Skye Birds - A Birding Guide to the Isle of Skye

The Skye-Birds Blog

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.

A week on North Ronaldsay

28th May 2019

 As a migrant hotspot, North Ronaldsay tends to be overshadowed by its neighbour Fair Isle.  However, with an active Bird Observatory providing excellent food and accomodation it has much to offer, and is one of the best migration hotspots in Scotland with an impressive and growing species list.  You can either visit by regular flights on a small aircraft, or by ferry which operates twice weekly.  With no drive-off facilities any vehicles have to be craned off, a highly efficient if slightly nerve racking prospect.  We chose to self cater but enjoyed evening meals and company in the Observatory.  An efficient WhatsApp system communicates information so there is an opportunity to catch up with any birds caught in nets or traps, or seen in the field.  During the week we recorded 88 species including Dotterel, Wood Sandpiper, and a variety of duck species including Pintail, Shoveler and Garganey.  Passerine migrants included Wood Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroats, Brambling, Whinchats, Common Rosefinch and several stunning Bluethroat.  Bird of the week for me was an Eastern Subalpine Warbler, which flew through an open door of the lounge bar and was duly caught and ringed - providing a new Scottish tick (see image).  An excellent week and there are a number of images on the Gallery.  More details of the observatory can be seen at

Garganey on Skye

8th May 2019

Garganey is an extremely attractive duck species which winters in southern Europe and Africa and migrates north to breed mainly in northern Europe and Russia.  Scotland is at the western limits of its range and there was only a single record in Skye, with Baxter & Rintoul finding 4 males and 3 females at Loch Suardal, Dunvegan, on March 28th, 1943.  Dr Evelyn Baxter and Miss Leonora Rintoul were leading figures in Scottish ornithology in the middle of the last century, recording widely and visiting Skye on several occasions.  It was unusual for women to play such a prominent role in ornithology at that time but they were responsible for several ground breaking publications including the classic ‘The Birds of Scotland’ in 1953.  Their Garganey find at Loch Suardal in 1943 has been the only record on Skye until April 27th this year, when a beautiful drake lingered for a few hours at the mouth of the Broadford River.  It had taken 76 years for the 2nd record, and appropriately enough it was found by another woman, Diane Penman, a visitor from Fife.

Highland Bird Report 2017

Published by Highland Branch of the SOC, the 2017 report is now available at a cost of £9.  The report extends to 180 pages and contains a Skye and Lochalsh year summary provided by yours truly.  There are also several images in the publication from Martin Benson and myself. 

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