RSPB Information

January was very wet and windy, thanks to a succession of Atlantic storms, although it remained unusually mild.

The rare birds from December remained as they were, including the Todd’s Canada Goose in with the Barnacle Geese at Kirkapol/Vaul and the pair of Ring-necked Ducks, which commuted between Loch Bhasapol and Loch a’ Phuill.

The Atlantic storms brought in a few “white-winged” gulls from the Arctic including a young Iceland Gull at Loch a’ Phuill (19th) and an adult Glaucous Gull at Loch a’ Phuill (4th) followed by juvenile birds at Gott Bay (14th) and Loch a’ Phuill (19th).

Other good birds included 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Heylipol (17th-22nd), a Black-throated Diver off Traigh Bhi (24th), Short-eared Owls at Ruaig (20th) and Balinoe (20th), 9 Common Scoters including a flock of 7 in Gott Bay (22nd-28th), a Jack Snipe at Balephuil (27th) and a Snow Bunting at Gott Bay (30th).

The Big Garden Birdwatch weekend on 25th-26th January found moderate numbers of birds visiting garden feeders in the mild conditions, including a few Greenfinches and odd Dunnock. The January goose count (22nd-23rd) found a total of 5,612 Barnacle Geese, as well as 741 Greenland White-fronts and 2,243 Greylags, plus 143 Whooper Swans on the lochs, 20 Pinkfooted Geese, 2,290 Golden Plover and 2,500 Lapwing.

A dead Common Dolphin came ashore at Gott Bay (14th) but mostly the bays were alive with mixed feeding flocks of waders. Many garden plants began flowering much earlier than normal in the mild conditions, including banks of primroses in sheltered spots.

John Bowler

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