November this year was colder and drier than November last year. The mean temperature was two degrees lower and there was forty percent less rain. The weather on the colder continent may have had a bearing on the outstanding number of species recorded in November. Last November ninety-four species were recorded while this year it was one hundred and four. Among these were two firsts for Arran, having never been recorded on Arran before. On 24 November a female type Surf Scoter, a North American species, was photographed in Catacol Bay. A few days later on 28 November a Siberian Chiffchaff, a species that winters in the Indian sub-continent, was photographed at Clauchlands.
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 groups were four hundred Fieldfare at High Kildonan on 2nd and two hundred and fifty Redwing at Sliddery on 16th. There were fourteen reports of Snow Bunting from three locations including two on Cleats Shore on 17th. Another Snow Bunting by the shore by the Fisherman’s Walk from 15th to 19th was particularly confiding, giving excellent views.
Other records of wintering birds included: one hundred and fifty Golden Plover at Machriewaterfoot on 3rd; thirty Twite also at Machriewaterfoot on 6th; eight Lapwing Kilpatrick Point on 14th; one hundred rook on Sliddery Shore also on 14th; four records of Merlin included one at Levencorrach on 16th; two hundred Starling at Sliddery also on 16th; four Yellowhammer Sliddery on 17th; two Purple Sandpiper at Silver Sands on 18th; a Greenshank at Kingscross also on 18th; three Jack Snipe on Sliddery Shore on 22nd; twenty-seven Turnstone at Silver Sands on 23rd; a first winter Iceland Gull in Catacol Bay on 24th and 25th and over three hundred Common Gull at Mossend Pond on 29th.
Reports of wintering wildfowl included: eighty-three Teal at Kilpatrick Point on 14th, a male Goldeneye at Mossend Pond on 15th, two hundred and fifty Greylag Geese on Cleats Shore on 17th, a Whooper Swan flying up the Ross also on 17th, fifty Wigeon at Kilpatrick Point on 18th and a Common Scoter off Dougarie 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: ten Long-tailed Tit in Newton on 2nd; a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Invercloy on 3rd; seven Blackbird in Lagg on 8th; a male Blackcap feeding on crab apples in Sliddery on 14th; four Goldcrest in Brodick on 24th; four Greenfinch in Torbeg on 25th; and a Treecreeper in Lamlash on 29th. In addition from 21st to 23rd a male Black Redstart was in a garden in Kildonan. The last Arran record of this scarce passage migrant was at Cordon on 24 June 2017. Perhaps less welcome were the reports of Magpie. As well as the now long-staying one in Kildonan there were four reports from Sannox between 8th and 10th and six reports from the Alma Park area between 16th and 30th. The Sannox and Brodick records could be down to one bird. Magpie is a vagrant to Arran.
Finally here is a further selection of highlights from what has been an exceptional month for bird-watching on Arran. After the dearth of Eider round Arran in September for the annual Clyde Eider census, in November there were widespread reports including seventy-seven off Pirnmill on 2nd, one hundred and seventeen in Lamlash Bay on 18th and seventy-five in Whiting Bay on 24th. Little Egret reports, all of a single bird, continued throughout the month from 4th to 29th with reports from eight coastal locations on the east of the island from Carlo to Cordon. In addition there were two Long-eared Owl in Glenscorrodale on 8th, two Black Grouse in Kilmory on 10th, six Great Northern Diver off Cnoc Buidhe also on 10th, two White-tailed Eagle seen from North Sannox car park on 14th, twelve Black-throated Diver off Aird nan Ron on 16th and a Sparrowhawk was harassing nineteen Common Crossbill at Cnocan Biorach on 23rd.