Nature Blog Network

New Blog

Well, i hate to have to do this but i have had to move server and database and have started a new blog site – on the new blog both Ian and myself will be writing posts.

To continue reading posts please go to: The New Wild Places Blog

I will leave this one here for posterity :)

Spring has sprung at last!

Well, it’s been a while since i’ve updated the blog here, the back end of winter seemed to be pretty quiet – too windy or rainy for mist netting or mothing – just had to be content with getting on with my knitting (very slowly) and i got accepted by the Uist Craft Producers so have been keeping occupied making up cards which are now for sale in their shop at Kildonan (where there is also a Cafe and museum).

So…. what’s been happening. Our first macro moth of the year turned up at the kitchen window on the 13th February – Ian dashed out with a pot, the poor moth was probably glad to get into the warm as it was only 2′C out there! It turned out to be a Dotted Border.

Dotted Border

Dotted Border

February was a blustery month and the weather station recorded a high gust of 57mph on the 3rd February – we weren’t here we were visiting Lewis. A nearby lightining strike had tripped our electric and blown up the internet hub so we returned at the end of the week to a defrosted freezer (lived on chicken portions, liver and bacon for four days, couldn’t see it go to waste!). The hub took nearly a week to be replaced, although i must say BT were very good and replaced it free of charge it just took an age to get here but that’s more to do with our location.

High winds on the 3rd February

High winds on the 3rd February

Clouds on the firing range, South Uist

Clouds on the firing range, South Uist

We received an email to ask whether we were interested in participating in the Garden Moth Scheme – this means trapping each Friday night, the same trap in the same location and recording what we get. The Scheme runs from the 4th March to the 4th November so it will be interesting to see what turns up. The first 3 weeks we caught absolutely nothing!

The first bee of the year turned up in the garden on the 23rd March – our neighbour Bill is the local bee expert so we sent him the photo, he says they can be tricky but believed it to be Bombus cryptarum – apparantly recently separated from B. lucorum.

First bee of the year in the garden

First bee of the year in the garden

A Brambling with a ring on turned up in the garden early in March – an adult male so surely the one that we ringed last year and retrapped in January?!

I really like late March here in the islands when the place is full of winter birds that are heading northwards and summer birds arriving. On the 26th March there were two groups of Whooper Swans low over the house, heading north – what a great sight! the Whoopers seem to gather up on Loch Hallan just south of the house then all leave together.

Whooper Swans, heading north for the summer

Whooper Swans, heading north for the summer

The next day, the 27th March i saw my first Wheatears of the year, near Kildonan.

On the 5th April our phones started ringing – various calls to let us know there was a Whiskered Tern at Loch Fada on Benbecula. We ummed and aaahhed for about thirty seconds then jumped in the van to go and twitch it. Good but fairly distant views. Nice bird though and a first for the Outer Hebrides.

Into April now and the moths have finally started to appear in greater numbers. We had a drive down to Eriskay to see if we could find Belted Beauty. The males are nice looking moths but the females very odd-looking in that they are flightless. It was quite breezy and we didn’t hold out much hopes of finding them. However with a little searching we found a female on a fencepost, managed a photo before she got blown off by a gust of wind. A few minutes later we found a male, i struggled with getting a photo as it’s wings were getting blown around, it eventually got blown off the post and relocated to a more sheltered spot where i managed to get a decent photo.

Belted Beauty, female

Belted Beauty, female

Belted Beauty, male

Belted Beauty, male

On the 10th April i was checking out the House Sparrows in the garden – the Retrapping Adults for Survival that we are doing runs from the 1st April so we’ve been logging all the sightings of the individuals that we’ve colour-ringed. I spotted another bird in the garden and saw a flash of red in it’s tail – hardly believing my eyes i called Ian who confirmed what i was seeing – a Black Redstart. We called Bill next door as it had headed off in his direction. Sadly we couldn’t relocate the bird and it certainly hadn’t hung around long enough to be photographed!

The best mothing night of the year so far was an impromtu session. The wind had dropped right out by 10pm during the evening on the 18th April so the trap went out. The temperature didn’t drop below 8.3′C and it remained cloudy all night. A good catch of macro moths: 72 Red Chestnut, 57 Hebrew Character, 20 Clouded Drab, 1 Dark Sword-grass, 1 Powdered Quaker, 1 Brindled Ochre and new for us an Emperor Moth. Micros included Depressaria heraclei, Agonopterix heracliana, A. ciliella and a migrant micro Plutella xylostella.

