World’s largest falcon spotted on North Uist

A gyrfalcon rarely spotted in Scotland on the island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides feeding on a swan. Picture: Bob McMillan/SWNS

A gyrfalcon rarely spotted in Scotland on the island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides feeding on a swan. Picture: Bob McMillan/SWNS

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Bird-watchers from across the world are frantically booking travel to a windswept remote Scottish island - to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest falcon.

Eagle-eyed photographers have been eager to get a picture of the bird since it was first spotted in December.

The gyrfalcon has been hanging around North Uist in the Outer Hebrides for the past three months.

Gyrfalcons - the largest species of falcon - are more typically found in Greenland and the Arctic Circle but are occasionally spotted in northern Scotland.

They do not usually spend more than a day in the same location so this particular gyrfalcon has provided ample opportunity for people to catch a glimpse of it.

Dennis Morrison, 38, travelled to the island from Edinburgh to spot the bird, which he has wanted to see since he was a child.

He said: “It is a beautiful bird. I have always wanted to see one since I was a kid and now I can say I’ve seen one.

“When they do turn up, they’re usually there one day and gone the next.

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“They breed around Greenland and even further into the Arctic Circle so you don’t see them very often here.

“This one seems to have taken a liking to North Uist and took up a home there.”

The gyrfalcon was spotted tucking into a swan after the bird was caught in low hanging power wires.

Bird watchers have been coming from all over the UK and even from places such as the Netherlands to see the gyrfalcon.

Ian Ricketts, 53, is Scotland’s Bird Club’s local recorder for the Outer Hebrides.

He said: “We don’t get too many gyrfalcons visiting the UK.

“There are two phases of gyrfalcon, the white one being much rarer on these shores than the grey one.

“The white one probably comes from Greenland. They are very spectacular birds to see.

“They tend to go after larger prey when hunting but a swan is an impressive catch, even for a gyrfalcon.

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“This particular bird seems to have been on the island since early December at least, that is when the first reported sighting came in.

“A lot of people have seen this species of bird but that doesn’t stop bird watchers coming to get a sighting of it.

“There’s been a whole host of people coming to the island to try and see it.

“People will drop everything and book the first flight to wherever the bird has been seen.”

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