In October 2020, David Kilpatrick took this photograph of this colourful, active, striking bird in his garden. It is a Nuthatch and the first photograph taken of this species on Arran.
Nuthatch is a woodland species. Well established south of the border, this species has been spreading north through the UK. This is clearly shown in the map from Bird Atlas 2007-11: the breeding and wintering birds of Britain and Ireland. BTO Books. Nuthatch, first bred in the Borders of Scotland in 1989. rapidly moving into a large area of southern Scotland in the 1990s. Now the nearest well-established breeding area is in South Ayrshire including Ayr itself.
The first Arran record was in 2001. In 2002 there were two records but there were no further records until 2012 when there was one. While there was none the following year, there were records in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 with seven records in 2016 followed by one in 2017. All the records have been of a single bird. After that there was another gap until this year.
This year the first report was from a garden in Pirnmill on 1 October. The report was again of a single bird. Throughout October and November there were further reports of a single bird from four different gardens in Pirnmill. The last November record was on 25 November. These gardens were spread over a distance of about 1.5 kilometres. In three of these gardens it was photographed at bird feeders.
This is by far the longest continuous spell of Nuthatch records on Arran. Surely it can only be a matter of time before this species becomes established on Arran.