Wildlife & the Natural Environment
The islands of Lewis & Harris offer you an amazing wildlife experience as shown on the BBC nature documentary Hebrides – Islands on the Edge. Wildlife watching here can reward you with a glimpse of the re-introduced white-tailed eagle soaring over the coastline, red deer roaming over the peaty moorlands and otters swimming in the sea lochs. There are juvenile Golden Eagles that include our valley in their hunting grounds and locally there are two otter holts. Aird Uig bay regularly has dozens of basking sharks feeding in the waters in May / June and off the cliffs of Gallan Head the minki whales and common seals are also seen following the same strata as plankton. You can glimpse anything from birds of prey to seabirds and waders as well as the elusive corncrake.
Seatrek & Island Cruising run trips out to St Kilda from Miavaig but the weather often limits accessibility. In Uig, the community are working to develop a centre to provide people with an experience of St Kilda, even if they cannot get out to the islands themselves. The St Kilda Centre will be an outward-looking centre of world-wide significance, offering something completely unique – much more than a seasonal attraction for passing visitors. It will be of a different magnitude, housed in an iconic building in a spectacular landscape, and with state-of-the-art technology it will bring the experience of St Kilda closer.
Whilst much can be observed from land, a wonderful way to get closer to these creatures is by taking one of the wildlife boat tours. They are a great way to get a wholly new perspective on the islands.
Seatrek Located at Miavaig, Seatrek provides adventurous, scenic boat trips around the beautiful blue waters of the Outer Hebrides. Trips can be arranged to suit, including 2 hour or 3 hour trips, expeditions to the outer islands or special adventure packages. Tel: 01851 672464
Uig Flora & Fauna
Near the Scaliscro road end look out for golden eagles hunting over the nearby hills -they can sometimes be seen to the north of the road, but are often just a speck in the distance. If you walk a short distance out towards the hills to the south of the road there is a chance you may see red deer. Between Scaliscro and Giosla merlins are often seen hunting, but beware of mistaking cuckoos for merlin as they can look similar. Just beyond Giosla, a pair of buzzards can be seen hunting over the moor, and a pair of lapwings often nest near here. From Einacleit, look across the loch to the opposite shore. There are herons nesting on the cliffs there. On Little Loch Roag itself, red-breasted mergansers are often seen, and if you are very lucky you may see otters. Several pairs of wheatears nest in the stonewalls between Einacleit and Cairisiadar. On the road to Bhaltos from Miabhaig, Loch Sgailleir is passed, where common sandpipers nest. The rocky slopes near the loch have nesting wheatears and wrens. The wrens in Lewis are of a different race to those on the mainland. They are the hebridens is sub species and are slightly larger and darker than the mainland form. In the hills around Bhaltos, look out for twite - they nest in the heather. Pied wagtails and meadow pipits are common in this area. On Reef beach waders such as dunlin, ringed plover, redshank and oystercatcher can be seen feeding on the tideline, and out to sea there are often flocks of eider and red-breasted merganser and smaller groups of black guillemot and shags. Gannets and arctic terns feed in Loch Roag, and red-throated divers are often seen and heard as they fly form their nesting lochans in the hills out to sea. Herring, common, black-headed, great and lesser black-backed gull are all found in this area. Grey seals can often be seen in Caolas Pabaigh. The reed beds of Loch na Beirghe and Loch na Cuilc usually have nesting reed buntings and sedge warblers, and plant species to look out for here include lesser spearwort, water forget-me-not, iris, bog bean, bog pondweed, marsh pennywort, and ragged robin. The Bhaltos peninsula is perhaps best known for its machair. Machair is formed where shell sand is blown by the wind ashore on to the flat coastal plain. Plants that occur on the machair here include: lady's bedstraw, plantains, harebell, clover, silverweed, thyme, self heal, meadowsweet, lesser meadow-rue, red rattle, devils-bit scabious, frog orchid, marsh orchid, and gentians. Please remember not to pick the flowers - they could be rare. Through Gleann Bhaltos to Timsgearraidh, dippers can be seen on the burn, and look out for wood pigeons, woodcocks, goldcrests, robins and wrens in the plantation. On the moor near An Aird there are nesting grouse, and occasionally red and black throated divers can be seen on the lochs near the road. Herons, shelducks and waders such as redshank often feed on the saltmarsh area just beyond Uig Lodge. In Eadar Dha Fhadhail listen out for the corncrakes - they are usually heard on still summer evenings. Corncrakes can still be heard in Eadar Dha Fhadhail, Timsgearraidh, Cliobh, Bhaltos and Cnip, although they are no much rarer than they used to be as a result of the loss of the traditional hay fields. The cliffs of Mangurstadh have large numbers of nesting fulmar, as well as a couple of pairs of nesting ravens. From the road end at Breanais gannets and arctic terns are often seen diving for fish. The terns nest on the islands just off the shore. Waders, such as ringed plover, lapwing and redshank, nest in this area. A short way up in to the hills you will find nesting golden plover, and merlin and golden eagle can be seen in this area. There are two pairs nesting on high crags in the hills above Mealasta.