Western Isles
 Western Isles of Scotland


Recent bird sightings
Bird Photographs
Notes: A - Z Index
Notes: Taxonomic Index
Outer Hebrides Checklist
Useful contacts
Archived Sightings
Wildlife Garden
Bird ringing in Lewis

Bird Sightings : Hebrides : April 2009





This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings period April 2009

Thursday 30th April, 2009 White-billed Diver Skigersta - Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Thursday 30th April, 2009 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Dump - Isle of Lewis

Ardvule - South Uist

Thursday 30th April, 2009 Dotterel The Range - West Gerenish - South Uist    
Thursday 30th April, 2009 Hawfinch South Glendale - South Uist    


Male Siskin on nut feeder this evening 29-04-2009 a first for our garden in Sheshader. Point

John H


Wednesday 29th April, 2009 Iceland Gull Peninerine - South Uist    
Wednesday 29th April, 2009 Kumlien's Gull Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis
  • Kumlien's Gull
  • Larus glaucoides kumlieni
Wednesday 29th April, 2009 White-billed Diver Port of Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 29th April, 2009 Hawfinch South Glendale - South Uist    
Tuesday 28th April, 2009 Snowy Owl Balranald - North Uist    
Single Swallow over the Braighe this am, Willow Warbler in woods opposite Engy's garage.
Tuesday 28th April, 2009
Tuesday 28th April, 2009 Dotterel Port of Ness - Isle of lewis    
Tuesday 28th April, 2009 Iceland Gull Port of Ness - Isle of lewis    
Monday 27th April, 2009 Pomarine Skua (5) Aird an Runair - South UIst    
Monday 27th April, 2009 Iceland Gull Ardvule - South Uist    
Monday 27th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Ardvule - South Uist

Monday 27th April, 2009 Spotted Redshank Claddach Valley - North 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
  • UK: AMBER LIST (50%+ of UK wintering population found in just 10 sites). 420 passage records annually BTO , 80 - 400 wintering (RSPB).
  • WI: Scarce passage Visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • 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
Monday 27th April, 2009 Green-winged Teal Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Isle of Lewis
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Anas carolinensis
  • UK: Scarce vistor, 22 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • 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
Hebrides Bird Sightings : Black-tailed Godwits Heres a pic of some of the oystercatchers with a single blacktailed godwit braigh loch"

Large flock of long tailed ducks with wigeon.Along with these was a group of approx 30 plus oystercatchers and 6 black tailed godwits on Braigh loch lewis
razorbills,Great northern diver and a red throated diver off point lewis.
Andy l

Sunday 26th April 2009

One Barn Swallow perched on telephone line above our house this morning.
John B

My first this year.
Also one Greenland Wheatear at Fivepenny.

Sunday 26th April 2009

First Cuckoo of the season heard to-day 26th April 2009 at 10:38 in Sheshader. Point.
John H
Sunday 26th April 2009 Iceland Gull Ardvule + Eochar - South Uist    
Sunday 26th April 2009 White-billed Diver Skigersta - Ness - Isle of Lewis    
4 Orcas seen off the Butt of Lewis on Saturday & Sunday!
Sunday 26th April 2009 Kumlien's Gull Shawbost - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 26th April 2009 Glaucous Gull

Ardvule - South Uist

Butt of Lewis

Saturday 25th April, 2009 White-billed Diver Skigersta - Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Saturday 25th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Ardvule + Knockline - South Uist

Between 20 to 40 Godwits each day have feeding frantically on the marshy ground at Fivepenny.
Interesting though, i've noted 9 with rings on them and sent the colour details off to UEA who monitor the Godwit movements and arrivals in Iceland.
They have quickly reported back to me that 2 Godwits were ringed In Iceland, 1 on The Wash, 3 in Western France and 2 in Portugal.
Today a group of 42 stayed for 2 hours before moving on, presumably to Iceland
John B

Friday 24th April, 2009 Black-tailed Godwits Fivepenny - Ness - Isle of Lewis
  • Black-tailed Godwit
  • Limosa limosa
  • Gaelic: Cearra-ghob
  • WI: Uncommon passage Visitor (low numbers), Very rare winter visitor (five or less records)
  • Similar birds: Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Snipe

Saw a lovely pair of coal tits, this morning, in my back garden.
Stornoway , near primary School.

