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.
As the year draws to a close I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and the best of birding in the New Year. There were a number of new records in 2013 with Marsh Warbler and Wilson's Phalarope perhaps being the pick, and a Green Woodpecker sneaking into Skye from Lochalsh to give us another first. Add to that a 2nd Black Kite and Great Shearwater, it has altogether been a good year for the unexpected. Sometimes we get a bit pre-occupied with the rarites and the unusual can be equally interesting, with 50 Collared Doves at Edinbane today probably being a record count. The BTO published their new Atlas a few weeks ago and those of you who contributed in the intensive 4 years of survey effort, can get the satisfaction of seeing your dots on the map, well worth using up any uncashed Amazon vouchers if you did not pre-order. During the 4 winters of survey effort I cannot remember it being as wet and windy as this. I learned today that the Elgol fishing boats have been out once since the start of December so the weather can be tough not just on the birds, but those who have to try and make a living in such awful conditions. We can only look forward to the New Year and a chance to get out on some crisp winter days, and the nights will start getting shorter from tomorrow! On that optimistic note I wish you and yours all the best.
We hardly realised ourselves, but the first records for this website were entered in December 2003 and we have now reached our 10th anniversary. Back in 2003 maybe 50 records were sent from Skye to the Highland Bird Report which is the official publication for the area, and now about 1000 records are sent in annually. In the beginning we included records from Lochalsh and this has now extended as records are being sent in from the Mallaig and Morar areas and also from the Small Isles. As most people know the website is non-profit making, and our 10 years of archive, freely available to all. We know that the website and the archive are widely used by professionals and other subscription based websites and it would be encouraging to get the occasional acknowledgement and be included as a source of information. The technical parts are looked after by my son Colin and I am very grateful to him for dealing with the occasional glitch which inevitably occurs - however we are rarely down for as long as some well known banks! We try our best to keep the system up to date and many thanks for our regular locals, and the many visitors for keeping the records coming in. We have had an exceptional few years for rarities and many would have gone unnoticed had it not been for the website, which we hope is an excellent local example of 'people science'. We were very happy to support a conference at Sabhal Mor Ostaig last year in conjunction with the SOC and the image shows Martin Benson and myself at the stand.
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.