LOCH STIAPAVAT

See win­ter geese in the wilds of the Outer Hebrides

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - JOHN MILES

THIS AREA OF Lewis was des­ig­nated as a lo­cal na­ture re­serve by Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage in 2005. It was the first area in the Western Isles, which seems very slow when you know how many good ar­eas are found here. This a shal­low eu­trophic loch sur­rounded by marsh and croft­ing land. The lo­cal com­mu­nity have added an im­pres­sive hide and it seems that when­ever you visit the area you may see a rarity. The large colony of Black-headed Gulls sets the scene in spring, which en­cour­ages Wi­geon to breed and many waders, such as Red­shank, Oys­ter­catcher and Lap­wing. Pass­ing waders in­clude Buff-breasted, Pec­toral, Wood and Marsh Sand­pipers, and Black­winged Prat­in­cole. The gull list in­cludes Ivory, Laugh­ing, Bon­a­parte’s and Ring-billed Wild­fowl are also im­pres­sive, with Ring-necked Duck, Amer­i­can Wi­geon and Green-winged Teal. Geese have in­cluded Red-breasted, Lesser Canada, Tun­dra Bean, both White­fronts of­ten com­ing in with Pink­feet and Grey­lags. Even if many of these are not present, you al­ways have Corn Crakes to fall back on in sum­mer, with birds turn­ing up all around the road­side (which of­fers bet­ter views of the marsh). Check out gar­dens, too, for mi­grant passer­ines. Win­ter bunt­ings in­clude Snow and La­p­land.

White-fronted Goose

Gyr Fal­con

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