This September was drier and cooler than August but wetter and warmer than last September. September is the start of the peak migration season, when many birds are on the move. The weather was conducive to this, particularly the last week or so as the wind came more from a northerly direction. For example on 24 September over three hundred Skylark were counting passing over Sliddery. There were similar numbers over the next few days dropping to around one hundred and fifty on 29th. The following day there were numerous reports of skeins of Pink-footed Geese passing over the south of the island. Two observers counted eight flocks with a total of over five hundred birds.
Other birds on migration included: a Whimbrel at Lenamhor on 1st, a Bar-tailed Godwit at Cosyden also 1st, three Sanderling at Blackwaterfoot on 3rd, eight Knot at Drumadoon Point on 5th, five White Wagtail at Porta Buidhe on 6th, three Wheatear at Cnocan Biorach also on 6th, a Sandwich Tern at Porta Buidhe on 18th, two Dunlin at Drumadoon Point on 20th and six Twite at Dougarie on 23rd. Numbers of Twite on Arran seem to be decreasing.
At this time of year birds begin to flock together, often in preparation for migration. Reports included: one hundred and four Golden Plover at Machriewaterfoot on 9th, fifteen Redshank at Sandbraes on 14th, thirty-five Curlew at Kilpatrick Point on 21st, one hundred and fifty Linnet , one hundred and twelve Ringed Plover and fifty-one Turnstone at Machriewaterfoot on 26th, one hundred Kittiwake at Fisherman's Walk on 28th, sixty Teal at Cosyden on 29th, twenty-six Pied Wagtail at Silver Sands on 30th, one hundred and three Starling at Clachaig Farm also on 30th and one hundred and ninety-two Greylag Geese on Cleats Shore also on 30th. 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 a Wigeon at Kilpatrick Point on 21st and fifty Rook in Sliddery on 30th. A number of summer visitors were still around in September including: a Common Sandpiper at Machriewaterfoot on 2nd, two Whitethroat at Clauchlands Point on 13th, a Sand Martin in Sannox on 18th, twenty House Martin in Shiskine on 20th, two Swallow at Torbeg on 26th, a Willow Warbler at Clauchlands on 28th and a Chiffchaff at Clachaig Farm on 30th. October should see the last of the House Martins, Swallows and other summer visitors departing south.
There was a wide range of species recorded in September, almost one hundred. Other interesting sightings this month included: two Great Spotted Woodpecker in a garden in Brodick on 5th, one hundred and fifty Gannet off the Cock of Arran on 7th, four Red-throated Diver off Largymore on 13th, one hundred and fifty Woodpigeon at Mossend Pond on 14th, three Golden Eagle over Torr Meadhonach on 16th, two Magpie together ( an Arran first) on Lamlash Golf Course on 26th, three Moorhen at Mossend Pond on 28th, thirty-three Shag on Balliekine Shore on 29th and six Black-throated Diver at Cosyden also on 29th. In addition, September was an outstanding month for Kingfisher. There were eleven records from six wide-spread locations including areas where it has not been recorded regularly like Dhunan, Roddin and Sannox. Only one of the records was for more than one bird and that was a report of two on the Rosa Burn on 13th.
Finally, my thanks to all the “volunteers” who took part in the Eider survey in September. Total number of birds recorded round Arran was forty-seven. There was total coverage of the Arran coastline. Last year the total was thirty-three. Five previous September counts had been consistently over one hundred. In 2000 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. http://www.arranbirding.co.uk/files/Clyde-Eider-News-No-17-Aug-2019.pdf .