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 Semipalmated Sandpiper breeds in Alaska and Canada and migrates in winter to the Caribbean, Central America and South America as far as Argentina. First recorded in 1992, it has probably been recorded only 30-40 times in Scotland and only once previously in Highland. When Martin Benson found a juvenile bird at Harrapool on 7th September 2012 it was the first record for Skye and Lochalsh and a terrific reward for hours of regular watching his local 'patch', and now the best hotspot in the area. There are problems of separating this species from some other small waders but the partial webbing between the toes, illustrated on Martin's image, are diagnostic - hence the name 'semipalmated'. The bird remained with us for nearly a week mainly assocaiting with Dunlin and Ringed Plover and many locals and visitors were rewarded with excellent views. The record still has to be accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC)
This event will be held at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Sleat between 10.0 am and 4.30 pm on Saturday 17th November. It will be hosted by the Scottish Ornithologists Club and this website and the cost is £20 for day delegates. There will be stalls from SOC, BTO, RSPB and SLEF. You are invited to join us for a full and engaging day of talks reflecting on some personal long-term research projects as well as local and national initiatives for the conservation and enjoyment of some of Scotland's most iconic and treasured Hebridean birdlife; from Golden Eagle and White-tailed Eagle, to Manx Shearwater and Corncrake. If you are interested in the conference please contact me on and I will send you a pdf of the programme.
Further to our blog on 13th August regarding the Basking Shark satellite tagging project, unfortunately one of the expensive tags has popped off a shark earlier than was expected. The shark was down at Gunna sound a few days ago but has made its way up to Neist - and the tag may be bobbing about in the bay or washed ashore. If we manage to retrieve the tag we can get valuable data and may be able to use it again. The tag will stop transmitting accurate locations of its position very shortly. There is an award of £100 for the retrieval of the tag. Please either contact SNH at the Portree office or contact this website.
Mike Werndly of the IRCT Ranger service on Rum is organising a night time manx shearwater colony expedition to Hallival on Rum on the evening of Thursday 13th September. This will be a special experience and an opportunity to encounter the birds inshore and on land before they leave their nesting sites for wintering grounds off South America. The cost is £25 per person which includes a pre-expedition lecture on shearwater ecology/management on the island. Travel arrangements would be out of Arisaig on Thursday and back with Calmac on the Friday - accommodation for a few hours sleep is available! For more information and to book a place please contact Mike on 01687 462782 or email /p>
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.