Friday 24th April, 2009

Looks like we have a pair of Hen Harriers here. We have been seeing the female for some time hunting over the croft land, but yesterday I saw a male swooping low over our croft about 100m from the sea (very close and unmistakable).
Alan F
Tuesday 24th April, 2009 Hen Harrier Isle of Lewis
  • Hen Harrier
  • Circus cyaneus
  • Gaelic: Brèid-air-tòin, Clamhan-nan-cearc
  • UK: RED LIST, UK 570 pairs (Summer) BTO
  • UK: Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • WI:Uncommon Resident Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs), Passage/Winter Visitor (recorded in low numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Ground nesting in upland moorland: Europe (inc Western isles), North & Central Asia, North America
  • Winters: Aug-Sept resident birds come down from moor and Oct-Mar Continental birds join them to winter. UK, France, Africa, South Asia & South America
  • Habitat: Open areas - low vegetation: moorland. Winter: river valleys, coastal marshes, fields
  • Diet: Small birds, nestlings, small rodents (lots of voles!)
  • Males pale grey above, rump & below white, wings grey with black wingtips
    Females & immatures brown, with white rump, streaked buff below, white upper-tail feathers, giving name "ringtails".
  • Food searching flight: wings held shallow 'V', glides very low, following land contours
  • Max recorded age approx 16 yrs (average approx 7 years)
  • Listen to a Hen Harrier (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Marsh Harrier
Tuesday 24th April, 2009 Spotted Redshank Claddach Valley - North Uist    
Tuesday 24th April, 2009 Iceland Gull Ardvule + Howmore - South Uist    

Whinchat & Reed Bunting
Singles of each in garde
n yesterday afternoon, Upper Aird, Point.
Grahame & Jackie
21st April, 2009

Pretty sure I heard a corncrake at Loch Stiapabhat yesterday (saturday),
there has also been a sighting of a pectoral sandpiper there for the last couple of days too.
Julie S
Sunday 19th April, 2009 Pectoral Sandpiper Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Lewis
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Calididris melanotos
  • UK: Passage migrant. 56 UK records a year (BTO)
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years. Approx 40 previous records)
  • Breeds: Arctic coast of East Siberia, North America, winters in South America
  • Habitat: wet fields , freshwater pools, marsh or lochsides, boggy ground on (migration mudflats)
  • Fat-bodied, small-headed , larger than Dunlin. ID amongst waders - sharp contrast between the dark-patterned chest and the white belly (pectoral line). Yellowish legs. Bill has pale base. 2 pairs of white lines down the back like a pair of braces. Males in breeding season have an inflatable throat sac - expands and contracts rhythmically during display flights and creates a series of hollow hoots
Sunday 19th April, 2009 White-billed Diver Port of- Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 19th April, 2009 Common Crane Flew over Port of Ness heading South
  • Common Crane
  • Grus grus
  • UK: Accidental
  • WI: Very rare visitor (five or less records). Previous record 1906
  • Breeds: Remote places. Nest mound of vegetation. Reedbeds in lakes, Bogs in Northern Forests. Scandinavia, Russia
  • Winters: Spain
  • Diet: Plant material, insects
  • Huge bird - up to 6 feet tall! (Length 96 -119cm, wing-span 180 -222cm). Very long legs, long narrow neck. Ostrich-like bulky "tail" plume (dark). Plumage mostly pale blue-grey, flight feathers grey-black. Breeding adult often has brownish stain on back. Head & upper neck black & white. Hindcrown bare, red coloured. Sexes similar.
Sunday 19th April, 2009 Iceland Gull

Butt of Lewis


Barn Swallow, Single this am, Garrabost, Point
Grahame and Jackie

Shelduck on Garynahine end of Loch Roag, Swallows at Gress, Garry Beach (2) and Laxdale

Sunday 19th April, 2009 Barn Swallow Loch Sandary - North Uist
  • Barn Swallow
  • Hirundo rustica
  • Gaelic: Gobhan Gaoithe
  • UK: 726,000 pairs (Summer) (Declining) AMBER LIST BTO
  • WI: Uncommon Migrant Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs) and fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
  • 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.
  • Typical lifespan 3yrs, max recorded 11ys 1mth
  • Listen to a Barn Swallow (RSPB site). Twittering
  • Similar birds: House Martin, Sand Martin (squarer tails), Swift (forked tails)

Aristole believed that Swallows spent winter in the bottom of ponds. This was proven to not be the case by means of tying small strips of rag to a swallow's legs. The rags had a water-soluble dye, when the bird returned in the spring the strips of rag still had colour proving conclusively that Swallows do not spend winter in the bottom of ponds.

