Thursday, 24 March 2016

Scottish Island Birds at FSC Millport

This weekend I was up north again, leading a group for at  FSC Millport. Two days of birding around the island, looking for winter specialisties and the odd migrant bird. Having not been birding on the island for 6 months I wasn't quite sure what was around, but I was determined that we could hit every habitat and maximise our chances of a decent species list. After an introduction to waders on the first evening, we sent off around the island in search of whatever the coats might throw up.

The weather was fantastic, unlike last year when the hail made holding bins a painful experience. The flat calm sea made even the most distant loafing guillemot visible and the local porpoises put on an amazing show. Leaving the center we heading anticlockwise around the island, stopping first to pass our bins over the sea and quickly picking up 4 gulls species, both guillemots, and gannet.

As we set of on hour long wader we quickly spotted a lone purple sandpiper on the shoreline, common on the mainland but a surprisingly rare visitor to the island. This was followed with a discussion of the finer points of rock and meadow pipit I.D. As we moved around the island we also ticked off curlew, oyk, turnstone, and ring plover. Both grey and pied wags were found in the field behind Ballochmartin, and a single male shellduck took off from the shore, only to be refound with another pair in Brandy Bay.

Rock Pipit at White Bay

Further round in white bay we picked up four more purple sands before shuttling down to Fintry for a quick sea watch. despite the flat calm (or potentially because of it) there wasn't much moving. Pushing the limits of my scope and eyes I could make out two red-throated divers loafing on the water, but not much else. Nearer the shore, the ever present eider were joined by wigeon and red breasted merganser. Overhead we fleetingly glimpsed a peregrine moving east.

Pushing back towards Millport we took the time to observed the common seals hauled out on the e
Eilans. It won't be long now until the summer boats return and these animals move off to little Cumbrae. After a quick coffee stop three of us continued round the rest of the island, catching a lone bar tailled godwit feeding behind Kames bay; the storm events of the winter evident in the large amount of plastic debris on the beach. 

Nurdles in the hand

Nurdles behind Kames Bay
On the second morning, with clear sunny weather, we set off inland toward the trig point. Moving up through deciduous and coniferous plantaions we bags a mix of little bits including treecreeper and billfinch. As we broke through the treeline the skylarks and meadow were in full song, and we happily push on toward the Glaid Stain and lunch. From here it was all downhill as we passed the cathedral in search of a brew at the Garrison.

Refreshed we turned to make for the field center again, stopping to scope the surprisingly elusive redshank that had moved out to the Eilans and checking in on the godwit before heading back for a much needed brew and FSC cake before the 5 hour drive home...

Species List:
  • Little Grebe
  • Red Throated Diver (only seen by me)
  • Cormorant
  • Shag
  • Mallard
  • Wigeon
  • Shelduck
  • Guillemot
  • Black Guillemot
  • Black Headed Gull
  • Common Gull
  • Kittiewake
  • Herring Gull
  • Greater Black Back Gull
  • Gannet
  • Redshank
  • Ring Plover
  • Turnstone
  • Purple Sandpiper
  • Curlew
  • Oystercatcher
  • Bar Tailed Godwit
  • Grey Heron
  • Raven
  • Rook
  • Carrion Crow
  • Jackdaw
  • Wren
  • Dunnock
  • Robin
  • Blue Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Coal Tit
  • Starling
  • Treecreeper
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Rock Pipit
  • Skylark
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Song Thrush
  • Blackbird
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Stock Dove
  • Peregrine
  • Buzzard
  • Tawny Owl

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