Winter visitors amass amid some seasonal surprises

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Bird Notes for November by Jim Cassels

November had less than half the rainfall of October.

Both months were mild, but November had the first named storm of the winter.

In comparison to last November, while temperatures were similar, this November had almost half the amount of rain as last November.

The November highlight was the first confirmed record of Siberian chiffchaff on Arran. This bird was trapped, ringed, photographed, identified and released by licensed bird ringers on Saturday November 13 in a garden in Sliddery, as featured in a recent Banner article.

Not surprisingly in November, winter visitors were to the fore. These included two brambling in Sliddery on 1st; 22 twite at Machriewaterfoot on 4th; a snow bunting on Beinn a’ Chliabhain on 7th; five yellowhammer in Sliddery on 13th; a number of flocks of redwing including 60 in Shannochie on 15th and, after a dearth of fieldfare records in October, a number of flocks, including 300 in Lochranza on 21st.

Other records of wintering birds included: a juvenile merlin at Drumadoon Point on 2nd; 120 golden plover at Machriewaterfoot on 4th; five rook in Auchenhew, also on 4th; 12 turnstone at Sandbraes on 7th; 21 snipe and nine woodcock in Sliddery on 10th; 105 curlew on Corriecravie shore on 20th; 12 lapwing at Port na Feannaiche on 28th and one jack snipe in Sliddery, also on 28th.

Reports of wintering wildfowl included: two wigeon at Clauchlands on 9th; two goldeneye at Kingscross Point, also on 9th; 70 pink-footed geese flying over Sliddery on 13th; one whooper swan on Mossend Pond on 14th; 220 greylag geese in the Shiskine Valley on 15th; 35 teal on Corriecravie shore on 20th and one brent goose on Silver Sands on 21st.

Gardens provide safe refuge during the winter months, with many people providing food and water for their feathered friends.

Here is a small selection from the many reports from gardens round the island in November: a male blackcap in Whiting Bay on 8th; four long-tailed tit in Lamlash on 17th; a goldcrest in Pirnmill on 20th; four great tit in Shannochie on 21st; a treecreeper in Whiting Bay, also on 21st; eight coal tit in Margnaheglish on 29th and eight coal tit and two great spotted woodpecker in Lagg, also on 29th.

There were two November records of birds usually associated with warmer months of the year – a wheatear at Drumadoon Point on 2nd and a swallow at Sliddery on 5th.

Finally, here is a further selection of highlights from what has been another exceptional month for bird-watching on Arran: a little egret by Fisherman’s Walk on 3rd; 12 black-headed gull at Sandbraes, also on 3rd; a white-tailed eagle over the entrance to Glen Catacol on 7th; three bullfinch in Corriecravie quarry on 15th; a kingfisher flying under the footbridge by the museum on 19th; three golden eagle including one sub-adult over the distillery in Lochranza, also on 19th; five great northern diver off Drumadoon Point on 21st; around 200 jackdaw coming in to roost in trees in Machrie on 22nd; five returning shelduck in Pirnmill, also on 22nd, and four calling water rail in Corriecravie on 23rd.

Last, but by no means least, was the appearance of three red kite flying west from the heights between Lamlash and Whiting Bay. The previous month there had been a report of six red kite together in the Shiskine Valley. Both are remarkable records. Red kite records on Arran are usually of single birds.

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 email me at I look forward to hearing from you. For more information on birding on Arran, purchase the Arran Bird Report 2020 and the Arran Bird Report, the first 40 years. Plus visit the website


Siberian chiffchaff, a monthly highlight and the first Arran record. Photograph: Rachel Dobson. No_B50bird01

Golden plover, one of the many winter visitors. Photograph: Val Gall. No_B50bird02

Goldeneye, one of the wintering wildfowl on Arran. Photograph: Brian Couper. No_B50bird03

Treecreeper, one of the many species of bird reported in gardens in November. Photograph: Howard Sargeant. No_B50bird04

A spectacular shot of a black-headed gull fishing. Photograph: Arthur Duncan. No_B50bird05