Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Mourning Dove, Clachan a Luib, North Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland 6th November 2007

Its always great when your at work and a text goes off in ya pocket and there's nothing you can do about it. Mike and Jane Malpass had texted me to say that they were on their way to North Uist, as a Mourning Dove has been found on some farmland up there.
Typical, two more days on shift before even a sniff of a chance of going.
I got home from work and mentioned it to Hazel, who was laid up having had an operation, but I said we would go in two days and that she could sleep and rest in the car travelling up. She was up for it.
Two days later, we were heading for Uig on the Isle of Skye, to catch the ferry to North Uist. Whilst driving up, we had a break at Fort William, and spoke to Jane on the phone. They'd connected with the bird, albeit in driving rain, and that the forecast up there was poor. Tom Tams was up there, as well as many more 'big hitters'.
We carried on north and drove over the Skye bridge onto the island, and headed up to the ferry port at Uig. Whilst waiting, we watched Ravens bullying White Tailed Eagles over the harbour. A brilliant spectacle in a beautiful setting.
We boarded the ferry, and eventually arrived at Lochmaddy on Uist. The light was fading and we had to find some digs.
After a good nights sleep, we were up early, had our breakfast, then set off the Clachan a Luib to look for the dove.

We arrived at the area, and a blue VW Golf was parked up, with the owner still sat in it. Hazel wound down her window, and I asked if this was the right area for the dove. Indeed it was, as it was sat behind a small rock for cover.

I immediately took two images as a record from inside the car. I took two, and no more. My camera battery was flat, as my camera had been switched on for the whole journey!!!!!!!!!!!
We had to go back to the guest house we had just left, so that I could charge my battery up. By the time it was charged, the weather had set in, so I decided we would push the boat out, and stay in the Lochmaddy Hotel and try again tomorrow.
The next day it was sunny and after breakfast headed back to the farmland where we had been the previous day. A female Hen harrier was gliding around as we approached our destination.
Fantastic, no one around and the bird was still around, even if it seemed a little more flighty than yesterday.
I sat by the road, waiting for it to arrive back in its usual place, which it eventually did, just as a Range Rover pulled up to ask what I was doing. I explained and the occupiers told me the Dove had been there over a week. They sat in the car as the Dove landed right on cue. The Range Rover was now between me and the bird, so I used the car as a hide and got the images I was after.

After a great day it was time to catch the ferry back for the long drive home to Lancashire. The first thing I did when I got home was buy a spare camera battery.
You live and learn!