A dog playing in the Wildflowers

Flora & Fauna

Colonsay & Oransay boast a large range of natural habitats, including raised beaches, woodland, moorland, sand dune machair, sandy and rocky shorelines

Over 240 species of bird have been seen on Colonsay, the list of which includes many resident species, regular migrants and a number of notable vagrants Colonsay’s west coast cliffs between Kiloran Bay and Port Mor is the location of the largest colony of seabirds in Argyll, with Thousands of Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Razorbills, and smaller numbers of Fulmars, Shags,
Cormorants and Black Guillemots.

Amongst Colonsay’s ornithological USPs is a small population of Red-billed Chough, which are only in found in Scotland on Islay and Colonsay. Other Hebridean specialties which can be found include Corncrakes (best listened for on the RSPB Reserve on Oronsay), Twite, Hen Harriers and Eagles.

There are also a number of seal colonies on offshore islands off Oransay and the south west coast of Colonsay. The seals are plentiful and curious about humans, so they are easily seen.
Whales, dolphins and porpoises are regularly spotted and you can keep up to date with sightings on the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin website.

The otters are more shy, and although you may find their distinctive tracks in many places, you will probably have to persevere to see them.

The list of indigenous plants also includes many rarities, which makes Colonsay a botanist’s paradise.
The hills, moorlands and shore contribute their share of botanical interest and beauty at various times of the year. Rarities include the Sea Samphire and Marsh Helleborine and the very rare Orchid, Spiranthes Romanzoffiana.

In the summer months, the sand dune machair areas are abundant with wild thyme, harebells, gentians, ladies bedstraw and many more species. The Balnahard sand dunes are of particular note and have a managed grazing plan to enhance the wildflowers.

More unusual inhabitants of the eastern coastline of Colonsay are the wild goats, and legend had it that they are the descendants of Spanish goats carried on an Armada vessel shipwrecked on Colonsay.

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