Sea-watchers make for Uisead Point, on the west side of the Mull of Kintyre, where the Machrihanish Seabird Observatory has a small hide from which a long list of passage seabirds and other species have been seen, especially between August and October. Islay is famous for its wintering geese, with up to 35, Barnacles and 13, Greenland Whitefronts in recent years, but is also home to over other wintering species, including a flock of over Scaup, and over breeding species, among which nearly 50 pairs of Chough are the most notable.
A few thousand geese also winter on both Coll and Tiree, which also have breeding Greylags. Tiree hosts over calling Corncrakes every summer making it the most important site in the country. The island of MullMull has a variety of habitats.
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Mountains, moorlands, sea lochs and hill lochans, damp boggy marshes and sandy beaches. It supports a good range of resident and migrant birds, many passage birds call in to re-fuel en-route. Mull is now famous for its nesting White-tailed Eagles — a viewing hide with a video-link to a nest proved very successful in and has been repeated when suitable nests were available.
Mull is an excellent place to see Golden Eagles, too, and to be able to compare these two giants of the raptor world. Ravens and Hooded Crow are plentiful. The coastline of Mulls is miles long and the tidal lochs are very attractive to breeding waders and birds of passage which feed whilst en-route to their summer and winter grounds.
All three Divers can be seen at different times of the year. Slavonian Grebe can be seen on the sea lochs in the winter months. Corncrake have made a remarkable recovery due to sensitive and friendly farming on Iona, and whilst not easy to see, Iona in May is the best time to see this elusive bird. There are many good and safe vantage points from which to watch sea birds, including, Guillemot and Black Guillemot, Shag, Cormorant and occasional Gannet and Great Skua. Boat trips are available to take you to the Treshnish isles during the summer where you can get close to nesting birds, Puffin, Shag, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill.
Mull has lots of red deer and a small herd of fallow deer, hedgehogs, polecats, mink, rabbits, and Mountain Hare. There is a good population of otters which can now be seen regularly around the coast and sea lochs. There are no badgers, foxes or squirrels on the island and we do not have any Magpies resident on Mull. Abbreviations Key. Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…. Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide The best place to see Corncrake is on Iona in May, it's never an easy task, more often heard than seen but a trip to Iona can be rewarding for this bird.
At Fionnaphort turn left to Fidden, you may pick up a Corncrake here as they are beginning to spread out from Iona, also Greenshank, and breeding Redshank, Lapwing, Snipe, Sandpipers and other waders. Nearer Bunessan the road down to Uisken beach has an open habitat of scrub and heather and is ideal for Merlin, Hen Harrier and Short eared Owl and smaller birds such as Stonechat, Whinchat and warblers. Uisken Bay in winter can give good views of all three Divers.
While the iris beds in spring can hold newly arrived Corncrake early in May.
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Carsaig has the most spectacular cliffs where, if you are lucky you can see Peregrine and Golden Eagles. Sea birds include Fulmar, Gannets, Black Guillemot and out in the bay all three Divers at different times of the year. Many of the top sites from Islay have been taken from Malcolm Ogilvie's booklet, Birds of Islay - the copyright remains his and we are grateful for him allowing us to use them.
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Park on the hard standing by the distillery entrance and walk along the beach northwards. This brings one to the mouth of the Bunnahabhain river which has nice scrubby areas upstream. From here one can walk north along the coast to Rubha a'Mhail lighthouse and even, for those energetic enough and with transport at the far end, right round to Killinallan and Loch Gruinart. Otters along the shore. Frenchman's Rocks - some stacks lying a little under half-a-mile offshore.
This is the premier seawatching site on the island, with August to October probably the most productive months, though there is something to be seen throughout the year, and the early morning being the best time, before the sun moves round and gets in the way. Continuing past Claddach takes one by a small loch where Red- throated Divers are sometimes seen, as well as Whooper Swans in autumn. The lane then leads back to the Portnahaven road. Turn left to continue round the Rhinns. This road winds its way through moorland and some farmland, past the end of the track back to the east coast and eventually dropping down close to the sea at Kilchiaran, where there are cliffs, a small burn and a track leading up to a hill-top holding various telecommunications masts.
