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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : October 2008

 

 

 

 

This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings period October 2008

Friday 31st October, 2008 Waxwings (20+)

Marybank - Stornoway

Bayhead - North Uist

South Glendale - South Uist

Locmaddy - North Uist

Drimsdale - South Uist

Friday 31st October, 2008 Grey Phalarope Siadar - Isle of lewis    

 

Hen harrier sighted low over Garrabost houses (near Point football club) on Thursday 30 October 4pm presented well.
It was a female and looked in good condition.

Gary Sturgess
Lower Bayble

 

Data from RSPB Scotland's coastal reserves shows Kittiwakes, Arctic Terns and Arctic Skuas have reared virtually no young in the far north of the UK this year.
Repeated annual breeding failures are now substantially reducing populations.

Increased winter sea surface temperatures disrupting the food chain are thought to be driving the declines... such changes may be reducing the survival of sandeel larvae, ultimately reducing the abundance of this staple prey item for seabirds.

Great Skuas, Gannets and Cormorants have experienced modest increases in their numbers, while Herring Gulls have remained stable.

Scotland is internationally important for seabirds, hosting over 45% of EU breeding populations"

Read the full RSPB article
30th October, 2008

 

 

Miners used to take a Canary down the coal pits with them (the birds are very sensitive to toxins). When the Canary keeled over the miners knew there were dangerous gases about.

Likewise Seabirds are sensitive to the overall health of the Marine environment... RSPB Scotland is calling on the Scottish government to put the environment at the heart of the forthcoming Scottish Marine Bill

On an individual basis, rather than feeling powerless and despairing, perhaps something we can do is to use a bit less power than we are using now, eg turn off an unecessary light, block a draught etc? 'Every Little Helps'

Suzanne

 

"Is it also worth mentioning a Barnacle Goose that was also feeding in shallow water at Fivepenny, Ness today?"
John B
Thursday 30th October, 2008

Yes! If you go out for a walk and see something of birding interest that you would chat about over a cuppa that is the sort of thing that at least some of the rest of us are interested in too...

 

"On a small pool at Fivepenny today was one Grey Phalarope.
Unmistakable, very small, darting around feeding in the shallows
."

John B
Thursday 30th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope Fivepenny - Ness - Isle of lewis    
Thursday 30th October, 2008 Long-tailed Tit (8) Balinvanich - Benbecula
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Aegithalos caudatus
  • Gaelic: Ciochan-fada
  • WI: scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years) resident breeder (Stornoway Castle Grounds),
    otherwise rare visitor (30 or less records)
 
Thursday 30th October, 2008 Spotted Redshank Claddach Valley - North Uist
  • Spotted Redshank
  • Tringa erythropus
  • UK: Passage/Winter Visitor. Southward migration July - August. Most birds go through UK in September. Wintering birds leave April - May
  • UK: AMBER LIST (50%+ of UK wintering population found in just 10 sites). 420 passage records annually BTO , 80 - 400 wintering (RSPB).
  • WI: Scarce passage Visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: North Europe, North Asia, Northern Siberia
  • Winters: Europe - Mediterranean to South-East Asia, China, Africa
  • Habitat: Wetlands, marshy tundra. (Migration: coastal wet meadows & mudflats)
  • Diet: Wades in deep water, swims, sometimes dabbling bottom-up like a duck. Insects- larvae, shrimps, worms.
  • Bit larger than redshank. Summer adults almost all black, wings have some white spotting. Back has white wedge shape - noticeably in flight. Tail barred. Winter: grey back, paler below, & more prominent eye stripe than redshank. NO white wing bars.
  • Listen to a Spotted Redshank (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Redshank, Greenshank
 
Thursday 30th October, 2008 White-rumped Sandpiper Balgarva - Soutry Ford - South Uist    
         
Wednesday 29th October, 2008 Waxwing (2) Eochair - South Uist
  • 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
 
Wednesday 29th October, 2008 White-rumped Sandpiper Balgarva - Soutry Ford - South Uist
  • White-rumped Sandpiper
  • Calidris fuscicollis
  • UK: Scarce visitor.
  • UK: 8 records annually BTO
  • WI: Rare visitor (30 or less records)
  • Breeds: Northern tundra Arctic Islands, Alaska, Canada. Nests hidden in vegetation on ground
  • Winters : Northern South America
  • Habitat: Small pools, tundra (migration mudflats)
  • Diet: Forages probing mudflats/tundra and by sight in shallow water. Mostly insects, molluscs, worms (also some plant material)
  • Generally like a streamlined Dunlin. ID it by very long wings which protrude past tail tip (Only Baird's Sandpiper also has this). Adults black legs. Small thin, dark bill. Body dark brown above, mostly white below, breast has brown streaks. White rump. White stripe over eye. Winter plumage pale grey above. Pointed, (not rounded) feather patterns, White rump (Baird's is not white).
  • Similar birds: Dunlin, Little Stint, Baird’s Sandpiper

    See the Surfbirds online guide to identification of long-winged peeps
 
Wednesday 29th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope Siadar - Isle of lewis
  • Grey Phalarope
  • Phalaropus fulicarius
  • Gaelic: Liathag Tllt, Liathag Allt
  • UK: Passage Visitor
  • UK: 166 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years, sometimes more in persistent gales) autumn passage visitor
  • Breeds: Arctic regions: Iceland, Greenland, North Siberia, North America, North Europe
  • Winters in the Southern oceans
  • Diet: Invertebrates, (plus seeds etc when reaching breeding grounds)
  • Habitat: coastal tundra (migration coasts)
  • Small wader (21cm / 8 in length) . Winter mostly grey above & white below, with black eyepatch & straight black bill.
    Breeding female dark brown & black above, red below, white cheek patches & yellow black-tipped bill. Breeding male similar but duller. Young birds light grey & brown above, buff below & dark eye patch
  • Similar birds: Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson's Phalarope
 
Hebrides bird sightings Hebrides bird sightings

John Hamillton has sent in two photographs of Herring Gull chicks taken one summer at Tiumpan Head, Lewis

     
  • Herring Gull
  • Larus argentatus argenteus
  • Gaelic: Glas-fhaoileag
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Breeding 139,309 pairs. Wintering 378,748 birds RSPB
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • WI: Larus argentatus argenteus is a common resident or migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 breeding pairs)
  • Breeding: Colonies. Lays 2-4 dark blotched, olive coloured eggs on the ground or on cliff ledges. North America, Europe, Asia
  • Wintering: Mostly resident, but birds in colder northernmost regions migrate south to South Europe, South Asia, Central America
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes, rivers
  • Diet: Omnivorous, but mostly animal material, also scavenges and pirates food
  • Large Gull (To 26in, 66cm length). Adult light grey back. White below. Black wing tips with white 'mirrors'. Pink legs. Webbed feet. Heavy hooked bill (with red spot)
  • Max recorded age 34yrs 9mths. Typical lifespan 19yrs
  • Listen to a Herring Gull (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Kumlien's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull

Herring Gullls have had a decline over the last 25 years and more than 50% of their UK breeding population is within less than ten sites. (RSPB)

 

A quick visit to our neighbours at the Icelandic Birding Pages

Iceland's rarities in the last few days included:
"Eurasian Spoonbills still there, American Robin, Blackcap, Barn Swallow, European Robin, Common Chiffchaff, Common Crossbills, Eurasian Siskins, Lesser Whitethroat, Snow Goose and Grey Herons "

Thank-you Yann

Iceland weather (Tue)
Sunny intervals -1°C
ESE 7mph
Sunrise 08:56
Sunset 17:26

American Robins are Blackbird-sized members of the thrush family, with oily-black wings head and tail. The adult male has a bright red breast.
Usually they migrate from Canada down to Guatemala, but occasionally a bird has flown to the UK from the States. There are 19 UK records 1958-2004.
There are records of the bird occuring in the Western Isles in January and February.

More about Spoonbills another current visitor in Iceland, a species which bred in Scotland this summer

 

"Sightings this week ---  a really striking pair of Snow Buntings on the Huishnish Road,also a Merlin on same road ,7 whooper swans over Lemreway and dozens of Redwings still".
Lesley
Lemreway, Lewis

Monday 27th October, 2008

 

Back at the start of October Andy saw a group of Whooper Swans on Tiumpanhead Loch, he noticed that one had a coloured ring, reported it and the record got sent to Anna Jordan the Swan Database Officer (Whoopers and Bewick’s) at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

Anna sent back the history of the ringed bird, it gives a family history of a Whooper going through Lewis and shows how much we learn from the ringing and tag reading as well as how far these birds travel. Below is just an extract from the table:

See the full table showing the history of a Whooper Swan

Anna would appreciate it if we could send any further sightings of swans with coloured rings to her, so it is worth checking all swans for leg rings:

Anna Jordan
Swan Database Officer

Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)
Slimbridge, Glos GL2 7BT, UK
Telephone 01453 891900
anna.jordan@wwt.org.uk
wwt.org.uk

10/08/1994
Geldingavatn, Tunguheidi N-Mul Iceland
15/10/1997
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland
21/10/1998
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland
23/10/1998
Annaghroe Co. Tyrone Northern Ireland
29/11/1998
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland
14/03/1999
Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
24/05/1999
Skjoldolfsstadir, Jokuldalur N-Mul Iceland
13/10/1999
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland
21/01/2001
Piercefield, Lough Iron Co.West Meath Ireland
26/10/2001
Loch a Phuill, Isle of Tiree Inner Hebrides United Kingdom
28/10/2001
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland
29/10/2001
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland
18/11/2001
Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
18/11/2001
Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
07/10/2003
Lonsfjordur S-Mul Iceland
08/10/2003
Lonsfjordur S-Mul Iceland
24/10/2004
Tullnawood Lake Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
24/10/2004
Tullnawood Lake Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
15/01/2005
Aughnagurgan lough Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
27/02/2005
Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
06/03/2005
Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
13/03/2005
Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
01/10/2005
Lonsfjordur S-Mul Iceland
17/01/2006
Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
23/12/2007
Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland
27/03/2008
Loch an Eilein, Isle of Tiree Inner Hebrides United Kingdom
01/10/2008
Tiumpan Loch, Lewis Outer Hebrides United Kingdom
Monday 27th October, 2008 Sooty Shearwaters (7) Butt of Lewis - Birding site
Butt of Lewis
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Puffinus griseus
  • WI: Fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers) in late summer and autumn (rare in spring)
  • Breeds: Nov - Feb. Colonies in burrows on offshore islands. Just one white egg laid. Nest visted only at night to avoid predators. Southernmost Atlantic & Pacific oceans.
    Winters: (During our summertime) at sea in Northern Atlantic
  • Diet: Feeds mostly on small squid & fish at surface. (Good sense of smell). Dives to 68m
  • Seabird - smaller than herring gull (40 - 50cm length). Dark chocolate-brown/blackish body. Long wings (bright silver band underneath) Flight shearing (dips from side to side with stiff wings & few wing beats, wingtips almost touch water). Powerful, direct flight wings straight & stiff, frequent gliding.
  • Similar birds: Manx Shearwater (Also Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater but they are rare)
 
Sunday 26th October, 2008 Glaucous Gull Peninerine - South 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: 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 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
 
Sunday 26th October, 2008 Great Skua Butt of Lewis?
  • 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
 
Sunday 26th October, 2008 Storm Petrel Butt of Lewis?
  • European Storm-petrel (Storm Petrel, Storm-petrel, Little Peter, Mootie, Ala Mootie, Alamotti, Stormies, Stormy, Mother Mary's Chicken, Mother Cary's Chicken)
  • Hydrobates pelagicus
  • Gaelic: Annlag, Paraig, Luaireag
  • UK: Migrant Breeder
  • UK: AMBER LIST, 27,000 pairs (Summer) BTO
  • WI: (Possibly) Abundant breeder (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 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 to a Storm petrel RSPB site ( trills & purrs, famously described by Charles Oldham as "like a fairy being sick")
  • Similar birds: Leach's Storm Petrel, house martin (forked tails)
 
Sunday 26th October, 2008 Leach's Storm Petrel (7!)

Butt of Lewis?

  • 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

 
Sunday 26th October, 2008 Great Northern Divers (27!) Butt of Lewis?
  • 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
 

Any birds in a gale?

"Hi , I did not venture forth in the gale on Saturday other than a quick restock trip to put some food out for the birds, but I did watch them (what I could see of them through my salt laden windows). The sparrows spent most of the day just sitting in the big fushcia bushes (sorry if spelling wrong) near the feeders. They hardly ever visited the feeders. I tried putting food on the ground as it just blew off the bird table but they ignored it although it was very close to them. I think that they would have fed from the bird table if I had had one that the wind would not blow all the food from. I did not see the usual starling crowd at all, nor any hoodies. "
CF

Sunday 26th October, 2008

Anyone got a bird table with high sides that the birds do use in a gale?