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

Saturday 18th April, 2009 Greater Scaup

Loch Barvas + Loch Tiumpan (5)

Isle of Lewis

  • Scaup
  • Aythya marila
  • Gaelic: Lach-mhara
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 1-5 birds breed in the UK (rarest breeding duck). 9200 birds winter RSPB
  • Scarce Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor Mainly in winter, from late October to March.
  • Breeding: Nests on ground by lakes, bogs ( tundra) across Arctic & subarctic Northern America, Europe, Asia
  • Winters: Forms flocks in coastal waters. South of breeding range to South Europe, China, South US
  • Habitat: Tundra lakes (migration open lakes, coasts)
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Feeds by diving & swimming underwater. (Molluscs - winter) Othe shellfish, crustaceans & small insects. Some plant material
  • Diving duck (42-51cm length). Resembles tufted duck. Male: black head with green sheen. Black shoulder & breast, white flanks, grey back, black tail. White rump. Females brown with white band at base of bill. Flight shows white patches along trailing edge of the wing. Blue bill. Yellow eyes.
  • Max recorded age 14yrs
  • Listen to a Scaup (RSPB site) Usually silent when not breeding
  • Similar birds: Tufted Duck (common - black back), Ring-necked Duck (rare - black back, strong white band around bill), Lesser Scaup (rare - whitish back)

The name Scaup comes from a Scottish word scalp which means mussel beds (favourite food of the Scaup duck)

Saturday 18th April, 2009 Ruff Loch Sandary - North Uist
  • Ruff (female also called Reeve)
  • Philomachus pugnax
  • Gaelic: Gibeagan
  • UK: Migrant Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor. AMBER LIST. 700 birds winter BTO . Breeding 37 males RSPB
  • WI: Scarce & sometimes uncommon passage visitor (Usually very small numbers each year, but sometimes up to 50 birds). Aug/Sept. Two winter records. May have bred
  • Breeds: Bogs, marshes, wet meadows. Nests in short vegetation. Females raise the young. Northern Europe, Russia, Asia
  • Winters: South of breeding range to Africa, India, Australia
  • Habitat: Grassy tundra, croftland, farmland, machair, lakes (migration mudflats)
  • Diet: Forages wet grassland & mud, probing or by sight. Mainly insects, earthworms, some plant material, seeds (winter), larvae, frogs, small fish
  • Medium-sized wader (22-32cm length). Pot-bellied profile. Long neck, small head. Medium, slightly drooping bill. Yellowish-orange med-long legs.
    Breeding males spectacular black, chestnut or white neck ruffs & head tufts. Backs grey-brown. White below except for black breast. Flight: Faint wing-stripe & oval white patches either side of the tail. Gregarious - a wintering flock of 1 million occured (Senegal)
  • Max recorded age 9yrs
  • Similar bird: Redshank
  • Listen to a Ruff (RSPB site)

A few birds are present in the UK all year round. The ruff is usually present as a migrant, young birds from Scandinavia visiting the UK in late summer, then heading on to winter in Africa. The birds which winter in the UK are usually found near the coast.

Saturday 18th April, 2009 Arctic Tern Griminish - North Uist
  • Arctic Tern
  • Sterna paradisaea
  • Gaelic: Steàrnan
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 553,000 pairs - summer BTO
  • WI: Common migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 pairs) and fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
  • Breeds: Usually return to breed in area & colony, where they hatched to breed. UK - Europe, Arctic, North America
  • Winters: Antarctic oceans
  • Mostly grey & white. Red beak & feet. White forehead. Black nape & crown. White cheeks. Deeply forked whitish tail giving long "streamers"
  • Habitat: Tundra, Seacoast, lochs, rivers. Winter - sea
  • Diet: Fish, insects
  • Lives to 20yrs.
  • Listen to an Arctic Tern RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Common Tern, Little Tern


The birds winter far South in the Antarctic oceans. In late April, early May they begin to arrive back in the UK. Migration back South starts at the end of the breeding season in late July and August.

A chick ringed in Northumberland one June was in Australia, that October (12, 000 mile round trip).

