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 Western Isles of Scotland

 

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 Bird Sightings Records : Hebrides : May 2009

 

 

 

 

   This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings period May 2009
Tuesday 26th may, 2009 Turtle Dove Bayhead - North Uist
  • Eurasian Turtle Dove (Turtle Dove)
  • Streptopelia tutar
  • Gaelic: Tutar
  • UK: RED LIST, 44,000 territories (summer) BTO
  • UK: Migrant reeder, Passage Visitor
  • WI: Regular but scarce passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years). March - Oct but mostly May-June & Sept. Approx 10 records a year
  • 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 Cove

Turtle doves are the only migratory dove.

 
Tuesday 26th may, 2009 Ring-necked Duck Loch Eynort - South Uist
  • Ring-necked duck
  • Aythya collaris
  • UK: Scarce visitor, less than 20 annual UK records BTO
  • WI: Vagrant/scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Breeds: North America
  • Winters: South - Central America
  • Diet: (Aquatic - feeds by diving) tubers, plant seeds, molluscs, small fish, invertebrates
  • Habitat: Marsh areas, lochs, lakes, bays, rivers ( preferably with thick vegetation)
  • Small diving duck. Grey bill has white band. Forehead is very high & steep. Head peaked (tufties' rounded). Never has "tuft". Head purple & shiny, white breast, yellow eyes, back very dark grey . Flight grey wing bar (not white)
  • Adult female, pale brown head & body, dark brown back, dark bill has more subtle light band than male, brown eyes
  • Similar birds: Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser scaup (very rare - whitish back)
 

cuckoo
and long tailed skua garrabost
red throated diver in broadbay
3 blackthroated divers and a pair of great northern divers off tolsta head
A lone male sparrowhawk hunting over Point yesterday
Andy l

Sunday 24th May, 2009

Sunday 24th May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Balranald - North Uist
  • Long-tailed Skua
  • Stercorarius Stiùireach
  • Gaelic: Fàsgadair Mòr
  • WI: Fairly common migrant breeder (100 - 999 breeding pairs), and fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
 
Sunday 24th May, 2009 Glaucous Gull Vallay - North Uist
  • 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
 
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua

Balranald - North Uist

Lochmaddy Ferry

Ardvule Point

(Approx 300!)  
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Ardvule Point - South Uist

RSPB Balranald

Approx 40
  • Pomarine Skua (From Latin pomarin : covered nose - the cere on the bill)
  • Stercorarius pomarinus
  • Gaelic: Fàsgadair donn
  • WI: Fairly common spring passage visitor (small numbers) & usually scarce in autumn (very small numbers)
    See at seawatching places late April - May & Aug - Nov
  • Breeds: Arctic tundra & Islands: Greenland, North Russia, North of America, North Europe, North Asia
  • Winters: Seacoasts: Tropical oceans, West African coast
  • Herring gull size seabird, long & twisted spoon-shaped tail streamers, wing has small white double flashes
    3 adult colour phases. Light-phase: Brown back, mainly white below. Head & neck yellowish-white, black cap. Dark-phase: Dark brown. Intermeadiate-phase: Dark with paler underparts, head and neck.
  • Diet: Breeding grounds: Lemmings (small rodents). Elsewise eggs, other birds (will kill a Common Gull), winter fish. Pirate (will steal from a Gannet!), scavenges
  • Similar birds: Arctic skua, Long-tailed Skua, Great Skua
 
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Iceland Gull

Ardvule Point - South Uist

   
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Arctic Skua Aird an Runair - Balranald - North Uist (8)
  • Arctic Skua
  • Stercorarius parasiticus
  • Gaelic: Fàisgadair
  • UK: Estimated 3,200 breeding pairs
  • WI: Uncommon migrant breeder (10-99 breeding pairs) and usually uncommon passage visitor (low numbers)
  • We have three different plumage forms of the Arctic Skua: pale, medium and dark.
    Very distinctive tail - easiest identification feature. A pirate that will harrass another bird until it drops it's food.
  • Max recorded life span 25 years
  • Similar birds: Pomarine Skua , Long-tailed Skua, Great Skua