Emperor Moth, female (a little tatty looking)

Emperor Moth, female (a little tatty looking)

Dark Sword-grass

Dark Sword-grass

Brindled Ochre

Brindled Ochre

Migrant micro moth Plutella xylostella (Diamond-back Moth)

Migrant micro moth Plutella xylostella (Diamond-back Moth)

Hopefully we’ll continue to catch well as the summer progresses!

We have lots of things planned over the next couple of months, we have 3 squares to do TTVs on for the BTO Atlas (an early and a late summer visit for each tetrad), we also have a 1km square each to do a Breeding Bird Survey on (this entails two visits to each square during the breeding season) we’ll continue with the monthly WeBS counts when we can and we also have a Retrapping Adults for Survival project starting on Ringed Plovers which will take up quite a lot of our time.

Uist – busy winter!

Well, new year, new list so we were up and out on the 1st January having challenged ourselves to see as many species as we could during the short daylight hours. First bird of the day as it was starting to get light was a Dunnock in the garden. We had a pretty relaxing day and didn’t leave South Uist all day but managed to rack up 60 species including Green-winged Teal which was new for our Western Isles list.

We enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to do the same again the next day and concentrate our efforts on Benbecula and North Uist. 61 species some of which were different from yesterday making our year total 70 species so far. The weather was crisp and cold but sunny.

Lochmaddy harbour, North Uist, perfect end to a great days birding.

Lochmaddy harbour, North Uist, perfect end to a great days birding.

The weather turned cold again early in January with more snow lying.

Looking towards Askernish House

Looking towards Askernish House

The hard conditions meant that the birds needed every bit of food they could find – where the crofters feed the cattle on the machair is just ideal and at times there were hundreds of birds there.

The machair

The machair

Well, new year also means the next round of BTO Atlas surveys – the late winter visits needed to be done for our allocated tetrads. It’s a case of waiting for a lull in the cold wind and getting out the first chance we have. The first Timed Tetrad Visit (TTV) we did in 2011 was at Locheynort – the tetrad here covers both North and South Locheynort. There were nowhere near as many birds, or species as back in November when we last surveyed this square.

TTVing at Locheynort with Ben Mor in the background. A beautiful clear winter day - sun and no wind!

TTVing at Locheynort with Ben Mor in the background. A beautiful clear winter day - sun and no wind!

A few days later we were able to do our other South Uist TTV, near to Daliborough and then we waited for a window in the weather so that we could head over to Barra to finish off the winter TTV work there. While we waited Ian did some jobs around the garden – he’s ordered 500 trees which will arrive in March so he needs to prepare the areas where he (we!) will be planting them.

The weather station is doing well, although on the 8th Janaury there was so little wind and sub zero temperatures which subsequently froze the anemometer for a short time!

Checking out the weather station

Checking out the weather station

We joined the Scottish Weather Network and our live data can now be seen on that website, as well as on our own weather website Askernish Weather

Scottish Weather Network - live weather data around Scotland

Scottish Weather Network - live weather data around Scotland

It’s surprising how a seemingly boring trip up to Benbecula to visit the hardware shop can turn out. As ever we always make a few stops on the way to look for birds. Loch Bee is always good to have a scan across and as Ian scoped across he spotted these just sitting on a small islet.

White-tailed Eagles, one with a wing tag - digiscoped from quite a distance away.

White-tailed Eagles, one with a wing tag - digiscoped from quite a distance away.

The wing tag was difficult to read even though it only seemed to consist of one character - perhaps a 1 or an I ? or maybe just a vertical line?

The wing tag was difficult to read even though it only seemed to consist of one character - perhaps a 1 or an I ? or maybe just a vertical line?

Well, the forecast for the 22nd January was looking good so we made a reservation for the ferry to Barra. The morning of the 22nd dawned calm although a little overcast so we headed down to the Isle of Eriskay to catch the ferry over to Barra.

Plenty of birds out on the water, many Long-tailed duck, Slavonian Grebes, Eider, Great Northern and Black-throated Divers, we also had our first Fulmar of the year.

Ian dropped me at the start of the two tetrads (2km x 2km) squares that i was to survey and then he headed out to the south-west of Barra to his square. I enjoyed the surveying although i didn’t see a single bird for the first 15 minutes until a wren appeared in the undergrowth nearby. I walked out into the square NF60W – a pleasant if quiet walk – in the first hour of the survey i only saw 2 Wrens, 3 Starlings, 3 Ravens, 2 Mallard and 1 Rock Dove. The second hour i added just 4 Herring Gulls, 9 Greylag Geese and another Raven. I really enjoyed the walk though, it just felt so good to be out in the wilds, silent apart from any natural sounds, wandering around on my own for a couple of hours.

