I arrived in from a day tour yesterday only to find the crippling news that there was a White-throated Needletail in Tarbet, Harris. With only 10 previous occurrences and the often fleeting or far flung nature of the past records (the last 22 years ago) it seemed too good to be true to think that it would hang on another day but that it did.
It was first seen on 24th June, hawking over Loch Direcleit although not identified until the following day when Mark Cocker and Adam Gretton first spotted the bird whilst leaving a shop in Tarbet without their binos to hand. Adam later relocated the bird over at Direcleit and it showed throughout the evening either there or over Tarbet in the drizzle or rain; often hawking low over the trees in town.
The following day after an initial false report it was spotted once again over Loch Direcleit before a breif visit to town. It then relocated to the loch and showed superbly for around the next 1.5 - 2 hours as it frequently hawked over the admiring crowd. It promptly did a bunk just before the Stornoway ferry crowd arrived but was relocated later in the afternoon at Plocrapol a few miles south. In a horrible twist of fate the swift sadly collided with the only small wind turbine in the area and was killed. Although these small turbines are promoted as being no problem and need very little planning consent they obviously aren't totally bird friendly as I've also found 2 dead Common Gulls, incidently under ones in Uist in the last few months. A sad end to a truly mega bird.
For more sightings in the Outer Hebrides please visit: Western Isles Wildlife