The Story behind the Photo 2

Yellow Wagtail at Bourtreehill mid 1970s

Imagine, if you will, a time when Bourtreehill, Irvine was predominantly farmland, with fields of barley and hay rippling in the early summer breeze.  Most of my limited encounters with Yellow Wagtail, up till this period, had been in wet meadows and marshland, often with cattle present nearby.  The thought of looking for breeding birds in cereal fields or hayfields hadn’t crossed my mind.  Strange, really, since it had once been a bird which had been quite common in Scotland, rejoicing in nicknames like “Corn Willie.”   

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The Story behind the Photo 1

Wilson’s Phalarope at New Cumnock 1978

On the 5th September I walked round the subsidence lagoons at Knockshinnoch with Mark Rollie, looking for waders in what looked like some promising areas.  Mark, being a local lad from New Cumnock, knew the area well, and seemed keen to show me some parts of this wetland which were unknown to me. 

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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.

Maidens Brent Geese

In recent years the flock of Brent Geese at Maidens has become a regular and growing feature. As the series of photos in the Photo Gallery shows, this flock has been closely monitored over the years by Angus Hogg. Now Angus has brought all the information on these geese at Maidens into a new article: the Maidens Brent Geese  .

Eastern Black Redstart

Eastern Black RedstartBack 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 detailed report. Dave has produced the attached poster   showing what they submitted and the outcome.

Siberian Chiffchaff

PDF of poster

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.