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Western Scotland birding

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Old Sunday 24th April 2016, 08:34   #476
sarahlouise84
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Hi

I have a friend and her 7 year old son visiting next Sunday with plans to go to arran. She is interested in birds and nature but just wants to see and enjoy the island mainly and obviously we need to keep a 7 year old entertained. Any tips on travel/ places to visit would be very much appreciated.

Thanks
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Old Sunday 8th May 2016, 13:04   #477
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Has anyone seen the parakeets in Glasgow's Victoria Park? According to a newspaper, there's a pair nesting there now. They're maybe not welcomed by everyone but I'd fancy seeing them, it would be a good addition to my life list.
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Old Sunday 8th May 2016, 16:25   #478
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I went along today - was very busy in the park as funfair on, plus the nice weather so I felt a bit of a fruit loop craning up at the trees whilst kids ran screaming by. Didn't manage to see any although I will definitely be going back as it's very use to where I stay. Anyone know where abouts in the park they've been seen? Was pretty excited to find this out today! (Also, first post so hi everyone ��)
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Old Monday 9th May 2016, 08:43   #479
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Could someone remind me of any long-staying rarities in the area roughly north of Ayr, south of Skye and west of Glasgow.
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Old Monday 9th May 2016, 21:09   #480
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Thinking of a trip up to Oban next week. Is there any chance of White-tailed Eagle in or around that area? Also any other suggestions for birding spots around that general vicinity would be appreciated. Don't mind a bit of a drive but wont have time for any ferries.
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Old Tuesday 10th May 2016, 09:12   #481
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I guess there's always a chance of an eagle over Oban since they nest of nearby Mull, but I wouldn't get your hopes up. The harbour area has black guillemots and the chance of other seabirds.

Probably worth looking at the Argyll Bird Club website for recent sightings and tips for the best places to visit.
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Old Thursday 12th May 2016, 21:41   #482
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JTweedie View Post
I guess there's always a chance of an eagle over Oban since they nest of nearby Mull, but I wouldn't get your hopes up. The harbour area has black guillemots and the chance of other seabirds.

Probably worth looking at the Argyll Bird Club website for recent sightings and tips for the best places to visit.
Cheers - will take a look at that link.
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Old Saturday 25th June 2016, 20:54   #483
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There seems to be a lot more eyes trained on Lochwinnoch recently, with more and more good sightings. In the past week alone they've had little ringed plover, nuthatch and Mandarin duck. I saw the latter myself today. It's generally a fairly quiet reserve, especially in summer, but it looks like either more rare birds are passing through or they're just being noticed more now.

Hen harriers nest not far away and sometimes make an appearance at the reserve, as do ospreys. They've also had young golden eagles passing over too.
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Old Wednesday 5th October 2016, 18:15   #484
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I noticed lots of thrushes this morning flying about 30 metres overhead. This followed on from two I spotted yesterday which I took to be mistle thrushes. But today's birds looked smaller and were in a flock of 15-20 birds - redwings already?
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Old Monday 10th October 2016, 06:59   #485
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Originally Posted by JTweedie View Post
I noticed lots of thrushes this morning flying about 30 metres overhead. This followed on from two I spotted yesterday which I took to be mistle thrushes. But today's birds looked smaller and were in a flock of 15-20 birds - redwings already?
Spotted the first Redwings in South Ayrshire last week, only a few but they are on their way.
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Old Saturday 20th January 2018, 13:13   #486
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It's been quite a while since I've posted in this thread. The last couple of years, and the last year in particular, have been so busy with work and university that I haven't really had much chance to get out birding. In fact, I didn't get out birding at all in the whole of 2017, although I was still noting the birds I spotted in my day-to-day activities. But even then I spotted fewer than 50 species in the whole year.

Now that I've completed my degree I hope to be able to spend much more time out birding this year. I've been out on the last two Saturdays and already have seen more species seen that all of last year.

The following is a summary of those two Saturdays. While nothing I spotted is particularly unusual or noteworthy to most birders, to me they were and they amounted to a re-engagement with birding again and hopefully sets the template for the rest of the year. I don't have a car either, so all birding will be done using public transport which may limit some of the places I can visit.

