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Corncrakes and other birds on Tiree August 2006, f - 25/09/2006
 
Male Corncrakes continued to call late into
the month at various places around the
island and this may have involved some
birds attempting to mate for a third time.
There were further reports of adult birds
and broods seen during hay and silage
cutting and all the indications are of a good
breeding season.

August is the month when migrating birds
start passing though on their way south for
the winter and this year these movements
brought some exotic visitors to the island,
in what turned out to be the best ever
month for rare birds on Tiree. First up was
an adult Ross's Gull, which loitered off the
point at Aird on the evening of 9'h - this
dainty gull from the high Arctic has only
been recorded once before from Argyll -
off Islay in August 1976! Next came a
young Dotterel on the Greenhill machair
(26t") and a young Barred Warbler at The
Manse (28'h). Both species were also seen
around the same time in unusually high
numbers on the east coast of Britain, but it
is rare for them to penetrate so far west in
autumn. The next day (29th) brought a trio
of rare waders to Tiree including a Buff-
breasted Sandpiper at Loch a' Phuill, an
American Golden Plover at Greenhill and a
Pacific Golden Plover at Balevullin - the
first two from the tundra regions of North
America and the third from Arctic Siberia!
With some 2,000 European Golden
Plovers already present, the occurrence of
all three of the world's golden plover
species on this one island was a unique
event. Rarest bird of all, however, was a
pale sandy-brown warbler found by visiting
birdwatcher Keith Gililon feeding along the
edges of cut-silage fields at Balephetrish
(3111). This turned out to be a Booted
Warbler, a species that breeds in the
shrubby steppes of Kazakhstan and
southern Russia, and which has only been
recorded once before in Argyll - at
Balemartine in September 1998. Other
scarce visitors included a female Marsh
Harrier at The Reef (I llh), a young Sea
Eagle off Hynish (13'h), a Grey Wagtail at
Traigh Bhagh (20th) and 2 Grey Phalaropes
off Miodar (26th).
More traditional migrants included large
numbers of Lapwings and Golden Plovers
on the cut-silage fields and in amongst
them groups of up to 100 Curlew, 40 Black-
tailed Godwits and 20 Whimbrel. Large
groups of Sanderling, Ringed Plover,
urnstone and Dunlin passed through on
the beaches, together with smaller
numbers of Redshank, Knot, Bar-tailed
Godwit and Grey Plover, whilst the lochs
attracted small numbers of Greenshanks,
increasing numbers of Mallard and Teal
plus the first of the Wigeon. Smaller
migrants in the gardens included a steady
passage of young Willow Warblers, plus
the first Robins (from 28th). The first Hen
Harriers and Merlins of the autumn re-
appeared during the month, together with
a Kestrel at Ben Hynish (27th), plus single
Pochard and Little Grebe at Loch
Bhasapol (22nd).
Offshore ' odd Basking Sharks remained
from the large groups that had been
present earlier in the summer and there
were also a few sightings of Harbour
Porpoises.
Many thanks to those of you who have
kept me posted with your latest
observations. If anyone would like to
report unusual sightings of birds or other
wildlife on Tiree, please contact John Bowler at the
address below:

Shepherd's Cottage
Heylipol
Isle of Tiree
PA776TY
Tel: 220748




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