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Islay Spring Wildlife Expedition: 4th-8th March 2024

Islay Spring Wildlife Expedition: 4th-8th March 2024

Wildlife Summary

4th - first afternoon

We all met at the Kennacraig ferry terminal and started with the ferry trip to Port Askaig, but before even boarding the ferry 2 White-tailed Eagles (WTE) flew over us at the terminal!

Through West Loch Tarbert we had Great-Northern, Black-Throated and Red-throated Divers, Black Guillemots, Red-breasted Mergansers, 5 Common Scoter, a Goldeneye, Shags, Eiders and a few Harbour Seals.

Down the Sound of Islay we saw a few Kittiwakes and Razorbills and Red Deer on the moors of Jura.

Heading straight to a local fresh water loch from Port Askaig,where a 2nd year Golden Eagle greeted us on arrival!

Heading round the west we found a Juvenile Glaucous gull at Bridgend, a new species for all the guests and a suite of common wader species.

Making our way west to a nature reserve for Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted geese as well as 2 WTE and lots of Brown Hares before we made our way around Loch Gorm to our base.

5th - Day 2

We kicked the day off by heading to the north shore with just a Great-Northern Diver of note.

A windy morning with odd showers meant heading to the hides at Loch Gruinart seeing the common duck species, Little Egrets and distant Golden and WT Eagles, But a close ringtail Hen Harrier flyby stole the show.

We had lunch at the centre before heading to the north point. Every field seemed to have Brown Hares and 33 Whooper Swans and Goldeneyes on the loch. We eventually found 18 Chough, a mixed flock of Linnet and Twite flew by and a male Hen Harrier drifted through.

As it drew towards the evening the wind settled, so we headed to Loch Indaal finding Long-tailed Ducks, Slavonian Grebes, Great-Northern and Red-throated Divers, Eiders, Common Scoters, Goldeneyes and Red-breasted Mergansers before heading off to Loch Gorm to enjoy the sunset.

We finished the day with a night-time wander and a spot of stargazing.

6th - Day 3

Only 10 mins from the house, we started the day in spectacular style with a Juv Golden Eagle from the roadside which twice attempted to catch a Brown Hare unsuccessfully, so caught a Common Gull instead! Far from the end of the action, a pair of WTE’s came in and chased the Goldie off its prey and took into what was left!

We then headed down the western peninsula and the Grey seal colony in the harbour before heading round the local moors, which were surprisingly quiet on the raptor front but we did see 2 Chough and a Pink-footed Goose.

Back round to the east side for a check for the Red-breasted goose. Sadly no sign in a thorough search, though another Pinkfoot did fly over as did another WTE.

We then headed to Kilchoman Distillery for a dram. On leaving 3 WTE gave a great flyby and a male Hen Harrier over the fields distantly.

We saw the day off with a sunset wander at Machair Bay and 2 Chough heading to roost.

7th - Day 4

A Woodcock for 2 of our guests and 2 Choughs were a good start before heading down to the SE of the island primarily checking bays for Otters… without success.

We did find Red and Fallow Deer, Harbour Seals, Great-Northern Divers, 18 Whooper Swans, 2 WTE and a brief Golden Eagle.

Heading on to The Oa for lunch and a wander up to the monument tin blustery conditions with good views of Twite and feral goats.

Laggan bay was next stop but before we could get there a Golden Eagle then and a WTE a bit further down halted progress. Tea and Cake admiring the waves and scenery at Kintra before heading back up to Gruinart for another failed Red-breasted Goose search, though another WTE, a Merlin and a male Hen Harrier were good consolation.

8th: Last day

We packed up the house and on leaving, the 2 local Choughs gave us one last flyby.

We headed to the east of the island through the Gruinart flats once again, where A Juvenile WTE flew through and a Russian White-Fronted Goose amongst the Greenlands was a good spot and scarce bird on Islay.

On to Loch Finlaggan where an Adult WTE flew through, then onto our Otter mission on the east coast. A wander along the coast produced a few Harbour Seals, but on arriving back to the distillery we got brief and relatively distantly views of a big dog Otter before heading to the ferry terminal at Port Askaig.

A choppy ferry journey to the mainland, even through Loch Tarbert, but a few Great-northern and Red-Throated divers, Mergansers and a Long-Tailed Duck were spotted. We ended the trip at the terminal and said our goodbyes

Species list: 95sp Birds and 8sp Mammal …

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