Saturday 18th April, 2009 Little Tern Griminish - North Uist
  • Little Tern
  • Sterna caspia
  • Gaelic: Steàrnan Beag
  • WI: Uncommon Migrant Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs)
  • Similar birds: Common Tern, Arctic Tern
Saturday 18th April, 2009 Pale-bellied Brent Geese Aird an Runair - North Uist    
Saturday 18th April, 2009 White Wagtails (8) Aird an Runair - North Uist    
Saturday 18th April, 2009 Iceland Gull Stornoway Harbour    
Saturday 18th April, 2009 Long-tailed Duck (300+) Loch Branahuie - Isle of Lewis
  • Long-tailed Duck (Hound Duck, Col-candle Wick, Col-candle Week, Callo. Obselete: Old Injun, Oldsquaw, Old Wife)
  • Clangula hyemalis
  • Gaelic: Eun-binn, Lach-bhinn
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 16,000 pairs winter BTO
  • UK: Scarce Breeder, Winter Visitor, Passage Migrant (See from sea watching points)
  • WI: Fairly common winter visitor (occurs in small numbers)
  • Breeding: Tundra pools, marshes, sea coasts, large mountain lakes. Nest is made from vegetation, lined with down & on ground near water. North Atlantic, Alaska, N Canada, N Europe, Russia, N America
  • Winters: Main area Baltic Sea, where 4.5 million gather. South of breeding range to coasts of N America, N Europe, Asia & Black Sea & the Great Lakes. (On migration - gregarious & forms large flocks on open lakes, coasts).
  • Diet: Usually feed near surface, but also dive depths of 60m (200 feet). Aquatic insects, crustaceans, molluscs, clams, crabs, small fish.
  • Small neat sea duck. Small round heads. Steep foreheads. Adults white below. Rest of plumage does complex changes with moulting.
  • Male long pointed tail (10 - 15 cm) and a dark grey bill crossed by a pink band. Winter male mostly white - some brownish-black markings. Dark cheek patch mostly white head & neck. Dark breast. Summer male dark head, neck, back. White cheek patch.
  • Females browner. Shorter pointed tail. Winter female head & neck white with dark crown. Summer female head mostly dark. White cheek patch.
  • Juveniles similar to autumn adult females (with a less noticeable cheek patch).
  • In flight all show all dark wings and white bellies.
  • Max recorded age 22yrs 8mths
  • Listen to a Long-tailed Duck (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Similar birds: Common Eider, Northern Eider (very rare)


On migration Long-tailed Ducks are gregarious and form large flocks on coasts and lakes (Broadbay is a site where 300+ birds can be often be found wintering), this makes the species very vulnerable to oil pollution, that and is why the birds have Amber List status in order to protect their wintering sites

Saturday 18th April, 2009 Lapland Bunting Nr Loch Stiapabhat - Port of Ness - Isle of Lewis
  • Lapland Bunting
  • Calcatius lapponicus
  • UK: Scarce breeder, passage - winter visitor
  • UK: 350 birds (winter) Arrives September - October, leaves by May BTO
  • WI: Scarce passage migrant (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • 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
  • Chunky yellow seed-eater bill. Winter males: very noticeable black crown, face & throat. White eyestripe. Chestnut nape. White below. Heavily streaked black-grey back. Mixed species flocks.
  • Diet: seeds (summer invertebrates)
  • Listen to a Lapland Bunting - RSPB site

First corncrake seen and heard today Point (Lewis) croft.
Andy l

Friday 17th April, 2009 Corncrake Point - Lewis
  • Corncrake
  • Crex crex
  • Gaelic: Trèan-ri-trèan
  • UK: Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor.
  • UK: RED LIST, 1100 males summer BTO
  • WI: Fairly common (100-999 breeding pairs) migrant breeder (50% of the UK breeding population)
  • Breeds: Apr-Sept. Tall grass and tall rough vegetation (Hayfields, grassland, patches of yellow flag iris, reeds, nettle or rhubarb etc). Nest on ground is of dead stems & leaves. 8 -12 greenish-grey red-spotted eggs. 1st clutch May - June, 2nd clutch July - August. Incubation 16 -19 days. Fledging 34- 38 days. Europe, Asia
  • Winters: South Europe to South Africa (long-distance migrant)
  • Diet: Forages insects & seeds on surface of soil and also pecks them from plants. Earthworms, beetles, slugs, snails.
  • Approx size of a moorhen. Dark-streaked grey-brown. Rusty barring. Short deep bill. Strong (long) legs & feet. Flight shows bright chestnut wings, trails legs. Males & females similar.
  • Listen to a Corncrake

Egg thieves are still a major problem, in 2001 an egg collector from London was arrested for disturbing Golden Eagles. He was trying to steal eggs from a nest on South Uist.

There is a BBC article written in 2008 about another egg-collector caught with more than 7,000 eggs in his collection,  653 of those eggs were from the UK's most protected species such as the Red-necked Phalarope. He also had eggs from Barn Owls, Golden Eagles, Ospreys, Choughs, Peregrine Falcons, and almost 40 Black-necked Grebe's eggs. (RSPB estimates there are only 40 - 60 breeding pairs of Black-necked Grebes in the whole of the UK ...)