Saturday 6 January - Lochwinnoch

Lochwinnoch is where I joined the RSPB. It's probably the reserve I visit more than any others, partly because of easy access by train, and it was the place I returned to to rekindle my birding. It used to have a reputation as quite a quiet place, but there seems to be a lot more activity at it now - many more birders visiting and therefore more species are being recorded. It is dominated by ducks, especially in winter, but all sorts can turn up throughout the year. Hen harriers seem to be seen quite regularly; they nest not too far away in a monitored location.

Anyway, this visit was on a dry, clear day, with a cold wind blowing through it. It barely rose above 3 degrees C, but the wind made it feel colder. Looking out from the visitor centre the distant Campsies were unusually clear being capped by snow that glistened in the sunlight, giving the impression of much bigger hills, something akin to the Cairngorms seen from Loch Morlich. Later in the afternoon, the lowering Sun cast a soft golden and red glow over the reserve which seemed to energise the goldfinch and chaffinch which burst into full voice. It's not something I've really heard before in winter - it sounded more like a dawn chorus in early spring! Robins were also calling, defending their territories and perhaps making an early advertisement for the breeding season, and young moorhens clustered around the bird feeders, the lack of red on their beaks compensated by the ruddy sun. A strong flock of 20+ House sparrows have taken up residence in a bush just outside the visitor centre and seem to have become used to people because they just perched on top of the bushes as people walked nearby.

On the water, ducks were showing reasonably well, with goldeneye, goosander, mallard, tufted duck and wigeon all showing well. There's normally a male and/or female smew at Lochwinnoch over winter, but I was too early. A redhead smew has been seen recently though on Barr Loch, so I'll need to go back to see it. There were no whooper swans either unusually, although they have been reported as flying over a few times. Perhaps it's not been cold enough further north for them to move on?

The highlight of the day was a stonechat in the reeds. I've normally seen these up in the hills above Lochwinnoch and in similar environments, so it was great to see one here on the reserve. I was surprised to realise that it was the first one I'd seen since 2010!

Saturday 13 January - Ayr

The weather had been quite miserable leading up to this Saturday, but it had been forecast to break on this Saturday, so I took advantage by getting the train down to Ayr. When I got there it was really quite windy with temperatures up to about 6 degrees C. Not quite the break in the weather I hoped for, but I was there and just had to make the most of it.

I normally follow the same path when in Ayr. I walk down to the harbour area and then along the shore to Doonfoot. Each end of the walk contains the highlights, although the walk is good for seawatching and the scrub along the beach can sometimes hold good birds.

Standing on the quay at the harbour I looked over at the cormorants and was lucky to spot some shags among them. Scuttering about nearby were purple sandpiper, turnstones and dunlin. It's also a reliable spot for black guillemot, and I did see one although it was flying out to sea from the harbour. There were a number of red-breasted merganser directly under the quay wall showing really well, while eider flew north towards Troon. Across the harbour there is an industrial area with huge rocks forming sea defences. I've seen otter there a couple of times, but wasn't lucky this time.

I spent a short time here hoping for an otter to appear, but it wasn't to be. I did however see a razorbill flying a bit further out to sea, and there were loads of great black-backed gulls cruising the surf.

I began my walk along the shore when a pied wagtail made me pause to look at it. As I did so, a small flock of birds rose up from the beach below. I spotted a reddish tinge to their backs and realised it was a group of 20 or so linnets. I had then convinced myself for an hour or two that they were twite, but I've definitely plumped for linnet. They actually accompanied me as I walked south along the shore. They would stop and forage and then as I got closer would move ahead a few metres, repeating this the whole way. At one point a second pied wagtail turned up, but the first one wasn't having it - the beach is only big enough for one!

One thing I noticed was that it got gradually less windy and the sea less violent as I wandered south. Over the sea, Goatfell began to peek out from above the clouds that had embraced Arran. As a geology graduate, it was interesting seeing the different coloured sediments at different parts of the beach and imagining how these might look as part of sandstones in the future.

