In comparison to June, July was much drier and warmer. The mean temperature was three degrees higher. In comparison to July last year, July this year was also drier and warmer. There was only three days when there was more than 2mm of rain. The light winds of May and June this year continued into July giving a prolonged settled spell.
This had a positive impact on the breeding success of most our visiting summer birds, particularly those that relied on airborne insects to feed young. Looking at the proportion of adult to young birds from information gathered by licensed bird ringers, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Blackcap, all had a good season. Similarly, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swallow had a good season although this was not uniform across the island. As reported in the June notes, garden birds seemed generally to thrive and seed eating birds like Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Goldfinch all had successful breeding seasons.
Other signs of a successful breeding season included: Grey Wagtail family on Eas Mhor on 5th, three large Shelduck young by Cosyden on 6th, female Mallard with nine young at Cordon also on 6th, young Great Spotted Woodpecker in Lochranza on 8th, Red Grouse family Carn Mhor on 9th, Golden Plover family Beinn Tarsuinn on 10th, four young Eider on Sliddery Shore on 17th, five fledged Common Gull young on Brodick Castle on 19th, three young Oystercatcher at Corrie on 22nd, Spotted Flycatcher family at Fairy Dell also on 22nd, Common Sandpiper family at Porta Buidhe on 24th and female Red-breasted Merganser with nine young at Cladach on 28th.
On the downside, with the removal of some Covid restrictions, there was increased human activity on shores, with many ignoring notices of breeding birds and allowing their dogs off leads to cause disturbance to breeding shore birds. In addition, there was 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 for breeding species dispersing from their breeding grounds, many still in their breeding plumage. Reports included; two Black-headed Gulls with two young by Fisherman’s Walk on 21st, four Turnstone at Blackwaterfoot on 27th, one Dunlin at Blackwaterfoot on 31st, an adult Sandwich Tern feeding young in Lamlash Bay also on 31st and as well as reports of our Red-throated Diver round the coast there were also reports of two more northerly breeding divers, two Great Northern Diver off Cosyden on 6th and two Black-throated Diver in Brodick Bay on 21st.
In addition, after breeding many species begin to flock together. Reports included; fourteen Black Guillemot in Catacol Bay on 6th, sixty House Sparrow in Kildonan on 13th, one hundred Shag off Pladda on 19th, sixteen Curlew on Brodick shore on 21st, one hundred and forty Jackdaw in Lochranza on 23rd, two hundred Starling in Sliddery on 27th and twenty Ringed Plover with seven Redshank in Blackwaterfoot on 31st.
Over a hundred species were reported in July. Other highlights included; four Manx Shearwater in Brodick Bay on 2nd, three Common Scoter off Fisherman’s Walk from 3rd to 8th, a Swift over Largybeg on 11th, a female Goosander in Catacol Bay on 15th, an Osprey off Clauchlands on 18th, eleven Gannet in Whiting Bay also on 18th, three Common Crossbill in Newton on 22nd and continuing reports of two over-summering Whooper Swan one in Lamlash Bay and the other near Torrylinnwater Foot.
Finally, there was a record of a Yellowhammer on Holy Isle on 3 July. Summer records of this once widespread breeding species are now most unusual on Arran. For more info click here..