Friday, 24 February 2017

Eagles & Harriers North Uist & journey through Isle of Skye - Scotland trip (Day 4)

Much improved conditions on day four
Corn Buntings
Stunning Starling
The Captain on Coot patrol
Looking over the lochs
Piles of kelp washed up
Common Gull
Hen Harrier
White-tailed Eagle
Black Grouse honest…...
Close up…..
Waterfalls were abundant
Eilean Donan Castle
Five Sisters - Isle of Skye

With the forecast looking poor for the following day we decided to change our plan and leave the island that afternoon for Skye but maximise the morning window of opportunity for good birding. Balranald was first stop again where we didn't have any luck with the Coot's but there was a drake Pintail & four Whoopers on the loch. 

The Corn Buntings were very visible all morning so I managed to get a nice shot of those but the Twite were on the move too much for my photography skills. We had another session watching the waders on the shoreline before heading for a slow lap of the island hoping to find something different despite there still being strong winds.

The next beach we passed was occupied by a small group of Bar-tailed Godwits whilst our first star bird find was a male Hen Harrier that I picked up to the left of a difficult coastal road. Once the Captain found a safe place to park we both got some fantastic views of the Harrier.

A few miles further down the road the Captain took a diversion hoping we might just find another raptor given we had now seen a Kestrel & a Hen Harrier. His intuition proved spot on as we found two White-tailed Eagles. They were sitting on top of the sand dunes clearly not enjoying being mobbed by the local Hooded Crows. Both took off showing us their amazing wingspan. We were both delighted and it got even better when a Golden Eagle came into view circling high as we left the island.

The ferry over to Skye was much calmer then expected but to be honest I might not have noticed with the travel sickness tablets I'd taken - no wonder I felt tired. Birds recorded during the journey included 20+ Gannets, 5 Black Guillemot, 12 Kittiwake, 3 Fulmar, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, 5 Shags and four Eider.

Once off the boat we had a seriously long drive ahead to the east coast through some amazing landscapes including the famous Five Sisters. Alongside the A87 I picked up a strange site sitting high in a birch tree, as we past the bird I identified it as a Black Grouse ! We turned the car around instantly and upon closer inspection we actually found three different Black Grouse perched looking out over the valley below them.

With time & light against us we stopped at a bizarre truck stop which was like a scene out of Roadhouse. Let's say we didn't hang around long but the food recharged us to get across Scotland to our hotel in Mussleburgh. 

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