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Birds on Tiree Sept 2009 - 15/10/2009
Once more, September proved to be an exciting month for scarcer migrant birds on Tiree. With
several birdwatchers on the island, good coverage was achieved and there were some very
interesting records. With predominantly westerly winds for most of the month, there was an
unprecedented influx of migrant waders from North America. In recent autumns, we have come
to expect these birds to be blown across the Atlantic by strong westerlies as they head south
from their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic. This month they included up to 4 Buff-
breasted Sandpipers in the Loch a' Phuill and Sandaig areas (from gth), an adult American
Golden Plover in the Barrapol/Sandaig area (from 14th) and up to 6 different Pectoral
Sandpipers (from 2nd) including a group of 3 together at Barrapol (26th). Even rarer however,
was a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper, which first appeared at Balephetrish Bay (Jgth) before
frequenting Gott and Vaul Bays later in the month. This was the first autumn record of this small
biscuit-coloured wading bird on Tiree and just the fifth record ever for Argyll.

Many waders made the most of the widespread flooding across the island at the start of the
month and the wet grasslands were home to flocks of hundreds of Lapwings, Golden Plovers,
Snipe and Curlew, plus up to 118 Black-tailed Godwits. In amongst these flocks were smaller
numbers of Dunlin, Knot, up to 7 Ruff and 4 Greenshanks, as well as a Green Sandpiper at
Baugh (7 th ) and a Curlew Sandpiper at Vaul (1 4th). Smaller birds were also on the move, with
the gardens playing host to a mix of more common migrants such as Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler,
Spotted Flycatcher, Greenfinch and Sedge Warbler, plus the first Robins and the odd Dunnock.
Less common migrants included Pied Flycatchers at Vaul (25th) and Kilmoluaig (30th), Lesser
Whitethroats at Whitehouse (29th) and Balephuil (291h), up to 4 Greenland Redpolls at various
locations and best of all, a juvenile Barred Warbler at Balephuil (1 6th).

Corncrakes continued to be seen throughout the month, including lone juveniles holding territo-
ries in gardens, whilst Water Rails began producing their unearthly squeals once more from the
marshes. A lone Coot returned to its regular wintering haunt on Loch Bhasapol and there was a
Little Grebe at Heylipol Church lochan (27th) and a Slavonian Grebe at Salum Bay (30th). A
switch to NW winds in the last two days of the month brought the first major goose passage with
some 300 Barnacle Geese, 168 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 120 Pink-footed Geese counted
passing over the island, together with 130 Whooper Swans, as well as 9 Lapland Buntings, 3
Snow Buntings and the first 2 Redwings of the autumn at Balephuil (30th).

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 me at the
address below:

John Bowler, Pairc na Coille, Balephuil, Isle of Tiree PA77 6UE. Tel: 220748

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