 
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Great Skua Bayhead - North Uist (3)
  • Great Skua (Bonxie)
  • Stercorarius skua - Catharacta skua
  • UK: Passage visitor, migrant breeder
  • UK: 9600 pairs in Summer BTO
  • WI: Fairly common migrant breeder (100 - 999 breeding pairs), and passage visitor (small numbers)
  • Adults stout & dark, streaked grey-brown, black cap, juveniles warm-brown, unstreaked below, tail short & square-ended - blunt. Flight direct & powerful. ID from other skuas: Herring Gull size, barrel chest, white wing flashes
  • Breeds: Western Isles, North Scotland, Faeroes, Iceland, Norway
  • Winters: North Atlantic, North & South America, Spanish Coast, Africa
  • Habitat: Coastal moorland, rocky islands, Winter: seacoasts
  • Diet: Fish from sea, other seabirds (kill to size great black-backed gull), piracy (robs terns, gulls, gannets!)
  • Listen to Great Skua RSPB site
  • Similar birds Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua , Long-tailed Skua
 
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Little Stint Aird an Runair - Balranald - North Uist (3)
  • Little Stint
  • Calidris minuta
  • Gaelic: Luatharan beag
  • UK: Passage, winter visitor
  • UK: 770 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce, sometimes uncommon autumn passage visitor (very small numbers each year). Rare (less than 30 records) spring/summer vistor
  • Breeds: Arctic Europe, Asia,
  • Winters: India, Africa
  • Habitat: Tundra (migration mudflats)
  • Diet: Invertebrates at mud surface, crustaceans, molluscs
  • Tiny wading bird. Bill black, short, straight, fine. Legs black, medium-length. Above parts brownish-grey (grey - winter). Below very white. Grey outer tail feathers. Autumn birds have two pale stripes down backs. Quick movements. Often feeds with Dunlin
  • Max recorded age 12yrs
  • Listen to a Little Stint (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Temminck's Stint (very rare), Dunlin
 
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Garganey

Loch Bhrusada - Berneray

  • Garganey (Garganey Teal)
  • Anas querquedula
  • UK: Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • UK: AMBER LIST, 69 pairs (summer) BTO
  • WI: Scarce spring passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years). May have bred
  • Breeds: Europe, Asia
  • 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)
 
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Turtle Dove Balranald - North Uist    
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Wood Sandpiper Bayhead - North Uist
  • Wood Sandpiper
  • Tringa glareola
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Scarce Breeder (a few pairs in the Scottish highlands), Passage Visitor Spring & Autumn
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Taiga near water (moist subarctic coniferous forest begins where tundra ends) Alaska, North Europe, North Asia
  • Winters: Africa, Australia, South Europe, South Asia
  • Migration: Coastal areas & lochs, lakes, rivers, wet meadow
  • Diet: Insects: worms, spiders, shellfish and small fish.
  • Medium-sized wader. Narrow, straight bill, yellow legs. Long white stripe bill - over the eye to back neck. Flight: Square white rump, no wing-stripes
  • Listen to a Wood Sandpiper (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Green Sandpiper (rare here), Common Sandpiper
 
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 Spotted Crake Balranald - North Uist
  • Spotted Crake
  • Porzana porzana
  • Gaelic: Traon Bhreac
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year)
 
Am at Port of Ness a couple of weeks and last Sunday (17 / May) a Pied Flycatcher was
pointed out to me in the low sycamores on the right just before the turning up to Cnoc Ard
on the left, by an internationally known birder, visiting. (Another sighting ?) Also a female BackCap.

