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Hebridean Imaging

Hebridean Imaging

heron

Stormy week!

Had a very stormy start to the week with high winds Monday and Tuesday. Monday was particularly abysmal with winds gusting to 60-odd miles an hour and horizontal snow.

This is what the swell chart looked like for Monday – you can’t fail to be impressed with this eh?!

Swell chart for Monday 4th Feb 2013

Swell chart for Monday 4th Feb 2013

Some video of the massive waves “up the Butt” from the Eoropie Tearoom Facebook page.

Shetland and Orkney have also been suffering, take a look at this footage of the lighthouse on Fair Isle from this blog post: http://fair-isle.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/lighthouse-walls-fall-to-biggest-waves.html

And a blog post from Fair Isle from the day after, with lots of pictures: http://fair-isle.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/damage-done-south-lighthouse-fair-isle.html

Since Wednesday it’s just been grey and drizzly but at least i’ve been able to get out every day for a walk around the patch. I was hoping something had been blown in but it was pretty quiet all along the beach.

I was very happy to add a couple more species to my 2013 patch list: a Moorhen was heard calling from the reeds by Loch Hallan and then two days later one was on the loch at the front of the house. Friday i added the 60th species – Dunlin when three were on the beach with the other waders (Barwits, Oycs, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Turnstones). Nice flock of 24 Long-tailed Duck not far offshore.

Met RSPB Stuart on my walk back across the machair and had a chat with him, hoped he might be able to point me in the direction of some on-patch Corn Buntings no luck but we had a nice chat in the pouring rain, swapping tales of what we hadn’t seen, bemoaning the lack of Glaucs and Iceland Gulls here this winter.

Ian is still away down in Essex and getting ever more twitchy to get back to the island. I sent him a phone photo from the beach – it was completely empty, not a person in sight in any direction, no sounds apart from the birds and the sea. He sent a very grumpy text back saying he was in Ikea surrounded by hundreds of other shoppers. Shame 😉

It’s been nice for the last few weeks, my friend Jane has been visiting here from Lewis and we’ve had plenty of time for long chats and girly nights with lots of glasses of wine. 🙂 Jane’s been working down here but in her spare time has been sketching and painting. Up in Lewis she runs the Blue Pig studio in Carloway. You can click on the two following photos to visit Jane’s facebook page.

One of Jane's Uist sketches

One of Jane’s Uist sketches

Jane's favourite birds are waders

Jane’s favourite birds are waders

Is spring on it’s way? There were quite a few Redwings around on Friday, are they beginning to make a move back north?

Well Saturday dispelled that Spring theory as i went to do the monthly Winter Thrushes Survey and didn’t find a single Redwing or Fieldfare! A smattering of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes only. Mind you as i walked through the woods at North Locheynort it was noticeably noisier – plenty of Robins and Wrens singing.

Winter Thrushes Survey, Locheynort. Beinn Mhor had it's head in the mist.

Winter Thrushes Survey, Locheynort. Beinn Mhor had it’s head in the mist.

Saturday afternoon had a phone call which said “would you like a Heron?” Well, yes, why not? My friend Louise turned up with a Grey Heron that she’d found dead in her garden after the storm the other day. Poor thing. I’m always up for a learning experience though and i haven’t handled any fully grown herons so i had a good look at it, got Baker* out to see about the ageing. I came to the conclusion that it was a bird hatched last year: grey crown with just a little dark streaking. Short dark grey ornamental feathers. The bird had died in pretty poor condition, there was virtually no muscle on the breast.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Grey Heron, wing

Grey Heron, wing

Sunday’s weather was pretty poor (pouring rain and breezy) and i didn’t venture out but still managed to have a quick scan around the patch using the ‘scope out of the front window – the best sight was an otter running from Loch Hallan, across the golf course and machair and into the dunes.

*Identification Guide to European Non-Passerines (BTO Guide 24), Kevin Baker, 1993

Sweet Gale Moth

Things have been pretty slow recently with regards to moth-trapping – for almost all of the last month there has been some north in the wind making it pretty cold.

Just 7 Hebrew Characters and 3 Red Chestnuts plus we were very happy to find the nationally scarce Sweet Gale Moth in the trap – a moth we haven’t seen before. The County Moth Recorder tells us that it is only the second location here in the hebrides that the moth has been recorded at.

Wild Places blog moths outer hebrides

Sweet Gale Moth

Our first Lapwing chicks of the year seen at Stoneybridge this morning :) and we managed to catch and ring them. There were also 22 Whimbrel between Stoneybridge and Howbeg. The King Eider was not at Rubha Ardvule first thing this morning but there were still 23 pale-bellied Brents still on the beach plus our first Arctic Tern of the summer.

A quick walk around at North Locheynort and we found an ant that we hope our friend Rhian can identify. Rhian is currently doing her PhD on ants see this article about her work with ants and their connection with the endangered Large Blue Butterfly: http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=1176&cookieConsent=A also more on this fascinating subject at http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/text.asp?PageId=363

ant outer hebrides

Unidentified ant (Myrmica spp.)

The Herons are busy nesting in the area as well, this youngster was seen skulking around in the vegetation – it seems to be old enough to go walkabout but not yet big enough to be able to fly.

grey heron outer hebrides

Young Grey Heron

grey heron outer hebrides

Adult Grey Heron

There was also a small flock of 8 Siskins, quite a few Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff around the wooded area.

We counted quite a few Green-veined White butterflies that were in the warmer, more sheltered areas.

butterfly outer hebrides

Green-veined White butterfly