Birdwatching on the Isle of Tiree
click any picture on the right to enlarge
Tiree is a great place for bird-watching - its rich machair, grasslands, beaches and lochs are home to a wide variety of birds throughout the year. The land is enriched by crofting practices which enable large populations of birds such as Lapwings, Skylarks and Starlings to thrive in densities that are rarely seen these days on the mainland, whilst the island is now home to over a quarter of all the Corncrakes in Britain.
Tiree has a nationally important population of breeding waders. Lapwing, oystercatcher, redshank, Snipe and Ringed Plover are all in evidence, while on the surrounding sea, auks, shearwaters, divers, Eiders and terns can be seen feeding,
As well as hosting a wide range of breeding birds, the island is ideally placed to observe bird migration in full swing in both spring and autumn, as waders, ducks, geese and swans, as well as smaller birds such as thrushes and warblers, pass through on their journeys to and from their more northerly breeding grounds.
Mild winters enable large numbers of Greenland geese, ducks and waders to winter on the island, so there is much to see at all times of year.
There is a bird hide above the west shore of Loch Bhasapol, and there is a resident RSPB warden on the island.
For a detailed record of recent sightings on Tiree see the monthly bird diary on the community website. See below for an extract from the entry for September 2007:
Corncrakes continued to be seen throughout the month, including reports of families observed crossing roads, whilst Water Rails began calling from the marshes once more from mid-month. The first two Coots returned to their regular wintering haunt on Loch Bhasapol from 17th and they were joined by 2 Little Grebes from 27th. Other interesting wildfowl included up to 7 Gadwall at Loch a' Phuill, together with over 250 Mallard, 180 Teal and up to 100 Wigeon. Migrant geese included a confiding group of six Pale-bellied Brent at Sorobaidh Bay (28th) and a small influx of Pink-footed Geese on 17th.
Wintering raptors returned in force with up to 5 Merlins, 3 Hen Harriers, 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Kestrels and 3 Peregrines joining up with the resident 20+ Buzzards.
Corncrake (photo by Sergey Yeliseev)
Barnacle Goose (Wikipedia)