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Hebridean Imaging

Hebridean Imaging

helicopter

End of June update

Hi there, well it’s been a very busy month and i’m away to Lewis for the weekend (helping a friend celebrate her birthday!) so i thought i’d do a quick post to summarise what’s been happening over the last couple of weeks. The weather has continued very good – dry and mild mostly, so we’ve been able to do quite a bit more chick chasing. You know you are coming to the end of “chick season” though when you spot a young Lapwing or Oystercatcher, jump out of the van to chase it and it leads you a merry dance and just as you are about to catch it, gasping for breathe, the darn thing flies off!!

The machair is starting to look amazing now and it never ceases to amaze me the sheer variety of flowers that grow there.

hebridean orchid

Orchid growing by the roadside - i can never remember the names - i think it's northern marsh orchid

As i mentioned the Lapwing chicks are getting pretty big now:-

lapwing chick

Lapwing chick

It’s quite surprising (well, to me anyway) the length of the breeding season. As some birds are almost ready for fledging – a Lapwing has an incubation time of 24-29 days then another c.33 days for the nestling to become independent (Harrison & Castell, 2002, p.140) there are still birds on nests – we recently found this Ringed Plover nest.

ringed plover nest

Ringed Plover nest

We were able to ring some Common Gull chicks, and while searching for the chicks i almost stumbled upon an Eider sitting quietly on her nest – i must have only been two feet away and she just sat and looked at me, she didn’t budge one bit, so i apologised to her and crept away.

eider nest eider down

Eider sitting quietly on her nest

A walk down to the beach on a warm sunny day was very enjoyable – we found this grasshopper – we are told that there are only two species that occur here – Green and Mottled – so i’m presuming that this is Mottled?!

mottled grasshopper

Mottled Grasshopper (?)

As usual the beach was amazingly quiet!

south uist beach

Empty beach - South Uist

We found a Rock Dove nest but didn’t ring the youngster that was in there – it looked a bit big and we didn’t want to alarm it and cause it to leave the nest prematurely.

rock dove chick

Rock Dove chick in the nest

Found this ant near the garden, i sent the picture to Rhian and she replied to say that it was the same species as the ones we’d most commonly come across, Myrmica ruginodis. Ah well, you gotta keep trying!

myrmica ruginodis south uist ant

Myrmica ruginodis

Moths have again been pretty quiet! Probably our best night coincided, happily!, with one of the National Moth Night evenings. That evening we managed 36 moths of 16 species. Still well down on our numbers this time last year 🙁

magpie

Magpie Moth

While sitting in the office last week i heard a loud noise and glanced up to see the air ambulance helicopter flying really low across the croft at the back of the house. Wow! I thought. A couple of minutes later there was even more noise at the front of the house and i looked out to see the helicopter landing in the garden opposite. I was a little stunned to start with but managed to dash out and grab a photo. The jungle drums were working overtime and before the rotors had even stopped my neighbour phoned and gave me the low-down on what was going on 🙂 Happily nothing life-threatening and the lady it had come for walked to the chopper unaided. She had had an op the week before and had developed some pain and needed to be taken back to the hospital in Stornoway – the quickest, easiest and safest way for that to happen was by helicopter. Great service!

scottish health service air ambulance helicopter

Scottish Health Service air ambulance

Once i’m back in Uist early next week i’ll update the ringing summary for June.

Harrison C. & Castell P., 2002, Collins Field guide to Birds Nests, Eggs and Nestlings.