After the Strontian fiasco it was inevitable that I still felt the need to go on a major and hopefully successful twitch! The only bird of real interest and that remained do-able in terms of distance, was the Harlequin duck at Balranald on North Uist. After looking at the ferry and b n b options I decided to go for it the following day. After a 3.5 hour drive I arrived in Uig on the isle of Skye at 07:15 and settled down to wait for the ferry. A couple of hours later I enjoyed the first manx shearwaters of the year and a bonus great skua. I arrived on a very windy but dry North Uist and after swiftly checking in to the b n b I started out across the machair towards the coast. On reaching the coast I was surprised not to see any other birders and realised I would have to settle down and search for the bird in a westerly force 6/7 and rough seas. Unfortunately the tide was also way out leaving a mass of exposed rocks behind which any number of sea ducks could hide- things did not look good!
Anyway, I won't go into all the details but needless to say that I finally got onto the bird after a very stressful 4.5 hour search- the umpteenth distant black speck on the sea finally proving to be the bird!
After watching the duck for 30 minutes or so I eventually lost it in the surf but my visit was certainly worth it as the bird was seen the next day and has not been reported since! I also enjoyed some other good birds including ring-necked duck, corn bunting and hen harrier.
|coast just west of Balranald|
|difficult finding a sea duck in that!!|
|distant record shot as they say!!!!|