young feeding whilst sat on the ground – their flight from Iceland had exhausted them so much they could not stand up!

On one of the two magnificent days we were able to establish a record that will take some beating – seeing seven of Islay’s diurnal raptors in one hour! (Golden Eagle (2), Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk (male and female), Kestrel and Merlin)

In the two weeks we searched for Otters on five days and saw one on each of four days which is the best ‘hit’ rate we have ever had.

The largest group of Fieldfares that we encountered was thirty and these were feeding not on berries but on fallen apples in an orchard.

As we drove home on Saturday we received a call on the mobile, from the owner of a garden on Islay where we had been filming, to inform us that six Waxwings were now feeding there – my favourite bird, missed by only hours – you can’t win them all!!

Stormy Weather

October 25, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Port Charlotte

Despite the conditions we looked for Otters on two occasions and scored on both days. One was fishing in raging seas in the South East of the island and the other was disturbed by a fisherman checking his lobster pots, so no film was obtained of either.

The highlights have been filming seventeen Snow Buntings feeding on seeds on a remote beach and finding five Crossbills in a pine plantation feeding on Spruce cones.

A surprise has been finding a Red Admiral butterfly sunning itself during one of the brief sunny spells.

Return of the Long Tailed Tits

October 17, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Long Tailed Tit

At last Long Tailed Tits have turned up in the garden with eleven feeding together on the seventeenth at dusk.

Still no Fieldfare but on the sixteenth three parties of Redwings (30, 33 and 40) flew over the Golf Course in a South West direction. The Siskin flock has now increased to thirty five, they were feeding on the Birches.

The rabbit problem on the Golf Course seems to have been solved with a Buzzard eating one on one of the fairways.

Time To Go

October 12, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Tawny Owl

One night this week the young Tawny Owl was giving some very hungry calls from the trees in the garden and it may well be that the adults have now abandoned it. It will be a steep learning curve for it from now on

The Green Woodpecker has re appeared on the golf course and has been seen on two consecutive days. Two Grey Wagtails have been regular along the stream and the Long Tailed Tit flock peaked at fourteen.

Skylarks are still moving South in good numbers but no Fieldfares have yet arrived and the Redwings seem to have moved on.

Four Days Late

October 5, 2008 at 11:37 am


On the third October the first of six Redwings of Autumn were feeding on the Hawthorn berries along the canal – four days later than last year’s early record.

A Buzzard was hunting on the Golf Course and there are still Goldcrests present and Jays are everywhere with the good Acorn crop. Several parties of Long Tail Tits are around and a Speckled Wood butterfly was seen on the third October.

Greenfinches continue to increase in the garden with a peak of twenty four on the fifth October.