Monday, 19 May 2014

North Uist and Highlands Trip

Monday 12th May 2014


Brendan and Paul met at my house at 07:00 and we picked up Dave from the Bedmond on route to Airparks off airport parking at Slip End. Then courtesy bus to the airport, check in, passport control...............

Arrived on time at Inverness Airport and collected our hire before setting of for Uig on the Isle of Skye where we had to catch our ferry to Lochmaddy, North Uist. We started out trip list at Inverness Airport and the following were noted there;

Kestrel

Skylark

Hooded Crow

House Martin

Jackdaw

Rook

Herring Gull

Starling

Buzzard

Swallow

Pied Wagtail



Then on route from the  airport;

Carrion Crow

Wood Pigeon

Lapwing

Blackbird

Chaffinch

Red Kite (Black Isle area)

House Sparrow

Goldfinch

Willow Warbler



A stop at Achnasheen;

Osprey x 3 fishing

Wigeon

Mallard

Greylag

Sand Martin

Tree Pipit

Common Sandpiper

Greenshank

Red-throated Diver

Wheatear



Another stop this time at Balnacra;

Ring Ouzel

Lesser Redpoll

Dunnock

Robin



Seen from the car in the Balmacara area;

Great black-backed Gull

Black-headed Gull



A stop at Lochalsh no Black Guillemots but;

Common Gull

Shag

Grey Heron



Over the Skye Bridge at Luib;


Great Northern Diver

Oystercatcher

Meadow Pipit

Guillemot

Red-breasted Merganser

Corn Bunting

Linnet

White Tailed Eagle - Adult pair passed overhead

Chiffchaff



Uig while wating for the ferry;

Black Guillemot

Raven

Rock Dove

Eider

Arctic Tern

Razorbill



Seen on the Uig/Lochmaddy ferry crossing;

Manx Shearwater

Puffin

Gannet

Great Skua

Cormorant

Fulmar

Kittiwake



Arrived on North Uist and checked in to Lochmaddy Hotel then straight out birding.



In the Committee Road area the following were added to our trip list;

Stonechat

Mute Swan

Short-eared Owl

Hen Harrier

Curlew



Grenitote not far from the co-op! at 21:00

Snowy Owl sitting on a pile of pallets

Whimbrel

Redshank

Snipe

Grey Plover

Dunlin

Shelduck

Ringed Plover

Little Tern

Bar-tailed Godwit

Tufted Duck



Our last birding of the day was in the fading light at RSPB Balranald;

Corn Crake  4 showing well and flying around near the visitors centre

Shoveler in flight

Not a bad start!



Tues 13th May 2014; Up at 05:30 and left hotel at 06:00.

Balranald our first stop for a bit of a seawatch. Not much going on here but the following were added;

Turnstone

Purple Sand

Sanderling

Arctic Skua

Rock Pipit



Back to Hotel for a full Scottish Breakfast then off in search of Golden Eagle. We visited an area we stumbled upon last year and immediately connected with a Golden Eagle as it hunted over a mountain. We watched as it caught a rabbit and flew from view. Later we saw the same Eagle on a fence post being mobbed by gulls, it ignored the Gulls but was forced from the post when 2 Raven joined in the mobbing.

Loch Bhrusda;

Twite

Garganey

(Arctic Skua also here)



Another visit to Balranald added the following to our trip list;

Brent Goose

White Wagtail

(Also Minke Whale 100 yrds off rocks)



Sollas;

Lesser Black-backed Gull



Loch Maddy area;

Song Thrush

Also male Hen Harrier chasing Great Black-backed Gull



Wed 14th May 2014 up and out same time as Tuesday.



A visit to Benbecula

Loch Mhor;

Black-tailed Godwit

(also male Hen Harrier)





Loch Fada;

Teal

Little Grebe

Coot

(Also 2 drake Garganey)



Back to Balranald;

Whooper Swan



Whilst at Balranald news of Dotterel on South Uist had us retracing some of our earlier footsteps.


Ardivachar;

Dotterell – pair on the firing range

Iceland Gull on the beach

(Also Glaucous x Herring Gull hybrid)



Thurs 15th May 2014 our last day on North Uist. Up and out same time as previous days.



Lochmaddy;

Black-throated Diver


Balranald;

Pomarine Skua

Long -tailed Skua



Time to head for the ferry to Uig and then our onward journey to the Highlands.


