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 Bird Sightings Records : Hebrides : February 2009





   This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings period February 2009
Saturday 28th February 2009 American Wigeon North Ford - South Uist    
Friday 27th February, 2009 Glaucous Gull (20+) Balgarva + Gulan Spit - South Uist    
Thursday 26th February, 2009 American Wigeon North Ford - South Uist    
Thursday 26th February, 2009 Green-winged Teal North Ford - South Uist    
Thursday 26th February, 2009 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour (4)

Wednesday 25th February, 2009 Canada Geese Breasclete - Isle of Lewis

2 in field overlooking Loch Roag

  • Canada Goose
  • Branta canadensis
  • 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)


Curracag event

Tuesday 3 March at Room 63, Lionacleit School, Benbecula:

7.30 p.m. Colin Macphail will be speaking about Crofting in Uist, conservation of machair, wildlife etc.

Monday 23rd February, 2009 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour (4)

Monday 23rd February, 2009 American Wigeon North Ford Loch - South Uist    
Monday 23rd February, 2009 Green-winged Teal North Ford Loch - South Uist    
Monday 23rd February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Stoneybridge & Gulan & Ludaig - South Uist

Sunday 22nd February, 2009 Lesser Scaup Loch Dun Murchaidh - Benbecula
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Aythya affinis
  • UK: Accidental. 2 annual records BTO
  • WI: Vagrant. Very rare visitor (five or less records)
  • Breeds: Marsh ponds. North America (Alaska) , Western Canada
  • Winters: Lake rivers, coasts Pacific coast of North & South America (UK vagrant first record in 1987) One of latest migrants to head south each year
  • Diet: Diving duck: at 7 weeks old can dive for 25 seconds to 60 feet depth. Also some dabbling. Eats aquatic insects, molluscs, plants
  • Small duck (38-45cm long). Blue bill. Yellow eyes. Adult males dark (purple sheen), black breast, light-grey back, black tail, white below. Adult females white band base of bill, brown head & body.
    Smaller than the Greater Scaup and very similar, they often flock together
  • Similar birds: Greater Scaup , Tufted Duck, Ring-necked Duck (rare)
Sunday 22nd February, 2009 Long-billed Dowitcher Loch Bee - South Uist
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Limnodromus scolopaceus
  • UK: Accidental
  • UK: 3 records annually BTO
  • WI: Very rare visitor (five or less records) TBC
  • Breeding: Nests on ground nr water. Wet Tundra. N Siberia, Alaska, E Siberia
  • Winters: S US, Central America vagant to Europe
  • Habitat: Tundra, wet grassland (migration estuaries, beaches).Often nr fresh water
  • Diet: Forages by probing shallow water or wet mud. Mostly insects, molluscs, crustaceans aquatic worms(also some plant material)
  • Adult bird yellowish legs & very long straight dark bill. Summer body dark-brown above & reddish below. Throat & breast spotted. Bars on flanks. Tail black & white barred pattern. Winter bird mostly greyish.
Sunday 22nd February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Kilpedher & Eochar & Gulan - South Uist

Arnol - Isle of Lewis

Sunday 22nd February, 2009 Iceland Gull

Ormiclate - South Uist

Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

Saturday 21st February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Loch Paible & Balgarva - South Uist

Saturday 21st February, 2009 Iceland Gull

Ardheisker -& Claddach Kyles - North Uist

Friday 20th February 2009 Glaucous Gull

Loch Paible & Balgarva - South Uist

Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

Northton - Isle of Harris

Friday 20th February 2009 Iceland Gull

Ardheisker -& Claddach Kyles - North Uist

Thursday 19th February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Northton - Isle of Harris


Look out for the RSPB talk about Prey Birds of the Islands and Nature Reserves in Scotland on thursday 19th February at An Lanntair

Article in the Scotsman online today following a rather different line about the Outer Hebrides Bird Report

Releasing sea eagles into the wild ..... … they love killing other rare animals

Members of the Outer Hebrides Bird Group have been examining the contents of sea eagle nests and found that the most common food eaten was seabirds, (lots of fulmars) but also mountain hare, puffin, short-eared owl, raven, red deer and lamb

Wednesday 18th February, 2009


Article in the Telegraph online today "Lamb attacks Eagle in rare animal confrontation"
(Refering to the Outer Hebrides Bird Report)

Wednesday 18th February, 2009

Tuesday 17th February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Stoneybridge & Eochar - South Uist

Just starting to go into breeding plumage
Monday 16th February, 2009 Great Northern Diver Bernera nr Bridge
  • Great Northern Diver
  • Gavia immer
  • UK: Scarce breeder, winter visitor. Arrives UK August - leave to breed April - May
  • UK: 3000 in winter BTO
  • WI: Fairly common passage (occurs in small numbers but of international importance) and winter visitor (occurs in small numbers, but of national importance)
  • Breeds: Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, North Scotland, North America, Canada
  • Winters: North Europe, UK, North America
  • Habitat: Lakes, ponds & rivers
  • 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
  • Diet: Mostly fish, crustaceans amphibians. Fishes underwater to 200 feet (60m) immer means submerge
  • Similar birds: Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, White-billed Diver

Brian (the County Recorder) is trying to chase up the sighting of the Snowy Owl at Gallan Head - Crowlista -
Uig 16th May 2008.

