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Galana's Seventh. Lucky numbers.


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Of course As an Officer and Gentleman.

Just out of a BT inspired Blackhole of very iffy Wiffy and we are currently on the Isle of Coll.Heard Corncrakes so are hopeful. Went to 'Land's end" yesterday pm and this moring went up to John o'Groats and back. if the wiffy lasts I will try to cope with yesterday's ticks.

Stand by.

Sitting down at the south we saw this chap coming to greet us along the track.




He stopped to stare and re-assess his plan.



A puzzled Hare. (Must be a joke in there somewhere)

A look around and he trotted off.

Mammals done for this post.

Now birds. One expected the other not.





262. European Reed Warbler. RSPB, Coll..



263. Red-breasted Merganser.  Arinagour. Coll.


More to follow.

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Today 1st June was a bit thin on birds. Seeing is not filming.

Saw Hen Harrier and Common Terns but they eluded my slow reactions.

So a word on our tripover from Oban to Coll.

From our hotel in Oban we could watch the evening boat sail to Mull and hope the current weather lasts a while.





Sunrise on 31st May looks set for a nice cruise at 05.30.

And it was.

We landed as related and explored our first look at Coll.

Langoustines aux naturale washed down with a nice crisp white wine saw us off to bed and ready for June on the morrow.


This is the ferry arriving at Coll this morning at the more sesible time of 09.40 after breakfast.



High hopes.


But as intimated new birds proved elusive.




264. Rock Dove.Tomsin, Coll. The ancestor of the street pigeon.


Back home the local seals we enjoying their tidal rest.


Atlantic Grey Seals. Arinagour Harbour.

And that ends our first full day here.




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Another day dawns with some hope so after a nice  breakfast be sally forth. The whole island is so small/compact there are few roads untravelled by now.

But on the birding front we get a good start when a Red-throated Diver overflies and when we halt we see the unmistakable sillhouette of a Skua. And not a Bonxie as it is too slender.


My best guess is Arctic as it is not showing much of a tail.


So here goes.

for the first two ticks of the day.



265. Arctic Skua. Loch something or other on Isle of Coll. I saw it flying on the secnd sighting and it was very pointed wings. I am happy with Arctic.


On to Totronald reserve. to look for Corncrake. Ever hopeful.


But a nice tick at the RSPB 'information centre'.





266. Greenfinch. RSPB. Totronald. Coll.


And then an obliging 'crex crex' was heard over the road but no sighting. So ever hopeful I tried to follow up on the ventriloquist and was pleased to see movement in the undergrowth.

Focussing was hard due to conflicting herbiage but I had the bird nailed as he groomed and preened for me.

A few of the many.. Indulge me...


267. Corncrake. Totronald. Coll. This might be a female as it groomed and preened as though taking a break from brooding eggs. Job done!


And it got better. Taking a break with a young lady who was 70 yesterday (I find I talk to lots of young ladies as I get older.:o:D.) we discussed corncrakes and Raptors and it was revealed that she had never seen an Eagle only Buzzards. Her friends had said when she saw an Eagle she would 'know it' for what it was to which I agreed.

And guess what? With absolutely perfect timing a large Raptor glided over head.

"See what I mean? THAT'S an Eagle!"



268. White-tailed Eagle. Totronald. Coll.

We were both gob smacked. What a birthday gift for her.

Not a bad day for me either.

On the return trip both the Skua and the Diver were still present together with a Pole sitting Shank...



So another day ends.






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Brilliant sighting of the Corncrake!

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Dave Williams

Enviable stuff Fred. Superb weather and scenery and as for the Corncrake...unbelievable! Our love and best wishes to the birthday girl. xx

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11 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Our love and best wishes to the birthday girl. xx

If I meet her again I will be pleased to pass on your wishes to her. The lady is on a walking holiday if I understood her correctly.:lol:

Lady G was reading in the car during my social intercourse with the stranger.

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Fantastic Corncrake, I’m jealous.😃

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+1 for the beautiful corncrake! And the well- timed eagle sighting….

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pedro maia

Great sighting of the corncrake and of the eagle, and beautiful weather also.

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Gone very 'quiet' in a repetitive sense with only one new tick in two days and that was/is hardly useable.

