RSPB Loch Gruinart

[Geese at Loch Gruinart]

Islay during the cold months is best known for its huge numbers of overwintering wildfowl. Tens of thousands of barnacle and white-fronted geese flock here from Greenland to spend about 6 months on and around Loch Gruinart, the shallow sea loch that bites a sizeable chunk out of the northern part of the island. Start at the RSPB visitor centre for an intro, then wander down the nature trail to a couple of bird hides closer to the loch. Just as effective in our experience is to drive around the plains west of Gruinart; it's all good goose habitat around here, and the roads should be quiet enough that you can stop for photos whenever you fancy. As well as the headline species, several species of duck and wader spend the winter on Loch Gruinart too, and you've a good chance of spotting golden or white-tailed eagles hunting for birds of all sizes.

[Visitor centre (photo from the next day)]

Name: RSPB Loch Gruinart ★★★☆☆
Location (visitor centre): B8017 at Aoradh, Gruinart, G.R.: NR 275673 ///noted.exact.drags
Open (2018): Visitor centre: daily; Reserve: always
Cost: Free
Anything else? Visiting both hides is about a mile or so round trip on narrow paths, boggy near the hides (wellies recommended).

[White-fronted and barnacle geese near Loch Gorm]

[Dawn flight near Loch Gorm]

[Whooper swan at Loch Gruinart (photo from the next day)]

[View over Loch Gruinart from the nature trail (photo from the next day)]

[White-fronted and barnacle geese (photo from the next day)]

[Eagle hassling the geese on the reserve (photo from the next day)]

[Eagle (photo from the next day)]

[Nature trail (photo from the next day)]

[Down by the lochside (photo from the next day)]

[Loch Gruinart from Kilnave Chapel]

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