North Ayrshire RSPB Group visit MV Caledonian Isles
North Ayrshire RSPB Local Group have been onboard MV Caledonian Isles every Saturday during July and August to engage with passengers and help them identify seabirds and other wildlife. The group tells us more about their season below...
We spend our time engaging with the passengers at our stall on the aft deck 5, answering questions about the wildlife that can be seen on Arran and pointing out the birds that are seen from the ferry.
On the first crossing we met some children who were fascinated by the Black Guillemots nesting in harbour walls at Ardrossan.
At Brodick we observed that a pair of Common Gulls had nested on the flexible joint of the top of the passenger walkway to the ferry. The unfledged chicks could be seen wandering around the roof awaiting the return of parents with food.
In spite of the poor weather and cancellations, over thirty species of birds were seen. At the two harbours, black guillemots had a good breeding year, with up to ten individuals being seen at each harbour. We also had birds coming onto the deck at each end to pick up scraps from the passenger's snacks, including gulls, starlings, pied wagtails and rock pipits.
From the back deck at Brodick, our volunteers saw curlew, oystercatchers, buzzard, kittiwake, mute swan, house martin, swallow, goldfinch and white wagtail.
At Ardrossan, sandwich terns, eider ducks, cormorants, shags and a little egret were spotted. On the crossings, Manx shearwaters and gannets were seen every trip, and also sightings of common guillemots, fulmar and great skua or bonxie.
Adding to the list were grey seal, porpoise and buff-tailed bumble bee. Even the crew joined in at told us that otters had been seen in Brodick bay.
CalMac look forward to welcoming the group onboard again next year.