A stop for refreshment by the "Three Bridges" - the furthest point of the TTV in NF60W

A stop for refreshment by the "Three Bridges" - the furthest point of the TTV in NF60W

TTVing essentials - field notebook, flask of tea, snack

TTVing essentials - field notebook, flask of tea, snack

The photo can't capture it but there was silence, not even the distant sound of traffic, just great!

The photo can't capture it but there was silence, not even the distant sound of traffic, just great!

My next square, NF60R, was right next door to the one i’d just done and the habitat was slightly different although it too contained lots of moorland. The west of the square became more habitable and there were crofts and gardens. Spotted my first Stonechats of the year, a pair.

Meanwhile at the other end of the island Ian was enjoying his TTV. He had drawn the short straw and had NL69J to do a 2 hour survey of. Even on the map it looked hard going – lots of contours very close together. Here are the photos he took along the way…

Looking down on the Vatersay causeway

Looking down on the Vatersay causeway

Quite steep and slippery in places

Quite steep and slippery in places

Ian found this amazing lichen on the rocky hillside - if you know what it is called let me know because i haven't a clue!

Ian found this amazing lichen on the rocky hillside - if you know what it is called let me know because i haven't a clue!

More lichen

More lichen

Sea caves (it is marked natural arch on the map)

Sea caves (there is a natural arch marked on the map)

Close up of the sea cave and there were Fulmars sitting on the cliffs

Close up of the sea cave and there were Fulmars sitting on the cliffs

Ian’s bird of the day was an adult Glaucous Gull that did a flyby while he was on his TTV square.

Once i’d finished my two TTVs i sat for another cup of tea then wandered along into another square, collecting some Roving Records – Sparrowhawk was a good one. Ian picked me up and we headed back to Vatersay, we hadn’t been there before so wanted to explore a little as well as collect some Roving Records. We found this at the side of the road…

Memorial to the plane crash in 1944 on Vatersay

Memorial to the plane crash in 1944 on Vatersay

Amazingly the remains of the aircraft that crashed 67 years ago is still there on the hillside

Amazingly some of the remains of the aircraft that crashed 67 years ago is still there on the hillside

Once finished on Vatersay we drove slowly around Barra stopping to bird in lots of places and had a big surprise to find a Blackcap in a garden in Earsairidh. We eventually headed up past the airport to Eoligarry and the sun was beginning to disappear. Then “what the heck!” (or words to that effect), there were zillions of snails all over the fence posts – were they hibernating there? I really don’t know.

On this stretch of road the fence posts were festooned with snails

On this stretch of road the fence posts were festooned with snails

Mmm, don't tell the French

Mmm, don't tell the French

Packed tightly together (huddling together for warmth?)

Packed tightly together (huddling together for warmth?)

We headed home on the ferry, the end of yet another great day out on Barra.

I had made a rather rash new years resolution that i would ring at Druidibeg plantation in every month of 2011. So, as time was running out to get a visit in during January and the weather was looking about as good as it was going to get, i was up while it was still dark on the 27th Janaury and set out with nets and poles to the site – leaving Ian still in bed and promising to put up and man the garden nets. Ah well, the usual quiet day at Druidibeg – i did think that i might not catch anything then a Blackbird blundered into the net – a female that had first been ringed there by us last October. Apart from a Sparrowhawk and a couple of Ravens i only saw four other birds and they all had rings on – a pair of Blackbirds and 2 Goldcrests. Ach well, it’s a great place to spend a few hours and Ian didn’t do much better in the garden :)

I haven’t done a ringing summary for January as we ringed  less than 30 birds.

The latest Outer Hebrides Bird Report is out and covers the year 2007. It is available to buy online at Hebridean Gifts for £11 including post and packing. The report contains all the usual fascinating information and photographs.

Outer Hebrides Bird Report 2007

Outer Hebrides Bird Report 2007

The last day of January saw us heading up to Lewis on the ferry from Berneray – time to spend some time at my house making sure that everything is spick and span and ready for what i’m sure will be a huge influx of potential buyers in 2011. I also wanted to take the opportunity to catch up with friends this time, although time still managed to get behind me and i didn’t manage to fit everyone in – ah well, next time. I also visited the estate agents and reduced the house price – for full details see Hebridean House (with option of croft) for sale – Surely offers over £115,000 for a large detached house with 3 (or 4) bedrooms which stands on half an acre has to be a bargain that will get snapped up very soon!