The WT Eagle gave me another fly by yesterday but by the time I was out the car it was neck crickingly wrong. Cuckoos around as was the Arctic Skua but no Corncrakes calling.

Indulged in a little Botany as the machair is beautiful at the moment.

Most of the action was down by the harbour this afernoon watching two pods of Dolphin sporting about. Full breaches the works. They were about a mile out so photos were an exercise in futility. But a close RT Diver and a madly singing Whitethroat made up for the rest.



Early Marsh Orchid.




Early Spotted Orchid. I could get into this.


This morning an attempt to improve on the RT Diver on the local Loch failed, they just will NOT come close.



So I had to make do with a fly by.


Later by the Pier one popped up right by the car so I grabbed it. Sorry the wing hides the bill.



Then the Whitethroat had a little concert.



Nearly forgot what I came to do.



269.  Common Tern, Arinagour Harbour. A few are nesting on an islet just off my B&B. BUT at a distance.

Oh well.

There is always tomorrow.

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Our penultimate day on Coll. A mixed bag with no new ticks.

It started well with a dark phase Arctic Skua in good light.



Not a lifer for me but certainly a first decent view of one.

Then a long walk through the machair clad dunes, not Sossusvlei standard but requiring some effort to overcome.



Blue Geranium.






German Speedwell.

We saw three Corncrakes. Two flying together that just beat my camera. A first for me.


And the walk was not without its reward .








Sorry about the birds.


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No new ticks today again although a new for the trip sighting of a female Hen Harrier was good.

Only 37 frames taken today and that was an effort.

Two for the Harrier one of a flower and the rest on Arctic Skuas.


The Harrier.





Rock Splurge.


The Skua.

A new occupant of the usual rock this morning was interesting,



but returning late afternoon was even more so.

There were four of them interacting.


And doing solo runs.







All field marks present and correct.

A real first for me.


Barra tomorrow and a Goldon Oriole is said to be present. Hope it sticks around.


B&B tells me there are Corncrakes in her garden!!!

Well we have Wheatears on our chimney pots on Coll.


Our Ferry goes at a decent time of 09.40 tomorrow which is a nice change especially as the jetty is visible from our room.

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Dave Williams

When the weather is good the beaches in Scotland are as good as it gets, stunning! You are there at the right time that's for sure..

What happened to the Black Guillemots in Oban?

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10 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

What happened to the Black Guillemots in Oban?

No idea. Never looked. We were only there for one night to catch the 07.00 sailing.

As you say we hit the right buttons with the forecasts.


Enjoy the little IOM. Met a bloke here who was going there soon.

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After breakfast we drove the half mile to the Ferry 'terminal'  (concrete ramp) and awaited MV 'Clansman' to take us to Barra via a brief stop in Tiree.

Not too full so got myself a decent front row seat with camera to hand.

Saw one 'common Porpoise (Harbour Porpoise) but they fail to entertain like their biggeer cousins so no photo really. Short fin out of water. Thats all you get.


But gained two ticks.





270. Manx Shearwater. Little Minch. MV. Clansman.


And further over a Bonxie.





271. Great Skua. Minches. from Clansman. There is just enough to make out the classic field marks of this unmistakable bird.


And so we arrived in the Capital of the Isle of Barra.


There is a Castle in a Bay. Guess the name of the town. Galana's rule works too.


Drove the two miles or so to the village of Borgh. (Gailic is anothe rlanguage like Italian where 'v' and 'B' are pronounced the same. So Borve.


Our cottage B&B is #108 and really lovely.

Corncrakes heard and the fence sitting Snipe are not so high minded as their cousins in Argyll. This is our garden fence.

Let's see what we can find.

Dinner tonight was in the large white buidling on the right. CastleBay Hotel. The restaurant had a view to give anyone an appetite.



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Woke to the voice of the Corncrake but the growth is now hard to penetrate.

We took the day to tour most of the Island and Vatersay. Better 'access' here than Coll but still hard to get good views of most things.


Neverthe less I did a couple of duplicates as well as a new tick.


Whooper who has not gone home.





And new for the list are.....




272. Little Stint. Vatersay bridge.


Corncrake calling tonight.

