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February 2023

Bird Sightings
While February had a similar mean temperature to January, February was drier with about half the rainfall of January. Compared to last February this February had about a third of the rainfall. Having said that February was generally grey, gloomy and dreich. The last few days of the month saw a change with bright, cold settled weather establishing.
Highlights included Little Egret. Continuing from December and January records, in February there were eighteen records. Fifteen of these records were from Lamlash Bay , two records from Merkland and one from Corriegills. Sixteen of the records were of a single bird and two records were of two birds together. It will be interesting to see how long Little Egret stay on the island this year. Last year 2022, there were records from the start of the year to 22 May and from 13 August to 31 December. When Little Egret eventually do stay to breed, I anticipate that the heronries around the island could prove to be attractive. Another highlight was the reports of Kingfisher. Three records in February all from Brodick.

Wintering visitors included: two Twite at Blackwaterfoot on 9th, one Rook at Slidderywaterfoot on 23rd and two Fieldfare by Cnocan Wood on 25th. There were no February reports this year of Redwing. However, there were several reports of Blackcap dominating bird feeders in gardens round Arran.

Wintering wildfowl continued to be present including; eight Wigeon at Porta Buidhe on 6th, fifty Teal at Carlo on 8th, two hundred and fifty Greylag Geese in the Shiskine Valley on 27th and one hundred and fifty Pink-footed Geese in the Shiskine Valley on 28th. There were no February reports this year of Goldeneye, White-fronted Geese nor Whooper Swan.

Other wintering flocks included: nine Long-tailed Tit in Shiskine on 6th, two hundred and thirty-four Herring Gull in Kildonan on 10th, fifty-one Curlew in Clauchlands on 11th, forty-one Oystercatcher on Ormidale pitch on 15th, fourteen Bullfinch on Clauchlands Hill also on 15th, thirty-two Ringed Plover in Whiting Bay on 20th, fifteen Skylark on the Knowe also on 20th and at Slidderywaterfoot on 23rd 300 Common Gull, sixty-eight Lapwing and twenty Turnstone.

Other interesting sightings included; two Great Northern Diver in Catacol Bay on 6th, one Short-eared Owl on Beinn Tarsuinn on 8th, five Little Grebe in Loch Ranza on 9th, two Great Spotted Woodpecker in Clauchan Glen on 12th, five Common Crossbill in Cnochan Biorach also on 12th, four Goosander ( three male and one female) in Cnoc Buidhe on 15th, one Golden Plover at Slidderywaterfoot on 23rd and one Red-throated Diver off Pirnmill on 26th.

In February there were no reports of returning Gannet and no reports of returning Lesser Black-backed Gull. There were however some other signs of approaching spring including: three Song Thrush all singing in Porta Buidhe on 13th, two Golden Eagle display flying over the northern hills on 19th, Shelduck establishing territories on shores round the island including seven by Kings Cave on 24th, three Grey Heron collecting sticks in Glenkiln Farm for nest material on 28th and numerous reports of garden birds checking out nest boxes.
Siskin reports in February were increasing and are expected to build up in March as the birds move north. Check out Siskin groups for the similar sized Lesser Redpoll one or two have already been reported. March could also see the arrival of some of our summer visitors like Wheatear, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sand Martin, even Swallow and House Martin, but their arrival will be dependent on the weather. Keep an eye out for these migrants and let me know when you first see them.
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