Friday, 2 August 2013

Birds of the Hebrides

From a birding point of view this holiday far exceeded my expectations. In total I saw 106 species during the two weeks, including one lifer (Great Shearwater), one UK tick (White-tailed Sea Eagle) and eight year ticks (Great Shearwater, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Corncrake, Black throated Diver, Great Skua, Arctic Skua and Hooded Crow),. Most pleasingly, all of these birds I found for myself, including Great Shearwater and Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Below is a list of all of the species we saw with a brief comment.

My UK life list is now 390 and my 2013 year list is 218.

Red-throated Diver


A fairly common species, seen at several sites throughout the Hebrides.

Black-throated Diver


Two on Harris

Great Northern Diver


Adult summer plumage and juvenile on the sea at Berneray.

Little Grebe


Pairs with chicks seen at several locations, especially on the Outer Hebrides.



A fairly common species at sea.

Storm Petrel


Five at sea from the Uig, Skye to Loch Maddy, North Uist ferry.

Manx Shearwater


Seen in small numbers from various ferries.

Great Shearwater


One from the Tarbet, Harris to Uig, Skye ferry on 29/07/2013.



A common species at sea.



A few at various coastal locations



A common coastal species.

Grey Heron


Common in small numbers.

Mute Swan


Common, with the largest numbers on the Uists.

Whooper Swan


One summering at Balranald, North Uist.

Greylag Goose


A common breeding species.

Canada Goose


Two flocks on Mull.



Five at Balranald 29/07/2013.



Two Balranald, North Uist.



Common in low numbers.



A few at Balranald, North Uis.

Tufted Duck


Fairly common on the Outer Hebrides, with several females with chicks seen.



Common around the coasts of most islands.

Common Scoter


30 at sea from Berneray.

Red-breasted Merganser


Seen mainly around the coast of Skye and Mull, with 30 at Loch Sligachan, Skye.

Hen Harrier


Ringtail over Balranald, then flew over the tent 28/07/2013.



One over the campsite at Craignure, Mull on 22/07/2013.



Common in small numbers.

Golden Eagle


Adults with juveniles seen on Mull on 24/07/2013 and at the Quiraing, Skye on 26/07/2013.

White-tailed Eagle


Adult with juvenile at Loch na Keal, Mull, 21/07/2013.



Small numbers seen on Mull and North Uist.



Two on South Uist on 28/07/2013, and one from the campsite at Balranald, North Uist on 29/07/2013.



One from campsite at Craignure, Mull 20/07/22013.



One calling next to Iona abbey 22/07/2013, one calling on Staffa on 23/07/2013 and at least five birds calling at Balranald, North Uist, including three calling all night right next to the tent 28 & 29/07/2013!



Very common around all coasts.

Ringed Plover


Small numbers on most beaches on the Outer Hebrides.

Golden Plover


20 on Mull on 22/07/2013 and 40 on Berneray on 29/07/2013.



Fairly common on Outer Hebrides.



Two in summer plumage on the beach at Balranald 28/07/2013.



100 on the beach at Berneray on 29/07/2013, small numbers elsewhere in the Outer Hebrides.



Up to 200 on the beach at Balranald, North Uist. Small numbers elsewhere.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper


I found an adult in summer plumage on Berneray with Golden Plovers on 29/07/2013.



Several at Balranald 28 & 29/07/2013.



Several at Balranald 28 & 29/07/2013.

Black-tailed Godwit


Eight at Balranald 29/07/2013.

Bar-tailed Godwit


40 on the beach at Balranald, North Uist 29/07/2013.



One calling from the beach at Balranald 29/07/2013.



50 at Loch Scridain, Mull on 21/07/2013, and 20 at Balranald on 29/07/2013. Small numbers elsewhere.



Fairly common along , most coasts.



One on Mull24/07/22013 and one flew over the campsite at Balranald, 29/07/2013.

Common Sandpiper


Fairly common around most coastlines.

Arctic Skua


One on the sea at Lunga, Treshnish Isles 23/07/2013.

Great Skua


Low numbers seen on most ferry crossings. Two at Lunga on 23/07/2013 and two flying along the cliffs at Staffin, Skye 26/07/2013.

Black-headed Gull


Mainly on Mull in small numbers.

Common Gull


Perhaps the commonest gull, especially inland.