This B&B is wonderful.




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Eating our eggs at Breakfast and who should arrive on the lawn but a Corncrake.

The grass was cut short and the views amazing. Should take my camera to Breakfast.:angry:

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Changed direction today and went the other way round the main island.Got  a neck wrenching shot of  a male Reed Buntiing

but a nice view of a Grey Heron in the morning. Took a walk in the 'North Bay woodland' which was leafy.

Pulled over to scan the Machair for terns and drew a blank.

But we stayed in place for over 90 minutes. Some of the residents had been there much longer as it was the 'Dead Centre of Barra'. i.e. The cemetry. Scots don't realy go in for Cremation. They prefer to be 'planted' and often "back home". Forgive the black humour but grave digging is not a dying trade.

So what kept us? Lady G is Scottish x 3. Colonsay, Skye and the troublesome much debated borderlands. I barely rate a mention by Walter Scott.

The answer is feet. Not the Imperial measure but the bit at the end of  bird's leg. 

Until today I had never seen a Corncrake's foot and whilst I am no foot fetishist I did have the opportunity of remedying that failing.


Singly   .......


Or often in pairs.






Can be used singly at times of resting.:lol:

Or posing for the camera.



Use of Headstones optional.




Choices of background are available.

Sunshine helps but not essential.


Barra is the place to be.

A bucketful of luck a necessity.




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Corncrakes with our Cornflakes.

 It really happened.


I came upon a shot just as I arrived back in breakfast room from my sprint up for the camera.

"it's off the lawn and over by the fence!"

So I rattled off a fixing shot. It worked ...


Over there by the 2nd post from the gate!!




Cornflakes with Corncrakes.


It was there again this morning and gave a fly past but did not stick around.


"Quiet day" today. 11.10 ferry to Eriskay of 'The Politician' fame ("Whisky Galore!") and then up through South Uist and Benbecula, Coop shop for provisions, as we are back at 'Lochside' for the next week of Self Catering. Just as lovely as ever. Owner on site to welcome us home. Swallows with broods, Lapwng and Redshank around. Had a G&T with proper gin and tonic. Dinner and writing this prior to heading out to see if I can get my first Short-eared Owl of our stay.

Stay tuned.  It may rain at 01.00 the forecast says.

Got some nice sunsets last night on Barra but this is BY for Birds.


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An amazing series of Corncrake sightings and photos- well done!

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@TonyQTruly unusual. I took over 90 shots and some video in the 90 minutes. The hard part was tracking its movement when it disappeared behind a headstone or, as often happened, it crept into a grave side flower display. No respect at all. It seemed to prefer chrysanthes to roses.

Having thought this through I am not publicising it in any report. I know some 'keen' birders would appear there with tripods and long lenses and some show little respect for the living at  a twitch so I can only imagine what may happen where the 'local inhabitants' have no means of protest.

Worse. Imagine a funeral cortege arriving to find the parking space full of anoraks in beanies with tripods.


My excursion last night was a complete DSCN6096.JPG.ed5b8754ab11ee826052eedfb21e6205.JPG

But the sunsets the night before in Borgh were not.





More follows.




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I would´t mind seeing the Corncrake...

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3 hours ago, pedro maia said:

I would´t mind seeing the Corncrake...

Well, the next move is yours.

I know @michael-ibkwants them plus SE Owls and there are some other 'specials ' to fill a few days. Tomorrow we are going on a boat for a couple of hours.

fly to Glasgow, change for Benbecula for  a hard surface landing or Barra for the world's only scheduled service to land on a beach.


Barra International at high tide as we passed yesterday.

NOTE the blue sky and white sand. One does not need photoshop here.:lol:


Come on over.


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SE Owl we have here, as well as beaches, we just don’t land planes there;).

Edited by pedro maia
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SE Owls are plentiful in season.

We have seen 19 today.

Here are three of them.

First two more ticks for BY



273. Eurasian Curlew. Hosta, North Uist.





274. Dunlin. Lochside Cottage. North Uist.


and  Three of the Owls we saw this morning.



This one was feeding on a young rabbit.





This one was just posing.....



And this one was unhappy as  Gull had just stolen its prey.

275. Short-eared Owls. North Uist





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