Islay - Blog


Do you love our Islay nature reserves? Share your thoughts with the community. Or if you're thinking about visiting and would like to find out more, ask away!

Islay - Blog

  • Dotterel

    A phone call on Monday afternoon from Loch Gruinart alerted me to a dotterel 'on the path up to the monument', as reported by a visiting bird watcher. The path from the car park is a mile long and I had all but given up hope when the bird popped up in front of me and I realized that the message meant literally 'on the path up to the monument'!

    On it's way from northwest Africa to it's mountain top breeding grounds, this beautiful female looked quite at home on the Oa's cliff tops.


  • New bird on the block


    I'm Heather, the new Islay Community Information and Tourism Officer.

    Since leaving Mid-Wales and arriving on Islay one month ago I can already admit to being in love with Islay! Every day is something new, and even the rainy days deliver interesting visitors...

    Great northern diver at Ardnave point

    Seal at Portnahaven


    Guided walks are a big part of my job. This largely consists of wondering the Oa and Loch Gruinart with lots of lovely people trying to spot wildlife. Its a horrible job but someone's got to do it!

    Listening out for willow warblers!

    The walks go every Tuesday at the Oa and every Thursday at Gruinart both starting at 10am. For the last two walks I've managed to see a cuckoo - so I'm fast becoming known as the cuckoo queen (not sure if I like this title!)

    A dotterel was spotted at the Oa just yesterday along with lots of marsh fritillary caterpillars... keep your eyes keen for these black furry fellas! Chough's definitely have to be my favourites though.

    The mighty chough!

    Gruinart reserve comes more alive everyday! With bluebells, dog violets, primroses, wood sorrel and marsh marigolds prettying up the woodland trail. Gorse brings suitable nesting for linnets, willow warblers, whitethroats and other migrants. Grasshopper warblers and sedge warblers are some of those which have been heard already.

    I nearly jumped last week on the Gruinart walk when a corncrake called from amongst a nettle patch. So I can confirm that yes they have officially arrived!

    Stay tuned for more news from RSPB Islay... and hey why not join me for a guided walk too!

    Unfurling fern fronds with some marigolds and bluebells at Gruinart  

  • Spring arrivals on The Oa

    Lots of migrants have been arriving over the past few days, with some great weather as well. Swallows, house martins, sand martins and wheatears have all been spotted.

    This chiffchaff was seen along with lots of willow warblers today.


    And two tree sparrows appeared yesterday. This is a rare species in this part of the country but has bred here in the past, so hopefully they will stick around.