Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey 2015/16

March 2nd 2016

The United Kingdom is internationally important for its numbers of wintering waterbirds, and many of these are monitored monthly by the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) counts. However, the WeBS counts are mostly made on estuaries and inland waterbodies, therefore leaving the majority of the coastline uncounted. The 2015/16 Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS) was focused to cover this important and under-recorded habitat.

The NEWS has been carried out once a decade since the mid-80s. Previous surveys had identified declines in wintering populations of Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone – this most recent survey hoped to shed light on how these species are faring now.

For the survey the non-estuarine coastline was broken up into count sectors approximately 2km long, though some were shorter and some longer! The survey ran from 1st December 2015 to 31st January 2016 and just a single count was needed, with all birds and mammals using the sector recorded. The counts had to be carried out at low tide +/- 3 hours creating some difficulties given the short hours of daylight during our northerly winter. [On 2nd February 2016 BTO announced that the deadline for the survey had been extended to 29th February 2016. This was due to the severe weather across the UK during December 2015 and January 2016].

Birds within the sector using the sea, intertidal zone or the land within 100 metres of the high tide line were all recorded for the survey.

Assynt Field Club agreed with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), who organised the survey, to have all 75 count sectors around the coast of Assynt allocated to the Field Club. Count sectors were then allocated to volunteers on request, the hope being that we would be able to complete the full survey of Assynt.

The BTO organised this, the third, NEWS survey based on its partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (the last on behalf of the statutory nature conservation bodies: Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland) in association with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Click to view image

By the end of the survey period 10 Field Club members had managed to survey 73 out of the 75 sectors with the only two not counted being Oldany and Soyea Islands.

A few days during the period were absolutely stunning crisp winter days while a few were absolutely stunningly wet but all the data so doggedly collected was recorded online via the BTO’s own website.

Below is a spreadsheet showing the sectors by grid reference and a brief indicative name for each. The bird species recorded in every sector and the number of each are shown.

Just a few statistics – The total number of birds recorded was 3687 of 63 species; the three most abundant species were Shag (469 birds), Common Guillemot (665 birds) and Herring Gull (1229 birds). The sector with the largest number of bird species (17) was NC134332 to NC142321 on the west side of Loch Nedd, while only two of the counted sectors had nil returns. The sector with the largest total number of birds (1391) was NC181349 to NC195333 on the west side of Loch a’ Chairn Bhain.

Mammals using the sea or the land were also recorded during the survey with Cattle, Grey Seal, Harbour Porpoise, Harbour Seal, Otter, Red Deer and Sheep noted.

The sectors with grid references in bold had been classed as priority sectors by BTO

To save space on the spreadsheet the BTO 2 letter Species Code for the birds has been used and the legend is given below.

B. Blackbird CH Chaffinch FF Fieldfare H. Grey Heron MA Mallard RE Redwing ST Song Thrush
BA Bar-tailed Godwit CM Common Gull GB Great Black-backed Gull HC Hooded Crow MP Meadow Pipit RH Red-throated Diver T. Teal
BH Black-headed Gull CT Coal Tit GC Goldcrest HG Herring Gull ND Great Northern Diver RK Redshank TT Turnstone
BT Blue Tit CU Curlew GD Goosander HS House Sparrow NX Great Skua RM Red-breasted Merganser TW Twite
BV Black-throated Diver D. Dunnock GJ Greylag Goose IG Iceland Gull OC Oystercatcher RN Raven TY Black Guillemot
BY Barnacle Goose DI Dipper GO Goldfinch JS Jack Snipe PS Purple Sandpiper RP Ringed Plover WK Woodcock
BZ Buzzard DV Rock Dove GT Great Tit KI Kittiwake R. Robin SA Shag WP Woodpigeon
CA Cormorant E. Eider GU Guillemot LG Little Grebe RA Razorbill SG Starling WR Wren
CD Collared Dove F. Fulmar GX Gannet LK Little Auk RC Rock Pipit SH Sparrowhawk WX Waxwing

