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.
When Sam Langlois and his girlfriend Ella took an evening visit to Loch Poolteil on the 27th August, they were looking for Otters. The last thing Sam, who lives in Aberdeen but is from USA, expected to see was another American visitor - an American Cliff Swallow - but the bird was flying around Meanish Pier feeding on insects. Sam and Ella were aware of the significance of their find and managed to get some images and quickly put the news out. Unfortunately the evening was drawing in and it was raining, but Andy Stables who lives locally, was able to see the bird before it disappeared west into the gloom. Despite a thorough search the following morning the bird was not seen again. This is one of the rarest birds ever recorded in Skye. Although there have been 12 records in the UK, this is the first in August, and more importantly a first for Scotland. Coincidentally two turned up in Iceland at the same time so weather patterns have contributed to the bird being well away from its normal southerly migration through the USA. The sighting still has to be confirmed by a national rarities committee, but with excellent images available, this should not be a problem. It will bring our Skye list to 265.
A recent paper in British Birds included findings from a geolocator study in the Highland area. This is one of our most common breeding waders on Skye nesting near freshwater lochs and streams as well as by the sea. Birds winter in the mudflats of Guinea-Bassau with fiddler crabs being the main prey species. The mean arrival date in Scotland is May 1st and the mean departure date is July 29th. Birds leaving the Highlands made a refuelling stop in Iberia before continuing to West Africa. On the return journey they refuel in Morocco, Iberia or France. Numbers are declining and drought in wintering areas and unfavourable winds on migration may be a factor.