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Post Info TOPIC: Mid-Argyll & the Kintyre Peninsular

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RE: Mid-Argyll & the Kintyre Peninsular

Spent the last two days on the Kintyre peninsular, loaded with tips on good places to bird courtesy of Jonathan. A few of today's highlights:

This morning in flooded fields near Kilchenzie were 525 Greylags (including a leucistic bird), 1 Barnacle and 385 White-fronted Geese.

In fields near Rhunahaorine Point were a further 69 White-fronts with 2 Barnacles.

A seawatch from north of the point overlooking the Sound of Gigha (still conditions and good visibility) produced:

32 Great Northern Divers
13 Black-throated Divers
23 Slavonian Grebes
6 Long-tailed Ducks
4 Black Guillemots
5 Razorbills
40 Common Scoters
17 Red-breasted Mergansers
55 Shags
60 Eiders

On the ferry to Islay, in West Loch Tarbert were:

11 Black-throated Divers
5 Great Northern Divers
1 Red-throated Diver
1 Slavonian Grebe
23 Red-breasted Mergansers

Further round, approx north of the Isle of Gigha were:

11 Great Northern Divers
1 Black Guillemot
1 Common Guillemot
1 Kittiwake
1 unidentified auk which strongly resembled Puffin but just too distant to clinch

On arrival at Islay late afternoon I spotted another Great Northern Diver at the bottom end of Loch Indaal just before light disappeared - taking my day count for this species to 49! There were many unidentified divers due to distance. I wonder how many there really are?

Lots of other stuff too - too much to mention. Cracking place to go birding!


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If anyone's interested I've uploaded a short video of mainly white-winged gulls, though there's a short clip of synchronised diving distant black-throated divers at the end! Play at 720P.



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As we were due to leave shortly after dinner time today we could only bird for a few hours this morning, so we headed for the beautifully remote area north of Loch Sween called Keils. As one passes through Knapdale Forest there are some excellent areas for crossbills, redpolls, etc. but, as the weather was once again atrocious, we decided not to bother looking. At the head of Linne Mhuirich (a small, brackish loch) we found a greenshank, a good bird for any time of year in Mid Argyll. Around the loch's flooded shoreline were several parties of Greenland white-fronted geese, wigeon, teal and a couple of juvenile whooper swans. On Loch na Cille (a small sea loch) were a few great northern divers, goldeneye, mergansers, but little else. At the end of the road is the Island of Danna (joined to the mainland by a road), on the closest fields we could see a small gaggle of barnacle geese but simply didn't have time to search the island on foot.

We headed back towards home, calling in at Crinan and taking a walk along the side of the canal to try and catch up with one of Argyll's rarities - a moorhen! They can be incredibly difficult to find in Mid Argyll, with only a few spots supporting small populations, it's become a bit of a tradition every time we visit Argyll to try and find one! Eventually we spotted one, so we could head home happy! There were four bar-tailed godwits on the Add Estuary, again not always an easy bird to find in the area. Heading across Bellanoch Moss we got great views of a male merlin that flew up into a dead tree.

We hadn't expected to see any unusual gulls this morning as we weren't really visiting any decent spots, but driving along the A816 at Killinochnoch, not ten minutes from home, I spotted a small group of 8-10 gulls in a pasture field, three of which were Icelands (1st/2nd winter)!

Looking at BirdGuides tonight it looks as though there has been somewhat of an influx of white-winged gulls into the UK over the weekend. We always get a few Iceland or Glaucous during winter visits to Argyll at this time of year, but we've never had them in such numbers before, just hope they hang around until we visit Islay in March!

I videod several of the gulls we saw, some of them were exceptionally close, I'll upload something to YouTube in the next few days and put a link to it on this thread when I have time.


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A more leisurely pace today after yesterday's mad dash around the Kintyre Peninsular. We tried Skipness in the NE corner of Kintyre first, but the weather was atrocious and we saw very little - plenty of distant auks, several great northern divers, eiders, shags, etc. and, by the Arran ferry terminal, a pack of six black-throated divers.

Next we drove up to Killberry to have a look at Loch Caolisport, in particular the fish farm at Ormsary (the site of the Ross's gull in 2006). Five hundred yards south of the fishfarm many gulls were feeding amongst the seaweed along the edge of the tide, amongst them were three Icelands, an adult a 2nd w. and a 1st/2nd w. In the bay adjacent to the fishfarm was another Iceland, a 2nd w again. The bay also held large numbers of eider and goldeneye (I've seen 200+ of the latter in this tiny bay in previous years), and a peregrine carrying prey flew by.

A little further north we started spotting the odd auk, gn divers, a few Slavonian grebes, etc. These essentially (in winter) seabirds come right up the loch on the rising tide, unfortunately the tide was now falling so there weren't as many as is sometimes the case. We did, however, spot a large pack of fifteen black-throated divers on the far side of Caolisport so raced around the head of the loch to get a better view from the road that runs along the opposit shore. We eventually caught up with them but they'd decided to head across the loch to the side we'd just recently departed! Never mind, we had to make do with excellent close-up views of several gn divers, plus our first red-throated diver of the weekend.

Red-throated divers are probably the rarest diver around Argyll at this time of year, great northern being by far the commonest. Most of the black-throated divers I see hunt in quite tight packs, diving in unison.

Weirdest sighting occurred as we were driving back along the Caolisport west coast road. As we rounded a bend a ghost-like bird appeared on the road in front of us - another 1st/2nd winter Iceland gull! I've never seen any gull on this single-track, tree-overhung road, let alone a white-winger! It flew over the car and carried on down the road.


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I'm in Argyll at the moment, playing belated Father Christmas for some of my relatives. Had a trip down the Kintyre Peninsular with my mate today, despite poor weather we didn't do too badly.

First stop was Rhunahaorine Point, an excellent place to scan the superb Sound of Gigha. On show today were Great northern and black-throated diver (at least eight), Red-breasted mergansers, Eider, Goldeney, Slavonian grebes, Common and Velvet scoter, Black guillemot and at least two male Long-tailed duck. As we were storing our gear in the car I glanced back towards the sea and spotted a sea eagle flying along the shoreline - superb, the first one I've seen on Kintyre!

Between the Point and Macrihanish we had two Iceland gulls (1st w's) feeding on slurried fields. At Macrihanish itself we had eight purple sandpipers on a rock in the bay and from a layby near the seabird obs. a Glaucous gull (1st/2nd w?) harrassing shags on the sea.

South of Campbeltown the habitat becomes very wild - high hills, rough moorland and huge pine forests. It was here we spotted two golden eagles flying along a ridge.

At Campbeltown harbour itself we found another Iceland gull (1st w) and a 2nd w. Glaucous gull, along with the usual black guillemots, eiders, shags, etc.

Finally, as the light was fading, in the tiny harbour at Carradale we found yet another Iceland gull, this time an adult, along with a couple of kittiwakes.

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