 

"Storm driven birds on the West Coast of Lewis today
6 Grey Phalropes around Bragar Bay, nearby 3 more Grey Phals at Arnol
Bay and another 3 at Barvas beach. Also 10 off Butt of Lewis"


http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6GWiISF3qhs

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=BqIO-GkOSew

Martin Scott
Sunday 26th October, 2008

Also another 9 Grey Phalarope at Peninerine, South Uist on Sunday

     
  • Grey Phalarope
  • Phalaropus fulicarius
  • Gaelic: Liathag Tllt, Liathag Allt
  • UK: Passage Visitor
  • UK: 166 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years, sometimes more in persistent gales) autumn passage visitor
  • Breeds: Arctic regions: Iceland, Greenland, North Siberia, North America, North Europe
  • Winters in the Southern oceans
  • Diet: Invertebrates, (plus seeds etc when reaching breeding grounds)
  • Habitat: coastal tundra (migration coasts)
  • Small wader (21cm / 8 in length) . Winter mostly grey above & white below, with black eyepatch & straight black bill.
    Breeding female dark brown & black above, red below, white cheek patches & yellow black-tipped bill. Breeding male similar but duller. Young birds light grey & brown above, buff below & dark eye patch
  • Similar birds: Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson's Phalarope

 

 
Hebrides bird sightings Hebrides bird sightings Hebrides bird sightings

"Just looking through archive pics that were taken on the Island
thse ones were in Stornoway "
John Hamilton

If anyone who is confident about identifying juvenile/2nd winter/adult Herons would kindly check that my labels in the Grey Heron section are correct I would be most grateful
Suzanne

 

 

The day after the big gale and my garden has been very busy all day with sparrows, starlings and greenfinches zipping in and out, (a robin too) but the surprise treat of the day was a goldfinch - only the second one I have seen in my garden in 4 years
Ela, Callanish

Sunday 26th October, 2008

 

Almost two out of every three people in the UK put out food for birds

In America more people feed the birds than watch baseball (or football)

RSPB Feed The Birds Day

There is lots of in depth advice about ideal food for birds on the RSPB web site including:

"In severe weather, feed twice daily if possible: in the morning and in the early afternoon"

"Pinhead oatmeal is excellent for many birds.."
" Flaked maize is taken readily by blackbirds..."

There is also warning about what can actually do them harm - did you know about dangerous porridge?!
"Porridge oats must never be cooked, since this makes them glutinous and can harden around a bird's beak"

Plus advice on how best to change the foods we put out according to the season, and ideas for bird feeders like "fill the holes and cracks of a post or suspended log with fatty food, such as suet" (An inspiring suggestion, a fence post offers great potential for a feeder that will not blow away)

Read the full article about feeding the birds on the RSPB site

 

Saturday 25th October, 2008


Any birds in a gale?

I went to Bosta beach on saturday afternoon. The ringed plovers were there as they often are in the autumn/winter running along the edge of the tide (about 4). There were a large amount of gulls on the far side by the cliff in the most sheltered part of the beach. I went over in case something had been washed up that they were feeding on but there wasn't. About 40 black headed gulls which i hardly ever see there, plus a similar amount of herring gulls plus about 20 blackbacks.
Sunny

Saturday 25th October, 2008

 

Any birds in a gale?

"A very wild day in Point, at times it was difficult to move from the house to the shed to put feed out but made it. We have had the odd Greenfinch and Sparrow at the feeders (just) and Rockdoves and Redwings on the ground. The Sparrows have been sheltering all day under the oil tank and wheelbarrow perhaps they were having a prayer meeting - asking for the wind to drop so they could get to the feeders."
John H

Saturday 25th October, 2008


Any birds in a gale?

"A wild exhilarating day, blown backwards whilst walking, wind sucking my breath away. Greylags at my place have moved to rush areas too. Most were hunkered down sitting facing into the wind. redshank with them instead of down on the shore. Saw a rock dove fly sideways 200m. A few herring gulls at the water's edge on the loch but most were hanging out together a few fields inland, I havent seen them there before. Starling flock at the water's edge. Flew a bit but not much, but a few single birds were travelling. Common gull with youngster down by the loch. Saw them fly impressive juvenile very impressive when just a few months old "
Julie, Breasclete

Saturday 25th October, 2008


Any birds in a gale?

Hebrides bird sightings

"5 sparrows and a greenfinch shelter on the edges of the raised leek bed. All around them the hedges and tall foliage are battered to and fro with the raging gale. The wind is too strong for them to even reach the bird feeder which is tied securely to it's post. I feel I should put some food on the ground for them but I know that by doing so my presence will make them fly, when they need to conserve what little energy they have."


Later that day..
Hebrides bird sightings

"More sparrows, perhaps 8 came and sheltered together in the tumbled down sweetpeas for the rest of the day, I am so very glad I had not cleared the sweetpeas away. They were joined by 7 greenfinches, the most I have seen at one time in my garden, the greenfinches spent much of their time bobbing up and down on the branches of the buddleia bush".

Ela, Callanish
Saturday 25th October, 2008

 

Any birds in a gale?

"OK starlings probably 7 too fast to count really . just flew pastmy window at an incredible speed
Thats all I have seen in 2 hours"


AJ
Saturday 25th October, 2008

 

Any birds in a gale?

"The only Greylags I can see (about 6) have moved away from Sandy's prime seeded grazing (where there are usually about 20) to the rough wet and wet stuff that has the shelter of rushes. "

Saturday 25th October, 2008


Any birds in a gale?

Hi all,
I am particulary interested to hear about where (as in type of undergrowth etc) you see ANY birds here feeding or sheltering (and which fly), during this extended patch of very severe weather. As predictions for the long-term climate change suggest that we are going to experience a lot more of this, I am very keen to learn more about how our birds are currently dealing with it, and how we can help them. (Gusts of wind to 80mph predicted today)

Suzanne

Saturday 25th October, 2008

Friday 24th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope
(21 birds today)

Stinky Bay - Benbecula

Ardvule Point - North Uist

Griminish Point - North Uist

   
Friday 24th October, 2008 Spotted Flycatcher Nr Tarbert - Isle of Harris
  • Spotted Flycatcher
  • Muscicapa striata
  • UK: RED LIST. 59,000 territories(Summer) BTO
  • UK: Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor . Most in May - August (Northern birds arrive September)
  • WI: Scarce Migrant Breeder (1-9 breeding pairs), and passage visitor, (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Breeds: Woodlands. Europe, Asia
  • Winters: Africa
  • Habitat: Open woodland, parks, gardens
  • Diet: Mostly flying insects. Perches watching for insects, flys out to get them then returns to perch
  • Grey-brown with off-white breast, (streaked with darker grey). Forehead also streaked forehead.
  • Similar birds: Pied Flycatcher
  • Listen to a Spotted Flycatcher (RSPB site)
 
"2 snow buntings Bosta by graveyard. 20ish redwings just outside crothair."
H
Friday 24th October, 2008
Hebrides bird sightings

"Saw this Buzzard hunting over Callanish at dusk.I think that an accident due to the severe gales is the probably the cause of damage to the wing - or maybe just moult? It was hard to judge how well the bird was flying as it was so gusty. Some photos for anyone interested, but they are in poor light ..."
Suzanne
Friday 24th October, 2008

I asked Martin Scott of Western Isles RSPB what he thought...

"Hard to be certain but I'd suggest that it may have been shot. It is certainly not natural moult, and is 'trauma' induced.
I have seen similar injuries on other species ie geese that were shot."

 

"I love John's pictures of the young sparrows. I was watching "my" sparrows taking advantage of solar heating this morning before the horrid weather came back. I have black plastic around the base of my trees and this collects pools of water in a nice sheltered spot. There were half a dozen of sparrows very enthusiastically bathing. I checked the water temperature later, it was surprisingly warm. They were wise to get an early bath before the icy weather returned!"
Liz
Friday 24th October, 2008


On a hot summer days some land birds may take five baths a day, but even in midwinter they still may bathe several times a week.
Frank sent in a photograph of House Sparrows bathing.

 

"There were about 100 starlings on the grass behind my house in Barvas this morning. When they had gone I noticed small holes all over the place was that them or something else? I am not sure if the holes were there before the starling came."
P
Friday 24th October, 2008

It was probably the Starlings.
Most birds have strong muscles to close their bills but Starlings have muscles to open their bills with force which enables them to make holes in compacted soil and extricate worms and grubs from underground.

 

Wildlife Garden

The Starlings often nest colonially in the walls that remain of blackhouses and old stone byres. One ruin with 5+ nests in it each having two broods of 5-7 chicks, thats 50+ offspring in a single year...hang onto your ruins!!!

The number of Starling territories in Britain has declined drastically by over 50% since the early 1990's hence the bird being on the RED LIST although it is still one of the most common garden birds.


"i had my first blue tit on the feeder today"
Andy L
Point, Isle of Lewis

Thursday 23rd October, 2008

Anyone else seeing them outside of Stornoway?

 

"The following are the most notable sightings today on the coast between Eoropie and Dell.

200-300 Golden Plover
20+ Snow Buntings
2 Canada Geese, in flight,hugging the shore heading S.W.
40-50 Ringed Plover
1 Rough Legged \Buzzard close to Cross."

Frank
Thursday 23rd October, 2008

     
  • Rough-legged Buzzard
  • Buteo lagopus
  • UK: Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK: 70 annual records BTO
  • WI: Accidental (less than 30 records)
  • Breeds: Nests in trees or on rocky cliffs in valleys (upland or Arctic). Europe (not UK), Asia, North America,
  • Winters: Open upland marshland & moorland. Mostly migrates to south & east Europe including British east coast. USA
  • Habitat: Hunts across open land. Tundra, farmland, open coniferous forest
  • Diet: small mammals, some carrion
  • How it differs to Common Buzzard: More Eagle-like, Slightly larger. Wings longer, floppier, typically paler head & below. White tail has a broad dark band at its tip. Arctic bird has that has adapted by having feet that feet are feathered to the toes. Hovers
  • Max recorded age 18yrs 9mths
    Similar birds: Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard (rare), Golden Eagle
 
 
Hebrides bird sightings -  Peregrine Bird Sightings -  House Sparrows

"How about these little darlings - Nest box in our garden at Sheshader"
John H

     
  • House Sparrow
  • Passer domesticus
  • Gaelic : Gealbhonn, Glaisean
  • UK RED LIST. Resident breeder 2.9 million breeding pairs in summer (Declining) BTO
  • WI: Common resident breeder(1000 -10,000 breeding pairs)
  • Breeding: Nests, feeds & roosts in communal colonies. Nests under eaves, holes (masonry, rocks) in ivy etc, sea-cliffs, bushes
    Most widespread bird on the planet: Wherever man builds sparrows come or are introduced: Europe, Africa (sub-Sahara), Asia etc (in Australia it was introduced as pest control!)
  • Diet: Ground-feeder: Seeds & shoots, berries, scraps, butterfies, flowers (young mostly insect larvae)
  • Male: grey crown, cheeks & below. Black on throat, upper breast & between bill & eyes. Bill in summer blue-black. Legs brown. In winter plumage dulled & bill yellowish-brown. Female has no black on head or throat, no grey crown; above streaked brown. Juveniles deeper brown, buff instead of white. Bill dull yellow. (Tree Sparrow has chestnut not grey crown, 2 wing bars, black patches on cheeks)
  • Max recorded age 19yrs 9mths, average 3yrs
  • Listen to a House Sparrow (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Tree Sparrow

Two or more Sparrows are called a tribe or a host of sparrows

A House Sparrow nest was found 1800ft down a coal mine shaft! (the birds lived on scraps provided by the miners)

House Sparrows have a reputation for promiscuity, but a study showed illegitimacy amongst humans living in a block of flats runs at about the same rate as amongst the residents of a sparrow colony

 
Thursday 23rd October, 2008 Grey Phalarope
(5 today)

Ardivachar - South Uist

  • Grey Phalarope
  • Phalaropus fulicarius
  • Gaelic: Liathag Tllt, Liathag Allt
  • UK: Passage Visitor
  • UK: 166 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years, sometimes more in persistent gales) autumn passage visitor
  • Breeds: Arctic regions: Iceland, Greenland, North Siberia, North America, North Europe
  • Winters in the Southern oceans
  • Diet: Invertebrates, (plus seeds etc when reaching breeding grounds)
  • Habitat: coastal tundra (migration coasts)
  • Small wader (21cm / 8 in length) . Winter mostly grey above & white below, with black eyepatch & straight black bill.
    Breeding female dark brown & black above, red below, white cheek patches & yellow black-tipped bill. Breeding male similar but duller. Young birds light grey & brown above, buff below & dark eye patch
  • Similar birds: Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson's Phalarope
 

"Been away in Inverness a few days...Just been out and there are loads of Redwings here in Lemreway getting blown about !!!
and yes, the crossing was terrible!
Lesley

Thursday 23rd October, 2008

" I was on the bus last week and when it reached the turnaround place near the Callanish tearooms I thought I saw a Little Egret, I have seen them before, and there are few things quite like them. Stubby reckoned it was too unlikely so I thought perhaps not. Then I heard there was one in Stornoway last week after all!"
Chris S

Thursday 23rd October, 2008

Thursday 23rd October, 2008 White-rumped Sandpiper Balgarva - South Uist
  • White-rumped Sandpiper
  • Calidris fuscicollis
  • UK: Scarce visitor.
  • UK: 8 records annually BTO
  • WI: Rare visitor (30 or less records)
  • Breeds: Northern tundra Arctic Islands, Alaska, Canada. Nests hidden in vegetation on ground
  • Winters : Northern South America
  • Habitat: Small pools, tundra (migration mudflats)
  • Diet: Forages probing mudflats/tundra and by sight in shallow water. Mostly insects, molluscs, worms (also some plant material)
  • Generally like a streamlined Dunlin. ID it by very long wings which protrude past tail tip (Only Baird's Sandpiper also has this). Adults black legs. Small thin, dark bill. Body dark brown above, mostly white below, breast has brown streaks. White rump. White stripe over eye. Winter plumage pale grey above. Pointed, (not rounded) feather patterns, White rump (Baird's is not white).
  • Similar birds: Dunlin, Little Stint, Baird’s Sandpiper

    See the Surfbirds online guide to identification of long-winged peeps
 

Wildlife Garden

"Funny how garden books used to tell us to clear up the organic debris in the garden which would harbour bugs and they now say leave it for the wildlife...
The recent gales blew over my sweetpeas, what was once a 6ft wall of flowers is now a tumbled mass of stems. I have beeen thinking of tidying it away to the compost heap but a couple of days ago saw my sparrow tribe nestled in it sheltering from the wind. Life does not get much more picturesque than a tribe fluffed up sparrows cosied in amongst sweet pea flowers. Inoticed one of them eating something green so got the binos out and it was eating one of the sweet pea leaves.I had thought that they just ate seed (and insects in spring) so I some reading and found that they also eat flowers mostly yellow ones like crocuses and primroses and they will hunt butterflies."

