Minard Castle
Loch Fyne, Argyll, Scotland

Wildlife around Minard Castle

Although much of the woodland around Minard Castle is planted with alien conifers it is home to a surprising variety of bird life. This is perhaps partly because of the isolated oaks and beeches that are present and the strip of old broad-leaved trees along the shore from Minard Bay to Brainport Point. Over 100 species of birds have been recently recorded. The fact that the woods have been neglected and have undergone little active management has been a positive advantage as far as the wildlife in general is concerned. Dead trees and fallen timber have provided good sources of invertebrates as food, and also nesting sites. Many of the characteristic species of West Highland broad-leaved woodland are present including Redstart and Wood Warbler. Recent clear felling of large areas of conifers may attract new species.

The following species have all been seen in recent years in the immediate area around Minard Castle. The list is undoubtedly incomplete and there will be other species to record in the future.

Species recorded in the area of Minard Castle
Mute Swan -
Pair seen occasionally off-shore.
Whooper Swan - Occasional flocks off-shore at migration times.
Greenland White-fronted Geese - Occasional flocks passing over in winter and spring.
Greylag Goose - Increasing numbers seen along the shore. Pairs breed locally.
Canada Goose - Increasing numbers seen along the shore. Pairs breed locally every year.
Shelduck - One or two seen occasionally along the shore.
Wigeon - Up to 20 birds regularly seen in winter near Brainport Point.
Mallard - Up to 12 birds regularly present near Brainport Point. Pairs have bred.
Eider - Over 100 birds often present off-shore. Breeding site on Eilean Aoghainn.
Goldeneye - Two or three birds regularly present off-shore in winter. Occasionally up to 10 present.
Red-breasted Merganser - One or two pairs seen regularly off-shore. Breeds in the area.
Goosander - Occasional visitor off-shore.
Common Pheasant - Occasional visitor.
Red-throated Diver - Regular visitor off-shore during summer.
Black-throated Diver - Occasional visitor offshore in Loch Fyne.
Manx Shearwater occasional groups seen flying down Loch Fyne at migration times.
Gannet - Seen regularly in small groups fishing in Loch Fyne, mostly during the breeding season but occasionally in winter.
Cormorant - Regularly seen off-shore. Roosts on Eilean Aoghainn.
Shag - Regularly seen offshore. Breeding colony on Eilean Aoghainn and large roost (70+) there in winter.
Grey Heron - Regular visitor along the shore. Up to10 birds at a time seen around Brainport Bay.
Little Grebe - Regular visitor off-shore during winter.
White-tailed Eagle - Occasional visitor
Sparrowhawk - Resident. At least one pair breeding.
Common Buzzard - Resident. At least one pair breeding.
Osprey - Has been reported.
Kestrel - Occasional visitor.
Merlin - Occasional visitor.
Peregrine - Occasional visitor.
Common Crane - birds seen flying over on two occasions recently .
Oystercatcher - Up to 20 birds along the shore. At least one pair breeding in summer.
Ringed Plover - Passage migrant. May attempt to breed.
Lapwing - Occasional visitor.
Purple Sandpiper - Occasional visitor in winter.
Common Snipe - Occasional visitor along the shore.
Woodcock - Resident in the woodland. Probably in good numbers and breeding, although difficult to be certain with this elusive species.
Curlew - One or two regularly seen along the shore.
Common Redshank - One or two regularly seen along the shore in winter.
Greenshank - Occasional visitor on migration.
Common Sandpiper - Summer visitor. Two or three pairs breeding.
Turnstone - Regular winter visitor along the shore. Up to 20 birds.
Black-headed Gull - Occasional visitor.
Common Gull - Present throughout the year in small numbers. Probably breeds nearby.
Lesser Black-backed Gull - Summer visitor. Breeding colony on Eilean Aoghainn.
Herring Gull - Present all year, sometimes in flocks of several hundred. Large breeding colony on Eilean Aoghainn.
Great Black-backed Gull - Present throughout year in small numbers. At least 3 or 4 pairs breed on Eilean Aoghainn.
Kittiwake - Occasional visitor off-shore.
Guillemot - Occasional visitor off-shore.
Razorbill - Occasional visitor off-shore.
Black Guillemot - Present throughout the year. Pairs breed on Eilean Aoghainn.
Wood Pigeon - Resident in small numbers. Flocks of 100+ occasionally in winter.
Collared Dove - Regular visitor.
Cuckoo - Regular visitor in summer.
Barn Owl - Occasional visitor.
Tawny Owl - Resident. At least one pair breeding.
Long-eared Owl - Has been reported.
Swift - Occasional visitor seen flying overhead.
Great Spotted Woodpecker - Resident. At least two pairs breeding.
Jay - Regular visitor in small numbers from autumn to spring. May breed.
Carrion Crow - Occasional individuals.
Hooded Crow - Resident breeding species.
Raven - Resident in small numbers. At least one pair breeds.
Goldcrest - Common resident breeding species. Flocks of 50 or more in winter.
Coat Tit - Very common resident breeding species.
Blue Tit - Common resident breeding species.
Great Tit - Common resident breeding species.
Sand Martin - Occasional visitor in summer.
Swallow - Common breeding summer visitor, often seen feeding overhead.
House Martin - Seen feeding overhead in summer. Breeds in Minard village.
Long-tailed Tit - Resident. Probably breeds. Flocks of 10 or more birds in winter.
Sedge Warbler - Summer visitor probably breeds in the locality.
Grasshopper Warbler - Summer visitor. One or two pairs breeding in most years.
Whitethroat - Summer visitor. Sometimes breeds along main road.
Garden Warbler - Summer visitor. At least one pair present.
Blackcap - Summer visitor. Three or four singing males heard regulalrly.
Wood Warbler - Summer visitor. At least 2 or 3 pairs breeding.
Chiffchaff - Summer visitor. One or two pairs breeding.
Willow Warbler - Common summer visitor. Many breeding pairs.
Waxwing - Irregular visitor in winter.
Tree Creeper - Resident breeding species.
Wren - Resident. Common breeder.
Common Starling - Occasional visitor. Breeds in the village.
Dipper - Occasional visitor along the shore.
Blackbird - Resident breeder in fair numbers. Not as common as Song Thrush.
Fieldfare - Regular winter visitor in flocks of up to 50.
Song Thrush - Resident breeder. Eight or more singing males counted in spring.
Redwing - Regular winter visitor in flocks of up to 50.
Mistle Thrush - Resident. One or two pairs breeding.
Spotted Flycatcher - Summer visitor. At least one pair probably breeds.
Robin - Resident. Common breeder. Even more numerous in winter.
Pied Flycatcher - Occasional visitor in spring.
Redstart - Summer visitor. At least two or three pairs breeding. The Community Woodland Trust has provided nesting boxes to encourage more pairsto breed.
Common Stonechat - Occasional visitor.
Wheatear - Occasional visitor on migration.
Dunnock - Resident in small numbers.
House Sparrow - Occasional visitor. Breeds in the village.
Grey Wagtail - Occasional visitor along the streams. May breed.
Pied Wagtail - Seen regularly along the shore in summer. Breeds nearby.
Tree Pipit - Summer visitor. Breeds in Minard Woods.
Meadow Pipit - Occasional visitor in winter.
Rock Pipit - Seen regularly along the shore. Probably breeds.
Chaffinch - Common resident breeding species.
Brambling - Occasional winter visitor in variable numbers.
Greenfinch - Resident breeding species.
Goldfinch - Occasional visitor.
Siskin - Resident breeding species. Sometimes large flocks (50+) in winter.
Twite - Very occasional visitor.
Lesser Redpoll - Regular visitor.
Common Crossbill - Irregular visitor. May sometimes breed.
Bullfinch - Resident in small numbers. At least one or two pairs breed.
Yellowhammer - Very occasional visitor.
Reed Bunting - Very occasional visitor.

