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(Based in Uist with day trips to Harris and Barra)
Dates: 30th September - 6th October 2017
Timed to make the most of the southern isles and migration this tour has the potential to locate birds from both the far east and west. Waders are still on the move and although warblers and flycatchers are thin on the ground this far west, this is the time you’re most likely to find them. Past years have regularly produced Red-breasted Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Warbler and Common Rosefinch whilst waders have regularly included American Golden Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper. The list of unusual species found around now is impressive but with a supporting cast of eight resident birds of prey, including two species of eagle, Hen Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine; plus a great array of waders and wildfowl you can’t fail to have a good trip. The advantage of coming in the autumn as there are many more birds about with this years juveniles adding to the numbers.
We explore a variety of habitats although birds can turn up anywhere and regularly do which adds to the excitement. Regular sites such as Rubha Ardvule, Balgarva and Ardivachar in South Uist are excellent for waders whilst Loch Eynort, Howmore and Druidibeg plantation sometimes hold migrant warblers and flycatchers. Benbecula also has it’s productive sites with the freshwater loch complex around the west side attracting good numbers of waders and wildfowl whilst the machair here has produced such gems as Upland Sandpiper. Eiders gather off Stinky Bay and Long-tailed Ducks will be returning whilst the bay off Balivanich usually starts producing Slavonian Grebes now too. The cover for smaller birds is sparse and dispersed but does hold tired migrants for short periods and has included Red-eyed Vireo and Baltimore Oriole. North Uist and Berneray although similar to South Uist and Benbecula have quite a different feel but are no less productive. Balranald is always worth a look with the bays and shores turning up waders and gulls. Nearby Loch Paible has a track record of rare waders with Baird’s Sandpiper being particularly attracted to this site whilst Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint are regular. Loch Sandary is also nearby and often holds wildfowl and acts as a resting / bathing site for gulls. Further north is the plantation of Clachan Farm which would pay much more regular scrutiny as it regularly holds migrant warblers, flycatchers and finches.
The anticipation and excitement of being there when some wayward migrant wader or warbler is found is what makes this tour stand out with the potential for almost anything. Even if the rarities are not there the chance for seeing scarce passerines, waders and wildfowl are at their highest now as migration is in full swing.
Short list of species: Brent Geese, Whooper Swan, Eider, Gadwall, Shoveler, American Golden Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper, Grey Phalarope, Great Skua, Arctic Tern, Sooty Shearwater, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin, Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Divers, Black Guillemot, Yellow-browed Warbler, Corn Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Twite, plus many more. Red Deer, Grey and Common Seals, Otters. If the weather’s calm enough we will set a moth trap to have a peek at some of the local night life.
Dates: 30th September - 6th October
Tour duration: 6 nights / 7 days on the islands.
Cost: £780 per person
Accommodation is provided in some of the best local guesthouses for 6 nights.
All meals are provided with evening meals taken in local hotels. If you have special dietry requirements please let us know when bookng.
Group size: 8 (maximum)
Booking: Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to meet: The tour begins and ends in Uist. If you arrive by plane or as a foot passenger off the ferry we will be there to meet you and take you to your accommodation. If you arrive early and are already in the islands on the first day then you'll be picked up in the morning and we'll explore local habitats and wildlife whilst others arrive during the morning. On the last day we'll continue to search for wildlife until everyone has departed on their various flight / ferry connections.
Getting here: It is possible to reach the islands by both air and ferry. Flybe operate regular flights from Glasgow to Benbecula although the earlier you book the cheaper the fare. Alternatively Calmac operate ferries between Uig, Skye - Lochmaddy, North Uist and from Oban - Lochboisdale, South Uist.