Islay - Wildlife


Islay is home to many different species of wildlife and is especially known for its birds. Winter visiting Barnacle Goose numbers have reached 35,000 in recent years with as many as 10,000 arriving in a single day. There are also up to 12,000 Greenland White-fronted Goose and smaller numbers of Brent, Pinkfooted and Canada Geese are often found amongst these flocks. Other water-fowl include Whooper and Mute Swans, Eider Duck, Slavonian Grebe, Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck and Wigeon. The elusive Corncrake and Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Curlew Sandpiper are amongst the summer visitors. Resident birds include Red-billed Chough, Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Barn Owl, Raven, Oystercatcher and Guillemot. The re-introduced White-tailed Sea Eagle is now seen regularly around the coasts. In all, about 105 species breed on the island each year and between 100 and 120 different species can be seen at any one time.

A population of several thousand Red Deer inhabit the moors and hills, Fallow Deer can be found in the south east and Roe Deer are common on low-lying ground. Otter are common around the coasts along and Common and Grey Seal breed on Nave Island. Offshore, a variety of cetaceans are regularly recorded including Minke Whale, Pilot Whale, Killer Whale and Bottle-nosed Dolphin. The only snake on Islay is the Adder and the Common Lizard is widespread although not commonly seen. The island supports a significant population of the Marsh Fritillary along with numerous other moths and butterflies. The mild climate supports a diversity of flora, typical of the Inner Hebrides.

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