Up and out early was clearly the order of the day, although the beckoning weather was rather cold and uninviting. A full circuit of Loch Ryan seemed a good idea as visibility was reasonable and the wind not too strong. Whilst tempted to stop off at various locations I eventually arrived at a point north of the ferry terminals on the eastern side of this large sea loch. Large ferry boats ply back and forth between here and Northern Ireland and it was fascinating to see the number of large lorries coming off the ferry even on a Sunday morning ( unimpeded by Customs checks I imagine (!! ), but an indication of the volume of trade in place. We need to get this whole situation sorted ! )
I confess I felt more than a pang of sadness as views of Great Northern Diver, Black Guillemot, Long-tailed Duck and Red-breasted Merganser occurred and transported me back to what was routine birdwatching fare on Islay. Working my way southwards down the eastern side I discovered a roost of Oystercatcher and Bar-tailed Godwit besides numbers of Ringed Plover given the tide was now at its full height. Numbers of Scaup ( 150?) and Wigeon were scattered along the southern shore as was a variety of waders ( Redshank, Dunlin , Turnstone and more Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover ).
Eventually I moved off down to Sandend on the Rhins. The wind backed tide here was almost overtopping the beach and bringing with it a lot of detritus which large numbers of gulls were picking over. It was clearly impossible to see anything out "at sea" so I moved off and had an explore. Later I moved to an area famed for sightings, and even roosting, of Hen Harriers and prepared myself for a long wait. Occasional winter showers persisted and it was extremely cold, even in the car. There were numbers of Pink-footed Geese and Grey-lag Geese around and I eventaully remained until almost dusk. It paid off as I had a couple of harriers, both ring-tails with one being a rather dark bird and the other somewhat the opposite! Merlin, Kestrel and a couple of Common Buzzard completed the raptor sightings from what had been an enjoyable afternoon.
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