Friday, January 1, 2016

So, here it is, happy birding, it's only just begun!!

Dawn broke with grey skies and a cold south east wind; an all encompassing silence pervaded the landscape until a Raven croaked overhead and claimed its place as the first species for 2016. The nearby coast seemed at least worth a cursory inspection, but, as suspected, produced very little. Around 20 Fulmar already occupied the usual stretch of breeding cliff, a few Shag fed offshore but the moderate swell and boiling sea didn't help observation. A sheltered bay played host to a good party of Rock Pipit,a Grey Wagtail and a large flock of Starling working through the accumulated debris thrown high on the now elevated strand line. Moving to Outer Loch Indaal an immature Gannet was taking advantage of the calmer conditions between Islay and Orsay, but little else showed other than wheeling Herring and Common Gulls.

Moving north on the western side of the loch, odd Great Northern Diver were in evidence, Eider, a  few Wigeon, at least 28 Light bellied Brent Geese and, by now , the ubiquitous Shags. Eventually I got to the head of the loch  but both visibility and viewing conditions were deteriorating. The first of New Year's Day strollers were braving the elements causing odd wader flocks along the strand to be restless, a situation that got worse with a couple of squalls moving through.  Sitting it out produced nothing other than a few Common Scoter and venturing out produced my first soaking of the day!!!

With visibility reducing due to mist rolling in and what appeared to be persistent rain developing I decided to head for home. A rather dark male Hen Harrier was near to Port Charlotte and very distinctive. With the rain abating a little I stopped at Loch Conailbhe and was surprised to find around 30/40 Grey lag Geese, Tufted Duck , Wigeon and at least 12 Whooper Swan on what is a very sheltered loch in some respects but one that rarely has much to offer. A bonus on what now was a day with little prospect. Arriving home the south east wind rose further, with it now whining and whistling in the windows. Initially, tomorrow's forecast looked half reasonable but as successive TV forecasts emerge it rather looks as if it could be a bit of a disaster with high winds and rain.  What's new from this winter!!  But, hey, there's 365 days still remaining for the Year List   ( Leap Year remember ! ).