 

Species Code – See Legend
Grid Reference Indicative Site Name Survey Date B. BA BH BT BV BY BZ CA CD CH CM CT CU D. DI DV E. F. FF GB GC GD GJ GO GT GU GX H. HC HG HS IG JS KI LG LK MA MP ND NX OC PS R. RA RC RE RH RK RM RN RP SA SG SH SN ST T. TT TW TY WK WP WR WX Total Birds in Sector Species in Sector Indicative Site Name
NC002331 to NC022356 Stoer Head Lighthouse 13/01/2016 12 45 2 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 19 87 11 Stoer Head Lighthouse
NC022356 toNC036341 Point of Stoer 06/01/2016 2 4 1 1 2 1 3 14 7 Point of Stoer
NC036341 to NC041341 Rubh’an Dunain 06/01/2016 2 2 4 1 2 2 1 1 15 8 Rubh’an Dunain
NC040333 to NC042331 Bay of Culkein 01/12/2015 1 1 1 1 9 2 1 3 1 16 1 40 5 82 13 Bay of Culkein
NC041341 to NC040333 Bay of Culkein 01/12/2015 4 25 3 2 1 4 2 1 1 3 25 71 11 Bay of Culkein
NC042331 to NC057313 Achnacarnin 04/01/2016 16 4 1 1 56 78 5 Achnacarnin
NC057313 to NC062314 Clashnessie Bay 06/01/2016 3 2 1 2 1 2 2 6 19 8 Clashnessie Bay
NC062314 to NC067317 Clashnessie Bay 06/01/2016 1 2 4 8 1 16 5 Clashnessie Bay
NC067317 to NC086330 Port a’ Ghleannain 08/01/2016 1 2 5 1 1 2 1 4 1 3 21 10 Port a’ Ghleannain
NC086330 to NC092336 Oldany 08/01/2016 2 1 2 52 1 1 1 1 6 1 68 10 Oldany
NC092336 to NC098335 Oldany 08/01/2016 1 3 1 1 1 7 5 Oldany
NC099335 to NC101339 Oldany 11/12/2015 2 1 2 4 3 1 1 14 7 Oldany
NC099336 to NC099336 Oldany Island Not surveyed 0 0 Oldany Island
NC101339 to NC101342 Oldany 11/12/2015 1 5 2 1 1 2 5 2 19 8 Oldany
NC106335 to NC108337 Oldany 11/12/2015 1 1 3 5 3 Oldany
NC106337 to NC106335 Oldany 11/12/2015 2 9 1 2 2 5 1 22 7 Oldany
NC108337 to NC102341 Oldany 08/12/2015 12 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 22 8 Oldany
NC110341 to NC115335 Culkein Drumbeg 08/12/2015 1 1 4 1 34 1 42 6 Culkein Drumbeg
NC115335 to NC117333 Loch Dhrombaig 08/12/2015 1 2 2 5 3 Loch Dhrombaig
NC117333 to NC121334 Loch Dhrombaig 08/12/2015 1 1 1 Loch Dhrombaig
NC120331 to NC124335 Loch Dhrombaig 07/12/2015 17 1 1 3 3 4 3 6 2 5 2 63 1 1 112 14 Loch Dhrombaig
NC134332 to NC142321 Loch Nedd 06/12/2015 1 4 1 3 3 3 3 1 2 1 4 2 2 2 1 2 1 36 17 Loch Nedd
NC139336 to NC145344 Loch Nedd 25/01/2016 2 1 1 2 6 4 Loch Nedd
NC142321 to NC139336 Loch Nedd 23/01/2016 1 1 1 2 1 1 3 10 7 Loch Nedd
NC145344 to NC155343 Camas nam Bad 25/01/2016 1 1 10 12 3 Camas nam Bad
NC155343 to NC162343 Loch Ardbhair 25/01/2016 1 4 1 6 3 Loch Ardbhair
NC162343 to NC165333 Loch Ardbhair 25/01/2016 3 1 2 2 1 3 1 1 14 8 Loch Ardbhair
NC162344 to NC168351 Eilean Rairidh 06/01/2016 1 3 1 1 14 1 4 25 7 Eilean Rairidh
NC165333 to NC169334 Loch Ardbhair 23/01/2016 2 3 1 7 7 7 2 5 1 35 9 Loch Ardbhair
NC168351 to NC171354 Loch na Mola 06/01/2016 1 2 5 2 1 11 5 Loch na Mola