As I approached Doonfoot, I heard the sound of curlew, an evocative sound of the coast if ever there was one. While I was thinking about how they symbolise wild open places, I came across four of them mingling with oystercatchers as dog walkers traipsed nearby - not quite the wild emblems I had been imagining!

A rock pipit rose up from among the group of linnets as a dog disturbed them, and I spotted a pied wagtail tip-toeing on a viscous river channel leading into the sea. A greenfinch calling gave itself away and on the shore at Doonfoot were redshank, teal and a little grebe among the gulls and mute swans. Unfortunately a couple of dogs were allowed to run about in this area that teems with gulls and waders and the birds were being continuously disturbed.

All in all, a good couple of days to get back into birding.

Last edited by JTweedie : Saturday 20th January 2018 at 13:21.
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Old Saturday 20th January 2018, 21:49   #487
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Hi, good to see you are back, really enjoined you’re report, i have traveled in your footsteps many times but I have dip on purple sand purple sandpiper at at harbour many times. Please the keep reports coming. Don’t know what’s your degree is but I hope you get a job . Tommy.
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Old Sunday 21st January 2018, 00:12   #488
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Hi Tommy, in the past the purple sandpipers have been seen by peering over the edge of the quay wall right at the end where it juts out into the sea. They usually perch a couple of metres down. This time they were on the breakwater thingie that the cormorants roost on. You often see waders there, usually turnstones, but sometimes ringed plovers, and last week purple sandpipers.
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Old Sunday 21st January 2018, 16:35   #489
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Hi, thanks for the info, i will be going to Ayr in fortnight. Tommy.
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Old Thursday 1st March 2018, 22:34   #490
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Like JTweedie I haven't been around for a good while, you all know what life is like. However I was lucky enough to go to Mexico early in February and went out on a couple of excellent birding tours, which had kind of rekindled my interest.

So last Wednesday I went to Barons Hough in Motherwell for a couple of hours. On the way down to the marsh hide I saw Great and Blue Tits, Robins and a Kestrel. From the hide the majority of the ducks in front were Teal and a couple of Mallards. Through the scope there were Tufted ducks and Coots at a distance. On leaving the hide I was very pleased to see some Goldcrests, something I haven't seen too often. Then there were some Long Tailed Tits and Wrens in the vicinity. Along the path to the next hide Carrion Crows, Magpies, Blackbirds and a Song Thrush. From the hide I had a much better view of the Tufted Ducks and Coots, added to which were Moorhens (I had forgotten just how red their beaks are). There were a couple of pairs of Gadwalls, and the highlight was a few male Goldeneyes displaying for the attentions of the females. I had never seen that before, the way in which they would extend their neck and then lay their head along their back. Very impressive. There were also Blackheaded Gulls and Herring Gulls. At the next two hides there was nothing extra to see. Along the far path there were some Geese flying around, but they were towards the sun and so I never got more than silhouettes of them. On the river Clyde I was lucky enough to see a family of otters, which was a treat. Finished off with more Thrushes on the way back to the car, which I'm pretty sure were Mistle Thrushes, though I was losing the light by this time and could be mistaken.
Unfortunately this Wednesday was a snow day so didn't manage to get out. The feeders having been producing Coal, Great, Blue and Longtailed Tits, Chaffinch, Green, Gold and Bull Finches. Dunnocks, Robins, Wrens, Blackbirds, Magpies, Wood Pigeons. There have been some Redwings around today too, and once more a lot of Geese flying but too far for identification.
It is nice to be back, and hopefully have the chance to get back into the habit of doing a bit of birdwatching on my day off.
Allan
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Old Thursday 1st March 2018, 22:39   #491
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It's lovely to see you back again Allan and you've written a super report of your visit to Barons Haugh.

Guess you saw a Lifer or two in Mexico eh?
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Old Thursday 1st March 2018, 23:00   #492
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More than a hundred lifers! The guide, a Dutchman called Steven, took us out for a morning and then a whole day affair. Really difficult to name best bird, there were some spectaculars, but I have to say that Frigate Birds and Skimmers were real favourites. I suppose I've seen them on nature programmes on TV, so to seem them in the flesh was pretty special. For most outlandish from a UK perspective, Turquoise Browed Mot Mot was pretty hard to beat, though the Vermillion Flycatcher was a pretty thing. Yeah, a really good trip, though it reminded me why I can never be a hard-core birder, it involved getting up at 3.30am! I'm not a morning person, and the dawn chorus usually passes me by!
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Old Thursday 1st March 2018, 23:46   #493
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Wow!!! Think you enjoyed yourself then. I'd love to see a motmot, they're beautiful, aren't they.

