September was warmer than last September with the mean temperature almost two degrees higher but it was wetter with more than twice the amount of rain. September was a little drier than the previous two months but not by much. September is the start of the peak migration season, when many birds are on the move. There was a wide range of species recorded in September, over one hundred. It was certainly the time to expect the unexpected.
The highlight was the first record this year of Great Crested Grebe. Two were seen off shore close to the Fallen Rocks car park on 23 September. It is an occasional passage migrant and winter visitor not recorded every year. Other unusual records included: an Osprey photographed over Glen Chalmadale on 10 with another sighting of perhaps the same bird at Sliddery on 11 and four Brent Geese at the mouth of the Rosa and Cloy burns on 21.
Other birds on migration included: twenty-two Black-throated Diver off Cosyden on 6, seventy Turnstone at Machriewaterfoot also on 6, fourteen Dunlin at Blackwaterfoot on 7, twenty Redshank at Sandbraes also on 7, one Sandwich Tern in Whiting Bay on 10, eight Wheatear at Drumadoon Point on 16, one Bar-tailed Godwit on Shannochie shore on 20 and a Greenshank at Cordon on 23.
At this time of year birds begin to flock together, often in preparation for migration. Reports included: two hundred Ringed Plover at Machriewaterfoot on 6, eighty Kittiwake in Brodick Bay on 7, one hundred Swallow at Balmichael on 15, forty Goldfinch in Sliddery on 16, one hundred Gannet in Whiting Bay on 17, one hundred and fifty-two Golden Plover at Machriewaterfoot also on 17, one hundred Skylark on Cleats Shore on 18, three hundred Linnet on Cleats Shore on 21, eight hundred Manx Shearwater off Cosyden on 23, sixty Pied Wagtail on Silver Sands on 25 and one hundred Starling in Cosyden on 30. This gives an indication of the numbers of birds that are on the move at this time of year
Some of our winter visitors began to be reported including: thirty-seven Rook in Sliddery on 20 and four Wigeon at Cosyden on 23. On 11 September there was a report of fifty-eight Greylag Geese in Shiskine. Whether these were part of the increasing population of naturalised geese that are on Arran all year or early migrants arriving from the north is not known.
Having said that, some summer visitors were still around including: Spotted Flycatcher at Auchenhew on 11, Whitethroat in Sliddery on 16, Chiffchaff in Lamlash on 17, Sedge Warbler in Cordon on 18, Willow Warbler in Sliddery on 20 and Lesser Black-backed Gull in Dougarie on 22 . The following are the last September reports of the hirundines: six Sand Martin in Sliddery on 22, ten House Martin in Sliddery on 30 and five Swallow in Kilpatrick also on 30. October should see the last of the House Martins and Swallows departing south.
Other sightings this month included: ten Common Scoter at Cosyden on 6, twenty-five Black-headed Gull at Blackwaterfoot on 7, one Common Crossbill in Sliddery on 14, one Puffin south of Pladda on 15, thirteen Lapwing on Sliddery Shore on 17 and a Little Grebe by the Fisherman's Walk on 22. In addition, the Arran Black Grouse Group released a further forty Black Grouse. To try to monitor these birds some have radio tags. Kate Sampson, Head Ranger Brodick Country Park, would be delighted to have a note of any sightings of Black Grouse.
Finally, my thanks to all the “volunteers” who took part in the Eider survey in September. Total number of birds recorded round Arran was 116 a similar number to last year. Ten years ago it was considerably more at over six hundred. There was almost total coverage of the Arran coastline. The data on the Eider survey contributes to the ongoing research of Chris Waltho who has been monitoring Eider in the Clyde Estuary for over twenty years. The population trend is down but may be stabilising. For the latest report from Chris visit this website.http://www.arranbirding.co.uk/files/clyde_eider_news_no_14_aug_2016.pdf