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 Western Isles of Scotland

 

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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : April 2008

 

 

 

 

This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings period April 1st to 13th 2008

A wee bit more on that Icelandic Hoopoe from Yann who does the Icelandic Birding Pages:

"Unfortunately for the Icelandic list (and the bird) the Hoopoe landed on the trawler outside Icelandic waters, was brought to Iceland and now there has been heavy snowfall in the east and north of Iceland... where many of the latest vagrants turned up (the great white egret, cuckoo, yellow wagtail..)"

Wednesday 30th April, 2008

Wednesday 30th April, 2008 Ring Ouzel Clettravel - North Uist
  • Ring Ouzel
  • Turdus torquatus
  • UK RED LIST
  • UK 6900 Pairs (summer) BTO
 
Wednesday 30th April, 2008 Whimbrel

Clettravel - North Uist

  • Whimbrel
  • 350 - 500 pairs breed in the UK
  • WI rare migrant breeder, rare winter visitor, passage migrant
  • 3000 birds UK passage - winters South Africa
  • like a curlew (is a bit smaller), In flight, shows a white 'V' shape up its back from the tail. Very distinct dark stripe eye to bill, pale mid-crown stripe
  • distinctive call hear it on the RSPB site
  • tundra, moor, heath, on passage marsh & estuary

Whimbrel are long-distance migrants, with breeding grounds in the sub-arctic zones of North Europe, North Asia and North America. 350 to 500 pairs breed in the UK, but none further South than the Grampian Mountains. We get an occasional record of a territory in the Western Isles, usually the bird seen here is on passage, and is the nominate race phaeopus which breeds from NE Greenland to Central Siberia and Winters along the W and E coast of Africa and along the coasts of the Indian Ocean.

The bird prefers hummocky heathland and moorland as a breeding habitat. On migration it is found on wet meadows and estuaries.

There have recently been sightings records of one or two largish flocks of whimbrel (18 in one group), heading North ..

 

 

"A Whooper Swan on Breacleit Loch, Great Bernera (near the shop) today. A bird has been there most of winter, I heard today that a Whooper Swan was recently found dead at the nearby Kirkibost Pier (Authorities were contacted) it is thought to be the mate of the one on the loch."

Wednesday 30th April, 2008

(The typical lifespan of a whooper swan is 9 years)

"My Robin is incubating her eggs in my home made nest box ...how much pleasure you can get from creating the proper habitat for our wildlife!

I have also been building Nest boxes for House sparrows and Starlings and i am considering trying to get a pair of Dippers at Grimersta to use a box next year. All these plans but i never manage to find enough time to complete them."

Frank
Wednesday 30th April, 2008

Bird Sightings : House Sparrows
Bird Sightings : House Sparrows
Frank sent in a photograph of house sparrows bathing
and a house sparrow at the nestbox

 

"This am, along with the usual suspects, there were Goldfinch, Sisken, Willow Warbler and Chiff Chaff. Tree Creeper also."

Grahame and Jackie
Wednesday 30th April, 2008

 

Bird Ringing on the Isle of Lewis

Grahame Thompson is one of two British Trust for Ornithology ( BTO ) ringers on the island, he does the East side.
Grahame's usual ringing areas are the Castle Grounds and Aiginish, plus a whole heap of other sites depending on time of year and species!

If you are interested in going to a bird ringing session with Grahame, please email him your mobile number and he can text you: hawfinch@btinternet.com

Read more here

Wednesday 30th April, 2008 Corncrake Ness - Isle of Lewis

"Corncrake heard at Loch Stiapabhat LNR this morning"

A male corncrake can call 20,000 times in one night, can be heard a mile away, and can call without pause for 6 hours.

The main period for calling is between midnight and 3am.
(under your bedroom window just when it is hot enough to want to leave it open...)

Julie S
Wednesday 30th April, 2008 White-billed Diver (2)

Skigersta - Isle of Lewis

  • White-billed Diver
  • AKA Yellow-billed loon, parsnip bill
  • Gavia adamsii
  • Passage migrant (Spring), Winter Visitor
  • WI up to 7 (spring)
  • UK 4 -22
  • Breeds in Arctic: Russia, Alaska, Canada
  • Winters at sea: Coasts of Norway, western Canada; & sometimes found on large inland lakes.
  • Largest of the loons, 77-100 cm (30-40 in) length. Wingspan 135-160 cm (53-63 in). Breeding adults: black head. White below. Chequered black & white mantle. Non-breeding drabber with white chin & foreneck. Long straw-yellow bill looks slightly uptilted.
  • Diet: fish, catches prey underwater
 

A quick look at what's happening for our neighbours at the Icelandic Birding Pages:

Migrant Arrivals 12 - 28th April:
28th Northern Shoveler
24th Arctic Tern
17th Northern Wheatear
16th Sanderling, Dunlin, Whimbrel, White Wagtail
12th Black-tailed Godwit, Arctic Skua

Also recently:
Cuckoo, Ring-billed gulls, little gull, yellow wagtail, King Eider, Common Goldeneyes, Common Coot, Common Chiffchaff, Northern Shovelers, Great White Egret, Barn Swallow, Eurasian Siskin, Garganey, Pomarine Skua, Dark-bellied Brent, Snow Goose, Hoopoe (boarded a trawler 1/2 way to Faroes same day as a Hoopoe was seen on Skye
)

BBC weather report for Reykjavki, Iceland today:
Sunny Intervals, 8° C, North North Easterly 27mph
Sunrise 5.04, Sunset 21.45 GMT

30th April, 2008

A Hoopoe today in south Harris at Plocrapool.

Probably the recent Skye bird nipping over the Minch.

Martin S

Tuesday 29th April, 2008

(Beside the road about 1/2 mile south of the village)

     
  • (Eurasian) Hoopoe
  • Upupa epops
  • UK: scarce spring passage visitor (Late April - May). Has bred
  • UK: 116 records a year, usually single birds
  • WI: Accidental, approx 5 records in a century
  • Breeds: Nests in hole in tree or wall. Prefers farming areas with open grazing, open woodland, copses, hedges, bushes. Savanna, steppe. Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Bangladesh
  • Winters: Tropical Africa, Asia (resident in many equatorial areas)
  • Diet: Feeds on insects mostly caught on ground & also pulled from underground - so short grass areas or bare patches. Has very short tongue in long bill so swallows food ( Insects: worms, grasshoppers, crickets, larvae, locusts) by throwing it into the air & catching it way back in the gullet.
  • Exotic looker! Large thrush-size. Pinkish-brown body. Black & white stripes. Long, narrow, downcurved bill. Both sexes have a flat ornamental crest of long feathers that rests folded on nape (when bird is excited they raise and expand forming a spectacular fan. Tail broad white band. Flight flappy & erratic. Wings broad & rounded.
  • Average lifespan 11years
  • Listen to a hoopoe (RSPB site)( "hoop-hoop-hoop")

About 78% of the birds in the UK are seen as singles on the South coast of the UK in late April and May, these are on spring passage, migrating north to Europe from their East African wintering sites and they have overshot their usual European breeding grounds. There are a total of over 30 UK breeding records. Vagrant birds have been found as far North as Iceland.

Birds on the autumn passage usually occur from mid-July to late October. Occasionally birds have over-wintered in the UK.

The hoopoe has worldwide traditional associations with divination of wisdom and is sometimes called "The Celestial Messenger".