Would the observers please get in touch with him:

An article from the new Outer Hebrides Bird Report is mentioned on the BBC news web site

Lamb head-butts Golden Eagle!


male kestrel, Langadail and grey wagtail, scaladal, both N.Harris.

Monday 16th February, 2009
Monday 16th February, 2009 Long-eared Owl North Loch Eyenort - South Uist
  • Long-eared Owl
  • Asio otus
  • Gaelic: Comhachag Adharcaiche
  • WI: Rare or scarce breeder (1-9 breeding records)
  • Breeds: Conifer plantations and woodlands
  • Similar birds: Short-eared Owl
Monday 16th February, 2009 Pink-footed Goose Griminish - Benbecula
  • Pink-footed Geese (Pinks, Pinkfeet, Pink Foots)
  • Anser brachyrhynchus
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Winter visitor. 241,000 birds BTO (October - April)
  • WI: Fairly common passage (occurs in small numbers) and scarce winter visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years) .
  • Breeds: On cliffs near glaciers & on small islands in lakes avoiding predators (Arctic Fox). 3-6 eggs laid. On hatching, goslings walk with parents to nearest lake. Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard.
  • Winters: Migrates south mid-Sept to early Oct (heads north mid-April to early-May). (Two populations: Greenland & Iceland population winter in UK.Svalbard population winters in Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Northern Germany, Belgium
  • Habitat: Tundra lakes, rivers, wet meadows, large estuaries, & on nearby grazing land
  • Diet: Grazing: Plant material: grass & other leaves, roots, tubers like potatoes, shoots, grain
  • Medium-sized dainty looking goose. Pinkish-grey-brown with darker head & neck. Short, pink bill with black base & tip. Pink feet & legs. Grey tail with broad white tip. The upper feathers pale bluish-grey. White rear. Flight feathers blackish-grey. (Bean Goose has orange instead of pink legs & on bill, & paler, greyer plumage).
  • Typical lifespan 8yrs. Max recorded lifespan 38yrs 7mths
  • Listen to a Pink-footed Goose (RSPB site) High-pitched honking, particularly vocal in flight, with large skeins being said to be almost deafening!
  • Similar birds: Bean Goose, White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose
Monday 16th February, 2009 Kumlien's Gulll Stornoway Harbour
  • Kumlien's Gull
  • Larus glaucoides kumlieni

Song thrush singing in the garden today.
Three whooper swans on Loch Croistean.
Later was out and about on Lewis watching a kestrel when suddenly had a Golden Eagle swoop
very low just a few feet overhead following the kestrel.
The eagle stayed in the same spot for some time.
What a treat
Sunday 15th February, 2009

Sunday 15th February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

Grenitote - North Uist



saw 2 redwings in Lews castle grounds by the entrance near the co-op and
also 1 sparrowhawk going into the woods and being mobbed by crows
Krista S
Saturday, 14th February, 2009


Saturday, 14th February, 2009 Kumlien's Gulll Stornoway Harbour    
Saturday, 14th February, 2009 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour (4)

Friday 13th February, 2009 Glaucous Gull (13)

Gulan Island - South Uist


The Outer Hebrides Bird Report 2005-2006 is at last available. Price
unfortunately is £8.50 which includes p & p. Will get some up to Lewis
sometime in the New Year - £7.50 if not posted. You might find the
status summaries useful - these are up to 2004 and I will update them
to 2006 for the next report which will cover 2007. For the time being
reports are available from me (6 Carinish, Isle of North Uist HS6 5HL)
- cheques payable to Outer Hebrides Bird Report.

