A glorious sunny and warm morning on the last day of May was a bonus for the ten bird club members who met near the Islandadd Bridge at Bellanoch. This trip was planned to combine estuary birding at the Add with some woodland birding at Taynish National Nature Reserve near Tayvallich.
New bird club member Ewan Halley was welcomed to his first Argyll Bird Club trip and then Stuart Crutchfield kindly volunteered to keep tally of the species seen on the day. Telescopes were then set up at the ready with some of the group looking out over the merse and mud while others were looking out over the Moine Mhor moss.
As usual the number of species being called out by the group mounted up very quickly, initially with Redshank, Oystercatcher, Red-breasted Merganser, Canada Goose, Mallard and then various gulls being seen on the estuary, while Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Whinchat, Hoodies and Raven were seen over the moss. It was clear that a few species were with young and several broods of Canada Geese were noted with chicks of varying size. This species appears to be increasing significantly here year on year. At least three broods of Shelduck were also noted numbering seven, nine and five. However, No young Redshanks or Oystercatchers were seen, however with some birds alarming chicks could have been hidden in grass on the islets.
We then walked up to the Islandadd Bridge which is often a good vantage point, and from there Common Sandpipers were seen flying down river and a Cormorant flew overhead. Next stop was along the canal footpath towards the new bird hide. Several Willow Warblers were heard singing along with a couple of Blackcaps and an Osprey was spotted flying nearby which made a brief hover over the river before flying off east. Near the hide a warbler that alighted just in front of us turned out to be a Garden Warbler that gave terrific views and was a bonus for some of the group not very familiar with this species. We noted that the most notable features were its lack of notable features! The new hide looks like it has been quite well constructed and more likely to survive a storm than the last one that blew away in May 2011.
Looking out over the mud, which was exposed by the low tide, Stuart managed to pick out some very distant waders through the telescope and they were identified as a group of Ringed Plover with a single Dunlin. It looked like the unusually large flocks of both these species which were at this spot numbering several hundreds the week before had eventually moved north. Also there was no sign of the Little Egret that had spent a week here and was last seen a few days earlier.
Some car sharing was sorted out and we then headed down to Taynish in the hope of adding a few more warblers to our list. On the track down to the car park we heard Wood Warbler singing and got a glimpse of a Redstart. At the car park, bird song was still going strong despite the time approaching mid-day and Blackcaps were in particularly good voice.
We then set off along the track and headed for the old watermill and around the path adjoining Loch Sween. Numerous damselflies were seen but no dragonflies as perhaps a bit early in the season and butterflies were also in short supply. Once we had adjusted to woodland birding mode we started to get to grips with seeing what was about, with a Wood Warbler eventually being pinned down by Malcolm Chattwood, and it gave good views although never came as close as we would have liked. Several other singing males were heard later. Treecreeper, Spotted Flycatcher and a pair of Redstarts were seen, and through the trees high above, an Osprey was seen heading up Loch Sween. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard alarm calling and an untimely Tawny Owl gave out a brief quivering hoot! As the wood opened out to the south a few Tree Pipits were heard singing then seen well. The path carried on down past the old piggery and we had a look at the sea around the Ulva Islands. Three Shags were noted on an Islet and a brief distant cooing Eider duck call was heard but we decided not to count this. Several Lesser Redpolls were calling overhead and Common Whitethroats appeared to be in good numbers. A very brief snatch of a Sedge Warbler was heard but again we did not count this as a two second burst of song not heard by most of the group was stretching things too much!
On the last section of our walk back to the car park we had another Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Treecreepers, Redstart, several Wood Warblers and Blackcap, Tree Pipits, Linnet and more good views of Garden Warblers. Overall I believe we had a very successful trip with the group seeing most of the target species for the day and a good total of 52 species recorded. Many thanks to all those who came along.
Species recorded: Chiffchaff, Wood Warbler, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Rock Pipit, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Redpoll, Skylark, Whinchat, Treecreeper, House Martin, Swallow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Tawny Owl, Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Cormorant, Shag, Raven, Hooded Crow, Osprey, Buzzard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck, Canada Goose, Grey Heron.