 
Tuesday 29th April, 2008 Gyr

Paiblesgarry - North Uist

White Morph

  • Gyr Falcon
  • AKA: Gerfalcon, Gyrfalcon, falcon hawk
  • Falco rusticolus
  • 3 UK records a year, only 126 records 1958 - 2004 BTO
  • Breeds: Arctic coasts & islands, Europe, North America, Asia, Greenland to North Siberia, North Canada,
  • Winter: South to North Europe, Central Asia, North USA
  • Habitat: Tundra, open forest, coastal
  • Diet: medium-sized birds (but will take on a swan!) some mammals, (usually as flies low across ground)
  • Largest, heaviest falcon species.Very strong. Longer-tailed bird & pointed wings are stockier & broader Peregrine's. Coloration ranges from almost all-white to very dark birds.

The g is pronounced like the j in jar

 
Tuesday 29th April, 2008 Little Tern Loch Mor - Benbecula    
Tuesday 29th April, 2008 Scaup Coot Loch Benbecula    
Tuesday 29th April, 2008 Ring-billed Gull Loch Sandary - Bayhead - North Uist
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Larus delawarensis
  • Scarce UK visitor, 74 annual records BTO
    (Most common gull in North America)
  • Breeds: North America, Canada (Colonies nest on ground by rivers, lakes & coast. Bird returns to same nest site each year)
  • Winters: South to North America & the Great Lakes (wanderer to UK & West Europe)
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes, rivers, fields
  • Diet: Forages, scavenges, steals. Omnivorous: Fish, insects, earthworms, small mammals, grain, eggs & rodents
  • Slightly larger than common gull. White head, neck & below. Shortish, yellow bill has dark ring. Back & wings silver-grey. Yellow legs and eyes. Different immature plumage classes for first three years.
  • Live to 15yrs
 
Tuesday 29th April, 2008 Long-tailed Ducks (300+) Loch Branahuie - Loch Sandary - Bayhead - North Uist    
Tuesday 29th April, 2008 Chiffchaff Breacleit - Great Bernera

"Heard it singing there twice but did not see it, I have heard a willow warbler in previous years in the same area"

  • WI Rare migrant breeder, (approx 3 singing records annually? - Stornoway). Passage visitor
  • Listen to a chiffchaff (RSPB site)
Sunny
Tuesday 29th April, 2008 Whimbrel Barvas - Isle of Lewis "4 whimbrel between Barvas and Ballantrushal this morning" Julie S
Monday 28th April, 2008 White-billed Diver

Skigersta - Isle of Lewis

   
Sunday 27th April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Larus philadelphia
  • UK ( in any month), accidental, 3 annual records BTO
  • Breeds: Ground-nesting or in conifers (only tree-nesting gull). Prefers lakes, marsh or bogland in coniferous woodland or forest. N North America (Alaska), Canada
  • Winters: Migrates to coastal waters: south to Mexico. (Vagrant to Western Europe), mixes with black-headed gulls
  • Small gull (31-34cm. Similar but smaller than black-headed gull. Winter head white & adult has large ear-spot. Summer adult has black hood (not brown). Short, thin & black or mainly black bill. Body mostly white with pale grey upperwings & back (extending to hind-neck in winter). Underwing pale. Wing tips dark. Short pinkish legs (orange in summer). 1st summer bird similar to first winter, but paler. Less than 5% get a dark hood in their 1st summer. Graceful tern-like flight.
  • Diet: (Foraging in flight, wading, swimming or on ground). fish, crustaceans insects, wading. Rarely scavenges.
 
Sunday 27th April, 2008 Whimbrel Barvas - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 27th April, 2008 Black -tailed Godwit Barvas - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 27th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Ardvule + Ardivachar + Peninerine - South Uist

  • Iceland Gull
  • Larus glaucoides
  • Uncommon winter and passage visitor , scarce in summer
  • 70 - 80 birds (usually singular) winter in UK RSPB
  • Usually smaller than herring gull. All plumages very pale, no black in wings or tail. Immatures pale-creamy brown with fine barring. Rounded head, large dark eyes. Flight: "short-necked", very pale wings - white tips
  • Breeds: Arctic Canada, Greenland (not Iceland)
  • Winters: North Atlantic, South to North Europe - UK, East coast USA
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes
  • Diet: Omnivores: Mostly fish, some carrion, eggs & young of other birds
  • Similar birds: Glaucous gull (they're usually larger & more frequent

The BTO migration Atlas estimates 100 - 200 birds wintering in the UK.

 

26th April, 2008

Hi Suzanne
when you were away enjoying yourself saving whales, i was" invaded" by 5 siskins

I have attached an inmage of one of the males on, yes, you have guessed, the super duper R>S.P.B nyjer seed feeder. I bought the damn thing to try and keep the goldfinches alive during winter and i think every species of bird in my garden has been on it except the goldies.

See if you can get the R.S.P.B officer to expain that!

Frank

Siskin Frank's photograph of the siskin
 

26th April, 2008

2 Siskens - On peanut feeders, Upper Aird, Point, yesterday lunchtime.

Grahame & Jackie

Saturday 26th April, 2008 Ring-billed Gull Loch Sandary - Bayhead - North Uist    

25th April, 2008

I read about the Siskin invasion on your website and i thought you might like to now that my garden in Leurbost was invaded by one hungry individual( see attached) this morning.

Also, Leurbost is in North Lochs.

Frank

Siskin Frank's photograph of the siskin

 

Saturday 26th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Howmore + Smerclete - South Uist

Gramsdale - Benbecula

  • Iceland Gull
  • Larus glaucoides
  • Uncommon winter and passage visitor , scarce in summer
  • 70 - 80 birds (usually singular) winter in UK RSPB
  • Usually smaller than herring gull. All plumages very pale, no black in wings or tail. Immatures pale-creamy brown with fine barring. Rounded head, large dark eyes. Flight: "short-necked", very pale wings - white tips
  • Breeds: Arctic Canada, Greenland (not Iceland)
  • Winters: North Atlantic, South to North Europe - UK, East coast USA
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes
  • Diet: Omnivores: Mostly fish, some carrion, eggs & young of other birds
  • Similar birds: Glaucous gull (they're usually larger & more frequent

The BTO migration Atlas estimates 100 - 200 birds wintering in the UK.

 

Thursday 25th April, 2008 Ring-billed Gull Loch Sandary - Bayhead - North Uist    
Friday 25th April, 2008 Lapland Bunting

Balranad - North Uist

  • Scarce breeder, passage - winter visitor
  • 350 birds in UK (winter)
  • Breeds: Arctic Europe, Asia, Canada, North America. Birch, willow, bare mountains areas
  • Winters: South to Central Europe, Central Asia, South America, cultivated land or coasts, wet meadows
  • Arrives September - October, leaves by May
  • Chunky yellow seed-eater bill. Mixed species flocks
  • Winter males: very noticeable black crown, face & throat. White eyestripe. Chestnut nape. White below. Heavily streaked black-grey back
  • Diet: seeds (summer invertebrates)
  • BTO records
  • Listen to a lapland bunting - RSPB site
 
Thursday 24th April, 2008 Pomarine Skua Stinky Bay - Benbecula

Pomarine skua winter in tropical oceans and on the West African coast. In March they begin their journey to their Arctic tundra breeding grounds (The bird does not breed in the UK).

They reach the North Atlantic in April, and the last week of April and first three weeks of May are the time of peak passage in Britain and Ireland. The sea-watching point Aird an Runair at Balranald in North Uist is one of the best places in the UK to see this spring passage from.

 
Thursday 24th April, 2008 Iceland Gull Ardivachar - South Uist    
Thursday 24th April, 2008 Ring-necked Duck Loch Scaraidh - North Uist    

A one-off from across the Minch...

