In comparison to last January, January 2020 was milder and wetter. The first fortnight was marked by a prolonged spell of wet and windy weather culminating in Storm Brendan. A short spell of calm but very dull and damp weather followed on, before a few colder days brought snow on the mountains. The month finished with a return to unsettled wet and windy conditions. The weather was not conducive to being out of doors. Nevertheless over one hundred species were reported.
Highlights included: a Surf Scoter, an American species first reported on 24 November in Catacol Bay, in same location on 1 January, three Little Grebe in Loch Ranza also on 1st, two Jack Snipe on Sliddery Shore on 4th, a Dipper in Porta Buidhe also on 4th, a Water Rail on Mossend Pond on 7th, a Kingfisher on Rosa Burn on 25th and a sub-adult White-tailed Eagle off Machrie from 24th to 27th. In addition there was a hybrid gull, most likely a cross between a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull, at Whitefarland between 1st and 3rd.
Wintering wildfowl included: twenty-three Canada Geese on Pladda on 10th, three Goldeneye at Clauchlands Point on 17th, two Whooper Swan over Newton on 19th, fifty-three Wigeon at Machriewaterfoot also on 19th, forty-eight Teal at Cosyden also on 19th and three hundred and fifty Greylag Geese with two Pink-footed Geese in the Shiskine Valley on 25th.
Other wintering species included: a Merlin and one hundred Fieldfare on Corriecravie Moor on 1st, forty-seven Rook in Sliddery also on 1st, seventeen Yellowhammer in Sliddery on 5th, a Greenshank in Loch Ranza on 24th and fifty Redwing in Lagg on 26th.
Wintering flocks included: six Woodcock in Sliddery on 1st, fifteen Bullfinch in Clauchan Glen also on 1st, two hundred Jackdaw in Cosyden on 5th, eight Goldcrest in Kildonan on 8th, one hundred and thirty-two Curlew at Clauchlands on 13th, thirty-two Turnstone in Machrie Bay also on 13th, eighteen Lapwing in Kilpatrick Farm on 19th, one hundred Starling in Dippin also on 19th, twenty-one Twite at Machriewaterfoot also on 19th, twenty Linnet at Blackwaterfoot also on 19th, six Black-throated Diver off Pirnmill on 20th, twelve Long-tailed Tit in Torbeg also on 20th, one hundred Common Gull in Brodick on 23rd, fifteen Skylark at Mossend Pond on 25th, twenty Siskin in Torbeg on 26th and twenty-five Goldfinch in Shannochie on 27th. There was a feeling that some of these wintering flocks were smaller than flocks in recent colder Januaries. There were no January reports of Brambling.
Interesting garden birds in January included: a Waxwing in Shiskine on 3rd (last Arran record was January 2017), a Snow Bunting in Pirnmill on 17th, a Blackcap in Alma Park on 21st and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Largymore on 27th. In addition there continue to be reports of a Magpie in Kildonan and in Alma Park. In a future Bird Note there will be a report on the Arran RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend of 25 to 27 January.
While there was no January records of returning Gannet, Shelduck were on numerous coastal territories including Auchenhew, Carlo, Clauchlands, Cleats Shore, Fisherman's Walk, Kilpatrick, Lenimore, Porta Buidhe, Thunderguy and Whitefarland. Other signs of approaching spring included: two hundred courting Eider at Clauchlands Point on 13th, five displaying Black Guillemot at Thunderguy on 22nd and four Fulmar visiting nest sites in Catacol on 25th. But the winter is not over yet.