Brian Rabbitts

Hebrides bird sightings - Golden Eagle Hebrides bird sightings - Golden Eagle

yesterday Kestrel over garrabost ,single red breasted merganser at bayble.blackheaded gulls and a lone goldeneye at orinsay.
Included is a couple of golden eagle pics i took yesterday in lewis
Thursday 12th February, 2009

Look out for the RSPB talk about prey birds of the islands on thursday 19th February at An Lanntair


Thursday 12th February, 2009 Iceland Gull

Steinish nr Stornoway

  • Iceland Gull
  • Larus glaucoides
  • Gaelic: Faoileag-liath
  • UK: Uncommon winter and passage visitor , scarce in summer
  • UK: 70 - 80 birds (usually singular) winter in UK RSPB
  • UK: Uncommon winter and passage visitor (recorded in low numbers each year), scarce in summer (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • 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
  • 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
  • Similar birds: Glaucous gull (they're usually larger & more frequent)
Thursday 12th February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

West Gerenish - South Uist

Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

  • Glaucous Gull
  • Larus hyperboreus
  • Gaelic: Faoileag-mhor
  • UK: Winter Visitor, 200+ UK (winter) RSPB
  • WI: Uncommon winter and passage visitor (low numbers). Scarce in summer (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Breeds: Bird nests on ground or cliffs. Arctic & Northern Atlantic European coasts: Greenland, Iceland, North Russia, North North America.
  • Winters: Mostly North Atlantic & North Pacific oceans, some go as far south as Northern Mexico
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes, rubbish tips, reservoirs, fishing ports (with other winter gulls)
  • Large gull. Bigger, bulkier bird 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
  • Diet: Omnivorous: mostly animals, also other seabirds (in flight) scavenges carrion, scraps & is a pirate
  • Listen to a Glaucous Gull (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Herring Hull, Iceland Gull
Thursday 12th February, 2009 White-billed Diver Skigersta - isle of Lewis
  • White-billed Diver (Yellow-billed Loon, Parsnip Bill)
  • Gavia adamsii
  • Passage migrant (Spring), Winter Visitor
  • WI: Vagrant/rare passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in recent years), scarce winter vistor (very small numbers recorded in recent years)
  • UK 4 -22 annual records
  • 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
Wednesday 11th February 2009 Red-necked Grebe Berneray - South Uist
  • Red-necked Grebe (American Red-Necked Grebe, Holboell's Diver, Holboell's Grebe)
  • Podiceps grisegena
  • UK: AMBER LIST 1 or 2 pairs breeding in some years, 200 birds (winter) BTO
  • WI: Rare Visitor (Less than 30 records)
  • Breeds: Reedy open inland waters, lakes, large ponds. Europe, West Asia, North America,
  • Winters: . Most birds migrate to coasts & large lakes. Europe, South China, USA
  • Diet: aquatic insects, some fish, crustaceans (excellent swimmer & diver)
  • Duck-sized grebe (17-23 in) Summer: red neck & breast, white throat. Winter dark-brown body, black crown, whitish cheeks - no white above eye. Thick, dark bill yellowish at base. Legs set far back - not good at walking. Nests at water's edge. Rarely fly except migration- needs a long "runway" for take-off
  • Listen to a Red-necked Grebe (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Slavonian Grebe
Wednesday 11th February 2009 Glaucous Gull Gualan Spit - South Uist    
Wednesday 11th February 2009 Green-winged Teal Loch Tornish - South Uist
  • 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

The Green-winged Teal is the American version of our Eurasian or Common Teal

Sunday 8th February, 2009 Snowy Owl Gallan Head - Aird Uig - Isle of Lewis
  • Snowy Owl
  • Nyctea scandiaca, Bubo scandiacus
  • Gaelic: Comhachag-bhan
  • UK: 3 records a year (BTO) (1958-2004 total of 159 records)
  • UK: accidental, former breeder
  • WI: Scarce vagrant (very small numbers recorded in most years) TBC
  • Distribution: Primarily resident circumpolar - North of the Arctic Circle. Europe, North Asia, North North America. Nomadic bird - shortage of prey forces it to more Southern tundra breeding sites. Nests on ground - a scrape on a mound, rock or gravel bar. (Areas with good visibility & good hunting). An abandoned eagle nest sometimes used. Breeds in May, laying 5 -14 eggs). Winter: fields & prairie
  • Diet: Hunting style "sitting and waiting", bird has sharp talons & catches prey on ground, in air or fish from surface of water. Lemmings, voles & other rodents, small birds , fish, carrion
  • All white. Upright stance. Body barrel-shaped. Head rounded. Eyes yellow & staring. Bill black. Male almost pure white. Female (largest bird) & young covered with narrow black bars & crescent-shaped spots. Heavily feathered feet (together with bird's thick plumage suitable for life in the Arctic)

Approx 60 barnacle geese at loch tiumpan, point along with a large group of widgeon. A couple of scaub appear to be present with the group of tuffties too.Also small pockets of fieldfares on the garrabost crofts.
Sunday 8th February, 2009