At Dumfries, where I have been staying, the Council have enlisted the services of falconers
with various birds of prey (on shifts apparently) to chase away the seagulls in the town centre
- however when I was watching several black back gulls were diving at a Peregrine Falcon
taking shelter behind a chimney pot !

Martin A

I've attached some information about walks I am doing over the summer for the calendar.
Also I had a phonecall yesterday from on eof the locals to say that he had been out walking
on Monday night in Cross and seen 10 swifts sitting on the overhead wires, apparently
it means we're going to have a good summer!

Julie Sievewright
Countryside Ranger
Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn
Bùth Lisa
Habost, Ness
Isle of Lewis
HS2 0TG

Tel/Fax No. 01851 810825
www.galsontrust.com

A registered Scottish Charity SC 036903

Walks to be added next week - watch this space!
I f you have anything similar to add please email the details!

Tuesday, 26 May at 7.30 pm at Lews Castle College, Benbecula (next door to Lionaclete School)

Ian McGuire will be speaking about his work with the Wild Owl Education Services, and conservation of British Owls

(reference website: www.wildowl.co.uk)

hi I have just retuned from the islands having had a great birding\walking holiday highlights
being trip to st kilda ,just wondered has there been any recent reports of any albatrossin the
area we had a very brief glimpse of a very large bird mainly white but with some dark patches
across the back although I did not see the bill my frend did it looked large blunt and flesh coloured .v
ery frustratingly it was lost from view in seconds. we also sawsuper views of golden eagle in Harris
and a ,white tailed eagle and two merlin and aprox 430 long tailed ducks on loch branahue near stornaway ,
is this usual? by the way we were on the islands from 8th -14th of may and never saw a cloud it was wonderful
rob johnson

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), 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

A few recent sightings that have caught my eye or in the case of the Grasshopper Warbler ear,
Late on the 27th & early on the28th April, single housemartin and wood pigeon on the 10th May,
also a dozen knot in fine summer plumage and large numbers of sanderling busying
themselves on the shoreline. All seen in the Coll, Gress area.

Tony

Friday 22nd May, 2009 Red-necked Phalarope Isle of Lewis

 

  • Red-necked Phalarope
  • Phalaropus lobatus
  • Deagan-allt, Isean-dearg
  • UK: Breeding 20-30 pairs
  • UK: Migrant breeder/passage visitor
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year) and scarce migrant breeder (1-9 breeding pairs)
  • Breeding: Arctic and sub-Arctic. Europe
  • Winter: live at sea off the Arabian coast
  • Similar birds: Grey Phalarope, Wilson's 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.

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.

 
Thursday 21st May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Balranald - North Uist (<20)    
Thursday 21st May, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Aird an Runair - North Uist (30+)

   
Thursday 21st May, 2009 Snowy Owl Hirta - St Kilda
  • 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)
 
Thursday 21st May, 2009 Snow Bunting Butt of Lewis
  • 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)
 
Thursday 21st May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Balranald - North Uist (38)    
Thursday 21st May, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Aird an Runair - North Uist (48)

   
Thursday 21st May, 2009 Curlew Sandpiper Balranald - North Uist    
Wednesday 20th May, 2009 Red-necked Phalarope Isle of Lewis    
Tuesday 19th May, 2009 Curlew Sandpiper      
Monday 18th May, 2009 Golden Oriole Loch Eynort - South Uist    
Monday 18th May, 2009 Common Crossbills 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: One possible breeding record. Scarce passage visitor (Very small numbers each year) except in irruption years
  • 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.
  • Average lifespan 2yrs, Max recorded lifespan 8yr 4months
  • Listen to a Common Crossbill (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Scottish Crossbill (Not on Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist), Parrot Crossbill
 
