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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Red-necked Phalarope

Hebrides Bird Sightings : Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope

Phalaropus lobatus

Deagan-allt, Isean-dearg

Photography © Terry Fountain
Uist - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
19th May, 2007


Our Red-necked Phalarope photographs

Red-necked Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope


  • Red-necked Phalarope
  • Phalaropus lobatus
  • Deagan-allt, Isean-dearg
  • UK: Breeding 20-30 pairs
  • UK: Migrant breeder/passage visitor
  • WI: Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year) and scarce migrant breeder (1-9 breeding pairs)
  • Breeding: Arctic and sub-Arctic. Europe
  • Winter: live at sea off the Arabian coast
  • Similar birds: Grey Phalarope, Wilson's Phalarope


In 2000 there were only 13 pairs of Red-necked Phalarope breeding in the whole of the UK, most were in Shetland. The Northern part of Scotland is on the Southernmost edge of it's breeding range. There are now estimated to be 20 to 30 pairs breeding in the UK.

RSPB Loch na Muilne nature reserve on the Isle of Lewis is a Red-necked Phalarope breeding site. DO NOT ENTER MARSH
(Use viewpoint during breeding season)

The female Red-necked Phalarope usually arrive in mid-May and by the end of August have left our islands.

Red-necked Phalarope do not make typical monogamous pairings. The females are the most brightly coloured, they sing and court the males, and also fight each other for the attentions of the males.

The males incubate the eggs and feed the young whilst the females take on a second partner.

Red-necked Phalarope feed by swirling up freshwater bottom sediments and eating the insects etc that rise up. The process by which they swirl the water makes them spin around.



Red-necked Phalarope records in the Western Isles

Scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year) and scarce migrant breeder (1-9 breeding pairs)
(Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report)


On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the bird is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



RSPB Loch na Muilne nature reserve

Take the A858 from Stornoway to Arnol, park at the blackhouse. Walk down past the blackhouse and take the track on the right. (800m to the reserve)

Very open land, allow plenty of time for all to settle after your arrival!



Threats to Red-necked Phalarope

Egg thieves are still a major problem, so keep your eyes open for trouble.
There is a BBC article written on April 2nd 2008 about a guy who collected eggs, he had more than 7,000 in his collection,  653 of those eggs were from the UK's most protected species such as a Red-necked Phalarope. He also had eggs from Barn Owls, Golden Eagles, Ospreys, Choughs, Peregrine Falcons, and almost 40 Black-necked Grebe's eggs. (RSPB estimates there are only 40 - 60 breeding pairs of Black-necked Grebes in the whole of the UK....)

  • Quickly phone the police or RSPB if you are at all worried about the safety of the Red-necked Phalarope.
  • During breeding time locations where birds of prey have been sighted and Red-necked Phalarope sites other than Arnol have are kept vague on our bird sightings page.

A lot of people think that egg-collecting does not happen anymore, it is an archaic thing to do in these enlightened times - but sadly the rarer a species becomes the greater a target it is ...



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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