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.
The image shows a dead Hen Harrier chick, one of a brood of five trampled into the ground at a Skye site in 2008. At this time of the year, egg collectors are on the move and 'Operation Easter', a long running initiative by the police and RSPB to combat egg thieves swings into place. Unfortunately this had not prevented clutches of Golden Eagle and other rare species being stolen in the area. In the knowledge that Sea Eagles have been poisoned in neighbouring areas in previous years, and information that an adult White-tailed Eagle was shot on Skye at this time last year, it is a timely reminder that although incidents involving some of our iconic birds are rare on Skye and the west coast, they nonetheless occur, and everyone should be on their guard. The investigation of such wildlife crimes is the responsibility of the police and the Northern Constabulary website provides the following advice should members of the public find anything suspicious:-
Constable Ed Frazer is the local WCO and is based at Portree Police Station (01478612888). Further information is available on the Partnership for Action on Wildlife Crime (PAW Scotland) website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/Wildlife-Habitats/paw-scotland/
When Glossy Ibis turned up in the Laig area of Eigg on January 20 it was a significant surprise to locals as well as to the wider birdwatching community. A single bird would have been interesting enough let alone a group which peaked at 7, but which remained at around 5 until they disappeared a couple of days ago on the 1st March. Normally this species would be spending the winter in the south of Europe so their arrival was a bit of a surprise. Winter records in Scotland are scarce and this is certainly the largest group recorded in winter. A single bird was on Tiree on 21st February 1901. The only other local record was one shot in Skye in November 1911 and records were much more frequent prior to 1950 than since. The largest group involved 20 birds in Orkney in 1907 and it appears that this is the largest group recorded in Scotland since. It was a real bonus for John Chester on Eigg and all the locals and my thanks to Brian Gardner for the use of his image. I visited Eigg on 2nd March to try and see the birds but my reputation obviously went before me and they decided to leave!
The annual bird report for Highland for the year 2016 has just been published by Highland Branch SOC. Many of the records contained in this website are included in the report. Sean Morris from Rum wrote the Lochaber summary in the report and ‘yours truly’ wrote the Skye and Lochalsh summary. Several colour images have been reproduced and include several from Bob and Martin Benson. I have a small number of copies available at £9, otherwise contact Highland Branch SOC at www.highlandbirds.scot.