With a bank holiday morning to kill on Cumbrae, I take a slow wander along the coast. Over the past few months the warblers have returned and hear the calls of sedge warbler, chiffchaff and white throat as I walk. Behind the house a cuckoo is calling, the first I have heard on island in two years. In the bay, eider, red breasted merganser, and black guillemot bob on the gentle swell. Black headed gulls bathe in the shallows, smart in their summer plumage.
Passing through the town there are goldfinches and linnets on the wires and sandwich terns dip into the shallow waters between the seawall and the islands. Exiting the far side of the town I can see shags drying on the eilans, a second cuckoo is calling in the woods on the hillside, and as I enter the fields the cautious mobbing by lapwings begins. One is particularly persistant, following me along the path and past the sewage works as I make my way down to the shingle shore. Here it is replaced by nervous oystercatchers. ringed plover dart from beneath my feet and I can see the heads of greylags observing me from the tall grass. Hungry now I turn back toward the town, heading for the deli, and stroll back to the house with my well-deserved coffee; as I arrive home, I see a female blackcap dive into the undergrowth behind the house and hope for fledgling warblers soon.
At Kindrogan the buds have finally burst and the trees are full of foraging birds. As I started up the hill this morning there was very fresh pine marten scat on the trail, placed high on a rock that obviously marks the edge of two territories. Breaking through into the first felled area I can here at least four tree pipits and pretty soon can make them out, singing as they arch there way between the trees. A song thrush scolds angrily as it lifts from the ground, heading uphill, a cuckoo is calling, but today I do not see him, only the willow warblers moving through the newly opened birch buds.
The yaffle of green woodpecker cuts down from the hillside and in the stands of pine I can see the siskins moving, wishing I had time to dawdle I move along the forestry track that leads back down to the road. To my left a greater spotter woodpecker flits through to land on a low tree stump and a mistle thrush regards me from the top of a spruce.