Win­ter wild­fowl, or some su­perb breed­ing waders

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

When vis­it­ing Ben­bec­ula (joined by road to North and South Uists), you will be amazed by the sheer amount of fresh wa­ter all around. Some are very acid lochs, while oth­ers have a rich pas­ture and a much bet­ter ph, al­low­ing for more species of in­ver­te­brate to sur­vive, of­fer­ing food for oth­ers. Loch Mor and Fada fit this bill and are not to be missed. One of the main rea­sons for this is the breed­ing Red­necked Phalaropes (plan for next spring!). I watched them from the road, so there is no need to en­ter any field as nest­ing birds can nest well away from the main wa­ter and, of course, are spe­cially pro­tected by law. There is an im­pres­sive se­lec­tion of other breed­ing waders here, in­clud­ing Red­shank, Lap­wing, Snipe, Dun­lin, Curlew, Oys­ter­catcher and Ringed Plover. Black­tailed God­wits drop in on spring mi­gra­tion, as well as au­tumn, and may well breed in the fu­ture. Whim­brel can also be seen on pas­sage around the lochs. With the sea so close, it is easy to see waders drop over the dunes for the fresh wa­ter, with Amer­i­can waders, like Lesser Yel­lowlegs, and Buff-breasted and Pec­toral Sand­pipers be­ing recorded. Ducks such as Wi­geon, Teal and Mal­lard breed here with Gar­ganey of­ten a sum­mer vis­i­tor. Both Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck have also dropped in. Win­ter sees feed­ing geese, like Bar­na­cle, Green­land White­front and Grey­lags with odd­ments such as Euro­pean White-front and tun­dra Bean also found. A Snowy Owl and Ivory Gull were un­likely past vis­i­tors but an Ice­land Gull is more likely. A sin­gle Crane has stayed in the area, while Black and Whiskered Tern, Great White and Lit­tle Egret pass through. Look out for Hen Har­rier in the nearby fields, along with hunt­ing Mer­lin and Short­eared Owl. The sea has divers nearly all year.

Red-necked Phalarope

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