Sand Martins of Gailes Marsh

I recently bumped into local artist Hugh Loney at Gailes Marsh SWT reserve in Irvine. Like me he was enjoying watching the Sand Martins at their new purpose-built colony. He had set up a video camera and told me that it was an old model that was a bit slow which had a lovely effect and showed me the some of the ghostly images. He has kindly sent some in and they are shown below. I’m sure you’ll agree that they are wonderfully different from the usual photos.

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The Stories behind the Photos

Angus Hogg has been having a wander down memory lane and is putting together a series of articles giving the stories behind some photos of the famous bird species seen in Ayrshire in years gone by. So far we have:

  1. Wilson’s Phalarope at New Cumnock 1978
  2. Yellow Wagtail at Bourtreehill mid 1970s
  3. Leach’s Storm Petrel, and the Girvan Police
  4. European Storm Petrels at Turnberry Point
  5. Eurasian Spoonbill at Hunterston in 1978
  6. Harlequin Ducks at Kennedy’s Pass in 1996
  7. Bewick’s Swans at Shewalton, 1978
  8. Green Sandpiper at Tarholm, 1975
Juvenile Wilson’s Phalarope at Knockshinnoch Lagoons,
7 September 1978  (© Angus Hogg)

These articles are just the latest in our growing set. Angus will hopefully find time to put together a few others, as I’d argue, no-one has more knowledge of birds in Ayrshire going back decades.

Ayrshire Bird Report 2019

Red-billed Chough at
Turnberry Point  (Angus Hogg)

Welcome to the 2019 Ayrshire Bird Report.  With the completion of yet another bird report, the progress towards getting it back on track continues, and the plan is to have another one finished by the end of this year.  Of course, none of this would be possible without help from a great variety of people, and particular thanks must go to our local recorder, Fraser Simpson, for his assistance with numerous queries regarding records. 

The report is available for free as a PDF download by clicking here.

(9-April: minor revision to fix some typos.)

Angus Hogg and Dave Grant, Editors

March 2023 Photos

With Spring just around the corner and a wet Saturday afternoon to fill, I’ve managed catch up with the recent batch of photos sent in for the Photo Gallery.  As usual, the above are just a taste of what has been added and are merely the Editor’s pick (although bribery can influence this!).

My thanks to Dougie Edmond, Dave Grant, Hayden Fripp and Bruce Kerr for sending their photos in.

Red Kites Breeding in Ayrshire

Background – Red Kite (Milvus milvus) formerly nested in Glen App during the early 1830s, but vanished as a breeding species soon afterwards (Gray & Anderson 1869). The last 19th century sighting of a live bird was at Lendalfoot during Oct-Nov 1892, by which time the species had become extinct over much of Scotland, largely due to persecution and egg-collection. Between 1856 and 1859 Gray recorded it breeding in Argyll (Bonaw), and Loch Lomond around the same time.

Since that time, Red Kite has remained a rare visitor to Ayrshire – until 1989, when they were re-introduced to several parts of the UK. A steady increase in sightings resulted from their re-introduction to Dumfries and Galloway in 2001, after which time records within Ayrshire became almost annual, often involving more than one bird after 2010, as the breeding numbers in D&G increased.

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Ayrshire Bird Report 2018

Short-eared Owl at Bogside (Angus Hogg)

Welcome to the 2018 Ayrshire Bird Report.  The catch-up work continues, and we’re pleased to have managed to produce two bird reports within this year.   it is available for free as a PDF download by clicking here.

Once again, the report has been supported by the Ayrshire Branch of the SOC, and both editors are grateful for the help, advice (and patience) received from the SOC local recorder for Ayrshire, Fraser Simpson, especially when pestered for extra details regarding some entries.

Angus Hogg and Dave Grant, Editors

Book Review: Collins Bird Guide 3rd Edition

Collins Bird Guide 3rd Edition

The Collins Bird Guide was first published in 1999 and instantly became the go-to guide for all birders. The 2nd edition was published in 2009 with a subsequent reprint with further amendments in 2018 (though not enough amendments to call it a 3rd edition). The long-awaited 3rd edition was finally published earlier this December. Is it still the go-to guide for birders?

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December 2022 Photos

As a distraction from peeling sprouts, I’ve managed to catch up with the recent batch of photos sent in for the Photo Gallery. There are some festive delights such as Dave Grant’s Kingfisher pushed down to the coast by the cold snap. Bruce Kerr got a stunning close-up of the obliging Snow Bunting at Stevenston Point which was also the location for David Lynn’s great duo of Long-tailed Duck and Little Gull.  Bob Ross’s lovely picture of a male Eider proves that you just can’t have too much colour.

As usual, the above are just a taste of what has been added and are merely the Editor’s pick while enforcing the rules (e.g. an ex Recorder of this county tried to sneak in some great Red Kite pictures but they were not taken in Ayrshire – so no joy – harsh but fair, I’m sure you’ll agree!).

My thanks to Dave Grant, Angus Hogg, Bruce Kerr, David Lynn and Bob Ross for sending their photos in.

Festive best wishes to you all and I hope Santa brings the new optics and bird guides you asked for.

Nice Garden Tick

It’s always nice to get a new tick on your garden list.  So you can imagine Selina Wilkinson‘s delight at adding Cattle Egret to her garden list when not just one but eleven birds appeared in the field behind her house in Girvan in October.  And it wasn’t just new to her garden: it was new for the county.  Cue twitch.  Amazingly, more birds turned up, this time in North Ayrshire at Hunterson and Kilwinning.  The photos below show some of the birds.  My thanks to Dave Grant, Angus Hogg and David Lynn for sending them in.  As fastest off the shutter, Dave’s picture also makes it to the Ayrshire Bird List.