Stunning wildlife

whale jumping

A guide can take you to outstanding spots for the best opportunities to observe wildlife. There are many “off the tourist” routes that give the real feel of the islands and offer unique experiences.

The Western Isles have a particular set of habitats and are geographically isolated, on the edge of North-West Europe.

Our islands offer habitats for year-round and seasonal visitors. The weather systems as well as ocean currents bring migrating wildlife to land and sea. We are very lucky to often see rare visitors. Tiumpan Head in Lewis has the most varied sightings of sea cetaceans in Europe. It’s got an almost 360 degree view of the Minch. There is a high number of species recorded from this observation point. Include this panoramic spot as part of your expansive landscape tour with one of our knowledgeable wildlife guides.

Habitats of the Western Isles are varied; we have Coasts, Moorlands and Peatlands, Woodlands, Mountains, Machair and Seas.

Land Mammals: Red deer, Otters, Mountain Hares, Rabbits, Hedgehogs (not native), Rats, Mice, Minks (not native, now mostly eradicated)

Red deer is our biggest land mammal – deer were introduced to be hunted and they have now spread across the whole island chain. They normally live high up in the hills but are also commonly seen closer to townships nowadays. Deer population is usually controlled by gamekeepers from shooting and fishing estates all through the islands. In the shooting season, visitors book accommodation in lodges and shoot game.

Cetaceans: Mink Whales, Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Orcas, Risso Dolphins, Common Dolphins, White-Sided Dolphins, Porpoises, Sun Fishes, Basking Sharks, Harbour and Common seals

For recent sightings, you can go to Tiumpan Head Watchers Facebook page

You can also find a wealth of information on the Whale and Dolphin Conservation website

Birds: Different seasons bring a range of birds. In spring and autumn, migratory birds heading either North or South stop over here. Summer sees ground-nesting birds. Many species also over-winter here. There is a constant supply of birdlife that makes a visit in any season worth it.

Our most well-known year-round birds are:

. Birds of Prey: Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, Merlins, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels, Buzzards

. Coastal: Ducks, Geese, Herons, Gulls, Oyster Catchers, Dunlins, Turnstones, Plovers, Sandpipers

Spring and Autumn visitors: Swans, Curlews, Lapwings, Corncrakes

For recent bird sightings, it’s worth a peep at Western Isles Wildlife website.

Insects: A large range of beetles, moths, butterflies can be found in abundance on the moors, machair (coastal fringes) and woodland areas.

Amphibians and Reptiles: Frogs, Toads (not native, have been introduced), Slow Worms (legless lizard)

Take the time to look and listen anywhere in the Western Isles and you will find a whole range of wildlife to enjoy discovering. There is constantly a chance to see rare species but it is always a joy to observe the abundance of wild life around.

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