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 Bird Sightings Records : Hebrides : October 2009





   This table is Hebrides Bird Sightings period October 2009

Just wanted to mention a visit by at least 3 brambling yesterday, 26th Oct to my peanut feeder.
John Pendrey, Barra
Friday 23rd October, 2009 Swift Nunton - Benbecula
  • Swift
  • Apus apus
  • Gaelic: Gobhlan Dubh
  • WI: Scarce (sometimes uncommon) passage visitor (very small numbers each year)
Friday 23rd October, 2009 Brambling (13) South Glendale - North Uist
  • Brambling
  • Fringilla montifringilla
  • Gaelic: Breacan-caorainn
  • WI: Scarce (very small numbers each year) passage and winter visitor
Friday 23rd October, 2009 Ring Ouzel South Glendale - North Uist
  • Ring Ouzel
  • Turdus torquatus
  • Gaelic: Dubh-chreige
  • UK: 6,500 pairs - in decline - RED LIST BTO
  • UK: Migrant breeder, passage visitor. Arrives March, April leaves in September
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year)
    3 records of singing males, but no breeding records
  • Breeds: Moorland. Europe, near East
  • Winters: Africa, Middle East
  • Habitat: Moorland (migration short grassy coastal areas)
  • Diet: Spring-early & summer earthworms, insects, otherwise mostly berries
  • Like a blackbird but males have a pale wing panel and striking white breast band.
    Shy, but often with other thrushes after breeding season
  • Listen to a Ring Ouzel on the RSPB site
  • Similar birds: Blackbird
Friday 23rd October, 2009 Little Egret Bayhead - 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)


I don’t know if its of much interest but I spotted a blackcap in a garden
in Castlebay yesterday. How common are they up in your area?
Donald mcleod

The Outer Hebrides Birds checklist suggests that we get a few Blackcaps visit
us in the Western Isles each year, mostly in October and November.
Peter Cunningham in his book Birds of the Outer Hebrides wrote that from 1957 - 1989 there were 20 records.
The Outer Hebrides Bird Report 2005/2006 shows approx 20 records for the year.

One turned up in my village the same day :)

Thursday 22nd October, 2009 Blackcap

Croir - Great Bernera


  • Blackcap (Eurasian Blackcap, The Northern Nightingale)
  • Sylvia atricapilla
  • Gaelic: Ceann-dubh
  • UK: Migrant Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK: Summer 932,000 territories. Winter 3,000 birds RSPB
  • WI: Uncommon passage visitor (low numbers)
  • Breeds: April - May. Nests in low shrub. Broad-leaved woodland. Lays 3-6 eggs. Northern temperate Europe, West Asia
  • Winters: South of breeding range to tropical Africa where local birds are resident. Blackcaps seen in the UK in winter are Central European breeders come to overwinter. UK breeding birds migrate south Sept - Oct
  • Habitat: Forest, open woodland, towns, parks. In winter also gardens with good cover - trees and shrubs.
  • Diet: Summer, insects, otherwise fruit and berries (mostly in cover), feeds at bird-tables in winter
  • Stocky, sparrow-sized greyish warbler. Grey face. Bale bluish-grey bill & legs.
    Male has black cap. Grey-brown upper parts. Light olive-grey underparts.
    Female dark chestnut-brown cap. Buff-coloured underparts. Juvenile ginger-chestnut cap.
  • Max recorded age 10yrs 8mths, typical lifespan 2yrs
    Listen to a Blackcap (RSPB site) . Melodious warble has earned the Blackcap the name "The Northern Nightingale".
  • Similar birds: Garden Warbler
Wednesday 21st October, 2009 Castlebay - Barrra
Tuesday 20th October 2009 Icterine Warbler North Loch Eynort - South Uist
  • Icterine Warbler
  • Hippolais icterina
  • WI: Rare visitor (30 or less records) TBC
Hebrides Bird Sightings : House Sparrow Hebrides Bird Sightings : House Sparrow

Thought you might be interested to see these pics I took last week.

