A few Corncrakes continued to call at various places around the island with the last calling birds later than normal well into the second week of the month. There were several reports of adult birds and broods so hopefully they should have had another good breeding season.
August was largely warm with mostly light winds and moderate rainfall which kept the grassland green and the machairs full of flowers.
As the breeding season came to a close once more, flocks of adults and juvenile birds of many species began building up prior to migrating south.
Big flocks of Lapwings, gulls and Starlings feasted on invertebrates in the freshly cut silage fields, and these were joined by Golden Plovers, Curlews, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff migrating to the island from their breeding sites further north.
Feeding groups of up to 100 Swallows gathered over longer grassland and flocks of up to 60 Sand Martins hawked over the lochs on wetter days as the birds focussed on storing up food for their migrations to Africa. Large flocks of migrant waders also built up on the beaches with hundreds of Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Dunlin passing through.
In amongst them were a few scarcer waders including groups of up to 10 Knot, a Spotted Redshank at Hynish (8th), plus the odd Greenshank and Common Sandpiper, but more unexpected was an adult White-rumped Sandpiper at Gott Bay (4th – see photo). This was the first ever record of this North American wader from Tiree. Checks of the Sanderling revealed seven different colour-ringed birds, including six, which had been ringed on spring migration in SW Iceland and one from the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands.
There were also increasing numbers of smaller birds on the move including obvious influxes of wagtails and wheatears, a couple of late Swifts (10th and 13th), a Crossbill at Carnan Mor (11th) plus a Wood Warbler at Balephuil (30th), which proved to be the latest ever record of this species from Argyll.
Offshore, there were regular sightings of small numbers of Basking Sharks from all around the coast, whilst a small pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins frequented Crossapol Bay for a couple of days. There was the usual late summer influx of Merlins, Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and Hen Harriers, none of which breed on the island, but which come here to feed on the abundant birdlife over the winter, whilst an adult Sea Eagle was reported from Gott (28th). The post-breeding goose count (31st-1st) found the Greylag total a little down in numbers at 2,236 birds although the proportion of young remained high at 33%. The count also found 2 Pink-footed Geese, 1 Canada Goose and 4 Canada x Greylag Goose hybrids in West Tiree, plus totals of 2,235 Lapwing and 405 Golden Plover.
Many thanks to those of you who have kept me posted with your latest observations. If anyone would like to report unusual sightings of birds or other wildlife on Tiree, please contact me at the address below:
John Bowler, Pairc na Coille, Balephuil, Isle of Tiree PA77 6UE. Tel: 220748