Monday 1 January 2024

Monday 1st January

Another year starts and it begins with some much appreciated nicer weather - fairly calm, dry and sunny for much of the day.

Mary Redman and Sam Turnbull sent in notes for final birds of 2023, having seen a rather out of season Gannet at Currie Sands and Barn Owls at Ballimartin and Newton yesterday.

Starting off 2024, was Calum Scott with the first distant sighting of Glenda the Glaucous Gull near Bridgend, plus 8 Scaup at Bowmore. Later, Calum noted a single Pink-footed Goose on Gruinart Flats while searching in vain for the RB Goose, then a Barn Owl hunting near Uiskentuie in the failing light.

A non-avian note from Clive McKay who had a group of c. 8 Bottle-nosed Dolphins off Ardnave Point - an Islay lifer for him. Below is his record shot of them vey close inshore amid the breaking waves (they are the little black streaks!).

Shona-Isla saw 10 festive Choughs at 2nd hole of Machrie Golf Course - not often seen in that area, and especially playing golf!

I took a walk at Loch Skerrols in the afternoon sunshine, but there was nothing too exciting there - just 14 Tufted Duck and a pair of Goldeneye.

Phil Edwards spent the day birding and gives us this enthusiastic account:

"New Year’s Day caught us out since it dawned surprisingly sunny when the forecast had been for rain. Sadly, despite the nice weather, things failed to go well during the morning – few geese at Gruinart Flats; no Glaucous Gull at Uiskentuie; and no birds at all at Finlaggan let alone a Snow Bunting or Crossbills as reported a little time back.  So at midday we opted to do yesterday’s aborted walk to Killinallan Point which changed our luck around.  On arrival we had an immature female Peregrine repeatedly stooping at a Raven which had been giving it some grief beforehand.  As we walked down from the farmhouse we happened upon a lovely flock of c. 40 Twite which allowed me to get close enough for some photos.  Out at the Point while having a late lunch, there were 14 Ringed Plovers on the beach and we watched two White-tailed Eagles soaring over Nave Island and Ardnave Point.  Other birds present included one Greenshank, one Great Northern Diver, 14 Reed Bunting, and three Stonechats.  On the way back along the eastern side of Loch Gruinart we had a male Peregrine, and then bird of the day in the shape of a Spotted Redshank feeding with two Greenshanks and three Redshanks in the shallows.  Also present were two female Goldeneye, two pairs of Red-breasted Merganser, six Turnstones, uncounted Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlews, Wigeon, Teal and Mallard, two Shelduck, and c. 200 Rooks.  We finished the day with around 20,000 Barnacle Goose first all along the mud in the loch and then on the grass of the flats before they were spooked by something and rose into the air calling loudly and flying away.  Not a bad start to 2024."

The Spotted Redshank is a good find - only 4 previous November records, one in December and none previously in January.

Here are Phil's photos of New Year Twite:

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