Martin RSPB said:

"it would appear to be a House Sparrow with some sort of aberrant plumage.The term 'lecustic' often gets used for birds like this. Basically it means 'washed out' and I always think of it as one step on the way to being albino."

Glenn and I are delighted to have a different wee bird in with our sparrows - even if it turns out not to be very exotic as we first thought!! (We thought it might be a desert sparrow as it was the only thing like it in our books........probably a bit cold for it up here!)
Kirsty Macdonald


The "leucistic" or "aberrant" House Sparrow you have on the website
is in fact the carrier of a sex-linked Cinnamon Gene and is a female.
The R.S.P.B dont seem to accept that this can happen with Birds for
some inexplicable reason but i can asure you it can. 

Compared to a normal House Sparrow, the bird photographed could
be seen as "washed out" or leusictic. And i cant argue with "aberrant"
as the bird in question is obviously different.

This lighter coloured Sparrow is what is known as a Cinnamon mutation. This gene is sex-linked and the bird is most probably a female. Albinos are different colour variations carrying different genes than that of the Cinnamon and it is just not possible for a Cinnamon to become an albino.   


The above site might be of interest, as Whoopers are now on the move.
It appears that most aren't loitering, due to the relatively good weather,
and are moving quickly through to their wintering grounds on the mainland

I noted your entry on the bird sightings page - Lesley's suggestion that she
would like maybe to meet some of us bird lovers, I for one would love to
meet up wherever was suggested on the Islands...
then I could put faces to the emails ...

I saw loads of Whooper swans this morning, at about 8.30am 7 went south
down little loch roag , then later at about11.30 another 21 went on the same
flight path in a beautiful “V”shape.

Also loads of redwings about.
Kim P

Tuesday 19th October, 2009

Hebrides Bird Sightings : Goldfinch

A report from yesterday A pr of goldfinches feeding on the thistle
bayble moor.Six whooper swans at loch tiumpan with juvenilles
present along with widgeon .A pr of red breasted mergansers on the braigh.
Please could you pass on my interests to lesley at lemerway for a meeting ...
been trying to get some good snaps for the site but the light has been a bit hit and miss at the mo


Monday 18th October, 2009


Message to Paul from birdmigration.co.uk
Met office surface pressure charts are a horror of a download time on dialup internet (my connection) know of another?


Try http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/bracka.html for pressure chart data for the current day.
Don’t know of any suitable for dialup for future forecasts. I have found that predicted pressure
charts are always changed so it is never worth going more than a day in advance for an accurate forecast.

Historical chart data can be found here: http://www.wetterzentrale.de/topkarten/tkfaxbraar.htm

I find it great fun both finding out what weather systems birds came in on and trying to make predictions.



Just had a call to say a/the Hoopoe turned up again on Lewis, at
Upper Barvas........but no sign since.

If it is the same one it is heading up the coast!


Sunday 18th October, 2009 Hoopoe Upper Barvas - Isle of Lewis
  • Hoopoe (Eurasian Hoopoe)
  • Upupa epops
  • UK: scarce spring passage visitor (Late April - May). Has bred
  • UK: 116 records a year, usually single birds
  • WI: Accidental/vagrant, approx 5 records in a century
  • Breeds: Nests in hole in tree or wall. Prefers farming areas with open grazing, open woodland, copses, hedges, bushes. savanna, steppe. Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Bangladesh
  • Winters: Tropical Africa, Asia (resident in many equatorial areas)
  • Diet: Feeds on insects mostly caught on ground & also pulled from underground - so short grass areas or bare patches. Has very short tongue in long bill so swallows food (Insects: worms, grasshoppers, crickets, larvae, locusts) by throwing it into the air & catching it way back in the gullet.
  • Exotic looker! Large Thrush-size. Pinkish-brown body. Black & white stripes. Long, narrow, downcurved bill. Both sexes have a flat ornamental crest of long feathers that rests folded on nape (when bird is excited they raise and expand forming a spectacular fan. Tail broad white band. Flight flappy & erratic. Wings broad & rounded.
  • Average lifespan 11years
  • Listen to a hoopoe (RSPB site)( "hoop-hoop-hoop")
Sunday 18th October, 2009 Little Egret Gramsdale - Benbecula    
Sunday 18th October, 2009 Lapland Bunting Ben Tarbert - South Uist    


