On Monday 10 July 2017, a resident in Sliddery was at the kitchen window keeping an eye on the garden birds, when a Rose-coloured Starling appeared. The Rose-coloured Starling is a stunning bird with pink body, pale orange legs and bill, and glossy black head, wings and tail. As an experienced bird-watcher, he knew instantly what it was. The bird was later photographed, caught and ringed by a licensed ringer. This was the first Arran record since June 2002.
One year on Thursday 19 July 2018, the same Sliddery resident saw a Rose-coloured Starling on his early morning walk. Like last year, it was in a flock with Common Starling. Last year the bird was seen on only one day, whereas this year it was seen on three consecutive days. This year it was not caught and ringed, so we do not know if was the same bird. It certainly was the same species.
Where do they come from? The Rose-coloured Starling's breeding range is from easternmost Europe across temperate southern Asia. It is a strong migrant, and winters in India and tropical Asia. It is a bird of steppe and open agricultural land. In years when grasshoppers and other insects are abundant, it will erupt well beyond its core range, with occasionally significant numbers reaching western Europe and the UK. It is during dispersal after breeding, that some birds stray into north-west Europe. The Sliddery bird was one such long distance wanderer. In the UK in July this year, there were around sixty reports of Rose-coloured Starling.
What a coincidence on Arran! The same species, in the same area, on almost the same date. How little we know about our feathered friends!