It is possible to
see in excess of 100 species of bird on the Waternish peninsula
during the course of the year ~ these range in size from the
mighty re-introduced white-tailed sea eagle to Britainís
smallest breeding bird, the diminutive goldcrest.
We are not noted
for large concentrations of birds but there is lots of interest
and variety for those prepared to look. Our west coast location
and range of habitat types is the key to it.
The lower crofting
land and farmland support healthy populations of breeding
skylarks and meadow pipits, plus twite, linnets, lesser redpolls
and goldfinches, with pairs of stonechats often present amongst
gorse bushes. During summer months wheatears are present in open
stony ground, and cuckoos range over the whole peninsula during
May and June. In addition, we still have a small population of
breeding corncrakes present during summer months.
coastline, small colonies of breeding seabirds are present
during summer months, along with our resident ravens and, of
course, gannets are a common sight off-shore at this season too.
Views of a golden eagle, sea eagle or peregrine are always
On higher ground, a
few red grouse are resident amongst the heather. This is also
the zone where golden plover and merlin nest. And in the burns
that drain the higher ground, dipper and grey wagtail are two
birds to look out for.
conifer plantations in the area are frequented by a wide
selection of birds. Goldcrests and coal tits nest here in large
numbers, with a great many other birds present too along the
more open forest rides ~ for example, robins, wrens and
chaffinches. Crossbills, also, nest here, in varying numbers
from year to year.
For the sea
watcher, there is much of interest, especially during spring and
autumn migrations. Sea watching may seem a strange concept to
the non-birder ~ but for the dedicated birder, thatís where
a lot of interest and activity is present. Huge numbers of
seabirds pass north through The Minch during spring, to nest at
higher latitudes, and fly back south again during their autumn
migrations. There are many other birds passing through too, such
as the predatory great and arctic skuas. Wading birds on the
move at these times of year include ruff, bar-tailed godwit and
Sea watching during
winter months can reveal great northern, black-throated and
red-throated divers. Other birds of interest at this time
include occasional views of whooper swans and barnacle geese.
The resident greylag geese, cormorants, shags and black
guillemots are usually easy to see.
But note things are
not always what they seem! Many birds here are Hebridean
sub-species of the ones you have at home ~ song thrush and
dunnock, for example. Also, donít pass by those street pigeons
too quickly; ours are genuine wild rock doves, from which street
pigeons were derived, but the ones you see here are the true
blue-blooded original wild stock and they usually nest here in
caves along the coastal cliffs.