Thursday 29 May 2014

North Uist

It had been 20 years almost to the day since I last visited North Uist, so a return was well overdue.

Last Friday I joined Dave Gray, Colin Green and John Waters on a weekend away to North Uist. We arrived at Uig on the Isle of Skye in plenty of time to catch the ferry. Unable to get a breakfast, as everywhere was shut, we decided to do a bit of birding, but boy it was cold. The wind was strong and it had a northerly element to it - enough said.

On board the ferry we braved the cold and were rewarded with views of three White-tailed Eagles. They were distant, but we could make out their white tails. Loads of Puffins were loafing about on the sea, as well as both guillemot species and small numbers of Razorbills.

Arriving on Skye we headed straight to Balranald RSPB reserve where we eventually managed to get good views of Corncrake.



Nearby on the beach were a couple of first-summer Glaucous Gulls which posed for photos. A large flock of waders fed along the shore-line and in the sea weed that had been pushed up onto part of the beach by storms. We also saw three White-winged Black Terns close to the RSPB reserve.

First-summer Glaucous Gull
Colour-ringed Sanderling

Close to the beach we saw several Corn Buntings and Twite. The Corn Bunting below landed right by our feet.

Corn Bunting

As well as visiting Balranald we also drove along the Committee Road where we had really good views of a couple Short-eared Owls and a male Hen Harrier, which had made kill. Short-eared owls proved to be fairly common, which was really good.

Short-eared owl

On Saturday we had more of the same plus we visited a site for Hebridean Marsh Orchid. Dave has seen most of the orchid species seen in Britain, but this one was a tick for him.

Hebridean Marsh Orchid

Despite trying we failed to see the breeding Red-necked Phalaropes, but that gives us a reason for trying again in the future.

Sunday's highlight was a couple of Golden Eagles. One flew straight over our heads although quite high up.

Golden Eagle
Traditional Croft


  1. Nice images mate...............

  2. Magical place North Uist. We nearly went last week but the distance/travelling time put us off and we decided on Mull instead, plus we did Uist last year for the drake Harlequin - must have been a fair old trek for you mate how long were you travelling?... Looking at your Corncrake pics - do you know what the 2 marks on the side of the face are?

  3. Hi Darren, as far as I can see the dark markings are part of the plumage. It would appear that a few can show dark lines on the side of the face, but this is the most distinctive image of it I can find. I wondered if it was a faulty image to start with, but its on Colin Green's photos as well.

    It took us 10 hrs to get to Uig and 11 hrs to get home. Luckily I wasn't driving, so I slept most of the way. I was still getting over being starved of sleep in Belarus.

  4. Nice shots Carl, I will let you know how I get on with the colour ringed Sanderling?