Saturday, 17 August 2019

Seamill & West Kilbride :: 12-15 August 2019

Our summer visit to the family in West Kilbride. As usual this gives me the opportunity to do a bit of birdwatching between dawn and breakfast. So on the first morning I woke and left the hotel to change into walking shoes at the car - don't want sand everywhere! Rock pipitI then headed for the beach, only to find the gate from the hotel onto the beach locked ... I returned through the car park, along the road and down Sandy Lane. Overhead were flocks of greylag geese on the move, in v-formation.

Four species of gull were visible at the end of the burn, as it flowed into the sea. The sea was dead-calm. There were also oystercatchers and curlew. I stopped on the bridge over the burn but the water was deep and flowing fast - no chance to catch a dipper feeding as the rocks they feed from were submerged. Grey heronI continued along the paths through some bracken noting that it was still quite wet from the previous day's rain. I added rock pipit and linnet on the rocks and dunlin feeding in a distant pool. When I reached the Waterside Inn I had two distant fly-bys from a peregrine, spooking many of the birds resting on the rocks. There appeared to be good numbers of redshank and curlew all along the coast.

I turned for home and came across a few sedge warbler chatting away in the scrub beside the path. They were quite mobile but only once gave decent views. Unfortunately the photo I took had foliage right across the eye. To the right were reed bunting, showing better. There were also half a dozen stonechat (mostly juveniles) resting on the posts and fence to the fields on my right.
GreenshankGreenshank

When almost back to the burn I spotted a greenshank feeding in a pool, but almost as soon as I did, it took off and landed far in the distance - I'd look again tomorrow. Sedge warbler

The following morning wasn't as still but it promised to be another nice day. Although the burn had slowed, there was still little chance that any dippers would show so I headed on quickly. I passed the spot where I had seen greenshank the day before and I soon picked it up - unfortunately already quite distant. Fortunately it was possible to navigate to a closer vantage point and get a couple of photos - after a few minutes it took to the air and headed left, and was joined by another that had been out of sight.

I had better views of the sedge warbler and as a result better photos. WhinchatThere were more rock pipit than you could shake a stick at. I reached the turn, at the Waterside Inn and spotted what might be a likely candidate for whimbrel on the sand. As I turned to get a better position I noticed a small bird on the fence behind - it turned out to be a female whinchat. I decided to cautiously make my way forward and was treated to decent views and photos of the whimbrel. Satisfied, I started off for the hotel when I saw a small flock of birds offshore. Luckily for me, they spun round and passed reasonably closely - around 45 knot!

I didn't go for a walk on the Wednesday due to rain and blustery winds. On the Thursday it started heavy grey and rain could be seen over towards Arran. I doubted that it was a good idea to head out, as I was likely to get a soaking. I decided to take the chance and was rewarded with the rain staying offshore until breakfast time, when there was a short shower. There wasn't anything to add and I could locate the greenshank. The blustery wind didn't help.
WhimbrelWhimbrel
KnotKnot

After breakfast we headed for the Ardrossan Ferry Terminal and boarded the ferry to Arran. I took a seat on the rail and watched for passing birds. On the way out I had several gannet and a couple of Manx shearwater. We had a great day on the island and enjoyed a lunch at the Auchrannie Resort. On the return journey we saw a couple more Manx shearwater, and around six or seven groups of guillemot, in groups of 2 to 5.
Manx shearwaterGuillemot

Sightings (47) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, common gull, cormorant, curlew, dunlin, dunnock, eider, gannet, goldfinch, great black-backed gull, greenshank, grey heron, grey wagtail, greylag goose, guillemot, herring gull, house martin, house sparrow, jackdaw, knot, lesser black-backed gull, linnet, magpie, mallard, manx shearwater, mute swan, oystercatcher, peregrine, pied wagtail, redshank, reed bunting, robin, rock dove / feral pigeon, rock pipit, sandwich tern, sedge warbler, song thrush, starling, stonechat, swallow, whimbrel, whinchat and woodpigeon.

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