It must be a Sunday thing. I'm not really one for bird watching
but we've seen another beauty today. Looked it up and it looks
like a hen harrier, big yellow claws and a black beak with a
yellow base, but not as big as I would have expected a
bird of prey to be. It was on a fence post on a croft.
I am really going to have to get a camera.


Sunday 18th October, 2009 Hen Harrier Ness - Isle of Lewis
  • 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


On the 13th October 2009 I wrote to Paul Bowyer of http://www.birdmigration.co.uk

"I have been looking at the current wind map thinking about migration, realising that just now it may well be trans-atlantic migrants we get rather than the Icelandic ones. I came across your web site whilst trying to learn more.

I wonder if you might be able to offer a few pointers to looking at prevailing wind directions and interpreting what it might mean to us birders in The Western Isles, I am just out of novice stage, eager to learn and eager to share what I learn. Just got to the stage of looking at wind maps and thought I'd begin by asking an expert where to start ...I'd be very happy to make clear the tips were coming from you and link to your site.

I really would like to know how to interpret a surface pressure chart just for starters - I feel as if something amazing is right in front of me but I can't quite see it!"


Paul kindly replied:

" I don’t class myself as an expert but am happy to offer some pointers that may help. Yes trans-atlantic vagrants do make the journey directly across the Atlantic as well as from Iceland. Perhaps the best way to learn the patterns is comparing arrivals with surface pressure charts. You can get archive pressure chart data from the link on my site. I look for lows coming across the atlantic paying particular attention to the fronts within them. Whether birds are pushed by the fronts or move in front of them to avoid dehydration I’m not sure. This September was a good month to analyse trans-atlantic vagrancy. Understanding migration is a slow process and I find I learn a little more each year. The intensity and speed that the lows come across can make a difference to the survival rate of birds that make landfall and also the time of year will also have an effect on the species you are likely to see and the location that the lows hit the UK. As you will see the lows will hit further south the colder it gets in the north."

Paul wrote in his bird diary about how a high pressure over the UK on the 13th had produced tailwinds from the Norweigan coast bringing Redwings to the UK.
Christine sent in report of Redwings on Lewis on the 15th October 2009.
See the chart


Lesley down in Lemreway (Isle of Lewis) is interested to know if local birders are interested in meeting up ...

She wrote:
" Either meeting at a central point possibly someone's house initially ( very happy to donate my front room, although a bit way out here) or maybe the meeting room in Gravir or Kershader. This could lead to days out around the island when us novices could learn from the more expert ones and well --- where could it all lead to !!!!"

Email me and I will pass it onto Lesley and let everyone else know of the growing interest.

Sunday 18th October, 2009 Glaucous Gull Barra Ferry
  • Glaucous Gull
  • Larus hyperboreus
  • Gaelic: Faoileag-mhor
  • UK: Winter Visitor, 200+ UK (winter) RSPB
  • WI: Uncommon winter and passage visitor (low numbers). Scarce in summer (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Breeds: Bird nests on ground or cliffs. Arctic & Northern Atlantic European coasts: Greenland, Iceland, North Russia, North North America.
  • Winters: Mostly North Atlantic & North Pacific oceans, some go as far south as Northern Mexico
  • Habitat: Seacoasts, lakes, rubbish tips, reservoirs, fishing ports (with other winter gulls)
  • Large gull. Bigger, bulkier bird than herring gull. Pale wingtips (no black in wings & tail)
    Adult pearl-grey above, thick yellow bill. Immatures very pale-grey, creamy-white or biscuit coloured with pink & black bill. More fierce looking than similar (smaller) Iceland gull
  • Diet: Omnivorous: mostly animals, also other seabirds (in flight) scavenges carrion, scraps & is a pirate
  • Listen to a Glaucous Gull (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Herring Hull, Iceland Gull
Saturday 17th October, 2009 Yellow-browed Warbler (2) 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). Pale legs. Highly active -constant motion, not shy
  • Similar birds: Hume's Yellow Browed Warbler (single wing-bar, dark legs), Goldcrest, Firecrest, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff
Saturday 17th October, 2009 Little Egret Gramsdale - Benbecula    
We went on an outing to Harris on Friday.Had a good birding day :)