You may be interested to know that a HOOPOE landed by my croft house in Flodigarry Isle of Skye at approx 8.15 am today. It stayed for some 5 mins. busily foraging in the field, its crest staying erect for the entire time. Both my wife and I observed with the naked eye and binoculars. The last time I saw a Hoopoe was over 50 years ago in the South of England.

Kevin Penman
Flodigarry
Isle of Skye

Wednesday 23rd April, 2008 Lapland Bunting

Knockintorran - South Uist

(NF7367)

  • Scarce breeder, passage - winter visitor
  • 350 birds in UK (winter)
  • Breeds: Arctic Europe, Asia, Canada, North America. Birch, willow, bare mountains areas
  • Winters: South to Central Europe, Central Asia, South America, cultivated land or coasts, wet meadows
  • Arrives September - October, leaves by May
  • Chunky yellow seed-eater bill. Mixed species flocks
  • Winter males: very noticeable black crown, face & throat. White eyestripe. Chestnut nape. White below. Heavily streaked black-grey back
  • Diet: seeds (summer invertebrates)
  • BTO records
  • Listen to a lapland bunting - RSPB site
 
Wednesday 23rd April, 2008 Ring-billed Gull Loch Sandary - Bayhead - North Uist
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Larus delawarensis
  • Scarce UK visitor, 74 annual records BTO
    (Most common gull in North America)
  • Breeds: North America, Canada (Colonies nest on ground by rivers, lakes & coast. Bird returns to same nest site each year)
  • Winters: South to North America & the Great Lakes (wanderer to UK & West Europe)
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes, rivers, fields
  • Diet: Forages, scavenges, steals. Omnivorous: Fish, insects, earthworms, small mammals, grain, eggs & rodents
  • Slightly larger than common gull. White head, neck & below. Shortish, yellow bill has dark ring. Back & wings silver-grey. Yellow legs and eyes. Different immature plumage classes for first three years.
  • Live to 15yrs
 
Wednesday 23rd April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Ardvule - South Uist

  • Iceland Gull
  • Larus glaucoides
  • Uncommon winter and passage visitor , scarce in summer
  • 70 - 80 birds (usually singular) winter in UK RSPB
  • Usually smaller than herring gull. All plumages very pale, no black in wings or tail. Immatures pale-creamy brown with fine barring. Rounded head, large dark eyes. Flight: "short-necked", very pale wings - white tips
  • Breeds: Arctic Canada, Greenland (not Iceland)
  • Winters: North Atlantic, South to North Europe - UK, East coast USA
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes
  • Diet: Omnivores: Mostly fish, some carrion, eggs & young of other birds
  • Similar birds: Glaucous gull (they're usually larger & more frequent

The BTO migration Atlas estimates 100 - 200 birds wintering in the UK.

 

Wednesday 23rd April, 2008 Siskin Flesherin - Point - Isle of Lewis

Seen alive yesterday afternoon... found dead today, appears to be from exhaustion.

  • Eurasian siskin
  • Carduelis spinus
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor, 369,000 pairs UK (Summer) BTO
  • WI: Scarce breeder (1-2 pairs), passage migrant
  • Breeds: Northern Europe - UK including Scotland, Russia, Asia
  • Winters: South Europe, Central Asia (favours riverside alders)
  • Habitat: Woodland treetops (prefers coniferous) (On passage here: Often tall & dense, seedy undergrowth )
  • Small finch: Upper parts greyish-green, under parts grey-streaked white. Short & forked tail. Wings & tail have yellow patches. Male: More yellow-green body & yellower face, black cap & bib. Female & young birds greyish-green heads & no cap. Gregarious out of breeding season (mixed flocks often with redpolls)
  • Diet: Seeds (prefers spruce & pine) alder, birch, (summer - insects)
  • Listen to siskin RSPB site
  • Similar birds greenfinch, serin (rare)

 

March April 2008 BTO Press Release:

Help chart Scandinavian invasion...

The Siskin has crossed the North Sea in large numbers this winter in search of food and is finding it at feeding stations around the country. The British Trust for Ornithology, who monitor the movements of Britain’s birds, would like to know the true extent of this invasion.....

If you have seen a Siskin in your garden, or indeed several Siskins, the BTO wants to know. The Siskin one of the smallest members of the finch family, normally feeds on pinecone seeds in the Scandinavian forests. This winter the pine trees have produced a very poor crop, prompting these birds to cross the North Sea and invade Britain’s gardens.

Results from the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch survey show that late March and early April is the best time to see Siskins in gardens. The Trust is already receiving reports from people that are seeing Siskins in their gardens, and would like to know how widespread this year’s invasion is. Paul Stancliffe, of the Garden BirdWatch Team, said, “We know that there are a lot of Siskins around. What we don’t know is just how many birds are involved and how far across the country they have spread. We could be talking about one the largest invasions of this bird for many years.”

read more

Grahame & Jackie
Tuesday 22nd April, 2008 Linnet South Lochs

I managed to get a better photo of that wee broon bird and you can see clearly now that it is indeed a Linnet.

Bird Sightings : Linnet
Linnet
  • Common Linnet
  • Carduelis cannabina
  • Gaelic: Gealan lin
  • UK Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK RED LIST, 540,000 territories RSPB
  • WI Scarce breeder, passage migrant
  • Habitat: Open country: farmland, heathland, rough ground, farmland hedges, saltmarshes, parks, gardens
  • Diet: Seeds & insects
  • Small, slim finch. Breeding males have crimson foreheads & breasts, females much browner. Undulating flight, (often twittering as it goes).
  • Typical lifespan 2yrs
  • Listen to a linnet (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: twite, common redpoll, mealy redpoll
Frank Stark
Tuesday 22nd April, 2008 Barn Swallow Garrabost - Point - Isle of Lewis

"Single, early afternoon"

  • Barn Swallow
  • AKA: Swallow,swalla
  • Hirundo rustica, Gaelic: Gobhan gaoithe
  • Western Isles (Mar - Oct) Uncommon migrant breeder, Scarce passage visitor
  • UK 726,000 pairs (Summer) (Declining) AMBER LIST BTO
  • Breeds: Originally cave-nester: Europe, Asia, North America
  • Winters: South Africa, North Australia, South America
  • Habitat: Open country usually near water: farm pasture & buildings, villages, reedbeds
  • Diet: Aerial feeder: flying insects (flies mostly)
  • Small bird: dark glossy-blue back, red throat & forehead, pale below, long (forked) tail streamers
  • Very agile in flight - spends majority of life on the wing.
  • Average age 3yrs, max recorded 11ys 1mth
  • Listen to a barn swallow twittering (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: house martin, sand martin (squarer tails), swift (forked tails)

Swallows winter in Africa and return to the Western Isles to breed each summer. Some arrive in March, but the majority do not arrive until April when there is plenty of food (flying insects). This is where the expression "One swallow doesn't make a summer" comes from.

Swallows flying high foretells good weather. When bad weather approaches atmospheric pressure drops, and this makes flying insects fly lower, so the swallows fly lower to catch them.

Grahame & Jackie
Tuesday 22nd April, 2008

Treecreeper

Grey Wagtail

Stornoway

"Enclosed are a couple of pics i took in the castle grounds yesterday the grey wagtail was feeding in the falls of the creed and the treecreepers were sighted around the castle..."

