• 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


Eyes and Ears Everywhere
The British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee (BOURC) has added the the North American Horned Lark found at Askernish, South Uist on 9th October 2014 to the British List.

In their press release the BOURC stated the following:

North American’ Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris (alpestris/praticola/hoyti)
First-calendar-year or older, Askernish (Aisgernis), South Uist (Uibhist a Deas), Outer Hebrides, 9-14 October 2014 (photographed).

Plumage features indicate that the Outer Hebrides individual was one of the North American subspecies of Horned Lark, and not a European Shore Lark E. a. flava. Key features included the reduced amount of yellow in the ear coverts and face which distinguishes such birds from E. a. flava.

The probability of this individual being an escape from captivity was judged to be very low, and the subspecies group has been recorded previously elsewhere in the Western Palearctic as a trans-Atlantic vagrant.

Of the many North American subspecies, three have a north-east distribution and display movements between breeding and non-breeding areas: E. a alpestris, E. a. praticola and E. a. hoyti.

Of these only nominate E. a. alpestris has an east Canadian breeding range and makes large movements along the east coast to winter in south-east USA, and so seems the most likely as a trans-Atlantic vagrant. However, E. a. praticola and E. a. hoyti also have an eastern range and so cannot be discounted with certainty. Thus the subspecies group (alpestris/praticola/hoyti) was accepted to Category A.

Horned Lark is polytypic, breeding across North America south to Central and northern South America. Some populations, particularly in the north of the range, are migratory with significant movements between summer breeding and winter areas; others are either resident or partially migratory. Shore Lark is also a polytypic breeding species across the Palearctic region.

20141009-IMG_8320.jpg 20141009-IMG_8321.jpg 20141009-IMG_8326.jpg