In comparison to last January, January 2023 was wetter and colder. The rainfall was more than double that of last year. The first two weeks were wet and windy. It was cold from the 16th for a few days with reasonable snowfall to sea-level overnight on the 18th -19th. The weather then returned to wet and windy. This weather was not conducive to being out of doors and perhaps this influenced the reduction in species reported this January (ninety) compared to last January (ninety-eight).
Having said that, there was no shortage of interest. Highlights included thirty-two further reports of Little Egret. While most reports were from the east coast there were two from the west coast. All were single birds except for two in at South Carlo on 8th. It will be interesting to see how long they stay on the island this year. Last year 2022, there were records from the start of the year to 22 May and from 13 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. Another species that may be establishing to breed is Goosander. There were fifteen records in January including three at Cordon on 1st and three at Dougarie on 26th. Other highlights included reports of all three divers including, three Black-throated Diver by the Fallen Rocks on 1st, one Red-throated Diver off Pirnmill on 7th and 4 Great Northern Diver off Corrie on 26th. In addition, there were two reports of Kingfisher, one by Fisherman’s Walk on 20th and one by Rubha Salach on 26th.
Wintering wildfowl included: ten Whooper Swan by Pirnmill on 6th, one hundred and twenty Pink-footed Geese in Kilmory on 15th, fifty-five Teal at Carlo also on 15th, five White-fronted Geese at Feorline on 26th, one hundred and eighty Greylag Geese at Clauchlands on 27th, twelve Wigeon in Machrie Bay on 28th and two male Goldeneye on Mossend Pond on 29th.
Other wintering species included: one Rook at Clachaig Farm on 2nd, one Brambling at Pirnmill also on 2nd, seven Yellowhammer in Sliddery on 15th, four Purple Sandpiper at Silver Sands on 16th, twenty-five Redwing in Kildonan on 19th, one Dunlin in Whiting bay on 22nd and one Fieldfare in Glenkiln on 30th.
Wintering flocks included: seventy Bullfinch feeding on heather in Kildonan on 1st, forty-five Lapwing on Cleats Shore on 2nd, thirty Siskin in Pirnmill also on 2nd, one hundred Ringed Plover by Fisherman’s Walk on 9th, twenty Woodpigeon in Torbeg also on 9th, twenty-five Oystercatcher in Strabane on 14th, one hundred and forty-two Starling in Sliddery on 15th, thirty-eight Canada Geese in Clachaig on 21st, fifteen Turnstone in Whiting Bay on 22nd, sixty Chaffinch in Strathwillan on 24th, twenty Blackbird feeding on kelp on Silver Sands on 26th, sixteen Goldfinch in South Kiscadale on 28th, thirty-two Curlew by Cleiteadh Buidhe on 29th and eighty Common Gull feeding on a manured field in Kildonan on 30th.
Interesting garden birds in January included: one Goldcrest in Pirnmill on 1st, twenty Long-tailed Tit in Corrie on 8th, two Treecreeper in Machrie on 12th, two Great Spotted Woodpecker in Lagg on 25th, one female Blackcap in Alma Park on 26th and no less than five Robin in Kingscross on 29th. In a future Bird Note, there will be a report on the Arran RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend held over the last weekend in January.
In January there was one report of returning Gannet, one off Kildonan on 13th. There were a number of reports of returning Shelduck on coastal territories including Clauchlands, Cleats Shore, Cosyden, Kildonan, Machrie and Merkland Point. Other signs of approaching spring included: fourteen Grey Heron displaying in trees near the heronry on Brodick on 27th, a Song Thrush singing in Kildonan on 27th, twenty-three Eider displaying off Pirnmill on 28th and a pair of Collared Dove nesting in Whiting Bay on 29th. But the winter is not over yet.