Monday, May 13, 2024

πŸ“– 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Uist & Benbecula ~ Part 1 ~ May 2024

🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Thursday 9th May 2024 😢‍🌫️🌧️10C ~ Wind Variable @ 2MPH ~ Today, we took a ferry from Leverburgh on Harris to Berneray, a small island connected by a causeway to North Uist. The Sound of Harris is shallow and treacherous, and although the distance is relatively short, the current ferry crossing takes an hour to cover the nine nautical miles. The journey involves some hairpin course changes along the way. On route to the ferry the weather had closed in and we received a text message stating that due to fog, the ferry crossing could be disrupted or even cancelled. Fortunately, the fog had lifted sufficiently by departure and we completed the crossing on time. It was a reasonably quiet crossing with Black Guillemots, Great Northern Divers and several Auks noted. 

Harris to Uist

Shortly after disembarking at Berneray and despite the weather, we heard at least three Corncrakes calling from the roadside just a few minutes into our journey. We braved the weather and went for a short walk, but Corncrakes are known for being elusive and we failed to connect.

A thoroughly fed-up Stonechat still looking striking in the rain

Our accommodation was in South Uist, so before heading down we decided to explore the north. We began at Balranald Nature Reserve on the northwest corner. Although, once again we heard Corncrakes, we didn't manage to spot any and eventually gave up due to the weather. However, we did watch a couple of winnowing Snipe and snapped a forlorn-looking Stonechat from the Nature Centre. 

White-tailed Sea Eagle in the gloom at Loch Druidibeg

Next, we visited Loch Druidibeg, a large freshwater loch with many islets surrounded by moorland and blanket bog. During our drive around the loch, we spotted a White-tailed Sea Eagle perched high on a nearby hill. The eagle gave us great views as it flew over the car, having been spooked by two hillwalkers. We also noted several Wheatears, plus Cuckoo, Common Sandpiper, and Red-breasted Mergansers on the loch. Weather permitting we plan to take a long hike tomorrow.

A Cormorant struggles with a huge Eel ~ We were surprised to find out that there are no course fish on the Islands!

Having driven across the causeway to Benbencula and onto South Uist we eventually reached our accommodation at Daliburgh around 5pm. Known as the Boathouse it overlooks a small body of water and we watched from the window as a Cormorant struggled with a huge Eel. There were also many Sand Martins and several Swallows hunting flies over the water.