The Argyll Bird Club has a website www.argyllbirdclub.org that publishes comprehensive infgormation on bird lif in Argyll, including reports of recent sightings. It relies to a considerable extent on records from visiting bird watchers. Please report anything of interest to Jim Dickson, the Argyll Bird Recorder, at 11 Pipers Road, Cairnbaan, Lochgilphead, PA31 8UF. Email meg@dickson5.plus.com

It is worth mentioning here that among these species are several that have been identified as being of high or medium conservation concern and are on the Red or Amber Lists published jointly by the RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Game Conservancy, British Trust for Ornithology and the National Trust (revised September 2002). These are:

Red List - high conservation concern
Song Thrush, Grasshopper Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Twite, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting.

Amber List - medium conservation concern
Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greenland White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Eider, Goldeneye, Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Purple Sandpiper, Woodcock, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Cockoo, Barn Owl, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Redstart, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll.

Mammals seen in the woods over the past five years include: Pine Marten, Badger, Red Deer, Roe Deer, Common Pipistrelle, Red Fox and Red Squirrel. Otters are seen from time to time and their prints may been seen in Brainport Bay. Many species of small mammal are doubtless present but only a programme of trapping would confirm this. Dolphins are regularly seen off-shore, as are Porpoises and both Grey and Common Seals. Basking Sharks have also been reported in Loch Fyne.

Wildlife in the Area
Mid-Argyll and Kintyre is an outstanding area of interest for wildlife in general and birds in particular. It has attractions at all times of the year. In summer typical oak woodland species like Redstarts, Wood Warblers and Tree Pipits breed locally. In addition both Red and Black-throated Divers as well as Golden Eagles, Hen Harriers, Ospreys and Peregrine Falcons breed in nearby areas of Mid-Argyll. At migration times, especially in autumn, a wide variety of sea-birds pass off-shore along the west coast of Kintyre. These include large congregations of Manx Shearwaters, among which may be found smaller numbers of Sooty Shearwaters and a few Balearic Shearwaters. Various species of skuas and terns also appear at this time, and Leach's Petrels and Sabine's Gulls may occur after westerly gales.

Nearby Lochgair often turns up interesting birds, especially in winter, including Slavonian and Little Grebes and Long-tailed Ducks. In winter, wild geese come from the far north to feed in Kintyre and parts of Mid-Argyll. These include large flocks of Greenland White-fronted and Greylag Geese and smaller numbers of Barnacle Geese. In the Sound of Gigha notable gatherings of Slavonian Grebes are found as well as Long-tailed Ducks and Common and Velvet Scoters. All three species of diver can be found around the coasts including one of the greatest concentrations of Great Northern Divers in Britain.

The Argyll Bird Club has a website www.argyllbirdclub.org that publishes comprehensive information on bird life in Argyll, including reports of recent sightings. It relies to a considerable extent on records from visiting bird watchers. Please report anything of interest to Jim Dickson, the Argyll Bird Recorder, at 11 Pipers Road, Cairnbaan, Lochgilphead, PA31 8UF. Email meg@dickson5.plus.com

Compiled by Paul Daw, formerly Argyll Bird Recorder. May 2016.

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For further information please contact

Reinold Gayre
Minard Castle
Argyll PA32 8YB

Phone: 44 (0)1546 886272
Email: reinoldgayre@minardcastle.com
Web: www.minardcastle.com


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