Thursday, 28 June 2012

Long-eared Owl June 24th 2012

Long-eared Owls are doing well locally this year and an evening visit produced
fairly prolonged views of a single adult hunting. The chicks were calling throughout.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Common Scoters, Clowbridge Res' 19th June 2012

11 Common Scoters dropped onto Clowbridge this afternoon, the highest
count i've seen locally. Normally present in ones or twos, they sometimes stop
off on a local reservoir for a wee while before continuing their migration.

Found by Bob and Archie, Clowbridge's devotees.
Thanks for the call Bob!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Outer Hebrides, 4th-10th June 2012

Another fantastic trip to the Outer Heb's, this time visiting in late Spring.
I arrived on the evening ferry from Uig to Loch Maddy and drove straight
to Sollas to see the the male Snowy Owl that had returned to the same area
as last year. I found the white blob and drove out onto the Machair for better

Hunting Snowy Owl, mobbed by nesting Oystercatcher

peace restored

The Owl was nearly always on the Machair between Sollas and Grenitote
all week but never showed as well as this first evening (9.45pm)



Redshank chick

The Hebrides are excellent for breeding Waders and Raptors. The Machair strip
which runs along the west coast of the islands teem with Oystercatcher, Snipe, Dunlin,
Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Redshank. On the higher ground Hen Harrier, Short-eared
Owl, Merlin and Eagles, all have healthy populations. I encountered Hen Harrier and
Short-eared Owl several times a day and predicting when you would see them was
guess work. I spent hours driving up and down roads trying to get photographs of them

A big surprise came on the 8th June when Steve Duffield phoned me with the news of
a Greater sand Plover he had just found in Stinky Bay! I arrived too late to see it that
day but it was re-found the next day in the same place.

Greater sand Plover (nice one Ste'!)

Oystercatchers were common breeders along the machair strip and you couldn't 
help run the gauntlet of angry birds while out birding. Some flew directly at you in
'Skua fashion,' most flew around your heard calling loudly to distract you from their 

Arctic Terns gave superb views from Balranald, as they fed at high tide in the bay at 
Aird an Runair.

Common, Black-headed and even a Little Gull joined them on one day. They seemed
to be picking tiny larvae off the surface of the water.

Common Gull

Black-headed Gull

Little Gull

Probably the most famous bird of the Uists and certainly the one that most birders
hope to see is Corncrake. Visiting in early June this time, i thought perhaps the 
vegetation would have concealed the singing birds. A cold and dry Spring had left
the vegetation stunted and i saw Corncrake quite easily.
This bird was initially being attacked by nesting Redshank and it flew to avoid them.

I saw three Glaucous and an Iceland Gull during my stay, all immature birds. This 
Glaucous was feeding with other Gulls on Benbecula.

Sanderlings could be found in the most brick-red colour i've ever seen them in.
They were quite spectacular!

Migrant Dunlin on the beaches were very confiding!





Common Snipe

Snipe display flight (drumming)

Dunlin displaying


Curlew chick

Golden Plover 

These landscape images of the Uists were taken with my mobile phone.

Short-eared Owls were seen almost everywhere, with up to a dozen sightings on
some days.

A small number of Red-necked Phalaropes breed on the Uists. The main site is
well known to visiting birders but views can be quite distant at the site. These images
were taken at Stinky Bay when the Sand plover was re-located.

Hen Harrier was seen every day, mainly males and this bird was the closest of
the views obtained.

Last year i was lucky to see Golden Eagle at very close range. This year was the 
total opposite, with only distant views obtained. I did visit a well known ground 
eyrie and watched an Eaglet with the female in attendance.

Golden Eagle with Buzzard

White-tailed Eagle was seen from one of the boat trips out of Portree on Skye.

The Great Black-backed Gulls ate most of the Fish that was thrown out for the Eagles.
These two had a fight over the ownership of a Flatfish


Arctic Skua

Common Gull

Lapwing chick