Our Wild    Life

Nature photography by John Langley ARPS & Tracy Langley ARPS

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Western Isles - June 2018

One of our first sightings on the island was a bird you often hear but rarely see - the cuckoo. We saw 2 males chasing a female for ages. They were flying so long that every now and again one of the birds would need a rest.

We saw lots of waders in the fields.

It was peak breeding time and many of the waders used fence posts as look-out points. As our trip progressed we saw less and less of this behaviour. Presumably as their chicks hatched they became more mobile and not as territorial. Redshanks were the most common birds to perch.

We also found one of our favourite birds - snipe - in the fields and perching on the fences.

The fields themselves were full of spring & summer flowers. The machair was alive with colour.

There were plenty of beautiful beaches to explore and we had them mostly to ourselves.

Corn buntings are quite rare birds, so it was nice to find a few in the sand dunes.

Meadow pipits were common and perched obligingly.

Many of the birds, like this skylark, were carrying food for their young.

We had several day trips to other islands : from North Uist we took a ferry to the isle of Harris & Lewis. There we explored more beautiful deserted beaches and also the atmospheric Callanish stones.

From South Uist we went by small boat to the tiny island of Mingulay. We were greeted by a colony of grey seals and beautiful beaches again. Most of our time here was spent with the hundreds of puffins that were constantly flying all around us.

Another boat trip from South Uist took us to the remote and beautiful Monach islands, where we saw our first painted lady butterfly of the year.

We had a bonus butterfly sighting on South Uist - large heath. It’s quite a difficult butterfly to find in England and we weren’t expecting it so far north.

Following our research of the islands we had hoped to see short-eared owl. We were pleasantly surprised to find so many - we think we probably saw at least a dozen different owls during our trip. We spent the majority of our time on North Uist looking for these magnificent birds. Most of the time we found them hunting over the moorland a fair distance from the road so were able to watch them but not photograph them. However, there were a couple of owls who preferred to hunt fairly close to the road and we spent much of our trip with these characters, photographing them from the car. They became used to our presence and happily perched on the road-side fence.