First signs of migration after August downpour

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Bird Notes for August by Jim Cassels

In comparison to August last year, this August had a higher rainfall with 50 per cent more rain. Most of this fell on a small number of days. Even in Kilpatrick, 25 per cent of the month’s rain fell on Friday August 9.

On the higher ground the rain was almost unprecedented, causing road closures and flooding. It was the wettest month of the year. Some sand martin colonies were washed away. Towards the end of the month there was more than a hint of the approach of autumn.

Having said that this, August was warmer than last August and summer visitors were still to the fore including: four willow warbler in Glen Rosa on 4th, six sandwich tern in Porta Buidhe on 6th, three common sandpiper and six sedge warbler at Port na Feannaiche on 8th, a swift at Sliddery on 14th, a tree pipit also in Sliddery on 20th, six whinchat at Shannochie on 24th, a chiffchaff singing at Silver Sands on 25th, and the largest groups of swallow and house martin reported were 50 swallow at Clachaig on 20th and 103 house martin at Bourtreehill on 25th. Please try to give me your last record for swallow and house martin this year. Last year there were October records for both species.

Some signs of successful breeding this month included: a pair of mute swan with six young at Cordon on 2nd, two young moorhen at Mossend pond on 3rd, young great spotted woodpecker in a Brodick garden on 9th, a family group of six young kestrel in Glenree on 10th, five young barn owl in Glenscorrodale also on 10th, and eight grey heron with four young in Loch Ranza on 22nd.  In addition there were widespread reports of young birds at garden feeders.

Flycatchers seemed to be thriving with August reports of spotted flycatcher from 12 locations including four at Shannochie on 25th.  In addition there was a report of a male pied flycatcher in North Sannox on 21st. This is the second record this year of this irregular summer visitor. The first was on 3 May at Corriecravie. The previous record was more than 20 years ago in 1998. This bird may have been on its way south after breeding. It did not linger.

In August, breeding is coming to an end, and after breeding a number of species begin to flock together, some in preparation for migration.  These included: 53 red-breasted merganser at Cosyden on 7th, 90 curlew at Port na Feannaiche on 8th, 33 golden plover at Machriewaterfoot on 12th, 500 starling at Sliddery on 20th, 30 linnet on Cleats Shore also on 20th, and 23 goldfinch at Kingscross Point on 31st.

All around the island but particularly on the coast were signs of birds on migration, including: a wigeon at Kilpatrick Point on 1st, a merlin by Goatfell track also on 1st,  11 sanderling and four wheatear on Sliddery Shore on 10th, two white wagtail at Porta Buidhe on 12th, two whimbrel and eight dunlin at Machrie on 16th, two knot at Porta Buidhe on 27th, 15 turnstone on Silver Sands on 29th and two greenshank at Kingscross on 31st.

Among the 100 plus species reported in August there were a number of other noteworthy ones. A sub-adult white-tailed eagle was photographed over the distillery in Lochranza on 18th.  That is the first record this year.  There were four records last year.  For the third year in a row little egret has been reported, first of all round Loch Ranza on 21st and then at Torrylinn on 25th.  Kingfisher was reported from two areas in August, one in Brodick around the Rosa Burn and the other in Lamlash around the Benlister Burn.  Areas with upwelling of food off the coast prompted a number of feeding frenzies including over 100 shag with around 10 cormorant off Porta Buidhe on 19th and around 60 gannet off Merkland Point on 28th. Finally that long staying magpie first report in Kildonan on 11 May was last reported on 24 August.

September sees the start of the peak migration season when many birds are on the move.  It is the time to expect the unexpected.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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 jim@arranbirding.co.uk  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 2018 and visit this website www.arranbirding.co.uk

Spotted flycatcher – one of many species that seem to have had a successful breeding season. Photograph Brian Couper No_B37notes01

White-tailed eagle in golden eagle country. This is the first record this year and there were four records last year. Photograph Nick Giles No_B37notes02

Little egret may colonise Arran. This is the third year in a row that we have had records in August. Photograph Nick Giles No_B37notes03

Kingfisher are a challenging bird to photograph. There have been reports from two areas during August. Photograph Arthur Duncan No_B37notes04