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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : June 2008

 

 

 

 

This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings period June 2008

The short note i sent about the Canada Geese could wrongly imply that two pair of Canadas that bred here in 2006, did so at the recently reported site near Carloway ....I was trying to make the point that the two pair of breeding birds were found together, at the same site in 2006, rather than at different locations. I try not to divulge where any breeding birds are but i can tell you that it is about 15 miles from Borrowston , not that far away really. I checked the 2006 breeding location in the spring of 2007 though, and indeed about a month ago and there was no sign of Canada Geese on both occasions..

I had an article published in the "Hebridean" about 7 Canadas i found on the Blackwater, Garynahine in the Autumn of 2005 . Perhaps it was some of these birds that hung about to breed in 2006?

Frank
P.S a solitary House Martin at North Tolsta last night, possibly a juv, but i wont know until i get a proper look at the photographs i took.

 

 

BTO issued a Press Release in June "Please give House Martins a chance"

"BTO scientists are pleading with Britain’s homeowners to be tolerant of the mess made by House Martins, especially this year, as numbers seem to be down on normal levels. They are also asking for people to take part in a new House Martin Survey launched at 11.00 today (Tuesday) on World on the Move, the Radio 4 series that focuses on migratory species. ..."       Read more

 

Thursday 3rd June, 2008 Quail Stornoway - Isle of Lewis    

"I noticed the reported sighting of Canada Geese a few days ago and was about to let you know that 2 pair of Canadas, bred in Lewis in 2006 at the same site, when the latest news came in that Canada goslings were actually seen at Carloway.

Makes you want to question the Rare visitor Status does it not?"

Frank S

 

I'm just back from visiting my folks in Borrowston and in addition to the pair on Loch na h-Airde there was a pair of Canada Geese with three goslings on Loch Liuravat, Carloway (between Borrowston and Garenin) on the evening of 24 June (viewed from a hill overlooking nearby Loch Breabhat). They appeared to bed down for the night on the small island in the loch. The goslings appeared to be quite small so I assumed they were around 2 weeks old. I didn't see the family of geese after this but that may be due to the bad weather and not gettimg out much after the 24th before continuing my break in Harris. I couldn't believe my eyes!

Finlay M

     

Canada Geese are rare visitors to the Western Isles - just a couple of records most years.

The BTO found the UK population (now approx 88,000) to be increasing at an annual rate of about 9.3%, 1998 to 2004 read more

 

 

"I was determined to capture a pair of Swans and their offspring I spotted in Eochar (South Uist), so on Saturday June 28th (2008) I managed to capture this charming shot of Mum & Dad acting as bookends to their six children."

Bird Sightings : Mute swan cygnets Bird Sightings : Mute swans with cygnets

Rhodri's photographs of the Mute swans with cygnets

Rhodri Davies

 

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has been commissioned by the Scottish Government to consult with the public on plans to extend 31 special protection areas for seabirds.

The land sites in the Shiants, Flannan Isles, St Kilda, Sulesgeir and North Rona and Mingulay and Berneray may be extended for up to two miles offshore.

BBC article
Tuesday 1st July, 2008

Sunday 29th June, 2008 Rose-coloured Starling Leverburgh Ferry Building - Isle of Harris
  • Rose-coloured Starling
  • AKA Rosy Starling
  • Sturnus roseus
  • UK: Rare but regular migrant in small numbers
  • Breeds: Colonial breeder, using holes in buildings near open grassland. Eastern Europe to temperate Central & Southern Asia
  • Winters: India, tropical Southern Asia
  • Adult pink body, pale orange legs & bill. Glossy black head, wings & tail.
  • Males: fluffy, wispy crest (longer in breeding season than winter) plumage dull black areas with paler edges in winter, glossy black in breeding.
  • Females: short crest. Generally duller plumage with less defined colours.
  • Juveniles: similar to Common Starling juveniles, but short yellow bill & paler plumage in Autumn. Moulting to similar to adults but no crests (Juveniles are birds most likely to turnup in UK in Autumn - our starling juveniles have moulted to adult plumage by then so a brown starling is probably rose-coloured juvenile)
  • Habitat: Steppe, open agricultural land
  • Diet: Omnivorous, Grasshoppers, other insects
  • Song like a common starling

In years when grasshoppers and other insects are abundant, these birds will irrupt beyond their normal range, with much larger numbers than usual reaching UK.

