Latest News

July 2017
This month has been a good one for seeing how different species have done in the breeding stakes with the amount of juveniles seen. Also, more Gannet research done. We never stop at the MSBO.

Catch up with our July Report.

June 2017
Rare fly-by at MSBO...
No one could have foreseen that the rarest seabird to visit the SW coast of Kintyre would do so on a relatively calm sunny day...but that's what happened!
As the Bird vanished to the south I looked at the images on the camera screen and was stunned when I realised, incredibly, that I had photographed a fly-by vagrant Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscata on my patch.
Another great rarity to add to the list.
And its not just birds we get here!

Read the June Report and find out more

May 2017
May has been an interesting month for the unusual with a Little Egret that came in off the sea from the direction of Islay / Jura on 22nd and pitched down right outside MSBO was certainly bird of the month.
Also, we have been planning the observations and research that the MSBO is going to undertake in 2017.

Find out more from our May Report

April 2017
Spring is often quiet over the sea but birding was still intermittingly rewarding. Excitement this month was centred on the discovery of not one, but two Scandinavian Rock Pipits. Why the excitement? Well, to put this in context, these records, if accepted by Argyll Bird Records Committee, would constitute only the 4th and 5th occurrences for Argyll.

Find out more, read the April Report


March 2017
Early March was pleasant with periods of calm and often sunny days, although rain and several near-gale events occurred too. We hope to bring you another exciting year of sightings and observations from the observatory.

We also have 2 new reports on bird history and behavior in the reports section.

Keep checking in for the latest information. Even better, why not plan a visit in 2017, we look forward to seeing you.

Start off the new birding year by reading our March Report.

Sanderling flock

November 2016
2016 at MSBO...
MSBO closed to the public on 31st October after a resolute 245 days (8 months) of manning from 1st March. This November Report consists of a few casual observations at MSBO and some interesting records from around The Laggan farmlands.

To find out more, see our November Report.

October 2016
Extensive observations of Gannet has lead to some very interesting information being discovered. Our October report gives you all the facts and figures.

Catch up on what migrants have been passing through in this month.

To find out more, check out our October report.

September 2016
September is renowned by birders as the best month of the year for exciting seawatching. Disappointingly, a severe paucity of strong WNW winds for most of the month denied observers at MSBO the sight of thousands of seabirds within sight of the shore. Hordes of Black-legged Kittiwakes were visible on the horizon but stubbornly, they remained there. The rest of the period was still interesting with a good variety of migrants.

To find out more, check out our September report.

Golden Plover

August 2016
Record County influx of Curlew Sandpipers at Machrihanish August 2016 - A remarkable influx of Curlew Sandpipers descended on Machrihanish 20th – 26th: record County numbers (mainly fly-by’s) appeared during a fall of many other wader species forced down to sea level by rain / poor visibility. A top day count of 80 at MSBO coincided precisely with extraordinary numbers arriving at coastal sites in SE England.

Also there was additional compelling confirmation of overland passage by Northern Gannets in South Kintyre. On 15th, an impressive total of 19 adults crossed the peninsula from Campbeltown to Machrihanish. Numerous other sightings during the month confirmed that this passage is, unquestionably, more frequent than previously established. Just over 100 birds were logged embarking on this 9km journey!

To find out more, read the August report.


July 2016
This has been the month for youngsters and it seems to have been a sucessful breeding summer here.
The breeding success of Common Eider at Machrihanish positively improved.
The earliest ever juvenile Sandwich Tern recorded here was found by the small Arctic Tern colony on 3rd - 4th. In view of this very early date and the presence of many apparent adults around the colony all spring / summer it seems likely that, just maybe, it was locally bred.

All this and more in the July report.

Northern Wheatears (adult male with pleading juvenile)

June 2016

As expected, summer fly-by’s off MSBO proved largely disappointing for most of the month with the only notable exceptions being single Teal and Tufted Duck and several records of Common Scoters . 

Read more about this in our June Report

May 2016
Fly-by’s at MSBO included a drake Gadwall, a pair of Shoveler, an adult White-tailed Eagle, a summer-plumaged Grey Plover, Red Knots, a Green Sandpiper, Whimbrels, a sub-adult Pomarine Skua, a first-winter Glaucous Gull and regular Sanderlings, Dunlins, Ruddy Turnstones, Sandwich Terns and White Wagtails. Shelducks appear to have the advantage of an improved breeding season following low duckling productivity last season (only one small brood). So far we have 5 pairs with a total of 33 ducklings. Eider ducklings, broods 2 and 3, finally appeared on 30th. .

All this and more in the May report.


April 2016
Things are starting to pick up for Spring including our second Iceland Gull of the year. Other scarce fly-by’s at MSBO included a Grey Plover on 3rd, a drake Tufted Duck on 6th, a pair of Shoveler on 14th, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits on 18th, a pair of Gadwall on 24th and on 30th, the leucistic Herring Gull that has been in the area for some time flew S followed a short time later by a Little Tern. .

To find out all the details.

Read more in the April Report

March 2016

The observatory is now open for another year.

Well, we are ready for another exciting year at the observatory and March certainly gave us some interesting visitors. 

Read more about this in our March Report

October 2015
Another exceptionally poor month for seabird movements off Machrihanish.  The only suitable weather window for expectancy occurred on 22nd and this produced an exciting total of 29 Leach’s Petrels inshore in a WNW gale

On the plus side, it has thrown up some interesting oddities.

Read more in the October Report

September 2015
A bad month for seabird sightings but Strath farm East pool at The Laggan provided some interesting records and interesting photographs as can be
seen in the report this month.

Read more in the September Report

August 2015

Swiftless in Campbeltown...
After a slightly later spring arrival than usual, Swifts soon abandoned all attempts at breeding in Campbeltown.  No ‘cheery screams’ were heard over the town this summer and during August, routine early evening assemblies
over Burnside Square were sorely missed.  Is this the consequence of a lack
of flying insects during the very cold/wet early and late spring?  This seems the most likely explanation. 

Read more about this in our August Report

July 2015
Gadwall, Shoveller and many more.

Find out more from our July Report!


June 2015
Last year MSBO reported that the population of Common Eiders had
declined locally.
So far, this spring / early summer, records have revealed the lowest
duckling productivity ever by MSBO.

Read more about this in our June Report

May 2015
Unusual weather patterns have made it rather interesting for sightings this month. We have seen some of our regular visitors but we have also had
some strange and unusual ones too.

One of the unusual ones was an Egyptian Goose. An adult was found on grassland flood by Strath Farm, The Laggan on 22nd. An African species
with sustainable feral populations in SE England and in many W European countries. A few are in Scotland (Central and Lothian). This is the first confirmed Argyll record.

To find out more read our May report here!


Egyptian Goose

April 2015
Seabirds are now coming in in large numbers.

Find out more from our April Report!

March 2015
Here we are at the start of another year of fantastic birds and wildlife at the observatory. Hope you make this year the year you give us a visit, you will
not be disappointed.

As you can see from this months report, we also keep an eye on the surrounding area too and these wonderful boxing hares were captured on
the way to the observatory.

To find out more and enter our quiz, read our March report here!

Boxing hares
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