The black grouse, also known as 'blackgame' is one of Britain's most striking gamebirds. The male has glossy blue-black plumage, white wing bars, a lyre shaped tail and white under-tail coverts. Females are brown with pale wing bars, and both sexes have red wattles above the eye. Displaying males produce a bubbling pigeon-like rroo-ooo sound known as 'rookooing'. The black grouse has a diet that varies throughout the year, but the shoots, buds and fruit of bilberry and heather form staples. In the first three weeks of life, the young depend solely on invertebrates. Habitat loss and overgrazing have resulted in severe population declines which make this a Red List species. Positive habitat management is helping them to increase in some areas.
4.5cm x 9cm
A medium-sized plover with a distinctive gold and black summer plumage. In winter the black is replaced by buff and white. They typically stand upright and run in short bursts. In winter they form large flocks which fly in fairly tight formation with rapid, twinkling wing beats. They are commonly seen on Machrie shore from August through till April, with some successful breeding territories in the north west moorland.
6cm x 10cm
The northern harrier is a slender, medium-sized hawk, with a long tail, wings and legs, a characteristic white rump, and a distinctive ‘facial disc’, which gives it an owl-like appearance. Typically hunting from a slow, buoyant flight, usually quite low to the ground, the northern harrier takes a variety of prey, ranging from small mammals and birds to reptiles, amphibians, insects, larger mammals and birds, and sometimes carrion. It is resident on Arran with widespread breeding and some of the sightings being at Boguillie, the String, Kilmory, Ross Road and Machrie Moor. They nest on the ground being a bird of open landscapes such as heather moorland. Arran is an area of international importance with 5% of the UK breeding population.
8.5cm x 10.5cm
Occurring on every continent except Antarctica, the osprey is the one of the most widespread birds of prey. The plumage of the osprey is generally brown above and white below, with a whitish head and a dark stripe through each eye. With an impressive 6 foot wingspan, the osprey forages almost exclusively for live fish, with other prey such as small mammals, injured birds, reptiles, amphibians and crustaceans forming only a very minor part of its diet. Hovering or circling at moderate height, it plunges down feet first to snatch fish from the water’s surface, sometimes even completely submerging in the process.
7.5cm x 11.5cm
One of the fastest species in the world, the peregrine falcon may reach speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour (155 miles per hour) or more when diving in pursuit of prey. The peregrine falcon feeds mainly on birds, as well as some mammals. The peregrine falcon is fast and agile in flight, and typically either chases prey at great speed, to exhaust it, or attacks it in a steep, spectacular dive, or ‘stoop’. The dead or wounded victim may then be caught as it falls, or followed to the ground, or the peregrine may stoop past it and roll over to strike it from below. It is a resident of Arran, with widespread breeding at inland and coastal sites.
8cm x 10cm
The Scottish race of the ptarmigan is found only in Scotland, and is the only bird in Britain to turn white, except for the short, black tail during winter. This gamebird has a rounded body, a small head and feathered feet that act as snow-shoes, allowing them to walk on soft snow. The ptarmigan is possibly Britain’s hardiest bird, living on high mountainsides in rocky terrain with very little vegetation. On Arran sightings are very localised, being spotted on Beinn Bhreac and Cioch na h-Oighe.
4.5cm x 9cm
Red grouse are dumpy birds, predominantly rufous-red in colour with a low whirring flight punctuated with glides. Like all grouse, they have feathered legs, feet and toes. They are found on open moorland, preferably with heather, and no woodland. Red grouse have been a quarry species for years, but the sport only became a source of lucrative business when the breech-loading gun was invented in the mid 19th century, and the railways provided access to the moors.
4.5cm x 9cm
This species of owl nests on the ground, building a scrape on top of a mound or boulder. A site with good visibility is chosen, such as the top of a mound with ready access to hunting areas and a lack of snow. This powerful bird relies primarily on lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season, but at times of low prey density, or during the ptarmigan nesting period, they may switch to favouring juvenile ptarmigan. It is a rare visitor to the UK, last being seen on the Shetland Isles.
7cm x 9cm
Studio 4, Lamlash, Isle of Arran, KA27 8LA