Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Friday, 6 August 2010

Now What would you do?

Texts in the morning. Pacific Golden Plover on South Uist. I'm on my way to catch the morning ferry to Harris.

Watched the ferry go out of the harbour at Uig and wondered whether my luck with rarities would change. If you've seen British Birds this month, or you have read my blog faithfully [or any other way you may wish to read it], then you may recall my appalling luck with a Wilson's phalarope and a white-tailed plover at Seaforth Docks, Liverpool.

Went for a walk to the top of a nearby hill and saw a couple of Scotch Argus on the way, as well as stonechats and willow warblers. Fabulous amount of off the plant raspberries here. Yummy!

Onto the ferry back to Lochmaddy at 2.00pm :

163 manx shearwaters
25 razorbill
2 storm petrels
24 guillemot
23 puffin
2 great skua
1 arctic skua
2 dunlin
2 fulmar
1 kittiwake

7 common dolphin
a number of harbour porpoise

Also 4 large wind turbine mounts were being dragged by a large tug, passing the ship on the starboard side - according to the captain. Met Andy Stevenson on the boat who just so happens to be the bird recorder for the Outer Hebrides. He hadn't known about the PGP so we arranged to meet at the Loch when I'd managed to cycle there.

It took 4 hours to cycle to loch Bornish! Wind but at least no rain. In fact it wasn't a bad day and 5 custard donuts helped.

Got to the Loch to be greeted by Miranada and Marianne, 2 local lady birders. Andy and Marianne's husband Bob were out trying to see the golden plover flock which had retreated into a huge area of ragwort.
Suddenly a group of greylags flew over, 49 of them and these spooked the cattle in the ragwort. For some reason they started to run about, putting all the golden plover into the air. they landed on the nearest edge of the ragwort and some were on view.

Did I see the Pacific Golden Plover?

Read the next blog to find out

Ok, I'll tell you - there it was! It's head and breast showing above the ragwort. On the list UTB and a new bird not only for the year list but also a LIFER for me, but only after it flew around with th flock showing other diagnostic features. It then landed on the grassy area in fron of us giving better views.

Brilliant and maybe I will break the Non-motorised year list record after all. My luck has changed!

The attempt to see storm petrels from the nearby headland was curtailed by the arrival of some rain, so with the tent set up, I went to sleep with a smile on my face. 40 miles of extra cycling to see a new bird. Well worth it!

Friday 6th August 2010

Now got to Lochmaddy and slept there after a cycle ride in pouring rain and an easterly wind. Not fun but the PGP helped.

Stopped at Cothrom Adult Community Centre in order to access the computer there. Sharon, the receptionist was delightful and brought me a cup of coffee as I dried off. The centre is a fabulous facility with very friendly staff and great resources. Wind turbines outside showed off it's green credentials. Thanks to everyone there.

Also stopped at Howmore Youth Hostel again and met a lovely family from Suffolk and a Scottish gentleman. Mugs of Marmite to ward off the midges and some toast before braving the rain again. Good collection of bones on the dry stone wall here. This one is some sort of whale.

Finally got to North Uist, after tea taken in a bus shelter; this one clean and although lacking the newspapers of one before, it also lacked the sheep dung! Parked up in the car park and climbed the hill to the superb burial chamber, Burpa Langass. A huge mound of rounded, lichen-covered stones witha small entrance. Torch in hand, crawled inside through a narrow entrance; my cycle helmet protecting my head. I'd do anything to get out of the rain. Inside a large chamber with large flat supporting flagstones, dry and comfy.

Back outside, rode the few miles to Lochmaddy with the rain now decreasing to drizzle, and the time now about 7.30pm. Some clear sky way over to the west promised a good sunset. Walked around a few sea inlets at Lochmaddy, watching the fish jumping, and saw an otter swimming along a shoreline nearby.

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