Bird watching

Guests staying at Springbank Cottage can use a number of resources that form part of our environmental activities offer of which bird watching is one.

When is the best time for bird watching in Skye?

Bird watching is really popular all year round on Skye.  There is interest in its resident species such as eagles but there a many species to be seen on both spring and autumn migration.  Skye is also home to a number of migrants that come to breed on the island in summer. Don’t rule out winter when several species of divers are close in around the shore.  Winter is a good time to see ptarmigan on the hills.

Well camouflaged ptarmigan

What you can do

  • Skye has a rich variety of habitats and a species list of over 240  birds – how many can you get?
  • The Island is home to a good variety of predator species such as eagles and hen harriers.
  • The marine environment is also very good for birds and cliff nesting birds are present in a number of locations.
  • Enjoy our garden birds. Sit back in the activity room, keep the feeders topped up (we provide the food) and see what turns up.

Where to do it

  • The garden has a number of resident birds plus visiting summer breeders.
  • There are maps in the activity room with all the good sites marked.
  • The sea can be very good for viewing both from shore and boat.  The local boat trips, especially the Puffin runs to the Small Isles in the breeding season, being a highlight.

What we provide

  • Tripod mounted telescope with x30 eyepiece
  • Several pairs of binoculars including a small sized pair especially for young children.
  • Set of bird songs and calls CDs covering 396 species of Britain and Europe.
  • ID Guides and books

Advice about the activity

  • The infamous distinction between bird watchers who sit still and wait to see what turns up (“€œarsers”€) and those who take off on foot to cover as much ground as possible (“€œleggers”€) has particular relevance on Skye.
  • The ground can be rough and hard going and the distances off-putting which often makes a good vantage point the best option.
  • But, if you want to see some of the upland specialists such as Ring Ouzel or Golden Plover then “€œlegging”€ is the only way.
  • Early morning is better for songbirds which may be more readily heard than seen.

Things to consider

  • Many people coming to Skye want to see Golden Eagles and White-tailed Eagles, both of which breed successfully on the Island. We can suggest suitable habitat where these birds may be found but it must be emphasised that disturbing their breeding sites is illegal.  Only general guidance on where they might be seen is given.
  • Boat trips from Portree specialise in White-tailed Eagle spotting.
  • is the main information source for keen birders and email records of sightings will be welcomed by the co-ordinator.

What birds have been seen on Skye recently? – CLICK HERE

So, if you are thinking about a trip to Skye and you want more than just a €œstandard€ holiday cottage, take a closer look.  We hope you will be surprised by how much is on offer during a stay at Springbank Cottage.

Two Common Sandpiper chicks keeping a low profile

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