The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Outer Hebrides - Day 5

A night of seemingly constant 'Crex-ing', but not complaining!

We initially weren't going to attempt to make it down as far as South Uist, given the distance involved (not actually that far, but on slow roads), and the time required to get our targets on North Uist.

Well, given that we'd pretty much cleaned up there, we thought we may as well give it a go, particularly given the information we'd received of a site which was apparently virtually guaranteed for Otter, and does occasionally have White-tailed Eagle.  Today was the day we made the journey.

First though, we headed back to Aird an Runair, for the last time.  A couple of flocks of Pomarine Skua were a fitting last hurrah, the Iceland Gull was still around, and a single Bar-tailed Godwit was new for the trip.  Soon though, we were eager to get off to South Uist.

A good 45 mins drive later, we'd travelled across Benbecula and 2 thirds the way down South Uist, to the scenic splendour of Loch Eynort. 

We started to walk through a bit of deciduous woodland, which held a Spotted Flycatcher, amongst a load of other scarcely-seen passerines for this trip.  It was a breezy day, so it was a great relief to walk down onto the shoreline, in a little sheltered bay, free of any wind.

A Cuckoo showed well, a young Grey Heron was calling from its nest, the only Redpolls of the trip flew over, and two pairs of Red-throated Diver interacted with each other.  It was at this point I found a distant Golden Eagle flying along a distant ridge.

Then, suddenly, a huge dark shape reared over us, being shadowed by another.  One was a Great Black-backed Gull, but the other was an adult White-tailed Eagle!  It circled, and drifted around a bit, before disappearing over a distant mountain-top, being persued by the dwarfed GBB.  Awesome!  What a great little spot!

We carried on reluctantly along the loch shore.  We were told by a couple of an Otter which had just been seen, quite possibly in view whilst we were watching other things! It had apparently swum behind a point, into a small bay, so we headed there.

Once there, we found precisely nothing bar a few ever-present Grey Seal. A mis-ID?  Here, I did see a brief Whitethroat, the only one of the trip.

We carried on along the moorland path, seeing another distant Golden Eagle on the way, being mobbed by a small raptor, almost certainly a Merlin.

We found ourselves in a small dry-stone wall enclosure, and watched from there.  After a fair amount of scanning, I eventually spotted a promising looking head out in the middle of a bay - an Otter! Finally! We watched it chomping on various morsels, though it soon disappeared whilst we were distracted by other things - plenty to do that here!

On the walk back, we found the interesting carnivorous Butterwort on one of the many wet flushes, and saw another 2 Golden Eagle, seemingly defending a nest-site.  What a place this is!

Once back at the car park, we talked to a birder who told us about a Glaucous Gull nearby, so off we went.

We had great trouble following his directions, but eventually found the spot near Howbeg.  Plenty of Gulls, but nothing notable at all.  We moved on to try and find a Rose-coloured Starling that had been around for a few days.

Ardivachar Point was the site, and what an interesting one it was.  It was nice to walk round, though it was totally Rosy-less!  It wasn't seen again.  Mind you, we shouldn't complain given the events of earlier in the day.

We drove all the way back to base, before going off for an evening meal at Lochmaddy, on our last night on these magical islands.

You can't do anything here without seeing amazing things, and even driving back from Lochmaddy we saw what proved to be our last Hen Harrier of the trip, and had an amazing encounter with 2 Short-eared Owl near Knockintorran, doing their amazing 'wing-clapping' aggression display over our heads!  A fitting end.



  1. Cracking posts of your trip - you certainly picked a belter. Really enjoyed reading them

  2. Thanks Neil, but not quite finished yet!