Alston Wetlands and Barra, 10th September 2017
When news came through the other day of an American Redstart on the Hebrides, I was chomping at the bit to get up there but simply couldn't make it straight away due to other commitments. An opportunity came up to travel today with Lee, Jeff and Tony so I naturally jumped at the chance. We stopped off at Alston Wetlands, Lancs, on the way up, the plan being to bag the Wilson's Phalarope that turned up there yesterday, hear positive news on the redstart, continue to Oban and duly bag it. Things didn't quite work that way, with the phalarope nowhere to be seen and a frustrating lack of news either way on our main quarry. A Curlew, a couple of Wigeon, a good few Snipe and a handful of Teal were on site, along with a mini-swarm of House Martins and Swallows. With no time to spare, we had little choice but to head blind towards Oban with the only news coming from Barra being that the weather was horrific. Thankfully, we had the joy of positive news on the bird's continued presence in the nick of time, just as we were thinking of bailing out. Long story short, we eventually got on the ferry from which we had six Bonxie, four Arctic Skuas, several Manx Shearwaters, three Whimbrel, three Bar-tailed Godwits, a Razorbill and a few Guillemots, a few Shags and good numbers of Kittiwakes, Gannets and Fulmars. Singles of Sooty Shearwater and Arctic Tern were the highlights. With double rainbows and sunshine emerging, it looked optimistic. Racing along to Eoligarry, we found the fabled group of sycamores and a couple of birders then enjoyed marvellous views of the AMERICAN REDSTART flashing its brilliant yellow as it fed quietly among the browning leaves for some 20 minutes on what was a surprisingly pleasant evening given the washout forecast. What a success!!! Local birds included Rock Dove and Hooded Crow. Many thanks to Geoff W for putting news out of the American Redstart!