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BRENT GOOSE Branta bernicla Gèadh-got (Brant Goose)

‘Pale-bellied Brent Goose’ hrota: uncommon or fairly common (twice common) on spring and autumn passage (when many fly through continuing on to Ireland). Was scarce in the winter but in the last ten years uncommon.

2017: 2018: 2019:

‘Dark-bellied Brent Goose’ bernicla: rare visitor with twenty-three records, in all months except July/August (mainly single birds but a flock of fourteen in 1990).

2017: 2018: 2019:

‘Black Brant’ nigricans: very rare visitor to North Uist and Benbecula in April/May with two records in 2012 (second and third Scottish records).

[‘Grey-bellied Brant’ hrota/nigricans: Lewis et al. (2013) recognized ‘Grey-bellied Brant’ as a distinct subspecies and noting further that the original nigricans type specimen resembles a ‘Grey-bellied Brant’. This led to a taxonomic change in certain quarters but ‘Grey-bellied Brant’ not on the British List therefore Black Brant shown as nigricans and not orientalis as in the last Report].

See Pending, Incomplete and Unproven records (page ***).

[RED-BREASTED GOOSE Branta ruficollis]

See Pending, Incomplete and Unproven records (page ***).

CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis Gèadh-dubh There are two old records (1885 and 1903) while the next appears to have been made in 1969. In recent times a scarce breeder on Lewis (first bred in 2006) where there is a small-established flock of feral birds. Otherwise a scarce visitor (once uncommon, a large overflying flock apparently disorientated in mist). Taxonomic situation within this family extremely complex and racial identity often unable to be made (see below).

2017: 2018: 2019:

[North American races interior/parvipes: no official records although three birds have shown characteristics of these forms (1997/1998, 2002 and 2005). The last was of suspect origin being paired with a colour-ringed Barnacle Goose.]

A difficult subspecies group to identify and only Canada Geese accompanying wintering Arctic geese are likely to be considered (see British Birds 106: 574).

BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis Cathan Common/fairly common on spring and autumn passage and common winter visitor (Berneray/Sound of Harris islands and several areas on North Uist support the largest numbers). Like the Greylag, numbers cause conflict with some crofters.

2017: 2018: 2019:

CACKLING GOOSE Branta hutchinsii Now recognized as a separate species from Canada Goose although the current taxonomy is perhaps best regarded as a ‘holding position’ (see British Birds 109: 677-684). Cackling Goose as now defined comprises four subspecies. Rare visitor with about nineteen records (including presumed returning birds): none have yet been officially recognized and ten records (including six of the nominate subspecies below) are in circulation with British Birds Rarities Committee.

‘Richardson’s Cackling Goose’ B. h. hutchinsii See above (most British records are thought to involve ‘Richardson’s Cackling Goose’). Cackling Goose only appeared in the rarities reports for the first time in 2015 and a large number of claims for the first acceptable record of nominate hutchinsii remain in circulation (British Birds 109: 571-572).

2017: 2018: 2019:

Also see Pending, Incomplete and Unproven records (pages ***, ***) for records of Cackling Goose in 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2013 submitted to BBRC.

Branta hybrids

2017: 2018: 2019:

SNOW GOOSE Anser caerulescens Gèadh-bàn Scarce visitor although vagrants appear to reach Britain on a regular basis status difficult to establish due to introduced or escaped birds. First record for Britain of ‘Lesser Snow Goose’ was shot on Barra in 1917. Some records may have related to ‘Greater Snow Goose’.

2017: 2018: 2019:

GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser Gèadh-glas Common and widespread resident breeder joined by Icelandic birds in winter. From a low in the 1930s numbers began to increase but remained relatively stable between the early 1960s and the late 1980s; since then the burgeoning population has given rise to conflict with crofters and control measures being put in place.

2017: 2018: 2019:

TAIGA BEAN GOOSE Anser fabalis Muir-ghèadh Together with below now afforded specific species status (awareness and understanding of identification criteria made relatively recently). Uncommon passage and winter visitor on numbers with records only in fifteen years between 1974 and 2005. Only a few records documented specifically as fabalis. There were remarkable numbers recorded in early May 1987 (usually departs Britain in late February/early March for rapid return migration).

2017: 2018: 2019:

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus Gèadh-dearg-chasach A pair (suspected to have been wild birds) may have bred. Usually fairly common sometimes common on spring and autumn passage (most are overflying), usually scarce in winter and there are a small number of records in summer.

2017: 2018: 2019:

TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE Anser serrirostris Muir-ghèadh A.s. rossicus: no documented record prior to an exceptional influx (with European White-fronted Geese) in the 2011/2012 winter when at least forty birds were seen. The range of Tundra is extending westwards so an increase in records in the Outer Hebrides is to be expected.

2017: 2018: 2019:

WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser albifrons Gèadh-bhlàr (Greater White-fronted Goose)

‘Greenland White-fronted Goose’ flavirostris: ‘thousands’ were said to winter in the late 19th century. In more recent times fairly common (once common) on spring passage (staging/flying north) and usually uncommon on autumn passage, also in winter with some sites having been abandoned or used less frequently since the 1980s. There are three summer records.

2017: 2018: 2019:

‘European White-fronted Goose’ albifrons: two single birds until the 2011/2012 winter when over fifty were seen in an unprecedented influx with Tundra Bean Geese.

LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser erythropus Gèadh-bhlàr-beag Very rare visitor in February with one record in 2001.

MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor Eala A fairly common resident breeder on the Uists, scarce breeder on Lewis and has bred on the Monach Islands. Loch Bee, South Uist holds one of the largest congregations of non-breeding/moulting birds in Scotland.

2017: 2018: 2019:

BEWICK’S SWAN Cygnus columbianus Eala-bheag (Tundra Swan) C.c. bewickii: since the 1920s a rare visitor with fourteen records from the late 1970s (last recorded in 1998).

WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus Eala-fhiadhaich A scarce breeder (one-three pairs annually since 2007) and fairly common on both passages (staging/flying over) and sometimes in winter.

2014: of 118 in first winter period, almost all (82) were on Loch Bornish, SU in January. At least 1,480 (439 N) passed through in spring (from second week of March to last week of April). A few small flocks came through in May (last on 19th). Confirmed breeding in the Achmore area, LE with four young in early June and last report (seen flying) Sep 19th. Another 29 summered. A few birds arrived in September with the next on Oct 4th and at least 810 (156 S) passed through up until late November. Well over a third of these were on South Uist between Stilligarry and Bornish, in early November (110, Ormiclate/Loch Toronais area). The only double-figure counts (10-25) in December came from two places on South Uist.

