Monday, 5 November 2007

Western Isles

News broke last Thursday, and it wasn't long before I was on my phone ringing around. I couldn't get a lift that night, but there was some logics behind this; like finding out whether the bird survived the night....etc

Having spoken to Dan before I went out with the lads that night, I thought I was going to have to arrange something the next day. Luckily I came home to find that there was a close lift offered on RBA. Immediately phoning up and grabbing the two seats alongside Alan Lewis and Andy James.

I was picked up by Dan at 6:30pm, meeting the others in Newbury. We arrived at about 5:30am the next morning in Uig. Barn Owl was seen and apparantly hundreds of Deer, so I was apparantly asleep, though I can't remember sleeping on the way up at all?!?! Something wasn't right there :¬S

In Uig there was a moulting Great Northern Diver, Eiders, Hooded Crows and a Golden Eagle which passed overhead as everyone was docking. Dan and I, had a look around to find ourselves a nice goodie before, but no such luck....yet.

On the boat, 2 more Golden Eagles were seen over the land, with at least Pomarine Skuas (including a close adult bird with spoons) and a few Arctics, Gannets, Kittiwakes etc passing the boat every so often. I also managed a Grey Phalorope shooting back in the opposite direction to where the boat was travelling. Red-throated Divers were in the harbour at Lochmaddy.

A Hebridean Wren on a stone wall, near the Mourning Dove, when my lense had fogged up after abit of rain, so excuse the un-clearity (c) Ashley Howe

Off the boat and the race was on, straight to Clachan a Luib for the Mourning Dove, only to find it hadn't been seen for the last half 'n' hour or so. Meanwhile picking out the female type Ring-necked Duck on nearby Loch na Faoileige with half a dozen Whoopers there as well. A couple more Golden Eagles in the distant and a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier persuing the area.

Half a dozen Whooper Swans taking off from the nearby flock and a fraction of the travelling birders, looking at the Mourning Dove quite distantly (c) Ashley Howe

After a hour roughly, Alan took control of things, ordering people to get back from the corner, laying down fresh seed, co-incidental or not, it flew in with a few Starlings after about 10 seconds. Fuck my old boot, it landed on the derelict building. We spent a few hours with the bird showing well, before heading off to look for the reported Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll. No sign but a Merlin constantly harrassing a Hooded Crow was interesting, Yellow-browed Warbler in the first bit of bushes we viewed, and a large flock of Barnacles coming in at range. Back to the Outdoor activity centre where we planned to stay the night, there was abit of light left so we searched the nearby waters discovering an Otter, a few Black Guillies, Chiff-chaffs and Eider.

My first decent attempt at photographing the Mourning Dove feeding on grain on the corner by the derelict house (c) Ashley Howe

Darkness fell, and we headed for the pubs, skipping between the two on offer, we celebrated a successful twitch with the one and only, the outstandingly famous 'Nollie and Friends' performing from 10pm onwards, as soon as he started, our ears heart (i'm putting it politely) we left immediately back to the other one. Getting back to the centre at about midnight for sleep. Up again at 6:00am for another brief look for the Redpolls and again the Dove, showing better this morning.

The star of the trip without no doubt, on the second day of the trip, the Mourning Dove showed well, with a series of shots taken on its favoured rock at the time. (c) Ashley Howe

Crossing the causeway after, scanning through the Barnacles and Golden Plover couldn't find us a yank amongst. But a flock of 300 Twite strong was nice. The Great-white Egret being picked out amongst a flock of Geese in flight wasn't to hard. But no Redpolls.

A fraction of the flock of roughly 300 Twite with many feeding in the field (c) Ashley Howe

Back to the boat, leaving at midday, seeing Pom and Arctic Skuas again on the way back, a few Stormies, a Little Auk and more Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Gannets and another Golden Eagle as we approached the dock. The journey home began at about 2:00pm arriving home at about half 1 in the morning.

A few other random shots of the bird, on the derelict house there and nearby fence posts as it liked to frequent between different points (c) Ashley Howe

Another quality trip, with a few guys who know how to twitch in style!! Thanks alot lads.


Stephen Menzie said...

Nice Wren mate; just like the ones I get in my garden! Sounds like you had a good trip. Will have to nip up there myself some time ;)

HampshireBirder said...

oh god i think i would have died