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Thursday, 29 March 2012

The spring so far...

There’s been some fantastic early spring weather since the 21st and the east to southerly
airflow has brought in a good number of returning bird migrants. The first greenshank was back in from warmer climes on the 21st and joined by another on the 22nd, 2 redshanks were also present around this time.

The first greenshank of the year on the 21st

A single adult summer black-headed gull was also around Kinloch (shore and top fields) on the 21st and our first chiffchaff of the spring was recorded on the 23rd. Wheatears are back in, with the first report from Harris on the 23rd. The continued east to southerly element to the wind last weekend (24/25th March) produced a small passage of migrants namely a single house martin, 7 goldcrests, 3 chiffchaffs, 5 wheatear (1 merlin and a single great northern diver also at Kilmory).
Chiffchaff, Kinloch 23rd March

Male wheatear, Kilmory.

Goldcrest, Kilmory
All of our resident birds are getting on with the business of breeding with song thrush already on eggs. Our white tailed sea eagles are on eggs and look likely to breed this year, but all of our golden eagles are still yet to lay (3 pairs).

The unmistakable smell of manxie goodness

Manx shearwaters are definitely back in from their South Atlantic wintering grounds, as their droppings were noted around breeding burrows on Hallival, Askival and Trollaval on the 27th.

Red breasted mergansers, eider and red-throated divers were all displaying in Loch Scresort during the past week. Great to watch.

Displaying male red-breasted mergansers (female far left), Loch Scresort.

Male eiders are now fully hot under the collar and are chasing females all over Loch Scresort

Today (29th) the weather conditions were typically dismal, with light drizzle bringing in a small passage of at least 15 common crossbills, 20 redwings and 2 starlings at Kinloch.  Late bird news not included in last spring update was a single short-eared owl at Kilmory on March 18th.  

Some of todays flying dots (redwings)

Common crossbills (males), Kinloch today 
On the none birdy front, a single European otter was seen under the bridge at Kilmory on the 22nd .The first common lizard of the year was spotted around Kinloch and 2 harbour porpoise were seen heading towards Camas Pliasgaig both on the 24th March. As expected at this time of the year our bluebells are out as well as primroses and lesser celandine.
One of the earliest of Britain's wild flowers to appear is the lesser celandine

 One of the first bluebells of spring
 Some of the last few days great spring weather in pictures...

The Rum Cuillin
Hallival and Askival from Loch Scresort

Sunrise over Mallaig
Dawn, Loch Scresort 
Sunset over Canna

Kinloch Castle


  1. Hi Mike,

    Nice to find a blog about wildlife in the Small Isles. I'm moving to Canna in a few weeks, and hope to set up a bird ringing blog for the island.

    Might see you on Rum at some point. All the best.


    1. Hi Graham,

      Thanks for joining the blog and good luck on Canna!Are you taking on Canna House garden?I will defo see you on Canna at some point over the summer, go over mostly in June to catch wheatear.Real potential for some goodies and ringing on there, and apart from Bob Swann etc (Canna Ringing Group)place isnt watched, so it's great to have someone there watching the place full time.It would be really interesting to see just what goes through.Great island and very jealous!I have been seabird ringing on there with Bob a few times in July,and that's awesome and well worth a go despite the liver failure afterwards.I dont know if you sea watch, but excellent potential from Canna in a good westerly blow in May(long tails, poms etc).I ring stormies on here come July and can be quite productive on good weather nights, same on Canna I am told. Anyway, you'll have to come over to Rum at some point.I dont really get too much involved with the manxie work on here anymore, but ring juvs in September when fledging.I'm sure I could get permission if you wanted to come out then with me.If you want to come over earlier in the season, it's probably better if you speak to our SNH Reserve Officer Lesley Watt 01687 462026 she manages MSW monitoring.

      I'm on 01687 462782, give me a buzz if you want to come over for a visit...or just want to say hi!

      Best wishes, Mike.