Pallas’s Warbler in Ayrshire – an Unexpected First

When you look at the spread of bird records within Ayrshire, many places jump out of the page as locations which are very well-watched – some, less so.  However, the woodland of Auchinleck House is one of those areas into which birders very rarely venture.  In truth, there are many such places in the county, and you have to wonder what birds are missed during the course of a year.

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Ayrshire First: Sooty Tern

Adult Sooty Tern, Ascension Island, 2008 © Angus Hogg

A sunny afternoon on the 23rd July 2020.  I decide to take a trip down to Maidens harbour.  Recurrent thoughts running through my head kept coming back to “What are you doing?  You know it’s going to be full of tourists, and there’ll be no birds!”  Arriving at the harbour, I rigged up my ‘scope on the tripod, and proceeded to look across the bay towards the north.

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Spotted Sandpiper Update

Spotty on 15-April, © Dave Grant

Now that “Spotty” the Spotted Sandpiper has headed off from Ayrshire, it is a good time to record his stay. (For those of us living outside South Ayrshire, a lot of people are very grateful Spotty hung around until the lockdown was eased!)

We have two articles on Spotty:

  1. Firstly is a Finder’s Note by Hayden Fripp on how he first came to find the bird last Autumn.
  2. Then we have an article by Angus Hogg on how Spotty’s plumage changed over the Winter and what he could turn into when an adult.

These two articles are both   documents. My thanks to Hayden and Angus for writing them.

Rock Pipit or Water Pipit?

Are you bored watching Christmas “specials” of something fraudulently labelled as “comedy” on the box? Want to escape the “joy” of the family while stuck in tier 4? Not quite ready for Angus’s masterclass on Pipits but still want to brush up on the differences between Rock Pipit and Water Pipit? Well, fortunately, Dave Grant has put together a cut-out-and-keep poster  of the things to look out for. Just click on the icon on the left and soon you too will amaze your friends† with your new Motacillidae knowledge.

† Note: friends not supplied.

Eastern Black Redstart

Back in 2018 Angus Hogg and Dave Grant saw and photographed an unusual looking Black Redstart near Maidens.  It had the characteristics of an Eastern sub-species and so they submitted a detail report. Dave has produced the attached poster   showing what they submitted and the outcome.

Siberian Chiffchaff

If like me you aren’t as up-to-date on your Siberian Chiffchaff identification as you’d like, then you’ll find the attached poster   produced by Dave Grant essential reading. Using his photos of the bird that recently popped up in Auchenharvie and explanatory notes, you’ll be ready for when the next one pops up. Click on the icon to download the poster. Makes an ideal spousal Christmas present.

Return of the Chough

The discovery of a Chough just North of Turnberry lighthouse on January 30th 2019 came almost 90 years after the last totally reliable record of the bird in Ayrshire. A once widespread bird in Scotland, the numbers today have declined to the point where it hangs on in places such as Islay, Jura and Colonsay, with all of the former Scottish mainland haunts now unoccupied by breeding pairs.

In South-west Scotland, it would appear that the writing was on the wall from around the middle of the 19th century, when significant declines were noted by the ornithologists of the day. One comment made at the time stated that it had been abundant on all the rocky headlands of Scotland in 1835 but “had vanished nearly everywhere by 1865.” Choughs weren’t restricted to coastal Scotland as is exemplified by records of birds from inland localities such as Assynt, Glen Lyon, Glen Clova and the Ochils. These inland locations had, however, mostly been abandoned by the early 19th century.

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