2015: a total of 66 were reported from the Uists in January/February. Spring passage got underway on Mar 10th and continued to Apr 10th with 542 passing through (127 N). Confirmed breeding at same site in Achmore area (two young fledged) and on West Loch Ollay, SU (pair with three cygnets, May 24th, later only two). Of 18 others in summer one was on St Kilda, Jun 7th-14th. At least 1,675 (1,260 S) were logged from early October to third week of November (by far the the largest autumn passage of the period under review) with highest counts on South Uist (424 on Oct 28th and 360 on Nov 7th). Only about 25 were seen in December.

2016: the only double-figure counts in both winter periods came from one or two sites on South Uist. A total of 836 (769 N) were logged on spring passage, Mar 9th-Apr 19th. Almost a third of these passed through Bayhead, NU. Breeding: once again confirmed on West Loch Ollay (pair with three cygnets, Jun 1st); the Lewis pair hatched three but believed all taken by White-tailed Eagle before fledging. Another 26 were seen from late May to mid-August (12 of which were on Loch Bee, SU, in early June). First arrivals in autumn, Sep 29th, but no more until third week of October and a total of 330 (166 S) to third week of November.

SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna Cràdh-ghèadh (Common Shelduck) Uncommon breeder, leaving to moult either abroad or within Britain before returning to winter (when fairly common).

2014: up to 105 were at Loch Paible, NU in January/February while the only count for Balgarva, SU was 59 in early February. There was a count of 46 on the beach near Kilpheder, SU, in early March. April counts included 46-51, Sands of Tong, LE (20th and 23rd), 54, Loch Paible (20th), and 26, Vallay, near NU (24th) while the only double-figure counts in May came from the Loch Paible area (including what appeared to be a migrant flock of 13 in flight on 1st and 55 on 17th) and Tràigh Ear, NU (38 on 11th). Breeding season records all came from the Uists (20 broods in all with the first on May 11th). There was also a count of 20 on the Howmore River, SU, in late June. Highest counts in November/December came from Loch Paible (up to 51) and in the South Ford, near BE (33).

2015: widely reported throughout the year but numbers generally were down on the previous year. Highest counts: 54-72, Loch Paible, January-March and 24-35, November/December; 58, near Eochar, SU, in early May; and at least 25, Rubha Ardvule, SU, in late June. Five flew N here, Apr 6th and six flew N at Port of Ness, LE, on 21st. The number of breeding reports received were also well down (only four pairs with young).

2016: Some counts at Loch Paible: 66-79, January/February; 36-56, April/May and 67, December. There were other double-figure counts from Tràigh Leathann, NU (52 in February and up to 40 in December), 32, Loch Hallan, SU (early May), and at five other sites on the Uists (12-23, March-July and December). Highest counts for Lewis came from Callanish (nine, May 23rd) and Loch Arnol (six, Jun 12th). Of 11 broods reported, all but one (on Lewis) were on the Uists (at least four, Loch Paible).

[RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorna ferruginea A specimen of one exists that was said to have been shot on South Uist in 1868 but the species only appears on the Scottish list only as a result of a series of 1892 records when there was a major invasion into north-west Europe.]

MANDARIN DUCK Aix galericulata Rare visitor with seven records involving eight birds (three were long-stayers and one a returning bird). Last recorded in 2012/2013.

GARGANEY Spatula querquedula Lach-crann Confirmed breeder in one year and probable in another. Scarce visitor, March to early June (only a few records outwith May), once in early February, ten records mid-June to late August and two records in November (one injured stayed into December).

2014: perhaps as many as 14 were seen in spring between Apr 22nd and Jun 1st: pair and two ♂’s, Loch an Dùin Mhoir (Balgarva)/Loch an t-Sàile, SU, May 26th; up to three (pair and ♀), Benbecula lochs (mainly Loch Fada), Apr 25th-Jun 1st; pair, Loch Bhrusda, BN, May 13th-19th (♂ to 28th); single ♂’s were seen at Loch Bornish, SU, Apr 22nd-May 9th, Loch nan Smallag, SU, May 8th-23rd, Tipperton, SU, 17th-27th, Loch nam Feithean, NU, 21st-24th, and finally, Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE, on 24th.

A ♀, Loch Mòr, NU, Sep 20th/21st was our first record in this month.

2015: three or four ♂♂ were seen between Apr 17th and Jun 5th (a more usual spring showing): Askernish, SU, Apr 17th, Loch Fada and Oban Lionacleit, BE, May 8th, and Loch Mòr, BE, Jun 5th.

2016: reports from three places: ♂♀, Loch Sandary, NU, May 9th; ♂, Loch Fada, 11th/12th, and Loch nam Feithean, 12th/13th.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL Spatula discors Rare visitor with fifteen records (nineteen birds) including second, third and fourth Scottish records and all shot (1927, 1940 and 1950). Last recorded in 2009 when the first record for Britain of three together.

SHOVELER Spatula clypeata Lach-a’-ghuib-leathainn (Northern Shoveler) Scarce/uncommon resident or migrant breeder on the Uists and scarce winter visitor (most on lochs used for nesting).

2014: records from Loch nam Feithean, NU (up to four) and Coot Loch, BE (up to 15), January to the first week of March. Breeding records: several pairs, Loch nam Feithean and Loch Fada, BE, from second week of March; ♀/3 ducklings, Askernish, SU, May 2nd; two broods (one of four almost half-size), Loch na Reivil, NU and ♀/3 ducklings, Loch Fada, in second week of June.

   Apart from ten, Loch nam Feithean (Nov 17th) and four, Coot Loch (Oct 7th) there was no other report of more than two from three other places in the second half of the year.   

2015: 12 on one date otherwise up to four, Loch nam Feithean and two, Rubha Ardvule, SU, January to late March. April records: at least five, Loch nam Feithean (in first week); 15, Bornish machair, SU (on 25th, the highest count of the year); up to seven, Loch na Liana Mòire (Frobost), SU; one or two, Baleshare/Illeray, NU and Loch Druidibeg NR, SU; also recorded as ‘present’ on four other Uist lochs. There were possible/probable breeding records from five Uist lochs and two confirmed records (♀/3 ducklings, Bornish, early May and ♀/4 ducklings, Loch Eaval, NU, early August). Records in May/June included up to five, Loch na Liana Mòire (Frobost) and a single, Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE.

   Autumn/second winter period: up to seven, Loch na Reivil/Loch nam Feithean/Aird an Rùnair, up to four, Coot Loch; otherwise one or two at three other places.   

2016: up to nine (in pairs by early February), Loch nam Feithean (the only site from which counts were received for first two months of the year). Widely reported throughout the Uists with five-seven at three places and up to four at seventeen others through to late June. Also a single was at Loch Stiapavat LNR, Apr 21st. There were three confirmed breeding records, all on South Uist: two broods, Loch Toronais and one, Corran Ormiclate, Jun 10th and another, Loch an t-Sìl, Jul 19th.

