Wild Islay Birding Newsletter

Hello wildlife watchers,

First of all I must apologise for the total lack of news from us for a year. It is not hard to do a newsletter but after doing social media updates the newsletter gets put to the back and you eventually forget about it.

So from now on it is not going to be bi-monthly, we have decided to do a four yearly entry for the newsletter. This will roughly be in line with winter, spring, summer and autumn.

This is not to say don’t follow us for regular postings just do this via social media, we are on Facebook and Twitter, addresses posted at the end of this newsletter. There is also the popular Islay Birds blog, http://islaybirds.blogspot.com hosted by Ian Brooke.

Anyway back to birds and wildlife seen over the last year. As I write this the geese and swans are starting to leave Islay heading north-west again back to Iceland, Greenland and Canada. Numbers of Barnacle Geese & Greenland White fronted Geese have all been down this winter with a poor breeding season last year being attributed to this. Over this winter (2018-19) we have had very few unusual geese, a handful at most, some small Canada & Cackling Geese.
Last spring & summer our resident birds and migrants had a good breeding season, Stonechat and their cousins the Whinchat were being seen with broods of 3 – 5 young. Robins, Dunnock and Blackbirds abounded around the island.

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When out with visiting wildlife watchers we were getting great views of otters in various locations around the island and we picked up a few watchers through having seen the excellent BBC Winterwatch broadcast from Islay in January of last year (In which we assisted with).

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So yes we have had a great last year a good number of people out wildlife watching and some great birds & wildlife seen from Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Bottle nosed Dolphins and Brown Hare.
Bird wise we have watched Corncrake, Red billed Chough, Hen Harrier and Starling murmuration. Golden & White tailed Eagle interacting makes a great spectacle for people to see, to compare size & behaviour of these two magnificent birds.

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We watched the wader passage in the spring with good numbers of Whimbrel, Curlew, Ringed Plover and Godwits passing through. The Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe were all out in force in spring calling and displaying prior to breeding. And then the return passage and over wintering of some birds.

Waterfowl have also been showing well with Mallard, Eider and Shelduck all breeding successfully. We had good numbers of Shoveller and Teal over winter.

Rarities for us have shown up here on Islay, a couple of them being Little Egret and Tree Sparrow. So we are always on the lookout for that unusual bird. But the wildlife watching highlight of the last year has to be the Octopus stalking the mice on the shore at a local distillery.

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So I will leave it there for just now but we have not disappeared. Remember newsletter is going to be winter, spring, summer & autumn. So follow us on the addresses below for regular updates.

On Facebook & Twitter

Gary Turnbull

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