 

Andy's photographs:

Bird sioghtings: Treecreeper Bird Sightings : Grey Wagtail
Treecreeper Grey Wagtail

Andy L
Tuesday 22nd April, 2008 Gyr

Balranald - North Uist

Loch Sanary - North Uist

White Morph

  • Gyr Falcon
  • AKA: Gerfalcon, Gyrfalcon, falcon hawk
  • Falco rusticolus
  • 3 UK records a year, only 126 records 1958 - 2004 BTO
  • Breeds: Arctic coasts & islands, Europe, North America, Asia, Greenland to North Siberia, North Canada,
  • Winter: South to North Europe, Central Asia, North USA
  • Habitat: Tundra, open forest, coastal
  • Diet: medium-sized birds (but will take on a swan!) some mammals, (usually as flies low across ground)
  • Largest, heaviest falcon species.Very strong. Longer-tailed bird & pointed wings are stockier & broader Peregrine's. Coloration ranges from almost all-white to very dark birds.

The g is pronounced like the j in jar

 
Tuesday 22nd April, 2008 White-billed Diver

Port of Ness - Isle of Lewis

  • White-billed Diver
  • AKA Yellow-billed loon
  • Gavia adamsii
  • Passage migrant (Spring), Winter Visitor
  • WI up to 7 (spring)
  • UK 4 -22
  • Breeds in Arctic: Russia, Alaska, Canada
  • Winters at sea: Coasts of Norway, western Canada; & sometimes found on large inland lakes.
  • Largest of the loons, 77-100 cm (30-40 in) length. Wingspan 135-160 cm (53-63 in). Breeding adults: black head. White below. Chequered black & white mantle. Non-breeding drabber with white chin & foreneck. Long straw-yellow bill looks slightly uptilted.
  • Diet: fish, catches prey underwater
 
Tuesday 22nd April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Port of Ness - Isle of Lewis

 

 

Tuesday 22nd April, 2008 Ring-billed Gull Loch Sandary - Bayhead - North Uist    
Monday 21st April, 2008 Little Tern South Ford - South Uist    
Monday 21st April, 2008 Common Tern North Bay - South Uist    
Monday 21st April, 2008 Whimbrel Stinky Bay - Benbecula
  • Whimbrel
  • 350 - 500 pairs breed in the UK
  • WI rare migrant breeder, rare winter visitor, passage migrant
  • 3000 birds UK passage - winters South Africa
  • like a curlew (is a bit smaller), In flight, shows a white 'V' shape up its back from the tail. Very distinct dark stripe eye to bill, pale mid-crown stripe
  • distinctive call hear it on the RSPB site
  • tundra, moor, heath, on passage marsh & estuary

Whimbrel are long-distance migrants, with breeding grounds in the sub-arctic zones of North Europe, North Asia and North America. 350 to 500 pairs breed in the UK, but none further South than the Grampian Mountains. We get an occasional record of a territory in the Western Isles, usually the bird seen here is on passage, and is the nominate race phaeopus which breeds from NE Greenland to Central Siberia and Winters along the W and E coast of Africa and along the coasts of the Indian Ocean.

The bird prefers hummocky heathland and moorland as a breeding habitat. On migration it is found on wet meadows and estuaries.

There have recently been sightings records of one or two largish flocks of whimbrel (18 in one group), heading North ...

 
Monday 21st April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Larus philadelphia
  • UK ( in any month), accidental, 3 annual records BTO
  • Breeds: Ground-nesting or in conifers (only tree-nesting gull). Prefers lakes, marsh or bogland in coniferous woodland or forest. N North America (Alaska), Canada
  • Winters: Migrates to coastal waters: south to Mexico. (Vagrant to Western Europe), mixes with black-headed gulls
  • Small gull (31-34cm. Similar but smaller than black-headed gull. Winter head white & adult has large ear-spot. Summer adult has black hood (not brown). Short, thin & black or mainly black bill. Body mostly white with pale grey upperwings & back (extending to hind-neck in winter). Underwing pale. Wing tips dark. Short pinkish legs (orange in summer). 1st summer bird similar to first winter, but paler. Less than 5% get a dark hood in their 1st summer. Graceful tern-like flight.
  • Diet: (Foraging in flight, wading, swimming or on ground). fish, crustaceans insects, wading. Rarely scavenges.
 

The wind farm at Barvas Moor in Lewis has been turned down by the Scottish Executive as it is incompatible with European Law!


The 181 turbine Wind Farm would have had a serious impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, this was setup in for the European Community Birds Directive and so is protected by the European Community Habitats Directive.

Independent article

Monday, 21st April, 2008 Little Gull Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Isle of Lewis
  • Larus minutus
  • Passage - winter visitor
  • UK winter 400-800, spring 200-700
  • Smallest gull, only 26cm (approx size blackbird)
  • Adults: Flight: Tern-like but rounded wings, pale grey upperwing - no black wingtips, dark grey underwing. Summer bird pale grey, black head. Winter: head goes white, darker cap and eye-spot . Bill thin & black. Legs dark red
  • Juveniles: Dark wing mark "W" .
  • Habitat: Breeding - Colonies in grassy freshwater marsh. Winter - estuaries, lochs, fields
  • Breeds: North America, Asia
  • Winters: North USA, South Europe
  • Diet: summer mostly insects. Winter, fish, invertebrates (marine)
  • BTO records
    Listen to little gull RSPB site
 
Monday, 21st April, 2008 White-billed Diver

Port of Ness - Isle of Lewis

   
Sunday 20th April, 2008 Corncrake Achmore - Isle of Lewis

Naomi Mitchison, born 1897 wrote "he said it over and over again like a corncrake...."

Rather well put.
A male corncrake can call 20,000 times in one night, can be heard a mile away, and can call without pause for 6 hours.

The main period for calling is between midnight and 3am.

 
Sunday 20th April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist    
Sunday 20th April, 2008 Marsh Harrier

Loch Bee - South Uist

  • Eurasian Marsh Harrier
  • Circus aeruginosus
  • Gaelic: Clamhan l òin
  • WI Accidental/Scarce passage visitor (April - October), just a couple of records annually
  • UK Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage Visitor. AMBER LIST 206 females (summer) BTO
  • Breeds: Shallow freshwater rivers or lakes. Europe to Asia, Africa
  • Winters: (UK small resident population) South of breeding range to Africa, Asia
  • Habitat: Marshland, reedbeds, farmland by wetlands
  • Diet: Small birds, mammals.
  • Largest harrier. Recognised by long tail, soaring light flight - wings held in shallow V-shape
  • Similar birds hen harrier, buzzard
 
Sunday 20th April, 2008 Little Gull Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 20th April, 2008 White-billed Diver

Skigersta - Isle of Lewis

   
Sunday 20th April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

Europie - Ness - Isle of Lewis

  • Glaucous Gull
  • Larus hyperboreus
  • Winter Visitor, 200+ UK (winter) RSPB
  • Breeds Arctic & Northern Atlantic European coasts: Greenland, Iceland, North Russia, North North America. (nests on ground or cliffs)
  • Winters: Mostly North Atlantic & North Pacific oceans, some go as far south as Northern Mexico
  • Large gull: bigger, bulkier than herring gull. Pale wingtips (no black in wings & tail)
    Adult pearl-grey above, thick yellow bill. Immatures: very pale-grey, creamy-white or biscuit coloured with pink & black bill.
    More fierce looking than similar (smaller) Iceland gull
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes, rubbish tips, reservoirs, fishing ports (with other winter gulls)
  • Diet: Omnivorous: mostly animals, also other seabirds ( in flight) scavenges carrion, scraps & is a pirate
  • Listen glaucous gull (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: herring gull, Iceland gull
 
Sunday 20th April, 2008 Kentish Plover

Lochdar - South Uist - Outer Hebrides

(usually just before Hebridean Jewellers park on left)