  • Keep your eyes open for trouble.
  • Quickly phone the police or RSPB if you are at all worried about the safety of birds.
  • Don't tell people if you know where there are nests
  • If you know where birds are breeding do not take photographs of them on the nest. Disturb some breeding birds and you are going to be arrested ...
  • Don't mention exactly where you have seen endangered species during breeding time - (locations where the birds of prey and some other species have been sighted at breeding time are kept vague on our bird sightings page).

A lot of people think that egg-collecting does not happen anymore, it is an archaic thing to do in these enlightened times - but sadly the rarer a species becomes the greater a target it is ...


Great to see the Red-throated Divers are back on their lochs again, the Pentland road, theBlack-headed Gull Colony have not yet returned to their breeding site.

Thursday 16th April, 2009
Red-throated Diver Bernera and Lewis


  • Red-throated Diver (Red-throated Loon, Rain Goose, Cape drake, Cape Race, Rain-goose, Scape-grace, Sprat Loon, Cobble, Little Loon, Pegging-owl Loon, Pepper-shinned Loon)
  • WI Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK, AMBER LIST, 1200 pairs (Summer) BTO, 4850 Winter RSPB
  • WI: Fairly common migrant breeder (100 - 999 breeding pairs), and passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
  • Breeding grounds: North Europe, North Asia, North America, Arctic Canada. Arrive in March & April. Shallow nest (rush-lined) in rushes by ponds & freshwater lochs. 2 eggs late-may/early June. Departs in September & October
  • Winters: Coastal waters south of breeding range to Southern Europe, China and Southern North America. Birds from more Northern parts arrive to winter off the UK's coasts in August & September - peak in October.
  • Diet: Fish caught at sea, also some frogs (adults feed sand eels to their young)
  • Smallest UK diver (24-27in long). Breeding adults: grey head. Thick neck with red throat, white below. Dark mantle. Non-breeding: drabber. White chin & foreneck also most of face. Red Iris. Bill up-tilted.
  • Usually jumps up to dive. Remaining underwater up to 1.5mins & to depth 25ft. Very clumsy on land, ashore only to breed. Only diver that can take-off from land.
  • Listen to a red-throated diver (RSPB site)
  • Max recorded age 22yrs 11mths


RSPB and SNH have found that in the last 12 years black-throated divers have increased in numbers in the UK by 34%, and red-throated divers by 16%, with the greatest increase in breeding birds being in the Western Isles. Both species have however declined in Europe.

Thursday 16th April, 2009
Glaucous Gull

Loch an-t' Saile- South Uist

Thursday 16th April, 2009
Pectoral Sandpiper Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Lewis    
Seen today while on the ferry crossing the Sound of Harris, both ways:

Long Tailed Ducks (Also seen at the Braighe, Point, Lewis - there were probably 100+ there, and off Luskentyre, Harris)
Little Auk (95% certain on this one - not sure there is anything else of the right size it could be mistaken for!)
Eider - Lots of them!
Black Guillemot
Common Tern

Plus the usual Cormorant, Shelduck, shag etc.

We're away home on Saturday so unless we see anything interesting in the meantime this will be all from us until next year. Thanks for the invaluable help your site has given over the past fortnight!

Robyn F

Wednesday 15th April, 2009

Wednesday 14th April, 2009 Cuckoo Loch Druidibeag - South Uist
  • Common Cuckoo
  • Cuculus canorus
  • Gaelic: Cuthag
  • UK: AMBER LIST, 14,000 pairs (Summer) BTO
  • UK: Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor (Arrives late March - April, departs July - August)
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Europe, Asia, North Africa
  • Winters: South of breeding range to South Africa, South Asia
  • Habitat: Reedbeds. Trees: open woodland, taiga (moist subarctic coniferous forest begins where tundra ends), steppe forest
  • Diet: Larger Insects & large hairy caterpillars & beetles (usually ones that other species avoid)
  • Dove-sized blue-grey bird with slender body, long tail, strong legs. Pointed wings.
    Adult females two morphs: sometimes grey like the male but with rusty-buff tinge & dark barring on breast, other morph rusty-brown above & breast with dark barring all over (the “hepatic” phase). Young are brown.
  • Max recorded age 17yrs 9ths
  • Listen to a Cuckoo (RSPB site). It is the call of the male that gives the bird it's name. Female's call is a loud bubbling sound
  • Similar birds: Sparrowhawk, Collared Dove

The female Cuckoo will return to the same breeding territory for up to 10 years. 75% of the nestlings return in later years to establish their own breeding territories within 40km of their birth site.

Wednesday 14th April, 2009 Iceland Gull

Ardivachar - South Uist

Saw a pair of White Tailed Eagles on Lewis on Sunday 13th April.

