Saturday, 5 August 2017


A few weeks ago I found myself chatting to a local chap who's somewhat into nature. He happened to mention that the local postman had photo's of a stork he saw in a field last year, a field where there are often herons standing out in the open. So I didn't precisely rush to follow it up. 

Yesterday I was chatting with the postman and asked if he was certain it was a stork and not a heron he'd seen. "Well I don't really know myself, it looked different so I took a few pictures and then Andy thought it was a stork. Let me get my camera and find the picture for you..." Several minutes later he showed me the set of images. Boom! Today he handed me a hardcopy of one of the images, he'd printed it out and written a few details on the back. Top man!

This is by no means the best shot that he took of the bird, in some pics it's almost full-frame. But he felt this image gave a good idea of the behaviour he witnessed. The farmer is Willie, he's ploughing in potatoes and the stork is on the look out for exposed food items. On the Continent this could be frogs, mice, lizards or grasshoppers. Here in Uig it was probably leatherjackets and worms. Each time the tractor created a furrow the stork would walk in and investigate, then walk back into the field as the tractor passed by, before returning once more to the disturbed earth. Nice sighting. Amazing, actually. Great that he had his camera with him in the van!

Now that I was happy with the identification, I needed to notify the local and regional bird recorders, White Stork is a proper Skye Mega! According to Bob McMillan's Skye Birds book there is only one previous record for Skye, one at Broadford on 21st April 1977. The Uig bird was seen on 22nd April 2016, exactly 39 years and a day after the first! 

I emailed Bob (Skye bird recorder), who brought in Peter Stronach (Highland Region bird recorder) who advised that despite this not being my record, I still need to fill in the description form. The photo's are conclusive, the time of year is perfect for a spring overshooting migrant. Job's a goodun, they just need a record to be submitted. I've never submitted someone else's bird before. Seems a bit weird, but Bob says it's fine. 

In other news, the local Buzzards fledged one youngster which has been pulling some crazy aerobatic antics in the evening sun. They nested just across the road from the hotel, much to the annoyance of the local Hooded Crows, so I see them daily. Tonight I watched the parent birds and the youngster engaging in mock battles, all necessary skills for a youngster to learn and master. Here he is right outside my window

Kids, with their perfect, undamaged flight feathers. The poor parent birds are looking a bit worse for wear, tatty secondaries and nicked primaries, one is missing part of its tail. 

Anyway, here's a toon for the masses. Holy crapsters, this song is 23 years old, HOW did that happen??? Please, enjoy


  1. I remember a guy on Radio Scotland interviewing Simon Barnes. They were taking texts and emails. The presenter openly mocked the idea of a Stork in Scotland (it's on my Fife list!) while happily accepting an email about a hummingbird - I think we can guess what that was. He then asked Simon, who lived in Norfolk, whether he wished he lived in Scotland because of our amazing bird diversity. I wasn't that big of a fan of Simon's until that point. He was polite restraint personified.

    1. I think I'd have just hung up the phone at that point :D

  2. It just goes to show. I remember years ago someone telling me about a small, reddish coloured bird with a long neck he'd seen, showing him a field guide it turned out to be a Hoopoe!
    Your account of the young buzzards made me think about the young Herring Gulls I have as constant companions where I live, just watching them fly around and dive-bomb each other, even though I know they are building up muscle and practicing, it's hard not to think that they are just playing and having a damn good time too.

    1. I'm certain that gulls are smart enough to have time in their lives for fun. Amazing description of that Hoopoe, I think I'd have struggled to figure that one out! I remember the girl I used to live with telling me about the flock of black jays that landed in the neighbours apple tree and demolished the fruit some 20 odd years back. I was at work at the time. She said they had white 'bums' and fingered wingtips. I gave her the book, told her to start at the back..."That's them! Nutcrackers! Are they rare?" This was in South London, I could've wept. No irruptions that year, not even on the Continent so who knows what she actually saw?

    2. Jays have white bums. Why weren't they Jays? I remember reading one of Bill Oddie's books. If your neighbour/colleague/etc. asks, "What is this odd bird that I ... " the answer is always "It's a Jay" ! (although I get asked about all sorts including wrens and blue tits)