Ela
Wednesday 22nd October, 2008

Wednesday 21st October, 2008 White-rumped Sandpiper Balgarva - South Uist    

"Peregrine Falcon in garden (3m from house) taking birds from bird feeders in Lewis. Exact location not given."

Wednesday 21st October, 2008 Peregrine Falcon Isle of Lewis
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Falco peregrinus
  • Gaelic: Seabhag Ghorm
  • UK: AMBER LIST 1400 pairs (summer) BTO
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • WI: Uncommon resident breeder (about 10 breeding pairs). Mainly in Uists and Barra
  • Breeding Sexually mature at 1yr. Mates for life. Nest is scrape under overhang on cliff ledge or sometimes on tall man-made structure. Lays 3-4 eggs. Buff with red markings. Breeding range of it's 19 species covers most of the world.
  • Wintering: Mostly resident but Arctic birds migrate south. Some birds, usually males & juveniles, move down from the more upland breeding sites in autumn.
  • Habitat: Rocky seacliffs, tundra, moor, steppe, marshes, seacoast, cities
  • Diet: Mostly medium-sized birds: doves, waterfowl, songbirds. Sometimes rats, voles, mice, squirrels, reptiles, insects. In urban areas, mostly feral pigeons & starlings. Mostly hunts at dawn & dusk. Hunts over open areas inc water. Spots prey from high perch or from air. Once spotted, folds back tail & wings, tucks in feet, & goes into dive reaching 200mph! Prey caught & killed mid-air. On ground it is plucked then eaten.
  • Crow-sized falcon. Length 34–50cm, 13–20 in. Wingspan 80–120cm 31–47 in. Dark blue-grey above. Black barring on white below. Very dark top to head. Black cheeks. White face. Short tail. Long, narrowish, pointed wings. Flight feathers white with grey barring. Yellow feet & cere (at top of beak). Beak & claws black. Immature bird browner with streaking below (rather than barring), & pale-bluish cere (at top of beak). Swift & agile flyer. Female up to 30% bigger than male.
  • Max recorded age 17yrs 4mths. Typical lifespan 5yrs
  • Listen to a Peregrine Falcon (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Hobby
 

"Large flock of redwings today in garrabost"
Andy

"Autumn has well and truly arrived.
Redwings are in abundance in Sheshader."

John H
Later John added...Between 200 and 300 Redwings in one flock at Shehader, Point, This is the largest flock I have ever seen in this area.

 

" i had one Redwing in the garden the other day. I had to look again for i think it is the first time i have come across one of these birds on its own
There were quite a few on the west coast today though, at the back of Dell, Swainbost and Cross.
Also 1` Snowbunting and 3 Golden Plover.
Elsewhere in North Lewis I saw the White tailed Sea Eagle that Julie reported last week , and can confirm that it had Red coloured wing tags with a White H.which means it is a 2005 Lewis bird"
Frank

"7 Redwings at Crulivig, another 8 feeding on the Hawthorns at Garynahine"
Suzanne

Wednesday 21st October, 2008 Redwings

No Harris reports?

Redwings also recently reported in the Southern Isles

  • Redwing
  • Turdus iliacus
  • Gaelic: Deargan-sneachda
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage / Winter Visitor
  • UK: Summer: 2 -22 pairs breeding. AMBER LIST
  • UK: Winter: 750,000 in UK. (Arrives Sept-Oct, leaves Mar- Apr) BTO
  • WI: Fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers) & fairly common winter visitor (occurs in small numbers)
  • Breeds: North Europe (not WI), Asia
  • Winters: South Europe - UK, South Asia
  • Habitat: Northern birch or conifer forest & tundra scrub, open land
  • UK's smallest thrush (19-23cm). Dark russet-brown above, heavily streaked white underparts. Glowing chesnut-red flanks & underwing. Creamy-white stripe above eye, another beneath it's cheek. Bill pale with a black tip. Legs pale pinkish-brown. In flight the chesnut-red underwing can be seen -giving the bird it's name. Forms large flocks (with starlings & fieldfares). Sexes similar
  • Lives uo to 18 years
  • Diet: Omnivorous: Insects, earthworms (plus berries autumn & winter)
  • Listen to a Redwing (RSPB site)
  • Similar bird Song Thrush

"In the Western Isles the darker Icelandic race predominates (almost exclusively that race in spring)" Andrew Stephenson

 

"I saw the piece on your website re UWP.

Some interesting, selective, reporting on the Uist Wader project by
the national papers. I'd suggest you might want to contact them (UWP)
for a more balanced view, or at least their take.

The paper for which the journalists have extracted some of the data is here


The Summary is given as thus in the SNH paper

Bird monitoring
13. The results of the 2007 British Trust for Ornithology Breeding Wader Survey
show a variety of trends (Appendix 1). Dunlin have declined marginally
within the SPAs but more significantly across the islands as a whole. Oystercatchers have
increased on South Uist but decreased on North Uist, whilst redshank have also
increased within the SPAs reflecting increases on the islands as a whole.
Contributory factors may include land use, habitat management, predation, and
unknown factors out with the breeding grounds. However the research undertaken
by *Digger Jackson in the 1990s linking hedgehogs to wader declines through egg
predation remains current – it is clear that wader productivity is being affected by
hedgehog predation.


It may also be of interest that Oystercatcher eggs are too big to be
predated by Hedgehogs. It is a shame journalists didnt delve into the
facts a little deeper before cherry picking data and trying to make
something of Oinks v Hogs,which simply isnt true.

Hey-ho. Guess that is the senstaionalist British press for you!"


Tuesday 20th October, 2008


* Digger Jackson is now part of Natural Research Projects Ltd, an
environmental consultancy company with specialisation in birds.
Digger's current work includes studies of the flight behaviour of
red-throated divers, to guide the locating of developments
like wind farms within the breeding range.
More about Digger Jackson

Tuesday 20th October, 2008 Brent Geese Griminish - North Uist
  • 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)
 
Tuesday 20th October, 2008 Great Northern Divers Griminish - North Uist
  • 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
 
Tuesday 20th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope
(22 today)

Griminish - North Uist

   
Tuesday 20th October, 2008 Little Egret Lochmaddy - North Uist
  • Little Egret
  • Egretta gularis
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Breeding 146-162 pairs. Wintering 1,600 birds RSPB
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years) TBC
  • Breeding: Nests in colonies. Nest is a platform of sticks in tree, reedbed, bamboo grove, shrub, or on a cliff. Lays 3-5 matte blue-green eggs. Europe, Asia, Australia, Asia, Africa
  • Wintering: Mostly resident. Birds breeding in northernmost parts migrate to Africa & Asia. Some birds wander north after breeding, which extends the breeding range
  • Habitat: Lakes, marsh, flooded fields, estuaries
  • Diet: Stalks prey in shallow water. Running (wings raised) or motionless stalking. Mostly small fish, amphibians, large insects, crustaceans, but also small animals
  • Small white heron. White plumes on crest, back & chest. Black legs & bill. Yellow feet. Hunches neck in flight
  • Typical lifespan 5yrs. Max recorded age 21yrs 4mths
  • Listen to a Little Egret (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Grey Heron, Spoonbill (rare) Great White Egret (rare)
 
Tuesday 20th October, 2008 Lesser Whitethroat Lochmaddy - North Uist
  • Lesser Whitethroat
  • Sylvia curruca
  • UK: 64,000 territories summer BTO
  • UK: Migrant breeder, passage visitor. Arrives: April - May. Leaves: August - September
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years), uncommon in winter (recorded in low numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Europe, Asia
  • Winters: Africa - india
  • Diet: Autumn berries, insects (nectar pre-migration)
  • Habitat: Scrub, semi-desert! hedges!
  • Small warbler. Grey back. Whitish below. Grey head with a dark mask through the eyes. White throat. Sexes are similar. Breaking cover shows white outer tail feathers. Secretive
  • Listen to a Lesser Whitethroat on the RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Common Whitethroat
 
Tuesday 20th October, 2008

Sooty Shearwater

Brue - Isle of Lewis

  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Puffinus griseus
  • WI: Fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers) in late summer and autumn (rare in spring)
  • Breeds: Nov - Feb. Colonies in burrows on offshore islands. Just one white egg laid. Nest visted only at night to avoid predators. Southernmost Atlantic & Pacific oceans.
    Winters: (During our summertime) at sea in Northern Atlantic
  • Diet: Feeds mostly on small squid & fish at surface. (Good sense of smell). Dives to 68m
  • Seabird - smaller than herring gull (40 - 50cm length). Dark chocolate-brown/blackish body. Long wings (bright silver band underneath) Flight shearing (dips from side to side with stiff wings & few wing beats, wingtips almost touch water). Powerful, direct flight wings straight & stiff, frequent gliding.
  • Similar birds: Manx Shearwater (Also Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater but they are rare)

From late July to early November we seeSooty Shearwaters on their way back to the Southern Ocean to breed. (See from sea-watching places)

 
Tuesday 20th October, 2008 Glaucous Gull 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: 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 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
 
Tuesday 20th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

North Bay - Barra

  • Yellow-browed Warbler
  • Phylloscopus inornatus
  • UK: 320 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce autumn visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: North & Central Asia, Russia (UK is 3000km from it's breeding grounds!)
  • Winters: South-East Asia
  • Habitat: Mountain & lowland woodland, open forest, scrub, usually in tree canopy
  • Diet: Mostly insects
  • One of the smallest warblers. Greenish upperparts, off-white below, prominent double wing bars and long supercilia (eyebrow) . Highly active -constant motion, not shy
 
Tuesday 20th October, 2008 Leach's Storm Petrel

Brue - Isle of Lewis

  • 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

 
Monday 19th October, 2008 American Golden Plover

West Gerenish - South Uist

  • American Golden Plover
  • Pluvialis dominica
  • UK: Just 5 annual records
  • WI: Rare visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Rare visitor (less than 30 records) BTO
  • Breeds: North America
  • Winters: South America
  • Habitat: tundra (migration mudflats, grazing land)
  • Diet: insects, seeds, leaves, berries
  • Often when found is in the company of golden plover.
    Usually greyer, less yellow-brown than golden plovers, stonger head pattern
  • Similar birds : Golden Plover
 

 

Wildlife Garden

"Hi I got some tiny bare-rooted alder trees from the Stornoway castle grounds tree nursery (only about £1 each) 6 years ago. Planted them out on my sea-facing croft in a slightly sheltered flush, the hole filled with water as I dug so I was not expecting them to do much at all. Last winter the alders were taller than me and I saw siskins and redpoll feeding on their cones :) ".
Julie

Monday 19th October, 2008

Goldfinches are also said to be very partial to Alder cones

 

 

Wildlife Garden

"Feeding the birds?? Scared off a grey heron that was stalking my Koi on friday!"
Bill M

Monday 19th October, 2008

Koi are hardy Japanese fish. The oldest Koi on record recently died aged 207 years.
There are Grey Herons in Japan. Herons return to the same spot to fish and can take several fish in a day.

 

Monday 20th October, 2008 Red-breasted Flycatcher Loch Druidibeag - South Uist
  • Red-breasted Flycatcher
  • Ficedula parva
  • UK: Passage visitor
  • UK: 86 annual records BTO
  • WI: Rare passage visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Breeds: Eastern Europe, Central Asia,
  • Winters: South Asia
  • Habitat: deciduous woodland, open forest! mostly near water
  • Diet: Mostly berries, insects in flight
 
Monday 20th October, 2008 Pectoral Sandpiper Loch Bee - South Uist
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Calididris melanotos
  • UK: Passage migrant. 56 UK records a year (BTO)
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years. Approx 40 previous records)
  • Breeds: Arctic coast of East Siberia, North America, winters in South America
  • Habitat: wet fields , freshwater pools, marsh or lochsides, boggy ground on (migration mudflats)
  • Fat-bodied, small-headed , larger than Dunlin. ID amongst waders - sharp contrast between the dark-patterned chest and the white belly (pectoral line). Yellowish legs. Bill has pale base. 2 pairs of white lines down the back like a pair of braces. Males in breeding season have an inflatable throat sac - expands and contracts rhythmically during display flights and creates a series of hollow hoots
 

There is an article on the BBC web site about the latest report from SNH concerning the Uist Wader Project

"A programme to remove hedgehogs from parts of the Western Isles has failed to prevent a decline in the numbers of ground nesting birds".

