Wildlife of the Outer Hebrides

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  • A close up of a golden eagle in Scotland
    A golden eagle
  • Seals in Loch Flodabay, Isle of Harris
    Seals in Loch Flodabay, Isle of Harris
  • A man wildlife watching at Rubha Ardvule, South Uist
    Wildlife watching at Rubha Ardvule, South Uist
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The Outer Hebrides offer the chance of some thrilling wildlife encounters with an abundance of birdlife and some amazing marine life off the coast.

There is a strong emphasis on nature conservation with three National Nature Reserves (NNRs) across the islands and many more designated wildlife sites.

More than 370 bird species have been recorded in the Outer Hebrides and Loch Druidibeg on South Uist is a haven for greylag geese.

North Rona and Sula Sgeir, two islands off the north coast of Lewis form a single NNR where you can see thousands of breeding seabirds, including guillemots and storm petrels.

The Monach Isles NNR, west of North Uist, features big numbers of barnacle geese, while the cliffs and stacks of St Kilda, the third NNR, attract more than a million seabirds. St Kilda has the world’s largest gannet colony, as well as the UK’s biggest puffin colony.

The Outer Hebrides is the last stronghold of the corncrake with two-thirds of the UK’s population of this famously elusive bird to be found here. Golden and white-tailed sea eagles can also be sighted over the Hebrides. One of the best places to spot these incredible birds is at the North Harris Eagle Observatory, located seven miles north-west of Tarbert at Glen Mevaig on the Isle of Harris. The Observatory is open to the public all year round and from which you can watch daily activities of the resident pair of golden eagles. Other species regularly seen around the glen include red grouse, raven, mountain hare and red deer while in the summer months merlin, golden plover, greenshank, stonechat and wheatear can also be spotted.

Killer whales, basking sharks and dolphins are some of the incredible marine life that can be spotted off the coastline. These waters also host more than 40 percent of the world’s population of grey seals.  

An astonishing variety of flora thrives on these islands, with more than a thousand types of wild flower, some of it very rare indeed. In summer the machair is a colourful carpet of orchids, irises and poppies.

See nature in all its vivid glory in the Outer Hebrides.

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