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xelas

A Shy Grey Mountain Bird :unsure:?

 

How many of water birds will be still in Scotland in August?

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In a break from the norm I am going to present my offerings in more or less A-Z order of family. This is because I grouped them thus in order to select the 'best', not the first seen, having to wade t

I have been quiet, too quiet some may say but whilst awaiting some autumn and winter visitors I went south.   I had programmed my Garmin to find birds and this is what "Gladys" came up with:

So now we leave Kwando and head for the Okavango and the lovely Mahango NP where we will seek Roan and Sable Antelope plus usal mammals and a few special birds. After swift progress and booking i

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Towlersonsafari

That isn't a dotteral peeking out behind the rock is it? I am looking at your report on a small tablet so forgive me if it's wrong! As soon as you said loch ruthven I was looking forward to the Slavonian grebe and the drive there is fun isn't it.love the ring ouzel @Galana

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michael-ibk

Then it does not count.:P

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Dave Williams

A Ptarmigan I would think.

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Galana

@xelas

Waterbirds will still be around. Scotland is not short of water. Some moving south but others could be arriving for the winter. Others resident year round.

But you could tune in to this site    http://www.outerhebridesbirds.org.uk/index.php?forums/2017-bird-sightings.2/

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Galana

@Towlersonsafari Dotterell was on the list but sadly not photographed other than a superb pose in my memory. I spent valuable time getting friends on to it and missed the shot.

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Galana

@michael-ibk  I don't mind a climb for a Snow Leopard but draw the line at 'Frenchmen'. We have them here at home but no 2017 pics (yet) so that does not count.

 

@Dave Williams  Had to be. Extreme EBC.

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Galana

Now after a drive to Ullapool we have crossed The Minch and arrived on the Isle of Lewis where our home for the week is to be a traditional Blackhouse (suitably modernised inside of course). From the ferry we saw most auks and other birds but photography was not practical.

However our drive over to our base started well with a Golden Eagle that caused an instant slide as I jumped out to try for a photo as it slid off down wind.

 

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91. Golden Eagle. A good omen?

 

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92. Ringed Plover. We get these at home but why not use it here?

 

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93 .Dunlin too. We don't often see them in wedding dress.

 

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00. Sanderling.  Already counted in winter plumage at home. This is a nice contrast.

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00. Another not counted but as he posed so nicely outside my house I feel he deserves his moment of fame.

 

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00. As does this Skylark who shared our plot.

Time to move the score along:-

 

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94. Fulmars breeding on the cliffs at the most northwesterly point of the British Isles.The plant is Sea Pink or Thrift.

 

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95. Gannet. If I see a Cape Gannet I will discriminate but until then this is a Gannet.

 

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96. Common Gull. No! It's not in a cage. That is the farmer's fence.

 

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97. Lesser Balked Gull. Ness point.

Now to relocate to Loch Stiapabhat a few miles south.

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98. Red-throated Diver. The white bits are feathers where a Whooper Swan attacked it.

 

Now for what I had really come to see.

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99. Ruff. I must have seen 100s of em in Africa but never in the breeding costumes that give them their name.

They seem to come in all colours too. Here are a couple in white and black strutting their stuff.

 

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00. This could be 100 up if I count the Hoodies challenging the Golden Eagle for the remains of its meal, But Hoodies don't deserve the fame and we get them at home anyway so I can do better. EBC is NOT for Hoodies!!

 

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100. The honour goes to a pair of Black-throated Divers.

 

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101. Great Northern Diver. The only one I could get within range. Ransome's book of the same name was set on Lewis.

And finally for this set (and controversially for some,)

 

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102. Hebridean Thrush. sitting on my roof.

More follows and thanks for all the comments.

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Speling.
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TonyQ

Well done on reaching 100! A great selection from Scotland. I didn't know there was a different subspecies of thrush in the Hebrides.

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Galana

@TonyQ Thanks. Technically the Hebridean is a Race first described in 1913 when some so & so 9woth the inappropriate name of Eagle Clarke shot a brace on Barra.

Turdus philomelos hebridensis: Outer Hebrides and Isle of Skye.

But recogised by Clements and good enough for me.

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Peter Connan

100 up already! Congratulations.

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Galana

We continue on Lewis with a few old friends and some new ones:-

Back at Loch Stiapabhat there is a hide that affords cover and shelter from the Hebridean weather.

No scores on the doors for the next few and posted in case they are of interest.

