Birds to See

(this page may take a minute to load - all photos copyright Steve Carter)

For people who are visiting to bird-watch in earnest, it is worth remembering that the best time for this is between May and July. From mid-August to 21st October, red deer stalking is in progress and access to certain hill ground is therefore restricted to the main footpaths and nature trails. For further details, contact Scottish Natural Heritage (tel: 01349 865333).

It is also important to bear in mind that the midge season takes place between the months of June and September. For further details of midges, see elsewhere on this website.

Any trip to this area is likely to be made pleasantly memorable by the sighting of birds that are common here. All that is needed is keen observation, patience and a good pair of binoculars. A field guide book is also a useful reference as visitors often mistake Buzzards for Golden Eagles. Identification of various sea birds can also be a challenge.

Buzzard ...............................Golden Eagle

Shieldaig also has some resident Sea Eagles, often seen over the Island - photos below taken in Jan 2010

The woodlands hold limited but interesting bird communities, including Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestral, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Collared Dove, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Siskin, Redpoll, Chaffinch and Crossbill all year, joined by Treecreeper, Redstart, Wood Warbler, Black Cap and Willow Warbler.


Blue Tit




At night, you may hear the characteristic sounds of the Tawny Owl. Research has even identified the presence of the Long-eared Owl, native to large parts of Europe, but migrant in Northern Scandinavia and Finland, wintering here.

You may be fortunate to see the Snow Bunting foraging in Winter on the lowest slopes and near the coast.

Looking upwards above the tree-line, you may see Golden Eagle, occasional Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Raven and Hooded Crow occur; there have even been recent re-introduction of the rare White-tailed Sea Eagle.


Small numbers of Golden Plover, Ring Ousel, Twite, Wheatear and Whinchat and Stonechat are present during the breeding season. You are often likely to see the Meadow Pipit, and also the Skylark. (These two are often confused; the Skylark has a pale margin to the trailing edge of the wing which is absent in the generally darker and leaner Pipit.) Also popular sights are the Mistle Thrush, the surprisingly uncommon Blackbird and the migrant Fieldfare. Red Grouse may be seen on the moorlands while summits have small populations of Ptarmigan.

Mistle Thrush

Certain birds are likely to be seen on or by fresh water lochs. These include the Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, Dunlin, Snipe, Curlew, Dotterel and Dipper.

Along the shores of the sea, you may see the Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Fulmar, Shag, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Shelduck, Mallard, Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Eider, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Smew, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin, Knot, Sanderling and Redshank.



Grey Heron




Red-breasted Merganser




Shags and a black backed gull




The Laridae family often seen include the Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Common Tern, Arctic Tern and Little Tern. The Razorbill, Guillemot and Black Guillemot (members of the Alcidae family) may also be observed.

  Herring Gull


Black Guillemot


Some birds may be seen to be passing through the area in Summer-time. These include the Swift, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin.

A newly fledged Swallow