Monday 20th October, 2008

 

 

See RSPB article 'Decline in world's birds points to environmental crisis' reviewing the new Birdlife International report

'..An analysis of 124 of Europe’s common birds which took place over a a 26-year period. The results showed 56 species (45% of those surveyed) had declined across 20 countries...providing evidence of a rapid deterioration in the global environment that is affecting all life on Earth...'

Monday 20th October, 2008 Redwings Croir - Great Bernera

"Saw my first Redwings this autumn today in Croir"

 

Several web sites today are carrying articles about the Uist Wader Project

In 1983 our islands had about 17,000 pairs of breeding waders, later surveys found that their numbers had declined by almost half in the areas of the Uists colonised by hedgehogs, whilst the populations in areas with no hedgehogs had increased. The Uist Wader Project (a partnership of SNH, RSPB and The Scottish Executive), was set up to safeguard the nationally important populations of breeding wading birds in the Uists.

According to the news reports carried on various web sites the latest SNH report shows the following:

Oystercatcher population

North Uist down 5% most hedgehogs killed or removed
South Uist increased 20% hedgehogs remain
Tiree increased 9% hedgehogs remain

Numbers of breeding dunlins and ringed plovers have also declined by around 6% on both North and South Uist.

See articles:
UPI.com (United Press International
scotsmanonsunday (focused on £1 million cost of the project)

The statistics suggest that hedgehogs may not be the major factor in the decline of the breeding populations of waders.

Sunday 19th October 2008

A reliable source wrote in on Tuesday sending a link to the SNH report and commented "Oystercatcher eggs are too big to be predated by Hedgehogs"

 

"we are just back from a few days in Lewis (had planned to come back on Monday but weather forecast was for "severe gales" so thought better of it). Anyway, managed some enjoyable birding. The following sightings may be of interest (apologies for mis-spelling):

Wednesday 15th October:
3 Barnacle Geese heading SE over Tolsta Head at 09:40 (approx NB561469) (also 2-3 Ravens patrolling the clifftops there, especially at NB5446).

Thursday 16th October:
Juvenile Marsh Harrier seen very well near the first satellite circle at Callanish (NB221325).
5 Whooper Swans (2 ads and 3 juvs) on Loch na Muilne, just east of Siabost (NB271473).
2 Redwings at the entrance to the RSPB Loch na Muilne (the other one) reserve north of Arnol (NB310494) (also 2 Stonechats on the edge of the village at NB311489).

Friday 17th October:
4 single Red Grouse around the middle section of the "footpath" (haha!) between Tolsta and Sgiogarstaigh (around NB5454) (Ravens and Meadow Pipits were the only other land birds seen during 6 hours walking).
Estimated 30+ Golden Plovers with Lapwings (and hordes of Rabbits - many black ones) in roadside fields southeast of Eoropa (around NB520647).

I hope some of these sightings may be of interest.
Stuart Milligan

 

Is it generally OK to say the name of the village where someone saw a Hen Harrier etc?

"Its just the breeding season that this is an issue.
Both eagles and Peregrine March - August inclusive probably not a good idea to mention specifics other than "North Harris", " South Lewis" that type of thing is ok
HH, Merlin - areas ok, but nor too much specific
R N Phalaropes - don't mention sites other that loch na Muilne reserve at Arnol"

Martin Scott
Western Isles RSPB


Wildlife Garden

Hi, On the subject of gardening for birds. Just to suggest try not to be too prissy about tidying garden borders, lots of plants are seeding and providing food and shelter for a while yet, and if there is a bit of organic matter on the surface you will see the blackbirds come later and chuck it about looking for the bugs that lie beneath. Stops ground freezing so they can get at bugs even in very cold weather.A bit of winter foliage (even dead stuff) also protects the first signs of the new growth from frosts. Bare soil loses nutrients too.
Anon
Saturday 18th October, 2008


Wildlife Garden

Goldfinches come to thistles,i f you cannot bring yourself to let weeds grow in your garden, you could try teasels instead. Each plant has 4 or 5 seedheads. They grow well but take a year and a half, maybe 2 years to produce seed. When the birds have cleaned out all the seeds you can rub hard fat over the seedhead and push in sunflower seeds. I once grew teasels right by the sea, but only got goldfinches when I grew them further inland.
CD
Saturday 18th October, 2008


Saturday 18th October, 2008

Yellow-browed Warbler

North Bay - Barra

   
Saturday 18th October, 2008

American Golden Plover (2!!)

The Range - South Uist

   

Wildlife Garden

If you have one of those island prairie lawn gardens to start with that has nothing taller than a couple of inches in it and you want to make it more enticing to the birds look out for a big branch (or two),there are usually someone's garden trimmings to be found somewhere, attach it to a fence post hang your bir feeders off it and a couple of fat balls and the birds will probably start coming the next day! Works really well if you have a high population of cats in the area too. I had about 30 starlings on my branch the other day. Sparrows there daily. greenfinches and chaffinches use it too. Raven came and was enormous by comparison when it spread wings to takeoff. If you have a bird table and put it nearby the birds can perch and suss if it's safe before coming down to feed. Other upright things like garden cane tripods also really popular. There you go instant wildlife friendly garden!. (My branch is about 10ft tall and just nailed to a fence post).
Ela

Saturday 18th October, 2008

Saturday 18th October, 2008

Leach's Storm Petrel
(5 today)

Labost - Isle of Lewis

Griminish - North Uist

   
Saturday 18th October, 2008

Sooty Shearwater
(7 today)

Labost - Isle of Lewis

Griminish - North Uist

   
Saturday 18th October, 2008

Grey Phalarope
(18 today)

Labost - Isle of Lewis

Griminish - North Uist

   

Wildlife Garden

Wee birds grew their own rowan tree in my garden and blackcuurant bushes and brambles... If brambles not in the way i reckon whynot leave them be?. Hi-drama as i watched a spuggie dive into the brambles to evade a sparrowhawk this year .hawk stalked bush but gave up. Later lots of berries for breakfast and then the starlingshad the rest.
John

Saturday 18th October, 2008


Remember 'Moray' the dead Osprey that was found in Barvas back in September?

Well there is a cheering news item on the subject of Ospreys in Scotand, they have had a record breeding season in the Borders.
The eight resident pairs successfully fledged 18 young (11 more than in the previous year!), all of which are now on their first migration south to Africa for the winter.
Wildlife Extra web site

See lots more about the day-to-day life of the Borders Ospreys on the Forestry Commission web site

Saturday 18th October, 2008

Wildlife Garden

Here's one for your list. The rowan tree Sorbus Aucuparia. Aucuparia is to catch birds, they cannot resist rowan berries. I grew a rowan tree from seed 4 years ago and now it is 4ft tall and has already had berries. I saw a song thrush eating them, right out in the open that thrush was but it could not resist the fruit. Apparently waxwings really like rowan berries too so here's hoping!
ES

Friday 17th October, 2008

Rowan berries used to be made into a paste called birdlime and used as bait to trap songbirds for food. The Rowan tree is very hardly.

Hebrides bird sightings -  Peregrine

"peregrine i photographed in harris yesterday"
Andyl

Friday 17th October, 2008 Pectoral Sandpiper
(4 today)
Loch Bee - South Uist    

Wildlife Garden

"Encouraging wildlife doesnt get much easier than growing blackcurrant bushes, I just stuck some pencil size cuttings in 3 years ago, this year they were dripping with currants, was going to make jam then one day heard an almighty row outside a huge flock of starlings stripped the bushes in just a few minutes. I have decided to put in more bushes so that I can get jam if I am quick enough and leave the rest for the starlings."
Jenny

Friday 17th October, 2008

Friday 17th October, 2008 American Golden Plover

Arnol Beach - Isle of Lewis

Loch Bee - South Uist

   
Friday 17th October, 2008 Snow Buntings Arnol - Isle of Lewis
  • Snow Bunting (Snowflake, Snaa Fuhl)
  • Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Gaelic: Gealag-an-t-sneachd
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • AMBER LIST: UK 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)
 
Friday 17th October, 2008 Ring-necked Duck (2) Loch between Leverburgh & Rodel -Isle of Harris

"Pretty sure I saw the 2 RN ducks on loch just down from the main road early am"
Liz

  • 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)

This September and October the only UK reports of ring-necked ducks are from Shetland and Ireland, with a probable in the Scilly Isles.
(rarebirdalert.co.uk)

 

Wildlife Garden

"Weigela is a shrub that grows well here in a moist spot.(but not semi-submerged!) Related to Honeysuckle relative so tht's probably why it grows so well. Mine is about 6 years old and 8ft across. Very dense, have seen starlings, wren, dunnock, spugs, goldcrest, greenfinches, chaffinches, willow & yellow browed warblers, lesser whitethroat, robin, blackbird & thrushes on it but not all at once! not sure if any eat the berries. I got a youngdog which tried to flush every bird in the garden - sure the birds stayed because they could hide in bush ,too dense for thedog to get in. Bush haspretty red flowers that the butterfies like, lovely foliage &gives a nice bit of height too. ..

Saw a Goldcrest yesterday in ny garden in Tarbert, Harris"
TC

Friday 17th October, 2008

Wildlife Garden

"Hi Just read your article about the plants and wanted to let you that i had a flock of Waxwings in my tall rugosa bushes a couple of years back - 4 greenfinches were eating the rose-hips just today. I thought that blackbirds and thrushes would like it but I haven't seen them eating the hips. I had a wee firecrest in there after the bugs a few years ago.. i always like watching the twites eating the sorrel, they pull it down and it falls over but they don't care they just keep on eating -not so keen when the starlings eat the new carrot tops and pick the flowers of my polyanthus..."
Hazel


Thursday 16th October, 2008

Wildlife Garden

The BTO have just released a free publication called Get Planting for Birds for WInter
(Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable pdf document)

"It is not just the food we put out on bird tables that attracts birds into our gardens. Many ornamental shrubs produce berries that are favoured by thrushes, while other plants provide seeds or nesting opportunities. Given that early winter is the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs, the BTO Garden BirdWatch Team has just launched a new guide on the subject, full of information to help you select suitable plants for birds ..."

Here in the Western Isles we have a wild oceanic climate - some plants just don't make it to maturity or take a very long time to grow a few inches. Sue at the local pottery said it took 17 years for her Hawthorn hedge just to flower for the first time.

How about we create our own online guide of what we have learnt about the shubs and other plants (wild ones too) which do well here and provide food or/and good bird (and other wildlife) habitat? Considering not only what we plant this autumn, but also what we let grow wild.

Top on my list goes the dandelion - I have seen Twites, Siskins, Redpolls, House Sparrows and Goldfinches feeding on it's seeds, and being one of the first plants to flower it provides seed when there are few others... other suggestions?

Suzanne

Thursday 16th October, 2008 Iceland Gull Bragar - Isle of Lewis
  • 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 16th October, 2008 Ring-necked Duck Loch between Leverburgh & Rodel -Isle of Harris
  • 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)
 
Thursday 16th October, 2008 Red-breasted Flycatcher Loch Druidibeag - South Uist
  • Red-breasted Flycatcher
  • Ficedula parva
  • UK: Passage visitor
  • UK: 86 annual records BTO
  • WI: Rare passage visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Breeds: Eastern Europe, Central Asia,
  • Winters: South Asia
  • Habitat: deciduous woodland, open forest! mostly near water
  • Diet: Mostly berries, insects in flight
 
Thursday 16th October, 2008 Little Egret Lochmaddy - North Uist (2)
  • Little Egret
  • Egretta gularis
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Breeding 146-162 pairs. Wintering 1,600 birds RSPB
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years) TBC
  • Breeding: Nests in colonies. Nest is a platform of sticks in tree, reedbed, bamboo grove, shrub, or on a cliff. Lays 3-5 matte blue-green eggs. Europe, Asia, Australia, Asia, Africa
  • Wintering: Mostly resident. Birds breeding in northernmost parts migrate to Africa & Asia. Some birds wander north after breeding, which extends the breeding range
  • Habitat: Lakes, marsh, flooded fields, estuaries
  • Diet: Stalks prey in shallow water. Running (wings raised) or motionless stalking. Mostly small fish, amphibians, large insects, crustaceans, but also small animals
  • Small white heron. White plumes on crest, back & chest. Black legs & bill. Yellow feet. Hunches neck in flight
  • Typical lifespan 5yrs. Max recorded age 21yrs 4mths
  • Listen to a Little Egret (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Grey Heron, Spoonbill (rare) Great White Egret (rare)
 
