Skye, and its neighbouring islands, are home to many species of breeding seabirds. Skye does not have the huge sea bird colonies of some sites boast so you need to know where to look. This Skye sea bird guide will help you to know what to look for and where.
Will I see puffins around Skye?
Puffins, probably everyone’s favourite sea bird, are found around the Skye coast with several breeding sites on offshore islands which means that the birds can sometimes be seen from the shore. The sizeable colony on Sanday, adjacent to Canna, is best seen by boat from Elgol. Contact Misty Isle Boat Trips or Bella Jane Boat Trips for details.
What other sea birds will I see around Skye?
There are good numbers of Kittiwakes. These pretty but noisy gulls, nest in colonies near Sleat Point and on the island of Rum. Rum is home to the biggest population of Manx Shearwaters in Britain. The birds are often seen in the sea lochs around Elgol rafting up in late afternoon before returning to their nesting burrows on Rum at night.
Gannets nest no nearer to Skye than the Outer Hebrides but are frequently seen plunge diving off the Skye coast in the search for food. Guillemots and Razorbills breed on the Rum cliffs so are best seen from a boat trip.
Birds that breed locally to Elgol are Black Guillemots, Shags and Fulmars. Black Guillemots are small brown birds that are readily seen in ones and twos around the Strathaird coastline. Shags are often seen in their distinctive “wing drying” pose on rocky outcrops or diving for food.
Fulmars fly with a very distinctive stiff-winged style that enables them to soar above the waves and around the cliffs. The headlands between Elgol jetty and Strathaird Island provide excellent vantage points for these and other seabirds.
How can I see sea birds?
Having good optical equipment is a big advanatge is seeing sea brids which can often be a little way away. Guests at Springbank, our Skye self catering holiday cottage, have exclusive use of binoculars and a telescope as part of our environmental activities offer. There are also books, maps and guides to help you decide where to go and what to look for.
Be sure to record your sightings of birds at British Trust for Ornithology and become a citizen scientist!
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