In comparison to last January, January 2019 was as cold but was considerably drier with almost a third of the rain of the previous January. With snow at times even to low levels, the weather was not conducive to being out of doors. Nevertheless almost one hundred species were reported.
Highlights included: eight Woodcock above Pirnmill on 16th and five Jack Snipe by Sliddery Shore on 23rd. Both are species which move out of the colder continent in the winter. Other highlights included four Goosander off Balliekine shore on 10th, a Moorhen on Mossend Pond on 22nd, a Little Grebe on Fisherman’s walk on 27th and a Dipper at Glenashdalewater Foot also on 27th. In addition there were reports of all three divers including: four Great Northern Diver off Pladda on 9th, four Black-throated Diver in Sannox Bay on 26th and two Red-throated Diver off Imachar on 28th.
Five species of geese were reported namely: two White-fronted Geese with four hundred and eighty Greylag Geese in the Shiskine Valley on 1st, twelve Canada Geese in Clachaig on 3rd, two pale-breasted Brent Geese on Silver Sands on 6th and ninety-two Pink-footed Geese in Sliddery on 8th. A solitary Whooper Swan in the Shiskine Valley throughout the month was probably the same bird that has been reported all last year that did not appear to migrate north at the end of last winter. Other wintering wildfowl included: seventy-five Teal at Carlo on 4th, two Goldeneye on Coire Fhionn Lochan on 10th and forty-five Wigeon at Sliddery on 27th.
Wintering flocks included: seventeen Turnstone on Silver Sands on 2nd, one hundred and ten Curlew in Corriecravie on 4th, six Purple Sandpiper on Silver Sands on 6th, forty Jackdaw in Catacol on 14th, eighty Lapwing in Shiskine in 17th, twelve Golden Plover in Catacol Bay on 19th, a mixed flock of over one hundred Fieldfare and Redwing in Shiskine on 23rd and one hundred and eleven Common Gull at Clauchlands on 27th. There were no January reports of Waxwing or Brambling.
Interesting garden birds in January included: a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Lamlash on 25th, ten Long-tailed Tit in Torbeg also on 25th and on 28th two Bullfinch in Marganaheglish and a Goldcrest plus a Treecreeper in Corrie. In a future Bird Note there will be a report on the Arran RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend of 26 to 28 January.
While there was only one record of returning Lesser Black-backed Gull, Catacol Bay on 24th, and only one record of returning Gannet, Lamlash Bay on 30th, 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: eighteen courting Eider in Whiting Bay on 17th, displaying Golden Eagle over Lochranza on 23rd, three Fulmar visiting nest sites in Catacol on 25th and a Blackbird singing in Lamlash on 28th. But the winter is not over yet.