October was cooler and wetter than September. In comparison with October 2017 it was colder and drier with a fine settled spell in the second half of the month. 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. This October there were plenty of interesting birds to enjoy with more than one hundred species recorded.
A particular highlight was a Little Egret with records from a range of coastal areas throughout the month including Loch Ranza, Imachar, Pirnmill, King's Cave, Merkland and Carlo. The last report was from Cordon on 28th. This is only the third occasion that this species has been reported on Arran.
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 four hundred Redwing and over one thousand Fieldfare at Sliddery on 20th. Brambling an irruptive species from northern Europe not recorded every winter, was a also a feature in October with reports from many areas including Cordon, Glenloig, Newton, Sannox, Sliddery and Torbeg.
Other winter visitors arriving included: twenty-one Barnacle Geese at Sandbraes on 3rd, one hundred Teal in Cosyden on 4th, four Wigeon at Kilpatrick Point on 11th and at Sliddery on 28th three hundred Greylag Geese, fifty-two Rook and ten Yellowhammer. In addition, flocks of migratory Whooper Swan filled the autumn skies with their honking and trumpeting calls, including nine over Whitefarland on 19th and eight over Brodick Golf Course on 20th.
Migration was in full flow in October as birds were moving out of colder northern Europe to milder climes. These included: two hundred and thirty Linnet and eighty Meadow Pipit on Cleats Shore on 1st, two Sanderling at Drumadoon Point on 5th, two hundred Goldfinch at Blackwaterfoot on 11th, twelve Lapwing in Shiskine on 12th, sixteen Turnstone in Whiting Bay on 13th, one hundred and fifty Skylark and thirty Twite on Cleats Shore on 18th, six hundred Common Gull on Sliddery Shore on 25th and three Dunlin at Drumadoon Point on 30th.
There were some “last sightings” of summer visitors also moving south including: twenty Manx Shearwater in Brodick Bay on 6th, a Common Sandpiper at Pirnmill on 8th, a Willow Warbler at Auchenhew Bay on 18th, two Swallow at Sliddery on 21st, a Chiffchaff at Torbeg also on 21st and a Wheatear at Porta Buidhe on 29th.
Other interesting records from a month with a plethora of birds included: a Jack Snipe on Sliddery Shore on 20th, four Great Northern Diver off Porta Buidhe on 24th, two Little Grebe at Loch Ranza also on 24th, a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Whiting Bay on 26th, two Moorhen on Mossend Pond on 29th and the first report this year of Slavonian Grebe with two in Whiting Bay on 30th. In addition there were two reports of White-tailed Eagle in October, an adult over Auchencar on 21st and a juvenile over Lochranza on 24th.