   Six-ten were at three places in the autumn, otherwise up to four. The only record for Lewis/Harris at this time was a single at Ness, Sep 19th. Up to ten were at Aird an Rùnair/Loch nam Feithean in November. There were few others in November/December.  

GADWALL Mareca strepera Lach-ghlas First breeding record in the 1970s and now a scarce/uncommon breeder, mainly on the Uists. Also uncommon on passage and in winter.

2014: no count exceeded six in first winter period (records from five Uist lochs). Spring records included seven, Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE, Apr 16th and one or two pairs on flooded machair, Bornish, SU, for several weeks from mid-month. Some breeding season records: one or two pairs, Loch Stiapavat LNR, until Jun 8th (no evidence of breeding); a count of ten, Loch Fada, BE, in late May; probably bred, Loch nam Feithean, NU; pair with three ducklings, Loch Mòr, NU; pairs at three other places but no evidence of breeding.

  There were record numbers (almost doubling the previous highest count) on Loch Mòr in the autumn (13 on Sep 7th had risen to 37 by Oct 5th). Other double-figure counts of ten/eleven came from Coot Loch, BE (early October) and Loch nam Feithean (early November). There were still 11 on Loch Mòr in early December.    

2015: up to 12 were on Baleshare/Illeray, NU lochs in first winter period (three pairs in early March). There were no confirmed breeding records and pairs were present at three places. Also one or two pairs at Loch Stiapavat LNR in April (a single in late May was the only other record here) and one or two others at four places, late April to mid-June.

   The highest counts in autumn/second winter period came from Baleshare/Illeray (nine, Aug 15th, 17, Oct 18th and up to 15 in December) and nine or ten, Loch nam Feithean and Loch Stilligarry, SU (October). Otherwise there were up to three at six other places. 

2016: up to six were at three places on North Uist and at one on Lewis, January-March. April records included six, Coot Loch, four, Rubha Ardvule, SU (also one flew N on 11th), and two Loch Ordais, LE. Once again there were no confirmed breeding records submitted and pairs were reported from seven places (one on Lewis and six on the Uists).

   Apart from six, Loch Stiapavat LNR in early August all other records in autumn/second winter period came from the Uists (including up to 12 at two places in October). No count exceeded four in November/December. 

WIGEON Mareca penelope Glas-lach (Eurasian Wigeon) Scarce, sometimes uncommon, breeder mainly on the Uists. Otherwise a fairly common winter visitor.

2014: some counts in first winter period: 164-175, Coot Loch, BE, and Loch Bornish, SU; 84-110, Loch Sandary, Loch Leodasay and Baleshare/Illeray, NU and Loch Fada, BE; 42-55, Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE and Obbe (mill pool), HA. Seven broods (average of three ducklings in each) were located on the Uists in the breeding season. A pair probably bred at Loch Stiapavat LNR. The first returning birds to Loch Stiapavat LNR were on Aug 17th/18th while most visible autumn passage was at the Butt of Lewis (including a flock of 35 that came in from the NW on Sep 24th). Some autumn counts included at least 60, Loch Ordais, LE (no other count exceeded 30 for Lewis throughout the year), up to 40, Northton, HA, and 87-206 at four places on North Uist. By far the largest counts in the second winter period came from Loch Bee, SU (397 in early November and 525 in early December). Otherwise highest counts in December all came from North Uist (160, Loch Eaval, 127, Loch Mòr, and 62-82, Loch Sandary, Loch na Faoileige and Loch Mhic Coan).

2015: January counts included 536, Loch Bee, 250, Loch Hallan, SU, and 103-120, Loch Mhic Coan and Rubha Ardvule, SU. There was a count of 62, Loch Stiapavat LNR, in early March. Probable breeding records came from four places but there was only one confirmed. Some records in autumn/second winter period: 151-157, Loch Eaval/Loch Grogary, NU; 130, Steinish, LE; 101, Lochboisdale, SU; 30-60, at two places on Lewis and seven on the Uists; about 25 appeared newly arrived, Tràigh nam Faoghailean, NU, Sep 25th; a total of 57 flew S, Rubha Ardvule, between Oct 6th and 30th and 39 between Nov 11th and Dec 21st.

2016: apart from 50, Holm Beag, HA, in mid-February all other highest counts received in first winter period came from North Uist: up to 152, Loch Leodasay/Loch na Faoileige; and 50-98, Oban Trumisgarry, Ob nan Stearnain, and three places on Baleshare (including about 50 on the sea off Eachkamish, Jan 5th). Ten flew N, Rubha Ardvule, Apr 15th. Of 16 confirmed breeding pairs at nine sites (most on South Uist) the largest brood was five. Some counts in autumn/second winter period: 243-250, Aileodair, NU and Loch Mòr; 105-166, Ob nan Stearnain, Loch Eaval/Loch Grogary, Loch na Faoileige and Loch Mhic Coan; and 50-92, Seilebost, HA, Oban Trumisgarry, Loch Paible and Ardheisker, NU, Loch na Meallaird, BE, Rubha Ardvule and Loch Hallan. Also a total of 15 flew N and 110 S, Rubha Ardvule, between Sep 9th and Nov 23rd.

AMERICAN WIGEON Mareca americana Rare visitor with records involving a minimum of nineteen birds, some presumed returning individuals. One shot on Benbecula in 1907 was the first Scottish record. There have been two apparent hybrids.

2014: at least four ♂♂ and a ♀: ♂, Loch Bornish, SU, Feb 9th-Mar 12th, also Apr 17th and presumed returning bird, Oct 30th-Nov 8th (WA, JBK, AS et al.); ♀, Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE, May 12th-17th, joined by a ♂ on 16th that remained until Jun 1st, visiting nearby Loch na Muilne (Cross) with a ♂ Wigeon later the same day (BAEM et al.); ♂, Loch na Reivil, NU, Jun 10th-25th, visited nearby Loch nam Feithean on 23rd (BR, ST et al.); ♂♂, Aileodair, NU, Oct 29th- Nov 20th (WA, BR et al.) and Loch Mhic Coan, NU, Dec 24th-29th (RCA, BR).

2015: the Aileodair ♂ remained until Feb 19th at least and returned on Nov 17th (WA, BR et al.). Another ♂ was on Loch nam Feithean, Mar 28th-Apr 6th (BirdGuides, BR).

See also Pending, Incomplete and Unproven records (page 214).

2016: this year the Aileodair bird was joined by another ♂ on Jan 24th, both remaining until Mar 17th at least; one returned on Oct 22nd, two were present on Nov 2nd, with one remaining to December 22nd at least (WA, BR). A ♂ coming out of eclipse was on nearby Oban Trumisgarry, Oct 21st, was at Aileodair on Nov 2nd, and back again on Oban Trumisgarry on 17th (BR). Another ♂ was on a small pool at Eoligarry, BA, Oct 30th-Nov 17th, reappearing in early January 2017 (BAT, KT).

