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 Bird Sightings Records : Hebrides : August 2009





   This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings period
Just looked at the site
a few suggestions
1. Leverburgh bird. Stonechat (poss juv). I have had a couple of folk recently gettiing condused. there are a few juvs about and 9generally) they are poorly illustrated in teh books
2. westside raptor - most likely a Buzzard. they come in all Heinz varieties on here!
RSPB Conservation Officer (Western Isles

Today's sightings -- a single Red Throated Diver in Lewis; a juvenile Dipper on rocky stream in the village (Lemreway). Plus a small unidentified black with white bird - seen near Leverburgh this afternoon. Any ideas anyone ?? the nearest thing in the bird guide is a pied flycatcher.

Thursday 20th August 2009


I am hoping you can help me identify a bird of rey we saw on the West Side in the second week of June this year. We saw it by the side of a reedy marsh, very near the road. It perched on a fence post overlooking the marsh, then flopped off one an on the the next. Although we got a good view of it, we weren't able to pick out many distinguishing features, except that the head was lighter coloured than the rest of it. From the way it flew, we couldn't tell its wing shape. It was about the size of a buzzard, and the only thing I can find in the bird book that is anywhere near it is a marsh harrier. From the books I've looked at, that doesn't seem likely. I know I've given you very little to go on, but I thought one of the local people might know what was around that area at the time. As you will gather, although we're very interested in birds, we struggle to identify many of them, particularly any we do not see in our own area (Shropshire).

Thank you in anticipation of your help.

Jill Leventon

Any suggestions anyone?

Just thought I'd let you know that I had a Redpoll here in the garden in Lemreway this morning.
It was of the paler & slimmer type. I'm not an expert on the different types of Redpoll though.

19th August 2009

Short-eared Owl
Seen last night outside the house, Upper Aird, Point.

Grahame and Jackie
From 1st Aug to at least yesterday, 5th Aug 2009 we have had crossbills. I saw them as a flock of about 15 to 20. They were often in the Swedish Whitebeanm. I like to think they felt at home there. I don't think they eat the berries because I didn't see them eating them, they weren't ripe and there were ripe rowan alongside. I think they roosted in the whitebeam. It gives good cover as you see in this out of focus photo.

I am in my little wood at 4 Ardveenish which has cones on spruce, pine and larch

When in Kazbek in the Georgian Caucasus in June I heard one corncrake or a convincing imitation. What a nice suprise and reminder of home, like seeing all the hooded crows in Romania
John P

(Photo to follow later)
We spent the period July 27 to August 7th in the Western isles and would like to send you these selected sighting from my Field Note Book:
27/07/09 Benbecula: cut field near Lionacleit (adjacent to coast road)
Huge numbers of Golden Plover, Black Tailed Godwit and Lapwing

29/07/09 Grenitote North Uist
Sanderling (some in summer plumage)
Dunlin (most in summer plumage)

31/07/09 North Lochs, Lewis
Merlin in pursuit of small prey, probably a meadow pipit

02/08/09 Northton, beach, Harris
Sound of Harris: manx shearwater rafts, gannet
Machair: raven, twite, wren, starling, white wagtail, rock dove.

03/08/09, Harris
White tailed Sea-eagle pursued by gulls

03/08/09 Luskentyre

04/08/09 Tolsta Head and village, Lewis - walk around head to Traigh Mhor
Gt Skua, Arctic Skua, rafts of eclipsed eider, Black guillemot, raven, Arctic Tern, Gannet,
Green Sandpiper. Note: We flushed this bird from the stream which flows down towards the CP at Grid Ref NB533488
It appeared, as is diagnostic, like a house martin and flew low then up and dropped onto the stream again.
Same day: swallow near Stornoway.

Hope this is helpful in building a picture of the avifauna for the Western Isles during 2009
Stephen and Alison Mott

I wonder whether the following may be of interest in a kind of philosophical way?

About 17 years ago, my partner bouught a packet of Phormium Tenax seeds from Chiltern Seeds of Ulverston in Cumbria and planted them in pots. Eventually, two became plants worthy of potting on so she put them into one pot. A couple of years later, they had grown sufficiently to be planted out in the garden, where they flourished as the thugs they are, growing thicker and spreading outwards, leaves as strong and sharp as sword blades, deadly to the touch and tough to survive the Western Isles climate.

Last month, after seventeen years, five flower spikes suddenly began to appear above the six-foot high, six feet wide stand of formidable leaves. In no time at sll, it seemed, like Jack's Beanatalk, these flower spikes grew to be ten feet tall with many bracts, obviously hiding embryo flowers. We have several flower books for reference, but none showed pictures of the flowers, as they are grown to be foliage plants, of course.

As the bracts began to open from the lowest of the stalks, the spikes continued to strain their way ever upwards as each bract began to open, I began to try to guess what kind of exotic flowers might eventually emerge from these Triffids, but found it impossible, so I went on-line and discovered a picture on Wikipaedia, disclosing something not unlike opening honeysuckle flower heads, of that same pinkish carmine red, and the plant has been used for medicines, clothing, building materials and most other things since time began by the Maoris.

It seems that in its native New Zealand, there is a bird with a curved bill, specialy designed to fir the curvature of the flowerrs, from which it drinks the nectar and incidentally polinates the flowers.

And so to the point of all this. This lunchtime, I happened to notice that the first 4 or 5 of potentially hundreds of florets were beginning to open out at the tip, displaying an orangey coloured pistil with tiny fronds (a bit like a sea urchin) sticking out. As I watched, a Starling came and landed on the flower stalk, and parrot-like worked its way down to these four or five first flowers and without hesitation, stuck its bill into the funnel and started to drink, just as they do at the pond, dipping its beak in, the tipping its head up while it swallowed then back in again, about three times, then on to the next floret and repeated the exercise. It continued for about 3 minutes, then flew off round the corner of the house with a bright red spot of its face, between its bill and the level, of its eyes. These flower stalks are now about telve feet high and still growing, so the bird was silhouetted. A couple of minutes later, I looked at the feeding station at the front of the house, and there it was, my newly red-polled starling, guzzling away at the fatballs in the hanging wire tubes. Now I recognised the bird as one of about five youngsters which have been haunting the garden for the last fortnight since they fledged.

My question is this.

This is the first time that this Phormium has put up flower spikes in its seventeen years of life. Only four or five have opened as yet, from LUNCHTIME TODAY. This starling is no more than two weeks out of the nest. Phormiums are by no means as 'common as mud' in the village or the immediate vicinity, though I'm not claiming that it's the only one. HOW did this precocious youngster know that that it could find nectar inside these flowers? It's never seen one before, just as I haven't myself, yet it was in there, as though it's been sipping nectar from Phormium for years!

Any answers?

David Scholfield, North Tolsta.


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