NC171354 to NC181349 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 06/01/2016 1 1 1 10 13 1 27 6 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC181349 to NC195333 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 31/01/2016 4 3 14 450 915 1 1 3 1391 8 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC195333 to NC207327 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 11/01/2016 193 1 1 1 10 1 207 6 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC207327 to NC207329 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 11/01/2016 1 3 1 3 10 18 5 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC207329 to NC209331 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 11/01/2016 1 2 1 4 3 2 1 14 7 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC209331 to NC213331 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 20/01/2016 1 4 1 1 7 4 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC213331 to NC218329 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 11/01/2016 3 9 13 2 2 29 5 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC218329 to NC221329 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 13/01/2016 1 1 1 2 1 6 4 1 6 1 30 54 11 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC221329 to NC223330 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 13/01/2016 2 1 6 6 2 1 18 6 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC223330 to NC223334 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain 11/01/2016 2 2 1 5 2 57 2 2 1 74 9 Loch a’ Chairn Bhain
NC223334 to NC229338 Kylesku Bridge 15/12/2015 4 1 3 7 15 4 Kylesku Bridge
NC229338 to NC231336 Kylesku 15/12/2015 1 1 11 1 1 5 1 21 7 Kylesku
NC231336 to NC237333 Kylesku 18/01/2016 4 2 10 2 1 14 14 4 51 8 Kylesku
NC237327 to NC238324 Loch Glencoul 15/12/2015 0 0 Loch Glencoul
NC237329 to NC237327 Loch Glencoul 15/12/2015 5 5 1 Loch Glencoul
NC237333 to NC237329 Loch Glencoul 18/01/2016 1 1 1 1 3 4 1 2 2 16 9 Loch Glencoul
NC238324 to NC243317 Loch Glencoul 20/01/2016 1 1 10 3 3 2 2 1 23 8 Loch Glencoul
NC243317 to NC245316 Loch Glencoul 20/01/2016 1 4 5 2 Loch Glencoul
NC245316 to NC258304 Loch Glencoul 20/01/2016 1 1 1 1 2 3 9 6 Loch Glencoul
NC258304 to NC265302 Loch Glencoul 20/01/2016 0 0 Loch Glencoul
NC269307 to NC248333 Loch Glencoul 20/01/2016 1 2 3 2 Loch Glencoul
NC024304 to NC002331 Balchladich Bay 15/01/2016 1 1 32 2 18 1 1 3 5 1 2 21 1 1 90 14 Balchladich Bay
NC035272 to NC037281 Bay of Clachtoll 18/01/2016 1 2 1 7 1 4 2 1 1 1 5 26 11 Bay of Clachtoll
NC036283 to NC024304 Bay of Stoer 16/01/2016 1 11 1 3 3 3 3 1 2 47 75 10 Bay of Stoer
NC037281 to NC036283 Bay of Stoer 18/01/2016 2 11 1 1 2 13 1 1 32 8 Bay of Stoer