5 birds have been reported in the UK this weekend (Lincoln, Lancashire, Orkney and Harris)

 
Saturday 28th June, 2008 Snowy Owl (female) Balranald - North Uist

(There has been a request that folk stay near the picnic area when hoping to view the Grenitote bird)

  • Snowy Owl
  • Nyctea scandiaca, Bubo scandiacus
  • AKA: Arctic Owl, Great White Owl, Catyogle, Child's Snowman
  • UK: 3 records a year (BTO) (1958-2004 total of 159 records)
  • UK: accidental, former breeder
  • WI: Vagrant
  • 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)

A nesting pair were found on the Island of Fetlar in Shetland in 1967. During the next few years they bred and and fledged 23 young. A second female joined them in 1972, but she was unsuccessful in fledging her young - perhaps because the male could not provide for two broods. The male left in 1976, and did not return. An immature male was later found nearby but did not join the two females. (see Birds Britannica)

BBRC Snowy Owl records 1990-2006
3, 4, 1, 5, 5, 1, 4, 3, 1, 1, 1, 3, 0, 1, 1, 7, 2,

Up to 6 Snowy Owls were recorded in The Western Isles in 2006. Times do change, there is an old record of a gamekeeper in Ness shooting 3 Snowy Owls in one day (see Peter Cunningham's: Birds of the Outer Hebrides).

Makes a sound called "clapping" when threatened or annoyed (the sound is probably made by clicking of the tongue).

If prey is small enough the Snowy Owl usually swallows it whole, the bird's stomach juices digesting the flesh and it's gut compacting the fur, bones etc into a pellet which it then regurgitates. The owl frequently uses the same perch to regurgitate from, so there may be a lot of pellets marking this area .

 
Saturday 28th June, 2008 Glaucous Gull Barvas - 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
 
Thursday 26th June, 2008 Storm Petrel Ullapool Ferry
  • Storm-petrel
  • AKA: Little Peter
  • Hydrobates pelagicus
  • Migrant Breeder
  • AMBER LIST, 27,000 pairs UK (Summer) BTO
  • See from Westerly seawatching places when a gale blows to shore
  • Breeds: Islands: UK (Western & Northern Isles) & North & West of Europe. Forms colonies. (UK May - September). (Nests: crevices & burrows, holes in stone walls. Visits the nest at night)
  • Winters: Leaves September - October to seas off South Africa
  • Feeds in flocks: planktonic crustaceans & small fish (picked from surface - hovering: wings up in V shape, flutttering & bat-like) Follows ships (comes ashore only to feed at NIGHT)
  • Smallest seabird. (sparrow-sized) . All black, white rump, tail square-tipped or rounded, NOT forked, white rump patch reaches far down the side (Leach's only part-way down) , broad white band on underwing (Leachs' none)
  • Listen storm petrel RSPB site ( trills & purrs)
  • Similar birds: leach's storm petrel, house martin (forked tails)

Recorded living up to 31 years old!

 
Wednesday 25th June, 2008

Not a local report but one of interest...

News from the bird forums is that someone was sure they saw a black-browed albatross passing through Ramsay Sound in Pembrokeshire ( Wales). The bird was heading south. There was also a report of a bird in Galway at the start of June.

Although this year's Rare Bird Alert trip to Sula Sgeir did not get to see the black-browed albatross, the group on the 2007 trip were lucky enough to see the bird which had been reported there from 2005. This is what Carl Chapman said of the day:

"The journey to Sula Sgier last Tuesday/Wednesday was an eventful one. The rolling and pitching of the ship had my head swimming long after being back on land. 8 hours there through a night of little sleep as the ship rode wave after wave.
Can you imagine enduring all that to get to the rock and realise in the growing light that the bird wasn't sat on it's ledge? the disappointment on board the ship was tangible - you could feel it. Faces were longer than horses.
Then ... hats off to Martin Scott who caught sight of the Albatross on the sea some distance away - what a change in atmosphere. Full steam ahead to the bird - wonderful views both in flight and sat on the sea - more than we ever expected. Back to Ullapool via North Rona with plenty of smiles....

