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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
Dave McGarvie, our new BTO Representative, has put together an article describing a survey he performed near Carsphairn last Easter. Hopefully it will encourage people to sign up for surveys of other squares in SW Scotland. (Disclaimer: great weather not guaranteed!)
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 .
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 detailed report. Dave has produced the attached poster showing what they submitted and the outcome.
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.
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.