Grassland habitat at RSPB Coll nature reserve

Appeal to expand RSPB Coll

  • 897 calling male corncrakes left in Scotland
  • 14% of Coll is covered by our nature reserve
  • 11 Red Listed Species call our Coll nature reserve home
Our target £21000
Current 21000
Discover Coll
RSPB Coll

Building a bigger home for nature - we did it!

We asked for your help to raise enough money to buy Friesland Farm, a piece of land adjacent to our existing nature reserve on Coll – and you came through! Thanks to the generosity of individual donors and charitable trusts, we smashed our target and are now in a position to buy the land. 

Our nature reserve on Coll already covers around 14% of the island, and we’ll now be able to add to this. Friesland Farm is important because it’s one of very few areas outside the reserve where corncrakes and other vulnerable species such as lapwings, redshanks, Arctic skuas and hen harriers are found.

Corncrake singing with beak open
Male corncrake singing

Why is Coll so special?

Well-known for its sandy beaches that rise to form large dunes, Coll is a spectacular Scottish island. The varied habitats, remote location and peaceful nature of RSPB Scotland Coll nature reserve make it one of the best places to see rare UK wildlife.

With the machair, grasslands and beaches hosting many breeding waders such as lapwings, oystercatchers, snipe and dunlins, Coll is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as a Natura 2000 site. Alongside the waders, the reserve is home to twites, skylarks and huge numbers of starlings – a few lucky visitors might even spot an elusive merlin or hen harrier.

Thanks to supporters like you, we manage the reserve as a working farm where agriculture and wildlife coexist. Our partnership with local farmers and crofters has resulted in plentiful skylarks and swallows feeding over the grassland, as well as the reserve holding more than 50% of the island’s calling corncrakes.

 

RSPB Coll nature reserve
RSPB Coll nature reserve

Why is the new land so important?

The land we can now buy is critical to our corncrake conservation efforts. Every brood matters to corncrakes and Friesland Farm (pictured) is one of the few areas outside the Coll Special Protection Area that supports a population of them on the island.

Corncrakes, already one of Scotland’s rarest birds, have continued to decline in numbers over recent years. Once widespread across the UK, in 2018 only 897 calling males were recorded in a few isolated pockets in Scotland. The long-term survival of the corncrake as a Scottish breeding species is under threat.

Corncrakes benefit from rural crofting communities where the focus is on low-intensity food production and, thanks to our work with local farmers and crofters, corncrakes and other species thrive here. Purchasing Friesland Farm will allow us to continue this work on a larger scale – creating more opportunities for corncrakes to prosper.

Friesland Farm on the isle of Coll
Friesland Farm, Coll

What can I do now

We’re thrilled to have reached our target to buy Friesland Farm. But there’s still work to be done on Coll that needs support, to conserve this beautiful habitat and the wonderful wildlife that lives there. Our work for corncrakes here and on other Scottish islands is particularly vital. Traditionally, EU agricultural funding schemes have supported crofters to help corncrakes, but this is uncertain following Brexit. If you’d like to help, please email amy.robinson@rspb.org.uk