Martin's photograph of the black-browed albatross

 

There are 18 UK black-browed albatross records 1958 - 2004 (BTO)

BTO county records 1975 to 2004:
Outer Hebrides 2002
Lothan 2002
East Yorkshire 2002
Kent 2001
Shetland 1997
Pembrokeshire 1990
Scilly Isles 1988
Sussex 1984
Devon 1980
Orkney 1975
North Yorkshire 1968

 
Tuesday 24th June, 2008 Waxings Grimshader - Isle of Lewis Generally the UK only gets about 100 waxwings visit in the winter.  
Tuesday 24th June, 2008 Common Crossbill Loch Eynort - South Uist
  • Common Crossbill
  • Loxia curvirostra
  • Gaelic: cam-ghob
  • UK: Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK: Summer breeding 11,000 pairs BTO
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor. Every few years an irruption year, then over 100 records. Just 1 or 2 possible breeding records
  • Europe, Asia, North + Central America
  • Habitat: Coniferous forest
  • Diet: Conifer seeds. Feeds fluttering from cone to cone. Bill is an adaptation for extracting the seeds of a cone.
  • Noisy, chunky finch. Large head. Bill crossed over at tip. Usually flys at treetop height coming down to drink. Adult males orange or brick-red. Females greenish-brown.
  • Listen to a Common Crossbill (RSPB site)
  • Average lifespan 2yrs, Max recorded lifespan 8yr 4months
  • Simlilar birds: Scottish Crossbill, Parrot Crossbill

An irruption is when finches and other seed eaters move in large numbers in search of food. If the cone crop failed on their usual breeding grounds, Crossbills may be numerous in the UK and will arrive from the Continent from late summer, often staying to breed. There are just 1 or 2 possible Western Isles breeding records.

Crossbill's breeding season lasts from summer to the next spring to take advantage of maximum cone supplies.

In a study it was found that the number of successful breeding pairs was found to be positively correlated to the number of cones read more

 
Tuesday 24th June, 2008 Snowy Owl (female) Balranald - North Uist    
Tuesday 24th June, 2008 Canada Geese Loch na h-Airde - Carloway -Isle of Lewis

 

"A pair of Canada Geese on Loch na h-Airde
near Borrowston, Carloway. This is the second time I've seen Canada Geese around East Loch Roag. The first being a group of approx. 6 in 2004 at Gearraidh na h-Aibhne in 2004."

Canada Geese are rare visitors to the Western Isles - just a couple of records most years.

The BTO found the UK population (now approx 88,000) to be increasing at an annual rate of about 9.3%, 1998 to 2004 read more

 

 

Finlay M

Monday 23rd June. 2008 Iceland Gull

Loch Sandary - North 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: It's an omnivore: 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.

 
Sunday 22nd June, 2007 Common Crossbill (2) Eaval - South Uist    
Sunday 22nd June, 2007 Corncrake Dail Beag - Isle of Lewis 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. Sunny
Sat 21st June, 2008 Storm Petrel Ullapool Ferry    
Sat 21st June, 2008 Iceland Gull

Loch Paible - North Uist

   
Fri 20th June, 2008 Iceland Gull

Europie - Ness - Isle of Lewis

   
Fri 20th June, 2008 Osprey Loch Druidibeag - South Uist

127 pairs in UK (Summer)
4 UK nest records
Birds fly to West Africa - Up to 430km a day

BTO records

 
Fri 20th June, 2008 Glaucous Gull Barvas - Isle of Lewis    

A photo of an Oystercatcher taken in Aird (Benbecula), a few hundred yards from Culla Bay on the 8th June 2008.

Rhodri Davies

Bird sightings - Oystercatcher Rhodri's photograph of the oystercatcher in flight


 

The British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee has admitted the Hooded Merganser to Category A of the British List.

This is after a review of the of a female( or immature) at Oban Trumisgarry, North Uist, from 23 October until 1 November 2000.

