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;
Then on route from the airport;
Red Kite (Black Isle area)
A stop at Achnasheen;
Osprey x 3 fishing
Another stop this time at Balnacra;
Seen from the car in the Balmacara area;
Great black-backed Gull
A stop at Lochalsh no Black Guillemots but;
Over the Skye Bridge at Luib;
Great Northern Diver
White Tailed Eagle - Adult pair passed overhead
Uig while wating for the ferry;
Seen on the Uig/Lochmaddy ferry crossing;
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;
Grenitote not far from the co-op! at 21:00
Snowy Owl sitting on a pile of pallets
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;
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.
(Arctic Skua also here)
Another visit to Balranald added the following to our trip list;
(Also Minke Whale 100 yrds off rocks)
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Loch Maddy area;
Also male Hen Harrier chasing Great Black-backed Gull
Wed 14th May 2014 up and out same time as Tuesday.
A visit to Benbecula
(also male Hen Harrier)
(Also 2 drake Garganey)
Back to Balranald;
Whilst at Balranald news of Dotterel on South Uist had us retracing some of our earlier footsteps.
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.
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;
(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;
Capercaillie not great views but a Caper nonetheless.
Whinchat a nice male singing his heart out
Loch Garten ;
Greenfinch in Tesco's car park
A hike up Cairngorm was rewarded with;
Loch Ruthven ;
(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 ;
(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.
We decided to head over to the Ythan Estuary in search of King Eider.
A stop in Dufftown;
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.
On arrival at the Ythan Estuary we immediately connected with the returning King Eider;
Next up, the Loch of Strathbeg ;
Spoonbill x 2
Barnacle Goose (flock of 28)
Long Tailed Duck
Late evening at Netheybridge, no Woodcock or Long-eared Owl but a pair of;
Sun 18th May 2014 our last day and also our latest start of 07:00.
Forest Lodge ;
(also here; Redstart, Tree Pipit, Dipper, Crossbill, Treecreeper )
(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