Monday 18th May, 2009 Marsh Harrier Loch Eynort - South Uist
  • Marsh Harrier ( Eurasian Marsh Harrier, European Marsh Harrier, Western Marsh Harrier, Western Marsh-Harrier)
  • Circus aeruginosus
  • Gaelic: Clamhan l òin
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years. April - October
  • UK Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage Visitor. AMBER LIST 206 females (summer) BTO
  • Breeds: Shallow freshwater rivers or lakes. Europe to Asia, Africa
  • Winters: (UK small resident population) South of breeding range to Africa, Asia
  • Habitat: Marshland, reedbeds, farmland by wetlands
  • Diet: Small birds, mammals.
  • Largest harrier. Recognised by long tail, soaring light flight - wings held in shallow V-shape
  • Similar birds Hen harrier, Buzzard
 
Monday 18th May, 2009 Little Stint Ardvule Point - South Uist    
Monday 18th May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Aird an Runair - North Uist    
Sunday 17th May, 2009 Iceland Gull

North Uist

   
Sunday 17th May, 2009 Pied Flycatcher North Tolsta - Lewis
  • Pied Flycatcher
  • Ficedula hypoleuca
  • Gaelic: Breacan glas
  • UK: 32,000 pairs (Late April - September visitor) BTO
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Europe, North-West Asia
  • Winters: West Africa
  • Habitat: Mature woodland, open forest, (prefers oaks) town parks & gardens
  • Bit smaller than House Sparrow, looks a bit like a Pied Wagtail
    Male mostly black upperparts. White below. Bold white patch on folded wing.
    Female browner
  • Diet: Insects, (feeds caterpillars to nestlings), fruit & seeds late summer & on migration
  • Listen to a Pied Flycatcher on RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Pied Wagtail
 
Sunday 17th May, 2009 Northern Eider Stinky Bay - Benbecula
  • Northern Eider (Boreal Eider, North Atlantic Eider, Northern Common Eider)
  • Somateria mollissima borealis, Nearctic race borealis
  • UK: Vagrant/Accidental, BBRC No records 1950 -2006
  • WI: Very rare visitor (five or less records)
  • Range: Greenland, US West Coast , Baffin Island, Northern Labrador, Hudson Bay
  • Bill much more orange-yellow than the Common Eider's (which has greenish bill). Breast paler-buff and brighter. Females brighter bills than Common Eider and plumage rich reddish..
  • Similar birds Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck , Shelduck,
 
Saturday 16th May, 2009 Dotterel Daliburgh - South Uist (4)
  • Dotterel
  • Charadrius morinellus
  • Gaelic : Amada-mòinellus
  • UK: 630 pairs in summer BTO
  • UK: Migrant breeder
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: UK - Europe, Asia, Alaska
  • Winters: Mediterranean
  • Habitat: "High tops" grassland with stones, on (on migration mudflats)
  • Diet: Insects, small invertebrates & spiders (from under stones...)
  • Medium size plover. Adults mostly grey-brown upperparts, bright chestnut belly, a white chest band, throat and eyestripe, dark cap. Male stays on the nest & incubates the eggs. Female more bright in colour than male
  • Listen to a Dotterel (RSPB site)
 
Saturday 16th May, 2009 Dotterel Daliburgh - South Uist (4)    
Saturday 16th May, 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
 
Saturday 16th May, 2009 Bluethroat Valtos - Isle of lewis
  • Bluethroat
  • Luscinia svecica
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 113 annual records BTO
  • UK: Scarce breeder (UK 1 pair), Passage visitor May -June & July - August
  • WI: Rare visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Breeds: Europe, Asia, Alaska
  • Winters: Africa, Asia
  • Habitat: Spring/Autumn: Coastal scrub or grassy places
  • Diet: Hops along ground foraging under leaves on soil surface for insects, caterpillars. Some fruit: berries. Disturbed bird dives into bush for cover
  • Small & Robin-like. Spring-time male bright blue throat, bordered below with bands of black+white+chestnut. Chestnut or white central throat spot. Chestnut tail patches.
  • Max recorded age 6yrs 8mths
  • Listen to a Bluethroat RSPB site
 