See also Pending, Incomplete and Unproven records (page 212).

MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos Lach-riabhach Fairly common resident breeder (highest densities on the Uists) and winter visitor.

2014: highest counts (65-76) came from South Uist (Loch Bee and Rubha Ardvule), late November-late December. Otherwise there were counts of 29-49 at three places on Lewis/Harris, one on Berneray and four on the Uists. Breeding records included at least four broods, Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE and at least 18 broods throughout the Uists with the first on Apr 21st. Almost fully grown young were seen from early June.

2015: in the first winter period there were counts of 55-64 from three places on South Uist. Small flocks (largest 34) were present in April. There were fewer breeding records received than for the previous year and the first brood reported was not until May 9th. The largest count in the autumn was of at least 75, Loch Airigh Alasdair, NU (believed to be a loch where food is put down for wildfowl for shooting purposes). Other autumn counts of 40-56 were made at three places on South Uist while highest November/December counts were 82-90, Loch nam Feithean, NU and Rubha Ardvule.

2016: there were counts of 34-48 at the two most regularly monitored South Uist sites in January. Otherwise no count anywhere exceeded 30 through to mid-May. As usual under-recorded in the breeding season with 14 broods reported (first on May 1st). Records of breeding evidence were submitted for 27 sites in all. The North Uist loch where food put down to attract wildfowl held about 80 birds in early September and there was a count of 90 at Rubha Ardvule around the same time. This site also held the highest numbers later (three counts of 92-98, October-December). Otherwise there were counts of 35-46 at four places on the Uists through to the end of the year. A leucistic bird was seen on Loch Scarie, NU, in December.

PINTAIL Anas acuta Lach-stiùireach (Northern Pintail) Scarce breeder with ten confirmed records. Otherwise scarce/uncommon visitor (spring/autumn passage and in winter).

2014: up to six, Loch nam Feithean, NU, early February to early April (a pair on 4th was the last sighting). There were two other singles in the first winter period (Loch Branahuie, LE, Jan 1st and on flooded machair Bornish, SU, Mar 22nd). Records in April/May came from Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE (pair, Apr 16th), on flooded machair at Bornish (up to six, Apr 22nd-May 10th), and single birds, Loch Bhrusda, BN (May 14th) and Loch Hallan, SU (on 27th). Breeding: a ♀ with 4 ducklings, Stoneybridge, SU, mid-July was the first of any breeding activity since 2007 (a pair at a site on Lewis in late May).

   A ♂ in eclipse plumage was seen at Eochar, SU, Aug 31st. The next reports came from North Uist (a single at Loch Paible, Oct 6th and two or three at nearby Loch nam Feithean in November). Also a single bird was on Loch Stilligarry, SU (last day of November). All other sightings were in December: up to six, Loch nam Feithean, up to four, Loch Hallan, and single birds, Loch Paible and Howmore River and Rubha Ardvule, SU.   

2015: first winter period: up to eight, Loch nam Feithean, up to four, Loch Hallan, one or two, Baleshare lochs, NU, and single birds, Loch Sandary, NU and Bornish. At least 28 were logged in April: seven, Ness, LE; five or six, Bornish machair and Loch na Liana Mòire (Frobost), SU; and two or three, Loch nam Feithean/Loch Paible and at two places in the Loch Bee area, SU. The only May record was on 8th when two were on Loch nam Feithean.

   Autumn/second winter period: at least two singles in September (first on 3rd); five, Loch na Liana Mòire (Kilpheder), SU, Oct 25th; six flew S, Rubha Ardvule, on the following day; and at least 20 others from late October to end of the year. 

2016: in January-March there were up to seven, Loch nam Feithean/Loch Paible and one or two, Baleshare/Illeray lochs and Loch Hallan. A high number of 14 flew S at Rubha Ardvule, Apr 15th. Other spring reports involved two birds at three places (Loch Mòr, BE, Apr 19th, Rubha Ardvule, on 29th, and Loch na Liana Mòire (Frobost), from this date until May 28th) and a ♂ lingered at Loch Stiapavat LNR (several dates in May).

   One that flew S, Rubha Ardvule, Oct 8th was the first in autumn (also three flew S on 19th). There were then up to six, Baleshare/Illeray, five, Loch nam Feithean/Loch Paible and three, Rubha Ardvule, to the end of the year.  

TEAL Anas crecca Lach-bheag (Eurasian Teal) An uncommon breeder and fairly common winter visitor.

2014: small flocks of 20-54 were reported from seven places (all but one on the Uists) in first/second winter periods. The only larger counts concerned up to 90, Loch Paible, NU, in late September/early October and 136, Loch Bee, SU, in early December. Under-recorded in the breeding season with only one confirmed record. Nine flew S, Rubha Ardvule, SU, Nov 22nd.

2015: there were four counts of 100 or over: on unnamed loch, Illeray (Baleshare), NU (100, Jan 17th); Loch nam Feithean, NU (160, Feb 3rd); Boreray, near NU (118, Mar 13th); and Loch Paible (120, Nov 11th). Smaller counts (26-64) were made at six other places (autumn/winter). Records in the breeding season, included several pairs, at a number of suitable sites but there were no confirmed reports. A ♀ was paired with a ♂ Green-winged Teal, Loch a’ Roe, NU, in late April. The only record received for St Kilda in the three years under review was a single bird in Village Bay, Jul 6th.

   A total of 56 flew S off Uist headlands in the autumn (observations on Sep 25th and Oct 10th and 24th). A small number later off Rubha Ardvule (N and S) presumably involved local movement.   

2016: counts of 40-55 were made at five places on the Uists in January. Also in this month a ♀ was seen to be paired with a ♂ Green-winged Teal, Loch Sandary, NU. By far the largest count (70) in February was at Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE, early in the month. April records included counts of 35/36 at two places and 29 flew N, Rubha Ardvule, on 15th. A ♀ with 4 ducklings was the only confirmed breeding record.

   A small number flew S between Aug 31st and Oct 19th. Counts in autumn/second winter period included: 100-112, Loch nam Feithean (October) and Loch Sandary (December), 74, Loch Mòr, NU (also December), and 30-50, four other places on the Uists. 

A hybrid with pinkish breast and other differences from ♂ Teal was photographed at Loch Paible, May 28th.

GREEN-WINGED TEAL Anas carolinensis Scarce visitor, records in all months except July-September when males not in identifiable plumage. As for American Wigeon some presumed returning individuals.

2014: at least four: Coot Loch, BE, Jan 10th and presumed same on nearby Loch Mòr, Feb 9th (BirdGuides, AS); mouth of Howmore River, SU, May 7th/8th (MH); Loch Stilligarry, SU, Nov 30th (AS); Loch Sandary, NU, from Dec 7th to end of year (BR et al.).

