In January, the mild winter continued with only three days where the temperature was in negative figures. The mean temperature was a degree warmer than last January. It was also drier than last January with around 40% less rain and there were fewer winter storms.
Highlights included: a Slavonian Grebe in Loch Ranza on 1, the last record was January 2016, aerial jousting between a Merlin and Peregrine over Sliddery on 2, a pair of Goosander on Loch Iorsa on 25 and a hunting Goshawk on the south of Arran on 31.
Wintering wildfowl numbers included: twenty Pink-footed Goose on the Roddin on 1, one hundred Teal at Cosyden on 5, four Whooper Swan at Cordon also on 5, four hundred Greylag Goose in Shiskine on 9 and fifty Wigeon at Cleats Shore on 30. Other winter visitors included: forty Fieldfare in Sliddery on 15, six Purple Sandpiper at Silver Sands also on 15, two Rook in Sliddery on 16 and eight Redwing at Hazelburn on 28. While there were numerous reports of wintering Woodcock, Snipe and Jack Snipe, unlike December there were no January reports of Waxwing or Brambling.
Wintering flocks included: one hundred and fifty Lesser Redpoll in Lochranza on 7, forty-one Turnstone at Silver Sands on 15, forty Curlew at Clauchlands on 16, six hundred Common Gull with four hundred Herring Gull at Kilpatrick Point on 25, twenty-five Lapwing on Kilpatrick Farm on 27, one hundred and fifty Chaffinch in Sliddery on 29 and one hundred and ten Starling at Cosyden also on 29. Off the coast there were reports of all three divers including: four Red-throated Diver at Dougarie on 13, five Black-throated Diver at Pirnmill on 14 and four Great Northern Diver at Cosyden on 25.
Interesting garden birds included: a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Margnaheglish on 1, ten Goldcrest in Shannochie on 4, two Siskin at Torbeg on 9, a Yellowhammer in Catacol on 10, eight Long-tailed Tit in Lamlash on 25, four Bullfinch in Corrie on 29 and several reports of numbers of the usually singular, fiercely territorial Robin, including eight in a Brodick garden on 28. In a future Bird Note there will be a report on the Arran RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend of 28 to 30 January.
While there were no records of returning Gannet (in 2016 the first one was reported on 1), Shelduck were on numerous coastal territories including Bennan, Clauchlands, Cleat, Kildonan and Merkland. Other signs of approaching spring included: two returning Lesser Black-backed Gull at Sandbraes on 21, eight returning Linnet in Sliddery on 29, thirty-two courting Eider off Cosyden on 25 and displaying Golden Eagle over Lochranza on 26. But the winter is not over yet.