Saturday 16th May, 2009 Dotterel Butt of Lewis (10)    
Friday 15th May, 2009 Bluethroat Valtos - Isle of lewis    
Friday 15th May, 2009 Little Gull Loch Fada - Benbecula
  • Little Gull
  • Larus minutus
  • Gaelic: Faoileag-bheag
  • UK: Passage - winter visitor
  • UK: winter 400-800, spring 200-700 BTO
  • W: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: North America, Asia
  • Winters: North USA, South Europe
  • Habitat: Breeding - Colonies in grassy freshwater marsh. Winter - estuaries, lochs, fields
  • Smallest gull, only 26cm (approx size of a Blackbird). Adults flight Tern-like but rounded wings, pale grey upperwing - no black wingtips, dark grey underwing. Summer bird pale grey, black head. Winter: head goes white, darker cap & eye-spot . Bill thin & black. Legs dark red.
    Juveniles: Dark wing mark "W" .
  • Diet: summer mostly insects. Winter, fish, invertebrates (marine)
  • Listen to Little Gull (RSPB site)
 
Friday 15th May, 2009 Dotterel Daliburgh - South Uist (4)    

"For common cranes I notice you have designated them as Accidental for the UK. I agree they are for the WI (depending on which version of the definition for 'Accidental' is eg. Accidental species are those that are sighted approximately every five years or less. Though I seem to remember common crane was seen last year at or near Steinish.

They breed in the Norfolk Broads and have done so in small numbers 3-4 pairs since 1981 tho' I don't know if it has been every year since.

This RSPB web page reckons ca. 6 pairs http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/c/crane/index.asp

Then of course there is the work done by WWT to re-introduce them to UK ongoing as well. http://www.wwt.org.uk/text/464/eurasian_cranes.html"

 

I heard my first cuckoo for 2009 in its usual place in Carloway today.  (I know it's not the first for the island). 

Richard Holland

Thursday 14th May, 2009 Dotterel Daliburgh - South Uist (4)    
Thursday 14th May, 2009 Bluethroat Clachan Farm - South Uist    
Wednesday 13th May, 2009 Green-winged Teal Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 13th May, 2009 Dotterel Ness Football Pitch - Lewis (10)    
Wednesday 13th May, 2009 Spotted Redshank Bragar - Isle of Lewis
  • 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
 
Wednesday 13th May, 2009 Avocet Howmore River - South Uist
  • Avocet
  • Recurvirostra avosetta
  • WI: Rare visitor (30 or less records) TBC
 
Tuesday 12th May, 2009 Avocet Howmore River - South Uist    
Tuesday 12th May, 2009 Turtle Dove Port of Ness - Isle of Lewis
  • Eurasian Turtle Dove (Turtle Dove)
  • Streptopelia tutar
  • Gaelic: Tutar
  • UK: RED LIST, 44,000 territories (summer) BTO
  • UK: Migrant reeder, Passage Visitor
  • WI: Regular but scarce passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years). March - Oct but mostly May-June & Sept. Approx 10 records a year
  • 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 Cove

Turtle doves are the only migratory dove.

 
2 corncrake at Skigersta. Grouse, snipe and a pair of stonechats on the moor (ness tolsta path to sheilings)

