Bird report is out in time for Easter

The front cover of the Arran Bird Report 2020.

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With a great team effort, the Arran Natural History Society has again got the annual bird report into outlets throughout the island for the Easter holidays, writes Jim Cassels.

With a stunning photograph of a pair of white-tailed eagles by Brian Couper on the front cover, it is yet another eye-catching annual report.

The Arran Bird Report 2020 is a ‘must’ for anyone interested in the birds of Arran.

It includes information on all species seen on Arran, a month-by-month summary of what was around in 2020, information on ringed birds and reports on some of Arran’s bird projects.

For the first time the report is in full colour and is beautifully illustrated with photographs from 26 photographers.

The uniqueness of Arran is reflected throughout the report, including the number of UK protected birds that share the island with people, as well as the differences between here and the adjacent mainland.

This annual bird report was achieved in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which arrived in the UK in late January last year. This had a profound impact on everyone’s lives throughout the whole of 2020.

What was the impact on bird recording on Arran in 2020? Visitor numbers to the island were down. There was some interruption to the various regular bird surveys in line with government advice.

While some resident birdwatchers had more time to spend birdwatching on Arran, others were made redundant and left the island to find work.

Looking at the data received over the course of the year and comparing it broadly to the previous year, there were fewer contributors, 250 compared to 320, fewer records, 16,500 compared to 24,000 and fewer species 157 compared to 160.

Under the circumstances it was a great team effort to produce the annual report for 2020 and the final publication showcases the fascinating birding year of 2020.

Here is a flavour of some the highlights.

Arran’s first ever surf scoter, reported at the end of 2019, lingered into January. In October, the first ever Lapland bunting was reported.

As well as these firsts, in May there was the second record of garganey and in September the second record of wood sandpiper.

In addition, several species were recorded after an absence of a number of years, hoopoe in April after 14 years: corncrake in May after 12 years and curlew sandpiper in October after 14 years.

As well as these species, rose-coloured starling turned up for the fourth year in a row and there were increasing reports of these colonising species; little egret, nuthatch and white-tailed eagle.

The annual report is available from these outlets: Arran Active, Brodick tel. 302113, the Book and Card Centre, Brodick tel. 302288, the Harbour Shop, Blackwaterfoot tel. 860215 and Pirnmill Shop and Post Office tel. 850235.  priced £7.00.

It is also available directly from the distribution organisers for the Arran Natural History Society priced £7.00 plus £1.70 p&p at Make sure you get your copy as only a limited number have been produced.