Kingfisher insights on Arran

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This is a good time of year to be looking out for kingfisher on Arran.

Most of the records of kingfisher on Arran are in the late summer/early autumn. For example in September last year there were 11 records from six wide-spread locations, including areas where it has not been recorded regularly like Dhunan, the 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. This encouraged me to look at the Arran kingfisher records over the last 10 years to see if I could get some insights into when and where kingfisher are seen on Arran.

Over the last 10 years there have been 206 records of kingfisher on Arran – 198 of these were of single birds and only on eight occasions were two birds seen. The accompanying chart shows all the records plotted against month of the year. With more than 70 per cent of the records in August/September/October and virtually none in the breeding season, this would suggest that the sightings on Arran are birds dispersing from elsewhere after the breeding season. There have been no confirmed records of kingfisher breeding on Arran. Looking at the number of sightings each year, there is no obvious pattern. For example while there were no records from 2016, there were 82 for 2017. The number of sightings each year may reflect the success or otherwise of breeding elsewhere. The better the breeding season, the more birds there are dispersing and the more sightings there are on Arran.

The second chart plots the records from the last 10 years against locations on Arran. While the records are quite widespread, the vast majority of the records, over 80 per cent, are from the north end of Brodick Bay around the Rosa and Cloy burns, Fisherman’s Walk and Cladach.

This starling sized bird is often unobtrusive despite its bright colours, and often all that is seen is a glimpse of a bright blue back flying off over water. On the other hand this shy bird can allow really close clear views, if you are patient. In Scotland, the kingfisher is a localised breeder found mostly in the south and west mainland. The range of this species is from the British Isles and Scandinavia east across central Europe to the Urals and the Caspian Sea. Populations in the north and east undertake long distance migrations to winter in southern Europe and North Africa, but birds further west and south are either sedentary or short distance migrants. The nearest breeding area to Arran is to the east in North Ayrshire.

Wherever the birds on Arran come from, their presence brightens any day.

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 Report, the first 40 years, which includes the annual report for 2019 and visit this website