Julie
Tuesday 12th May, 2009

Hebrides Bird Sightings : Waxwing I had an unseasonal Waxwing at Bragar on Sunday
Martin
Sunday 10th May, 2009 Waxwing North Bragar
  • Waxwing
  • Bombycilla garrulus
  • Gaelic: Gochan cireaneach
  • UK: 100 birds (winter) BTO
  • UK: Winter visitor
  • WI: Scarce Winter Visitor (Very small numbers each year), very rare (5 or less records) spring vistor
  • Breeding: Nest high up in the branches of trees in mature coniferous forest & birch woodland. Mossy, damp, lichen-rich places. Lays 4 - 6 pale bluish eggs. Northern Scandinavia, Russia. Europe, North America
  • Winters: Not regular. South Europe, South USA
  • Diet: Berries, hawthorn, rowan, cotoneaster. Plant buds. (Breeding season also insects, midges & mosquitoes)
  • Exotic looking bird, reminiscent of a Cockatoo. Starling-sized (18 - 21cm length), but plump, stocky & thick-necked with a short tail. Large sandy-chestnut coloured crest. Very dashing black eye patch & black throat. Pinkish-brown above. Pale sandy-brown below.
    Lower back & rump (above tail) bluish. Undertail plumage chestnut-red. Yellow band at tip of short blackish tail. Dark wings with white bars, yellow markings & small waxy, red patch
  • Waxwings live for up to 12 years
  • Listen to a Waxwing (RSPB site). Call pleasant ringing trill, "srrrr" like a small bell
  • Similar birds: Hawfinch
 
Monday 11th May, 2009 Garganey

Loch Mor - Benbecula

Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Isle of Lewis

   
Hebrides Bird Sightings : Common Crane Hebrides Bird Sightings : Common Crane A pair of cranes in croft upper garrabost
Andy L
Monday 11th May, 2009 Common Crane Garrabost - Point - Isle of Lewis
  • Common Crane
  • Grus grus
  • AMBER LIST 4 pairs (summer) BTO (UPDATED thanks to Richard Holland))
  • 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.
 
Monday 11th May, 2009 Green-winged Teal Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 10th May, 2009 Iceland Gull

Griminish Point - North Uist

Loch Barvas - Isle of Lewis

   
Sunday 10th May, 2009 Common Redpoll Balanald - North Uist    
Sunday 10th May, 2009 Garganey

Loch Sandary - North Uist

   
Sunday 10th May, 2009 Whooper Swan (12) Loch Sandary - North Uist    
Sunday 10th May, 2009 Green-winged Teal Loch Stiapabhat - Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 10th May, 2009 Glaucous Gull Mealista - North Uist    

 

Saturday 9th May 2009
Laxdale, Stornoway
We have four small birds in our croft, very difficult to identify, puffed out chest, chest is light in colour, touch of orange under the chin, cannot make up my mind if it is similar to wheatear or a linnet, grazing on the ground and sitting on fence posts.
Any ideas?
thanks
Joyce

Have you looked at the Stonechats in your ID book?
A female or immature Stonechat could be the right size and colouring - I saw a family group of Stonechats just this week, I was very surprised to see a new family so early in the year.
SK

Any other suggestions??

Re sighting in Laxdale, they were Wheatears, what a pleasure they were, think they are nesting around, so will be keeping an eye on them. 
Joyce

14 May, 2009

Saturday 9th May, 2009 Leachs Storm Petrel

Aird an Runair - North Uist (2)

Rubha Ardvule - South Uist (4)

  • Leach's Storm-petrel
  • Oceanodroma leucorhoa
  • UK: AMBER LIST, 51,000 pairs (summer) BTO
  • WI: Common migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 breeding pairs)
  • 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 to a Leach's Storm-petrel ( RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Storm Petrel (NOT forked tail),

 

Gaelic name "Gobhan mara " means swallow of the sea

 
Friday 8th May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Aird an Runair - North Uist    
Friday 8th May, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Aird an Runair - North Uist (30+)

Rubha Ardvule - South Uist (60+)

Ullapool Ferry (11)

   
Friday 8th May, 2009 Iceland Gull

Stinky Bay - Benbecula

Stornoway Harbour (2)

   
Friday 8th May, 2009 Snowy Owl Galan Head - Aird Uig - Isle of Lewis    
Friday 8th May, 2009 Long-tailed Ducks Rubha Ardvule - South Uist    
Friday 8th May, 2009 Garganey Loch Sandary - South Uist With 12 Whoopers  
Thursday 7th May, 2009 Iceland Gull

Butt of Lewis

Steinish nr Stornoway

   
Thursday 7th May, 2009 Leachs Storm Petrel

Aird an Runair - North Uist (13)

   
Thursday 7th May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Aird an Runair - North Uist (4)    
Thursday 7th May, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Aird an Runair - North Uist (46)

   

'Hotline' for rare bird survey
National survey of corncrakes to take place across the UK


A rare migratory bird that has experienced a dramatic recovery in its fortunes thanks to dedicated conservation work is to be the subject of a national UK survey to see if it is now spreading from its core areas in the west of Scotland.

