Participants: Dave Pitman, Gareth and Leslie Powley, Jon and Syndy Hornbuckle
A very good trip led and driven by DP from Lancs, good weather.
Day 1 Sheffield – Glasgow – Skye – North Uist (Outer Hebrides)
Day 2 North Uist and Benbecula
Day 3 North Uist – Portree, Skye – Gairloch
Day 4 Gairloch – Grantown-on-Spey
Day 5 Speyside – Dunkeld – Sheffield
Highlights for Jon Hornbuckle
Pine Marten 5m away at Inverewe Garden, Snowy Owl, Great Northern Diver in breeding plumage, pair of close White-tailed Eagle, male Hen Harriers, visible singing Corncrake, displaying Greenshank, pair of Red-necked Phalarope, Red Squirrels.
Although a considerably smarter male occurred in Highland Scotland as recently as June 2011, the arrival of a female Greater Sand Plover to Stinky Bay on Benbecula (Outer Hebrides) still made for headline news during the morning of 8th. As it was the first for the Western Isles, Hebridean birders were no doubt hugely relieved when it was relocated that evening in nearby fields, following its disappearance during the mid-morning. The following day, the bird spent much of the day in Stinky Bay with a small contingent of Ringed Plovers, showing well but it had gone by 10th. A pair of Red-necked Phalarope were active on the nearby shore on 9th.
Greater Sand Plover occurs as a rare (but near-annual) vagrant to northern and western Europe, with Britain claiming twenty previous records, of which the latest three have all occurred north of the English border. Scotland has also claimed a further three individuals over the years, as well as two Lesser Sand Plovers. The separation of the two has caused identification headaches in the past, although the obvious greenish legs and long, heavy-looking bill (as well as size when compared to Dunlin in photographs) define this bird as a clear Greater. Within the Western Palearctic, the species' breeding range is restricted to Turkey (the core of the range runs eastwards from the Caspian Sea to Mongolia), although it is a regular winter visitor to the Red Sea — good numbers can be found in coastal Egypt.
On North Uist the male Snowy Owl remained at Solas.
Capercaillie: female flushed from 10m up in tree near Loch Garten
Red-throated Diver: pair on loch on N Uist and a few in the Gairloch area
Black-throated Diver: 1 on loch with island north of Gairloch
Great Northern Diver: 3 in bay N of Gairloch and 2 distant birds off-shore
Slavonian Grebe: pair on loch ?
Manx Shearwater: a few from ferry
Red Kite: 2 N of Inverness including 1 taking prey to nest area – a corvid from a large cage trap (?)
White-tailed Eagle: 2 adults at Portree including flying over our boat, 1 perched opposite N Uist ferry terminal, 2 flight views on N Uist
Hen Harrier: a few sightings of males hunting on N Uist
Golden Eagle: pair in flight from hilltop transmitter on N Uist with youngster perched on distant erie below, 2 others in flight
Osprey: 2 on Speyside and 1 at Loch of Lowes
Corncrake: 2 seen and several heard on N Uist
Greater Sand-Plover: female at Stinky Bay, Benbecula
Whimbrel: heard on N Uist
Greenshank: 2 in display flight on N Uist
Red-necked Phalarope: pair on shore-line on Benbecula
Arctic Skua: 5 singles around N Uist
Snowy Owl: adult male at Solas, N Uist
Short-eared Owl: common on N Uist
Rock Pipit: a few on N Uist
Crested Tit: 2 near Grantown and 1 at feeder at Loch Garten
Twite: several on N Uist
Scottish Crossbill: heard at 2 sites near and at Loch Garten
Otter: 1 on rocks near N Uist ferry terminal, 1 fishing near shore near Gairloch
Pine Marten: I at Inverewe Garden at 07.15
Red Squirrel: several at feeders at Grantown
Species list[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]