• Please be aware that avian influenza has been confirmed in the Western Isles. Great Skua and Gannet are the worst affected currently but a range of other bird species can be infected. Please avoid contact with dead birds, give sick and dying birds space, keep dogs on leads and report all instances of five or more dead birds of one species to Defra (03459 335577).

  • When here in the Outer Hebrides and looking at a bird, have you ever wondered how rare it is? The status of all species can vary enormously from island to island. How rare is Shoveler on Barra, has Stock Dove been seen on Harris, does Dotterel occur on Benbecula in the autumn, and how common is Blue Tit on North Uist? Well, fret no longer! The Status and Distribution of birds here on the Outer Hebrides has been completely updated and summarised for every species and each of the main islands and outliers. Available as an online resource at https://status.outerhebrides-birdreports.org/ or via our shop

    New - now available as an ebook

National Rarity Bonaparte's Gull, South Uist, 2nd February 2013 by Yvonne Benting


OH Bird Recorder
Bonaparte's Gull
Near Stoneybridge, South Uist
2nd February 2013
by @YvonneB

I was on my own and spending the morning surveying Howbeg to Bornish for the annual winter goose count, taking in all the side roads. I headed down to the Ard Michael cemetery and couldn’t resist popping in to a small bay just before the cemetery – this is a regular stop-off point when I am in that location.

It was fairly quiet apart from a couple of Herring Gulls and a Common Gull loafing on the rocks and 5 Turnstone’s in amongst the seaweed. I spotted another bird, a couple of hundred yards away, on the water about 12 feet from the shore, feeding by picking items from the water. At first glance I thought Black-headed Gull but as BH Gulls are usually in short supply over the winter here, and because it was on it’s own I looked more closely and saw that it had a black bill – I immediately thought Bonaparte’s. It was easily aged as a first winter bird by the unmoulted wing feathers. These unmoulted feathers looked darker than than you would find on a Black-headed Gull. I have seen this species frequently in Canada where I have spent up to 6 months at a time running bird observatories and carrying out daily bird censuses.

I was unable to contact Andrew who I know had previously found this species in 2004 and lives fairly nearby, he was up in the hills doing some raptor survey work. I waited for a while to see if the gull would fly or come ashore so that I could see it’s leg colour but it didn’t and as I only had a certain amount of time to complete the goose count I took a photograph and returned to the survey.