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November 2017

Bird Sightings
In November, winter arrived with the first substantial snow on the mountains.  The mean temperature was five degrees lower than October. It was drier than October with the month ending in a cold dry spell.

One of the highlights of the month was the appearance of two juvenile White-tailed Eagles on the west coast on 19 November.  One observer managed to photograph one of the birds between Imachar Point and Whitefarland Point.  This is the first report of this rare vagrant to Arran this year.

Not surprisingly in November, winter visitors were to the fore. Throughout the month there were widespread reports of foraging Fieldfare and Redwing, sometimes in mixed flocks. The largest group of Fieldfare reported was one hundred at Cnoc na Dail on 9th and the largest group of Redwing was fifty at Corrie on 26th.  Other records of wintering birds included: a Brambling and a Yellowhammer in Sliddery on 5th, five Purple Sandpiper at Silver Sands on 11th, twenty-five Rook in Sliddery on 15th and a male Blackcap in Brodick Country Park on 26th.

Reports of wintering wildfowl included: twenty-one Wigeon at Cosyden on 9th, a female Tufted Duck on Mossend Pond on 10th, a female Goldeneye at Cordon on 14th, thirty Pink-footed Goose with two hundred and twenty Greylag Goose in the Shiskine Valley on 30th and one hundred and twenty-two Teal at Kilpatrick Point also on 30th.

Gardens are safe refuges during the winter months with many people providing regular food and water for their feathered friends. These are a small selection from the many reports from gardens round the island in November: fourteen Coal Tit in Blairbeg on 3rd, one Goldcrest in Lamlash on 4th, six Blackbird in Kildonan also on 4th, one Great Spotted Woodpecker in Whiting Bay on 5th, seventy House Sparrow in Sliddery on 16th, ten Long-tailed Tit in Lamlash on 18th and on 27th there was a report of a Nuthatch in a garden in Strathwillan. This is the first Arran report of Nuthatch this year. This species is increasing its range and moving north from strongholds in England into Scotland.

Other November highlights included: a Kingfisher on Fisherman's Walk on 1st, one hundred and fifty Starling at Kilpatrick on 2nd, a Merlin in Auchenhew Bay on 4th, six Bullfinch on Whiting Bay Golf Course on 7th, four Little Grebe in Loch Ranza on 18th and twenty Lapwing on Cleats Shore on 19th.  In addition there were numerous reports of Common Crossbill in various forests including thirty-five in Machrie Forest on 19th.  This is the largest group reported in the last ten years. The numbers reported may reflect the fir cone crop this year.

Finally it was good to get reports of Shelduck returning to Arran after their annual departure to moult. The first report was from Sandbraes on 4th, with three on Cleats Shore on 19th being the largest number reported in November. Look out for them in December
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