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00. The Red-throated Diver seems to have recovered by our next visit.

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00. Another variant of the Ruff display plumage. This time a black head and mottled Ruff.

He spent his time displaying to a Redshank who was not impressed at all.

 

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00. Greylag Geese were very common here.

 

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00. We had flying Whimbrel earlier but here they are preening and showing the striped head that is a good field mark from Curlew.

 

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00. Another no score even with three species of Gull. Just to show the size difference between Greater Black-backed Gull (Pink legs) and Lesser black-backed with Yellow. The other is of course Black-headed.

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103. Common Terns.

 

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104.What we now have to call the Black-legged Kittiwake.

 

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105. Common Redshank. When breeding these birds love to sit up and keep guard.

Quite a change from the normal beach activity.

 

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106. Common Snipe. Same post, different bird.

 

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107. Eurasian Teal. Those guys in Maryland now want us to call it Green-winged (European race.) Is there no limits to arrogance?

We had our Teal before Columbus found America let alone ducks. Ruddy cheek!

 

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108. Ruddy Turnstone. Just could not resist. :lol: Again not the usual bird we see in winter.

 

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109. Now they want us to call this a Winter Wren but this is the end of May???

 

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110. Golden Plover. Down in Uig to see the Lewis Chessmen I saw this on the hill above.

 

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00. And found a pair of breeding Red-throated Divers on a remote Loch.

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Galana

Photo 97. Lesser Balked Gull? New one on me. A dyslexic Lesser Black-backed Gull of course.

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Galana

Moving on through Harris (where we watched a great ding dong between a Golden Eagle and a White-tailed Eagle but only through binoculars not the viewfinder) we caught the Ferry from Leverburgh to Berneray which is linked by causeway to the Uists and Benbecula.

I like the Machair around Borgh on Berneray so went up there first before heading for our cottage near Loch Hosta on North Uist.

 

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111. Little Terns nest in the Machair. Careful not to disturb I took a quick snap from the car window and left her to it.

 

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112. Not a feral. This is the real deal. Rock Dove. Columba livia. The original fast food for Peregrines and the bird that gave rise to Clay Pigeon shooting

Our base at Loch Hosta is called 'Lochside'.(There's a novelty) A simple turf roofed cabin that I refer to as the best furnished bird hide in Britain. Everything from Eagles to Otters from your bedroom window.

 

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113. They call this a Barn Swallow but they were around before Barns were invented. From the kitchen window so is it a Kitchen Swallow?

 

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114. Tufted Duck. On the Loch.

 

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00. A Golden Eagle nests on the cliff over the Loch and came to check us out.

 

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115. Oystercatchers (and other waders) nest in the cabin 'garden'. This one had two chicks.

 

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116. Corncrakes kept us awake in the light evenings.

 

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117. Corn Buntings can be found nearby at the RSPB reserve at Balranald.

 

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118. Arctic Terns nest nearby too.

 

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119. Twite. The northern equivalent of the Lowland Linnet.

A good start and the best is yet to come.

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xelas

One one hundred, ...congratulations, @Galana! But there will be many hundreds to come, this year. I hope the weather will have mercy on us.

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TonyQ

A wonderful selection from Scotland - and a great advertisement for us to look at a trip to more islands. Your bird-hide home sounds very tempting. Well done with the Corncrake, and the terns.

 

(Who are the people in Maryland who want us to change what we call our birds? - serious question from a new birder, not a mock outrage!)

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Dave Williams

An excellent list being put together, especially as it has so many UK gems in it. I really must get to Scotland again, what dates where you there? An ambition, amongst many, is to see Ruff lekking or at least in full breeding plumage. I can't think of any other bird that is transformed quite as dramatically although I daresay there are quite a few. 

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Towlersonsafari

a very esoteric list indeed. When we were there a couple of years ago we were based in south Uist, and lost count of the short eared owls we saw-I look forward to seeing that fine bird-as wella s Hen Harrier-on your list shortly!

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Galana

@TonyQ  Re Maryland. I think it was some University that claims to be the definitive authority. I only picked up on it when some on line list that folks can record their sightings on had one visitor to IOM showing "Green-winged Teal" which, being me, I queried. I got a learned tirade from "whoever" saying all our Teal were Green-winged Teals and 'ours' was a race. Responded with the suggestion he could walk East til his hat floated!

 

Lochside is already booked for next year. It is available through cottages4you.

