January 2018 had a mean temperature more than a degree colder than January 2017 and had almost twice as much rain as last year with snow at times even to low levels. While the weather was not conducive to being out of doors, almost one hundred species were reported.
Highlights included: a pair of Goosander at Fisherman's Walk on 12th, four Little Grebe in Loch Ranza on 17th and a Merlin on Braehead Farm on 20th. Two of our more secretive species were also reported: a Water Rail by Sliddery Shore on 12th and three Moorhen at Port na Lochan on 22nd. In addition there were reports of all three divers including: two Great Northern Diver in Catacol Bay on 18th, six Black-throated Diver off Largymore on 22nd and a Red-throated Diver off Sandbraes on 29th.
Wintering wildfowl numbers included: four hundred and thirty Greylag Geese in the Shiskine Valley on 9th, one Whooper Swan at Mossend Pond on 10th, six White-fronted Geese in the Shiskine Valley on 18th, forty-three Wigeon in Feorline on 22nd, eighteen Pink-footed Geese on Corriecravie Moor on 25th, seventeen Barnacle Geese over Sliddery on 26th and ninety-two Teal at Kilpatrick Point also on 26th. Other winter visitors included: seven Purple Sandpiper at Silver Sands on 18th, eighty Fieldfare at Sliddery on 19th, fourteen Rook in Sliddery also on 19th and forty-seven Redwing on Corriecravie Moor on 25th. There were no January reports of Waxwing or Brambling.
Wintering flocks included: seventeen Lapwing on Kilpatrick Farm on 10th, fifteen Turnstone in Catacol Bay on 14th, one hundred and ten Starling in Sliddery on 19th, one hundred and fifty Chaffinch on Braehead Farm on 20th, sixty-five Curlew at Cleiteadh Buidhe on 22nd, seventeen Common Crossbill at the Dyemill also on 22nd, seventeen Yellowhammer on Corriecravie Moor on 25th, fifty-six Ringed Plover at Blackwaterfoot on 26th and twelve Redshank at Kilpatrick Point also on 26th.
Interesting garden birds included: two Bullfinch in Whiting Bay on 9th, thirty Siskin in Shiskine on 14th, one Treecreeper in Lamlash on 19th, one Great Spotted Woodpecker in Margnaheglish on 24th, nineteen Long-tailed Tit in Lamlash on 26th, eleven Collared Dove in Corrie on 28th and one Blackcap in Lamlash on 29th. In a future Bird Note there will be a report on the Arran RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend of 27 to 29 January.
While there were only two records of returning Gannet, a single north of Lochranza and a single south of Whiting Bay both on 29th, Shelduck were on numerous coastal territories including Auchenhew, Clauchlands, Cosyden, Drumadoon, Fisherman's Walk, Kildonan, Kilpatrick. King's Cave and Pirnmill. Other signs of approaching spring included: twenty courting Eider in Whiting Bay on 29th and displaying Golden Eagle over Lochranza on 30th. But the winter is not over yet.