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February 2024

Bird Sightings
Another wet month. In comparison to January, February had a similar mean temperature and a similar high rainfall. In comparison to last February, this February had a similar mean temperature, but the rainfall was double that of last February.

Highlights included Little Egret. Continuing from December and January records, in February there were twenty-four records. Nineteen of these records were of a single bird, four were of two birds together and one of three birds together. It will be interesting to see how long Little Egret stay on the island this year. In 2022, there were records from the start of the year to 22 May and from 13 August to 31 December. In 2023 there were records from the start of the year to 18 May and from 20 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.

Wintering visitors included: eight Purple Sandpiper on Silver Sands on 11th, six Fieldfare in Glen Sannox on 12th, two Rook in Kilpatrick on 19th, one Yellowhammer in Sliddery on 27th, twenty Redwing in Whiting Bay on 29th plus several reports of Blackcap dominating bird feeders in gardens round Arran.

Wintering wildfowl continued to be present including; fifty Wigeon on Cleats Shore on 5th, one hundred and twenty-eight Pink-footed Geese in Clachaig on 8th, two Goldeneye on Mossend Pond also on 8th, one Long-tailed Duck off Pirnmill on 11th, one Common Scoter off Fairy Dell on 15th, two hundred Greylag Geese in Shiskine on 18th, one Whooper Swan also in Shiskine on 18th, six White-fronted Geese in Feorline on 19th and thirty-eight Teal in South Carlo on 25th.

Other wintering flocks included: twenty-three Chaffinch in Brodick Castle Gardens on 2nd, seven Grey Heron in Whiting Bay on 7th, twenty-seven Turnstone in Auchenhew Bay on 10th, two hundred Common Gull in Kilpatrick on 17th, one hundred and fifty Jackdaw in Kilpatrick on 19th, forty Lapwing in Shiskine on 21st, thirteen Skylark at Torrylinnwater Foot on 24th, thirty Woodpigeon in Pirnmill on 26th and twelve Dunlin in Loch Ranza on 29th.

Other interesting sightings included; one Moorhen in Mossend Pond on 10th, four Black-throated Diver at Clauchlands on 11th, three Great Northern Diver in Kildonan also on 11th, four Black Guillemot at Brodick ferry terminal on 12th, two Little Grebe in Mossend Pond on 19th, six Bullfinch in Brodick Castle Gardens on 24th, two Red-throated Diver in Pirnmill on 26th and a juvenile Merlin in Kildonan on 27th. It had been killed in a window strike. A future Bird Note will look at glass, the invisible killer. In addition, there were two reports of Red Kite on the afternoon on 26 February, one at Auchencar and then later in the afternoon one in Catacol. This could have been the same bird. In February there were several reports of White-tailed Eagle including two that moved between Blackwaterfoot and Sliddery on 6th, a juvenile that disturbed the geese in the Shiskine Valley on 9th and one that was photographed over Shannochie on 12th.

In February, there were two reports of returning Gannet both reports in Brodick Bay but no reports of returning Lesser Black-backed Gull. There were however some other signs of approaching spring including: Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in Lagg on 16th, Song Thrush singing in Corrie on 18th, Shelduck establishing territories on shores round the island including four in Silver Sands on 22nd, seventeen Shag all with their wispy breeding plumage crest at Imachar also on 22nd , and numerous reports of garden birds checking out nest boxes. Finally there was an early report of a returning Osprey in Brodick Bay on 29th that gave good close views from the Fisherman’s Walk.

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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