DON'T MISS ISLAY'S AUTUMN GOOSE SPECTACLE
From the middle of September onwards approximately 30 - 50,000 Barnacle Geese arrive on the island of Islay from Greenland. It is a spectacular sight to see these great flocks touching down after a 6-week journey that has seen them navigate their way across 2,500 miles of tundra and ocean, with just one stopover in Iceland on the way.
They are known to fly at high altitudes and with the right wind conditions have been recorded of reaching ground speeds of over 90 mph! These birds come back to Islay year after year, often returning to the exact same field to roost. They remain here for the duration of the winter feeding on the rich pastures around the RSPB Reserve at Loch Gruinart or on the salt flats at the head of Loch Indaal.
Twice daily, they create a magnificent spectacle when they take flight at dawn and dusk. Their black silhouettes, against a sunset sky are a vision straight out of a Peter Scott painting.
As a 'spectacle' it is of interest to all - not just your serious birdwatcher. I would recommend a dawn or dusk tour with Jeremy Hastings of Islay Birding in his Landrover Defender - they provide the binoculars and scopes.
It's a fun way to learn and is great value at just £35 per half day for the entire family.
Alternatively, you can go it alone and base yourselves at the hide down at the RSPB reserve where you are guaranteed a ring-side seat for the dusk 'landings' - spellbinding!
To enable guests to take advantage of this autumn spectacle the SYHA Port Charlotte Islay Youth Hostel is extending its season and will now remain open for the month of October. The hostel itself is housed in a renovated bonded whisky warehouse and is located right on the edge of a small sandy beach.
It has small bedroom sizes and exceptional facilities throughout. Booking is essential.
If 50,000 geese are not enough - you can double the number by visiting one or more of Islay's eight, world-famous whisky distilleries. Names like Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Ardbeg and Bowmore are familiar to most, yet it is incredible to think that they are all to be found within a few miles of each other on this beautiful, far flung little island.
There is a daily Caledonian MacBrayne ferry service from the mainland port of Kennacraig, which, in turn, is served by a daily Citylink service to and from Oban and Glasgow.
For more information on this fantastic little hostel take a look here, or call the hostel on 01496 850385.