I was up in Lewis this weekend and thought there didn't seem to be a great deal about just yet, I saw the following:

1 black throated diver and 3 red throated divers at North Lewis - Sunday 12th

3-4 wigeon at Loch Tiumpan - Saturday 11th

Great Skua - 1 at The Brighe, Sunday 12th, 1 at Tiumpan Head Saturday 11th. 1 at The Butt of Lewis, Saturday 11th.

2 Merlin (or maybe 1 if it flew REALLY Fast) on the West Side

1 Wheatear nr Uigen, Sunday 12th

1 Golden Plover nr Uigen, Sunday 12th.

There were also 4 Merganser in the bay behind the braigh at Aiginish (excuse my spelling). 3 males and a female. 1 male was particularly annoyed that the other two males were hanging around, ruining his chances. I felt for him.

Jamie R

First Cuckoo I have heard this year
Tuesday 14th April, 2009 Cuckoo Croir - Great Bernera    
Tuesday 14th April, 2009 Snowy Owl Aird an Runair - North Uist    
Tuesday 14th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Loch Sandary - South Uist

Monday 13th April, 2009 White-billed Diver 7! Skigersta - Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Monday 13th April, 2009 Snowy Owl Aird an Runair - North Uist    
Sunday 12th April, 2009 Surf Scoter 3! ?
Taransay Sound
  • Surf Scoter
  • Melanitta perspicillata
  • UK: Accidental
  • UK: Fewer than 20 records BTO
  • WI: Scarce Visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Breeds: Alaska & Canada
  • Winters: South USA, Europe & UK
  • Habitat: Close to sea, lakes, rivers, tundra
  • Diet: Molluscs, crustaceans, (migration fish eggs)
  • Large sea duck, bulky shape, large bill.
    Male almost all black, white patches nape & forehead. Bulbous red, yellow & white bill. Females brown birds, pale head patches. Head wedge-shaped & no white in wings helps ID female from female velvet scoter
  • Similar birds: Velvet Scoter (rare), Common Scoter , Eider,
Curracag the Outer Hebrides Natural History Society has the following talks planned:

Tuesday 21st April 2009
Illustrated talk by Maria Scholten:
Collecting Uist Corn for Genebank Conservation (a view on a unique local seed production system)
Lewis Castle College, Benbecula

Tuesday 19 May Brian Sawford about Ardnamurchan,
Tuesday 26 May Ian McGuire about his work for conservation of British owls through the Hawk and Owl Trust.

Venue will probably be Room 63 Lionacleat School, Benbecula – 7.30 p.m.


Long-tailed Ducks - Over 200 on the Braigh Pond, Point this morning, as some of us went to work !

Sunday 12th April, 2009 Iceland Gull

Ardivachar + Ardvule- South Uist

Sunday 12th April, 2009 Little Tern Ardivachar - South Uist
  • Little Tern
  • Sterna caspia
  • Gaelic: Steàrnan Beag
  • WI: Uncommon Migrant Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs)
  • Similar birds: Common Tern, Arctic Tern
Sunday 12th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Ardivachar - South Uist

Saturday 11th April, 2009 Iceland Gull

Clachan - South Uist

Saturday 11th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Ardvule Point - South Uist

Friday 10th April, 2009 Iceland Gull

Ardivachar Point + Balgarva - South Uist

Loch Sandary - North Uist

Friday 10th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Baile Gharbhaidh- South Uist

Friday 10th April, 2009 Bonaparte's Gull Peninerine - South Uist
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Larus philadelphia
  • UK ( in any month), accidental, 3 annual records BTO
  • WI: Very rare visitor (five or less records)
  • 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 10th April, 2009 Lapland Bunting Port of Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Friday 10th April, 2009 Greater Canada Goose Brue - Isle of Lewis
  • Canada Goose
  • UK: Introduced breeder. 82,000 adults BTO
  • WI: Rare visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Breeding: 2 yr old finds a mate. Monogamous, mates for life (one dies other may find new mate). Nest shallow depression lined with plant material & down. Usually in elevated area nr water. Lays 1 clutch a yr, 5-7 eggs. Both adults protect eggs. During incubation (25–28 days) adults lose flight feathers. Feathers regrown & birds can fly again after eggs hatched. N America, (INTRODUCED: N+W Europe, New Zealand)
  • Wintering: Many British birds travel to different sites within the UK to moult but are non-migratory. A few vagrant birds of the smaller races join with other species of wild geese in N Ireland & W Scotland
  • Habitat: Marsh, meadows, lakes, tundra, estuaries, gravel pits, parks
  • Diet: Mostly grazing - grasps grass with bill & jerks head to tear the blades off. Plant material, grass, roots, tubers, shoots, leaves, grains, seeds. In water feeds from silt at bottom of body of water. Also feeds on aquatic plants seaweeds etc
  • Large goose. Black head & neck. Large white throat patch "chinstrap". Brownish, body plumage (with white breast). (Barnacle Goose, has black breast & grey body) . Female similar to male but slightly smaller & has different honk.
  • Typical lifespan 6yrs. Max recorded lifespan 27yr 4mths
  • Listen to a Canada Goose (RSPB site)
Thursday 9th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Arnol - Isle of Lewis