We saw --
Coming out of Lemreway - 1 Snow Bunting.
Near Habost - a definite Lesser Whitethroat!!
Later a Golden Eagle perched on a rock in full sun for a good 5 minutes - amazing.

Lusenkentyre -probable juvenile black headed gull - it had a black eye spot and vivid red legs.
Scarista - 6 Whimbrels with 2 probable Godwits and 3 Whoopers.
On Golden road -
At least 24 Redwings, a merlin having an argument with a pair of Hoodies, greenshanks, redshanks, several Stonechats and some little 'brown jobs' that I have absolutely no idea what they were!


Friday 16th October, 2009 Yellow-browed Warbler

Loch Druidibeag - South Uist


Friday 16th October, 2009 Lapland Bunting Ardvule - South Uist    
Friday 16th October, 2009 Surf Scoter Luskentyre Sound    
Friday 16th October, 2009 Arctic Redpoll Barra    
Friday 16th October, 2009 Common Rosefinch Barvas - Isle of Lewis    
Friday 16th October, 2009 Whooper Swan Horgabost - Isle of Harris    
Friday 16th October, 2009 Redwings

Horgabost - Isle of Harris (1)

Croir - Great Bernera (3)

Thursday 15th October, 2009 Yellow-browed Warbler Croir - Great Bernera (1)    
Thursday 15th October, 2009 Lapland Bunting Drimsdale - South Uist    
Hebrides Bird Sightings : Redwing Hebrides Bird Sightings : Redwing

There was a flock of these in my garden tonight - so pretty. They been confirmed as Redwings
Christine Walling

Thursday 15th October, 2009

Thursday 15th October, 2009 Redwings Newmarket - Isle of Lewis


  • 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


The Redwing is a true thrush, the smallest we get in the UK.

At rest a Redwing is very similar to a Song Thrush. It is a rather shy bird, and prefers to feed on open land rather than in small gardens.

Redwings eat berries and worms, they strip Rowan trees bare!
Their beaks are a great design for pecking at apples, and the birds feed readily on them when available.

Thursday 15th October, 2009 Quail Drimsdale - South Uist
  • Quail (Common Quail)
  • Coturnix coturnix
  • Gaelic: Gearra-gart, Gearradh Gort
  • UK: RED LIST. 200-500 breeding pairs (Summer)
  • WI: Scarce summer visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Winters: Weak flyer, but manages a migration to North Africa & back
  • Habitat: fields, grazings
  • Quail is a rare summer visitor, usually heard rather than seen
  • Listen to a Quail (RSPB site). Male's call is decribed as "wet-me-lips"
Thursday 15th October, 2009 Long-billed Dowitcher Howmore - South Uist    
Thursday 15th October, 2009 American Golden Plover Baleshare - North Uist    
Wednesday 14th October, 2009 Greenland Redpoll (6) Bragar - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 14th October, 2009 Jack Snipe Steinish - Isle of Lewis    
Wednesday 14th October, 2009 Tree Pipit Vatersay    
Wednesday 14th October, 2009 Yellow-browed Warbler (2) Barra    
Wednesday 14th October, 2009 Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