2015: the Loch Sandary bird was present intermittently until May 10th; presumed same at nearby Loch nam Feithean (two dates in January and one in early April) and at Aird an Rùnair (Loch a’ Roe), Apr 12th-23rd when paired with a ♀ Teal (BR et al.). Four others were seen: Loch na Meallaird, BE, Feb 7th (ST), Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE, May 2nd (BAEM), Loch Bee, SU, May 20th and still present Jun 22nd (IRT), and Lochportain, NU, on 27th (photo). Once again the Loch Sandary bird turned up in the second winter period (from late November).

2016: in the first part of the year sightings on North Uist followed the same pattern as the previous year except there were no further sightings after Apr 18th/19th when present at Loch a’ Roe (WA, JSN, BR et al.). One was also seen at Oban Trumisgarry, Feb 26th while the only report for North Uist in the second winter period was from Loch Grogary, Nov 24th (BR). Elsewhere there were birds at Loch Bee on several dates until Feb 10th at least and from Nov 18th to end of the year (BirdGuides, many observers), and at Loch Stiapavat LNR, Feb 4th-Apr 7th (BAEM et al.).

RED-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina Rare visitor with seven records although six thought to have involved same returning male, 1985 to 1992; the other record was of a female in 2011.

[REDHEAD Aythya americana A record previously accepted by BBRC now considered not proven after review (British Birds 108: 158-167).]

POCHARD Aythya ferina Lach-dhearg-cheannach (Common Pochard) One possible breeding record (in 1911) and a few summer records of males. Previously an uncommon winter visitor but is now scarce. A small number have been on spring and autumn passage.

2014: a ♂ at Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE, from Sep 20th to the 26th was the only record.

2015: three records: ♂♂, Loch Ardvule, SU, Feb 4th and Loch Sandary, NU, May 6th; ♀/immature, West Loch Ollay, SU, Oct 28th.

2016: three records: ♂, Coot Loch, BE, Jan 15th-Mar 6th; pair, Oban Trumisgarry, NU, Mar 22nd; one (entered on BirdTrack sex not given), Melbost, LE, Apr 21st.

RING-NECKED DUCK Aythya collaris Male seen mating with female Tufted Duck (two young later may have been the result of this pairing). Scarce visitor, some are long-stayers, while a few records probably relate to returning birds.

2014: a ♀ on Loch Sandary, NU, Feb 1st, and on a later date, was also on nearby Loch nam Feithean and Loch Scarie (most sightings came from here with the last on Mar 27th; possibly the same bird was on Loch Tormasad Beag, NU, Apr 2nd-9th (WA, RLM, AW et al.) and had returned to Loch Sandary on Dec 7th (BR et al.). Also a juvenile/♀ was on West Loch Ollay, SU, Nov 2nd (AS).

See also Pending, Incomplete and Unproven records (page 216).

2015: the Loch Sandary bird remained until Mar 18th and was then on Loch nam Feithean/Loch Scarie until Apr 3rd (many observers).

2016: a ♂ was photographed on Loch na h-Inghinn, LE, during the morning of Apr 4th (AC, AM). There was no sign of it in the afternoon of the following day.

TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula Lach-sgumanach Uncommon breeder, mainly on the Uists. Fairly common passage/winter visitor.

2014: highest counts, January to early May: up to 75, Coot Loch, BE and 31-55 on seven Uist lochs. The largest count for Lewis/Harris was 27, Loch an Tiumpan, Apr 19th. Breeding records included: first brood on May 30th; at least 27 broods on Uists lochs (at least five, Loch na Reivil, NU); ♀♀ with 13/14 ducklings in mid-June; broods of mostly up to three by July.

   A total of 19 flew S off Uist headland (all but three, Rubha Ardvule, SU, Oct 22nd). Largest counts in second winter period were made in December: 72-88, Loch Sandary, NU and Loch Bee and Loch Hallan, SU.  

2015: the largest counts in the first winter came from Loch Hallan (up to 44) and on Loch Mòr, Boreray, near NU (60, Mar 13th; few visits/records ever received for this island and see Teal above). Highest numbers in spring continued to be reported for Loch Hallan (up to 65) while there was a count of 40, Loch Hosta, NU (in third week of April). In the breeding season there were fewer broods than the previous year (first on Jun 7th) and brood size was very low, on North Uist at least. A single was in Village Bay, St Kilda, Jul 6th.

   There was a good count of at least 180, Loch Stilligarry, SU, Sep 13th. Other autumn records included 62 that flew S, Rubha Ardvule, Oct 25th (see also Scaup below) and 39-45, Loch Dùn Mhurchaidh, BE and Loch Hallan (to late November here). No count exceeded 16 in December.     

2016: in the first winter period there were counts of 32-56 on three Uist lochs while the largest count for Lewis/Harris were 20-22 at Loch an Tiumpan and Cromore. Some spring counts: up to 38, Loch an Tiumpan and 28-49, on two Uist lochs. Confirmed breeding records came from 12 places with first brood on Jun 11th. There were five broods (25 ducklings) on Loch Ardvule in early July and 14 somewhat larger young on Loch Mòr, NU in the fourth week.

   Some autumn/second winter records: 42 flew S, Rubha Ardvule, Sep 28th and 53-90 on three Uist lochs (largest count was on Loch Sandary in mid-December). 

SCAUP Aythya marila Lach-mhara (Greater Scaup) Breeding occurred regularly between 1897 and 1913 with a more recent record in 1969. Uncommon passage/winter visitor.

2014: first winter period/spring: at Loch Sandary, NU, two 1st-winter ♂♂ were in full adult plumage by the second week of March (two remained to mid-April and one to Jul 8th; this bird kept apart from two ♂♂ and three ♀♀ that arrived on May 5th; pair stayed to 9th); two, Loch Mòr/Coot Loch, BE, to third week of February (one still present to second week of April); five others on Uists lochs (last, May 10th); pairs (may or may not have been the same), Loch an Tiumpan and Loch Branahuie, LE (Apr 17th and 19th). A ♂, Loch na Reivil, NU, Jun 23rd-29th (possibly the Loch Sandary bird that was present around the same time).

   Autumn/second winter period: five flew S, Rubha Ardvule, SU, Oct 5th; otherwise single birds, Loch Branahuie (Aug 10th), Rubha Ardvule (Sep 11th), Loch Ròg, SU (Nov 2nd), Loch Sandary (from next day to end of the year), and Loch nam Faoileann, SU (from Nov 27th to end of the year).  