See article on Surfbirds web site
Thursday 19th June, 2008

 

Thursday 19th June, 2008 Snowy Owl Balranald - North Uist    
Wednesday 18th June, 2008 Red-necked Phalarope RSPB Loch na Muilne - Arnol

Walk past the Historic Scotland Blackhouse (but pop in on the way back!) and turn right towards the gate by the turning circle. Go through the metal gate towards the dry stone interpretation area. Birds prefer the smaller of the two lochs, but can be very elusive. Do not venture into the marsh. In previous years calm days have made viewing easier as the birds come out to feed on insects rather than skulking in the vegetation.

Text by Martin Scott

 
Tuesday 17th June, 2008 Common Crane Near the airport - Stornoway
  • Common Crane
  • Grus grus
  • UK: Accidental
  • WI: 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.

Seen near Stornoway in the Steinish area, on a ploughed and sown field near the airport and also around Melbost farm.

 
Tuesday 17th June, 2008 Snowy Owl Grenitote - North Uist

There has been a request that folk stay near the picnic area to view the bird

 
Monday 16th June, 2008 Red-rumped Swallow St Kilda
  • Cecropis daurica - Hirundo daurica
  • Scarce visitor - 10 UK annual records BTO
  • Swallow-like, pale belly, blue upperparts and dusky below, rump often pale, pale throat, nape has pale ring, wings broad, pointed, gregarious outside breeding season
  • Breeds: Southern Europe, Asia, Japan.
  • Resident: India, Africa - open & hilly country, nests in caves, tunnels
  • European & Asian breeding birds migrate to India & Africa
  • Diet: Flying insects (so fast swooping flight)
 
Monday 16th June, 2008 Red-necked Phalarope RSPB Loch na Muilne - Arnol    
 
Three sightings from a recent holiday on N. Uist.

Terek Sandpiper. Ref NF 858 635 Loch Euphort Thurs 12.6.08 1345Hrs probably juvenile due to indistinct dark stripe & pale yellow legs.
Shelduck. Ref. NF 822 785 Rubha Huilis Sun. 08.6.08 1330 Hrs Male & female + 11 Chicks on water.
Corncrake...Clachan . Tues. 10.6.08 0800 Hrs Male & female sighted. Male sighted on a regular basis between 7/13th.

Walter N, Glasgow

Monday 16th June, 2008 Osprey Drimsdale - South Uist

127 pairs in UK (Summer)
4 UK nest records
Birds fly to West Africa - Up to 430km a day

BTO records

 
Sunday June 15th 2008 Snowy owl Grenitote - South Uist
  • Snowy Owl
  • Nyctea scandiaca, Bubo scandiacus
  • AKA: Arctic Owl, Great White Owl, Catyogle, Child's Snowman
  • UK: 3 records a year (BTO) (1958-2004 total of 159 records)
  • UK: accidental, former breeder
  • WI: Vagrant
  • 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)

A nesting pair were found on the Island of Fetlar in Shetland in 1967. During the next few years they bred and and fledged 23 young. A second female joined them in 1972, but she was unsuccessful in fledging her young - perhaps because the male could not provide for two broods. The male left in 1976, and did not return. An immature male was later found nearby but did not join the two females. (see Birds Britannica)

BBRC Snowy Owl records 1990-2006
3, 4, 1, 5, 5, 1, 4, 3, 1, 1, 1, 3, 0, 1, 1, 7, 2,

Up to 6 Snowy Owls were recorded in The Western Isles in 2006. Times do change, there is an old record of a gamekeeper in Ness shooting 3 Snowy Owls in one day (see Peter Cunningham's: Birds of the Outer Hebrides).

Makes a sound called "clapping" when threatened or annoyed (the sound is probably made by clicking of the tongue).

If prey is small enough the Snowy Owl usually swallows it whole, the bird's stomach juices digesting the flesh and it's gut compacting the fur, bones etc into a pellet which it then regurgitates. The owl frequently uses the same perch to regurgitate from, so there may be a lot of pellets marking this area .

 
Saturday 14th June, 2008 Common Crane Near the airport - Stornoway
Common Crane Photo of the Common Crane by Martin Scott

Common Crane Common Crane Photos of the Common Crane by Debbie Bozkurt
Common Crane  
  • Common Crane
  • Grus grus
  • UK: Accidental
  • WI: 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 (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.

