This year we ran two trips to Uist, the first was with Martyn Jamieson and Robin Sutton (the assistant head of centre at FSC Malham Tarn) which ran from the 2nd – 9th June and on the second course Jeff Clarke (ecologist and runs several courses at Kindrogan) went with Martyn 16th – 23rd June .
A Plant list can be viewed here Uist 2012 Plant List
Some pictures from the trip :
Another view of St Berneray
The first group
The Second group
Below was the itinerary for the trip
Sat – 08:30 Oban to Lochboisdale (South Uist) ferry. Arrive 1340. This 5 hour crossing of the Sea of the Hebrides is a wildlife cruise, and we will spend time watching seabirds and looking for cetaceans. Transfer to Temple View Hotel, our accommodation for the week.
Sun – Vallay Strand and Griminish – the north coast of North Uist is made up of a series of broad sandy bays protected by the tidal islands of Oronsay and Vallay. These bays have good numbers of waders – curlew, dunlin ringed plover, oystercatcher, turnstone and bar-tailed godwit – some still moving to their Arctic breeding grounds and resplendent in their bright breeding plumage. The machair lands immediately behind the beaches are home to corn bunting, skylark and corncrake and the moorland further inland has short-eared owls and red deer. Wild greylag geese are another feature of this area.
Mon – Balranald – the RSPB reserve on North Uist. Crofts are managed in accordance with guidelines developed by the RSPB and are one of the strongholds of the corncrake. The fields close to the Visitor’s Centre show the full richness of machair agriculture. Fields of barley have an understorey of golden corn marigold. Those left fallow go through an exciting succession of stages with early colonists such as pansies being replaced by yellow rattle, clovers, eyebright, harebell, wild carrot in a series of ever richer vegetations. These fields are used by corn bunting and there are still large numbers of skylark and house sparrows, in sharp contrast to their declining fortunes in lowland Britain. It will be interesting to see how numbers have fared since our last visit. The coastal areas of the reserve are good for breeding terns, eiders and red-breasted mergansers.
Tue – Berneray – an island to make you smile! The western coast is one huge white sand beach nearly three and a half kilometres long. The southern coast has some of the richest dune grassland and farmed machair in the Outer Hebrides – possibly due to the lack of rabbits on the island. The east coast is made up of sheltered bays where otters may be seen and in the middle, Loch Bhruist has a huge non-breeding flock of mute swan and some other wildfowl. The people here are renowned for their friendliness and it is the island where Prince Charles tried his hand at the simpler life whilst staying on one of the crofts.
Wed – Loch Druidibeg and Loch Skiport – unlike North Uist, which is mostly flat and low lying, there is an impressive mountain chain stretching down the eastern side of South Uist. Loch Druidibeg lies to the north and west of these hills – a National Nature Reserve. It is important for the breeding colony of native greylag geese and for the diversity of water plants which reflect the change from acidic conditions in the loch near the east to alkaline conditions in those parts of the loch near the west coast. Loch Skiport lies underneath Hecla – at 606 metres, the second tallest of the South Uist mountains. This is eagle country and there are buzzard, hen harrier, kestrel, sparrowhawk and merlin – but we need to be lucky to see them all!
Thur – The South Uist machair and coasts – the west coast of South Uist is made up of one almost unbroken sandy beach backed by the ever rich machair plains. A chance to see more of the waders which make these machair areas one of the prime breeding sites for species such as redshank dunlin, lapwing and ringed plover. Offshore there will be eider, red-breasted merganser, maybe red-throated or black-throated diver and there is often a good passage of skuas and petrels. Kelp is still collected at various points along this coast and we may see piles of kelp stalks drying and waiting to be collected for use in the pharmaceutical industry.
Fri – Eriskay – another island with character! Famed as the place where the S.S. Politician went down, the inspiration for Compton McKenzie’s Whisky Galore. A quiet day exploring the island where Bonnie Prince Charlie made his first landfall on Scottish soil to start the disastrous Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.
Sat – Return home.