October was cooler and wetter than September. In comparison with October 2018 it was wetter with almost 60% more rain. The temperature range in 2019 was less and there were no major storm events. 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 one hundred and ten species recorded.
A particular highlight was Little Egret with records from a range of coastal areas throughout the month including Carlo, Cladach, Clauchlands, Corrie, Corriegills, Fisherman's Walk, Merkland Point, Rubha Salach and Strathwillan. This is the third year in a row that this colonising species has been reported on Arran and it is the first time that records have included more than one bird, with two at Rubha Salach on 12 October and two by the Fisherman's Walk on 28 October.
The build up of the number of winter thrushes, Fieldfare and Redwing, was a feature of the month. The first Redwing were reported on 4th and the first Fieldfare on 16th. Soon 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 mixed flocks with both species of over one thousand birds at Lenimore and at Lochranza on 22nd. Other thrushes featured as well, including twenty Mistle Thrush at Glenree on 7th and a Ring Ouzel in Newton North on 14th. Brambling, an irruptive species from northern Europe not recorded every winter, were reported from Pirnmill on 9th and High Kildonan on 29th.
Other winter visitors included: three hundred and sixty-three Pink-footed Geese over Sliddery on 1st, sixty Teal at Cosyden on 2nd, a Yellowhammer at Sliddery on 20th, a Brent Goose on Cleats Shore on 21st, eleven Wigeon at Cosyden on 23rd, five Snow Bunting on Mullach Buidhe on 26th, two hundred and twenty Greylag Geese in Sliddery on 27th and fifty Rook also on Sliddery on 28th. In addition, flocks of migratory Whooper Swan filled the autumn skies with their honking and trumpeting calls, including ten over Clachaig on 14th and sixteen over Cleats Shore on 25th.
Migration was in full flow in October as birds were moving out of colder northern Europe to milder climes. These included: sixty Linnet on Cleats Shore on 2nd, one hundred and eighty-six Golden Plover at Machriewaterfoot on 20th, two hundred Common Gull at Cleats Shore on 21st, thirty-five Twite at Machriewaterfoot on 22nd, one hundred Starling in Lamlash on 26th, one Grey Plover on Cleats Shore on 27th, eleven Snipe and twenty Lapwing at Corriecravie on 28th, sixty Skylark at Sliddery also on 28th, thirty-four Turnstone at Silver Sands on 30th and one hundred Curlew on Sliddery Shore on 31st.
There were some “last sightings” of summer visitors also moving south including: a Lesser Black-backed Gull and two Wheatear on Cleats Shore on 2nd, two House Martin in Alma Park on 6th, one Swallow in Sliddery on 15th, one thousand Manx Shearwater off King's Cave on 18th, a Chiffchaff in Lochranza on 22nd and three Gannet off Silver Sands on 25th.
Other interesting records from a month with a plethora of birds included: the long staying Magpie in Kildonan now entering its six month, a Velvet Scoter off Cosyden on 14th( first Arran record since 1998), five Black-throated Diver in Auchenhew Bay on 16th, a Common Scoter at Machriewaterfoot on 17th, three Red-throated Diver off Pirnmill on 18th, after the annual moult the first returning Shelduck at Cleats Shore on 21st, three Little Grebe at Mossend Pond on 22nd, two Red Kite over Invercloy on 25th and two Water Rail at Corriecravie on 28th. In addition, October like September was an outstanding month for Kingfisher. There were fourteen records from five locations.