After a rough night rocking and rolling in the gales that had been buffeting poor old Bessie, we awoke to… PEACE.  Wonderful.

The forecast was for some warmer periods today so we set off in some anticipation.  The idea was to visit the Loch Druidibeg National Nature Reserve, a bit further north of Loch Eynort, which we had visited yesterday.

On the way, we stopped a short distance from the campsite to take some photos of a few waders and when I turned round these two were eyeing me up rather suspiciously…


A mile or so down the road and we spotted this rather elegant wader.  After some research, it appears we have found a Wood Sandpiper, quite a rare little bird.


Then some more Red Breasted Mergansers and these chaps, whose identity fooled us for a while, until we noticed the join.  They were plastic decoys!


It wasn’t until we found ourselves crossing the causeway over Loch Bee onto the island of Benbecula, that we realised we had completely missed the turning to Loch Druidibeg.  There was a mass of Mute Swans on the water there.


So we had another look at the map and turned around to retrace our steps.

While on Eriskay yesterday, we had failed to spot the famous Eriskay ponies but today we saw several of these Thelwell type short-legged ponies with Rod Stewart-like manes which I gather are typical of the Loch Druidibeg area:



Suddenly we realised that, once again, we had missed the turning to Loch Druidibeg – how could this be?  Surely a National Nature Reserve would be well sign-posted?  Once again we turned around, eyes scanning for road signs.  We reached the cross-roads shown clearly on the OS map as leading to the Reserve but the sign merely mentioned Loch Skipport, which was some miles beyond our objective.  We took the turning, expecting to see some sort of mention of this being a Reserve but there was nothing.  Weird.  Even the parking place shown on the map was just a patch of grass which we drove past without realising its significance.  We had read many reports of the extensive birdlife to be found at Druidibeg but, try as we might, we couldn’t spot one bird!  This was beginning to seem seriously strange.  Where were the Golden Eagles, Hen Harriers and Peregrines?  Had the wild weather of yesterday driven them underground?

We reached the end of the road at Loch Skipport just after we saw this pony and foal.  The foal looked virtually newborn but was surprisingly tall beside her mum.


We turned around, driving back the way we had come, and managed to shoehorn Bessie onto a piece of grass beside the narrow road to eat our lunch, still puzzled.


Failing to see wildlife of any description at Loch Druidibeg, we decided to try our luck again at Loch Eynort, just a few miles down the road.  On the way, we caught sight of this proud Mallard mum and her very new ducklings.


We took a detour to have a look at the ancient village of Tobha Mor with its ruined chapels.  There we saw these unusual thatched cottages.



We took the southern route beside Loch Eynort and saw the amusing sight of a starling hitching a lift on a sheep.  The sheep seemed quite oblivious and carried on with her munching regardless.


Reaching the end of the track where we had seen the Buzzard yesterday, Peter suddenly saw a larger bird of prey, red-gold in colour, hovering in the distance.  By the time I managed to take a few photographs it had become a mere speck in the sky and this is best I could come up with.


We believe it to be a Golden Eagle, very common in this area but the first we have seen.

Retracing our steps we took the turning to the north side of the loch and I spotted this Grey Heron.  It wasn’t until I was editing our photos later that I realised there was a Common Seal relaxing on a rock behind it!


Reaching the end of the loch we parked Bessie and sat looking out over the water.  It took Peter seconds to realise that there was a large group of Seals on the rocks in the middle of the water.  They had the appearance of giant slugs, with one balancing precariously on a small rock.



Then, nearer to us we saw movement in the water.  Binoculars proved it to be a Grey Seal swimming towards us!  My new Sigma lens helped to get this photo, his whiskers clearly to be seen.


We eventually drove back along the loch, passing this sheep who looks like a High Court Judge!


More birds were to be seen on our way back to the campsite, including a Whimbrel, another majestic Grey Heron, a Bar-Tailed Godwit and a pair of Teal.





Continuing the theme for the day, in a field near the campsite, we saw this very young lamb with her mum and a creche of babies which you can see in the featured image for today.  So, all in all, not a bad day at all – who needs the National Reserve?