The mean temperature in September was very similar to last year and about two degrees cooler than August. Rainfall was less than August but the main weather feature was the storm on the 19 September. The first named storm of the winter came with a marked drop in air pressure. Some trees were blown over on the island and some hedges, heavy with autumn fruits, were scorched.
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, almost one hundred. It was certainly the time to expect the unexpected and among the unusual records was a Puffin off Pladda on 3rd, an Arctic Skua pursuing seabirds off Imachar on 20th and a female Scaup by Sliddery Shore also on 20th. The Arctic Skua and Scaup records were the first this year.
Other birds on migration included: a Whimbrel at Cosyden on 6th, eighteen Turnstone at Silver Sands also on 6th, four Dunlin at Machriewaterfoot again also on 6th, a Sandwich Tern at Cordon on 11th, a Wheatear at Porta Buidhe also on 11th and four White Wagtail at Kilpatrick Point on 17th.
At this time of year birds begin to flock together, often in preparation for migration. Reports included: six hundred and twenty Kittiwake in Whiting Bay on 3rd, three hundred Linnet on Cleats Shore on 4th, one hundred Starling and two hundred and fifty Meadow Pipit on Braehead Farm on 5th, three hundred Skylark on Cleats Shore on 23rd, forty Pied Wagtail in Knockenkelly also on 23rd and one hundred Golden Plover at Machriewaterfoot on 26th.This gives an indication of the numbers of birds that are on the move at this time of year.
In September there were reports of returning winter visitors including two Whooper Swan and nine Pink-footed Geese on Cleats Shore on 23rd, one hundred and thirteen Greylag Geese and a Wigeon also on Cleats Shore on 28th and six Redwing on Lamlash Golf Course on 30th. A number of summer visitors were still around in September including: five Willow Warbler in Lochranza on 5th, two Chiffchaff and a Spotted Flycatcher in High Kildonan on 14th, a Common Sandpiper and two Swallow at Clauchlands on 22nd and four House Martin at the Auchrannie Hotel on 26th. October should see the last of the House Martins and Swallows departing south.
Other sightings this month included: two Black-throated Diver off Cosyden on 6th, two Woodcock on Holy Isle also on 6th, a Kingfisher at Cordon on 17th, one Moorhen by Sliddery Shore on 20th, two Snipe at Sloc Ruandh on 24th, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Cnoc na Dail on 27th and a Dipper at Glenashdalewater Foot on 29th.
Finally, my thanks to all the “volunteers” who took part in the Eider survey in September. Total number of birds recorded round Arran was thirty-three. There was total coverage of the Arran coastline. Last year the total was similar, thirty-six. The previous three September counts had been consistent at around one hundred and fifteen. Ten years ago it was considerably more at over six hundred. 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. For the latest report from Chris, visit this website.