Seen near Stornoway in the Steinish area, on a ploughed and sown field near the airport and also around Melbost farm.

 
Saturday 14th June, 2008 Waxings Gress - Isle of Lewis Generally the UK only gets about 100 waxwings visit in the winter.  
Saturday 14th June, 2008 Common Rosefinch Brevig - Barra
  • AKA: Scarlet rosefinch
  • 146 annual UK records - on AMBER LIST
  • Passage Visitor: May - September
  • Scarce breeder: 1-2 pairs annually breed in UK
  • Breeds: Eastern & Central Europe, Northern & Central Asia
  • Winters: South Asia
  • Habitat: Damp woodland, farmland - weedy stubble
  • Seeds, buds etc, small invertebrates
  • Mottled brown above, streaked breast, pale belly, tail forked
  • Sparrow-sized
  • Adult males 1yr+ scarlet head, breast & rum.
  • Females, juveniles, 1st year males brown streaked heads
  • BTO records
  • Listen to a common rosefinch on the RSPB site
 
Thursday 12th June, 2008 Common Crane Near the airport - Stornoway    
Thursday 12th June, 2008 Leachs Storm Petrel Tarbert Ferry
  • Oceanodroma leucorhoa
  • AKA: Leach's storm petrel
  • AMBER LIST, 51,000 pairs in UK (summer) BTO
  • See from Westerly seawatching places when a gale blows to shore
  • Breeds: Islands: UK (Western & Northern Isles) & North & West of Europe. Forms colonies. (UK May - September). (Nests: crevices & burrows, holes in stone walls. Visits the nest at night)
  • Winters: Leaves September - October, British & Irish birds go to tropics (some stay in North Atlantic)
  • Feeds in flocks: planktonic crustaceans & small fish (picked from surface - hovering: wings up in V shape, flutttering & bat-like) Follows ships (comes ashore only to feed at NIGHT)
  • Starling sized seabird.. All black below, mostly black above, (upperwing pale band of mid-feathers), (underwing no white band) V-shaped white rump patch only reaches partway down the side, with centre dark line (storm petrel's go far down), Forked tail.
  • Listen Leach's Petrel - RSPB site
  • Similar birds: storm petrel (NOT forked tail),

 

Gaelic name "Gobhan mara " means swallow of the sea

 
Thursday 12th June, 2008 Storm Petrel Tarbert Ferry
  • Storm-petrel
  • AKA: Little Peter
  • Hydrobates pelagicus
  • Migrant Breeder
  • AMBER LIST, 27,000 pairs UK (Summer) BTO
  • See from Westerly seawatching places when a gale blows to shore
  • Breeds: Islands: UK (Western & Northern Isles) & North & West of Europe. Forms colonies. (UK May - September). (Nests: crevices & burrows, holes in stone walls. Visits the nest at night)
  • Winters: Leaves September - October to seas off South Africa
  • Feeds in flocks: planktonic crustaceans & small fish (picked from surface - hovering: wings up in V shape, flutttering & bat-like) Follows ships (comes ashore only to feed at NIGHT)
  • Smallest seabird. (sparrow-sized) . All black, white rump, tail square-tipped or rounded, NOT forked, white rump patch reaches far down the side (Leach's only part-way down) , broad white band on underwing (Leachs' none)
  • Listen storm petrel RSPB site ( trills & purrs)
  • Similar birds: leach's storm petrel, house martin (forked tails)

Recorded living up to 31 years old!

 
Thursday 12th June, 2008 Long-tailed Ducks Loch Branahuie - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 11th June, 2008 Common Crane Near the airport - Stornoway    
Wednesday 11th June, 2008 Red-necked Phalarope RSPB Loch na Muilne - Arnol

Walk past the Historic Scotland Blackhouse (but pop in on the way back!) and turn right towards the gate by the turning circle. Go through the metal gate towards the dry stone interpretation area. Birds prefer the smaller of the two lochs, but can be very elusive. Do not venture into the marsh. In previous years calm days have made viewing easier as the birds come out to feed on insects rather than skulking in the vegetation.

Text by Martin Scott

 
Wednesday 11th June, 2008 Snowy Owl Vallay Island - North Uist    
Tueday 10th June, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour

  • 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: It's an omnivore: 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.

