Wintering bird flocks abound amid signs of approaching spring

A little egret generates ripples in the water by moving its right leg, hoping to disturb little fish and invertebrates, which it will catch with its long beak. Photograph: Charlotte Clough.

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Bird Notes for January


Jim Cassels

In comparison to last January, January 2021 was colder and wetter. The mean temperature was 3.5 degrees lower. The rainfall was more than 50 per cent higher. The weather was not conducive to being out-of-doors, nevertheless, almost 100 species were reported.

Some of the highlights were seen through the windows of people’s homes, (in line with continuing Covid-19 restrictions), including; little egret in Lamlash on 20th, white-tailed eagle in Machrie on 22nd, little egret in Brodick on 23rd and nuthatch in Pirnmill on 30th. In addition, there was a long-tailed duck off Porta Buidhe on 5th and a Slavonian grebe off Cosyden on 20th.

Wintering wildfowl included: four goldeneye on Mossend Pond on 1st, 300 greylag geese in Feorline on 12th, 28 Canada geese in Clachaig on 13th, one whooper swan on Port-na-Lochan on 19th, 90 pink-footed geese in Sliddery on 30th, 90 wigeon in Shiskine also on 30th, three goosander in Whiting Bay on 31st and 120 teal at Kilpatrick Point also on 31st.

Other wintering species included: one knot on Silver Sands on 2nd, three jack snipe on Sliddery Shore also on 2nd, four redwing at Porta Buidhe on 5th, two rook on Clachaig Farm on 18th, four purple sandpiper on Silver Sands on 20th, one merlin at Porta Buidhe on 22nd, 30 fieldfare at Ballymeanochglen on 27th and 11 yellowhammer in Sliddery on 30th. There were no January reports of brambling.

Wintering flocks included: 120 jackdaw on Clachaig Farm on 1st, 51 golden plover in Sliddery on 3rd, five little grebe on Loch Ranza on 16th, 26 turnstone on Silver Sands also on 16th, 10 black-throated diver in Whiting Bay on 19th, 55  lapwing on Clachaig Farm on 21st, nine mistle thrush on Kilpatrick Farm also on 21st, 15 bullfinch in Clauchan Glen on 23rd, five great northern diver off Blackwaterfoot on 24th, 32 curlew on Cleats Shore also on 24th, 190 starling on Clachaig Farm on 29th, 70 ringed plover at Dougarie on 30th and 250 common gull at Kilpatrick Point on 31st.

Interesting garden birds in January included: 12 long-tailed tit in Shannochie on 10th, a treecreeper in Lochranza on 11th, a blackcap in Mayish on 12th and a goldcrest in Cordon on 13th.

In January there was one report of returning gannet, one in Whiting Bay on 16th, while there were a number of reports of returning shelduck on coastal territories including Auchenhew, Carlo, Clauchlands, Cleats Shore, Kildonan Merkland, Porta Buidhe, Sandbraes and Whiting Bay.

Other signs of approaching spring included: a pair of collared dove nesting in Brodick on 15th, 38 eider courting in Whiting Bay on 19th, a grey heron carrying nest material in Whitehouse Wood on 23rd and a great spotted woodpecker drumming in Kildonan also on 23rd. But the winter is not over yet.

In a future Bird Note there will be a report on the Arran RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend of January 29 to 31.

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 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