Grenitote - South Uist

North Bay - Barra

Tuesday 13th October, 2009 Yellow-browed Warbler (2) Barra    
Tuesday 13th October, 2009 Long-billed Dowitcher Howmore - South Uist    
Tuesday 13th October, 2009 Little Egret Bornish - South Uist    
Tuesday 13th October, 2009 Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

North Bay - Barra

Seen today on the west side of lewis -- similar in shape to a lapwig,
but slimmer and smaller. Larger than a blackbird. Very large,
distintive and colourful crest , beak straight and slim, about 2 inches
long. Distinctive light bar markings on wings when not in flight. white
stripe down the tail either side. Colourful, elegant bird (as you would
expect on the west side!). Appeared to be feeding on insects/worms in
soft ground. Any ideas what it might be?
Tuesday 13th October, 2009

I wonder if you are describing the Eurasian Hoopoe?
There was one reported in Shawbost on the 7th October
Have a look at this Hoopoe

Any other suggestions anyone?

Martin thought it a Hoopoe
After looking at the photo Calum also thought it to be one.
It seems to have been about for a few days so hopefully we will hear of a
a more exact location?

A Barred Warbler in Brue today. Presumably new and hasn't been hiding
out since Sept 11th (skulking perhaps, but with daily checks surely I
am not that crap!). It was in the same garden and as Tony Marr has
pointed out he has had a 'resident' Lesser whitethroat in a Ness
garden throughout this period.

In my defence I would flag that today a Robin was chasing it and
making a racket, which to me at least suggests it is new in. Makes you
wonder though.

Probably lots of other migrants, at low density across teh islands, bu
there is a lot of gardens to check!

Two new family groups of Whoopers fresh in on Loch Barvas today from Iceland

Keep an eye on this site. These Whoopers may well come to a loch near you!


Piperstrelle Bat picked up overnight in Stornoway and taken
into care by SSPCA

Tuesday 13th October, 2009 Barred warbler Brue - Isle of lewis
  • Barred Warbler
  • Sylvia nisoria
  • UK: Passage visitor
  • UK: 156 annual UK records BTO
  • WI: Scarce autumn passage visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Breeds: Eastern Europe, temperate Asia
  • Winters: East Africa
  • Habitat: Scrubland, open woodland, town
  • Larger warbler, mostly grey above, whitish below
  • Adult male darker grey above, heavily barred below (female only light barring - juveniles none)
  • Diet: Insects, some berries & soft fruit
Tuesday 13th October, 2009 Lapland Bunting Balinvanich - Benbecula
  • Lapland Bunting
  • Calcatius lapponicus
  • UK: Scarce breeder, passage - winter visitor
  • UK: 350 birds (winter) Arrives September - October, leaves by May BTO
  • WI: Scarce passage migrant (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Breeds: Arctic Europe, Asia, Canada, North America. Birch, willow, bare mountains areas
  • Winters: South to Central Europe, Central Asia, South America, cultivated land or coasts, wet meadows
  • Chunky yellow seed-eater bill. Winter males: very noticeable black crown, face & throat. White eyestripe. Chestnut nape. White below. Heavily streaked black-grey back. Mixed species flocks.
  • Diet: seeds (summer invertebrates)
  • Listen to a Lapland Bunting - RSPB site

"Glad to see your're back again. I'm a bit curious, just how many bird pages are there on the site now?"
13th October, 2009



I asked Martin Scott of Western Isles RSPB about our recent visitors:

Was the Olive-backed Pipit on the 9th Oct a first for the islands?
No its a second. There was one accepted in (5th November 2005) at Port of Ness.
There were two other reports that autumn, but neither was accepted (I believe)

The Pallas's Warbler must have been???
It will be the first Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, if accepted.
Pallas's Warbler however is a totally different species!