  • Kentish Plover
  • AKA: Snowy Plover
  • Charadrius alexandrinus
  • 34 annual UK records BTO
  • UK Former Breeder, Scarce Visitor
  • Breeds: "Locally" in Europe, Asia, (NOT KENT or rest of UK)
  • Winters: South Europe - Central Africa, South-East Asia
  • Habitat: Beaches, mudflats, rivers, lochs
  • Small wader, like ringed plover, but smaller, paler, longer-legged & thinner-billed. Breast band never complete, & usually as dark lateral patches on sides of breast. Greyish-brown above, white below. Summer adults' breast markings black, otherwise brown. Legs black. Flight: Flight feathers blackish & strong white wingbar
  • Diet: Inland: Insects. Coastal: Crustaceans, worms, molluscs (run & pause)
 
Saturday 19th April, 2008 Willow Warbler Tolsta - Isle of Lewis

"Single WILLOW WARBLER in garden this afternoon, 3.30-6.15. Foraging amongst 'Snow in Summer' plants almost non-stop for nearly 3 hours. Although the plant stretches for about 3 yards, height no more than one foot above the ground, it rarely left it during all this time. Behaving more like a wren or a hedge sparrow (dunnock) than a leaf warbler. Weather dull, brisk east wind (force 5?) but that bit of the garden is fairly sheltered."

  • Willow Warbler , Willow Wren
  • Phylloscopus trochilus
  • Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • UK 2.1 million pairs (Summer), AMBER LIST BTO
  • Breeds: Domed, feather-lined nest on ground: Northern & temperate Europe (inc Western Isles), Asia
  • Winters: sub-Saharan Africa (most), tropical & South Africa
  • Habitat: Birch or willow open woodland, scrub, shrubby tundra, gardens
  • Leaf warbler: Bluetit sized bird, grey-brown greenish back, pale below, yellow tinged-chest & throat, pale supercillium (eyebrow stripe)
  • Diet: Insects, spiders (fruit, berries in autumn)
  • Listen to a willow warbler RSPB
  • Similar birds:(chiffchaff - has different song darkish legs, shorter darker bill, less elegant shape)
David S
Saturday 19th April, 2008 Alpine Swift South Ford - Grimsay
  • Alpine Swift
  • Apus Melba
  • UK Scarce visitor. 10 annual records BTO
  • Breeds: mostly in lands with mountainous areas, in cliffs, under bridges, sometimes in built-up areas. South Europe, South Asia, Africa
  • Winters: Migrates to sub-Saharan Africa & India. (Departs September returns late-March - April.
  • Habitat: Open country (usually in mountainous lands)
  • Diet: Food caught in flight - flying insects, some spiders
  • Twice as big as a Common Swift. White sharply defined patch on the belly, otherwise generally a drab grey-brown rather than sooty. White throat patch. (Some Common Swifts are part albino - in those the belly is not sharpy defined). Slow wing action, deep beats
 
Saturday 19th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway - Harbour

 

 

Saturday 19th April, 2008 Little Auk Sound of Harris
  • Little Auk
  • Alle alle
  • AKA: Dovekie, Rotchie
  • Passage/Winter Visitor
  • Breeds: Coastal mountainsides of Islands in high Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, North Russia, North North America, (Forms vast colonies) (Nests: Crevices & under rocks)
  • Possibly world's most numerous seabird
  • Winters: At sea - Northern North Atlantic, (wind-driven further south)
  • Starling sized seabird: Black above (& wings), white below. Black stubby bill, short neck & small rounded tail. Winter: lower face & fore-neck go white.
  • Flight: Low & direct across sea. Short wings beat very fast (whirring). See at seawatching places late October - February (mainly late October & November)
  • Habitat: Cliffs at coast, or at sea
  • Diet: Zooplanton: Tiny marine creatures, fish (Forage swimming underwater)
  • Listen to a little auk RSPB site (Good one!)
 
Saturday 19th April, 2008 Lapland Bunting Steinish - Isle of Lewis    
Friday 18th April, 2008 White-billed Diver

Luskentyre - Isle of Harris

Harris - Berneray Sound

   
Friday 18th April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist    
Friday 18th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway - Harbour

 

 

Friday 18th April, 2008 Marsh Harrier

Lochmaddy - North Uist

Eochar - South Uist

   
Friday 18th April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

Stornoway - Isle of Lewis

   
Thursday 17th April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

Ness - Isle of Lewis

   
Thursday 17th April, 2008 Or was it a Linnet?  

"I think i might have made a mistake regarding the Twite!
I managed to get a better look at the bird tonight and it might just be a female Linnet?
I have never come across a linnet up here and automatically assumed it was a Twite when i saw it at first but, this bird seems to have more white on the primaries, and the pale unstreaked throat,usually found on a Linnet. I also think the bill would still be Yellow if it was a Twite, but i am not entirely certain abouit this.

Ask for other folks opinions?"

Frank

Twite Frank's photo of the twite ?

 

There is an article written by Keith Vinicombe about distinguishing between a winter twite and linnet here

Keith wrote of the twite " ..an obviously yellow bill in winter, contrasting with the face. In summer the bill is grey (it normally starts to darken in March-April; "

Super linnet photo by Steve Round to compare (3rd May Jersey) and a twite in (April in South Uist) by Terry Fountain

 

Thanks to all who voted.

Frank got a better ID photo on the 22nd April which showed the bird was a linnet

 
Thursday 17th April, 2008 Lapland Bunting Ardvule Point - South Uist    
Thursday 17th April, 2008 Whimbrel Ardvule Point - South Uist    
Thursday 17th April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist    
Thursday 17th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway - Harbour

 

 

Wednesday 16th April, 2008 Twite South Lochs - Isle of Lewis

"i have attached a photo of a twite that was in my garden tonight.
it is perched on a super duper nijer seed feeder i bought from the r.s.p.b., specifically to accommodate the Goldfinches that have been visiting my garden. However, the Goldfinches have ignored this top of the range seed, and feeder, preferring instead to eat peanuts from a wire mesh holder ."

Twite Frank's photo of the twite ?

Frank Stark
Wednesday 16th April, 2008 Spotted Redshank Grimsay - South Uist
  • Spotted Redshank
  • Tringa erythropus
  • UK Passage/Winter Visitor. Southward migration July - August. Most birds go through UK in September. Wintering birds leave April - May
  • AMBER LIST (50%+ of UK wintering population found in just 10 sites). UK 420 passage records annually BTO , 80 - 400 wintering (RSPB).
  • Breeds: North Europe, North Asia, Northern Siberia
  • Winters: Europe - Mediterranean to South-East Asia, China, Africa
  • Habitat: Wetlands, marshy tundra. (Migration: coastal wet meadows & mudflats)
  • Diet: (Wades in deep water, swims, sometimes dabbling bottom-up like a duck). Insects- larvae, shrimps, worms.
  • Bit larger than redshank. Summer adults almost all black, wings have some white spotting. Back has white wedge shape - noticeably in flight. Tail barred. Winter: grey back, paler below, & more prominent eye stripe than redshank. NO white wing bars.
  • Listen to a spotted redshank (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: redshank, greenshank

Some ID photos of a spotted redshank by Steve Round (Norfolk)

 
Wednesday 16th April, 2008 Green-winged Teal Loch Sandary - North Uist
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Anas carolinensis
  • UK Scarce vistor, 22 annual records BTO
  • Breeds: North America (nests on the ground, near water & under cover)
  • Winters: South of breeding range
  • Habitat: Lakes, marshes, ponds, shallow streams, sheltered wetlands, (taiga bogs)
  • Diet: Seeds, vegetation, insects - usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing
  • Breeding male: flanks & back grey. Yellow rear. Head chestnut with green eye patch. White-edged mark under eye.
    Distinguished from drake Common Teal by vertical white stripe on side of breast, NO horizontal white shoulder stripe & NO thin buff edging lines on head.
    Females light brown, similar to female Mallard, but with white-edged mark under eye. (Very similar bird to a female Common Teal).
    Non-breeding drake looks like the female.
  • Gregarious dabbling duck. Noisy species. Male has clear whistle, female a weak quack.
  • Similar birds common teal
 

