With the early sun streaming through the windows of our lodge, I got up and went for a short drive first thing before breakfast. The weather was much better than the previous day, although the wind had gone round to the north, was strong and quite cold.
As I went up Committee Road, I spotted an SEO ahead of me and to my right. I reckoned I could get ahead of it, park up and get my images. However, as I got up level with the bird, it came immediately alongside me, and to make matters worse, I had a local car wanting to get on, so I had to pull over into a passing place and let it by. Meanwhile my owl pushed off and away. but it was a stunning eye contact close encounter a few short metres from me. Even if I had been ready to take a picture, it was far too close. I would have needed the 24-70 to get in in the frame.
I have mentioned the Committee Road a few times on previous posts. This is it, a small lonely single track road that goes north-south through the centre of North Uist, with peat and heather moors on either side of the road. At the top, it goes through and over a col between the surrounding hills, and at either end it finishes at sea level. This was a great place to see SEO and Hen Harrier - we never failed to see either on every drive through.
I had another close encounter with an SEO at the far end of the road, but I will save that particular story for the outtakes posting that I will do at the end of this series.
I did manage a rather nice shot of this Redshank to show for my efforts though.
It was calling an alarm call as it was protecting it's young in the field immediately adjacent to the road. I grabbed a couple of images through the car door and moved off to leave it in peace. This was a typical everyday experience on North Uist with many of these birds along with Snipe, Skylark and Meadow Pipit all posing.
After breakfast and getting Jac, we moved on further afield and visited Benbecula where we went to Stinky Bay, so named because of the rotting seaweed and kelp that piles up on the beach. It was quite odour free when we were there due to the wind direction.
I got this image of a Turnstone. It was a pity about the kelp frond, blocking the legs out of shot but it is great to see them in the breeding plumage as it is so different from how we normally see them 'down south' in the winter coats.
As well as a few of these there were numerous Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin and Eider.
The part of the Outer Hebrides we were on comprises of a series of seven islands. From the top they are Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay and Barra. With the exception of Barra, they are all connected together with raised stone causeways like this.
and often at either end of the causeway you would see this sign
This was the best shot of an Otter I got all week
Although to be fair to myself, I was not specifically trying to get them with the exception of one occasion.
On South Uist we went out to a place called Rubha Aird a Muile The beaches were beautiful, pure white sand with deep azure blue water. It was a great sight.
I got this image of a Sanderling on the beach at Rubha Aird a Muile. The light was most unkind in direction and harshness, but again it is nice to see them in breeding rather than the winter plumage that I am used to seeing.
We also took a look into Lochs Aineort and Druidibeag on South Uist - these are stunning places and we loved the isolation and ruggedness of these places. We scanned the tops for either White Tailed or Golden Eagle for a number of hours at each place but sadly did not see any.
Moving back to Benbecula, we checked out a small loch where Red Necked Phalaropes are known to be, but we were unable to see them, nor were the other bird watchers there.
Another run back up Committee Road towards home revealed another fabulous Male Hen Harrier and two females or 'Ringtails' as they are sometimes known.
Probably the most pleasing images of the day were from our morning, after breakfast run, down the road though. At the bottom near the houses and main road we watched an SEO hunting for quite a while. It came quite close a couple of times enabling me to get these following images, and I took a longer shot to set it in context with the houses and environment too.
So after a great day we headed back for some supper and upload and back up the images from the day.
However, the light towards sunset took on a beautiful deep golden hue, so I put the camera on the tripod and got this very simple image of a Common Gull just cruising by our front door.
I love the tones, the light and how it is layered and the simplicity of this image. Worth a click to enlarge.
Common Gulls are not that common where I live so it is always pleasing to see these when we go to Scotland
So I am going to give you all a break from North Uist