September is a time of change. The leaves start to change colour, the evenings start to darken earlier and before the month is out, there’s a definite nip in the air.

It’s also a time of change in the world of wildlife, as our summer visitors start their migration to warmer climes and our winter visitors start to arrive. Despite this we still had a few summer stragglers waiting for the right time to make a move: sedge warbler, willow warbler, chiffchaff and spotted flycatcher were seen throughout the month, along with swallows and house martins. In addition, we also spotted a single sand martin – something we’d not seen on the reserve since June. Perhaps it was checking out our artificial sand martin bank as a possible nesting site for next year?

By the end of the month, 245 pink-footed geese had announced that autumn was well and truly here, as their distinctive calls echoed through the skies above Lochwinnoch.

Pink-footed goose

Increasing numbers of other wildfowl and waders were also recorded in September, with 120 tufted duck and 108 mallard counted along with good numbers of Canada geese, lapwing, wigeon, snipe, goldeneye, and teal indicating a change in season.


We had some excellent raptor sightings this month too, with marsh harrier, hen harrier, sparrowhawk and osprey all making an appearance.

Osprey photographed by Robert Conn

The osprey had a blue leg ring, which allowed us to find out a little bit more about it. This particular bird was ringed in Bonar Bridge in the Highlands in July, one of a brood of three, so this is its first migration south to warmer climes. . RSPB Lochwinnoch plays a vital role in providing a favourable habitat for migrating birds, one of many pitstops on their long migratory journeys. It's great to have such a prime position to witness magnificent birds like ospreys passing through on their way to warmer climes, and hopefully we can find out about other sightings of this bird and see how it gets on. 

Other September highlights included included skylark and meadow pipits beginning to pass over on migration, 2 sandwich tern, a stonechat, 50 goldfinch, 45 chaffinch, 5 goldcrests, 5 lesser redpoll, 2 bullfinch, 2 nuthatch and a kingfisher seen regularly throughout the month.

Look out for more signs of autumn in the coming weeks – we’d love to hear what you’ve seen on the reserve, so get in touch via Facebook and Twitter!


Little grebe: seen on 10 Sept

Great crested grebe: 10 seen on 8 Sept

Pink footed geese: 245 seen on 30 Sept

Canada geese: 27 seen on 24 Sept

Wigeon: 14 seen on 30 Sept

Teal: 6 seen on 24 Sept

Mallard: 108 seen on 8 Sept

Tufted duck: 85 seen on 6 Sept, 120 seen on 8 Sept, 96 seen on 21 Sept

Goldeneye: 8 seen on 30 Sept

Marsh harrier: seen on 14 Sept

Hen harrier: seen on 18 Sept

Osprey: seen on 7 Sept

Sparrowhawk; 1 seen on 1 Sept, 2 seen on 30 Sept

Water Rail: seen throughout the month (7, 8, 17, 21, 24, 30 Sept)

Lapwing: 22 seen on 6 Sept, 16 seen on 8 Sept

Snipe: 12 seen on 8 Sept, 10 seen on 20 Sept

Sandwich tern: 2 seen on 16 Sept

Kingfisher seen throughout the month (1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 17, 23, 26 Sept), with 2 seen on 20 Sept

Skylark: seen on 30 Sept

Sand martin: 13 Sept

Swallow: 8 seen on 3 Sept, 2 seen on 16 Sept

House martin: 5 seen on 5 Sept

Meadow pipit: 5 seen on 13 Sept, 3 seen on 17 Sept

Dipper: seen on 7, 15, 16 and 17 Sept

Stonechat: seen on 30 Sept

Sedge warbler: 2 seen on 14 Sept

Chiffchaff: seen throughout the month with 4 seen on 10 Sept and 7 seen on 26 Sept

Willow warbler: 2 seen on 10 Sept, 3 seen on 17 Sept

Goldcrest: 3 seen on 13 Sept, 5 seen on 17 Sept

Spotted flycatcher: seen on 13 Sept

Nuthatch: seen throughout the month, with 2 seen on 30 Sept

Chaffinch: 45 seen on 15 Sept and 20 seen on 28 Sept

Goldfinch: 21 seen on 3 Sept, 50 seen on 26 Sept, 5 seen on 30 Sept

Siskin: seen on 6 Sept, 16 Sept

Lesser redpoll: 5 seen on 16 Sept

Bullfinch: 2 seen on 5 Sept

Reed bunting: seen on 6 Sept, 30 Sept