Trip reports

Bogside Flats, Irvine & RSPB Lochwinnoch

Male goldeneye
Goldeneye - RSPB Images

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Mudflats, saltmarsh, sea, river, bushes and a small loch - so, plenty of habitats to explore during the morning.

Scanning the sea, beach and rocks we saw gannets flying low, a pair each of long-tailed ducks and guillemots, and eider duck were plentiful. A sandwich tern perched on a post in front of us, with cormorants occupying other posts and the rocky shore. Scanning the rocks and river margins we found turnstone, curlew and the usual quartet of gulls; black-headed, herring, and great and lesser black-backed.

On moving upriver, oystercatcher, carrion crow and jackdaw were about, but our eyes were drawn to flocks of waders put to flight from their feeding grounds in the flats. Searching the sky for the culprit we saw a sparrowhawk threatening them. As the birds settled we watched large numbers of redshank and lapwing, along with dunlin and bar-tailed godwit. On the old pier 16 grey heron were counted sitting in an orderly line, with a further 5 on the marsh. The sandwich tern put on a display of plunge diving, a kestrel hovered but didn't drop on prey, while 3 roe deer continued grazing calmly. Mute swan with juveniles, a flock of wigeon, and magpie were noted before we headed for the loch and surrounding vegetation.

The first bushes gave us goldcrest and chiffchaff, along with robin, chaffinch, and great and blue tit. The loch was busy with model yachts but these were controlled using only the wind, and it was interesting to watch the skill of the "sailors". Mallard, moorhen and coot were at the southerly end of the loch and in this area we followed a mixed flock of goldfinch, linnet and yellowhammer, along with a number of reed bunting. A family group of pied wagtail was on the dunes, giving us a total of 39 species seen in a compact but very interesting birding area.

Common buzzard and rook were seen en route to RSPB Lochwinnoch. After lunch staff member Claire gave us an informative update on what has been happening on the Reserve. Everyone was impressed with Claire's enthusiasm and obvious delight in her work at Lochwinnoch. She had visited the Reserve since childhood, had volunteered there as a teenager, and was now working there, her "dream job". We wish her well in her career.

Following the successful birding of the morning we wondered what else we could add to our sightings as we had been told that birds were late arriving back for winter. The observation tower gave us clear views of Aird Meadow Loch, with gadwall, teal, tufted duck, goldeneye, snipe and Canada geese. The woodland trail beside the loch was very pleasant and, although quiet, we did see wren, blackbird and coal tit. On the Barr Loch a great-crested grebe was gliding gracefully, while 2 pairs of gooseander were splashing and diving enthusiastically. The Dubbs Water trail gave us an open view down the main loch, and we saw skeins of pink-footed geese flying in, and in the bushes a small, busy flock of long-tailed tit, and several treecreeper. Back at the Centre collared doves were still hovering up the seed, which was a good reminder to stock up on bird food and Christmas cards at the shop before heading homewards.

Val Donaldson, Coach Outings Organiser