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Galana

@Dave Williams  We were there late May early June. Yes the Ruff was one of my 'must see that' targets. More gems to come including one I never expected to see. No lifers but never really expected any.

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Galana

@Towlersonsafari Keep tuned. SE Owls I have but Hen harriers sadly were very few and far between this year. I don't think there were any breeding on Committee Road this year. I am going to have to work on Hen Harrier to get it on my list this year. I saw a female yesterday but lost it to sight before I could grab a shot.:angry:

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Galana

The list continues. Many thanks to all following.

I will try and give locations but please understand when I withhold one or two more sensitive ones from a public forum like this.

 

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120. Siskin. Top one was Langass Woods, North Uist but as it is a tad EBC I attach another taken in Glen Loy later in our trip.

 

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121. Glaucous Gull (imm).  Rubh Arnal . North Uist.

 

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122. Short-eared Owl. This was on the roadside near Solas N. Uist. They sit and dry out after rain with traffic whizzing by but if you stop suddenly, they go! So stop short and see how they react and you get the shots. Lots of them around.

 

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123. Merlin.  Near Stinky Bay, Benbecula. Saw it from the car but could not stop so swung off and walked back. This is as close as I could get.

 

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124. Sheldduck. Stinky Bay. Its the seaweed that stinks at low tide.

 

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00. Another day another Ruff. Loch Mor, Benbecula. A foxy red this time.

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125. Cuckoo, Bagh a Chaise. Almost the eastern tip of North Uist.

Anyone visiting Hebrides could do worse than contact http://www.outerhebridesbirds.org.uk/index.php?forums/2017-bird-sightings.2/

I found them extremely willing and helpful with information and have no doubt they added much to my enjoyment of the trip.

There is a story behind the cuckoo. there were two on a telephone wire near where I was parked but the view was not good. So I tried to walk  for a clearer shot. They flew but on walking back I saw a disturbance with some Gulls in the rocks and heavens above a lovely female Otter came ashore and proceeded to eat a fish right in front of me. Then she cleaned herself up and dried off in the sun before taking a nap. Never had such a long sighting before. I say "she" because I was that close and think pups were due.:wub:

 

 

 

 

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Galana

To finish off the Outer Hebrides we again scored a few nice birds including a rarity but will start with a real EBC:-

 

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126. The only photo I managed of a White-tailed Eagle. Trust me that is a white tail you can just see. I even did a day trip over to Mull to get one as I knew a nest site but it poured down all day! Ho hum!

 

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127. A colony of Sand Martins were near Lochside but I kept a distance so to amke up for the neo EBC here is one I saw last weekend.

 

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128a. Male Red necked Phalarope in breeding plumage. Not the RSPB reserve on Lewis.

 

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128b. Red-necked Phalarope. Female which of course leads on to greater things:-

 

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128X. Breeding Red-necked Phalaropes.

 

We now leave the Outer Hebrides for Morvern where we normally do well for Eagles and woodland birds (and Pine Martens and even Scottish Wildcat.) but the weather turned really sour for nearly the whole week of our stay.

When we did get out the birds stayed shy although we did net a couple.

 

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129. Willow Warbler. The Lodge, Drimnin Estate.

 

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130. My heart leaped when this little chap dropped onto ground behind my car. Reality took over and it is of course not a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (they don't occur in Scotland) but a Juv. Greater Spotted. Still a tick though.

Next is a better one from later in the trip.

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130B. An adult Greater-Spotted as a regular at the feeder in Glen Loy. (as were Pine Martens for their Peanut butter suppers)

 

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131. Common Sandpiper. Rahoy. Morvern.

 

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00. Common Buzzard. (Seen already in Namibia!!)

 

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132. Spotted (and wet) Flycatcher. Rahoy Woods. Morvern.

 

We now leave Morvern for the Great Glen near Fort William where I will continue and hope to finish Scotland in the next posting.

 

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xelas
9 hours ago, Galana said:

I even did a day trip over to Mull to get one as I knew a nest site but it poured down all day!

 

Did you share this location with me already, @Galana? Because we will have splendid sunny days on Mull ! Ho hum!

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Galana

The location is well known. The birds nest there regularly almost in full view of the 'main' road around Loch na Keale. You won't go short of both species of Eagle on Mull weather permitting. RSPB have two "Eagle Watch" sites and you can even do boat trips to throw fish at them. Give Martin a call at Mull Charters. http://www.mullcharters.com/index.html

Leave time for the Puffins on Lunga.

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