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January 2024

Bird Sightings
With two named storms plus a cold dry spell, January’s weather was very variable and unsettled. In comparison to last January, this January had a similar rainfall, but the mean temperature was almost a degree lower. The wet and windy weather was not conducive to being out of doors.
Having said that, there was no shortage of interesting birds. Highlights included forty further reports of Little Egret mainly from the east coast.  All were single birds. It will be interesting to see how long Little Egret stay on the island this year. The previous two years there have been no records in the breeding season. When Little Egret eventually do stay to breed, I anticipate that the heronries around the island could prove to be attractive. Another colonising species, Nuthatch, was reported in Strathwillan on 30th . There was one record last year, none in 2022 and in 2021 one over-wintering bird generated forty reportsOther highlights included two Red Grouse on Leaca Mor on 7th, three Great Northern Diver off Pirnmill on 10th, two Dipper at Glenashdalewaterfoot on 12th, a Little Grebe and a White-tailed Eagle by Kingscross fish farm on 23rd and three Black-throated Diver in Cosyden on 25th. In addition, Barn Owl was a feature of the winter nights. An observer driving from Lamlash to Pirnmill on 17th encountered six Barn Owl, Another observer driving between Lochranza and Blackwaterfoot on 29th saw eight Barn Owl. A cyclist on the Rodden was treated to a close encounter of a silent hunting Barn Owl on 30th.

Wintering wildfowl included: four White-fronted Geese in Feorline on 1st, ten Whooper Swan flying over the Rodden on 4th, thirty-eight Canada Geese on Cleats Shore on 5th , eight Goldeneye in Lamlash Bay on 14th, fifty Wigeon by Eilean Mor, Blackwaterfoot on 15Th, fifteen Teal in South Carlo on 29th, and four hundred Greylag Geese in the Shiskine Valley on 30th. In addition, there were reports of a single male Common Scoter between Pirnmill and Catacol between 3rd and 26th.
Other wintering species included: 6 Fieldfare in Sliddery on 4th, one Dunlin on Cleats Shore on 5th, one Sanderling at Slidderywaterfoot on 6th, four Purple Sandpiper on Silver Sands on 7th, four Redwing on Arran High School playing field on 10th and two Yellowhammer in Sliddery on 26th.

Wintering flocks included: six Bullfinch at Sheeans on 1st, twenty-six Turnstone on Silver Sands on 2nd, six- hundred Kittiwake off Pirnmill on 3rd, forty Curlew at Clauchlands on 4th, forty-seven Lapwing on Cleats Shore on 5th, fifty-two Oystercatcher in Lamlash on 14th, fifty-six Ringed Plover in Kildonan also on 14th, twenty Pied Wagtail on Machrie Golf Course on 24th and about one thousand Jackdaw in three merging flocks in Machrie on 31st.

Interesting garden birds in January included: a very dominant Blackcap in Clauchlands on13th, eleven Coal Tit in Largymore on 27th, two Treecreeper in Margnaheglish also on 27th and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker in Lagg 31st. 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 Slidderywaterfoot on 6th . There were a number of reports of returning Shelduck on coastal territories including Auchenhew, Carlo, Clauchlands, Cleats Shore, Cosyden, Kildonan and Slidderywaterfoot. Other signs of approaching spring included: a Starling singing in Shiskine on 1st, a Lesser Black-backed Gull in Brodick on 22nd, one hundred and twenty Eider with many displaying males off Kingscross point on 25th and Grey Heron nest building in Lagg on 31st.  But the winter is not over yet.
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