On Friday we elected to have a day trip to the islands of Harris and Lewis. We caught the 7.15am ferry that travels from North Uist to Harris. Birds seen from the ferry on the hour-long excursion included Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver, Bonxie, auks, Arctic Tern, Kittiwake and the ever-present Gannets. As we approached a large flock of Eider, three scoters broke away and flew off around the side of the ferry (at some range). However one of them was unmistakeably a drake Surf Scoter!
On arrival at Harris, a Golden Eagle circled a nearby hilltop and even displayed briefly before disappearing.
We then motored gently through Harris which is an exceptionally beautiful island on the west side, and drove up to the bigger island of Lewis. We headed off to the west side to a small RSPB reserve called Loch Na Muilne. Here we saw a couple of Red-necked Phalaropes, but it wasn't possible to obtain really close views without causing disturbance to other birds on-site, so we watched from a distance instead (sorry no photos)! A female Teal was in charge of her just-hatched ducklings and common waders and sea-birds were all around.
We then drove via Stornoway to Tiumian Head which is a useful spot for cetaceans. A single large dolphin splashing around appeared to be a Risso's but it was a touch choppy to easily see dolphins, Basking Sharks etc. The relatively small sea-bird colony kept us entertained though. A pair of Carrion Crows near here were the only ones we saw in the Outer Hebrides and we saw another Teal with ducklings. With a few stops to admire the dramatic views of Lewis, we drove slowly back south to again catch the ferry from Harris to North Uist. Plenty of birds on the return crossing were mostly repeats of the morning crossing with the addition of Arctic Skua. Three scoters again flew off well ahead of the ferry and the resultant long-distance images depicted a drake and duck Surf Scoter with a female Common Scoter.
Eleanor and Neil
|Surf and Common Scoter|