Wintering wildfowl were to the fore in December

Nuthatch, a bird that may colonise Arran in the near future, with a great tit on bottom of the feeder. Photo Michael Burke

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Bird Notes for December by Jim Cassels

The mild weather of November did not continue into December. The mean temperature in December was three degrees colder than the mean temperature in November. December also had around 25 per cent less rain than November.

Highlights from November continued throughout December with further reports of little egret from around Lamlash Bay, a single nuthatch at garden feeders in Pirnmill throughout the month and a pair of white-tailed eagle on the west coast. This species will feature in the next bird note in the Banner.


Other visitors in December included: 40 twite on Cleats Shore on 6th, 2o fieldfare at Strathwillan on 11th, 50 rook in Kildonan on 17th, five purple sandpiper on Silver Sands on 29th and five redwing at Clachaig on 30th.

Wintering wildfowl were to the fore including: two whooper swan on Silver Sands on 2nd, 24 wigeon at Cleiteadh Buidhe on 6th, a male goldeneye on Mossend Pond also on 6th, 50 teal at Carlo on 14th, 300 greylag geese on the Rodden on 24th and 63 pink-footed geese in Sliddery on 30th. In addition, there were reports of shelduck returning after their autumn moult from Auchenhew Bay, Cleats Shore, Sannox Bay, Silver Sands and Whiting Bay.

Groups of wintering birds included: 100 common gull at Porta Buidhe on 1st, nine snipe and two Jack snipe in Sliddery on 5th, 23 woodcock in Bennan on 15th, 30 curlew at Clauchlands on 24th, 40 turnstone in Catacol Bay on 30th and eight black-throated diver in Whiting Bay on 31st.

Gardens provide a safe refuge for some birds in winter. Among the more unusual records received were: 20 long-tailed tit in Lamlash on 4th, five yellowhammer in Sliddery on 11th, four goldcrest in Brodick on 16th, a great spotted woodpecker in Lagg on 27th, a treecreeper in Pirnmill also on 27th and a male blackcap in Whiting Bay on 31st.


Finally, here is a date for your diary: the weekend of Friday 29 to Sunday 31 January. That weekend stock up your bird feeders, spend one hour of your weekend watching your garden birds, and note down the highest number you see of each bird species. This is the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch. Last year nearly half a million people throughout the UK and over 30 on Arran took part in this valuable exercise. For more information and to get the free starter pack, visit the RSPB website Big Garden Birdwatch http://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/ . If you do decide to take part, please share your records with me.

Enjoy your birding and keep safe.

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 Report, the first 40 years, which includes the annual report for 2019 and visit this website www.arranbirding.co.uk