First signs of approaching spring

Want to read more?

We value our content and our journalists, so to get full access to all your local news updated 7-days-a-week – PLUS an e-edition of the Arran Banner – subscribe today for as little as 48 pence per week.

Already a subscriber?


Subscribe Now

Bird Notes for January by Jim Cassels

January 2018 had a mean temperature more than a degree colder than the previous January and had almost twice as much rain as last year with snow at times even to low levels. While the weather was not conducive to being out of doors, almost 100 species were reported.

Highlights included: a pair of goosander at Fisherman’s Walk on 12th, four little grebe in Loch Ranza on 17th and a merlin on Braehead Farm on 20th.  Two of our more secretive species were also reported: a water rail by Sliddery Shore on 12th and three moorhen at Port na Lochan on 22nd.  In addition there were reports of all three divers including: two great northern diver in Catacol Bay on 18th, six black-throated diver off Largymore on 22nd and a red-throated diver off Sandbraes on 29th.

Wintering wildfowl numbers included: 430 greylag geese in the Shiskine Valley on 9th, one whooper swan at Mossend Pond on 10th, six white-fronted geese in the Shiskine Valley on 18th, 43 wigeon in Feorline on 22nd, 18 pink-footed geese on Corriecravie Moor on 25th, 17 barnacle geese over Sliddery on 26th and 92 teal at Kilpatrick Point also on 26th.  Other winter visitors included: seven purple sandpiper at Silver Sands on 18th, 80 fieldfare at Sliddery on 19th, 14 rook in Sliddery also on 19th and 47 redwing on Corriecravie Moor on 25th.  There were no January reports of waxwing or brambling.

Wintering flocks included: 17 lapwing on Kilpatrick Farm on 10th, 15 turnstone in Catacol Bay on 14th, 110 starling in Sliddery on 19th, 150 chaffinch on Braehead Farm on 20th, 65 curlew at Cleiteadh Buidhe on 22nd, 17 common crossbill at the Dyemill also on 22nd, 17 yellowhammer on Corriecravie Moor on 25th, 56 ringed plover at Blackwaterfoot on 26th and 12 redshank at Kilpatrick Point also on 26th.

Interesting garden birds included: two bullfinch in Whiting Bay on 9th, 30 siskin in Shiskine on 14th, one treecreeper in Lamlash on 19th, one great spotted woodpecker in Margnaheglish on 24th, 19 long-tailed tit in Lamlash on 26th, 11 collared dove in Corrie on 28th and one blackcap in Lamlash on 29th.  In a future bird note there will be a report on the Arran RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend of January 27 to 29.

While there were only two records of returning gannet, a single north of Lochranza and a single south of Whiting Bay both on 29th, shelduck were on numerous coastal territories including Auchenhew, Clauchlands, Cosyden, Drumadoon, Fisherman’s Walk, Kildonan, Kilpatrick, King’s Cave and Pirnmill. Other signs of approaching spring included: 20 courting eider in Whiting Bay on 29th and displaying golden eagle over Lochranza on 30th.  But the winter is not over yet.

Enjoy your birding.

Please send any bird notes with ‘what, when, where’ to me at Kilpatrick Kennels, Kilpatrick, Blackwaterfoot, KA27 8EY, or e mail me at  I look forward to hearing from you. For more information on birding on Arran purchase the Arran Bird Atlas 2007-2012 as well as the Arran Bird Report 2016 and visit this website

White-fronted goose. Photo Jim Cassels No_B07bird01

Moorhen, a secretive bird on Arran. Photo Dennis Morrison No_B07bird02

A male goosander, a stunning saw billed duck which are increasing in number. Photo by Dennis Morrison No_B07bird03

Gannet, the first returning bird seen in January. Photo by Dennis Morrison No_B07bird04

A small feisty winter visitor, the merlin. Photo by Brian Couper No_B07bird05

A grey wagtail catches a worm in the soft mud near a stream Photo by Arthur Duncan. No_B07bird06

Read more about:

Related Articles