Peninerine + Eochar - South Uist

Ben also saw one (Wheatear) outside the cottage we are staying in at Sidinish, N Uist, yesterday morning. I didn't know about that one until this evening!
Friday 10th April, 2009

Wheatears being seen regularly on North Uist and Berneray - Tuesday, pm, one by Bays Loch, Berneray. Wednesday, pm, one at Aird an Runair, Balranald, N. Uist.
Whooper Swan Wednesday pm next to Loch Croghearraidh, Balranald, N.Uist.
Robyn & Ben PF.
Wednesday 8th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Ardivachar + Ardvule + Kilauley

South Uist

Wednesday 8th April, 2009 Snowy Owl Aird an Runair - North Uist    

The Wheatears have arrived on Bernera again - saw two today

Wednesday 8th April, 2009

Bird sightings : Female merlin Bird sightings : Female merlin

heres a report for you ;
blackheaded gulls, lapwings, meadow pipits, mallard ducks, 4 redshanks, pr mute swans, 115 golden plover, 30 ringed plover, 6prs wigeon
1pr blacktailed godwits, common buzzard Loch Stiapabhat at ness

Also a female merlin north lewis and a male kestrel hovering central lewis
Andy l
included is a couple of images of the female merlin.

Tuesday 7th April, 2009 Merlin  


  • Merlin
  • Falco columbarius
  • UK AMBER LIST (1,300 breeding pairs) RSPB
  • WI: Uncommon resident or migrant Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs) and passage visitor (recorded in low numbers each year)
  • Breeds: UK nest usually a scrape on upland rocky or scrub moor in long heather. Upland moorland, birch scrub, forest. North America, Asia, Europe
  • Winter: In Aug - Oct birds resident birds come down to inland & lowland coast areas with open countryside & North European birds arrive. Some Icelandic breeding birds migrate to UK and some birds that breed here move further south. Africa, Asia, South America
  • Habitat: Moor, heath, desert, open coniferous forest
  • Diet: Mostly small birds - 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. In flight looks a bit like a Pigeon hence old name Pigeon Hawk. Merlin often roost communally & with hen harriers.
  • Max recorded age: 12yrs 8mths
  • Listen to a Merlin (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Kestrel, Sparrowhawk
Tuesday 7th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Ardivachar - South Uist

Tuesday 7th April, 2009 Iceland Gull

Howmore - South Uist

Did anyone else manage to see the Killdeer in Ness, and if so were there any photos. I
don't think Tony has a camera. Just received a request for details of
possible photographers from Birdwatch magazine.

Brian Rabbitts

An Osprey flew over the beach, midday today ,
North Uist

Peter F

Tuesday 7th April, 2009 Osprey North Uist
  • Osprey (Fish Eagle, Fish Hawk, Osprey, Seahawk)
  • Pandion haliaetus
  • Gaelic: Iolar Uisge
  • UK AMBER LIST. 148 pairs (Summer) BTO 4 UK nest records
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (usually May) 1-4 records annually
  • European breeders usually generally winter in Africa. Females migrating before males . Birds fly up to 430km a day
  • Habitat: Lakes & Lochs, rivers, sea coasts (usually nests near freshwater) Some nests used for 70 yrs
  • Diet: 99% fish, caught in barb-like talons. Hovers then dives (to) 1m deep after fish (closeable nostrils). Sometimes diet includes small birds or rodents, reptiles etc.
  • Large (2ft length, 6ft wingspan). Upperparts deep shiny brown. Breast (sometimes streaked) & other underparts white. Head white with dark mask-like eye patch. Golden rises. Black bill. White feet, black talons. Tail short. Wings long & narrow with "fingers". In flight arched wings gull-like with downturned "hands". Sexes fairly similar see WIKI for detailed ID. Mates for life
  • Max recorded age 26yrs 1 month. Typical lifespan 8yrs

Just heard from Tony M in Ness -
11.05 hours at Loch Stiapavat from the hide watching a Killdeer.