"Hi, sorry this is late ... the pictures only arrived in my inbox this morning but the bird was photographed on thursday 10th April ....Long-eared Owl seen in a garden in High Borve"

Julie S

Tuesday 15th April, 2008 Arctic Tern Coot Loch - Benbecula
  • AKA Arctic Tern, Sea swallow
  • Sterna paradisaea
  • 553,000 pairs - summer UK BTO
  • AMBER LIST
  • Mostly grey & white, red beak & feet, white forehead, black nape & crown, white cheeks. Deeply forked whitish tail giving long "streamers"
  • Breeds: UK - Europe, Arctic, North America
  • Winters: Antarctic oceans
  • Habitat: Tundra, Seacoast, lochs, rivers. Winter - sea
  • Diet: Fish, insects
  • A chick ringed in Northumberland one June was in Australia, that October (12, 000 mile round trip)
  • Usually return to breed in area & colony, where they hatched to breed. Lives to 20yrs.
  • Listen to an Arctic Tern RSPB site

The birds winter far South in the Antarctic oceans. In Late April, early May they begin to arrive back in the UK, the northernmost birds arriving back in June.

 
Tuesday 15th April, 2008 Garganey

Loch Fada - South Uist 

Drake
  • Garganey
  • Anas querquedula
  • UK Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • UK AMBER LIST, 69 pairs (summer) BTO
  • Breeds: Europe, Asia (a few in UK)
  • Winters: South Europe, South Africa, Australia, South Asia
  • Diet: Garganey is a dabbling duck so often feeds swimming with head under water, or by skimming surface. Eats leaves, shoots, aquatic vegetation
  • Habitat: Shallow wetlands, rushy marshland, flooded meadows, ditches, shallow lakes, reedbeds
  • Secretive duck (especially when breeding). Smaller than mallard, bit bigger than teal. Adult male, brown head & breast. Broad white stripe over eye. Rest of plumage grey, (lloose grey shoulder feathers). Grey bill & legs.
    Fight shows a pale blue forewing.
  • Max recorded age 21yrs 4mths
  • Similar birds: teal, green-winged teal (rare)
  • Listen to a garganey (RSPB site)
 
Tuesday 15th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Balivanich - Benbecula

 

 

Monday 14th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Loch an Eilean - South Uist

 

 

         
Sunday 13th April, 2008 Blue tit South Glendale - South Uist

The first Western Isles record of a blue tit was in 1956 in Harris.

Since 1996 they have been recorded breeding in Stornoway, usually in the Castle grounds. Their numbers are gradually increasing, and their range extending as plantations across the island mature. Only a few sightings each year are made in the Uists.

Bluetits were 48% below usual productivity in 2007. This is their worst year on record.

 
Sunday 13th April, 2008 Fieldfares (10) Barraglom - Bernera

The fieldfares were in the main greylag site

  • Fieldfare : From Anglo-Saxon feld-fere - traveller through fields (foraging)
  • AKA Stormcock
  • Turdus pilaris
  • Scarce Breeder UK, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • 1- 4 pairs UK (summer) AMBER LIST, 750,000 birds (Winter) BTO
  • Breeds: North Europe - UK (not WI), forms colonies
  • Winters: North to South Africa
  • Habitat: Forest, woodland, scrub, towns
  • Big, bold & beautiful thrush: Plain reddish-brown back, white underwings, cool grey rump & rear head. Breast reddish, other underparts white. Breast & flanks heavily spotted. Sexes similar
  • Bombards would-be egg-stealers with faeces, smaller birds nest nearby & share protection. Gregarious (& forms mixed flocks with redwings)
  • Diet: Insects, worms & fruit & berries (most so - winter) Favours hawthorn berries
  • Listen fieldfare RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Songthrush, mistlethrush (rarer

Fieldfares in the Western Isles are an uncommon winter visitor, and passage visitors in the spring and autumn

SK
Sunday 13th April, 2008 Greenshank (2) Barraglom - Bernera

Two birds with a redshank in same spot and at the same time of year as 4 years ago

Saw at least 10 wheatears on Bernera today. 3 pairs were in their usual summer sites.

A merlin was sitting on a post at a cattlegrid - I was almost alongside it, it was a beautiful bird much more colourful than I thought. It flew up and then sunbathed on the nearby rockface - almost invisible, makes me wonder how many I pass without seeing

SK
Saturday 12th April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

Ness - Isle of Lewis

  • Glaucous Gull
  • Larus hyperboreus
  • Winter Visitor, 200+ UK (winter) RSPB
  • Breeds Arctic & Northern Atlantic European coasts: Greenland, Iceland, North Russia, North North America. (nests on ground or cliffs)
  • Winters: Mostly North Atlantic & North Pacific oceans, some go as far south as Northern Mexico
  • Large gull: bigger, bulkier than herring gull. Pale wingtips (no black in wings & tail)
    Adult pearl-grey above, thick yellow bill. Immatures: very pale-grey, creamy-white or biscuit coloured with pink & black bill.
    More fierce looking than similar (smaller) Iceland gull
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes, rubbish tips, reservoirs, fishing ports (with other winter gulls)
  • Diet: Omnivorous: mostly animals, also other seabirds ( in flight) scavenges carrion, scraps & is a pirate
  • Listen glaucous gull (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: herring gull, Iceland gull
 
Saturday 12th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour +Ness - Isle of Lewis

  • Iceland Gull
  • Larus glaucoides
  • Uncommon winter and passage visitor , scarce in summer
  • 70 - 80 birds (usually singular) winter in UK RSPB
  • Usually smaller than herring gull. All plumages very pale, no black in wings or tail. Immatures pale-creamy brown with fine barring. Rounded head, large dark eyes. Flight: "short-necked", very pale wings - white tips
  • Breeds: Arctic Canada, Greenland (not Iceland)
  • Winters: North Atlantic, South to North Europe - UK, East coast USA
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes
  • Diet: Omnivores: Mostly fish, some carrion, eggs & young of other birds
  • Similar birds: Glaucous gull (they're usually larger & more frequent

The BTO migration Atlas estimates 100 - 200 birds wintering in the UK.

 

Friday 11th April, 2008 White Wagtail Butt of Lewis

There are two races of White Wagtail in Europe, the ones we are most familiar with in the Western Isles are the Pied Wagtails which have dark backs.

In the mainland Europe species, the back is grey and the black nape and black bib do not meet at the side of the neck. We get Spring and Autumn passages of this species, and they may have bred.

Iain Livingston wrote a guide is to help ringers separate Pied Wagtails (M.a.yarrellii) from White Wagtails (M.a.alba).

"We were catching good numbers of Pied Wagtails.. and were using Svensson, to age and sex the birds, when the penny suddenly dropped! The pale, grey crowned first winter birds were not funny looking female Pieds but were White Wagtails ...

