January can be a month when numbers on the bay can be quite static; autumn migrants have arrived to over-winter and it is too early for any to depart for summer breeding. This year a few species have been notable for their numbers.
Pintail have continuously increased in recent years on the Bay despite a marked decrease nationally since 2005. High counts on the Bay were 207 in the winter of 2012/13, 320 in 2013/14, 380 in 2014/15 and 422 in 2015/16. Within the last week we had a count of 588 – a spectacular sight which is easily seen from Findhorn village at low tide.
Along the coast between Nairn and Burghead there is usually a flock of 2000+ Knot that are seen most winters, but they don’t often come into the Bay in any great number. This year we have seen many more than usual with a count of around 1800 within the last week. Again, showing well from the village at low water.
Up to 80+ Bar-tailed Godwit are a common sight at this time of year, but the presence of 3 Black-tailed Godwit is unusual, as this species normally over-winter much further south.
Lastly the Pink-footed Geese have almost disappeared from the Bay at the moment after seeing record numbers in October. We can expect numbers to pick up again in March as they gather to feed up around the Bay prior to their departure for breeding grounds in the north.