Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Scotland Day 23 (Sunday 16th June)


Our first full day exploring the island of Skye commenced with a mountain walk near Flodigarry.  A steep climb in to the low cloud was interesting but initially didn't produce any birds of note.  Some 'alpine' cattle didn't seem to really want to be there, the steep terrain and scree slopes didn't seem appropriate!  After some time two Ring Ouzels were located as they 'chacked' their displeasure at a Kestrel and the ever-present Hooded Crows.  A pair of Great Tits were busy feeding their fledged young at the base of the mountain in some low-lying willow scrub and already independent juvenile Stonechats came to have a gawp as we puffed and panted upwards.

After about three hours and with us and the collies well and truly exercised we drove further south along the coast to Kilt Rock which is a viewing area overlooking very impressive coastal cliffs.  Fulmars weaved about below us and passing sea-birds included squadrons of Gannets flying in formation and the odd Bonxie or two.  A couple of Peregrines put in an appearance with one of them flying out to sea and unsuccessfully attempted to catch a passing Puffin (which dived in to the water to escape).  Rock Pipit, Rock Dove, Lesser Redpoll, Twite and Whitethroat were all on display from the car park.  A summer plumage Red-throated Diver graced a nearby freshwater loch.

Our next destination was further south and a couple of areas around the pretty small town and harbour of Portree.  Here we saw our first Siskins for a little while and a freshly-fledged juvenile Hooded Crow with a natural curiosity for it's new world kept us entertained!

Out on the Brae road which parallels the impressive Sound of Raasay, Eleanor picked up on a flock of 6 Common Cranes flying north.  Sadly they didn't call but a super sight nonetheless.  The habitat here supports breeding Wheatear, Stonechat and Whinchat and Cuckoos continue to call and show themselves regularly.  A pair of Golden Eagles were watched as they cruised the cliffs nearby.

We finished our birding day with a visit to Uig Wood.  Plenty of common woodland birds here which included singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff, a pair of Long-tailed Tits with fledged young, Treecreeper etc.  A pair of Sedge Warblers were feeding young in the nest by the beach in a small patch of phragmites and cow parsley.  However, a Marsh Warbler sang snatches of song from the same vegetation but remained extremely elusive, but a good find nonetheless.  As we walked back up through Uig wood, the distinctive song of a Common Rosefinch could be heard.  We eventually tracked the bird down to a heavily vegetated bank on the opposite side of the road and it continued to sing from dense gorse and elder.  However it refused to show itself so we will never know if it was a dull brown job or a gorgeous pink stunner!


Neil M

Rock Dove

Great Black-backed Gull -
eye to eye with
arguably the biggest gull
in the world!


Fulmar - sorry can't resist them!

Scottish Rabbit!

Juvenile Hooded Crow

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