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Barn Owl
© Bob Brewer Unspalsh

Islay & Jura in Spring — A Raptor Watchers Delight

From £550 per adult

Departure days

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April — April

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The rugged islands of Islay & Jura are havens for wildlife year-round but as Spring advances it becomes a paradise for all wildlife watchers and especially those keen on birds of prey.

Tour dates: 17th - 21st April 2023


  • Sky-dancing Hen Harriers at their highest densities in the UK
  • Golden & White-tailed Eagles amongst a plethora of raptors possible, such as the Peregrine and Merlin
  • Otters and Common & Grey Seals along the coast with Brown Hares and plenty of deer inland
  • A cacophony of bird song as Spring erupts on the islands
  • Returning summer migrants potentially including Corncrake and Grasshopper Warbler
  • Obliging Chough along the coast
  • A few of the wintering seaduck such as Long-tailed Duck, Scaup and Common Scoter should still remain
  • Small flocks of Barnacle Geese may still be present before migrating north
  • The expert leadership of husband & wife team, Dan & Rachael
  • Superb Photographic opportunities and the chance to pick up some identification tips
  • Every one of our short tours donates to an exciting, local conservation project
  • To help maintain social distancing, this will be a self-drive tour
  • BEST VALUE wildlife experiences on a budget that suits you
This short-break to the Queen of the Hebrides, Islay, and its neighbour Jura will focus on experiencing the incredible sky-dancing Hen Harriers, Golden & White-tailed Eagles, Short-eared Owls and other raptors as well as time spent looking for Otters and other wildlife. 

Mid-April is the peak time to witness the remarkable roller-coaster display of Hen Harriers and with one of the largest and densest populations anywhere in the UK we will be able to enjoy some prolonged experiences watching these stunning birds. At this time of year there should still be a few of the wintering Barnacle Geese and Great Northern Divers still present whilst the first Corncrakes may also have returned. The woods and marshes will be alive with birdsong and Islay and Jura will be a hub of breeding activity and migration. All in all it promises to be a wildlife-filled five days.


Day 1:

The RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart is home to a large diversity of habitats and a phenomenally rich bird life. Several pairs of Hen Harriers breed here and we will take time to enjoy this bountiful reserve. The site is also excellent for Peregrine which come to hunt duck on the floods as well as Merlin and White-tailed Eagles. We may even see our first Golden Eagles here as well. Roe Deer graze the wet woodland and marshes and if we are lucky the first Corncrakes will be rasping from the nettlebeds and first Grasshopper Warblers reeling from the rushbeds.

In the afternoon we will explore the sand dunes and coast at Ardnave, an area that is excellent for Otters, not to mention Chough that feed on the short turf. We hope to see a variety of other species here including Grey Seal, Brown Hare and potentially breeding waders such as Lapwing and Ringed Plover.

Towards the end of the day we will head back to Gruinart to look for Barn Owls hunting low over the marshes. 

Day 2:

We will spend the full day on Jura. This island lies just a short ferry journey north east of Islay and has a very different feel to it, being wild and rugged with just a single lane running along its eastern flank. 

Otters are common along its coast and we will search for them throughout the day. The island is also home to several pairs of White-tailed Eagles as well as Golden Eagle. Peregrine and Merlin also breed here and we may well encounter more Hen Harriers. Jura is also home to approximately 5,000 Red Deer and we will enjoy watching herds grazing on the slopes of the Paps, the formidable peaks that dominate the landscape. 

Days 3&4:

Back on Islay and we head south to the mighty Oa Peninsula. The imposing seacliffs are impressive to look at but also home to Golden, and potentially White-tailed Eagles as well as Peregrines. Twite feed on the heath and the first Wheatears should be bouncing around amongst the boulders.

The more placid south-eastern coast is home to Common Seals and Otters and in the woodland an excellent selection of birds can be found. This habitat will be alive with birdsong at this time of year. We will finish off the day by checking Loch Indaal for Otters as well as any divers and seaduck including Eider, Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Great Northern and Red-throated Divers and Slavonian Grebe.

Day 5:

Our final full day will be spent scouring the stunning Machir and Saligo Bays, home to Chough, flocks of Sanderling and Ringed Plovers and eagles. Inland we will also look for Hen Harriers, Peregrines and Merlin as well as Short-eared Owls. This part of the island can be good for White-tailed Eagles and we are also likely to encounter small flocks of Ravens, the latter often harassing eagles. If time permits we will take a second look at Gruinart and enjoy our final views of sky-dancing Hen Harriers.

Wild Discovery Short Tours: Great for your budget, sensitive to your health

To help maintain social distancing this is a self-drive tour and the meeting points and timings will be provided to you in advance. These tours specifically allow you to source accommodation and food to fit your budget and tastes. This makes our short tours the most cost effective way to maximise your wildlife watching whilst being ‘Covid-aware’.

We recommend staying on Islay as we will be exploring the whole of the island (and Jura). We suggest a central location, such as Bowmore, Bridgend or Port Charlotte and can provide more detailed suggestions if you require.

Visit our website for more details about his tour.

Why not recreate this experience with friends on dates that suit you? Build on our existing itinerary to customise your experience.

COVID-19 information

This business has confirmed that they have implemented, and will ensure ongoing compliance with, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels protocols. The Safe Travels stamp is based on self-assessment and it is not a certification.

Contact details

Wild Discovery
4 Fergach Cottages
AB35 5UL
Self drive
Bespoke Private Small Group (1-16)
LGBTQ Landscapes Outdoor Activities Walking Walking/Hiking Wildlife

COVID-19 facilities

  • Advance booking essential
  • COVID-19 measures in place
  • COVID-19 risk assessment completed
  • Capacity limit
  • Hand sanitiser available to visitors & staff

Tour prices


  • £550 Per Adult
Book now

Prices are subject to change depending on season


Tour company information

Wild Discovery

A pioneering wildlife-watching tour company run by experts for wildlife enthusiasts. Conservation and sustainability are at its core; travel with purpose, tread lightly and experience more. Founded by husband and wife team Dan & Rachael Brown, they bring passion and expertise to every expedition. Driven by current biodiversity loss, the climate crisis and the need to reconnect people with nature, they created a company that endeavours to address all these through sustainable conservation-orientated tourism. We offer fully inclusive tours, self-drive short breaks or custom-made tours.

Opening times

Open all year.

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