While away in Lewis i managed just once to get on the internet at a friends house and checked the weather station to see how the Uist weather was doing. Oh dear, it was the 3rd February and the weather web site hadn’t been updated since the 2nd February, what could be going on? The evening was a little rough as we had a gale and the power in Carloway was off for nearly 18 hours – thank goodness for gas cooking and an open fire!

Ian spent some time before we left Lewis to go and search for tits in Stornoway Woods – sorry that sounds a bit dodgy doesn’t it, i’ll rephrase it. Ian needed Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit for his 2011 Outer Hebrides list and Coal Tit would have been a bonus as it would be a Outer Hebrides tick for him :) He left titless and disappointed.

The forecast looked good for a Monday return on the ferry, although on enquiring the first ferry of the day was booked. The smaller ferry Loch Bhrushda is doing the Sound of Harris run while the Loch Portain is in dry dock. Loch Bhrushda usually plies Eriskay to Barra so i’m not sure which ferry is doing that run – the old blue one? Can’t remember what it’s called.

We got home to the ominous sound of silence and a chilly atmosphere. The power was off. And, oh bugger, no internet – the hub was totally dead. We found out that a nearby lightning strike had caused problems locally – our neighbours hub had also been “blown up” by the lightning strike too. Our power had tripped off and the freezer had mostly defrosted – plenty of supplies of liver and bacon to be eaten up, great, liver, my favourite :(

BT were most excellent and we received our new hub just two days later. Luckily we hadn’t lost any weather data as the console has a battery backup and the data is stored in the logger and downloaded to the computer when reconnected.

Do you remember the Chaffinch we controlled here back in November? It was ringed on the left leg and enquiries with the local ringers drew a blank. We received news that it had originally been ringed in Barra during September – it had then travelled north to us which i found a little strange.


View Chaffinch Control in a larger map

Other, sadder, recoveries included one of our Blackbirds that was found dead by a neighbour and one of our House Sparrows that was found by another neighbour. The Blackbird had been ringed as a juvenile bird back in August and the Sparrow had also been first ringed during August. And finally news was received about a Starling that we originally ringed on the 9th December 2010 here in Askernish was found by our friend John 11km away in South Glendale just 12 days later on the 21st December 2010.


View Starling recovery in a larger map

We had a very enjoyable Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) outing to Loch Bee for our monthly count, fairly quiet with only 21 species seen, plenty of Wigeon, over 350 birds out on the loch. A lovely day and a picnic lunch at Ardivachar afterwards – can’t be bad for a winters day.

On the 13th February i was cooking dinner in the kitchen and shouted to Ian that there was a moth on the outside of the window, he dashed for a pot and we had our first macro moth of the year, a very smart looking Dotted Border which we’ve been told is a first for our 10km square.

Dotted Border

Dotted Border

So, that’s all the news for now – sorry it’s been so long arriving!

Missing those Blue Tits?

As we get to the end of what has been a very busy year it’s only natural to look back at life at the beginning of the year and compare it with how it is now. I feel very, very lucky to be able to sit here and type this and look out of the window to see Beinn Mor  in the distance with it’s head in the clouds, ducks and swans on the loch over the road, and a Raven drifting over, cronking noisily. There’s nothing i enjoy more than being able to step outside my own back door and be able to hear the sea on the shore and smell the seaweed.

December has been a month with very little ringing – the snow we had in late November eventually cleared in early December but returned with a vengance mid December and didn’t thaw again until after Christmas. The temperatures were dropping quite low, we had -7.4′C that’s very cold for here on the islands – we are usually kept wet and mild by the influence of the Gulf Stream – the warm water current in the Atlantic that passes to the west of us.

The birds were finding it very tough and we didn’t ring from the 15th until the 30th December – the poor things had enough trouble just surviving without us hassling them!

Early in the month when the weather was better we were lucky enough to catch a Water Rail in the garden. The nets were open and Ian was in the shed, as he got to the doorway the Water Rail came out from under the nearby mound of montbretia. It saw Ian and flew slowly into the net! Nice :)

Water Rail

Water Rail

Even when the snow had gone from the lowlands and coast we very often woke up to see snow on Beinn Mor.

