Lochboisdale, South Uist 57:09.239N 007:18.031W

Frans & Sarah Toonen
Thu 18 Jul 2013 22:44
Thursday 18 July 2013. SW 3-4, Sea state slight, visibility only 3 miles out of Rum and until we cleared Canna under engine then glorious sunshine and close hauled across The Sea of The Hebrides to South Uist, tacking up the loch to a visitors buoy. We saw our first dolphins of the season as we had lunch at the table in the cockpit - that's how 'slight' the sea was. 

There were only 2 boats on the moorings which was a surprise as this is peak season. The little island of Gasay opposite the village was a mass of diggers and trucks and there was a dredger busy in the sound. This is the start of a 2 year construction program for a marina with about 20 berths. The plans are on display at the tourist office and several locals have found employment with the contractors. The village has only about 40-50 houses and this is the main settlement on South Uist. Hopefully the EU are paying for the marina and not our Scottish relatives.

When out on the bus to the Kildonan museum which was very interesting, particularly the military role of the islands during WW2 providing the base for air support to the convoys and also the recipes for dyes made by the local women for wool - well Sarah liked those and the Harris tweed. The whole group of islands from Eriskay in the south to North Uist (you know where that is) have a wild beauty with the machair (wide strip of wild flowers and grassland which runs along the Altantic beaches of the West coast) providing habitat for many ground nesting birds contrasting with the peat boggy middle where heather and yellow iris abound and the fresh water pools are a mass of waterlilies. The East coast has craggy mountains and the indented sea lochs. 

There was so much to see we gave a man £50 cash in a small garage behind a house and he gave us a car to use for 3 days with instructions to park it where we found it on Sunday at some point. Perhaps they have always been paperless here. We drove down to Eriskay and across the causeway admiring the crystal clear waters in every colour of blue and green, stopped for a pint at the Pollachar Inn - one of the finest views in Scotland - overlooking Eriskay and the Sound of Barra. There were porpoises and dolphins over the shallows. Despite it's natural charm the whole area seemed deserted with the few pubs and small hotel restaurants very quiet. One wonders how the economy survives. Early start Saturday and straight to the Banranald RSPB reserve where they are doing good work to provide habitat for the endangered Corncrake and other ground nesters. We had a good walk around the reserve and saw Arctic Terns with their chicks close by as well as Dunlin, Lapwing and Little Gulls who have a black head as though they had been dipped in paint. When we have examined our photos we may be able to identify more species. Upon our return to the car we saw that a takeaway trailer had opened up at a campsite (8 tents/vans). In the Uists this is like the motorway services so we were delighted to enjoy crab sandwiches as of course we had not prepared for the day assuming there would be hostelries. 

During our 3 days in South Uist we caught some of the heatwave the UK has been enjoying. Prior to this it has been 10 to 15 degrees cooler up here then in Ruthin. Frans took the dinghy for a cruise round the loch as found the Grey Heron nest photographed below. We saw a couple of nests in the distance in Loch Moidart last week and first encountered the barking these birds do in the evening.

Arctic Tern chick, the name is misleading as they fly to the Antarctic this autumn… amazing!

Grey heron nesting:

North Uist turquoise bay: