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The Uists. (1 Viewer)


Moorlands Macro: Close up and personal....with bug
Anyone who is going to the Uists, including North and South, plus Benbecula and Berneray might find this report interesting.

We drove to Oban on the 28th May, arriving early evening. We were cathing the 7.30am ferry to Loch Boisedale, South Uist the next morning.

29th May. Awoke to birdsong at 5.30am so we took a walk around the B&B where we were staying in Oban. Hooded crow, Stock dove, Pied wagtail, Wood warbler, Great spotted woodpecker and other more common species were seen during an hour or so walk.

Arrived at the ferry terminal around 7am and a quick scan of the harbour produced 2 Black guillemot and a Male Eider.

During the crossing (when not asleep) we saw: Great skua (Bonxie), Gannet, Black guillemot, Razorbill, Common guillemot, Kitiwake, Common gull, LBB, GBB, Pod of dolphins and a Minkie whale.

On arrival at Loch Boisedale we stopped at the local CO-OP just a few miles down the road. On the pool by the CO-OP we saw: Reed Warbler, Redshank and Oystercatcher. During the drive up to North Uist (Lochmaddy) where we were staying, and a small drive around in the afternoon, we saw: Buzzard, Hooded crow, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Tufted duck, Skylark, Meadow pipit, Northern wren, Ringed plover, Wheatear, Stonechat, Curlew, Common tern, Cuckoo, Goosander, Red breasted merganser, Short eared owl, Shellduck, Common seal and Grey seal.

Record shots of the White tailed eagle being mobbed by a GBB gull.

Will add more shortly when I have time.


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30th May. Dry with sunny spells but quite windy. Drive around North Uist, taking in Balnarald RSPB and Comittee road.
Short eared owl perched high on heather on the A865 near Balnarald. A walk in the bay at the reserve produced plenty of waders which were really tame. Dunlin, Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Ringed plover, Arctic tern, A great Norethern diver out in the bay, Kittiwake, Common gull, LBB, GBB, Meadow pipit, Wheatear, Lapwing, Snipe roding,Oystercatcher, Gannet, Twite, Eider, Swallow, Cuckoo, Skylark. Corncrake heard but not seen on this occasion.

Comittee Road. Male Hen harrier near the large plantation, it was quartering the tree line then came toward the road as we watched it. Views from around 70yds.

Traigh Bhalaigh, Northern end of the comittee road we saw an immature female Golden eagle which was radio tagged, Rock pipit and Little tern also seen here along with other species already mentioned.

31st May. Dry and sunny but still windy. Benbecula. Stopped off at Lionacleit and had a look behing the sports centre, there is a lot of sand dunes and Machair here. Merlin over the dunes, Long tailed skua along the coastline, Skylark. We then went to a local rubbish tip where there had been Arctic skua in the past, unfortunately we didn't see the Arctic skua, but on Loch-a- Bursta we saw 2 Black throated divers doing their courtship display. Lots of Raven here too. Ringed plover with chicks just over the causeway between Benbecula and North Uist and a Peregrine falcon flying over Loch-Hermeadall.

Comittee road again. Hen harrier male but no Short eared owls this time. We drove down the road to Loch Portain and there was a SEO sitting only 6yds from the side of the road. Good views through the bins of a female Hen harrier, Wheatear, Mipits, Skylark, Redshank, Lapwings and a Pair of Twite.


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A great report so far Neil, accompanied by some super pictures too.

Ah! the memories!

Yeah good stuff. You made me drunk with nostalgia for the Uists. Cracking photos - especially like that fantastic shot of the BTDs in that glittering water. :t:
1st June. Wet and windy. The poor weather limited us to birding around Loch Maddy. I went for a walk on my own around the small bays at Loch Maddy, it was still raining, as I walked around the second bay up from the Ferry terminal I saw a diver out of the corner of my eye, too late to ID it as it dived. I waited patiently for a short while and it came back up around 30yds out and it was a Red throated diver which was joined by 2 more only a few minutes later. Unfortunately I had left my camera at the house because of the rain. I scanned the bay and saw another Diver, this time a Great Northern, also seen were a large Dog otter around 4feet in length and a Common seal.

The weather settled into a nice afternoon of sunshine so we made the most of it by going for a walk, still in the Loch Maddy area. Immature Golden eagle over shortly followed by an Adult White tailed eagle both flying from west to east over Loch Maddy. Twite, Greenfinch, Songthrush and Northern wren. High tide at 9.15pm produced 2 more Red throated divers (probably the same ones as earlier) Black guillemot, Razorbill and Common and Arctic terns.


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There's more to come yet, keep watching this space.
2nd June. Sunny but very windy.

A return visit to Benbecula to see if the Black throated divers were still there with the hope of better photo opportunities. Unfortunately they had moved on. We did manage to see Ravens again along with Male Hen harrier. A trip down to Loch Ba-una where there were some Damselflies and Dragonflies, we saw Large red damselfly, Common blue damselfly and a few 4 spot chaser Dragonflies. We decided to go for the Red necked phalaropes, although our best chances are early in the morning, we thought we would give it a try. We managed very brief glimpses of a Male on a small freshwater pool near Griminis Loch-mor, also seen here were Eider, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Tufted duck, Lapwing, Arctic tern, BH gull, Kittiwake, Common gull, Buzzard, Short eared owls, Heron and Redshank. On the drive back when we were near to Peighinn-a-Bhaile we saw lots of waders on the beach near a jetty, we drove down onto the jetty getting excellent views (4feet away from the car) of Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed plover, Oystercatcher, Common sandpiper, Turnstone and Redshank. Back down to Loch Portain we saw a Golden eagle perched on top of a mountain which we viewed through the spotting scope for a while. Pair of Kestrels hunting, Immature Stonechat on wire fence, got some flight shots of Redshank and Lapwing but no sign of the Twite we saw previously.


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3rd June, very mild with sunshine, the wind dropped considerably. Due to me not setting my alarm correctly we had a very early start to the day. Up at 4.30am, out by 5am. We drove down the comittee road and saw Short eared owls, we then came accross a curlew chick about 70yds in front of us crossing the road, we stopped the car and watched as one of the parent birds was defending the chick. There was another car in front of us closer to the chick. We got some flight shots of the parent then it landed only yards from us and started to do the broken wing trick to get us away from the chick. We swiftly moved on not to disturb the parent too much. Further down we came accross 2 small herds of Red deer and one young 4 point stag.

On to Benbecula arriving at 6.30am for the Red necked phalarope (same spot as mentioned above) we had distant but great views of a Male bird. We watched a Short eared owl quartering the roadside and catching what seemed to be a very small rabbit. 6 more Red deer does with a 8 point stag. Snipe, Dunlin, Redshank and Arctic tern plus other species seen here before.

Afternoon drive to Loch Druidibeg/South Uist. We drove around the Loch to Rubhamor and up to Loch Sgiopoirt, we saw Common Sandpiper, Twite, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Wren, Skylark, Red throated diver on Loch Sgiopoirt with a pair of Red breasted mergansers, Golden eagle mobbed by Ravens. A drive back down to the parking area at Loch Druidibeg which is a SNR (Scottish nature reserve) we saw more 4 spot chasers, Large red Damsel, Common Blue damsel and Blue tailed Damsel, there was another Dragonfly hawking but we lost sight of it.

Loch Maddy in the evening we saw Gannet, Black Guillemot and really close views (10.30pm) of the large dog otter fishing, catching a fish, bringing the catch onto a small rock and eating his catch, we were so excited at the really close view that we made a small noise which he heard, the next we saw of him was 60yds out in the bay. Unfortunately it was too dark for pictures.


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4th June Sunny but cool with stiff breeze.

We decided to go back to Benbecula, Griminis for the Red necked phalarope, in the hope of getting a photograph. We had really good views of 2 males and 1 female but they were too far away for a good picture. The males were fighting and almost drowned eachother, quite brutal for such a small bird. We drove down a dirt track toward a old barn where Swallows were diving in and out of, hearing several Corncrake on the way. We decided to wait for the Corncrake to show itself and we ended up with excellent views and photographs, at one point a male came within 3 feet of the car. Just a quick tip for those of you who go for the Corncrake, Stay in the car and use it as a hide, as soon as you get out they stop calling and skulk away. Also seen here were, Snipe, Dunlin, Teal, Red breasted merganser,, Short eared owls, Arctic tern, Common gull eating what looked like an Oystercatcher chick and a Buzzard with an unusual prey item which looked like part of a human hand (hope it wasn't).

Back to loch Maddy as the weather was changing for the worst. It started to brighten up around 4pm so we decided to walk around Lock Maddy area before tea, This is when a birding friend of mine (Glyn Hyatt) found the Spotted Flycatcher behind the RBS bank just a few hundred yards up from Loch Maddy ferry terminal, from the data on the record shot (photograph) the time was 17.53pm on the 4th June 2010. The sighting was reported but not until the next day when we found out who the Bird recorder was for the Uists. Also seen were, Willow warbler, Chiff chaff and a Golden eagle over the Loch.


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These are just a few pictures form around the House where we were staying in Loch Maddy.


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5th June Departure day, Sunshine/light wind.

We went to look for the Spotted flycatcher in the morning but there was no sign of it. We saw a Cuckoo at close range on a telephone wire calling his head off. There were 4 Red breasted mergansers in the Loch at the back of the house and a White tailed eagle over the Loch flying toward Hamarsaigh Island. 2 Red throated divers close in, in one of the bays, and Arctic tern were also active. We also had a possible Pomarine skua but we couldn't get a possitive ID on it before it went out of sight. Activity on the feeder we took with us had steadily increased day by day, mainly with Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Sparrows, we left it in the garden with 10 Greenfinches squabbling for position on it, just hope the next people that stay there will keep it topped up with seed.