Askernish with Beinn Mor in the background

Askernish with Beinn Mor in the background

The days were cold but sunny. The lochs were frozen and we felt sorry for the geese who would still spend the night roosting on the loch even though it was solid, by the time morning came they were covered in frost. The cattle are all out on the machair and thanks to the bumper crop in 2010 have plenty to eat. Each day the crofters go out and spread the hay around. Not only do the cattle like this but the birds too – somedays there are huge flocks of Twite, Snow Bunting, Skylark and Rock Dove feeding on the hay seed.

Cattle on the machair (and golf course!)

Cattle on the machair (and golf course!)

The estate take all the fishing boats in off the loch during the winter.

The South Uist estate fishing boats stored for the winter

The South Uist estate fishing boats stored for the winter

Mid month and the snow was back – more than ever this time! I don’t know what the temperatures went down to at the beginning of the month but from the 11th December we were able to get our own weather station installed and up and running. As well as recording data for us it is also connected to the internet, see www.southuist-weather.info

Current conditions:-

Askernish weather

Our thoughts were now turning to Christmas – oh how lovely it’s been here on the island away from the shops and seasonal turmoil. The local Co-op only started getting Christmassy things in at the beginning of December. We weren’t sure whether we would be able to get a real Christmas tree but found some really decent ones at the supermarket in Balivanich – a fab tree and way cheaper than we’d paid on the mainland last year.

Love a real tree! It smelt beautiful!

Love a real tree! It smelt beautiful!

I can’t remember seeing so much snow here and for days the road outside was white over.

Sunny days but cold

Sunny days but cold

Even the beach and dunes were white over!

Snowy beach scene

Snowy beach scene

The walking was good but you had to make sure you were wrapped up warm because the wind could be fierce – the lowest wind chill temperature we recorded was -10.4′C

Wrapped up against the elements!

Wrapped up against the elements!

I know the otters hunt in the sea but they do like fresh water to wash the salt out of their fur – i don’t know how they got on when the lochs were frozen, i imagine they had a hard time. We saw the one that made these tracks, it crossed the beach and went up the dunes leaving only footprints in the snow behind.

Otter prints on the snowy beach

Otter prints on the snowy beach

I don’t think i have ever seen the seaweed frozen on the beach before.

Frozen seaweed

Frozen seaweed

Ah well plenty of time for sitting in the warm, knitting. The thing that might someday be an Eriskay jumper is growing well – as modelled by Ian…

but Ian keeps saying "it's too tight!"

but Ian keeps saying "it's too tight!"

We thought we were having harsh, cold weather but down in Shropshire mum and dad were having VERY cold weather. According to the news there were 10 nights in December 2010 when the temperature fell below -18′C somewhere in the UK and were saying that it was the coldest December in 120 years. Luckily mum and dad have plenty of logs to go on the burner and kept nice and toasty. I heard of friends down there whose mains water into their houses had frozen solid. Dad said his water butt in the garden had been full and had frozen solid! Mum and dad sent me some lovely pictures taken in  the village where they live.

Down the lane (Shropshire)

Down the lane (Shropshire)

Looking out across the frozen fields (Shropshire)

Looking out across the frozen fields (Shropshire)

And so we came to Christmas day, our first in South Uist with snow lying on the ground outside – it was a white Christmas to us never mind what the officials say.

Ian cooked the turkey, well he told me it was a turkey, although from the photo below it looks more like the alien from the Arny film Predator…

Turkey or alien?

Turkey or alien?

And so to the ringing totals for the month of December:-

Species New Retrap
Water Rail 1
Dunnock 1 9
Robin 2 1
Blackbird 8 22
Song Thrush 1 2
Starling 19 8
House Sparrow 6 9
Greenfinch 10 18
Totals 48 69

All that remains is to wish you and yours good health, plenty of happiness, good birding and ringing for 2011 :)

Missing those bread and butter birds the Blue Tits, na!

Uist – November 2010

Well not too much to report this month although we did manage to ring over 150 new birds – not too bad seeing as we had nearly a week away in Lewis. I’ve included a summary at the end of this post.

We were able to start colour ringing the House Sparrows here in Askernish, this is for our Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) project which i mentioned last month.

Colour ring A33 added to a House Sparrow which we recaptured (it was originally ringed in August)

Colour ring A33 added to a House Sparrow which we recaptured (it was originally ringed in August)

It is now Atlas season again – the last winter of the BTO Atlas 2007-11 project. We headed out to the Isle of Barra which lies to the south of us where there are some tetrads that hadn’t yet had Timed Tetrad Visits (TTVs) done during the winter season. We’ve never visited Barra before so were looking forward to the visit. It meant waiting for a day when the weather looked good – not only for the fieldwork but for the 40 minute ferry crossing. We had an early start – up at 5.30pm and headed down to Eriskay to catch the ferry. Flat calm crossing and a beautiful day.

