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Seasonal highlights

Each season brings a different experience at our nature reserves. In spring, the air is filled with birdsong as they compete to establish territories and attract a mate. In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm.

Spring

Thousands of migrating birds. Skuas and divers out at sea. Huge flocks of turnstones, purple sandpipers, dunlins and sanderlings along the shoreline. Greenland barnacle geese, dotterels, ringed plovers, skylarks and oystercatchers on the machair. Redshanks, lapwings and snipe on the marshy grassland.

Barnacle goose (illustration)Corncrake (illustration)Red-throated diver in summer plumage (illustration)Skylark (illustration)
Barnacle gooseCorncrakeRed-throated diverSkylark

Summer

Listen for the corn buntings' song, which sounds like jangling keys. Arctic and little terns fish along the tide edge. Redshanks and lapwing chicks in the marshy grasslands. Orchids, poppies and silverweed on the machair. The rare great yellow bumblebee on the carpet of wildflowers.

Arctic tern (illustration)Corn bunting (illustration)Corncrake (illustration)Little tern (illustration)
Arctic ternCorn buntingCorncrakeLittle tern

Autumn

Tiny pink cowrie shells and spiral tower shells on the beach. Otters in the freshwater lochs and along the rocky shore. Large flocks of lapwings and golden plovers over the wetlands. Hen harriers and peregrines circle overhead. Flocks of Hebridean greylag geese on the lochs or machair.

Golden plover in summer plumage (illustration)Greylag goose (illustration)Hen harrier (artwork)lapwing (illustration)
Golden ploverGreylag gooseHen harrierLapwing

Winter

Flocks of starlings feeding on the fields and high-tide line. Whooper swans, wigeons and teals make the Uists their winter home. Merlins attracted by mixed flocks of skylarks, twites and snow buntings. The occasional golden eagle in search of a careless rabbit. Even the rare, reintroduced white-tailed eagle is becoming a regular visitor.

First-winter female snow bunting (artwork)Starling (illustration)White-tailed eagle - adult in flight (artwork)Whooper swan (illustration)
Snow buntingStarlingWhite-tailed eagleWhooper swan

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 57.60567,-7.51750
  • Grid reference: NF706707
  • Nearest town: Lochmaddy, Western Isles
  • County: Eilean Siar
  • Country: Scotland

Get directions

Note: Some reserves are not served directly by public transport and, in these cases, a nearby destination (from which you may need to walk or take a taxi or ferry) may be offered.