Location and Access
This site comprises an SSSI, consisting of mature oak woodland beside the quiet minor road, B7044, between Ballantrae and Colmonell(turn north-eastwards off the A77 at the southern outskirts of Ballantrae). Alternatively, from Girvan, turn off the A77 just north of Ballantrae on to the B734, then right at the B7044.
Park by the roadside with consideration for other users and walk the section along the hillside. Good birding can be enjoyed all along this road, but the wooded section at NX 113 848, about 4km from Ballantrae, above the river and along the slopes of Knockdolian Hill is especially rewarding. The view south-eastwards towards Glen Tig and the slopes of Beneraird not only provides an attractive scene, but is well worth scanning for soaring raptors. In the foreground, the River Stinchar should not be neglected either.
The site is a longish walk from the nearest bus route but an approach by cycle up the B7044 from Ballantrae has appeal and would enable Ballantrae Shore and Knockdolian to be explored together.
This is a busy country road with no surfaced lay-bys or safe refuges for wheelchair users to avoid passing traffic. Opportunities exist to watch and listen from vehicle.
Easy ride along B7044, all good for birds.
The real value of Knockdolian lies in its breeding bird community. Mature oak woodland is a scarce commodity in Ayrshire and the range of species breeding here is typical of such habitats. Early spring migrants such as Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler often occur here well ahead of their arrival elsewhere in the county. However, May is probably the best time to hear the songs of breeding species like Tree Pipit, Redstart, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher. The river valley also holds wealth of birdlife with both Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander occasionally nesting alongside regulars such as Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, Dipper and sometimes Kingfisher. The following species could be expected depending on the time of year: Grey Heron, Mallard, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel Pheasant, Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, Woodpigeon, Cuckoo, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart, Redwing, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler,Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer. Scarcer species such as Osprey, Green Woodpecker and Waxwing have also occurred.