Friday, 17 July 2015

A Tour of the Outer Hebrides Part2 - North Uist, Harris and Lewis

So part 2 starts with a bit of spare time after checking out of our hotel before catching our ferry to Harris, so we started first to have a little look around Lochmaddy,
The view from the harbour,
 This Red-throated diver came in caught a fish and departed:

We explored a bit of the north coast again, coming across this Red-breasted Merganser and chicks:
While searching for Eagles we found another Short-eared Owl hunting and were lucky enough to see it pounce on an unsuspecting rodent. It sat for a while with it in its talons
 before heading off to eat away from our prying eyes (and camera!)
We finally headed off North Uist across the causeway to Berensay and the ferry terminal for Harris, but we were still a little early so we explored Berensay a little and found a nice spot where a wildlife tour group were watching something in the water, this turned out to be a an Otter, way to far for a photo, but the tour guide let us use his scope, which was rather nice of him. I reciprocated by finding this:
 and pointing it out to his group, a young White-tailed Eagle (Sea Eagle), brilliant!

So finally we caught the ferry and headed off to Harris. The crossing proved very interesting the best coming from an Arctic Skua chasing an Arctic Tern, this kept us enthralled for a good few minutes before the Tern managed to make its escape.
 The scenery wasn't bad either
 Large numbers of Gannets were about some coming fairly close to the Ferry
 while the main group were fishing some distance away.
 Lots of other fishing was going on too, with Arctic Terns about and groups of Shag on the water.
We arrived on Harris in the sunshine and once away from the Ferry Terminal were blown away by the scenery, North Uist and Benbecula had been brilliant, but Harris is spectacular, we were running out of superlatives! I just wish the photos did it justice.

So back to birds! Although we saw plenty on Harris decent photo opportunities were few, the best being another Red-throated Diver.
After 2 nights at Tarbert on Harris we drive north to Lewis for two nights near Stornoway, on the way up there was plenty of time to explore a bit and we found these two Whoopers Swans on one of the small lochs:
Again plenty of great scenery was seen although since we left Harris, Lewis seemed a tad dull by comparison. We started our full day on Lewis with a visit to the Butt of Lewis and a nice walk around the headland where there were plenty of Fulmars,

 Great coastline,
 Black Guillemot,
 and Kittiwake.
We moved onto a nearby Nature Reserve with a hide at Loch Stiapabhat where Tina saw a Corncrake but I missed it, although as usual with Corncrake it called incessantly! The reserve was a lovely spot and plenty other birds were seen, but of course Coffee was had there too! Luckily for us we met a nice chap in the hide who tipped us off to a nearby Lesser Canada Goose that was spending time with a couple of Whoopers. I have to admit if he hadn't told us I wouldn't have know it wasn't a bog standard (Greater) Canada Goose.

From here we carried on to find a small RSPB reserve, Loch na Muilne. The weather was turning iffy when we got there and nearly didn't explore but we were so glad we did, we hadn't go far when we came across a number of Red-necked Phalarope hiding in the vegetation of the Loch. We couldn't get very close but we had great views through the scope and bins and I did manage a few distant snaps when they emerged:

There were also plenty of Redshank around:
So with the weather deteriorating we headed back to Stornoway, where we had seen our first real new species of the trip the day before in very bad light three Black-throated Divers, so we checked to see if they were still around and if a better photo opportunity presented itself, there were only two about this time, but the light was a bit better;

So that was Lewis, off to Skye next for four nights, but that's the end of the Outer Hebrides.

A full list of the birds seen on the Islands:
Arctic Skua  ("Stercorarius parasiticus")
Arctic Tern  ("Sterna paradisaea")
Bar-tailed Godwit  ("Limosa lapponica")
Black Guillemot  ("Cepphus grylle")
Blackbird  ("Turdus merula")
Black-headed Gull  ("Chroicocephalus ridibundus")
Black-throated Diver  ("Gavia arctica")
Buzzard  ("Buteo buteo")
Canada Goose (parvipes)  ("Branta canadensis parvipes")
Chaffinch  ("Fringilla coelebs")
Collared Dove  ("Streptopelia decaocto")
Common Gull  ("Larus canus")
Common Sandpiper  ("Actitis hypoleucos")
Cormorant  ("Phalacrocorax carbo")
Corncrake  ("Crex crex")
Curlew  ("Numenius arquata")
Dunlin  ("Calidris alpina")
Eider  ("Somateria mollissima")
Fulmar  ("Fulmarus glacialis")
Gannet  ("Morus bassanus")
Golden Eagle  ("Aquila chrysaetos")
Golden Plover  ("Pluvialis apricaria")
Great Black-backed Gull  ("Larus marinus")
Great Skua  ("Stercorarius skua")
Greenfinch  ("Chloris chloris")
Grey Heron  ("Ardea cinerea")
Greylag Goose  ("Anser anser")
Guillemot  ("Uria aalge")
Hen Harrier  ("Circus cyaneus")
Herring Gull  ("Larus argentatus")
Hooded Crow  ("Corvus cornix")
House Sparrow  ("Passer domesticus")
Kestrel  ("Falco tinnunculus")
Kittiwake  ("Rissa tridactyla")
Lapwing  ("Vanellus vanellus")
Lesser Black-backed Gull  ("Larus fuscus")
Little Grebe  ("Tachybaptus ruficollis")
Little Stint  ("Calidris minuta")
Mallard  ("Anas platyrhynchos")
Meadow Pipit  ("Anthus pratensis")
Mute Swan  ("Cygnus olor")
Oystercatcher  ("Haematopus ostralegus")
Pied Wagtail  ("Motacilla alba")
Puffin  ("Fratercula arctica")
Raven  ("Corvus corax")
Razorbill  ("Alca torda")
Red-breasted Merganser  ("Mergus serrator")
Red-necked Phalarope  ("Phalaropus lobatus")
Redshank  ("Tringa totanus")
Red-throated Diver  ("Gavia stellata")
Ringed Plover  ("Charadrius hiaticula")
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon  ("Columba livia")
Rock Pipit  ("Anthus petrosus")
Sand Martin  ("Riparia riparia")
Sanderling  ("Calidris alba")
Shag  ("Phalacrocorax aristotelis")
Shelduck  ("Tadorna tadorna")
Short-eared Owl  ("Asio flammeus")
Skylark  ("Alauda arvensis")
Snipe  ("Gallinago gallinago")
Song Thrush  ("Turdus philomelos")
Starling  ("Sturnus vulgaris")
Stonechat  ("Saxicola torquatus")
Swallow  ("Hirundo rustica")
Teal  ("Anas crecca")
Tufted Duck  ("Aythya fuligula")
Turnstone  ("Arenaria interpres")
Wheatear  ("Oenanthe oenanthe")
White-tailed Eagle  ("Haliaeetus albicilla")
Whooper Swan  ("Cygnus cygnus")
Wigeon  ("Anas penelope")
Woodpigeon  ("Columba palumbus")
Wren  ("Troglodytes troglodytes")

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