Isle of Colonsay, Nature and Wildlife

Grey Seal Pup

Grey Seal Pup

Colonsay is an island of varied landscapes, mainly consisting of muddy, sandy and rocky shorelines, craggy cliffs, deciduous woodlands and rough grasslands. It is truly a place of great natural beauty. In this very small geographical space visitors can find lochs teeming with fish and white sandy beaches filled with chattering terns and seagulls.

Bird watching

Bird watchers will find plenty of inspiration on this island – often referred to as a birdwatcher’s paradise. The ‘Strand’, a beach of tidal mudflats between Oronsay and Colonsay which can be crossed at low tide, is home to many wading birds. On Oronsay, round the area of its 14th century priory, birds of prey such as buzzard and hen harriers hover, and round the higher points of the island, golden eagles can occasionally be viewed, soaring and preparing to swoop.

Throughout the island itself, the birds that the keen watcher may spot include corncrakes, wheatear, whinchat, stonechat, common scoter, fulmar, great northern diver, greenshank, ringed plover and black guillemot.

Fields near Kiloran (inland North) and near to Kiloran Bay (the North West coast) on Colonsay are home to geese in Winter (white-fronted, Canada and barnacle), and the Bay itself is a spotting place for chough.

Loch Fada, which stretches for almost two miles between Kiloran and Lower Kilchatten) is the largest of Colonsay’s lochs and is a likely area for spotting red-throated divers, teal and goldeneye, with whooper swans arriving for the Winter.

Animal life

Colonsay is home to many small wild mammals – most visibly the frolicking sea otters and many rabbits. Occasionally even dolphins and whales can be seen from coastal viewpoints. More interestingly though, wild goats roam round the Northern part of the island, as they also do on the neighbouring isle of Oronsay. These goats are apparently the descendants of animals which swam ashore when the Spanish Armada ships carrying them were wrecked offshore in 1588.

Grey and common seals can also often be seen in the islets and skerries of the island’s coastline.

Where to stay on Colonsay

We can offer a wide variety of accommodation for those visitors interested in exploring the natural wonders of this island and the surrounding area. See below for inspirational ideas.