2015: January-March: up to six, Loch Bee, SU (to first week of February) and four, Coot Loch (mid-February with at least one remaining to fourth week of March); single ♂♂ were on Loch Sandary, Loch Fada, BE, also Loch nam Faoileann, April/May: ♂, Loch nam Feithean/Loch Scarie, NU (Apr 9th-12th); may or may not have been same, Loch nam Feithean (May 4th) and Loch Sandary (6th-30th); up to five, Loch Branahuie (May 4th-28th); ♀, Loch Ardvule (at least May 3rd-7th).

   A bird at Loch na Cuithe-Mòire, SU, Aug 17th was early with the next not until the third week of October. A total of 55 flew S past Rubha Ardvule, Oct 24th/25th (also one on 29th), and singles, Loch nam Faoileann (Oct 20th to end of the year), Loch Ardvule (Oct 28th-Nov 2nd), Loch Sandary (Oct 30th) and Loch Bee (Nov 27th).     

2016: the Loch nam Faoileann bird remained into the fourth week of January. There were four others on Uist lochs up until early March. In spring a pair was on Loch Branahuie, May 8th and there were two others (Loch na Reivil, NU, Apr 21st and Loch na Liana Mòire (Frobost), SU, May 5th).

  Three flew S, Rubha Ardvule, Sep 29th with nine on Oct 17th. Otherwise one or two were were reported from two places on Lewis and at three on the Uists (October/November).

LESSER SCAUP Aythya affinis Very rare winter visitor with records concerning at least five birds (up to three together in 2007 and also a presumed returning bird).

2014: an adult ♀ that was first seen in 2013 was on Loch Bee, SU, from Jan 8th until Feb 9th (YB et al.).

2015: ♀, Loch Ardvule, SU, Apr 11th-17th (JBK et al.).

STELLER’S EIDER Polysticta stelleri Very rare visitor to South Uist, a long-staying male from 1972 until 1984. Remarkably there was a record of this bird being accompanied by two females for a day in April 1974.

KING EIDER Somateria spectabilis Rare visitor in March, May, June and November (six records concerning four males and two females).

2015: two birds in a year were a first: ♂, North Rona, Jun 22nd (SE, JH et al.); ♀, Sound of Harris, from Nov 5th to end of the year (SED).

2016: the Sound of Harris bird was last seen on Jan 15th.

EIDER Somateria mollissima Colc (Common Eider) Common resident breeder (first described nesting on Sula Sgeir in 1594 and by the 1830s ‘astonishing numbers’ nested on the Monach Islands). There are moult sites on or near Lewis/Harris and Barra.

[‘Northern Eider’ borealis: there are spring records of ten birds showing brighter coloured bills and prominent ‘sails’ compared to mollissima but this subspecies is no longer on the British List.]

2014: the only three-figure counts received were 150, Sound of Barra, in late March, 119, Stinky Bay, BE, in late April, and 126, Peninerine, SU, in third week of May. Presumably local movement S (lower numbers N and on fewer dates) recorded off Rubha Ardvule, SU: on 19 days between Jan 4th and Apr 17th (largest counts of 22-32 S on six dates) and on 44 days between Aug 30th and Dec 31st (16-21 S on three dates). Little significant information was submitted for the breeding season. The first brood was seen on May 25th and there were 33 young (brood of six being the largest) in Stinky Bay, in the third week of June.

   No count exceeded 62 for the Uists in autumn/second winter period while the largest count for the year on Lewis was 66 at the Butt of Lewis in late October. No counts were received for Broad Bay, LE, that holds a significant winter population. 

2015: there were no large flocks reported in the first winter period/spring and there were double-figure counts of birds flying S or N during systematic seawatches at Rubha Ardvule (26 to 52 on six dates and 10-22 S on another 15 with 10-14 N on four between Jan 1st and Apr 11th). A few other spring records: a small number, including three with a Long-tailed Duck, flew N off Aird an Rùnair, NU (early April), 33-64 were off Rubha Ardvule (on five dates between the 12th and 30th) and some 40 were in the Sound of Barra (May 1st). Of the small number of breeding records submitted the first brood was not until mid-June and five broods (14 ducklings) near the mouth of Loch Paible, NU was the most together; broods of five were seen at two other places. Also there was a count of 25 on St Kilda in late June (Birds of St Kilda gives breeding population at about 50 pairs from the late 1950s to the late 1990s).

   Under-recorded in the autumn/second winter period with the largest count of the year (at least 210) coming from Broad Bay in the third week of November. Otherwise there were up to 98 at the Butt of Lewis in early November, several flocks of around 50 elsewhere while at Rubha Ardvule 10-48 flew S and 10-19 N (18 dates from mid-October to end of the year).  

2016: in the first half of the year highest counts (90-150) came from Broad Bay in early March and Stinky Bay and off the Berneray ferry terminal in April. Also there were double-figure counts of birds flying S or N off Rubha Ardvule: 10-46 S on 25 dates and 11-71 N on 11 (January-March) and 12-17 S on three dates and 11-15 N on four (April). Apart from around 100 with some 17 ducklings, near Peninerine, in late July, confirmed breeding records from a number of other places concerned only very small crèches.

   The highest estimate of the year was of 500 in Broad Bay (second week of October), there was just one other triple-figure count (just over one hundred, Frobost, SU, in November) while 11-41 flew S on 17 dates and 10-15 N on four, off Rubha Ardvule (late September to the end of the year).   

HARLEQUIN DUCK Histrionicus histrionicus Very rare visitor January to June with three males and a female (first Scottish record in 1931, two very long-stayers and the other briefly in June).

SURF SCOTER Melanitta perspicillata Scarce visitor, sightings in all months except July, with most records from the Sound of Taransay area. There have been records of birds flying north in spring (three together) and south in autumn (three singles).

2014: immature ♀, mouth of Howmore River/Peninerine, SU, Jan 18th-Feb 16th (JBK, AS et al.). Also an immature was seen from the Sound of Harris ferry (near Leverburgh), May 2nd (SED).

2015: two records of ♂♂ from Luskentyre/Seilebost (Sound of Taransay): Sep 15th and Nov 16th. There was one other: first-calendar-year (probably ♀), Cleat, BA, Nov 13th (BAT, KT).

2016: two at Rubha Ardvule, SU: a ♀/immature flew S, Sep 27th (JBK) and a juvenile was in the south bay, Oct 4th-23rd; on last date south of the headland with two ♀ Common Scoter (AH, JBK, AS et al.).

VELVET SCOTER Melanitta fusca Lach-dhubh Up to one hundred wintered in the past but now a scarce passage or winter visitor (records in all months with most in November).

2013: there was an additional record of a ♂ off St Kilda, Sep 10th/11th.

2014: an immature offshore, Garrynamonie, SU, Feb 18th, was the only record.

2015: two records of birds flying S off headlands in October: Aird an Rùnair, NU, on 13th and Rubha Ardvule, SU, on 29th.