Thursday 16th October, 2008 Pectoral Sandpiper
(5 today)
Loch Bee - South Uist
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Calididris melanotos
  • UK: Passage migrant. 56 UK records a year (BTO)
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years. Approx 40 previous records)
  • Breeds: Arctic coast of East Siberia, North America, winters in South America
  • Habitat: wet fields , freshwater pools, marsh or lochsides, boggy ground on (migration mudflats)
  • Fat-bodied, small-headed , larger than Dunlin. ID amongst waders - sharp contrast between the dark-patterned chest and the white belly (pectoral line). Yellowish legs. Bill has pale base. 2 pairs of white lines down the back like a pair of braces. Males in breeding season have an inflatable throat sac - expands and contracts rhythmically during display flights and creates a series of hollow hoots
 
Thursday 16th October, 2008 Long-tailed Skua Labost - Isle of Lewis
  • 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)
 
Thursday 16th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope

Labost - Isle of lewis

  • Grey Phalarope
  • Phalaropus fulicarius
  • Gaelic: Liathag Tllt, Liathag Allt
  • UK: Passage Visitor
  • UK: 166 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years, sometimes more in persistent gales) autumn passage visitor
  • Breeds: Arctic regions: Iceland, Greenland, North Siberia, North America, North Europe
  • Winters in the Southern oceans
  • Diet: Invertebrates, (plus seeds etc when reaching breeding grounds)
  • Habitat: coastal tundra (migration coasts)
  • Small wader (21cm / 8 in length) . Winter mostly grey above & white below, with black eyepatch & straight black bill.
    Breeding female dark brown & black above, red below, white cheek patches & yellow black-tipped bill. Breeding male similar but duller. Young birds light grey & brown above, buff below & dark eye patch
  • Similar birds: Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson's Phalarope
 
Thursday 16th October, 2008 Sooty Shearwater Labost - Isle of Lewis
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Puffinus griseus
  • WI: Fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers) in late summer and autumn (rare in spring)
  • Breeds: Nov - Feb. Colonies in burrows on offshore islands. Just one white egg laid. Nest visted only at night to avoid predators. Southernmost Atlantic & Pacific oceans.
    Winters: (During our summertime) at sea in Northern Atlantic
  • Diet: Feeds mostly on small squid & fish at surface. (Good sense of smell). Dives to 68m
  • Seabird - smaller than herring gull (40 - 50cm length). Dark chocolate-brown/blackish body. Long wings (bright silver band underneath) Flight shearing (dips from side to side with stiff wings & few wing beats, wingtips almost touch water). Powerful, direct flight wings straight & stiff, frequent gliding.
  • Similar birds: Manx Shearwater (Also Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater but they are rare)

From late July to early November we see Sooty Shearwaters on their way back to the Southern Ocean to breed. (See from sea-watching places)

 
Thursday 16th October, 2008 Great Skua Labost - Isle of Lewis
  • 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
 
Thursday 16th October, 2008 Arctic Terns Labost - Isle of Lewis
  • Arctic Tern
  • Sterna paradisaea
  • Gaelic: Steàrnan
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 553,000 pairs - summer BTO
  • WI: Common migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 pairs) and fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
  • Breeds: Usually return to breed in area & colony, where they hatched to breed. UK - Europe, Arctic, North America
  • Winters: Antarctic oceans
  • Mostly grey & white. Red beak & feet. White forehead. Black nape & crown. White cheeks. Deeply forked whitish tail giving long "streamers"
  • Habitat: Tundra, Seacoast, lochs, rivers. Winter - sea
  • Diet: Fish, insects
  • Lives to 20yrs.
  • Listen to an Arctic Tern RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Common Tern, Little Tern
 
Hebrides bird sightings -  Twites

"Saw this flock of Twites feeding on the creeping thistle seeds on Kneep machair on Monday, there were about 25 of them. At one point about 10 were on a single dried bracken stem - I think they were just using it as a perch to eat from. Such cheery wee birds, it is always a joy to see and hear them. "
Suzanne

Wednesday 15th October, 2008 Red-breasted Flycatcher Loch Dridibeag - South Uist    
Wednesday 15th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Snishival - South Uist

  • Yellow-browed Warbler
  • Phylloscopus inornatus
  • UK: 320 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce autumn visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: North & Central Asia (UK is 3000km from it's breeding grounds!)
  • Winters: South-East Asia
  • Habitat: Mountain & lowland woodland, open forest, scrub, usually in tree canopy
  • Diet: Mostly insects
  • One of the smallest warblers. Greenish upperparts, off-white below, prominent double wing bars and long supercilia (eyebrow) . Highly active -constant motion, not shy
 
Wednesday 15th October, 2008 Leach's Storm Petrel Labost - Isle of Lewis
  • 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

 

"Little Egret at Cross Street Stornoway this evening"
Martin S

See video: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=FcVAvzUhFtQ

Wednesday 15th October, 2008 Little Egret Stornoway - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 15th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope
(7 today)

Ardvule - South Uist

Labost - Isle of lewis

Peninerine - South Uist

   
Wednesday 15th October, 2008 Pectoral Sandpiper
(8 today)
Loch Bee - South Uist    
Tuesday 14th October, 2008 Little Egret (2) Lochmaddy - North Uist    
Tuesday 14th October, 2008 Pectoral Sandpiper Loch Bee - South Uist    
         
Tuesday 14th October, 2008 American Golden Plover Eolaigearraidh - Barra
  • American Golden Plover
  • Pluvialis dominica
  • UK: Just 5 annual records
  • WI: Rare visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Rare visitor (less than 30 records) BTO
  • Breeds: North America
  • Winters: South America
  • Habitat: tundra (migration mudflats, grazing land)
  • Diet: insects, seeds, leaves, berries
  • Often when found is in the company of golden plover.
    Usually greyer, less yellow-brown than golden plovers, stonger head pattern
  • Similar birds : Golden Plover
 
Tuesday 14th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Loch Druidibeag - South Uist

  • Yellow-browed Warbler
  • Phylloscopus inornatus
  • UK: 320 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce autumn visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: North & Central Asia (UK is 3000km from it's breeding grounds!)
  • Winters: South-East Asia
  • Habitat: Mountain & lowland woodland, open forest, scrub, usually in tree canopy
  • Diet: Mostly insects
  • One of the smallest warblers. Greenish upperparts, off-white below, prominent double wing bars and long supercilia (eyebrow) . Highly active -constant motion, not shy
 
Hebrides bird sightings -  Goldcrest

"Goldcrest in Ness today. The poor wee thing found itself stuck in Swainbost shop. After a couple of hours chasing it around the shop it was finally caught and taken down to my office to ID and check over. It was fine so I let it go in a group of bushes behind the office.
I've attached a picture of it but it might be a bit fuzzy.

Also saw a sea eagle with red wing tags in North Lewis at lunch time - reported to RSPB.
From the smallest to the largest bird in a couple of hours - not a bad day!"

Julie Sievewright
Countryside Ranger

Tuesday 14th October, 2008 Goldcrest Suainebost - Ness - Isle of Lewis
  • Goldcrest
  • Regulus regulus
  • Gaelic: Crionag Ghiuthais
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Summer 842,000 territories. WInter 3-5 million birds RSPB
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • WI: Uncommon Migrant Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs), and uncommon passage visitor (low numbers)
  • Breeding: Lays 4-12 eggs in an open nest . Prefers coniferous woodland (spruces or firs). Resident in most of temperate Europe & Asia.
  • WIntering: Mostly resident but northernmost birds winter south of the breeding range. Large numbers of migrating Goldcrests arrive in the UK in autumn, prefering bushes & shrubs in coastal areas. Often found with tit flocks in winter
  • Habitat: Forest, woodland
  • Diet: Feeds mostly in high in the canopy. Always moving seeking insects (typically caterpillars), spiders
  • Tiny! Our smallest bird (8.5 - 9.5cm). Rounded appearance. Pale greenish above. Buff-white below. Two white wingbars. Plain face with a large black eye. Crown bordered by black sides. Central crest which is displayed during breeding is an orange stripe in the male & yellow in female. Juvenile has plainer, pale crown. Approachable
  • Listen to a Goldcrest (RSPB site)
  • Typical lifespan 2yrs. Max recorded lifespan 4yrs 10mths
  • Similar birds: Firecrest, (rare - has prominent white 'eyebrow' (supercilium), Wren
 
Hebrides bird sightings -  White-tailed Eagle

"Driving in Uig on Monday I saw this White-tailed Eagle ahead of me and suddenly found myself out of the car with camera in hand, tried to follow the bird for a better photo but I could not drive fast enough to catch it up and it was only gliding!!"
Suzanne
Monday 13th October, 2008

(Thanks Martin)

If someone shouts "Duck!", do you look up and ask "Where?"
Monday 13th October, 2008 White-rumped Sandpiper Hirta - St Kilda
  • White-rumped Sandpiper
  • Calidris fuscicollis
  • UK: Scarce visitor.
  • UK: 8 records annually BTO
  • WI: Rare visitor (30 or less records)
  • Breeds: Northern tundra Arctic Islands, Alaska, Canada. Nests hidden in vegetation on ground
  • Winters : Northern South America
  • Habitat: Small pools, tundra (migration mudflats)
  • Diet: Forages probing mudflats/tundra and by sight in shallow water. Mostly insects, molluscs, worms (also some plant material)
  • Generally like a streamlined Dunlin. ID it by very long wings which protrude past tail tip (Only Baird's Sandpiper also has this). Adults black legs. Small thin, dark bill. Body dark brown above, mostly white below, breast has brown streaks. White rump. White stripe over eye. Winter plumage pale grey above. Pointed, (not rounded) feather patterns, White rump (Baird's is not white).
  • Similar birds: Dunlin, Little Stint, Baird’s Sandpiper
 
Monday 13th October, 2008 Treecreeper Gisla - Isle of Lewis
  • Treecreeper
  • Certhia familiaris
  • Gaelic: Snaigear
  • UK: 210,000 territories
  • WI: scarce resident breeder (1-9 breeding pairs), in Stornoway Castle Grounds. Very rare visitor (five or less records) outside of Lewis & Harris
  • Breeding: Twig nest built into the trunk of a tree. Lays 6 eggs ( white with brown spots). Resident: Europe, Asia. In autumn Treecreepers leave their breeding sites but most stay within 12miles/20 km
  • Habitat: Trunks of trees - forest, woodland
  • Diet: Insects, spiders (found in tree-trunk crevices). WInter also seeds of pine & spruce
  • Small (12-13cm) Sparrow-sized bird. Short neck. Long, slender, downcurved bill. Brown plumage above and is streaked & spotted. Underparts white. Brown rump (above tail). Long tail. In flight the Treecreeper has long, broad rounded wings which have a pale bar. In winter often joins flocks of other small birds - Blue Tits etc
  • Treecreepers live for up to 8 years.
  • Listen to a Treecreeper (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Short-toed Treecreeper (not on the Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
 
Monday 13th October, 2008 Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll Newton - North Uist
  • Arctic Redpoll (Hornemann's Arctic redpoll, Greenland Arctic redpoll)
  • Carduelis hornemanni
  • UK: Scarce vistor
  • UK: 17 records annually BTO
  • Diet: Forages for trees seeds (willow, birch, alder). (Summmer also eats invertebrates)
  • Habitat: Tundra, birch scrubland
  • Very pale large form of the redpoll, light grey with dark-sparce penciling, usually no streaking on rump

Steve Duffield saw this one - see photos on western-isles-wildlife.co.uk

 
Monday 13th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Newton - North Uist

Gisla - Isle of Lewis

   
Monday 13th October, 2008 Siberian Chiffchaff Clachan - North Uist    
Monday 13th October, 2008 Red-breasted Flycatcher North Bay - Barra    
Monday 13th October, 2008 Lesser Whitethroat Aird Mor - Barra
  • Lesser Whitethroat
  • Sylvia curruca
  • UK: 64,000 territories summer BTO
  • UK: Migrant breeder, passage visitor. Arrives: April - May. Leaves: August - September
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years), uncommon in winter (recorded in low numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Europe, Asia
  • Winters: Africa - india
  • Diet: Autumn berries, insects (nectar pre-migration)
  • Habitat: Scrub, semi-desert! hedges!
  • Small warbler. Grey back. Whitish below. Grey head with a dark mask through the eyes. White throat. Sexes are similar. Breaking cover shows white outer tail feathers. Secretive
  • Listen to a Lesser Whitethroat on the RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Common Whitethroat
 
Monday 13th October, 2008 Great Northern Divers (40+) Griminish Point - North Uist    
Monday 13th October, 2008 Arctic Skuas Griminish Point - North Uist    
Monday 13th October, 2008 Pomarine Skuas Griminish Point - North Uist    
Monday 13th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope

Griminish Point - North Uist

   
Sunday 12th October, 2008 Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll Lochmaddy - North Uist    
Sunday 12th October, 2008 Greenland Redpolls Europie - Isle of Lewis

"... many Greenland's and Iceland's are impossible to separate as there is so much over lap. many birders now refer to Greenland?Iceland birds with the catch all name of 'North Western Redpoll' "

Thanks to Martin Scott

 
Sunday 12th October, 2008 Curlew Sandpiper

South Ford - South Uist

  • Curlew Sandpiper
  • Calidris ferruginea
  • UK: Scarce passage migrant, mostly seen August & September.
  • UK: 740 annual UK records BTO
  • WI: Scarce sometimes uncommon passage visitor (very small numbers each year)
  • 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 slightly deeper water. In autumn looks paler, cleaner. Longer & more down-curved bill. Longer legs & neck. In flight bright white rump. Both birds have dark legs
    Winter: Pale grey above. White below. White eyestripe. Breeding: dark-grey below, deep chestnut above
    Juveniles: Grey & brown back. White belly. Peach-coloured breast. Gregarious, forms mixed species wader flocks (often with Dunlin)
  • Similar birds: Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper (very rare - legs much longer & paler, has wing bar)
 
Sunday 12th October, 2008 Snow Buntings South Ford - South Uist
  • Snow Bunting (Snowflake, Snaa Fuhl)
  • Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Gaelic: Gealag-an-t-sneachd
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • AMBER LIST: UK 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.

