Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Mother Of All Dips - 1.6.15

Not a Black-Billed Cuckoo!!

For a few days news and photos of a Black-Billed Cuckoo on North Uist, W.Isles were gripping myself and many others off. This probably once in a lifetime occurrence of a species that usually snuffs it after a day had managed to survive 9 days and so after a bit of arranging I drove to Suffolk to get a lift with Craig Fulcher who I'd been sharing plenty of laughs and banter with over Twitter. Joining us were Norman Vipond and Andy Field. On the way up we picked up Jonny Holliday near Doncaster. News reached us that the Cuckoo was still present at 9.20pm was positive. After something like 11 or 13 hours later (either way it was a long time!) we arrived on the Isle of Skye. On the way to the ferry at Uig I added Hooded Crow and finally a Wheatear to the year list! Around the harbour at Uig while we waited for the ferry a couple of Sedge Warbler and Cuckoo were noted along with 4 Rock Dove. A female Red-Breasted Merganser was another year list addition.

The 90 minute ferry ride was kind to my stomach and despite it being a bit fresh I stayed outside all the way to see if I could get any more year ticks. 2 Black Guillemot, 20+ Puffin and a couple of Great Skua were penned in the note book. As we neared N.Uist 2 Red-Throated Diver were seen. We disembarked and for the first time in my life I was on the Western Isles! A pair of Hen Harrier brightened the mood near Loch Paible but it was becoming more obvious that the BB Cuckoo had done a bunk. Despite walking around its favoured area for a couple of hours it dawned on us that we had in fact arrived a day too late and it had either died, been eaten or had left! What an absolute shitter!! But then I thought to myself there are worse places to dip than the stunning scenery I was in. Making the most of a bad day we headed down the road to Balranald RSPB reserve where we were treated to half a dozen singing Corncrake. I'd only ever seen 2 both on Scilly and neither of them were calling so I did at least have a first of sorts. We then headed to Benbecula where on a small loch we saw 2 Red-Necked Phalarope! Another ringtail Hen Harrier was seen here. After some food we headed to our digs for the night at a youth hostel. A male Hen Harrier was seen from here too.

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