A weekend in Girvan

A quick look at the calendar and I realised that if I was to get my Girvan Atlas square survey done, then it was going to have to be this weekend as I was doing something on all the others through to the end of the year.
The rain pelted down as we made our way carefully up the M6 on Friday evening and I was getting more than a little concerned that the weekend would be a washout! Herring Gulls woke me from my slumbers the following morning - the day was fine! So once the sun was up I grabbed the bins and the notebook and headed for the shore outside the house.
The tide was almost at its height so there was not much beach exposed, nor waders anywhere. Eiders and single Red-brested Merganser and Red-throated Diver got the list off to a good start. A flock of Linnets fed on the shoreline with a couple of Greenfinches and two Rock Pipits. I made my way to the outcrop of rocks on the southern corner of my square where I hoped to find some roosting waders; I wasn't disappointed, in fact I was rather elated to find ten Purple Sandpipers in amongst the tideline seaweed. You know I had great views as I didn't have my camera with me! The sun appeared briefly and it was remarkably calm as a flock of ten Twite flew over! It was certainly a different bird list to last week, though the next bit though the nearby woodland was very quiet with very few birds - two treecreepers being the highlight.
After I had done the circuit, we headed to Ayr for an afternoon of non-birding though I stopped briefly at a flood near Littlemill for the reported Smew - seen successfully in the now pouring rain!

Today, Sunday, turned out bright again but very windy. I decided to see if I could get some shots of the Purps. Suffice to say, there was only one and it was VERY shy. However I did get some images of a couple of Rock Pipits that got me really scratching my head. They were the size of Rock Pipits with the long, dagger like bill and smudgy breast markings but the legs were paler that I was used to, the body browner and the bright yellow base to the lower mandible was most pronounced. The eye ring was clear and there was more than a hint of a supercillium - littoralis (Scandinavian) Rock Pipits possibly.

A wander up to the harbour yielded a flock of 20 Greenfinches on the shore and a large flock of roosting waders - 140 Ringed Plover, 12 Sanderling and 17 Dunlin. Nearer the harbour itself there were around 40 Turnstones and a seething mass of irridescent Starlings feeding on the weed. After brunch, we headed home via Stranraer and stopped at Bishop Burn for a little while as the tide was full and it's just a great place to get lots of good birds reasonably close.

There were loads of birds around the burn when we arrived such as the pale-bellied Brent Geese and Scaup below, but a couple with their dogs must have seen we were getting good views and so decided to let their hounds loose. Thanks!

There were already over 150 Scaup, lots of Goldeneye and Wigeon, several Great-crested and Slavonian Grebes along with twenty or so Brents, a tystie and 'loads' of mergansers. It's just a great place to watch birds - and the sun is behind you so the light is wonderful! The journey home was uneventful - now back to job-hunting!


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