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The road climbs back up the hill and over the spine of the Rhinns, through forestry plantations, back to Port Charlotte. In spring and summer the fields are full of nesting waders. The best goose viewing is from a car. Resist the temptation to get out - it only flushes the nearer geese and sometimes all of them, which spoils it for you and any other birdwatchers there. At the western end of the road is the RSPBs main farm, Aoradh, with a visitor centre in the farmyard.
The centre contains an exhibition explaining the importance of the reserve and a fine viewing gallery looking out over the fields. A fine and capacious hide is placed on a raised bank between some flooded fields to the north, reached from the lane opposite the farm entrance, signposted Ardnave.
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There is a small carpark opposite the path to the hide. There are regular events at the reserve, including a weekly guided walk. Call at the Reserve or check posters in hotels and the Tourist Office for details. Bowmore Pier, the layby immediately after the last house on the left leaving the village, and the large pull-off opposite the electricity generating station. This last is especially good because it is elevated. Typical species: wintering flock of Scaup, with other seaducks Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Long-tailed ; divers and Slavonian Grebes; swans and Wigeon just offshore usually to the right of the Generating Station; Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone on rocks near the pier.
There are pull-offs on the shore side opposite the village shop the Mini-Market and the distillery. It is also possible to walk out onto the pier. This is on the shore side half a mile towards Port Charlotte. There is a pull-off on the right-hand side of the road opposite. A telescope is useful here either from the car or by standing beside the war memorial. Port Charlotte village houses the Natural History Visitor Centre, clearly marked on the left just over the narrow bridge as you enter the village.
Information and displays relating to all aspects of wildlife are housed here and your own records are especially welcome as contributions to our knowledge of the island's birds and other wildlife and for inclusion in our online database at the web address above. Renowned for its Choughs. Corncrakes can usually be heard calling in this area in the summer months. Unfortunately the beach is poor for birds, although seaducks and divers do occur offshore. Port Ellen lies at the eastern side of a large bay.
This can be viewed from the road leading out of the village and, at the western side, from the pleasant sandy strand of Kilnaughton Bay. This is reached by taking the turning beside Port Ellen distillery and heading for The Oa. The bay holds divers and seaducks.
Oa is pronounced O as in road.
Argyll's iconic wildlife
The Monument stands above foot cliffs with impressive views east to the Dun Athad promontory and Beinn Mhor. There is a signed circular walk from their small carpark near Upper Killeyan. There is free access to the reserve. Machrihanish Seabird Observatory has a small hide from which a long list of passage seabirds and other species have been seen, especially between August and October.
This sparsely populated area has a diverse range of habitats that provide a wealth of possibilities throughout the year. Birdlife is abundant and varied and the range recorded in this well-watched area now stands at just over species including regular rarities such as Leach's Petrel, Balearic Shearwater, Grey Phalarope and Sabine's Gull. Scan the hills on both sides of the loch for both eagles and Buzzard. Loch na Keal is a very large sea loch and offers opportunities to see many of Mulls best birds.
There is always the chance, after winter storms, of picking up a vagrant or rare bird from North America. Well worth checking the loch with your scope for rarities or vagrants. Lochdon is a tidal sea loch which provides a valuable source of food for many waders, holds a good variety of birds at all times of the year, and is a regular stopping off and feeding area for spring and autumn passage migrants.
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Osprey are seen regularly on passage at Lochdon in autumn and spring. Farming and tourism are the main industries on the island, along with fishing and forestry. Privately owned businesses include Port Bannatyne Marina and Boat Yard, the Ardmaleish Boatbuilding Company, Bute Fabrics Ltd, an international weaver of contemporary woollen fabrics for upholstery and vertical applications. The island has a ruined 12th century chapel called St Blane's Chapel which stands on a site associated with Saint Catan and Saint Blane , who was born on Bute.