Eigg Wildlife and Nature

Visit Eigg for its scenery, coastlines, geology, wildflowers, and birdwatching.

The Isle of Eigg is a diverse island with coastal land, unimproved farmland, willow and hazel scrub, native woodland, raised bog and moorland. Wildflowers and arctic-alpines flourish here, otters hunt along the coastline and birds of prey soar high above. Seals, dolphins and minke whales are often spotted from the ferry.

 

Scottish Wildlife Trust

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a partner of Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust with responsibilities for wildlife conservation policies.

A treat for all the senses. Join the Scottish Wildlife Trust Ranger on one of their weekly wild adventures. Guided walks occur every Wednesday at 11:00am throughout the spring and summer months, beginning at the old shop located at the centre of the island.

Walks are open to people of all ages and backgrounds and will be tailored on the day depending on the interests and appeal of the group. This can include tours to see the islands spectacular array of feathery residents and visitors, which can include the powerful and majestic Golden Eagle, the mystical Hen Harrier, Cuckoos, Divers and maybe the odd rare vagrant! If feathers are not your cup of tea, the island is also home to a diverse range of fabulous and rare flora, as well as bonnie butterflies which can be bountiful throughout the islands wide range of habitats.

Throughout these walks you will also get an insight into the islands fascinating history as well as gracing your eyes on some truly breath taking views! You never know you may also get the chance to see some of the islands more elusive species like the playful Otter or the mammoth Minke Whale.

Birds

Eigg’s current bird list totals 212 species, an impressive number for an island of its size and location. Approximately 130 species are normally recorded in an average year, of which half of that number are breeding.

As with most northernly sites spring, in particular May and early June, is the best time to visit for birdwatching. Autumn should not be overlooked though and October can be very productive. Sea-watching is best in late August -September. However, there is always something of interest to be seen throughout the year! Resident bird species on the island include a fair-cross section of woodland and shoreline birds plus typical

“West coast” species such as Golden Eagle, White Tailed Eagle, Raven, Buzzard, Red Throated Diver, Stonechat etc. In spring, these are augmented by summer visitors like Cuckoo, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Twite and many more while autumn brings winter visitors like Great Northern Diver and Jack Snipe.

Passage birds, geese, waders and various passerines, move through the island in spring and autumn and real rarities can occur. In the last ten years, more unusual species have included Quail, Pomarine Skua, Glaucous and Iceland Gull, Little Auk, Subalpine Warbler, Red Breasted Flycatcher, Arctic Redpoll, Common Rosefinch, Black Headed Bunting, Glossy Ibis and Woodlark.

Click here for the Isle of Eigg Bird Report, 2016

Plantlife

Eigg has been rightly called the isle of flowers by naturalists.  Its rich and varied plant-life includes 500 higher plant species and a bryophyte list numbering well over 300 species of which over 20 are national rarities.  A good deal of the land is covered in hazel scrub woodland so that Bluebells, Wild Garlic, Wood Anenome, Wood sorrel and Primroses abound in the spring. Later in the summer, they are replaced by Honeysuckle, Enchanter’s Nightshade and many other species.

12 species of Orchids grow on the island, including the often abundant Heath Spotted, Fragrant and Northern Marsh Orchids. Scarcer species are Great Butterfly, Small White and Frog Orchids.

The island cliffs are home to a good cross section of Alpine and Arctic species: Mountain Avens, both Purple and Yellow Saxifrage, Moss Campion, and the rare Arctic Sandwort.

Ferns are abundant and include species such as Rusty Bark, Adderstongue and the odd-looking Moonwort.

Sealife

The coast around Eigg offers ideal opportunities for whale, dolphin and seal watching.

Minke whales are a regular feature in the waters around the island between July and September. These can be seen, during boat trips to and from the island, particularly on MV Sheerwater sailing from Arisaig Marine.  Sometimes as many as seven can be seen in the one time!  The Sheerwater’s skipper excells at finding them and following them for the visitors’ enjoyment.

Dolphins of several species and particularly porpoises are also seen on a regular basis. The most dramatic dolphin, the Killer Whale, is sometimes spotted, like the Basking Shark, Britain’s largest fish, or real oddities like the Sunfish, as they feed in Eigg’s rich coastal waters.

GN Isle of Eigg Bluebells 2

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