This page features current news and views from Skye and elsewhere. It will also provide an opportunity for others working locally to report research and results.
We seem to have reached that time of the year when the media have their annual onslaught on “seagulls”, a term which annoys me intensely. Some twelve species of the Gull family have been recorded in Skye and Lochalsh, and only one of them, the Herring Gull, is liable to steal your chips! Only five of these species breed in the area so most are visitors. If we didnt leave chips,or other human detritus lying around there would be nothing to steal. Winter is the best time for unusual gulls, especially after northerly winds, and in the last few weeks good numbers of white-winged gulls from Iceland, Greenland and arctic Canada have arrived with us. Local fishermen have become extremely familiar with Glaucous and Iceland Gulls many of which follow their boats to pick up scraps and by-catch. Most visiting birds will identify ready food sources so they will also hang around fish farms. Last winter, an Ivory Gull from the high arctic spent two weeks in Uig, the first record for the area, and this attracted many visiting birders - see image. For the last few weeks an Iceland Gull has been feeding on ground churned up by cattle at Tokavaig, one of several recorded in the area. The largest of these visitors is the Glaucous Gull and examples have been recorded in Dunvegan, Portree and Broadford. Other hotspots for visiting gulls are Mallaig and Loch Kishorn, in each case attracted by ready available food sources - produced by man! These are extremely attractive and interesting additions to our wintering birds, and our general biodiversity, so let’s stop demonising them, calling them seagulls, generally giving them a hard time, and enjoy them for what they are...and try and identify them properly.
All contributors to the website should be aware that records submitted to the website will be included in Birdtrack as a matter of routine. I am currently uploading historical records for 2016, whilst trying to keep up to date and uploading 2017 records as I receive them. Apart from getting all records into a system which is now widely recognised as the best national database, it also helps my co-compilers of the SOC Highland Bird Report to which all records go. If any contributors are unhappy with this please let me know. A number of individuals who support the site also use Birdtrack and as long as they let me know, this will allow me to avoid duplication of records. Many Birdtrackers still send me their more unusual records and I would ask them to continue to do so as this keeps the site up to date. Please let me know if you need any further information and thanks for your ongoing support.
The Highland Bird Report 2014, published by Highland Branch of the SOC has just been published. The majority of the records submitted to this website are forwarded for compilation into this report, which represents all the records which have been accepted as occurring in the Highland recording area. Skye and Lochalsh district is part of this region and the report contains a summary of the highlights for the district. There is also a summary of records from Lochaber which includes the Small Isles. Sean Morris from Rum has compiled this summary and we regularly carry records from the Small Isles and Morar. Please contact me if you need a copy as I have a few available at £9 or £11 including postage.