The drive back to Loch Boisedale: We saw Shorth eared owls, 4 Buzzards circling, a group of 5 Red deer stags on a hillside, including two 8 pointers in velvet.

Ferry crossing was nice and calm: A pod of Dolphins kept us amused for a while, plus another sighting of a Minkie whale. Birds seen were: Gannet, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Common Guillemot, Little auk, Fulmar, Great skua, Lot's of Eider and 3 Shags (Not with the female staff on board the ferry).

We also managed to catch sight of an Osprey on Loch Awe on the drive back home.

Anyone who is thinking of going should bear in mine that the petrol/Diesel is expensive on the Islands (around £135 per Litre), so fill up on the mainland. Facilities are few and far between and also a bit expensive, as can be some of the eating establishments if you are eating out. Loch Maddy hotel was quite reasonable with good food. Temple View Hotel being the best place to dine with a set menu of 3 courses at around £28, the food was excellent and is highly recommended. Shopping on the Uists is via local CO-OPs and very small local stores, there are also a few craft shops and cafes around.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.



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Here is a list of the species of birds we saw on our visit.
1. White tailed eagle
2. Golden eagle
3. Red breasted merganser
4. Goosander
5. Gannet
6. Great northern diver
7. Red throated diver
8. Black throated diver
9. Short eared owl
10. Hen harrier
11. Curlew
12. Heron
13. Buzzard
14. Raven
15. Shelduck
16. Eider
17. Mute swan
18. Whooper swan
19. Greylag goose
20. Bean goose
21. Oystercatcher
22. Redshank
23. Peregrine falcon
24. Merlin
25. Hooded crow
26. Jackdaw
27. Common gull
28. Herring gull
29. GBB gull
30. LBB gull
31. Kitiwake
32. Fulmar
33. Great skua
34. Long tailed skua
35. Arctic skua
36. Snipe
37. Jack snipe
38. Turnstone
39. Dunlin
40. Common sandpiper
41. Sanderling
42. Ringed plover
43. Cuckoo
44. Blackbird
45. Song thrush
46. Greenfinch
47. Dunnock
48. Willow warbler
49. Chiff chaff
50. Reed warbler
51. Spotted flycatcher
52. Meadow pipit
53. Chaffinch
54. Rock pipit
55. Skylark
56. Starling
57. Swallow
58. Swift
59. Kittiwake
60. Lapwing
61. Twite
62. Teal
63. Tufted duck
64. Razorbill
65. Guillemot
66. Black Guillemot
67. Common tern
68. Arctic tern
69. Little tern
70. Northern wren
71. Little auk (Ferry crossing, noton the Uists)
72. Manx shearwater
73. BH gull
74. Robin
75. Pied wagtail
76. Wood pigoen
77. Stock dove
78. Rock dove
79. House sparrow
80. Sand martin
With the possibility of the Pomarine skua.
We had a fantastic time when we visited the Uist's Neil it is one of my favorite place's in the uk happy memories. Good report Neil glad you enjoyed it. :t: Col ps You didn't see a short bald headed guy with glasses hanging around the co op did you neil? That's another story!!!!!!
The Uists

Yes, a great report Neil It's great when a holiday turns out as you hoped it would. You and Glynn obviously had a great time. The pictures are really nice as well.

Yes, a great report Neil It's great when a holiday turns out as you hoped it would. You and Glynn obviously had a great time. The pictures are really nice as well.


Half of them, would not have been half as good without your 500mmf/4 Charlie. Thanks again for the loan of the lens. You are a true friend. Neil.
Fantastic pictures Neil - I've still never been to the Uists and would love to go.

I was surprised to hear you saw Little Auk and Bean Goose - both would be extremely unusual in June I would think. You should let the local recorder know more about the records.
Hi Andrew, the little auk was seen just after we passed Iona whilst on the ferry, sorry for the confusion. We are certain it was a Bean goose we saw, fairly close views and plenty of time to check the Collins guide. I will send Brian Rabbitts a full report. Neil.
The "Little Auk" would be an absolutely astonishing record for June. Did you rule out a recently fledged Guillemot or Razorbill? Any photos?
On the 7 May 2006 whilst scanning through the birds on the sea at Brayble Bay Isle of Lewis through bins I noticed a bird that I thought at first must be a juvenile Puffin or Black Guillemot mainly because I doubted that I had ever seen juveniles of these species. However after scoping it and consulting the field guides I had with me I re-identified it as a Little Auk. I realised at the time that this was a very late record for this species but I had no doubt that my identification was correct. I submitted the record to the local recorder but I can't recall now if I ever heard if it was accepted. If anybody has the Outer Hebrides Report for 2006 I would be interested to know if it appears in it. Roger
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