The guide is available as a PDF document here and is well illustrated with photographs

 
Friday 11th April, 2008 Great White Egret Loch Grogarry -South Uist
  • Ardea alba
  • AKA : White Heron, Common Egret
  • Scarce visitor
  • Just 6 UK annual records BTO
  • Large, (approx as grey heron) all white, yellow bill, black legs & feet
  • Distribution: Tropical & warmer temperate parts of the world
  • Breeds: in colonies in trees
  • Habitat: Marshy places shallow water, reedbed, lakes, rivers
  • Diet: Insects, fish, frogs, small mammals

The Great White Egret develops a set of long showy feathers which spread like a very large fan. It uses them in courtship displays. In the late 19th and early 20th century the species was decimated by the requirements of the fashion trade as humans emulated the herons.

 
Friday 11th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Loch nam Balgan
- South Uist

 

 

Friday 11th April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Larus philadelphia
  • UK ( in any month), accidental, 3 annual records BTO
  • Breeds: Ground-nesting or in conifers (only tree-nesting gull). Prefers lakes, marsh or bogland in coniferous woodland or forest. N North America (Alaska), Canada
  • Winters: Migrates to coastal waters: south to Mexico. (Vagrant to Western Europe), mixes with black-headed gulls
  • Small gull (31-34cm. Similar but smaller than black-headed gull. Winter head white & adult has large ear-spot. Summer adult has black hood (not brown). Short, thin & black or mainly black bill. Body mostly white with pale grey upperwings & back (extending to hind-neck in winter). Underwing pale. Wing tips dark. Short pinkish legs (orange in summer). 1st summer bird similar to first winter, but paler. Less than 5% get a dark hood in their 1st summer. Graceful tern-like flight.
  • Diet: (Foraging in flight, wading, swimming or on ground). fish, crustaceans insects, wading. Rarely scavenges.
 
Friday 11th April, 2008 Snow Buntings Butt of Lewis
  • Snow Bunting
  • AKA: Snowflake, Snaa Fuhl
  • Plectrophenax nivalis
  • UK Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • AMBER LIST: UK 70 - 100 prs (Summer) 11,000 birds (Winter) RSPB
  • Breeds: Arctic: (Circumpolar) Greenland, Iceland, North America, North Europe - A Few in North Scotland. (Has bred on St Kilda)
  • Winter: Heads South: South Europe, Central Asia, South USA
  • Breeding Habitat: Tundra, treeless moorland (rock crevices)
  • Diet: Ground feeder: Mostly seeds (summer insects for young), rocky shores (follows wrack-line), short & open vegetation, sand dunes
  • Large buntings. Summer males: Heads & underparts all white with black back & wing tips. Females & juveniles pale ginger above, white below. In Autumn & winter the white has a sandy or buff wash & males' upperparts more mottled. Flight: large white wing patches. Not shy. Forms flocks
  • Listen: snow bunting (RSPB site)
 
Friday 11th April, 2008 Greenshank Butt of Lewis    
Friday 11th April, 2008 Wheatear Tobson - Bernera   SK
Friday 11th April, 2008 White-billed Diver N of Port of Ness Harbour - Isle of Lewis

Two birds

A regular vistor to the Skigersta - Butt coastline, sometimes as many as 3 birds present

BBRC (British Birds Rarities Committee) records of the incidence of this species in Britain 1996 to 2006 are: 4,9,14,5,3,13,22,11,26,17.

 
Friday 11th April, 2008

Great Northern Diver

(5) N of Port of Ness Harbour - Isle of Lewis

(1) Croir Bay - Bernera

  • Great Northern Diver
  • AKA: (big loon, common loon, black-billed loon, call-up-a-storm, imber diver, ring-necked loon, and walloon, ember-goose, greenhead, guinea duck)
  • Gavia immer
  • AKA Common Loon
  • Scarce breeder, winter visitor
  • Arrives UK August - leave to breed April - May
  • 3000 in UK in winter BTO
  • Usually solitary, large: average 32 inches long, wingspan of 54 inches, weighs 9lbs (81cm : 136cm : 4.1kg)
  • Breeding adults: black head, white below, checked black & white mantle, sexes similar
  • Non-breeding brownish, white chin, foreneck, bill is grey- whitish held horizontal
  • Breeds: Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, North Scotland, North America, Canada
  • Winters: North Europe, UK, North America
  • Habitat: Lakes, ponds & rivers
  • Diet: Mostly fish, crustaceans amphibians,
  • Fishes underwater to 200 feet (60m) immer means submerge

 

SK

Friday 11th April, 2008 Willow Warblers Croir - Bernera

"At least 3 willow warblers, possibly 4 "

  • Willow Warbler , Willow Wren
  • Phylloscopus trochilus
  • Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • UK 2.1 million pairs (Summer), AMBER LIST BTO
  • Breeds: Domed, feather-lined nest on ground: Northern & temperate Europe (inc Western Isles), Asia
  • Winters: sub-Saharan Africa (most), tropical & South Africa
  • Habitat: Birch or willow open woodland, scrub, shrubby tundra, gardens
  • Leaf warbler: Bluetit sized bird, grey-brown greenish back, pale below, yellow tinged-chest & throat, pale supercillium (eyebrow stripe)
  • Diet: Insects, spiders (fruit, berries in autumn)
  • Listen to a willow warbler RSPB
  • Similar birds:(chiffchaff - has different song darkish legs, shorter darker bill, less elegant shape)
In late-March the first of the male willow warblers arrive in the Western Isles to establish their territories, the females follow a couple of weeks later. The majority of the birds arrive in late April or early May, and they stay until early November.
Sunny
Thursday 10th April, 2008 Wheatears

Arnol + Aird - Isle of Lewis

"2 on Arnol beach this am, 1 this afternoon at Aird, Point" Grahame
Thursday 10th April, 2008 Great Skua N of Port of Ness Harbour - Isle of Lewis
  • Great Skua
  • Stercorarius skua - Catharacta skua
  • AKA: Bonxie
  • Passage visitor, migrant breeder
  • 9600 pairs UK in Summer BTO
  • Adults stout & dark, streaked grey-brown, black cap, juveniles warm-brown, unstreaked below, tail short & blunt. Flight direct & powerful. ID from other skuas: Herring Gull size, barrel chest, white wing flashes
  • Breeds: Western Isles, North Scotland, Faeroes, Iceland, Norway
  • Winters: North Atlantic, North & South America, Spanish Coast, Africa
  • Habitat: Coastal moorland, rocky islands, Winter: seacoasts
  • Diet: Fish from sea, other seabirds (kill to size great black-backed gull), piracy (robs terns, gulls, gannets!)
  • Listen to a great skua RSPB site
  • Similar birds Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua
 
Thursday 10th April, 2008 White-billed Diver N of Port of Ness Harbour - Isle of Lewis    
Thursday 10th April, 2008 Great Northern Diver N of Port of Ness Harbour - Isle of Lewis    
Thursday 10th April, 2008 Scaup Loch Tiumpan -Tiumpanhead - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 9th April, 2008 Snow Buntings Butt of Lewis    
Wednesday 9th April, 2008 Lapland Bunting Butt of Lewis
  • Scarce breeder, passage - winter visitor
  • 350 birds in UK (winter)
  • Breeds: Arctic Europe, Asia, Canada, North America. Birch, willow, bare mountains areas
  • Winters: South to Central Europe, Central Asia, South America, cultivated land or coasts, wet meadows
  • Arrives September - October, leaves by May
  • Chunky yellow seed-eater bill. Mixed species flocks
  • Winter males: very noticeable black crown, face & throat. White eyestripe. Chestnut nape. White below. Heavily streaked black-grey back
  • Diet: seeds (summer invertebrates)
  • BTO records
  • Listen to a lapland bunting - RSPB site
 
Wednesday 9th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour

North Lewis

Howmore - South Uist

 

 

Wednesday 9th April, 2008 Garganey

Loch an t-saile - South Uist

(NF756460) 

Drake
  • Garganey
  • Anas querquedula
  • UK Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • UK AMBER LIST, 69 pairs (summer) BTO
  • Breeds: Europe, Asia (a few in UK)
  • Winters: South Europe, South Africa, Australia, South Asia
  • Diet: Garganey is a dabbling duck so often feeds swimming with head under water, or by skimming surface. Eats leaves, shoots, aquatic vegetation
  • Habitat: Shallow wetlands, rushy marshland, flooded meadows, ditches, shallow lakes, reedbeds
  • Secretive duck (especially when breeding). Smaller than mallard, bit bigger than teal. Adult male, brown head & breast. Broad white stripe over eye. Rest of plumage grey, (lloose grey shoulder feathers). Grey bill & legs.
    Fight shows a pale blue forewing.
  • Max recorded age 21yrs 4mths
  • Similar birds: teal, green-winged teal (rare)
  • Listen to a garganey (RSPB site)
 
Wednesday 9th April, 2008

Red-throated Diver?

