RUBHA A MHAIL
A lighthouse setting that boasts a variety of different birds
THIS WAS THE longest walk taken on a week’s trip to Islay. The main goal was the lighthouse, hoping it would be the vantage point to add rare birds to our week’s list. There were several highlights, starting with three Roe Deer calves in someone’s garden at first light. Stonechats were everywhere, and crossing the river we were gifted with Dipper, Long-tailed Tit and even a Jay, which is a good bird on the island. Twite were found in several locations and, in spring and summer, I’m sure you could add Willow Warbler, Whinchat, Sky Lark and Meadow Pipit, drawing the island’s many Hen Harriers and Merlin to the location. In the bay we watched a dog Otter for several minutes and on our return someone was photographing the same individual. Birdwatching does not have to be about numbers, and some of the sightings were amazing themselves, especially the Starlings – several dropped onto the antlers of a big stag Red Deer! The lighthouse has attracted flocks of Fieldfare and especially Redwings, and a Common Rosefinch must have been a great find for the old couple that live there. I expected Long-eared Owl in the Lodge Pole Pine, but instead had a female Sparrowhawk whip through the trees. Chaffinches and Robins were present, with Rock Pipit and several Herring Gulls on the rocks. Another great moment was when a Great Northern Diver started alarming and a young White-tailed Eagle flew past on its way to Jura. We also had Black Guillemot and Red-throated Diver.