A quick visit to our neighbours at the Icelandic Birding Pages

Recent sightings included:
"Yellow Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Least Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull,
Great Grey Shike, Lapland Longspur, White-rumped Sandpipers, American Golden Plover,
Little Gull, Common Chiffcaff, Common Crossbills, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat,
American Wigeon, Swainson's Thrush, Arctic Redpoll, Pied Flycatcher, Willow Warbler,
Common Coot and Grey Herons"

Thank-you Yann


Wednesday Weather Forecasts

Heavy Rain
11° C
South South Easterly

Sunrise 08.17 (GMT)

Western Isles
Light Rain
13° C
South Westerly

Sunrise 08:00 (GMT)

Western Isles Weather Forecast Iceland & WI wind direction map NEW
Western Isles Weather Forecast Atlantic Jet Stream forecast map NEW
Western Isles Weather Forecast Surface pressure forecast NEW

Mon 12th October 2009

Little Egret (2)

Daliburgh - South 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)
Mon 12th October 2009

Lapland Bunting


Mon 12th October 2009

Arctic Tern

Slavonian Grebes (17)

Baile Gharbhaidh - South Uist    
Mon 12th October 2009 Pectoral Sandpiper Butt of Lewis    
Mon 12th October 2009

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

Common Rosefinch

Yellow-browed Warbler


Hebrides Bird Sightings : Red Grouse

Brian has confirmed that the picture attached is that of a red grouse...I took the photograph - when travelling the Pentland road from Stornoway to Carloway back on 16th August

Christine Walling

Hebrides Bird Sightings : White-tailed Eagle Hebrides Bird Sightings : White-tailed Eagle Hebrides Bird Sightings : White-tailed Eagle

Here are the photos I took of a Sea Eagle in Uig.

I sent them to Martin Scott at RSPB , he passed them onto the team that monitor the eagles & they have asked if they can use my photos in their eagle news letter, I'm really flattered!

It is 3 yrs old & hatched on the Uists, I'm still waiting for more info from RSPB, I'll let you know when I get it.

Kim Park
11th October, 2009

"I have been asked by the RSPB if they can use the photos on their next news letter about Eagles, I of course said yes!"
12th October, 2009

Sunday 11th October, 2009

White-tailed Eagle Uig - Isle of Lewis
  • White-tailed Eagle (Eagle, Erne, Ern, White-tailed Sea-eagle, Gray Sea Eagle, Greenland White-Tailed Eagle, Grey Sea Eagle, White-Tailed Eagle, White-Tailed Sea-Eagle)
  • Haliaeetus albicilla
  • UK: Re-introduced Breeder, Scarce Visitor
  • UK: RED LIST, 42 pairs (summer) BTO
  • WI: Extinct in 1910. Resident or scarce visitor following re-introduction project . Possibly 7 pairs?
  • Breeds: Sexually mature at 4/5 yrs. Pairs for life. If one dies then new partner. Stick nest huge, in tree or on coastal cliff. (Subsequent generations reuse nest). 1-3 eggs Mar-Apr. Incubation 38 days. Fledge 11/12 wks. Europe, North & Central Asia, Siberia, Greenland, Iceland
  • Winters: South to Europe, India
  • Habitat: Sheltered coasts, rivers, large lakes (Territory 20-50sq miles & overlaps Golden Eagle's).
  • Diet: Hunting & scavenging: Fish, birds, rabbits, mammals, eggs, carrion, will steal food. Requires excess of half kilo daily (1lb).
  • Largest UK bird of prey. 70-90cm (2½-3ft) long with a 190-240cm, (6-8ft) wingspan. Adult female can weigh almost a stone (6.9kg).
    Brown body. Head & neck pale. Massive long, broad wings ('fingered' ends) 'Barn doors' is the famous description. Blackish flight feathers. Short, wedge-shaped tail. Yellow bill & legs
    Juvenile darker tail & bill. Sub-adult tail white with dark terminal band. Adult tail white.
  • Max recorded age 28yrs 1mth
  • Listen to a White-tailed Eagle (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Golden Eagle (Golden Eagles prefer moors & mountains, White-tailed Eagles prefer coasts) , Buzzard (rounded, short wings)
Hebrides Bird Sightings : Iceland Gull

