A great weekend spent with Jake on the freezing cold wind strucken North Uist with the hope of seeing the long staying Harlequin Duck and two species of Geese.
We left Friday night at 9.20pm and arrived at Uig (Skye) at 11.30am. We shared the driving along the way but were both completely nackered so a quick nap at Uig was very welcome. The wind was rediculously strong and very cold, but thankfully the ferry was still running.
dead Pine Marten nr Fort William
After nearly missing the ferry, we were finally on our way to Uist. Our hire car was waiting for us at Lochmaddy though not as ready as we had liked!! We would have taken our car but we didn't book the car and there was no room on the return journey. Anyway we arrived, the guy showed us our car and I instantly noticed a flat tyre. After some discussions the hire people gave us their car and we were soon on our way to Balranald RSPB, not breaking any speed limits obviously to try and connect with the Duck before dark.
At last, after 20 hours we had arrived at the RSPB reserve and were walking very quickly to Traigh Lar where thankfully a small group were already present, and to our relief were watching the Harlequin Duck. It was feeding 80m out but throught the scope it looked amazing, and when we approached for closer views it was even better, result!!! Also present were 2 Snow Geese with Greylags, Glaucous Gull and a Hen Harrier.
Harlequin Duck at Traigh Lar
Traigh Lar, North Uist
We spent the night in a hostel near Lochmaddy and had a great nights kip, despite the wind nearly lifting the building. On Sunday we again went on Balranald RSPB though we didn't see the Duck again. However there was an incredible sight of at least 4 White-tailed Eagles perched on the ground and some flying around. The Richardson's Canada Goose finally got found by Jake with lots of Barnacles, a female Merlin and 60 Twite were the other highlights.
White-tailed Eagle at Balranald RSPB
At the ferry terminal, an Iceland Gull was lurking about but nothing else was seen back to Uig. Despite several snow showers on our return car journey, it was pretty uneventful though an adult White-tailed Eagle was seen on Skye, a Dipper and some Whooper Swans near Fort William. We arrived home at 1.15am, just under 12 hours in the car from Uig.