 
Monday, 9th June, 2008 Rose-coloured Starling Loch Portain - North Uist    
Sunday 8th June, 2008 Common Crane Near the airport - Stornoway    
Saturday 7th June, 2008 Red-rumped Swallow Scolpaig - North Uist
  • Cecropis daurica - Hirundo daurica
  • Scarce visitor - 10 UK annual records BTO
  • Swallow-like, pale belly, blue upperparts and dusky below, rump often pale, pale throat, nape has pale ring, wings broad, pointed, gregarious outside breeding season
  • Breeds: Southern Europe, Asia, Japan.
  • Resident: India, Africa - open & hilly country, nests in caves, tunnels
  • European & Asian breeding birds migrate to India & Africa
  • Diet: Flying insects (so fast swooping flight)
 
Saturday 7th June, 2008 Red-breasted Flycatcher Souh Glendale - South Uist
  • Ficedula parva
  • Passage visitor
  • 86 annual UK records
  • Breeds: Eastern Europe, Central Asia,
  • Winters: South Asia
  • Habitat: deciduous woodland, open forest! mostly near water
  • Diet: Mostly berries, insects in flight
  • BTO records
 
Saturday 7th June, 2008 Quail Barvas - Isle of Lewis
  • Quail is a rare summer visitor, usually heard rather than seen
  • Male's call is decribed as "wet-me-lips" (listen to it on RSPB site)
  • 200-500 breeding pairs in the UK in Summer
  • Habitat fields, grazings
  • Weak flyer, but manages a migration to North Africa & back
  • On the Red List
 
Friday 6th June, 2008 Common Crane Near the airport - Stornoway    
Thursday 5th June, 2008 Common Crane Near the airport - Stornoway    
Thursday 5th June, 2008 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour

   
Thursday 5th June, 2008 Turtle Dove Loch Carnan - South Uist    
Thursday 5th June, 2008 Quail loch Fada - Benbecula    
Wednesday 4th June, 2008 Curlew sandpiper Loch Paible - North Uist
  • Calidris ferruginea
  • Scarce passage migrant, mostly seen August & September. Gregarious, forms mixed species wader flocks (often with dunlin)
  • 740 annual UK records
  • Breeds: North Alaska & North Siberia
  • Winters: West Europe, South Asia, South Africa, Australia
  • Habitat: Tundra (migration boggy areas, mudflats, saltmarshes, shallow coastal lagoons)
  • Diet: Small invertebrates, snails, worms, flies
  • Like a dunlin. Differences: Slightly bigger, feeds in water bit deeper, (autumn looks paler, cleaner) longer & more down-curved bill, longer legs & neck. In flight bright white rump
  • Winter: Pale grey above, white below, white eyestripe.
  • Juveniles: Grey and brown back, white belly peach-coloured breast.
    Breeding plumage (spring & summer) dark-grey below, deep chestnut above
  • RSPB notes
  • BTO records
 

Some more sightings - a swallow in the vicinity of the Cearns Community Centre on Thurs 24 April and haven't seen any since; heard a cuckoo at Barvas on Sat 24 May - coming from the direction of the small copse on the left as you head for Stornoway. I was at the petrol station and it was avery clear morning.

At Port of Ness some gannets starting to dive in the bay. On the croft the Corncrake still buzzing away - I think there's a pair ( maybe even an 'item' !) - I sawone creeping stealthily under the front gate whilst another calling from a different direction and not very far away - I'm willing them on to be a pair and maybe there will be some little fluffy one in the not tooo distant to confirm it! I v eput out some jars of water as its been quite dry recently is ther anything else to help them do you know ?

I am told there is Corncrake noise from near the Cearns.

I was in Harris earlier today and saw a Golden Eagle...it was confirmed by a local person there.

I'm seeing other birds which are new to the season but because my knowledge is not very good I cannot say what they are.

Martin A
Wednesday 4th June, 2008

I suggest leave the corncrakes plenty of tall cover - their numbers were much reduced by silage-cutting, hay-making etc. They do not tend to arrive until the undergrowth is tall enough to hide them. They can be found not only on lush meadow-land and hay fields, but also damp meadows and near marshy lowland lochs, so perhaps leave some damp land undrained. If anyone else has any useful suggestions on how to encourage the corncrakes please let us know.