Pic of Iceland Gull in Ness I took on Sunday attached. A juv. Always good to see them, but I fear a sign that winter is here!
Martin Scott

Sunday 11th October, 2009 Iceland Gull Ness - 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)
Sunday 11th October, 2009 Yellow-browed Warbler (3) Loch Driudibeag
+ Loch Eyenort
South Uist
Sunday 11th October, 2009 Grey Phalarope Ferry - Barra    
Sunday 11th October, 2009 Common Rosefinch Northbay -Barra    

Country Life online ran an article on 24th September:

" The RSPB's reintroduction of sea eagles has resulted in the best breeding year on record"
(36 chicks fledged this year) and Lewis had a new pair there are more Sea Eagles now than in 150 years!.

The article includes links to follow chicks which were fitted with satellite tags.

Read the article about Sea Eagles

Wish I had a camera ...

My name is Edna Macleod, I have the Loch Beag B&B in Fivepenny, Ness.
I don't know if this is of any interest to you but we have just had a little bird
at the back of the house, greenish colour with a bright yellow stripe with a
black stripe on either side of the yellow on it's head, looked it up on the
internet and it is a gold crest. I've never seen one before and it is beautiful
and I think only about 2" long not including it's tail. Just had to tell someone.
Sunday 11th October, 2009

I understand completely!
It is such a sweet wee bird.
Very much of interest as it tells us of the migration patterns (and to look out for one ourselves!).
Even the birders who carry huge cameras etc usually mention it if they have seen one...

A favourite of many of us.
Thanks for sharing.
What a lovely start to your Autumn.

Sunday 11th October, 2009


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
RSPB Scotland is recruiting staff for a new European funded project across Machair croftland in the Hebrides. The project is a partnerhsip between RSPB, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and SNH.
Contracts are to be  based in BenbeculaThere are two posts currently advertised and the closing date for both posts is 30 October 2009. 
For details of the posts, please see links below to the RSPB website
Project Manager
Advisory Officer

Please pass onto anyone who may find them of interest

RSPB Machair Job Advert to download pdf 372kb

Regards Martin  

RSPB Conservation Officer (Western Isles


Saturday 10th October Common Rosefinch North Bay - Barra    
Saturday 10th October Little Egrets (3) Ardivachar Point - South Uist    
Saturday 10th October Sabine's Gull Ardivachar Point - South Uist    
Saturday 10th October American Golden Plover Baleshare - North Uist    
Saturday 10th October Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll Barra    
Saturday 10th October Iceland Gull Europie - Ness- isle of Lewis    
Saturday 10th October Brambling Brue - Isle of Lewis    
Saturday 10th October Jack Snipe Brue - Isle of Lewis    
Saturday 10th October Yellow-browed Warbler Howbeg
+ Loch Druidibeag
South Uist
Saturday 10th October Pectoral Sandpiper Isle of Lewis    
Saturday 10th October Arctic Redpolls Isle of Lewis    
Friday 9th October, 2009 Iceland Gull Europie - Ness- isle of Lewis    
Friday 9th October, 2009 Lapland Bunting West Gerenish - South Uist    
Friday 9th October, 2009 Pomarine Skuas (2) Lochboisedale - South Uist    
Friday 9th October, 2009 Olive-backed Pipit Mangersta - Isle of lewis
  • Olive-backed Pipit (Indian Pipit , Hodgson's Pipit, Tree Pipit)
  • Anthus hodgson
  • Breeds: Nest a moss and grass cup on ground under a tuft of grass or rock.
    Lays 3-5 dark-brown, spotted eggs. Across Asia, & NE of European Russia
  • Winters: Southern Asia and Indonesia. Long-distance migrant
  • Habitat: Winters in evergreen woodland, Summers in open woodland
  • Sparrow-sized: Greenish brown streaked. Darker brown above. Supercilium, double wingbar. Whitish-buff below. Dark-brown streaking on breast and flanks. Sexes similar. Flight jerky and undulating.
  • Diet: Insects, grass and weed seeds. Runs about on the ground in search of food and flies up into trees when disturbed.

