Thursday, 5 January 2012

Islay 1

Islay is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, so far south that much of the island is further south than Glasgow or Edinburgh. You can fly into Islay but that limits what you can take and the ferry from Kennacraig is a relaxing way to take in some of the views.

The Paps of Jura

Arrival at Port Askaig

We visited Islay in October last year with two friends and were based at Portnahaven on the south west tip of the island.

This is the view from the front of the house towards Orsay and the Rhinns of Islay Lighthouse built by Robert Stevenson in 1825.

This was the second time we had visited Islay and on both occasions we were surprised by the number of birds you could see very easily from just driving around, eg goldfinch, buzzard, chough, hen harrier, redshank, gannet, eider, raven - a lazy bird watcher's paradise.

The mild climate, even in winter, means it has a large number of resident birds and its location in line with westerly winds means it has many migrant visitors. From the front of the house we saw well over 20 species including a peregrine pursuing a small wader. The speed and turning of the wader was amazing, but to see a bird as big as a peregrine mirror the wader for close to two minutes was one of the best birding views. Although I would have liked to have seen the falcon succeed, I was a bit relieved to see the wader escape.

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