The mild weather of November continued into December. The month was however notable for some very wet weather with rainfall totals double those of December 2018
Following on from Arran’s first ever report of a Surf Scoter in Catacol Bay on 24 November, this North American species of duck continued to be reported in December from 21st to 30th between Whitefarland, Pirnmill and Catacol Bay.
Other visitors in December included: four Purple Sandpiper at Silver Sands on 6th, two Snow Bunting Glen Chalmadale on 10th,a Merlin at Machriewaterfoot on 11th, forty Redwing Kilpatrick Farm also on 11th, twenty-two Rook at Sliddery on 13th and one hundred and sixty Fieldfare and seven Yellowhammer at Sliddery on 14th.
Wintering wildfowl were to the fore including: a male Goldeneye in Loch Ranza on 9th, two hundred and forty Greylag Geese in Feorline on 13th, one hundred Teal on Cleats Shore also on 13th, seventy Pink-footed Geese at Torbeg on 15th, forty-two Wigeon at Kilpatrick Point also on 15th and six Whooper Swan flying over High Kildonan on 21st.
Groups of wintering birds included: sixty Curlew at Clauchlands Point on 1st, three hundred Common Gull at Strabane also on 1st, thirty-two Goldfinch in Sannox also on 1st, one hundred Linnet in Carlo on 8th, forty Twite Machriewaterfoot on 9th, one hundred Turnstone at Machriewaterfoot on 11th, twenty-four Lapwing on Cleats Shore on 13th, sixty Starling at Silver Sands also on 13th, three hundred Jackdaw at Machriewaterfoot on 14th, seven Woodcock at East Bennan on 19th and five hundred Kittiwake at Pirnmill on 20th.
Other interesting records this month included: a White-tailed Eagle over Thunderguy on 9th, three Moorhen at Mossend Pond on 12th, three Goosander at Pirnmill on 20th, a Kingfisher in Corrie also on 20th, a Long-eared Owl in Glenree on 22nd and that long-staying Magpie, first reported on 11 May, still in Kildonan on 31 December. Magpie is a vagrant to Arran. In addition, all three divers were around the coast including seven Black-throated Diver off Kilpatrick Point on 15th, two Great Northern Diver off Drumadoon also on 15th and four Red-throated Diver off Pirnmill on 22nd. An article on the identification of divers will feature in a future edition of the “Arran Banner”.
Although still in the depth of winter there were some signs of approaching spring with Great Spotted Woodpecker reported drumming in Brodick Country Park on 21st and male Red-breasted Mergansers displaying in Pirnmill on 22nd.
Gardens provide a safe refuge for some birds in winter. Among the more unusual records received were: three Goldcrest in Pirnmill on 9th, a Brambling in Newton on 14th, a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Lamlash on 21st and six Long-tailed Tit in Whiting Bay on 25th.
Finally, here is a date for your diary: the weekend of Saturday 25 and Monday 27 January. That weekend stock up your bird feeders, spend one hour of your weekend watching your garden birds, and note down the highest number you see of each bird species. This is the weekend of the “Big Garden Birdwatch”. Last year nearly half a million people throughout the UK and over thirty on Arran took part in this valuable exercise. For more information and to get the free starter pack, visit the RSPB website Big Garden Birdwatch . If you do decide to take part, please share your records with me.