Lesser Black-backed Gull


Two at the campsite at Craignure, Mull.

Great Black-backed Gull


Common at coastal site in small numbers.

Herring Gull


Common at coastal sites.



Common at sea and pairs breeding on Lunga.

Common Tern


A family party of two adults and two juveniles  in the Sound of Harris 30/07/2013.

Arctic Tern


Small numbers around various coastal sites, most numerous in the Sound of Harris and at Lerverburgh, Harris.



Very common on the sea on most ferry crossings. Up to 6000 pairs on Lunga, Treshnish Isles, 23/07/2013.



Common on the sea on most ferry crossings, perhaps up to 500 pairs on Lunga 23/07/2013.

Black Guillimot


Common in small numbers around the coasts, especially around harbours (e.g. Uig, Tarbet, Loch Maddy, Berneray).



Common on the sea on most ferry crossings, with up to 2000 pairs on Lunga, Treshnish Isles 23/07/2013.

Rock Dove


One on Lunga 23/07/2013 and two at the Quiraing, Skye 26/07/2013.



Present in small numbers, especially Mull.

Collared Dove


Present in small numbers, especially Mull.

Tawny Owl


One hooting near the campsite at Craignure, Mull.

Short-eared Owl


Three seen on North Uist 29/07/2013.



A few seen on Mull.



Two at Balranald, North Uist 29/07/2013.

Sand Martin


16 on Iona 22/07/2013.

House Martin


Small numbers seen throughout.



Small numbers seen throughout. Breeding on the campsite at Craignure, Mull.

Meadow Pipit


Common everywhere.

Rock Pipit


Common around rocky coasts.

Pied Wagtail


Small numbers seen throughout.



Two on Lunga on 23/07/22013 and one on Berneray, 29/07/2013.



One at the campsite at Craignure, Mull.



A few on the campsite on Mull.



Small numbers seen throughout, especially on the Outer Herbides.



Common in small numbers everywhere.



A few at the campsite on Mull.

Song Thrush


A few at the campsite on Mull.

Mistle Thrush


One at the campsite on Mull.

Sedge Warbler


Several singing on Iona 22/07/2013.



Several on Ulva 21/07/2013.



Small numbers throughout, especially at the campsite at Glen Brittle, Skye.

Willow Warbler


Small numbers throughout.



Two singing at the campsite at Portree, Skye.

Blue Tit


Small numbers throughout.

Great Tit


Small numbers throughout.



A few at the campsite at Portree, Skye.



A few at the campsite at Portree, Skye.

Hooded Crow


Common throughout.



Common in small numbers throughout.



Common throughout.

House Sparrow


Common throughout.



A few seen throughout.



A few on the campsite at Craignure, Mull.



A few on the campsite at Craignure, Mull.



Small numbers seen on Ulva, Eriskay and Skye, with 30 at Balranald, North Uist 29/07/2013.

Lesser Redpoll


A few at the campsite on Mull.



Two seen on the campsite at Portree, Skye.



One on Mull.

Corn Bunting


Up to 5 singing at Balranald, North Uist.

Adult White-tailed Eagle, Mull.

Adult and juvenile White-tailed Eagle, Mull. Magnificent birds, we saw these on our first day on Mull and I expected to see a few more, but they were the only Sea Eagles we saw in the holiday.

Juvenile White-tailed Eagle, Mull.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper with Golden Plover, Berneray. I was delighted with this find. I was scanning through a flock of Golden Plover feeding on the machair, when suddenly I saw a small wader walking amongst them. I knew what it was straight away, but wanted to get the scope on it just to be 100% certain. It was a fantastic bird, this and Pectoral Sandpiper are amongst my favourites of all waders.

I didn't think it could get any better than this, but the following day it did! We were on the Tarbet to Uig ferry, and I spotted a large shearwater fairly close to the boat. I could hardly believe it when I saw that it had a dark cap, and its upperwings were mid brown, with noticeably darker brown primaries. My first ever Great Shearwater!

Continued..... Click on Older Posts.

1 comment:

  1. Colin your posts are exceptional reading... I am a newcomer( 2.5 years)... I am learning all the time and your blog helps me a great deal. I see you now and again at Ecc Mere. Keep it up mate, you know your stuff and make everything you post very very interesting:-)


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