Islay - Blog


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Islay - Blog

  • All change!

    Well I thought I'd continue the 'change' theme seeing as it's my last day volunteering for the RSPB on Islay (sniffle)......until I return for a month in October! Hurrah! Anyone who hasn't tried residential volunteering yet, I heartily recommend it! It’s a fantastic way of supporting the work the RSPB do, even if it’s for a couple of weeks, and a truly great experience. I’m sad to be leaving even though I’m coming back.

    So, back to what else is changing around here. The last few days has brought strong winds, and the late brood of swallows nesting on the South Hide have been practicing their flying skills before their long journey south, learning how to use the wind and alternating this with clinging on to the vegetation outside the windows! Here’s a couple of pics – you can still see the white gape on this fledgling.


    And every day for the last 3 days I’ve seen a Small Copper butterfly on the trails leading up to the hides – looks very fresh. The Small Copper has two broods in the year, the later one being end July-September hence their current flight period.

    And as for the weather....


    Yes this truly is an amazing place. I'll be back! ;-D

  • Seasons of Change

    Fox moth larvae are one of the more commonly seen and conspicuous caterpillars on Islay through autumn and early winter. This is an early instar and will change colour and grow a great deal, though the yellow bands usually remain pretty distinctive.

    The change from summer to autumn is well under way here at the Oa, with Devil's-bit scabious abundant and the heather in bloom. Nettles and other vegetation are dying back quite rapidly now and there's a chill in the morning air that has had Alasdair and I looking out the heavy gloves and layers in preparation for the thrills of another Oa winter. We said goodbye to Geraint and Remi this week, both of whom have migrated south with no return date. Thanks and good luck to them both.

    This is currently the view from Beinn Mhor looking west(ish) towards Kinnabus farm and the Rhinns of Islay in the background.


  • Landscape of Change

    Silage time has come again at Gruinart - we cut late every year, after the 1st August, to allow for the late breeding corncrakes to make full use of the crop as cover for young chicks as well as a safe area to feed.

    This photo from early Monday morning shows the flats of Loch Gruinart before the cutting started later that evening.

    This was taken from Louise's tractor-spotting hide later on Tuesday. The grass is first mown, then picked up with special machinery that fills up trailers, which are driven alongside.

    This was taken yesterday evening, once the harvest had largely finished.  It looks quite yellow at first, but soon returns back to itself.  Soon we will turn the livestock out to graze the flats; this helps the grass to grow back so that in mid-October conditions are perfect for the arrival of 30,000 hungry geese!