RSPB launches biggest programme of Western Isles wildlife walks yet

You might be lucky and spot a Golden Eagle during your walk.'Photo: Desmond Dugan

You might be lucky and spot a Golden Eagle during your walk.'Photo: Desmond Dugan

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RSPB Scotland has launched its most ambitious programme of wildlife walks yet in the Western Isles.

Working with partners including the North Harris Trust and the Conserving Machair Life+ Project, RSPB staff and volunteers will be leading walks the length and breadth of the islands.

Robin Reid, RSPB conservation officer for the Western Isles, who will be leading some of the walks himself said: “The Western Isles has some of the very best places in Britain for seeing birds of prey.

“The first few eagle walks in Harris have been a great success with spectacular views of golden eagles and sea eagles interacting and up to four eagles being seen at one time.”

Walks will also be led from the RSPB nature reserve at Loch na Muilne in Lewis as well as at Tolsta.

Mr Reid said: “Loch na Muilne provides a very good opportunity for seeing one of Britain’s rarest birds, the red-necked phalarope, while the coastal walk at Tolsta promises fantastic scenery as well as a great variety of wildlife.

“We hope local people and visitors which join us on the walks and enjoy the spectacular and unique wildlife heritage of the Outer Hebrides.”

Meanwhile, in the Uists, an equally wide-ranging programme of events is planned.

Staff from the Conserving Machair Life+ project will be leading crofting-themed walks from Howmore in South Uist until mid-June.

Rebecca Cotton, manager of the project, said: “Crofting is absolutely fundamental to the remarkable biodiversity of the Uists. During the course of the walks we aim to explain the value of crofting and how it functions as well as pointing out the abundant wildlife.

“And, of course, the machair is the crowning glory of the Western Isles during the spring and summer months. I’m sure our visitors will enjoy seeing that!”

From mid-June onwards, local naturalist Steve Duffield will take over and the walks will focus on the wildlife of the area.

In North Uist RSPB staff will be leading walks at the Balranald nature reserve, famous for its corncrakes and flower-rich meadows and, on the east coast, otter and seal-themed walks from Langass with its dramatic “drowned landscape”.

Meanwhile on Benbecula birds of prey will be the target species in a special series of evening walks.

Details of the walks in Lewis and Harris are available at: www.rspb.org.lochnamuilne and those in the Uists and Benbecula at: www.rspb.org.uk/balranald

Alternatively please contact the RSPB at 01463 71500 or for the Machair Life-led walks contact Hazel Smith on 01870 603361or by email on hazel.smaith@rspb.org.uk