NC039269 to NC035272 Bay of Clachtoll 13/12/2015 15 1 2 2 2 1 13 1 1 12 50 10 Bay of Clachtoll
NC040266 to NC039269 Bay of Clachtoll 13/12/2015 1 17 1 2 1 2 1 23 48 8 Bay of Clachtoll
NC049221 to NC049221 Soyea Island Not surveyed 0 0 Soyea Island
NC053233 to NC060240 Loch Roe 13/01/2016 1 2 3 27 33 4 Loch Roe
NC054250 to NC057251 Achmelvich Bay 29/12/2015 1 3 2 4 10 4 Achmelvich Bay
NC057251 to NC040266 Achmelvich Bay 27/01/2016 2 3 2 3 11 5 1 3 1 1 32 10 Achmelvich Bay
NC058211 to NC073210 Kirkaig Point 08/01/2016 8 3 4 1 1 15 6 11 1 3 53 10 Kirkaig Point
NC059242 to NC054250 Port an Tairbh 29/12/2015 4 5 5 2 12 4 2 8 42 8 Port an Tairbh
NC060240 to NC059242 Loch Roe 13/01/2016 1 9 1 6 2 3 2 1 5 1 1 32 11 Loch Roe
NC071223 to NC053233 Loch Inver 09/01/2016 4 1 1 2 4 4 2 3 9 30 9 Loch Inver
NC073210 to NC074213 Badnaban 11/12/2015 1 1 3 1 2 3 13 24 7 Badnaban
NC074213 to NC080212 Strathan 11/12/2015 1 4 1 6 3 Strathan
NC080212 to NC081214 Strathan 11/12/2015 1 3 1 1 6 4 Strathan
NC081214 to NC084217 Loch Inver 21/01/2016 1 4 3 8 3 Loch Inver
NC082223 to NC071223 Loch Inver 09/01/2016 2 4 1 2 1 3 5 1 19 8 Loch Inver
NC084217 to NC091222 Loch Inver 05/01/2016 4 2 2 3 2 4 2 1 3 3 26 10 Loch Inver
NC091222 to NC091228 Loch Inver 18/01/2016 2 4 2 1 1 1 3 1 2 1 13 3 6 1 1 42 15 Loch Inver
NC091228 to NC082223 Loch Inver 18/01/2016 3 1 7 3 2 4 1 2 1 6 1 4 1 2 2 40 15 Loch Inver
NC075196 to NC058211 Loch Kirkaig 08/01/2016 1 10 1 13 7 1 7 9 1 1 1 1 13 3 69 14 Loch Kirkaig
NC076195 to NC075196 Loch Kirkaig 02/12/2015 1 8 1 1 3 1 8 4 2 1 2 32 11 Loch Kirkaig
Overall total of each species 7 1 10 2 1 25 5 83 7 24 82 6 56 1 3 73 19 45 7 123 2 13 5 1 5 665 14 49 58 1229 4 1 2 5 3 5 45 3 35 1 68 2 6 162 34 1 2 11 41 12 16 469 45 3 2 1 5 30 12 6 5 1 23 5
Grid Reference Indicative Site Name Survey Date B. BA BH BT BV BY BZ CA CD CH CM CT CU D. DI DV E. F. FF GB GC GD GJ GO GT GU GX H. HC HG HS IG JS KI LG LK MA MP ND NX OC PS R. RA RC RE RH RK RM RN RP SA SG SH SN ST T. TT TW TY WK WP WR WX Total Birds in Sector Species in Sector Indicative Site Name
Species Code – See Legend

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Recent Sightings

Great Northern Diver

three birds on Loch Dhrombaig (DAH) (18/12)

Siskin

c20 birds feeding on Alder tree Inverkirkaig (DAH). Photo Gallery - Birds (17/12)

Treecreeper

single bird feeding on trees along River Kirkaig (DAH) (17/12)

Curlew

11 birds on Stoer green (DAH) (17/12)

Raptors

seven Buzzard, two Sparrowhawk and a single female Kestrel seen during the journey to Lochinver early today (DAH) (17/12)

Goosander

single female on Oldany River (DAH) (16/12)

Goldeneye

single female Loch Drumbeg (DAH) (16/12)

Goosander

single female on River Inver opposite Little Assynt Tree Nursery (DAH) (11/12)

Map