Brian R

Monday 6th April, 2009 Killdeer Ness - Isle of Lewis
  • Killdeer
  • Charadrius vociferus
  • UK: just one record a year
    WI: In 2007 we had 2nd Killdeer in the last 10 years
  • Breeds: Bare sandy/gravelly terrain near freshwater (gravel-pits, reservoirs, saltpans etc). North America
  • Winters: North to South America. Vagrant to Europe
  • Habitat: On migration: Freshwater margins, estuaries, coastal mudflats
  • Diet: Forages by sight: fields, mudflats, shores. Insects, mostly earthworms, also snails, grasshoppers, beetles
  • Adults: Bit similar to & bit smaller than ringed plover but white breast has 2 black bands. Brown wings & back, white belly, Rump orange-brown. Bill all black. Legs greyish-pink or brownish (not orange)


In North America where the bird breeds, it does the "broken wing" act to entice predators away from it's nest. It also stops horses, cows etc from trampling the nest by fluffing up, putting it's tail over it's head, and charging at the animal to scare it off! The Killdeer is smaller than a ringed plover!

BBRC Killdeer records 1992-2006

0, 2, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 3, 0, 1, 2, 3

Monday 6th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Ardivachar - South Uist

Monday 6th April, 2009 Iceland Gull

Drimsdale - South Uist

Sunday 5th April, 2009 American Wigeon

North Bay - South Uist

  • American Wigeon (Wigeon, Widgeon, Baldpate)
  • UK: Scarce visitor, 6 annual records BTO
  • WI: Rare visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Breeds North-West & Central America
  • Winters: South USA to Northerly South America. Gregarious outside of breeding season
  • Habitat: Open wetlands, wet grassland, marshes lochs, wet meadows (usually with some taller vegetation) Migration also rivers, estuaries
  • Diet: (Herbivore) Grazing for food - has short serrated-edged bill. Herbs, grasses, Wigeon grass, eelgrass, algae, roots. Also dabbling, pondweeds & other aquatic plants
  • Dabbling duck. Adult male in breeding season: pinkish brown body, greyish head with greenish eye patch, creamy white crown stripe (Common Wigeon's is creamy-buff/yellowish-orange) , black rear-end, white wing-patch (speculum). Non-breeding male fairly similar to female. Female light-brown, & similar to female Mallard.
  • Similar bird: Wigeon. Female & male American Wigeon out of breeding season similar to Mallard
Sunday 5th April, 2009 Glaucous Gull

North Bay + Loch Sandary

South Uist

Friday 3rd April, 2009 Iceland Gull

North Bay - South Uist


Re Snowy owl: checked out galson area today with scope to no avail im afraid
Andy L
Friday 3rd April, 2009

Fab views of a pair of Kestrels hunting together today.
Never seen two flying so close together

Friday 3rd April, 2009
Friday 3rd April, 2009 Bonaparte's Gull Peninerine - South Uist    

78 Whooper Swans on Achmore loch (Lewis) yesterday

Thursday 2nd April, 2009


Had lone twite on the table this morning. Fieldfares and redwings in the croft
Andy L, Isle of Lewis

Thursday 2nd April, 2009

Just to let you know that the Snowy Owl has been sighted on Galson Moor (Lewis) again, there are been two reports in the last week.

If people are coming to see it to be aware of where they park etc, as we had terrible problems the last time with people just stopping on random parts of the road where there are quite a few blind spots. We have the added problem this year that building work is going on not far away and so there are a lot of lorries using this stretch of road.

Julie Sievewright
Countryside Ranger
Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn
Bùth Lisa
Habost, Ness
Isle of Lewis

Thursday 2nd April, 2009

Outer Hebrides Bird Report Cover

Outer Hebrides Bird Report 2005/2006

The Outer Hebrides Bird Report has been redesigned by a team of local birders,
and this new style has 250 pages, and features several plates of colour photos.

The Bird Report is a fascinating read for anyone birding here, and very useful
when wanting to get an idea of how likely you are to see a bird in a particular area
when narrowing down the ID, from a beginner dubious about ducks to an expert
picking between pipits.

Read more about the Outer Hebrides Bird Report

Probable Swallow in Ness on Friday afternoon
Julie S



Great Northern Diver


Balinvanich - Benbecula - Outer Hebrides


Saw the temp. resident Great Northern Diver in Balivanich bay...

see Debbies super photo of the Great Northern Diver

Debbie B



Western Isles of Scotland - UK

back to page top

Home Contact Webmaster

Copyright © 2005-2011 Western Isles Netspace.  User Agreement and Privacy policy