In comparison to June, the mean temperature of July was two degrees warmer. In comparison to last July the mean temperature was similar but the rainfall was fifty percent more. The rain this year was concentrated in fewer days and twenty days in July had less than 0.2mm of rain. Generally, the month was warm and settled. In the main this was conducive to birds raising young and many species had a good breeding season. There were widespread reports of Swallow and House Martin with young and the Sand Martin colonies in Sannox, Glen Rosa and Glen Catacol were thriving. There were signs that these and other summer visitors like Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Tree Pipit were raising second broods. Some observers reported gardens "buzzing" with the activity of young birds including Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, House Sparrow, Robin, Song Thrush, Starling, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin and encouragingly, Greenfinch.
Other signs of a successful breeding season included: a family of Dipper in Glenashdale on 5th, five young and two adult Kestrel over Cnocan Cuallaich on 6th, Arctic Tern with young at the colony on Pladda on 11th, a Red-breasted Merganser with eight young in Loch Ranza on 13th, a family of Spotted Flycatcher on the Holy Isle on 15th, a pair of Shelduck with five young on Cleats Shore on 18th, a family of Common Sandpiper on Sliddery Shore on 22nd, three active nests at the heronry at Lagg on 27th, more than twenty Black Guillemot at the colony by King's Cave on 28th and a pair of Mute Swan with six young at Clauchlands on 30th. In addition healthy vole populations in some areas sustained good breeding numbers of Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl.
There was some concern expressed that increased human activity on the hills near lochans was adversely affecting breeding Red-throated Divers and diminishing records of breeding Curlew and Fulmar is a continuing cause for concern.
July marks the end of the breeding season for some birds. It can be an interesting time looking out for birds dispersing after breeding. None of the following species breed on Arran: an adult and a young Sandwich Tern at Machriewaterfoot on 8th, two Chough at the Fairy Dell on 15th (first Arran record since 2011), two Kingfisher on the Rosa Burn on 18th and three Rook in Sliddery on 30th.
A number of northern breeding species heading south from their breeding grounds, many still in their breeding plumage, were reported, including: a Greenshank at Machriewaterfoot on 24th, seventeen Golden Plover at Machriewaterfoot on 26th, three Whimbrel and seventeen Dunlin on Sliddery Shore on 27th and three Turnstone at Machriewaterfoot on 31st. A Whooper Swan was reported at Sandbraes on 31st. This bird has over-summered and will feature in a future bird note in the "Banner".
Over a hundred species were reported in July. Other highlights included: two Swift over Sliddery on 2nd, twenty Gannet and two Puffin in Brodick Bay on 5th, forty Shag in Auchenhew Bay on 7th, three Goosander off Rubha Glas on 15th, thirty Manx Shearwater in Brodick Bay on 16th, two Moorhen and one Little Grebe in Mossend Pond on 19th and that solitary long-staying Magpie first reported on 11 May was seen in Porta Buidhe on 16 July.
Finally in the June Bird Notes I wrote “Cuckoos, whose decreasing numbers are a cause for concern nationally, seem to be thriving on Arran. Throughout May and June there have been many widespread reports. People need no prompting to report the first Cuckoo. How about reporting when you hear or see the last Cuckoo this year?” My thanks go to those of you who have responded. By now the adults will have left the UK leaving the young to be brought up by their foster parents. The young have a distinctive white spot on the nape of the neck. The latest date that I have had so far for young Cuckoo is two by the Goatfell track on 28 July.