From the ferry in Loch Maddy Port;

Common Scoter
(later whilst feeding our faces in the ferry restaurant a Bonxie showed well on the sea close in to the boat)



On the journey to our accommodation "Mondhuie"  http://www.mondhuie.com at Netheybridge an  Osprey at Strathcarron.


Fri 16th May 2014

An 05:00 start in search of Capercaillie;

Pheasant

Mistle Thrush

Bullfinch

Red-legged Partridge

Jay

Capercaillie not great views but a Caper nonetheless.

Coal Tit

Great Tit

Goldcrest

Great-spotted  Woodpecker


Tulloch Moor;

Whinchat a nice male singing his heart out

Blue Tit



Netheybridge;

Siskin


Loch Garten ;

Goldeneye



Aviemore ;

Greenfinch in Tesco's car park



 A hike up Cairngorm was rewarded with;

Ptarmigan

Red Grouse




Loch Ruthven ;

Slavonian Grebe

Wren

(Also an Osprey allowed good views as it hung in the wind.)


Along the Farr Road on route to Findhorn Valley a Red Grouse pair escorting 8 chicks across the road was nice to see.



Findhorn Valley ;

Dipper

Peregrine

Common Tern

(Also Golden Eagle)



Sat 17th May 2014 an 05:00 start again and our first stop Tulloch Moor;

Black Grouse an early start the key to seeing Black Grouse here I think.



Forest Lodge;

Redstart

Crossbill

Treecreeper


Aviemore ;

Swift


Advie ;

Grey Wagtail


We decided to head over to the Ythan Estuary in search of King Eider.


A stop in Dufftown;

Blackcap

Whitethroat

Long-tailed Tit

In an attempt to cross a river here I lost my footing on some stepping stones and ended up with two bootfulls. I found the freezing water rather refreshing on a nice warm day. Paul soon followed suit but his entry lacked the grace and finesse of my effort.



Newburgh;

Yellowhammer



On arrival at the Ythan Estuary we immediately connected with the returning King Eider;

King Eider

Sedge Warbler

Sandwich Tern

Magpie


Next up, the Loch of Strathbeg ;

Tree Sparrow

American Wigeon

Spoonbill x 2

Gadwall

Moorhen

Reed Bunting

Stock Dove

Barnacle Goose (flock of 28)

Little Gull


Portsoy ;

Long Tailed Duck



Late evening at Netheybridge, no Woodcock or Long-eared Owl but a pair of;

Goosander


Sun 18th May 2014 our last day and also our latest start of 07:00.


Forest Lodge ;

Sparrowhawk

(also here; Redstart, Tree Pipit, Dipper, Crossbill, Treecreeper )


Loch Mallachie;

Spotted Flycatcher

(also Tree Pipit, Redstart)


Our time was up and off to Inverness for our return flight to Luton.


A great 6 days birding with lots of laughs along the way. Looking forward to next year already.

 Thanks to all the friendly and helpful birders we met on our travels.

A big thanks also to Brendan, Paul and Dave for their great company.

This account certainly does not do the trip justice.


A total of 151 species. One or two “heard only” and roughly the same only seen by one observer

On the trip; Chris Sharp (sh4rpy), Brendan Glynn, Dave Johnson, Paul Frost.

We stayed at Lochmaddy Hotel on North Uist.

In the Highlands we stayed at "Mondhuie" great value for birding on a budget and ideally situated for Loch Garten, Tulloch Moor, Abernethy Forest, Findhorn Valley......................... website here http://www.mondhuie.com/



A breakdown of our trip costs below.

return easyjet flights flights luton inverness            £445.68 total      £111.42 per person

car parking luton airparks              £32.00 total        £8.00 per person

calmac uig-lochmaddy ferry return            £106.00 total      £26.50 per person

avis hire car with 1 additional driver          £210.00 total      £52.50 per person

b and b lochmaddy hotel 3nts       £660.00 total      £165.00 per person

self catering mondhuie accom 3nts           £160.00 total      £40.00 per person

mondhuie electric            £4.00 total          £1.00 per person

petrol c1,100 miles          £160.00 total      £40.00 per person

                             

£1,777.68 total  £444.42 total per person







 





3 comments:

  1. Great trip report Chris , some top birds seen .

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rob, Report is a bit of a bodge job and doesn't really do the trip justice. So many highlights including; White-tailed Eagle, good views of 4 Corncrake, Golden Eagle, Snowy Owl, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl 10 showing within a mile, The skua's at Balranald, Dotterel, Amercan Wigeon...................................stunning scenery too

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    2. Caper, Ptarmigan, Black Grouse...................

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