Arriving on Barra on the Calmac ferry Loch Bhrusda (i've been on this ferry previously as it used to run between Harris and North Uist/Berneray until the MV Loch Portain came into service).

Arriving on Barra on the Calmac ferry Loch Bhrusda (i've been on this ferry previously as it used to run between Harris and North Uist/Berneray until the MV Loch Portain came into service).

Ian was heading out to the most remote of our allocated tetrads – it was at least a half hour walk to reach the square.

Ian setting off to do his part of the survey work

Ian setting off to do his part of the survey work

Luckily he had his camera in his rucksack and took some shots out there. He said it was pretty hard going – nearly lost his welly in bog holes a couple of times and in places the heather was up to his waist.

Out in the hills

Out in the hills

Ian took this shot looking out towards the east side where i was doing my first TTV of the day

Ian took this shot looking out towards the east side where i was doing my first TTV of the day

Bridge in the middle of nowhere

Bridge in the middle of nowhere

After completing our 2 hour TTVs we each did an hour TTV then met up for a late lunch. Managed to have a drive right around Barra and did a little exploring. Here is a shot of the world famous airport at Barra – the plane lands on the beach.

Barra airport - sometimes they have to clear the cows off the beach so the plane can land safely!

Barra airport - sometimes they have to clear the cows off the beach so the plane can land safely!

Next around to Castlebay

The main street in Castlebay, Barra

The main street in Castlebay, Barra

In Castlebay the cafe has an excellent reputation for both eat-in and take-away Indian food.

Cafe Kisimul in the main street of Castlebay

Cafe Kisimul in the main street of Castlebay

Kisimul Castle

Kisimul Castle

and a final look back down to Castlebay as the sun was going down.

and a final look back down to Castlebay as the sun was going down.

So we headed back to the ferry having had a great day.

A surprise in the garden net the next day was this Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

We caught our first control birds here in Uist – the first was a Greenfinch which, after a couple of emails we found had been ringed by Terry – the only other active ringer here. It had been ringed as an adult back in July this year.

The very next day we caught a Chaffinch which had been ringed on the left leg. It was funny because the week before Terry had phoned up to ask whether we ring birds on the left leg as he had some Chaffinches in his garden – all ringed on the left leg. No not ours. Not Terrys. I emailed to two guys up on Lewis who ring – not theirs either. Will have to wait and see where it’s come from.

Our next ferry trip was just a few days later as we headed from Berneray across to Leverborough in Harris and so up to my house in Lewis. The house has recently become empty and i needed to clean and tidy and make sure everything is OK for the coming winter. We thought that gales may hamper our return to Uist at the weeks end but it turned out that it was snow that almost stopped our return journey. We set out from Carloway and it wasn’t snowing too much but gradually got worse and worse. We got lucky in that we got behind a cement mixer lorry going up over the Clisham (the steep hill you have to climb to get to Harris).

Slowly making our way up and over the Clisham

Slowly making our way up and over the Clisham

We followed the lorry all the way to Tarbert and then we were on our own – we just about made it up the steep hill just outside Tarbert and the road conditions were getting worse all the time.

Wondering whether we'd make it to Leverborough to get the ferry back...

Wondering whether we'd make it to Leverborough to get the ferry back...

After a mile or so we were really happy to find that the snow plough was behind us so we found somewhere to pull over and were then able to follow him.

Yay! Saved by the snow plough :-)

Yay! Saved by the snow plough :-)

The weather right up to the end of the month continued very cold with a little more snow now and then. Makes for stunning views though.

Looking out from the back garden

Looking out from the back garden

I think the birds are finding it hard – Ian saw a Water Rail on the roadside verge near our neighbours house and this Snipe has been in and out of our garden for the last couple of days.

Snipe in the back garden

Snipe in the back garden

And before i insert the monthly ringing totals a final sunset – from the front of the house this time with the hills of Barra in the very distance.

Sunset looking south west(ish)

Sunset looking south west(ish)

Uist ringing summary for November 2010

Species New Retrap Control
Meadow Pipit 0 1
Waxwing 1
Wren 0 1
Dunnock 4 3
Robin 2 5
Blackbird 14 21
Song Thrush 4 2
Redwing 3
Blackcap 2 1
Chiffchaff 1
Starling 42 5
House Sparrow 17 14
Chaffinch 2 1
Greenfinch 58 29 1
Reed Bunting 1
Species: 15 151 82 2