Given the rain lashing against the window today, it is difficult to believe that this week has provided warm sunny days fantastic for the butterfly surveys that we complete. These not only tell us how well butterflies are doing here, but because we share our data, it helps inform a national picture of how well species are doing and whether there are changes in their distribution or annual lifecycle.
One of the most noteworthy sightings, spotted by one of our sharp-eyed residential volunteers, was our first record of Small Copper (below) this year on The Oa.
It has also been good to see Grayling (below) floating tantalizing along the cliff tops and then disappearing as they land on rocks and bare ground, where they quickly orientate their bodies with their wings closed to become invisible to the casual observer.
If visiting the reserve, other species that we are currently regularly seeing include: an abundance of Green-veined Whites, fresh Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshell that have recently emerged and will now have to look after themselves to make it through the winter, the odd Dark Green Fritillary which are reaching the end of their time on the wing, Small Heath, Meadow Brown and the energetic Common Blues (below).
What a week it has been in RiO, medals coming in from every direction - congratulations Team GB you are doing fantastically.
However, we have one gold, here on The Oa, that they don't have....
Our majestic resident Golden Eagle have been showing well recently. If you are on Islay, join one of our guided walks on a Tuesday and we can try and help you spot one, or give you some tips or where to see them.
It's not just the Golden Eagle that have been conspicuous either:
Sparrowhawk can regularly been seen hunting along the roadsides at the moment.
And it is a tough life being a Common Seal, 'chillaxing' in the rocky bays around the reserve.
Some 23,530 Manx Shearwaters were counted in 2 hours flying west out of the Minch off the north coast of Tiree from first light on 8 August 2016. This is the largest passage count for the species ever recorded on the island and may possibly be the highest yet recorded in Scotland! The movements of a deep depression from the Atlantic created perfect conditions for a bumper count with strong to gale-force winds switching from SSE late on 6 August, to SW on 7 August, to W that night and finally to NW on the early morning of 8 August - perfect for funneling huge numbers of seabirds against the north coast of Coll and then Tiree as they headed back out of the Minch at dawn. Other birds caught up in the movement included 272 Gannets, 89 Fulmars, 32 Kittiwakes and smaller numbers of Great Skuas, Storm Petrels, auks and a single Pomarine Skua. The Manx Shearwaters were probably mostly from the nearby island of Rum, which holds the largest breeding colony of this species in the world.