Monday, 26 May 2014

Corncrakes on North Uist

After visiting North Uist last year twitching an Harlequin Duck, I said I would return especially as I need Corncrake for my British list, so last Thursday evening, Dave Gray,Carl Baggot, John Waters and myself set off on the 10 hour drive to the Isle of Skye for the ferry crossing to Uist.  Dave was hoping for White-tailed Sea Eagle[ WTSE] around Uig harbour..... they did'nt disappoint.... as leaving the harbour, 3 WTSE were soaring over the West side of the bay!  Tick for Dave!   We were only on Uist for a couple of days, so, time being at a premium, we headed for Balranald RSPB for the Corncrake, and to Aird un Runair for any Skua passage. There were also a couple of Glaucous Gulls reported, which we did find on the beach, along with lots of Sanderlings, some Dunlin, Ringed Plovers and 4 Bar-tailed  Godwits. On the sea was a summer plumeage Great Norther Diver,Eider Duck and R.B. Merganser
Glaucous gull (1st Summer I think)

In the feilds around the reserve Oystercatchers are in good numbers as are Redshank.  Corn bunting and Twite were noted and Wheatear are all over the place
Corn Bunting

To say Corncrake are elusive is an understatement!  Carl and I had one calling no more than 5 meters in front of us and still couldn't see it.... anyway, to cut along story short, we finally connected with one on our way back to our B&B. Hooray! a tick for me! The following day, Carl and I just parked up at the side of the field, using the car as a hide, and, with patience, the birds finally broke cover enabling us to get some record images.
Skulking Corncrake
Our travels around this stunning island produced some birds of note including 16 Short-eared Owls, 3 Hen Harriers, 2 Golden Eagles, 3 white-winged Black Terns - they were a surprise! -  up to 20 Corncrake,  5 Whimbrel, and 2 Arctic Skuas. Below are a few images of common birds which are all over the island.

Calling Redshank

Ringed Plover

It was a short but a brilliant couple of days. On the way back on the ferry we had lots of Auks including Puffin, Razorbill, Black Guillemot and Common Guillemot, a raft of up to 50 Manx Shearwater and a Great Norther Diver.... and just for Dave... the WTSE put in an appearance over the headland once again. Then it was the dreaded 10 hour drive home - but all worthwhile!
Golden Eagle
The only bird we didn't see- but not the want for trying- was the Red-necked Phalarope they apparently being more elusive than the Corncrake.
Hooded Crow


  1. Looks like you had a successful trip Col, great set of images too mate.

  2. Great trip Colin - thanks for organising it. I checked and it was twenty years to the day that I first saw a Corncrake on North Uist, so a joint celebration mate.

  3. It was a great trip Carl really enjoyed it, 20 years to the day that's unbelievable congrats mate

  4. Excellent trip Col and maybe next year we can do a few more days up there?