While October 2016 was the driest month of that year with less than a quarter of the rainfall normally recorded in recent Octobers, this October was more typical, with more than three times as much rain as last year, continuing the cool wet weather which had been a feature of the previous three months. Having said that, during October there were plenty of interesting birds to enjoy. Almost one hundred species were recorded. October is arguably the busiest birding month, as summer breeders depart, migrants pass through, winter visitors arrive and there is always a strong chance of something unusual.
The build up of the number of winter thrushes, Fieldfare and Redwing, was a feature of the month. There were widespread reports of the birds feasting on the autumn berries, with flocks in the hundreds being reported from the north to the south of the island including 200 Fieldfare at Kildonan on 21st and 1000 Redwing in Sliddery on 23rd of October. Flocks of migratory Whooper Swan were also a feature with their honking and trumpeting calls filling the autumn skies, including thirty over Glen Rosa on 12th, eleven over Creagan Liatha on 29th and twenty over Sliddery also on 29th.
Migration was in full flow in October as birds were moving out of colder northern Europe to milder climes. These included: fifty Pied Wagtail in Kildonan on 5th, twenty-one Turnstone and three Dunlin on Silver Sands on 8th, twenty-two Mistle Thrush at Kingscross on 12th, sixty Goldfinch on Whiting Bay Golf Course also on 12th, two hundred Kittiwake off Fairy Dell on 13th, three hundred Starling and thirty-four Skylark at Sliddery on 18th, thirty Meadow Pipit on Shiskine Golf Course on 23rd, ten Redshank at Sandbraes on 28th, twenty-two Curlew and one hundred and twenty-nine Common Gull at Blackwaterfoot on 6th.
There were some “last sightings” of summer visitors also moving south including: nine House Martin at Silver Sands on 5th, one Wheatear at Drumadoon Point on 8th, thirty Gannet off Fairy Dell on 13th, one Lesser Black-backed Gull in Loch Ranza also on 13th and three Swallow at Silver Sands on 21st.
Winter visitors arriving included: two Yellowhammer at Clauchlands on 7th, fifteen Wigeon at Cosyden on 8th, nine Pink-footed Goose at Sliddery on 14th, twenty-one Rook also at Sliddery on 18th, four Brambling at Leac Gharbh on 22nd, one Purple Sandpiper on Silver Sands on 29th and four Greylag Geese on Drumadoon Farm on 30th.
Other interesting records from a month with a plethora of birds included: two Snipe at Porta Buidhe on 6th, six Grey Heron and two Little Grebe in Loch Ranza on 11th, twelve Long-tailed Tit in Whiting Bay on 12th, a covey of Red Grouse on An Tunna on 13th, a pair of Goosander in Catacol Bay on 21st and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Torbeg on 25th. In addition there were reports of all three divers including: four Black-throated Diver off Imachar on 27th, four Red-throated Diver off the Cat Stone on 29th and two Great Northern Diver in the bay under Drumadoon Cliffs on 30th.