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
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)
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.
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.
Migrant Dunlin on the beaches were very confiding!
Snipe display flight (drumming)
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
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