 
Sunday 12th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope

Ardvule Point - South Uist

  • Grey Phalarope
  • Phalaropus fulicarius
  • Gaelic: Liathag Tllt, Liathag Allt
  • UK: Passage Visitor
  • UK: 166 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce (very small numbers recorded in most years, sometimes more in persistent gales) autumn passage visitor
  • Breeds: Arctic regions: Iceland, Greenland, North Siberia, North America, North Europe
  • Winters in the Southern oceans
  • Diet: Invertebrates, (plus seeds etc when reaching breeding grounds)
  • Habitat: coastal tundra (migration coasts)
  • Small wader (21cm / 8 in length) . Winter mostly grey above & white below, with black eyepatch & straight black bill.
    Breeding female dark brown & black above, red below, white cheek patches & yellow black-tipped bill. Breeding male similar but duller. Young birds light grey & brown above, buff below & dark eye patch
  • Similar birds: Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson's Phalarope
 
Sunday 12th October, 2008 American Golden Plover Shader - Isle of lewis    

A quick visit to our neighbours at the Icelandic Birding Pages

Iceland's rarities in the last few days included:
"Eurasian Spoonbill, Lesser Whitethroat, European Robins, King Eider, Steller's Eider, Mute Swans, Osprey, Eurasian Siskins, Barred Warbler, Grey Herons..."

Thank-you Yann

 

The Spoonbill has occured in the Western Isles in the past - a rare visitor (November).
Over the last few days Spoonbills have been reported in Essex, Dorset and Devon.

Spoonbills used to be widespread breeders in the UK but their habitat (marshland) was drained for agricultural use and for several centuries the last UK breeding record remained one in East Anglia in 1650. In 1999 a pair of Spoonbills bred nested successfully in Lancashire. In 2008 a pair bred and fledged three young in Dumfries and Galloway. SCOTLAND

There are usually about 50 records of Spoonbills in the UK each year.

 

 

Hebrides bird sightings -  Purple Martin


Purple Martin
photograph by Martin Scott

 

Writing up the species notes I came across some fascinating articles about the Purple Martin that occured in Lewis on a Sunday afternoon in 2004...

On Sunday 5th September 2004 a juvenile Purple Martin was discovered in Ness on the Isle of Lewis. This was the first record in Europe.
The bird remained until Monday lunchtime before disappearing.

"...The martin was spotted on Sunday afternoon, and by yesterday morning the first twitchers were arriving on the island of Lewis by plane: all scheduled flights into Stornoway airport were full, and other birders arrived on chartered light aircraft. By midday, all hire cars had gone and the ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne was said to have been "inundated" with requests for tickets on its ferry services to Lewis from Uig in Skye and Ullapool on the mainland..."

Read full Independent article about the Purple Martin Twitch

Eric Meek, Chairman of British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee commented...
'the finding of the Purple Martin at the Butt of Lewis must rank as one of the outstanding birding moments of recent years..."

Suzanne

Saturday 11th October, 2008 Arctic Terns Labost - Isle of Lewis
  • Arctic Tern
  • Sterna paradisaea
  • Gaelic: Steàrnan
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 553,000 pairs - summer BTO
  • WI: Common migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 pairs) and fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
  • Breeds: Usually return to breed in area & colony, where they hatched to breed. UK - Europe, Arctic, North America
  • Winters: Antarctic oceans
  • Mostly grey & white. Red beak & feet. White forehead. Black nape & crown. White cheeks. Deeply forked whitish tail giving long "streamers"
  • Habitat: Tundra, Seacoast, lochs, rivers. Winter - sea
  • Diet: Fish, insects
  • Lives to 20yrs.
  • Listen to an Arctic Tern RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Common Tern, Little Tern
 
Saturday 11th October, 2008 Sooty Shearwater Labost - Isle of Lewis
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Puffinus griseus
  • WI: Fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers) in late summer and autumn (rare in spring)
  • Breeds: Nov - Feb. Colonies in burrows on offshore islands. Just one white egg laid. Nest visted only at night to avoid predators. Southernmost Atlantic & Pacific oceans.
    Winters: (During our summertime) at sea in Northern Atlantic
  • Diet: Feeds mostly on small squid & fish at surface. (Good sense of smell). Dives to 68m
  • Seabird - smaller than herring gull (40 - 50cm length). Dark chocolate-brown/blackish body. Long wings (bright silver band underneath) Flight shearing (dips from side to side with stiff wings & few wing beats, wingtips almost touch water). Powerful, direct flight wings straight & stiff, frequent gliding.
  • Similar birds: Manx Shearwater (Also Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater but they are rare)
 
Saturday 11th October, 2008 Leach's Storm Petrel Labost - Isle of Lewis
  • 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

 
Saturday 11th October, 2008 Greenland Redpolls Bragar - Isle of Lewis    
Saturday 11th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope

Ardvule Point - South Uist

Labost - Isle of lewis

   
Saturday 11th October, 2008 Pectoral Sandpiper (3!) Loch Bee - South Uist
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Calididris melanotos
  • UK: Passage migrant. 56 UK records a year (BTO)
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years. Approx 40 previous records)
  • Breeds: Arctic coast of East Siberia, North America, winters in South America
  • Habitat: wet fields , freshwater pools, marsh or lochsides, boggy ground on (migration mudflats)
  • Fat-bodied, small-headed , larger than Dunlin. ID amongst waders - sharp contrast between the dark-patterned chest and the white belly (pectoral line). Yellowish legs. Bill has pale base. 2 pairs of white lines down the back like a pair of braces. Males in breeding season have an inflatable throat sac - expands and contracts rhythmically during display flights and creates a series of hollow hoots
 
Saturday 11th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Eolaigearraidh - Barra

   
Saturday 11th October, 2008 American Golden Plover Eolaigearraidh - Barra    
Friday 10th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Ardmore - Barra

   
Friday 10th October, 2008 Grey Phalarope Brue - Isle of Lewis    
Friday 10th October, 2008 Greenland Redpolls Bragar - Isle of Lewis    
Friday 10th October, 2008 American Golden Plover Eolaigearraidh - Barra    

Thank-you to Brian Rabbits for letting me use the status summaries from the Outer Hebrides Birds Report in pages on this web site.

Brian says that the new Outer Hebrides Birds Report is probably going to be out by the end of the year -and there are a lot of changes!
The basic information is however much the same so the current details are still a good general guide.

Full details of the new report and how to get a copy are going to be posted when it becomes available

Thursday 9th October, 2008 Curlew Sandpipers

Shawbost - Isle of Lewis

   
Wednesday 8th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Ardmore - Barra

   

Lesley's patch:

Our house is just by the sea in Lemreway and the binoculars are always at the ready.
there's a red throated diver at the moment and in May in a neighbours garden she had brief visits from a a citril finch - maybe the one that showed itself in the Orkneys and also a lesser grey shrike - unfortunately I didn't see these last two but I trust her judgement as she is very keen and knowledgeable.There's a family of stonechats,a couple of warblers in some willows by the stream - I'm not good on warblers so I don't know what sort they are! On the hills between Lemreway and Gravir we regularly see Merlin.
Then there are all the usual suspects -
starlings,tree sparrows,wrens, meadow pipits,twite,blackbirds,pigeons,buzzards,herons,mallard,shags,cormorants,regular black guillemots,a cuckoo - showed itself really well and not at all shy -- ;we get a lot of lesser black backed gulls and I'm learning to identify the different "seagulls"
We did a trip to the Shiants in June and saw some great seabirds as you can imagine and to crown a great birding day we saw a Minke whale.
I also found some otter poo on the coast near the fish farm - haven't been lucky enough to see the otter yet though.

I was thrilled to see the chough,I got a good view and it was unmistakeable.


Lesley

 

"2 flocks of Snow Buntings in Shawbost about 20 birds in each...

Four Canada Geese on Carloway Football Club pitch. The view was partially obstructed but it looked like one juvenile and three adults. They took briefly took flight but remained in the general area. A few miles away at Breasclete were still the pair of adults that have been there for at least since the end of August. (A pair bred and reared 3 goslings in Carloway this year).

Later at Dail Beag loch (Lewis) 11 Whooper Swans (including at least 1 juvenile), four of them flew around the loch honking. There was also a Manx Shearwater washed up on the beach, like most folk I have never seen one close. I took a few photo pics for ID if anyone is interested. One of the old names is 'Puffin' it looked just like a wee auk. "
Suzanne
Wednesday 8th October, 2008

Later...
"Just to say the pictures of a dead Manx shearwater on your site actually show a young Razorbill
Cheers
Martin
"

So much for ID photos - As you can see my field skills need attention - fortunately the experts are keeping an eye me!

 

"You may have heard we had a Pechora Pipit on 4th/5th. This was at Knock-cuien, North Uist .... An extremely skulking species and another new bird for the Outer Hebrides"..
Brian Rabbitts

Wednesday 8th October, 2008 Spotted Redshank Claddach - 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
 
Wednesday 8th October, 2008 Curlew Sandpipers

South Ford - South UIst

   
Wednesday 8th October, 2008 American Golden Plover Eolaigearraidh - Barra    
Hebrides bird sightings -  Short-eared Owl Hebrides bird sightings -  Short-eared Owl Hebrides bird sightings -  Short-eared Owl

"I knew eventually our paths would cross !!!
captured on point late this afternoon in a downpoor."

Andy L


Tuesday 7th October, 2008 Short-eared Owl Point - Isle of Lewis
  • Short-eared owl
  • Asio flammeus
  • Gaelic: Comhachag chluasach
  • WI: uncommon migrant breeder, scarce in winter
  • UK AMBER LIST. 1000-3500 breeding pairs, winter 5000-50,000 birds RSPB
  • WI: Uists: uncommon migrant breeder (10-99 breeding pairs), scarce in winter (Very small numbers each year). Lewis and Harris: scarce visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Nests on ground. Changes areas seeking voles. Europe (inc WI), Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland, Asia, North & South America, Caribbean, Hawaii, Galápagos Islands
  • Winters: Heads south. Birds from Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland winter in UK (usually coasts) Also wanders seeking voles
  • Habitat: Breeding: Open county: grassy moorland, marshes, sand dunes. Winter: grassy marshes, grazings, coastal marshland (& nearby fields, moorland) Roosts communally
  • Diet: Mostly field voles, Other small mammals: mice, shrews, rats, young rabbits. Small birds. Large insects
  • Medium sized owl. (37-39cm, 13-17in) Wingspan (95-103cm, 38-44in). Stocky. Big head & short neck. Mottled brown, Upper-parts barred & streaked. Under-parts bold dark streaks. Barred tail and wings. Throat & upper-breast black-brown streaks. Small ear tufts (not visible in field). Pale facial disc. Black rings around pale yellow-orange large eyes. Female is darkest.
    Flight: Broad long wings. Irregular wingbeats (moth-like). Under-wings pale, blackish tips & dark mark half-way up. Quarters ground low then swoops to prey feet-first. Often hovers. Circles over breeding territory. (wing-clapping part of display flight)
    Often sits on posts, rarely in trees. Usual owl seen hunting in daylight.
  • Listen to a Short-eared Owl (RSPB site) (silent in winter)
  • Similar birds: Long-eared Owl
 
         
Tuesday 7th October, 2008 American Golden Plover Eolaigearraidh - Barra
  • American Golden Plover
  • Pluvialis dominica
  • UK: Just 5 annual records
  • WI: Rare visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Rare visitor (less than 30 records) BTO
  • Breeds: North America
  • Winters: South America
  • Habitat: tundra (migration mudflats, grazing land)
  • Diet: insects, seeds, leaves, berries
  • Often when found is in the company of golden plover.
    Usually greyer, less yellow-brown than golden plovers, stonger head pattern
  • Similar birds : Golden Plover
 
Tuesday 7th October, 2008 Curlew Sandpipers Traigh Mor - Barra
  • Curlew Sandpiper
  • Calidris ferruginea
  • UK: Scarce passage migrant, mostly seen August & September.
  • UK: 740 annual UK records BTO
  • WI: Scarce sometimes uncommon passage visitor (very small numbers each year)
  • 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 slightly deeper water. In autumn looks paler, cleaner. Longer & more down-curved bill. Longer legs & neck. In flight bright white rump. Both birds have dark legs
    Winter: Pale grey above. White below. White eyestripe. Breeding: dark-grey below, deep chestnut above
    Juveniles: Grey & brown back. White belly. Peach-coloured breast. Gregarious, forms mixed species wader flocks (often with Dunlin)
  • Similar birds: Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper (very rare - legs much longer & paler, has wing bar)
 
"The 5 Snow Buntings have attracted some pals and there was over 20 in a flock in the same place as yesterday
.. at this time of year they will be eating whatever seed they can find as well as  invertebrates (Sandhoppers).

