Tuesday, 10 May 2016


We headed up to north Islay for a walk around the Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve. The roads along the way are just as interesting with Lapwing chicks running around, Snipe skulking in the grass, Hen Harriers drifting past and Corncrakes crew-crex-crexing (they are the opposite of Victorian children, being heard but not seen). One must have been just metres away but just couldn't find him in the grass and nettles.

We later took an almost literal spin all the way around Loch Gorm and down to Machir Bay to see if we could find the Corncrake there (we saw one at the exact same spot 4 years ago). Again, lots of calling but just couldn't see him. Maybe we need infrared cameras!

Day nearly cloudless and hazy with a strong wind (very hard to photograph Bluebells when they're blowing around like crazy).

Loch Gruinart and Loch Gorm route

Chaffinch on gorse

Meadow Pipit

Lapwing chick

Starling nesting in RSPB barn at the visitor centre
At least 3 Lapwing chicks were  pecking about in front of the first hide, with a parent trying but failing to herd them somewhere safe.

Slightly older Lapwing chick

Linnet in gorse



Female Stonechat

Male Stonechat


Brown Hare
A Snipe obligingly stood on a post for a while, shame it was about 50m away!


Dozens of Curlew (and gulls and other waders) were in the fields around Loch Gorm.


View from Loch Gruinart visitor centre

On the way back down the high road we saw some smoke in the distance and had been passed by some fire engines. Eventually we saw that some of the peat fields were on fire with fire fighters and beaters trying to contain it. With all the dry sunny weather the fields were bone dry and the strong winds were pushing the flames quickly across the fields. This was heading directly towards the Machrie Hotel and the houses there. They must have contained it in the end as it was out the next day but still smouldered for many dry days afterwards and the fields were left pitch black (but with a lovely aroma of peaty smoke making the area smell like whisky!)

Speaking with one of the locals later this may not have been entirely accidental; some people use it as an excuse to get rid of heather on the fields.

Peat fire near the Machrie Hotel

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