2016: one flew S off Rubha Ardvule, Nov 19th.

COMMON SCOTER Melanitta nigra Lach-bheag-dhubh One confirmed breeding record in the interior of Lewis and a few records of birds in summer in suitable habitat. Uncommon/occasionally fairly common with two main sites (one on Lewis the other on Harris where regular moulting flock in summer).

2014: up to 38 were recorded off Rubha Bhoisnis, BN, until early March. The only other records in the first winter period were two or three, Northton, HA and Balivanich, BE. At the first location numbers peaked at 18 in late April while other reports in this month came from six places: Luskentyre/Seilebost, HA (six-eight, 6th and 8th), Broad Bay (off airport), LE (20 on 23rd), Loch Branahuie, LE (ten on 26th), six Askernish (off golf course), SU (six on 27th), and a ♂ at Aird an Rùnair, NU had an unusually large amount of orange-yellow on bill (29th). In May there were six in the Sound of Harris on 2nd, three flew S, Rubha Ardvule, SU on 15th and there were three other singles. Six were seen in The Little Minch (not known if in Outer Hebrides waters) from the Uig to Lochmaddy ferry, Jun 18th.

   In the second half of the year a count of 60 in flight before settling on the sea off Northton (Dec 8th) was the largest count of the year. Other records: a total of 25 flew S, Rubha Ardvule (eleven, Jul 3rd; nine, Sep 2nd; and five singles between Oct 5th and Dec 27th); five, Rubha Bhoisnis (Aug 19th); 12, Butt of Lewis (Sep 20th); ten off mouth of Howmore River, SU (Oct 10th); and 12 others.   

2015: a total of 69 (59 flew S and ten flew N) were seen during seawatches off Rubha Ardvule with records in all months except February: 15, Jun 30th, seven, Aug 30th, Sep 25th and Nov 14th, six, Apr 3rd and five, Aug 29th (all S); otherwise up to three on 17 other dates. Apart from three on the Sound of Barra crossing, Apr 19th and a single off St Kilda in late May all other records were in the autumn/second winter period: seven flew S, Griminish Point, NU, Aug 30th; 100-150, Luskentyre/Seilebost, mid-September and mid-November; 12, off Boisdale, SU, Oct 16th; and a single flew S, Aird an Rùnair, on 31st.

2016: counts in the Luskentyre/Seilebost area included 110 in mid-February, 60 in mid- April and 50 in the second week of September. There were no significant counts received for Broad Bay (our other major site for this species) for the three years under review. Most other reports came from Rubha Ardvule: one flew S, Jan 10th; a total of 22 flew N and five S on nine dates, March/April; two flew S, on the last day of June; a total of eight flew N and 25 S on 14 dates from late August to the end of the year; also seven or eight were offshore in the second and third weeks of October. Other records: up to seven off South Uist coast (three places) in January/February; seven, Aird an Rùnair and three in the bay at Culla, BE, May 20th (also pairs flew N at the first location on two other dates in May); and a small number of others including two ♀♀ with a Surf Scoter, S of Rubha Ardvule, Oct 23rd.

LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis Lac-bhinn Fairly common winter visitor while a spring spectacle are the hundreds that gather on the freshwater Loch Branahuie, Lewis.

2014: all counts of 100 or more: 100-112, mouth of Howmore River/Peninerine, SU (Jan 19th and Feb 1st); 200, Sound of Barra (Mar 27th); and 230, Sound of Harris (Apr 5th). No counts were received for Broad Bay, LE or for the spring gathering (declined dramatically in 2013) at nearby Loch Branahuie. Movement off Rubha Ardvule, SU was predominately S (a total of 162 on 21 dates between Jan 4th and Apr 17th). Five flew N, Aird an Rùnair, NU between Apr 8th and May 7th (also five N, Rubha Ardvule, between Apr 12th and 17th). Twelve, Horgabost, HA, in early April were mainly in pairs. Last in spring, May 29th.

   Some autumn/second winter period records: first, Aug 5th; a total of 233 flew S, Rubha Ardvule, 40 dates between Oct 3rd and end of the year (31, Oct 19th and 24 on 27th); counts of 36-65 from five places, South Uist/Barra. 

Return to breeding grounds begins mid-February and arrives to winter from mid-October with peak numbers typically late December/early January (Migration Atlas).

2015: only a few double-figure counts were submitted in the first winter period with the highest off the South Uist coast: up to 46, Frobost and a total of 185 flew S and 32 N, Rubha Ardvule (29 dates throughout the three months with the only double-figure count of 68 on Mar 7th). A count of 310 on Loch Branahuie in late April was an improvement on numbers gathering here over the previous four springs (five were still present in late May). Other spring counts included three of 36-49 (all in April) while May records were of two pairs in Stinky Bay, BE (4th), two flew N, Aird an Rùnair (24th) and two were in Village Bay, St Kilda (25th, with ♂ remaining to Jun 18th).

   The first record in autumn was on Oct 6th and a total of 292 flew S with 49 N during seawatches off Rubha Ardvule (on 58 dates from Oct 11th to the end of the year). A small number also flew S off other Uist headlands. A few other counts included 55-75, in Bràigh bay, LE (late October and mid-December) and 18-28 at two places off the Uist coast. 

The marine habits of this species make reliable monitoring difficult but it is clear that numbers wintering in the UK have declined over the last 20 years (Bird Atlas 2007-11).

2016: some first winter period counts: highest count of 70, Tràigh Hamara, BA; 30-40 in Bràigh bay; 24, Tràigh lar (Udal); a total of 241 flew S and 98 N, Rubha Ardvule (46 dates throughout the three months with 23, Jan 23rd being the most passing on any one watch); and up to eight at seven other places. The largest spring counts were in Broad Bay with around 280 in the third week of April while numbers on nearby Loch Branahuie peaked at 132 in the second week of May. Other counts included 32-50, Berneray and Culla bay, BE, and a total of 22 flew S and 13 N, Rubha Ardvule (seven dates in April). Last, Loch Branahuie, Jun 8th.

    First arrival off Rubha Ardvule on Oct 9th followed by a total of 506 S with 56 N on 52 dates to the end of the year (also counts of 43-147 offshore on 14 dates from the end of the first week of November). The only other large counts were of up to about 150, Frobost, in the fourth week of November. A bird that was seen intermittently on several lochs in the Balranald NR area, NU was unusual (for a month from Oct 18th).     

BUFFLEHEAD Bucephala albeola Very rare visitor to the Uists and Lewis with three records: males in 1980 and 2004 (first and second Scottish records). The 2004 bird was flying north off North Uist and ten days later was on the east side of Lewis (perhaps an example of overshooting on spring migration); the other bird was in June 2007 and seen in Highland the day before its arrival in the Outer Hebrides.

GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula Lach-bhreac (Common Goldeneye) Uncommon/fairly common winter visitor with largest concentrations on South Uist lochs. Occasionally occurs in summer.

2013: the first report was on Sep 5th (St Kilda) and not Oct 24th as in last Report.

2014: January to third week of April: up to 11, Loch Hosta, NU; seven-nine, Loch Ordais, LE, Loch Tormasad and Loch Leodasay/Loch Euphort, NU, Loch Bee and Howmore River/Loch Ròg, SU; four, Loch Hallan, SU; and up to three at ten other places. There was one later record: two ♂♂ appeared briefly, Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE, in the early afternoon of Jun 1st.

   First record in autumn Oct 10th. Largest count in second winter period was 31 on Loch Bee in early December. Other counts: up to 15, Loch Ardvule/Rubha Ardvule, SU (reported on 23 dates with six S); up to 12, Frobost, SU; five-eight, Loch Hosta, Loch Hallan and Loch nam Faoileann, SU; and one or two at four other places.       

2015: all records in the first winter period came from Uist lochs where there were nine-twelve on three (Lochs Bee, Ardvule and Hallan), six on two and one or two on a few others. The last birds were on Loch Eaval, NU and Loch Tangusdale, BA, Apr 19th.

   In the autumn there were no records until the last few days of October when three flew N off Rubha Ardvule and ten were on Loch Ordais (also ten here in the fourth week of November). Four-six were on Lochs Hosta, Ardvule (two singles flew S off the headland) and Hallan with single birds at five other places (including a ♂ on roadside pool near the Butt of Lewis lighthouse, Nov 4th). 

2016: the highest count in the first winter period/spring was 22, Loch Bee, in late January. Some other records: eight-ten, Lochs Ordais, Hosta and Ardvule; up to four at 18 other places (two on Lewis); three pairs, Loch Tormasad, in late February; six, Loch Ordais, Apr 3rd; three, Broad Bay, LE, on 21st; and a late bird on Loch Ardvule, Jun 6th.

   Another late arrival with no records until Nov 1st. Up to 12 were on Loch Hosta in December, at least four on Loch Achmore, LE, and one or two others at four places.  

SMEW Mergellus albellus Sìolta-bhreac Rare visitor with eleven records (probably only seven birds), early December to second week of March, except for one long-stayer that was seen again in May 2005 (when last recorded).

HOODED MERGANSER Lophodytes cucullatus Very rare visitor to North Uist in October/November with the first British record in 2000. For full details of this saga see British Birds 102: 122-129.

GOOSANDER Mergus merganser Sìolta (Common Merganser) One definite breeding record (on Lewis). Scarce visitor, sometimes uncommon, records in all months (most on Lewis/Harris).

2014: perhaps 18 different (♂♂ mostly but gender not given for some records), singles unless stated otherwise: three, Loch Scadavay (N), NU, Jan 23rd-25th; Loch a’ Mhuilinn (Stoneybridge), SU, Feb 10th, perhaps same returning, Jul 15th; Northton, HA, Mar 11th; two, Loch a’ Ghobhainn, LE, on 15th and Loch Cisteabhat, HA, Apr 6th; Howmore River, SU, on 7th; perhaps same returning, Peninerine, SU, Aug 5th; three, Butt of Lewis/Loch Stiapavat LNR, Apr 11th (♂ remaining on Loch Stiapavat the following day); Loch Ceann a’ Bhaigh/nearby, SU, May 1st-Jun 7th (four dates); Bosta, LE, May 8th; Kinloch Resort, LE/HA, on 17th; Loch Stiapavat LNR, Oct 30th; and Loch nam Magarlan, NU, Nov 24th-27th.

2015: the only records came from two places, both on South Uist, in May: one, Loch Ròg, on 13th and one or two in the North Locheynort area, 26th-31st.

2016: two records (four birds): ♂ and two ♀♀, Loch Achmore, LE, Mar 6th and 9th, and a single bird, Loch Obisary, NU, May 12th.

RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator Sìolta-dhearg Fairly common breeder (largest population on Lewis/Harris), also fairly common in winter/on passage and moulting flocks occur in late summer.

2014: the largest concentration in first winter period/spring was 67 off Scotvein, GR, in late May. Apart from 47, Keallasay More, NU, also in May, no other count exceeded 29. Only seven confirmed breeding records were received with the first brood on Jun 12th.

   In the second half of the year there were counts of 82-85 in the North Ford, NU/BE (first half of August) and 72 off South Glendale, SU (late September); also 24-33 at three other places. Other records included birds at the Butt of Lewis (one flew W, Sep 23rd and five came in from NW, Oct 16th) and a total of 24 flew S off Uist headlands (13 dates between Sep 25th and Nov 7th including four with a Tufted Duck/Scaup, Oct 18th).     

2015: the only count over ten in the first winter period was of 30 in Stornoway harbour in January. Some spring records: a total of 21 flew N off Uist headlands (on seven dates between Mar 27th and May 12th); three, with Barnacle Geese, flew N, Teanamachar, NU, Apr 5th; and a ♂, Loch Stiapavat LNR, LE (on 25th/26th and first time observer has seen one on this loch). A few pairs were seen in suitable habitat but there were no confirmed breeding records this year. Two or three were in Village Bay, St Kilda for much of June.

   A moulting flock of 23 was off Rubha nan Ròn, NU, in the third week of July and there were double-figure counts from only three other places later (the largest was 54 off Reef, LE, in the second half of October). A total of 70 flew S off Rubha Ardvule, SU (28 dates between Sep 24th and Nov 13th) and 13 flew S off Griminish Point, NU (three dates between Sep 24th and Oct 24th). Small numbers continued to pass Rubha Ardvule (N and S and never more than four in any one watch) until the end of the year.  

2016: not until well into the spring were there any double-figure counts (and then no more than 14). A total of 24 flew N off Rubha Ardvule on nine dates between early March and mid-April and nine flew N off Aird an Rùnair, NU, on five dates in May. Confirmed breeding records came from eight places (all on the Uists and continued to be under-recorded on Lewis/Harris with only one confirmed record in the three years). At least nine broods were located with the first in mid-June (10-15 ducklings in the two earliest ones).

   A small moulting flock (at least 35) was off Rubha nan Ròn, in late July and, apart from 135, Clachan Sands, NU (in the second week of October), there were only double-figure counts (11-16) from three other places. A total of 84 flew S and 23 N off Rubha Ardvule on 36 dates between mid-September to the end of the year and a small number also flew S off Aird an Rùnair. 

RUDDY DUCK Oxyura jamaicensis Rare visitor with ten records (at least twelve birds including three together; nine records in spring and one in autumn): last recorded in 2002 and further records unlikely due to the United Kingdom Ruddy Duck eradication programme.