There have been few really suitable days for bird photography in Ayrshire over the Christmas and New Year period. So I’ve spent much of the daylight doing tetrads for the BTO/SOC Bird Atlas as well as getting back to some patch birding along the Knockentiber to Springside Disused Railway Line (KSDR). I refuse to refer to it as a cyclepath (even though I cover it by bike!) as some organisations have caused needless and careless damage in upgrading it to form part of the national cycle network. I like to remember it as the rough, flooded and wild course of the old railway line as it was 15 years ago. Perhaps part of some avian green corridor network!
Anyway, to the birds…. Tree Sparrows are worryingly scarce. I only managed to located two birds. Local highlights from the area included:
Goosander (2 redheads), on 22 December at Carmel Water/Woodhill Burn (patch tick!). These birds flew downstream over the bridge from Bailiehill Mount where upon a female Sparrowhawk attempted a half-hearted chase before realising the targets were too big and too fast! A roost of 31 Yellowhammers in gorse/hawthorn near West Plann.
Knockentiber-Springside Disused Railway Line 31/12/07
Bullfinch, two groups of 4 near Knockentiber and 5 at Springside; Merlin, (f) and LTTs (20+) near Cunninghamhead; Jack Snipe (1) and Redwing (c200) at Warwickdale; many flocks of thrushes, Siskins and Lesser Redpolls; max 20 Siskins and 10+ Redpolls at Corsehill Mount, Dreghorn.
River Irvine: Holmsford Bridge-GSK factory 31/12/07
Whooper Swan (22); Goosander (m), (2mm on 02/01, 1m/2reds on 05/01); Goldeneye (pr); Great Spotted Woodpecker (2); Bullfinch (2); Jack Snipe (1)
Knockentiber-Springside Disused Railway Line 02/01/08
Kingfisher (v. rare here) feeding in Carmel Water/Woodhill Burn; GS'pecker (2); Skylark (70) in barley stubble; Redwing (90+); Goldfinch (23); Rook (700) in two flocks near Bonnyton and Springside.
Kingfisher (1); Shoveler (min 2mm); Wigeon (210); Teal (50+); Curlew (88)