Friday, January 10, 2014

Routine , but enjoyable day.

After a couple of hours or so of  necessary admin work I finally got out mid morning and decided to do some seawatching given opportunities had been restricted so far.  It wasn't particularly notable , but single adult Gannet and Kittiwake occurred, both of which I thought were particularly early in their appearance. Odd Red-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver offshore together with "cruising"  Fulmars and a couple of parties of auks flying south was about it!  A single Guillemot in the bay and a couple of Black Guillemots flying around further out provided a bit of variety.

Moving through the nearby village ( Portnahaven ) , where Rock Doves and Starlings fed side by side on food provided by locals whilst Herring Gulls glided overhead, I called in at the "recycling bins" to offload a few Christmas bottles (!), and looked out across to McKenzie Island.  Odd young seals dotted the rocks, but a small shape caught my eye within the Sound. Difficult to pin down at first it proved to be an adult Puffin, rather scruffy with its head colour and bill colour muted and still developing , it was feeding energetically quite close in to the shore line.  Occasionally dead birds are found in winter along strand lines usually after storms , for example at Machir Bay, but it certainly has not been proved to breed on Islay in recent years, although small numbers are seen off SW Islay in mid summer from colonies further north, when they are probably on feeding movements. Nonetheless, a nice confirmation!

Moving on I completed a WeBS count of Outer Loch Indaal, whose boundary finishes previous to Bruichladdich,  at which point the "InnerLoch" is deemed to commence. Given the weather conditions it was near perfect for a count. Sadly, very little was present in the absolute outermost parts of the loch , but 15 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser, a few Eider, 17 Common Scoter, odd Guillemot and Razorbill and several Shag  were present in what might be described as the " Outer Middle Loch".  Insufficient time was available to do a full survey of the whole loch so complete totals will be compiled later once the large section from Bruichladdich to the head of the loch can be completed

Returning towards home I placed an area I'd suspected as being suitable for a harrier roost under observation given I'd had odd birds in the area there in the past.  However, such was not to be and no birds were seen!!  you can't win them all!

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