There is an endemic opposition between RSPB Scotland, with its concern for birds and gamekeepers Continue reading
The BBC’s AutumnWatch programme will be broadcast live this week – starting tomorrow Continue reading
RSPB Scotland has today (9th October 2012) condemned the shooting of a golden eagle, found barely alive, Continue reading
Police are appealing for information after a golden eagle was found dead near Morar Continue reading
50 year old Tom McKellar of Bridge of Orchy pled guilty today to possession of the banned substance, Carbofuran. Continue reading
(Important update below,28th February) Today’s Mail on Sunday (27th February 2011) has published evidence, Continue reading
Can you imagine a young lamb head-butting a Golden Eagle in a struggle for survival? And would you have thought that a young Golden Eagle would run along the ground after rabbits? Well both these incidents actually happened and both were recorded – the lamb’s head-butt at Baile Ailean and the gound chase by the young Golden Eagle on the Sollas Machair.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have funded the production of the 10th Outer Hebrides Bird Report and these – and other, incidents feature in it, along with records of the islands’ resident birds and exotic visitors across all four seasons of the year.
The report charts some of the remarkable stories of migration which some species undertake to reach the Western isles in the course of their seasonal wanderings. Travellers to the islands included an arctic tern from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a woodcock from Russia, sandpipers and whooper swans from Iceland and storm petrels from County Mayo. One determined dunlin left the balmy shores of Setuba in Portugal to head for Stinky Bay (why?), Benbecula.
The report also notes the earliest ever sightings of snowy owls and the arrival of two colourful hoopoes from sub tropical climes.
Amongst the exceptional sightings was that of ‘Albert’, a 47 year old black-browed albatross, photographed by Dods Macfarlane of Ness, happily roosting in the middle of the vast gannet colony on the cliffs of Sula Sgeir. This far-travelled returning visitor from the Southern oceans caused such a stir that scores of twitchers from all over the UK headed out to the remote rock on chartered boats to log their own sighting.
Of wide interest, given the continuing standoff between crofters and natural heritage supporters over the reintroduction of the white-tailed Sea Eagle, is the detailed account in the report on this raptor’s diet. This picture had been put together from the prey contents of nests. These were shown to contain mainly the remains of seabirds – fulmars in particular, followed by mackerel, lumpsucker, dogfish, red deer, mountain hare, lamb, brown rat, raven, short-eared owl, great black backed gull, puffin, greylag goose and eider duck.
Brian Rabbitts (you couldn’t make it up), Coordinator of the Outer Hebrides Bird Group says: ‘We are delighted to see the efforts and input of so many people included in this publication which we hope will be of great interest to anyone with a general interest in the nature and wildlife of the Western Isles as well as those with a more specific interest in birds. We thank all contributors and hope people enjoy reading about the birds of the Western Isles and the very special environment we have here to support such a rich and varied bird population’.
Copies of the Outer Hebrides Bird Report are available from Brian Rabbitts (himself) at 6 Carinish, Isle of North Uist HS6 5HL. It costs £8.50 per copy, which includes postage and packaging. Please make cheques to Outer Hebrides Bird Report.
The photograph above is of a black-browed albatross – but unfortunately not of Albert – and is reproduced here under the Creative Commons licence.