It was so good to be back on the magical Outer Hebrides and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Our ferry crossings were amazing with outstanding views of MINKE WHALE plus COMMON DOLPHINS, BLACK GUILLEMOTS, MANX SHEARWATERS, EUROPEAN STORM PETREL, ATLANTIC PUFFINS and even a GOLDEN EAGLE perched on a hillside.
During the week, we covered the islands of South & North Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, Berneray, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay which offered us the chance to see the variety of amazing wildlife and scenery the islands have to offer.
Birding highlights included 49 sightings of SHORT-EARED OWL (maximum number 12 seen in one day) and alongside them were good numbers of HEN HARRIERS. WHITE-TAILED EAGLES showed well, and we also had good views of GOLDEN EAGLE, PEREGRINE FALCON, COMMON BUZZARD and OSPREY. The numbers of breeding waders on the islands were phenomenal with COMMON REDSHANKS, NORTHERN LAPWINGS, COMMON SNIPE, EURASIAN CURLEW, COMMON RINGED PLOVER, DUNLIN plus EURASIAN WHIMBREL, RUDDY TURNSTONE, SANDERLING, RUFF, BLACK & BAR-TAILED GODWITS and three stunning RED-NECKED PHALAROPES in breeding plumage.
CORN CRAKES were heard in good numbers and seeing them was trickier but we all had cracking flight views of one bird from around 30 feet away! A calling COMMON QUAIL was unexpected and other birds of note included GREAT NORTHERN, BLACK-THROATED & RED-THROATED DIVERS, ICELAND GULL, ARCTIC, COMMON & LITTLE TERNS, PARASITIC JAEGER & GREAT SKUA plus the rarest bird of the week went to a EURASIAN TREECREEPER, a very scarce bird on the islands.
It wasn’t just the birds though with lots of insects, flowers and mammals including two sightings of EUROPEAN OTTER for around 10 minutes each, much to the delight of the clients!
We concluded the trip with a visit to Teesdale where both RED & BLACK GROUSE were seen plus MERLIN and RED KITE.
It was an amazing tour with excellent weather, lovely food, great birds and wildlife all enjoyed with a lovely group!