Skylark

Wheatear

Uig - Isle of Lewis

"Diver - could not see it properly which but think it was a red-throat stretching it's head back and calling out across a loch early this morning, shivers down my spine! ....heard first my sky lark singing this year later and then saw my first wheatear this year"

The diver had a very white neck and breast, so it is not in breeding plumage, yet it was calling & my book says they are silent in winter. Surprisingly loud, the divers always seem such silent birds"

(Saw it again later - it was a red-throat)

Sunny
Wednesday 9th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway

 

 

Wednesday 9th April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

West Coast of North Lewis

   
Monday 7th April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist    
Monday 7th April, 2008 Garganey

Loch an t-saile - South Uist

(NF756460) 

   
Monday 7th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

North Bay + Peninerine - South Uist

 

 

Sunday 6th April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist    
Sunday 6th April, 2008 Garganey

Loch an t-saile - South Uist

(NF756460) 

   
Sunday 6th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Ardivachar + Peninerine - South Uist

   
Sunday 6th April, 2008 Merlin Isle of Lewis

A very close view of a female merlin zipping by in chase of a starling.

 

  • Merlin
  • AKA: Stone Falcon, Pigeon Hawk (flight - look a bit like pigeons)
  • Falco columbarius
  • UK AMBER LIST, 13,000 pairs (Summer) BTO
    (1,300 breeding pairs) RSPB
  • Breeds: Upland moorland, birch scrub, forest. North America, Asia, Europe (UK nest usually a scrape on upland rocky or scrub moor in long heather)
  • Winter: In Aug - Oct birds come down to inland & lowland coast areas & North European birds arrive. (Open countryside areas) .Some Icelandic breeding birds migrate to UK and birds that breed here move further south. Merlin often roost communally & with hen harriers. Africa, Asia, South America
  • Habitat: Moor, heath, desert, open coniferous forest
  • Diet: Small birds (mostly) usually caught by dashing pursuit
  • Smallest bird of prey. Male: 10-13in long, wingspan 24-27in. Female slightly larger. Compact, relatively long square-cut tail & fairly broad-based pointed wings (shorter than other falcons')
    Adult male: blue-grey above & orange-tinted below. Female & immature dark-brown above & whitish with brown spotting below.
  • Max recorded age: 12yrs 8mths
  • Listen to a merlin (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: kestrel, sparrowhawk

Our smallest bird of prey.
Small but powerful...the hunting flight is a low-level glide,wings held close to body), pushed by occasional series of deft wingbeats (also hovers).

During a stoop the wings close and the bird becomes a missile that comes upon it's prey with such speed and power that the bird can take prey up to 4 times it's own weight. Dashing, agile aerial chases are a speciality. Will take a grouse but mainly feeds on pipits and larks.

SK
Sunday 6th April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

Loch Barvas + Baile an Truisel - Lewis

North Bay - South Uist

   
Saturday 5th April, 2008 Scaup Coot Loch - Bebecula    
Saturday 5th April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

Peninerine - South Uist

   
Saturday 5th April, 2008 Bonaparte’s Gull Peninerine - South Uist    
Saturday 5th April, 2008 Iceland Gull Stornoway Harbour    
Friday 4th April, 2008 Sky Lark Bernera "A joy to be gardening and hear the sky lark singing again, high in a blue sky, the large numbers of the meadow pipits are back on the moor " SK
Friday 4th April, 2008

"Here are a few pics of a Bonaparte’s Gull taken today at Peninerine, South Uist. A lovely day for a lovely wee Gull."

Bonaparte's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Bonaparte's Gull

 

Terry Fountain
Friday 4th April, 2008 Garganey

Loch an t-saile - South Uist

(NF756460) 

   
Friday 4th April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

North Lewis

North Bay - South Uist

   
Friday 4th April, 2008 Iceland Gull

North Lewis

Howmore - South Uist

Gramsdale - Benbecula

 

 

Friday 4th April, 2008 Scaup Coot Loch - Bebecula    
Friday 4th April, 2008 White-billed Diver Skigersta - Isle of Lewis    
Thursday 3rd April , 2008 Kentish Plover

Lochdar - South Uist - Outer Hebrides

(just before Hebridean Jewellers park on left)

  • Kentish Plover
  • AKA: Snowy Plover
  • Charadrius alexandrinus
  • 34 annual UK records BTO
  • UK Former Breeder, Scarce Visitor
  • Breeds: "Locally" in Europe, Asia, (NOT KENT or rest of UK)
  • Winters: South Europe - Central Africa, South-East Asia
  • Habitat: Beaches, mudflats, rivers, lochs
  • Small wader, like ringed plover, but smaller, paler, longer-legged & thinner-billed. Breast band never complete, & usually as dark lateral patches on sides of breast. Greyish-brown above, white below. Summer adults' breast markings black, otherwise brown. Legs black. Flight: Flight feathers blackish & strong white wingbar
  • Diet: Inland: Insects. Coastal: Crustaceans, worms, molluscs (run & pause)
 
Thursday 3rd April , 2008

Glaucous Gull

Nr Barvas - Isle of lewis

 

Loch an t-saile - South Uist

(NF756460) 

   
Thursday 3rd April , 2008 Iceland Gull

Nr Barvas - Isle of Lewis

 

 

 

Thursday 3rd April , 2008 Garganey

Loch an t-saile - South Uist

(NF756460) 

   
Thursday 3rd April , 2008 Golden Eagle Isle of Harris

"Dreary wet morning then Wowww... Watched 2Golden Eagles chase a deer down the side of a hill into a loch! Never seen anything like it, and later saw two common gulls mobbing an eagle...... just what is the pecking order??!! "

Golden Eagle Terry Fountain sent us in a photo of a common gull mobbing a golden eagle last year

 

John
Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 Lapland Bunting Tolsta - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 Snow Bunting Tolsta - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Ardivachar Point + Howmore + Loch Skipport - South Uist

Stornoway Harbour + Gress - Isle of Lewis

 

 

 

Tuesday 1st April, 2008

Glaucous Gull

Loch Barvas - Isle of lewis

   
Tuesday 1st April, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour + Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

 

 

Tuesday 1st April, 2008

Lesser Scaup

Grimsay - North Uist

" Lessers have a very small amount of black at the tip, and a more concave shape bill, most so at the base.... the highest point of head is at the rear, and much more sloped at the front.....males flank feathers have fine grey vermiculations giving a clouded greyish appearance. (rear flank striping usually courser and visable.).... upper parts darker than greater scaup and more coarsely vermiculated...they sit higher in the water.."

based on Neill Hunt's notes

 
         

 

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