Saturday, 2 November 2013

Sad pigeon skulks with 2 day hangover?

- or perhaps I should not try and be a smarty pants and just say 'Mourning dove on Rum for 2nd day'!

40 hours after emptying my seabag, drinking an exceptionally large g-n-t and working through 3 weeks worth of (largely) junk mail, my phone 'beeped' during a woodland local patch sortie and there was an sms message- 'mega highland- mourning dove, Isle of Rum'- yikes- I wasn't sure of the number but knew that there had not been too many previous records of that Bird in Britain! A little later whilst sat on the computer trying to figure out the logistics of Scottish, west coast ferry links, my phone rang and local birder Richard Rafe was on the phone to say that Bob Mcmillan (see the excellent skye birds link was going for the bird and was I keen to go?!! .....
the approaches to Kinloch, Rum
the next morning we left Ullapool at 06:00 for the drive through Kyle of Lochalsh and over the Skye bridge to Armadale, where, having met up with Bob we boarded the ferry for Mallaig- already running 20 minutes late. As the ferry approached the pier in Mallaig a queue of 35+ green-clad, scope-carrying birders could be seen (im)patiently waiting to board and get to Rum. The crossing was rough and somewhat slower than anticipated and a few folk looked decidedly green by the time we approached Kinloch on Rum. The captain's announcement told everyone that we had to be back at the pier and ready to board at 14:15 - as I stepped off the ferry I looked at my watch and realised that I had 2 hours and 7 minutes to walk around the bay, locate the bird and walk back for the return sailing. It was tight but certainly doable as long as the bird cooperated and showed.......anyway after following the 'Mourning dove' signs kindly erected by the locals (not sure who but many thanks!) I arrived behind the bulk of the other birders and put up my scope in anticipation. A nervous 30 minutes passed before the first poor view was obtained- through a fellow birders' scope and largely of a silhouette that really looked like a collared dove- I was not too impressed. I quickly got tired of the hustle and bustle of the scrum as tired birders, some of whom had travelled overnight from as far a field as Cheshire, Luton and Suffolk desperately tried to get on the bird. I walked back around the house and shortly afterwards one of the rangers walked around me to a different vantage point and then waved for us to join him- the bird was now offering better views and I could clearly see the dark spot on the neck- the bird was skulking, the light was poor, I got no photos. but I was happy to 'tick' the bird. I enjoyed the view for 10 minutes or so and then decided to have a solo walk back ahead of the rush to see what else was about- the woodland just looks as if it ought to hold a scarce migrant or two. Anyway, I didn't find anything of note other than a half-heard 'probable' yellow-browed warbler. Everyone was in good spirits on the way back to Mallaig, some birders slept before the long dash south to PG for the Hermit thrush. I enjoyed watching the kittiwakes and looking back at the imposing outline of Rum. A thoroughly enjoyable and fun twitch!

dramatic scenery and light!


  1. Hey could you follow me as I am following you

  2. Hi Toby- not sure how to follow- what is your blog url/website address?