I have had a good spell of time in the field over the past couple of weeks. As per usual my local patches have produced nothing outrageous, but I have had some fun putting together a number of BTO bird track lists. Great northern divers, woodcock and a merlin have been the nicest birds locally. Slightly further afield I went on a mini twitch to Findhorn in order to see little egret and green sandpiper. Although not great rarities these are difficult species to catch up with in the north of Scotland and indeed both of these birds were 'ticks' for my fledgling 'Scottish list'.
On a similar note, although I saw an American robin a decade ago at Godrevy, Cornwall, the chance to get one on my Scottish list required a trip to the outer hebrides. This is rather arduous at this time of the year with short days, poor light generally and the need to undertake an overnight stay due to the infrequent ferry crossings. Anyway, if birding was too easy I would have seen every species by now and probably feel totally bored with the whole twitching scene!
Having teamed up with fellow Ullapool birder Richard Rafe and BTO (Scotland) atlas guru Bob Swann, we undertook the drive to Uig, Isle of Skye for the ferry to Loch Maddy, North Uist.
|American robin on a very dull day.|
I got onto two late Leach's petrels on the way over which was rather surprising and we had good views of a white-tailed eagle at Loch Maddy. An hour later we were fortunate to pick up the American robin from the car as we pulled up at the site! We then enjoyed good views of the bird before it was flushed by a kestrel. With an hour of 'daylight' left, we moved over to Ardvule point for good views of sanderling, another white-tailed eagle, peregrine, snipe, turnstone and 60 or so purple sandpipers.
The following morning after a night in b n b, we had a look for the female lesser scaup at Ard Mhor. Again the light was poor and the bird was rather distant but we eventually got the key ID features sorted as it fed with a flock of tufted duck and widgeon. With only another 90 minutes or so before the return ferry crossing we quickly covered a few more coastal sites and picked up long-tailed duck, grey plover, gadwall, pintail and several great northern divers. After boarding the ferry we were treated to a very unseasonal manx shearwater and on our approach to Uig another pair of white-tailed eagles were seen interacting below a large cliff face. Now it is bag packing time again as I head off for my next bout of sea time.
|lesser scaup- honestly!|
|Bob and Richard enjoying a very uncrowded American robin twitch!!|