Tuesday 3rd June, 2008 Turtle Dove Arivruaich

"just seen a turtle dove (confirmed by my wife and the bird book) in amongst our resident collard doves in our garden in Arivruaich... feeding on the grain put out for the chickens and wild birds -- it is a new sighting for me although I had seen them in England many years ago..."

  • Eurasian Turtle Dove
  • Streptopelia tutar
  • AKA: Turtle Dove, Gaelic: tutar
  • WI: Regular but scarce passage migrant (March - Oct but mostly May-June & Sept) Approx 10 records a year
  • UK: RED LIST, 44,000 territories (summer) BTO
  • UK: Migrant reeder, Passage Visitor
  • Habitat: arable land near townships, woodland edges, hedgerows & open land with some shrubs, gardens
  • Breeds: Europe, Central Asia, North Africa
  • Winters: south of breeding range to Central Africa
  • Diet: Seeds, cereal grain, weeds
  • Size of a large blackbird. Dainty dove. Smaller & darker than collared dove. Upperparts mottled chestnut & black. Black tail has white edge
  • Max recorded age: 7yr 1 mth
  • Listen to a turtle dove (RSPB site)
  • Similar bird: collared dove

Turtle doves are the only migratory dove.

Chris B
Tuesday 3rd June, 2008 Common Crane Steinish - Stornoway    
Tuesday 3rd June, 2008 Pectoral Sandpiper Balgarva - South Uist
  • 56 UK records a year (BTO)
  • Fat-bodied, small-headed , larger than dunlin
  • males in breeding season have an inflatable throat sac - expands and contracts rhythmically during display flights and it creates a series of hollow hoots
  • wet fields , freshwater pools, marsh or lochsides, boggy ground on (migration mudflats)
  • breeds on the Arctic coast of East Siberia, North America, winters in South America
  • ID amongst waders - sharp contrast between the dark-patterned chest and the white belly AKA the pectoral line
  • Yellowish legs, bill has pale base
  • 2 pairs of white lines down the back like a pair of braces.
 
Monday 3rd June, 2008 Red-breasted Flycatcher South Glendale - South Uist
  • Ficedula parva
  • Passage visitor
  • 86 annual UK records
  • Breeds: Eastern Europe, Central Asia,
  • Winters: South Asia
  • Habitat: deciduous woodland, open forest! mostly near water
  • Diet: Mostly berries, insects in flight
  • BTO records
 
Friday 30th May, 2008 Garganey Loch Fada - Benbecula
  • 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, (loose 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)
 

Female Red-necked Phalarope back at RSPB Loch na Muilne, Arnol today - but elusive

Walk past the Historic Scotland Blackhouse (but pop in on the way back!) and turn right towards the gate by the turning circle. Go through the metal gate towards the dry stone interpretation area. Birds prefer the smaller of the two lochs, but can be very elusive. Do not venture into the marsh. In previous years calm days have made viewing easier as the birds come out to feed on insects rather than skulking in the vegetation.

Cheers
Martin

RSPB Conservation Officer (Western Isles)
Tuesday 27th May, 2008

Bird sightings red-necked phalarope Martin's photograph of the
Red-necked Phalarope

 

In 2000 there were only 13 pairs of Red-necked Phalarope breeding in the whole of the UK, most were in Shetland. The Northern part of Scotland is on the Southernmost edge of it's breeding range. There are now estimated to be 20 to 30 pairs breeding in the UK.

RSPB Loch na Muilne nature reserve on the Isle of Lewis is a red-necked phalarope breeding site.

The female red-necked phalarope usually arrive in mid-May and by the end of August have left our islands.

They spend summer in the Arctic and sub-Arctic and in winter live at sea off the Arabian coast.

Red-necked Phalarope do not make typical monogamous pairings. The females are the most brightly coloured, they sing and court the males, and also fight each other for the attentions of the males.

The males incubate the eggs and feed the young whilst the females take on a second partner...

Red-necked phalarope feed by swirling up freshwater bottom sediments and eating the insects etc that rise up. The process by which they swirl the water makes them spin around.

         

 

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