Sometimes it is also called the Tree Pipit, which it resembles. Its back is more olive-toned and less streaked than that species, it has a different head pattern,and the supercilium is better-marked.

BBRC records 1950-2006 (UK)
0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0,
1, 1, 1, 3, 1, 1, 1, 4, 5, 3, 1, 7, 2, 4, 20, 11, 2, 43, 13, 17,
35, 8, 2, 6, 5, 2, 2, 18, 19, 9, 18, 8, 9, 15,

I asked Martin Scott of Western Isles RSPB about the Pipit
Was it a first for the islands?
No its a second. There was one accepted in (5th November 2005) at Port of Ness. There were two other reports that autumn, but neither was accepted (I believe)

Thursday 8th October, 2009 Glaucous Gull (3) Ness - Isle of Lewis    
Thursday 8th October, 2009 Iceland Gull Europie - Ness- isle of Lewis    
Thursday 8th October, 2009 Common Rosefinch North Bay - Barra    
Thursday 8th October, 2009 Snowy Owl (male) Mangersta - Isle of lewis    
Thursday 8th October, 2009 Lapland Bunting (5) Balemore - North Uist    
Thursday 8th October, 2009 Snow Bunting (11) Baleshare - North Uist    
Hebrides Bird Sightings : Rock Pipit Hebrides Bird Sightings : Rock Pipit Hebrides Bird Sightings : Rock Pipit

Dont know whether you are wanting more pictures for the site or not? - here are 3 pictures of a tree pipit ? (rock pipit) The pipit was seen - South Lochs a couple October 2009 - a couple of days ago

Christine Walling
7th October, 2009

I asked Christine how she knew she had something different with this pipit...

Re - identifying the pipit as a tree pipit - rather than a rock pipt - or meadow pipit - my facts may be wrong - but I had in my mind a few things I had read - which made me come to the tree pipit conclusion - but it seems to me to be really hard to tell them apart - although when I double checked with Andy - he straight away said that one of the main identifying features was the markings around the eye

The points I had noted were as follows

a) a rock pipits legs are darker ( so I concluded it wasnt a rock pipit)
b) this birds plumage above - was to me - more brown than olive ( a meadow pipit is a more olive shade above)
c) tree pipits have a lot more buff on the breast - fading to white on the flanks - this bird seemed to be like this
d) the tree pipit has a shorter hind claw than a meadow pipit which has a long hind claw - this bird didnt have a long hind claw
e) this bird had a definite pale white shady ring around its eye (I understand that the meadow pipits markings are weaker pale line over the eye)
f) tree pipits have a heavier bill than the meadow pipits and the bill on this bird seemed to be heavyish.

Wednesday 7th October, 2009

Brian (County Bird Recorder) reckons this is a Rock Pipit and NOT a Tree Pipit!

I emailed Brian with the points I had read (and that you put on your
site) as to why I had thought it was a tree piit - and asked him where I
webnt wring wit the identificatiion - (didnt mention that Andy had also
thought it was a tree pipit) Here is his response - which you may be
interested in

*Re your analysis I would say you started from the wrong field marks (a
and b) and then used c to f to justify why it was not a Rock or Meadow
Pipit. Tree Pipit is a scarce spring and autumn passage visitor here
(most in May and September). The field guides can only show usual
features/colourings but I would say the leg colour of your pipit is
typical of Rock. The underparts are pretty well sullied - Tree Pipits
would show a contrast between warm buff breast and white belly. Also
the flank streaks are much finer than the breast streaks. Overall it is
a brighter looking bird than Rock which shows quite dark plumage and
less distinct markings. Pink legs are another feature. Also Tree Pipit
is usually quite difficult to approach - often identified at migration
watch points when flying over calling (a drawn-out hoarse 'teeze'. Hope
this helps.




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