Uist and Barra Autumn Migration

(with a day trip to Barra)

Dates: 8th - 14th September 2018

Great Northern DiverLittle StintGolden Eagle

The southern isles of Uist and Benbecula are one of the best places in the UK for connecting with migrant waders from both the east and west and this week is often the peak for certain species appearing such as Buff-breasted Sandpiper, American Golden Plover, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint. It is also an excellent time to connect with passing seabirds such as Sooty Shearwater, Leach's Petrel and Sabine's Gull when there are strong winds from the west. Each year is different but it's never short on action with plenty of regular migrant waders and lots of raptors with Merlins, Peregrine and Hen Harrier all concentrating their activity on the machair and coast. Combine this with regular sightings of both Golden and White-tailed Eagle as well as 3 species of diver and a week in Uist and Barra at this time of year can't fail to impress.

We explore a variety of habitats although birds can turn up anywhere and regularly do which adds to the excitement. Regular sites such as Rubha Ardvule, Balgarva and Ardivachar in South Uist are excellent for waders whilst Loch Eynort, Howmore and Druidibeg plantation sometimes hold migrant warblers and flycatchers. Benbecula also has it’s productive sites with the freshwater loch complex around the west side attracting good numbers of waders and wildfowl whilst the machair here has produced such gems as Upland Sandpiper. Eiders gather off Stinky Bay and Slavonian Grebes should be arriving back now too at their regular wintering grounds off Balivanich etc. North Uist and Berneray although similar to South Uist and Benbecula have quite a different feel but are no less productive. Balranald is always worth a look with the bays and shores turning up waders and gulls. Nearby Loch Paible has a track record of rare waders with Baird’s Sandpiper being particularly attracted to this site whilst Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint are regular. Loch Sandary is also nearby and often holds wildfowl and acts as a resting / bathing site for gulls.

We'll also visit Barra for the day where we'll take a circular route around the island calling in it various plantations, bays and beaches to look for migrants. We'll also visit Vatersay, the most southerly, inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides with some stunning beaches. We get to and from Barra by taking the ferry from Eriskay to Armhor which is often good for divers and the main wintering site for Black-throated Divers in the southern isles. It should also provide us with the opportunity to see White-tailed Eagle and an outside chance of Bottle-nosed Dolphin which gather here to catch salmon when they're running.

The anticipation and excitement of being here when masses of waders and seabirds are passing can rival anywhere in the UK and you pretty much have the place to yourself with just a handful of local birders searching the expansive habitat. Coupled with the high denisty of raptors and a very good chance of seeing otters up close a week in Uist in autumn is a must.

MerlinAmerican Golden PloverHen Harrier

Short list of species: Brent Geese, Whooper Swan, Eider, Gadwall, Shoveler, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, American Golden Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Great Skua, Sabine's Gull, Arctic Tern, Sooty Shearwater, Storm Petrel, Leach's Petrel, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin, Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Divers, Black-throated Diver, Black Guillemot, Barred Warbler, Corn Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Twite, plus many more. Red Deer, Grey and Common Seals, Otters. If the weather’s calm enough we will set a moth trap to have a peek at some of the local night life.

For more details and a full, printable itinerary please click here

Dates: 8th - 14th September 2018

Tour duration: 6 nights / 7 days on the islands.

Cost: £800 per person

Accommodation is provided in some of the best local guesthouses for 6 nights.

All meals are provided with evening meals taken in local hotels. If you have special dietary requirements please let us know when bookng.

Group size: 8 (maximum)

Booking: Please email: steveduffield70@gmail.com

Where to meet: The tour begins and ends in Uist. If you arrive by plane or as a foot passenger off the ferry we will be there to meet you and take you to your accommodation. If you arrive early and are already in the islands on the first day then you'll be picked up in the morning and we'll explore local habitats and wildlife whilst others arrive during the morning. On the last day we'll continue to search for wildlife until everyone has departed on their various flight / ferry connections.

Getting here: It is possible to reach the islands by both air and ferry. Loganair operate regular flights from Glasgow to Benbecula although the earlier you book the cheaper the fare. Alternatively Calmac operate ferries between Uig, Skye - Lochmaddy, North Uist and from Mallaig - Lochboisdale, South Uist.