Corncrakes will begin to return to the UK at the end of April, and the public will be able to call in on special hotline numbers to submit their records of the species to the National Corncrake Survey.

Once common and widely distributed throughout the whole of rural Britain, the species underwent extremely steep declines in the 20th century due to changes in traditional farming practices and agricultural intensification.

Corncrakes are a long-distance migratory species that winter in sub-Saharan Africa and come to the UK in summer to breed. Here they favour a habitat of tall grasses and herbs, particularly hay and silage meadows. However, in the late 19th century when mechanised mowing and other machine-driven innovations allowed hay making to be completed much quicker than previously, the corncrake population plummeted and became restricted to the Hebridean islands on the west coast of Scotland. Good concentrations exist on Lewis, North and South Uist, Tiree and Coll.

More recently, through the combined efforts of farmers, crofters and conservationists, the corncrake population in the UK has seen an encouraging increase in its numbers, and since the RSPB's corncrake recovery programme started in 1993, the population has increased markedly.

In 1993, the British population was estimated at just 480 calling males. But by the last national survey in 2003 this figure had almost doubled to 832 calling males. Since then annual counts have shown that the population increase continued throughout the 2000s, and in 2007 the population in the species' Scottish strongholds hit a high of more than 1270 calling males. This number declined, however, in 2008 by 8% to 1140 in the Scottish core areas, highlighting that there should be no complacency surrounding the conservation of the Corncrake, and that it is by no means out of the woods yet.

The survey seeks to find out whether the recovery of Corncrake in Britain continues into 2009, and to establish whether the slight decline of 2008 was a temporary 'blip', or if it was part of a more sustained pattern. It also presents a good opportunity to examine whether the species has managed to extend its range beyond the main core areas of the inner and outer Hebridean islands, into other regions of the UK in the last few years.

Mark O'Brien, Advisory Manager at RSPB Scotland, said: "This is the first full survey since 2003 and numbers have undoubtedly increased since then, but we are really interested in seeing if last years slight slump in numbers was just an anomaly in what has been an otherwise fabulous success story for this species.

"The recovery of this plucky wee bird has, in a large part, been down to previous agri environment schemes. We hope that this survey will enable us to continue to deliver targeted corncrake conservation through the new Scottish Rural Development Plan."

However, Corncrakes are a very difficult species to survey, because they are shy, skulk in long vegetation and are very difficult to see. The best method to identify Corncrakes is by their very distinctive crek crek call given by singing males, which sounds like a credit card being drawn across a plastic comb. The birds are particularly vocal throughout the month of June, especially during the night. Because of the difficulty of surveying Corncrakes, the RSPB is asking anyone who hears the distinctive call of the birds to report it so that it can be verified and recorded as part of the survey.

The Corncrake Survey is a combined initiative between Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB.
ENDS.

Anyone who hears a corncrake calling is urged to call:

RSPB (Scotland) - APPROPRIATE NUMBER 01851 703 296


Hi all, just to let you know the the Friends of Loch Stiapabhat AGM will take place on Thursday 21st May, 7:30pm at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, Habost, Ness.

Anyone interested in the site is welcome to come along.

