Recent sightings blog Lochwinnoch 15 Dec 2014 - 7 Jan 2015
The old year finished up on the reserve with some nice sightings though there were no additions to the yearlist, the total for 2014 thus ending on 122 species. The slavonian grebe was seen again on the Barr Loch on 23 - 28 Dec with a ringtail hen harrier also there on 27 - 28 Dec, a woodcock by the River Calder on 28 Dec and 34 whooper swans were at Aird Meadow on 20 Dec.
Slavonian grebe, image by Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
By the 7 January the yearlist for 2015 had already reached 63 species. The Barr Loch was to the fore with continuing high numbers of waterfowl still present there as had been the case at the end of 2014. Counts included 310 wigeon on 6 Jan, 216 coot and 118 teal both on 2 Jan with at least four gadwall on the same day, three shoveler on 5 Jan, 180 lapwing on 3 Jan and eight great crested grebes and three water rails both on 6 Jan. Two scaup were seen on there on 2 Jan with then presumably the same two birds on Aird Meadow on 3 Jan and Castle Semple Loch on 6 Jan. The counts for both wigeon and coot are the highest in Jan for both species on the reserve since 2007.
Scaup, image by Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
Other noteworthy sightings this year so far include Kingfisher, dipper, kestrel, stock dove (with two by the Barr Loch on 6 Jan) and linnet (with six also by the Barr Loch also on 6 Jan).
Kingfisher, image by Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
The proper winter finally arrived with weather to match, snow, hail, wind, rain, thunder and lightning all in the mix. Some good birds were seen though despite this with the yearlist even managing to increase by one, taking the total to 122 species, courtesy of a barnacle goose seen amongst canada geese at Castle Semple Loch on 8 Dec. The day before this two long-tailed ducks were present there, not a first for the year for the recording area with one having been seen at the start of the year though the last record prior to this year was in 2005. Castle Semple Loch held good numbers of wildfowl in the period with on the 3 Dec 86 goldeneye and five pochard counted whilst on the 5th 40 goosanders were present. The goosanders were often fishing close in just off the car park here, affording great views of this handsome duck. Similarly good numbers of waterbirds remained at the Barr Loch too in the period especially wigeon, teal and coot once again, as well as two shoveler on 4 and 7 Dec and five gadwall on 7 Dec. The slavonian grebe, present there since the 12 Nov, was last reported on 2 Dec.
Goldeneye by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
A scarce though almost certainly under-recorded species on the reserve, a woodcock, was at the Barr Loch on 3 Dec . Another scarce resident, water rail, once again proved to be prominent in the period with at least five different calling birds reported from Dubbs Trail, Aird Meadow and Barr Loch. At least two different hen harriers were seen between 4-13 Dec including the first adult male to be noted in the recording area this winter.
Hen harrier by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
The end of November proved to be just as much a bird-filled period as the start of the month. The highlight was, like the bittern in early Nov, again only seen by two observers - a little egret that flew over towards the Barr Loch (viewed from the Aird Meadow hide) on 22nd. This is only the second record for the reserve and mirrors ,almost exactly, the first record - one seen very briefly at the Aird Meadow on Nov 6 2013.This took the yearlist up to 121 species.
Little egret by Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
A chiffchaff seen briefly, though photographed, at the Dubbs Trail on the morning of the 30th was frustratingly not seen again. Frustratingly as the photographs obtained, and the description of the call, seem to indicate the bird could well be a siberian chiffchaff - a far eastern migrant to the UK and Western Europe and a potential bona fide rarity for the reserve. Hopefully it'll be refound in December.
More obliging was the slavonian grebe that remained throughout the period at the north end of the Barr Loch where large numbers of waterbirds generally were still to be found, mainly coot, wigeon, goosander and whooper and mute swans. Water rails were very prominent, though reports were largely of birds heard calling only. Potentially up to seven different birds were recorded during the period, from all areas of the recording area.
Water rail by Mike Richards (rspb-images.com)
Three woodcock were noted at the north end of the Barr Loch on Nov 28 with one then at the south end the next day. At least one ringtail hen harrier was recorded between the 19th-26th with reports from the Barr Loch and Aird Meadow, where very good views were obtained from the visitor centre.