Happy New Year to everyone!
The rain showers and blustery winds had persisted overnight. I spent the first half hour wandering around in the vicinity of the house intent on seeing, hopefully, a few common species that could act as a suitable start up for a year list. I saw or heard nothing!! Neither were any sheep or cattle in view, giving an all too convincing impression of being in some alien landscape. Oh dear!
Fortified by the first dose of man-food in 2013 ( bacon roll ) the next move was to set off for the day and hope for better luck! The coast restored some faith in predicted and anticipated results. The WSW wind was
encouraging movement with Fulmars zipping by and quite a few parties of distant auks passing southwards too. The wind whined and whistled in the telephone wires as Herring and GBBG's were swept around offshore and Shags stoically took on the conditions to get to feeding areas. Little else was in evidence, although a nearby stream outlet saw several Rock Pipits, Stonechat and Starlings feeding within the detritus in the sheltered conditions of the coastal outpouring.
Moving north I completed a count of Outer Loch Indaal, although the conditions weren't perfect. Noticeably both Common and Herring Gulls were moving into the loch in a steady stream, albeit in low numbers. Given the gradual increase in numbers of gulls at this time of year it might be entirely possible these birds were actually arriving or taking time out within a much longer journey north. 12+ Great Northern Divers and 2 Red-throated Divers, 10 Common Scoter and odd Eider were present, but given the conditions there might well have been more.
I then cut away from the loch and took a look at a variety and succession of different "mini habitats". Whilst I had a small number of "new" species, nothing was of real significance or in any numbers. I moved down to the RSPB Loch Gruinart Reserve, where I'd arranged to meet up with Catherine and Graham Whitby, who are regular visitors from Dorset. It was great to see them again and put the world to rights. Sadly the main "lagoon" at the reserve is still inundated due to some problem with the sluice and, therefore, the number of birds present was low. Nonetheless two Buzzards, a female Hen Harrier and two Peregrines that repeatedly overflew the area made sure the duck present were put in a state of "Red alert" and afforded good views. As we left at dusk the Barnacle Geese that had been feeding nearby were arriving into roost in a continuous series of small skeins. A brilliant ending to what had suggested might be a rather poor day!