Many Thanks

Julie Sievewright
Countryside Ranger
Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn

Wednesday 6th May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Aird an Runair - North Uist (approx 70)    
Wednesday 6th May, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Ardivachar - South Uist (10)

Aird an Runair - North Uist (250+)

   
Wednesday 6th May, 2009 Hawfinch Garrabost - Isle of Lewis
  • Hawfinch
  • Coccothraustes coccthraustes
  • WI: Rare visitor (less than 30 records)
 
Wednesday 6th May, 2009 Iceland Gull

Stinky Bay - Benbecula

   
Wednesday 6th May, 2009 White Wagtails (18) Benbecula
  • White Wagtail
  • Motacilla alba alba
  • WI: Uncommon or fairly common assage Visitor (small numbers). May have bred
  • Distribution: Mainland Europe, Asia, North West Africa. Resident in temperate parts of it's range elsewise in winter migrates south to Africa
  • Habitat: Most areas including town centres. Prefers bare areas where it can see its prey. Often in open country near water, beaches, car parks. Also flycatches in air. Nests in crevices in stone walls & similar places.
  • Small and sprightly. Long-tailed. Grey & white bird. Stands wagging tail up & down or dashes about seeking food. Undulating flight.
  • Typical lifespan: 2 years
  • Similar birds: Pied Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail (very rare - yellowish) , Yellow Wagtail (Rare)
 
Tuesday 5th May, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Aird an Runair - North Uist (approx 3)    
Tuesday 5th May, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Aird an Runair - North Uist (130+)

   
Tuesday 5th May, 2009 Iceland Gull

Ardivachar Point + Drimsdale

   
Tuesday 5th May, 2009 Dotterel The Range - West Gerenish - South Uist    

 

A pr of whoopers on braigh loch and my first this year a cuckoo in lower bayble
Andy l
Monday 4th April, 2009

 

Monday 4th April, 2009 Long-tailed Skua Aird an Runair - North Uist    
Monday 4th April, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Aird an Runair - North Uist (200+)

   
Sunday 3rd May, 2009 Iceland Gull Stornoway Harbour - Isle of Lewis    
Sunday 3rd May, 2009 Pomarine Skua

Aird an Runair - North Uist (160+)

   
Sunday 3rd May, 2009 Pale-bellied Brent Geese Aird an Runair - North Uist (2)
  • Brent Goose
  • Branta bernicla
  • Gaelic: Gèadha-got
  • WI: Brent Geese are uncommon passage visitors (recorded in low numbers each year, but sometimes a few more occur) and rare winter visitors (less than 30 records).
  • UK AMBER LIST, (101,000 birds winter) BTO
  • Breeds: North Russia, North America, Canada, Greenland, Spitsbergen
  • Winters: South of breeding range to USA, Africa, China,
  • Habitat: Tundra, (migration marshes, estuaries)
  • Diet: Grazing inter-tidal eelgrass and other vegetation
  • Smallest & darkest goose (mallard sized). Black head & neck. Grey-brown back. Grey-white lower breast & flanks 'pale-bellied'. Short, stubby bill. (Adults small white neck patch). Pure-white under-tail. Tail black & very short (shortest of any goose). Flies in loose flocks (not skeins)
  • Max recorded age 18yr 10mths
  • Listen to a Brent Goose (RSPB site)
  • SImilar birds: Barnacle Geese (white faces)
 
Sunday 3rd May, 2009 White Wagtails Loch Bee - South Uist (9)    
Saturday 2nd May , 2009 Dotterel The Range - West Gerenish - South Uist    
Saturday 2nd May , 2009 Glaucous Gull Loch Sandary - South Uist    
Saturday 2nd May , 2009 Iceland Gull

Stornoway Harbour (2) Butt of Lewis (2) - Isle of Lewis

   
Saturday 2nd May , 2009 Pomarine Skua

Aird an Runair - North Uist (25)

   
Thursday 30th April, 2009 Snowy Owl St Kilda    
Friday 1st May, 2009 White-billed Diver Port of Ness (2) - Ness - 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

 

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

 
         

 

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