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."
Frank
Tuesday 7th October, 2008 Snow Buntings Mealabost - Isle of lewis
  • Snow Bunting (Snowflake, Snaa Fuhl)
  • Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Gaelic: Gealag-an-t-sneachd
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • AMBER LIST: UK 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.

 

4.20pm and a text from Andy L ...

"Hi im hidden watching a short eared owl as i text its wet but should have some pretty good pics considering poor light..."

Somewhere on Lewis
Tuesday 7th October, 2008


Good luck Andy!

Tuesday 7th October, 2008 Black Tern Taransay Sound - Isle of Harris
  • Black Tern
  • Chlidonias niger
  • UK: Former Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • UK: BTO do not give a figure for UK numbers. RSPB figure for passage 'hundreds'
  • WI: Rare visitor (30 or less records) TBC
  • Breeding: Lays 3 eggs in nest on floating vegetation in inland waters. Europe, Asia, North America
  • Winters: Tropical Africa, South America
  • Habitat: Marshes, lakes, wet grassland, (migration seacoast & estuaries)
  • Diet: Does not dive. Forages whilst flying, by dipping down to water's surface. Summer mostly insects, Winter, mostly small fish. Also chases insects in flight
  • A small tern (25cm, 9-10in length). Summer adult: predominantly black plumage. Black head & body. Grey wings, back & tail. Dark legs & bill. Autumn adult grey upperparts, white below and distinctive black head markings.
  • Listen to a Black Tern (RSPB site)
    Max recorded age 21yrs
  • Similar birds: White-winged Black Tern
 

Snow buntings at Eoropie yesterday afternoon, Turnstones on Lionel machair
Julie S

Tuesday 7th October, 2008

"I live in Lemreway and am a keen birdwatcher - I have only just discovered this site and so consequently haven't reported any sightings.
However yesterday 11am at Sildinis there was a Chough flying towards Eishken".

Lesley D
Monday 6th October, 2008 Chough Sildinis - Isle of Lewis
  • Chough
  • Pyrrhhocorax pyrrhhocorax
  • UK: Resident breeder
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 462 pairs (summer) BTO
  • WI: Rare visitor (30 or less records) TBC
  • Breeding: Pairs for life. Lays 3 eggs. Wool-lined stick nest in cave or crevice in a cliff-face. High mountains & Coastal seacliffs. Resident in Europe, Asia, Ethiopia
  • Habitat: Rocky coasts, ope n rocky country
  • Diet: Feeds on short grassland or machair, foraging surface for insects, larvae, seeds, berries . Often feeds in flocks
  • Glossy sooty-black Crow. Medium-sized (39-40cm, 15-16in length). Bill red, long & downward curved. Red legs. Sexes similar. Juvenile less glossy with dull-orange bill & pink legs until first autumn. Acrobatic aerial flying displays with folded wings plunging. Approachable
  • Max recorded age 16yrs 8mths
  • Listen to a Chough (RSPB site) Call loud, ringing
  • Similar birds, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow
 
Monday 6th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Ardmore - Barra

  • Yellow-browed Warbler
  • Phylloscopus inornatus
  • UK: 320 annual records BTO
  • WI: Scarce autumn visitor (Very small numbers each year)
  • Breeds: North & Central Asia (UK is 3000km from it's breeding grounds! )
  • Winters: South-East Asia
  • Habitat: Mountain & lowland woodland, open forest, scrub, usually in tree canopy
  • Diet: Mostly insects
  • One of the smallest warblers. Greenish upperparts, off-white below, prominent double wing bars and long supercilia (eyebrow) . Highly active -constant motion, not shy
 
Monday 6th October, 2008 American Golden Plover Eolaigearraidh - Barra    
Monday 6th October, 2008 Snow Buntings Mealabost - Isle of lewis
"5 Snow Bunting on the shore between Mealabost and Galson.

Also, picked up another young gannet in the same area and have handed it over to Callum at the SSPCA.
It had no obvious injuries,but it did look in worse condition than the one you photographed so i am not expecting it to survive. You never know though!"
Frank
 

 

You may have seen the recent articles about the oiled birds that have been washed up on Caithness beaches.
(Cause thought to be a tanker washing out it's tanks).

The RSPCA is appealing for help to deal with the birds.
"Ninety-eight birds, mostly sea ducks, guillemots and razorbills, were found on the 70-mile stretch between Amble in Northumberland and Roker in Sunderland over the weekend, and more calls are coming in. 'Any help the public can offer is very welcome'"
Read more

NE Scotland is the main affected area but if you do find an oiled bird please report it to the RSPCA on 0300-1234-999 or SSPCA on 03000-999-999.


Some of the advice that has been given out :
If you find an oiled bird please do not take it home and start washing it. It is very important that it receives medication internally as soon as possible and only experienced people should do this. Please call the RSPCA,/SSPCA, local wildlife rescue centre or local wildlife friendly vet if you need help with an oiled bird.

Monday 6th October, 2008


Monday 6th October Chaffinches Callanish - Isle of Lewis

"The Chaffinches and Greenfinches have returned to my garden - today was the first time I have seen them this autumn. (3 males and a female Chaffinch and 5 Greenfinches)
Ela

  • Chaffinch
  • Fringilla coelebs
  • Gaelic: Breacan Beithe
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK: Summer 6 million pairs BTO
  • WI: Uncommon resident breeder (10-99 breeding pairs) in Lewis. Otherwise uncommon passage visitor (low numbers) and winter visitor
  • Breeding: Lays 4-5 blue-green purple-streaked eggs. Nests in tree-fork. Woodland. Europe, North Africa, North Asia (Introduced - South Africa, New Zealand)
  • Winters: Northernmost birds migrate south. Asia, North Africa
  • Habitat: Forest, deciduous woodland, scrub, arable & pasture farmland, villages, parks, gardens
  • Diet: Mostly seeds (young mostly insects - rare in finches)
  • Small plump finch. Brown back. Grey head. Brown tail with white edges. Olive-green rump (above tail).Pinkish-brown underparts. Flight the brownish-black wings show broad white wingbar & whitish 'shoulder' patches. Grey legs
    Breeding male has reddish underparts & blue-grey cap. Female much drabber & greener.
  • Max recorded age: 11yrs 7mths
  • Listen to a Chaffinch (RSPB site). Call a sharp "Pink". Song warbling
  • Similar birds: Brambling

The Latin name of the Chaffinch is coelebs. This comes from the Latin for bachelor, and was given to the species by Linnaeus in 1758. In winter Linneaus saw only male Chaffinches in Sweden where he lived. (Females from the northern breeding grounds of the Chaffinch winter further south).

 

Developing a page of emergency contact numbers that may be useful to birders in our area.
Details to store in mobile phones etc

Oiled/ injured birds: SSPCA
03000-999-999

Worried about Egg thieves? (Contact Police)
Stornoway: 01851 702222
Barvas (Lewis) 01851 840222
Benbecula: 01870 602374
Barra: 01871 810276
Carloway (Lewis): 01851 643222
Lochboisedale (South Uist): 01878 700261
Lochmaddy (North Uist): 01876 500328
Ness (Lewis): 01851 810298
Tarbert (Harris): 01859 502002

Worried about egg thieves? (or found another Purple Martin!) RSPB:
Stornoway: Tel: 01851 703296 Mobile: 07775 502799
Balranald (North Uist): 01463 715000

Stornoway Coastguard:
01851 702688

Live stranded whales/dolphins/seals (24hr number) BDMLR:
01825 765 546

Dead strandings of sea mammals (Scottish Strandings Co-ordinator)
01463 243 030

Vets:
Stornoway: 01851 705900
Benbecula : 01870 602262
Lochmaddy (North Uist): 01876 580350

Mountain Rescue:
Dial 999


Please send your suggestions or amendments to this...

Sunday 5th October Sooty Shearwater Butt of Lewis
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Puffinus griseus
  • WI: Fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers) in late summer and autumn (rare in spring)
  • Breeds: Nov - Feb. Colonies in burrows on offshore islands. Just one white egg laid. Nest visted only at night to avoid predators. Southernmost Atlantic & Pacific oceans.
    Winters: (During our summertime) at sea in Northern Atlantic
  • Diet: Feeds mostly on small squid & fish at surface. (Good sense of smell). Dives to 68m
  • Seabird - smaller than herring gull (40 - 50cm length). Dark chocolate-brown/blackish body. Long wings (bright silver band underneath) Flight shearing (dips from side to side with stiff wings & few wing beats, wingtips almost touch water). Powerful, direct flight wings straight & stiff, frequent gliding.
  • Similar birds: Manx Shearwater (Also Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater but they are rare)
 
A quick visit to our neighbours at the Icelandic Birding Pages:

Iceland's rarities in the last few days included:

"Eurasian Woodcocks, American Black Duck, Common Crossbills (flock of 17), Eurasian Siskins, European Robin, Bar-tailed Godwits, Buff-bellied Pipit, Lapland Longspur, Barred Warbler, Grey Plover, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Barn Swallow, Chaffinch, Canada Goose and Grey Herons"

Thank-you Yann

Sunday 5th October, 2008 Siberian Stonechat Europie - Ness
  • Siberian Stonechat
  • Saxicola torquata maurus/stejnegeri
  • WI: Very rare visitor (less than 5 records) TBC (Not on the Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
  • Breeding: Open scrubland. Northern & Central Asia
  • Wintering: Species range is Japan, Thailand, India, and NE Africa. Occasionally reaches W Europe on migration. This sub-species?
  • Diet: Insects
  • Resembles the European Stonechat. Usually paler. Whiter below. Paler orange breast. The largest feathers on wing edges are longer (like a Whinchat's). Adult breeding male black above (not brownish). Distinctive white collar reaches further towards the nape than Euopean Stonechat's. White 'shoulder' patch. White rump (above tail). Black head. Female pale-brown above & head. White neck patches (not a full collar). Pale, unstreaked pinkish-yellow rump (above tail).
  • Similar birds: European Stonechat

Since 26th Sept '08 there have been reports of Siberian Stonechats in Norfolk, Dorset and Shetland
See details and photographs on Birdguides (Free access pages)

 
Sunday 5th October, 2008 Greenland Redpoll Europie - Ness

"... many Greenland's and Iceland's are impossible to separate as there is so much over lap. many birders now refer to Greenland?Iceland birds with the catch all name of 'North Western Redpoll' "

Thanks to Martin Scott

 
Sunday 5th October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Loch Carnan - South Uist

+ Ardmore - Barra

+ Lionel - Ness

   
Hebrides bird sightings -  Goldcrest

"here is another, taken today. A wee Goldcrest with a wee Green caterpillar".

Frank Stark

Sunday 5th October, 2008 Goldcrest Leurbost - Isle of Lewis
  • Goldcrest
  • Regulus regulus
  • Gaelic: Crionag Ghiuthais
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Summer 842,000 territories. WInter 3-5 million birds RSPB
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • WI: Uncommon Migrant Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs), and uncommon passage visitor (low numbers)
  • Breeding: Lays 4-12 eggs in an open nest . Prefers coniferous woodland (spruces or firs). Resident in most of temperate Europe & Asia.
  • WIntering: Mostly resident but northernmost birds winter south of the breeding range. Large numbers of migrating Goldcrests arrive in the UK in autumn, prefering bushes & shrubs in coastal areas. Often found with tit flocks in winter
  • Habitat: Forest, woodland
  • Diet: Feeds mostly in high in the canopy. Always moving seeking insects (typically caterpillars), spiders
  • Tiny! Our smallest bird (8.5 - 9.5cm). Rounded appearance. Pale greenish above. Buff-white below. Two white wingbars. Plain face with a large black eye. Crown bordered by black sides. Central crest which is displayed during breeding is an orange stripe in the male & yellow in female. Juvenile has plainer, pale crown. Approachable
  • Listen to a Goldcrest (RSPB site)
  • Typical lifespan 2yrs. Max recorded lifespan 4yrs 10mths
  • Similar birds: Firecrest, (rare - has prominent white 'eyebrow' (supercilium), Wren
 
Sunday 5th October, 2008 Pectoral Sandpiper Loch Bee - South Uist
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Calididris melanotos
  • UK: Passage migrant. 56 UK records a year (BTO)
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years. Approx 40 previous records)
  • Breeds: Arctic coast of East Siberia, North America, winters in South America
  • Habitat: wet fields , freshwater pools, marsh or lochsides, boggy ground on (migration mudflats)
  • Fat-bodied, small-headed , larger than Dunlin. ID amongst waders - sharp contrast between the dark-patterned chest and the white belly (pectoral line). Yellowish legs. Bill has pale base. 2 pairs of white lines down the back like a pair of braces. Males in breeding season have an inflatable throat sac - expands and contracts rhythmically during display flights and creates a series of hollow hoots
 
Sunday 5th October, 2008 Pechora Pipit

Cnoc Cuidhein - North Uist

Head North from Grimsay on A865. Take Cladach Chairinish road (1st right), garden on left with trees

