Bute, 25th October 2014

The weather forecast for the day was not the best, with showers and high winds predicted, so intimations of cowardice were received prior to meeting up for the Colintraive ferry. 3 of us boarded the 10 am boat, using the opportunity to catch up with Club Member Graham Clarke on the bridge deck. Ian Hopkins welcomed us ashore on Bute, and the four of us redistributed ourselves between the 2 vehicles. The list started during the ferry crossing, which was very sheltered from the SW wind. Heading down a calm East Kyle, the tally soon reached double figures. The assemblage of Red-breasted Merganser was an impressive 42. We stopped where the road first leaves the shore to scour the fields for small passerines feeding around the silage bales and fodder racks. We had 12 Lapwing, and Pied Wagtail added to the tally gave us a score. A Hen Harrier was ‘scoped over Cowal, but not seen by all. As the tide was still on the way up, and still had a bit to go, we headed for Ettrick Bay. It was windier here as expected, so not too good for spotting birds further out. A couple of Goosander at the burn mouth at the north end of the bay was a useful sighting. We forwent a visit to the café as 2 coaches arrived and disgorged just ahead of us, and instead went round to the hide at the south end of the bay. This was already occupied by 2 cyclists, with bikes (in the hide), sheltering from the keen wind and showers. 6 Barwits were the only birds of note here. Driving along the west coast we stopped several times to scan the fields for geese, finding both Greylags and Canadas. It was pretty cold and very breezy, so we hurried on to get soup and warmth in the Kingarth Hotel. After lunch we perused Kilchattan Bay, but the tide was well in by then, so nothing new was picked up there, despite being on the sheltered side of the island. From there it was up the east side and through Rothesay to the Kirk Dam hide. Ian was saying that the growth of vegetation on the shore in front of the hide had reduced the visibility of open water from the hide. Not much new to see there apart from 2 Little Grebe. That was until a Hen Harrier flew over the hill from the east, down over the fields and right in front of the hide, making it worthwhile after all. From there we went to the new hide on Greenan Loch, only open for a few months, and from which we added Little Grebe and Sparrowhawk. The puzzle was no winter thrushes. The final stop at Skeoch Wood in Rothesay failed to add a Brambling, so we finished at 49. Not too bad a day considering the weather, and the company was good.

Nigel Scriven