Solitary Fieldfare at Callanish today
Sunday 8th February, 2009
Saturday 7th February, 2009 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour

Friday 6th Febraury, 2009 Glaucous Gull

North Bay - South Uist

Thursday 5th February, 2009 Iceland Gull

South Ford - South Uist

Thursday 5th February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

+South Ford
+ West Gerenish

South Uist


There have been 3 whoopers, 1 adult and 2 Juvs at Loch Feoir near Gravir South Lochs for the past 2 Days.
Frank S
Wednesday 4th February, 2009


Please send any ringed Swan sightings to Anna at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust www.wwt.org.uk

Family history of a Whooper Swan going through Lewis

Wednesday 4th February, 2009 Glaucous Gull

South Uist

Two whooper swans for the last week on loch near the old "Half-way garage"
Harris to Stornoway road
Small flock of 5 Redwing in garden, Upper Aird, Point , and this lunchtime driving down into Ranish, in with a flock of Starlings were about 10 Fieldfares.
Grahame and Jackie
Tuesday 3rd February, 2009
Tuesday 3rd February, 2009 Snow Bunting (14) Stinky Bay - Benbecula
  • Snow Bunting (Snowflake, Snaa Fuhl)
  • Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Gaelic: Gealag-an-t-sneachd
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK: AMBER LIST 70 - 100 prs (Summer) 11,000 birds (Winter) RSPB
  • Breeds: Tundra, treeless moorland (rock crevices). 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
  • 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 to a Snow Bunting (RSPB site)

The most Northerly breeding landbird, the Inuit equivalent of our house sparrow.


On Wednesday at 9pm on BBC1 there is a programme narrated by David Attenborough called ' Nature's Great Events'.
This episode is going to show the consquences of the great summer ice melt for Arctic Wildlife.

Frank Stark wrote back in October about Snow Buntings:

Our(Scottish) Snow Buntings could be under threat of being wiped out entirely due to climate change(New Scientist March).
Briefly,...Global warming has resulted in less snow at higher altitudes and because they rely on the invertebrates stranded in the snow 
then flushed out  by melt-water, then their future certainly does look bleak."


Two Whooper Swans on Loch Croistean, Uig, Lewis on Monday
Monday 3rd February, 2009 Spotted Redshank Cladach 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 3rd February, 2009 Glaucous Gull (14)

+Gulan Island
South Uist


It is a delight to be back to the birds!
Many thanks to all the good folk at Western Isles hospital for the great work that they do.
Onward once again...


RSPB Event in An Lanntair

Following on from last years successful evening of talks another event is planned for Thursday February 19th 2009 starting at 7.30pm at An Lanntair. Tickets should be available from An Lanntair later this week. Please contact them to book.

The first talk will be by Robin Reid who monitors Sea Eagles for the RSPB on the Western Isles and Skye with his partner Anna Crawford. Robin will be talking about the Birds of Prey of the islands for which he has an unprecedented knowledge following years of slugging it out on the hills and moors. His survey experience includes Merlins, Hen Harriers and Golden Eagles in recent years and he has also been involved with wing tagging, monitoring and diet analysis work.

The second speaker is Chris Donald who is currently based in Inverness. Chris oversees the RSPB reserves network in North Scotland and is going to talk on 'RSPB Nature Reserves in Scotland' covering everywhere from pine forests at Abernethy, the vast Insch Marshes in Speyside to the expansive Caithness Flows and and seabird islands such as Ailsa Craig. Chris is also directly involved with work on the Western Isle reserves at Balranald and Loch na Muilne, and takes a lead on the regions corncrake work.

Both speakers are at the top of their fields and will provide an entertaining evening. Additionally several other RSPB members of staff will be at An Lanntair that evening, so we look forward to meeting you, and please do bring along your questions and queries.

Martin Scott
RSPB Conservation Officer (Western Isles)

A quick visit to our neighbours at the Icelandic Birding Pages

Iceland's rarities in the last few days included:
"Bufflehead (Iceland's 3rd), Common Goldeneye, Curlew, King Eider, Waxwing, Blackcap, Robins, Snowy Owl, Common Crossbills, American Wigeons, Skylark "

Monday Weather Forecasts

1° C

Sunrise 10:07 (GMT)
Sunset 17:15 (GMT)

Western Isles
4° C

Sunrise 08:29 (GMT)
Sunset 16:48 (GMT)

Thank-you Yann

Sunday 1st February, 2009 Glaucous Gull (20+!)

Creagorry - Benbecula

+ West Gerenish +Gulan Island
South Uist

+ Allasdale



Western Isles of Scotland - UK

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