  • Pechora Pipit
  • Anthus gustavi
  • UK: 1958-2005 64 records. 1 record a year BTO
  • UK: Scarce Visitor
  • WI: Our 1st record. (TBC). Not on the Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist
  • Breeding: Lays 4-5 eggs in nest on ground. Tundra North Asia to North Russia
  • Wintering: Indonesia , Malaysia. Occasionally occurs in W Europe Sept & Oct. Sometimes Fair Isle
  • Habitat: Damp tundra, open forest, marshland, damp scrub
  • Diet: Mostly insects
  • Pipit with heavily brown streaking above and whitish mantle stripes. White belly has black markings. Buff breast. (Heavier bill, brighter mantle stripes, & more contrast between breast & belly than a Red-throated Pipit). Hides in long grass & reluctant to fly even when disturbed.
  • Similar birds Red-throated Pipit

There is a photo of a Pechora Pipit on the BBC web site in an article about the 300+ twitchers who flocked to see the Welsh bird in 2007

There was a sighting in Shetland on 30th Sept '08. Prior report to that was Pembrokeshire in Nov '07. See details and lots of great photos of a Pechora Pipit on the Birdguides site.
(Free access pages)

Pechora Pipits on migration have been known to stay in the same locations for a couple of days

 
The pair of Canada Geese are still at Breasclete (Lewis), and a few hundred yards away a charm of 13 chaffinches feeding on dock seeds
Sunday 5th October, 2008
Suzanne
Hebrides bird sightings -  Lesser Whitethroat

"I noticed another strange warbler in my garden today... a Lesser Whitethroat...The darker ear coverts are a clue but for me the clincher is the grey/blue legs"

Frank Stark

Saturday 4th October, 2008 Lesser Whitethroat Leurbost - Isle of Lewis
  • Lesser Whitethroat
  • Sylvia curruca
  • UK: 64,000 territories summer BTO
  • UK: Migrant breeder, passage visitor. Arrives: April - May. Leaves: August - September
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years), uncommon in winter (recorded in low numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Europe, Asia
  • Winters: Africa - india
  • Diet: Autumn berries, insects (nectar pre-migration)
  • Habitat: Scrub, semi-desert! hedges!
  • Small warbler. Grey back. Whitish below. Grey head with a dark mask through the eyes. White throat. Sexes are similar. Breaking cover shows white outer tail feathers. Secretive
  • Listen to a Lesser Whitethroat on the RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Common Whitethroat
 
Saturday 4th October, 2008 Common Rosefinch Uigen - Gallan Head - Isle of Lewis
  • Common Rosefinch
  • Carpodacus erythrinus
  • UK: 146 annual records - AMBER LIST. BTO
  • UK: Scarce breeder: 1-2 pairs annually. Passage Visitor: May - September
  • WI: Rare visitor (less than 30 records)
  • Breeds: Eastern & Central Europe, Northern & Central Asia
  • Winters: South Asia
  • Habitat: Damp woodland, farmland - weedy stubble
  • Diet: Seeds, buds etc, small invertebrates
  • Sparrow-sized. Mottled brown above, streaked breast, pale belly, tail forked.
    Adult males 1yr+ scarlet head, breast & rump.
    Females, juveniles, 1st year males brown streaked heads
  • Listen to a Common Rosefinch (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds Corn Bunting, Common Crossbill, Two-barred Crossbill
 

Over the last week we have had a turtle dove in our garden at Breasclete. At first not sure what it was, thought it was some sort of pigeon/dove but not in scottish bird book so serched in other books and there it was. Lovely bird but a bit lost I feel , hopefully it will find its way, if not can stay and eat with the other birds over winter.
Pauline

Saturday 4th October, 2008 Turtle Dove Breasclete - 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.

 
Saturday 4th October, 2008 Pechora Pipit

Cnoc Cuidhein - North Uist

   
Friday 3rd October, 2008 Hen Harrier Gleann Airigh na Faing - Barvas
- Isle of Lewis

"Female Hen Harrier in roughly the same area again today"
Frank S

  • Hen Harrier
  • Circus cyaneus
  • Gaelic: Brèid-air-tòin, Clamhan-nan-cearc
  • UK: RED LIST, UK 570 pairs (Summer) BTO
  • UK: Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • WI:Uncommon Resident Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs), Passage/Winter Visitor (recorded in low numbers each year)
  • Breeds: Ground nesting in upland moorland: Europe (inc Western isles), North & Central Asia, North America
  • Winters: Aug-Sept resident birds come down from moor and Oct-Mar Continental birds join them to winter. UK, France, Africa, South Asia & South America
  • Habitat: Open areas - low vegetation: moorland. Winter: river valleys, coastal marshes, fields
  • Diet: Small birds, nestlings, small rodents (lots of voles!)
  • Males pale grey above, rump & below white, wings grey with black wingtips
    Females & immatures brown, with white rump, streaked buff below, white upper-tail feathers, giving name "ringtails".
  • Food searching flight: wings held shallow 'V', glides very low, following land contours
  • Max recorded age approx 16 yrs (average approx 7 years)
  • Listen to a Hen Harrier (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Marsh Harrier

(There was also a female Hen Harrier sighting on Point, Lewis on 27th Sept)

 
Friday 3rd October, 2008 Yellow-browed Warbler

Loch Carnan - South Uist

+ Ardmore - Barra

   
Friday 3rd October, 2008 Northern Treecreeper
North Bay - Barra
  • Northern Treecreeper
  • Certhia familiaris familiaris
  • UK: Rare visitor
  • Nominate continental European form of Treecreeper
 

The RSPB are working on a map which identifies estuaries, heathland areas and bird migration paths where there would be a risk to birds from new wind turbines. It is also to show the areas where there would not be a problem with erecting wind turbines from the RSPB's point-of-view.

There was criticism of the RSPB by many in the renewables industry and the Green movement for opposing several proposed wind farms, including the recently blocked 191 wind turbine proposal for the Isle of Lewis. The plan is for the map to make it easier for wind farm developers to choose sites where the risk to birdlife will be minimised. The map is due to be published before the end of the year.

A spokeswoman for the RSPB has said that the organisation is in favour of renewable energy in appropriate locations and had only objected to be between 10 and 11 per cent of wind farm applications.

Business Green Web site
3rd October, 2008

Thursday 2nd October, 2008 Rough-legged Buzzard Kilpheder - South Uist

Since May 2008 the other UK sightings have been in Kent, Northumberland and the Isle of Lewis (Ness) bird a couple of weeks ago (Birdguides)

  • Rough-legged Buzzard
  • Buteo lagopus
  • UK: Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK: 70 annual records BTO
  • WI: Accidental (less than 30 records)
  • Breeds: Nests in trees or on rocky cliffs in valleys (upland or Arctic). Europe (not UK), Asia, North America,
  • Winters: Open upland marshland & moorland. Mostly migrates to south & east Europe including British east coast. USA
  • Habitat: Hunts across open land. Tundra, farmland, open coniferous forest
  • Diet: small mammals, some carrion
  • How it differs to Common Buzzard: More Eagle-like, Slightly larger. Wings longer, floppier, typically paler head & below. White tail has a broad dark band at its tip. Arctic bird has that has adapted by having feet that feet are feathered to the toes. Hovers
  • Max recorded age 18yrs 9mths
    Similar birds: Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard (rare), Golden Eagle
 
Thursday 2nd October, 2008 Hen Harrier Barvas - Isle of Lewis

"A female Hen Harrier at Gleann Airigh na Faing (Barvas) today.
...I notice you have also experienced a close encounter with a Gannet.
Ah, brings back memories of Jannet, who would waddle from my greenhouse to the pond every day for nearly a year ".

Frank S

 
Thursday 2nd October, 2008 Whooper Swans Shader - Isle of Lewis

"4 whooper swans seen in Shader this afternoon"
Julie S

  • Whooper Swan
  • Cygnus cygnus
  • Gaelic: Eala
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 3-7 wild pairs 6,920 birds RSPB
  • UK: Scarce Breeder, Winter Visitor , scarce in summer (very small numbers recorded in most years). The wintering population of Barra and the Uists is of national importance
  • Breeds: Nest huge mound of vegetation. Often on small islet. Lays 4-6 white eggs, incubated by female. Guarded by Male. Northern Atlantic: Sub-Arctic Iceland, Europe, Asia,
  • Winters: South of breeding range to Africa, India, China (In UK Oct - Mar)
  • Habitat: Large areas of water: lakes, marshes, rivers, estuaries, wetlands,
  • Diet: They swim, straining water for food, also eat aquatic plants growing at bottom. Also some grazing on land, grass, grain, potatoes
  • Larger than Bewick's Swan. Black legs. Triangular-shaped black bill that has a large patch of yellow on it (always more yellow than black - Bewick's Swans always have more black than yellow). Tend to fly in formation (Bewick's Swans usually do not). Juvenile grey or brown with pink & grey bill.
  • Max recorded age 26yrs 6mths. Typical lifespan 9yrs
  • Listen to a Whooper Swan (RSPB site) The noisiest of the Swans - deep honking calls when in flight (Bewick's Swans are usually silent)
  • Similar birds: Bewick's Swan (rare here), Mute Swan
 
Thursday 2nd October, 2008 Lesser Yellowlegs Brevig - Barra
  • Lesser Yellow-legs
  • Tringa flavipes
  • UK: 5 records a year BTO
  • UK: Accidental
  • WI: Very rare visitor (five or less records) TBC
  • Breeding: Nests on the ground in open, dry location. Clearings near ponds in northern forest. North America
  • Winters: US to South America. Regular vagrant to W Europe. Occasionally winters in UK
  • Habitat: Tundra (migration - wet meadows, mudflats)
  • Diet: Insects & other invertebrates, (prefers beetles & flies)
  • Adults have long yellow legs. Bill dark, thin & long (approx as long as the head). Grey-brown upperparts. White below. Neck & breast have dark-brown streaking. White tail.
  • Similar birds: Greater Yellowlegs
 
Bird Sightings : Gannet Bird Sightings : Gannet

"A wild day today, Northerly winds of 45mph. Watched a pair of Ravens surveying the rocky shore and then heard an unusual gull-like call and realised that this juvenile Gannet was just a few feet away.

The Gannet's wings were spread out but it could not stand or fly, and it was very weak and there was blood on one of the wings. Rather than leave it to the Ravens I took it up to my sheltered garden and called the SSPCA. Calum came over - he said the blood was from an injured foot and hopefully with a bit of care he will be able to return it to the sea. This is the third one he has had this week. Amazing to see a Gannet so close."

Suzanne
Thursday 2nd October, 2008

Later note:
Got a message that the Gannet had something else wrong with it and Calum or the vet euthanised it.
I robbed the Ravens of supper and put Gannet through the stress of being picked up.
However Calum has successfully recovered then returned others to the sea so I think I did OK by trying...

Wednesday 1st October, 2008 Common Rosefinch Garrygall - Barra    
Wednesday 1st October, 2008 Yellow -browed Warbler Loch Carnan - South Uist    
Wednesday 1st October, 2008 Lesser Whitethroat Loch Carnan - South Uist    
Wednesday 1st October, 2008 Citrine Wagtail

Aird an Runair - Balranald - North Uist

+ Castlebay - Barra

In the last month there have been Citrine Wagtail sightings in Ireland, the Scilly Isles, the Shetlands and the St Kilda bird on 7th Sept. (Birdguides)

Looks like all are 1st winter birds

  • Citrine Wagtail
  • Motacilla citreola
  • UK: Scarce visitor. 4 records annually BTO
  • WI: Very rare (5 or less records).TBC
  • Breeds: Nests on ground. North & Central Asia
  • Winters: South Asia
  • Habitat: Open country near water. Wet meadows, loch shores, marshes
  • Diet: Insect eater - mostly aquatic ones
  • Slender & long with wagging tail. Breeding adult male mostly grey above. Bright yellow underparts. Yellow head.
    Other plumages whitishish/yellowish underparts. Browner head.
  • Similar birds: Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail (immature - has dark throat), Yellow Wagtail (rare)
 
Wednesday 1st October, 2008 Little Egret Lochmaddy - Noth Uist
  • Little Egret
  • Egretta gularis
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Breeding 146-162 pairs. Wintering 1,600 birds RSPB
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • WI: Scarce visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years) TBC
  • Breeding: Nests in colonies. Nest is a platform of sticks in tree, reedbed, bamboo grove, shrub, or on a cliff. Lays 3-5 matte blue-green eggs. Europe, Asia, Australia, Asia, Africa
  • Wintering: Mostly resident. Birds breeding in northernmost parts migrate to Africa & Asia. Some birds wander north after breeding, which extends the breeding range
  • Habitat: Lakes, marsh, flooded fields, estuaries
  • Diet: Stalks prey in shallow water. Running (wings raised) or motionless stalking. Mostly small fish, amphibians, large insects, crustaceans, but also small animals
  • Small white heron. White plumes on crest, back & chest. Black legs & bill. Yellow feet. Hunches neck in flight
  • Typical lifespan 5yrs. Max recorded age 21yrs 4mths
  • Listen to a Little Egret (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Grey Heron, Spoonbill (rare) Great White Egret (rare)
 
         

 

 

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