Splashing out to reach a special isle

The elusive shy corncrake.
The elusive shy corncrake.
  • On the Wild Side
  • Written by Myra Watson
  • Scottish Wildlife Trust

The elusive shy corncrake.

Easy walking today on lovely grassy tracks, with field scabious, knapweed and tormentil under our feet, heading past the tiny airstrip, stopping often for breaks and identifying the many birds.

Black guillemots, shag, white wagtail, curlew, lesser and great black-backed gulls and rock pipit were seen on our way to Plaide Mor beach where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch, a paddle and even a swim until a sudden squall arrived to spoil the fun. However, it was very short lived and just as quickly the sun was shining again for our return, and more birds were spotted down by the shoreline at Port Lobh beach – chough, black-tailed godwit and greylag geese.

The highlight of our trip was a visit to the Isle of Oransay with its priory, farm and RSPB reserve, lying just off the southern tip of Colonsay and accessible on foot at low tide on certain days.

With a very early start and a wee bit of apprehension, our timing was just right when we arrived at the car park at 7.30am ready for the mile-long walk over The Strand.

In suitable footwear through the ankle-deep waters, we safely reached this special small island. It looked like a pilgrimage with 27 walkers.

The postie van passed us, leaving tracks in the sand for us to follow on our return journey.

With not much time to spare, we managed to walk to the farm, have a good look around the ruins of the priory, have a chat with a couple of residents (only five people live on Oransay), have a well-earned break, spot some birds and then safely walk back over the sands before the tide came in.

Sanderling, ringed plover and glaucous gull were seen on our return with two knots identified by the shoreline.

Once back on Colonsay a few members of our group were very lucky to hear the elusive shy corncrake – and witness a sea eagle being buzzed by a buzzard.

What an end to this extremely successful trip to the Isle of Colonsay which was enjoyed by all and made all the more memorable with the good weather we experienced.