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 Carl Zeiss Award has been running since 1991 and is presented for photograph(s) judged to have been the most instructive in the BBRC's assessment of rarities during the previous year. Ian Fulton's images of a Red-rumped Swallow at Talisker Bay, one of which is shown here, have won the award. As described in the blog of 8th November, 2011, Ian's images have allowed the bird to be confidently assigned to one of the migratory asian races, and thus make it potentially a first for the British list, a decision which remains pending. Ian will be presented with a pair of Zeiss binoculars at the British Bird-watching Fair next month.
My breeding study for Hen Harriers commenced in 2000 and since 2005 has concentrated in north central Skye where the population has averaged between 8-12 pairs. In 2011 we enjoyed relatively high productivity and a pair bred for the first time in Lochalsh. It was therefore extremely disappointing that only 5 pairs could be found this year, a pattern which was unfortunately shared by other raptor workers. Despite significant investment by English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage, and by the RSPB, there were no birds at Bowland in the north of England, and only one pair at the Langholm project. Apparently there were only two pairs in the whole of the south of Scotland which includes several SPA's (Special Protection Areas). Winter survival was clearly a major problem and weather may well have been a factor. Hen Harriers have always been widely persecuted and another theory is that sporting interests are systematically targetting the species at winter roost sites. Of the five pairs which bred in Skye, one pair failed on eggs though the reason was not established. Two pairs failed at the chick stage with fox predation being identified by the use of nest site cameras. The one bonus was that the remaining two pairs fledged three (see image) and five young successfully. Despite it not being a good vole year, there was clearly other prey availability no doubt helped by our protracted spell of good weather. My sincere thanks to everyone who has sent in records.
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.