Skye is rightly heralded as one of the best places to see Eagles in the world. Numbers do vary, but on average there are 29 pairs of Golden Eagle on Skye, with at least 16 pairs of White-tailed Eagle, though new pairs are found every year. Despite this abundance they can be difficult to find, and on the whole are quite wary and tend to stay away from the most populated areas. Walks in the hills and along the coast tend to bring the best sightings, especially if you stay away from the most popular routes. Both Golden and White-tailed Eagles are regularly recorded from our croft, and we have seen them from the sofa and kitchen table!
Other superb birds that we frequently see here are the Hen Harrier, which can be seen year round. Other scarce raptors include Merlin, Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl. On the moorland we have Stonechat, Whinchat, Cuckoo and Wheatear, with numerous Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Smaller numbers of Red Grouse, Woodcock and Snipe breed nearby too. Warblers are common across the island, with Willow Warblers being the most abundant. The croft has a good range of native woodland which attracts colourful birds such as Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch. Skye has a number of rare breeding birds, including the Ptarmigan, Red-throated and Black-throated Divers and Great Skua.
Seabirds are abundant around the coast of Skye, though getting good views of Puffin and Black Guillemot can be tricky, and it is best to take to the water to connect well with them. Boat trips in the summer should see numerous Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Gannet, Arctic Tern and Shag with occasional Great and Arctic Skuas.
Winter birding is excellent on Skye. Typically a time when we record the best sightings of eagles as they roam further and receive less recreational disturbance. Croftland is busy with thrushes and finches, bays are busy with waders and wildfowl and offshore we have good numbers of Great Northern Diver, with smaller numbers of Red-throated and Black-throated Diver. Seaduck are scarce on the west, though we do have a few flocks of Eider.
Phil and Laura will be happy to tell you some local birding hotspots, though to be honest just sitting outside the Bothy will give you a good list!
Our friend Bob runs the excellent Skye Birds website, which should be your first port of call when arriving on Skye to see what unusual migrants are around. Skye Birds website . He will gratefully receive all relevant bird sightings from Skye and the surrounding area.