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March 2022

Bird Sightings
Spring is an exciting time of year, awaiting the arrival of our summer visitors and seeing the last of our winter visitors leaving. The timing of the northerly spring migration is dependent on the weather, not just locally, but throughout the whole length of the migration route. On Arran, March was warmer and dryer than February. The rainfall in March was a third of that of February's. No rain fell in the second half of the month. It was a sunny settled spell with temperatures reaching eighteen degrees. It was during this more settled spell that a few pioneer summer migrants did arrive. On the 15th the first Wheatear was reported at the Cock of Arran. Last year the first record was 25th. On 18th the first Chiffchaff was reported at Lakin Farm. Last year the first record was 17th. On 24th the first Sand Martin was reported over Machrie Golf Course. Last year the first record was 31st. On 28th the first Willow Warbler was reported on Holy Isle. Last year the first record was 2 April. On 30th the first Sedge Warbler was reported from Kildonan. Last year the first record was 14 April. These were all the migrant species reported in March. April should see improving weather and the arrival of other migrants like White Wagtail, Sandwich Tern, Manx Shearwater, Swallow, House Martin, Common Sandpiper and Cuckoo – all signs of the approaching summer.  Please keep me posted.

In March, our winter visitors were still to the fore including: ten Redwing in Corriecravie on 3rd, two hundred and fifty Pink-foot Geese at the Rodden on 4th, one Purple Sandpiper on Silver Sands also on 4th, a Jack Snipe in Bennecarrigan also on 4th, thirty-two Wigeon at Tormore on 5th, ten Yellowhammer in Sliddery on 9th, four Brambling also in Sliddery on 10th, two Goldeneye on Mossend Pond on 12th, sixteen Teal at Kilpatrick Point on 16th, two hundred Greylag Geese and five White-fronted Geese in the Shiskine Valley on 18th and one hundred and forty Fieldfare in Sliddery on 27th.

In March there were many signs of migration. Flocks of up to forty Whooper Swan were reported flying north over the island on 26th and 27th .  Other signs included twenty-seven Lapwing and thirty-three Curlew at Torrylinnwater Foot on 1st, twelve Twite on Sliddery Shore on 12th, one Bar-tailed Godwit at Torrylinnwater Foot on 22nd, nine Golden Plover on Sliddery Shore on 25th, twenty Linnet also on Sliddery Shore on 26th, fifteen Lesser Redpoll on Holy Isle also on 26th and thirty Great Northern Diver in Machrie Bay on 27th. Gannet sightings began to slowly increase during the month with twelve off Sliddery Shore on 26th the largest group reported. In addition, there was an increase in numbers of Goldfinch and Siskin at garden feeders, from several areas as these species began to move north.

In a month when over one hundred species were reported, here is a small selection of other interesting March records: two Little Grebe in Loch Ranza on 2nd, a Dipper in Benlister on 4th, a Magpie on Lamlash Golf Course on 6th ( Last Arran record 15 February 2021), a Reed Bunting in Cosyden also on 6th, three Lesser Black-backed Gull in High Kildonan on 9th, two Goldcrest in Brodick on 11th, two Red Grouse on Maol Donn on 12th, a Moorhen on Port na Lochan on 18th and eight Shelduck on Cleats Shore on 19th. Also, on 19th two Snow Bunting by Drumadoon Point and between 25th and 31st a single Snow Bunting was reported on the summit of Goatfell.

Like last winter, a Little Egret seems to have over-wintered on Arran and as the breeding season approached it seems to have again left. This winter it was first reported on 29 October in Cordon and the last report received was 17 March by the Fisherman’s Walk.

Spring is a great time to be birding, as most birds are getting on with the business of breeding.  The business of breeding involves attracting a mate by song, courtship display and ritual, defining a territory, nest building, and generally establishing relationships.  In March the signs were there including: a Long-tailed Tit gathering spiders’ webs for nest material in Cordon on 6th, six male Red-breasted Merganser courting two females in Machrie Bay on 17th, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in Sannox on 21st, a Blackcap singing in Whiting Bay on 26th, three Skylark in full song soaring over Torr Dubh on 29th and numerous reports of sky dancing Hen Harriers display flying over Arran’s moors.

I am interested in all records of arriving summer migrants and any signs of breeding birds.
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