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Best Bird Watching Sites on Galson Estate

Updated: May 12, 2021

Our thanks to Shona Morrison, Corncrake Warden for the RSPB, for this blog post.

"There are many wonderful bird watching areas throughout the Galson Estate. Here is a list of my top five favourite places:

The Butt of Lewis

There are few places as dramatic and wild as the Butt of Lewis (sometimes even on a sunny day), with the sheer cliffs and a wealth of bird life. It is a wonderful rocky spot on the wild and windy coast of the North of Lewis. Here the scenery is spectacular with plenty of wildlife to see. This is where the Minch meets the Atlantic Ocean, so produces a roaring sea with great depth and rapid currents.

This is a striking place to watch the sea birds nesting on the cliffs, where the Lewisian gneiss has created vertical, steep cliffs. Here you will see lesser black backed gulls, great black backed gulls, European herring gulls, rock pigeons and northern fulmars all nesting or resting on the cliffs. There is a kittiwake colony 200m south of the Butt. Further out the cliffs, the shags stand in small groups, some fishing in the sea. One of the most spectacular of the birds to watch feeding here is the northern gannet. They start arriving in the spring time and can put on a wonderful show at feeding time. They dive into the sea from a height like a ‘torpedo hitting the water’ and pursue their prey under water. Another bird that you will spot bobbing in the waters here are the common guillemots and you may be lucky enough to spot a black guillemot, which breed near the lighthouse. On the cliff tops and grassy banks you can see redshank, curlew, lots of oyster catchers and hooded crows. Manx shearwaters and the rarer sooty shearwaters can also be spotted in the waters around the Butt of Lewis. South to the Butt, there is sometimes a small colony of Artic terns. Rock pipits can be found on the cliffs. Occasionally you could also see a great skua flying past.

A walk around the Butt is great in spring and summer, as not only can you see most of the above but occasionally you can spot rare, migratory birds passing by.