Birdwatching in Argyll & The Isles

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  • a speckled bird calling with its beak open
    The corncrake (image courtesy of RSPB/ Andy Hay -
  • A close up of a golden eagle in Scotland
    A golden eagle
  • A large bird or prey in flight preparing to land at its nest
    An osprey lands at its eyrie (image courtesy of RSPB/ Chris Gomersall -
  • A puffin perched on a cliff edge
    A puffin perched on a cliff edge

Like much  of Scotland's western coastal fringe, Argyll & The Isles offers fantastic opportunities for all birdwatchers, whether avid twitchers or just outdoor enthusiasts.

RSPB reserves

The RSPB has a number of reserves in the region including those at Loch Gruinart and at The Oa on Islay, Oronsay and on Coll.

Loch Gruinart is well equipped with a viewing centre and hides and is particularly noted for the huge flocks of white-fronted and barnacle geese that arrive from Greenland each autumn to winter on the reserve. Each spring, waders are the main attraction with snipe, lapwings, redshanks and curlews all regular visitors. The guided walks along the rocky coastline and open moorland of The Oa provide plentry of opportunities to spot choughs and golden eagles.

The whole of the island of Oronsay is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA) for its chough and corncrake populations while Coll offers more opportunites to see the generally elusive corncrake, along with lapwings and redshanks.


With the number of offshore islands and the long, rocky coastline, it's no surprise the area is home to large populations of seabirds. Mull, Iona, Coll and Tiree are all important breeding stations for a number of seabird species including guillemots, razorbills and puffins. The colony of puffins on the Treshnish Islands off Mull are amongst the tamest you'll find anywhere and allow very close access.

The Machrihanish Seabird Observatory on the western coast of the Kintyre Peninsula is a particulalry well-equipped facility for spotting the huge range of seabirds that cross the open waters here, including rare and scarce visitors such as black browed albatrosses, little egrets and red-necked phalaropes.

Birds of preys

There are various raptor species to be found all across the region including golden eagles, buzzards, peregrines and hen harriers.

One of the star avian attractions here is the spectacular white-tailed eagle and perhaps the best place to see these magnificent creatures in action is from the hides at Mull Eagle Watch at Glen Seilisdeir.