Thursday, 14 March 2013

MEGA - North Uist - Harlequin Duck

Baranald RSPB - North Uist, Outer Hebrides
Finally the day came when I couldn't look at the pager and the internet and see more info and pictures on the stunning drake Harlequin Duck which has been present for a couple of weeks on North Uist. Me and Matt decided to go on Friday night, after a pretty long drive we arrived at Uig on the Isle of Skye at 11.30am. The trip up was pretty uneventful though we did find a Pine Marten, sadly it was a road casualty but an amazing animal to see up close.

Hire car with a puncture on arrival!!!!
We soon boarded the Calmac ferry in Baltic conditions and huddled down for a cup of tea and a bit of kip! An hour or so later we were pulling in to Lochmaddy port and I was finally starting to feel like we might actually see this bird! Matt found the hire car and I started filling in the drivers paperwork only for Matt to immediately realise it had a puncture...GREAT! Anyway after a few attempts at changing the wheel unsucessfully I basically told the hire car chap that we were going to have to take his car and he was going to have to wait with the broken car...he wasn't pleased but neither were we! Soon enough we were speeding our way across North Uist with Baranald RSPB in the satnav!

Worst ever pic of a truely beautiful duck!
Finally after a bit of speed walking me and Matt clapped eyes on the stunning drake. Many thanks for the lads from Suffolk who had it their scopes on arrival! We enjoyed this majestic duck for well over an hour and stayed with it until it was pretty much dark. On route to the duck Matt also managed to find two Snow Geese which were lifer's for both of us, and I found a juv Glaucous Gull on the beach.

We then headed to the North Uist Outdoor Centre which offered ample accomodation for just £14 per night. After a bit of lay-in we headed for a second look at the duck but couldn't find it in a quick search. Our next target was to find the Barnacle flock which had previously held a Richardson's Canada Goose and the 2 Snow Geese.

1 of 5 White-tailed Eagles
After an extensive search of the area and only finding five, yes five White-tailed Eagles we needed to head back to Lochmaddy to catch the ferry. Matt then spotted a big flock of Barnacles and I managed to pick out the Richardson's Canada Goose and the two Snow Geese. After a swift drive to the ferry port Matt found a juv Iceland Gull loafing around the harbour.

Iceland Gull
Once onboard the ferry it was obvious from above there was going to be a little bit of a delay...I think the new boy was on car loading duty...

One Space - Two Cars...DOH!!!
Another uneventful ferry journey and soon enough we were on our way back home from Uig. We left the port at 1.30pm and were aiming to push on and only stop for fuel. This method was however nearly scuppered by some very nasty driving conditions through the Ben Nevis, Glen Coe region. But we eventually arrived back in safely back in Sussex in just over 11.5hrs. A mammoth twitch but a bird I very much wanted to see in Britain and a really stunning individual. Many thanks Matt for the laughs and banter!

Squeaky Bum Driving!

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