I know what you mean.... I'm not a morning person either LOL.
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Old Thursday 8th March 2018, 21:46   #494
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This should really be in the Lothian thread, but I went out on Wednesday to Vane Farm RSPB place on Loch Leven, then to Musselburgh. The Loch was full of Pochard, some Teal, Mallards, Tufted Ducks, four Shelducks, lots of Cormorants. At the feeders beside the first hide were some Gold and Chaffinchs, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue and Great Tits. At the second hide there were some Lapwings displaying which was the highlight. A Curlew, some Starlings and some Carrion Crows was about all that was about. At the feeders on the way out there was a nice pair of Siskins. On the road back towards the motorway there was a large flock of Pink-footed Geese which was what I had expected to see.
Once I got to Musselburgh I just had time to go to the river mouth. There were Oystercatchers, Turnstones, Redshanks, Bar-tailed Godwit along the edges. Most of the gulls were Black-headed and Common Gulls. Further out were Herring Gulls and Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls. (I think, not great with gulls). There were a couple of other folk out with scopes. My scope could make out black ducks, so Common Scoters, I couldn't make out any colours, so there may have been Velvet or even the Surf Scoter, which one of the guys said he had seen about half an hour earlier. The other birder thought she could see long tailed ducks far off, but they were just dots to me. The highlight was a Great Northern Diver (pretty sure) which flew in. There were also some Guillemots, a Great Crested Grebe and other dots in the distance. I thought one of them might have been a puffin, but again the scope I have didn't give quite enough detail.
Anyway that was my day out.
Allan
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Old Wednesday 14th March 2018, 19:51   #495
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I was tempted to reanimate the Hogganfield Loch thread, as I was there today for the first time in ages. List as follows:
mute swan
whooper swan
mallard
goldeneye
tufted duck
gadwall
teal
goosander
herring gull
black headed gull
lesser black backed gull
heron
coot
moorhen
woodpigeon
carrion crow
jackdaw
magpie
bluetit
long tailed tit
great tit
dunnock
blackbird
starling
great crested grebe
canada goose
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Old Tuesday 20th March 2018, 14:57   #496
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Had a quick walk around the Millichen flood area just north of Glasgow. The aim was to see a tree sparrow and the possibility of a yellowhammer. Tree Sparrows were around, so that was good. Didn't see a yellowhammer, but I did see a Reed Bunting, which I hadn't seen there before, so that was good. Otherwise:
Heron
Kestrel
Buzzard
Carrion Crow
Rooks
Jackdaws
Wood Pigeons
Fieldfare
Blackbird
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Dunnock
Collared Dove
Feral Pigeons
Green Finch
Goldfinch
House Sparrows
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Old Thursday 22nd March 2018, 09:52   #497
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I had the chance to visit RSPB Lochwinnoch yesterday on a damp and gloomy morning. Nothing terribly exciting to see, I went in search of Water Rails that had been seen earlier, but without success, again. It is beginning to be a bit of a bogey bird for me. At the feeders:
Reed Bunting
Goldfinches
Siskin
Blue Tits
Great Tits
Chaffinch
Blackbirds
Robins
Dunnock
Song Thrush
On the meadow and the loch:
Mute Swan
Goosander
Mallards
Goldeneye
Heron
Tufted Ducks
Carrion Crows
Rooks
Jackdaw
Moorhen
Magpie
During the unsuccessful look for the elusive Water Rail I flushed either a Snipe or a Jack Snipe, but I couldn't swear which, though I lean towards Jack Snipe on size alone.

So not the most productive day, but the car needed to go in for a service so couldn't go anywhere else.
Allan
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 15:16   #498
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Slavonian Grebe at Hogganfield today - not shy at all.
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