A superb day at Handa Island

Handa Island is an amazing Scottish wildlife Trust reserve off the west coast of Sutherland, in summer it’s home to nearly 200,000 seabirds. It is owned by the Scourie Estate but managed by Scottish Wildlife Trust.

The passenger ferry departs the mainland at Tarbet for the 10 minute trip to the island, where you arrive into a beautiful white sandy bay and are greeted by a couple of volunteer rangers to talk you through the ins & outs of the reserve.

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The wee visitor centre has lots of information about the birds nesting on the island and the history of the settlement that was inhabited up until 1847

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We were lucky enough to spend the whole day watching Great Skuas (Bonxies), Arctic Skuas, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and the charismatic Puffin

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Evidence of the settlement can be seen alongside the path to Puffin Bay along with the remains of lazy beds. A beautiful place to live on a summers day but no doubt very harsh through the winter months.

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The Arctic Skua gliding above our heads, this is the smaller cousin of the bonxie but it’s faster and much more aerodynamic.

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The Bonxie !!! (apparently a Shetland word for ‘dumpy, untidy women!)

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Puffin Bay

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One of the smaller sea stacks, home to thousands of seabirds

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Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, and gulls all nesting on the ledges of Handa’s cliffs

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What a bird, the wee puffin

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This Fulmar headed towards us gliding in the wind……

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He was either busy riding the thermals or ….

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….. he really didn’t want his photo taken.

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A Razorbill whizzing by us as we were sprawled on our tummies, camera poised

 

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The beautiful and fascinating Razorbill

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We were patiently waiting for this Razorbill to open his beak & expose his yellow mouth but he wasn’t playing ball.

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Awwwwww

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There are many beautiful summer wildflowers to be seen on the island

along with the odd Pippit chick.

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Further along the boardwalk we were startled by a rabbit hurtling out from underneath the timber slats, obviously trying to cool down in the shade,  he was far too quick for us get a snap though

Oh and it also seemed the boardwalk was a good spot for the local lizards to sunbath.

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A Bonxie biding his time

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Another pristine white sandy bay

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An Arctic Skua, also known as Parasitic Jaegar, Parasitic because it often chases and forces other birds to drop food in flight and Jaegar which is derived from the German word for Hunter

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Back to the bay to await the boat, quite happy to mill around on the stunning beach,  we weren’t in any rush.

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As Arnie would say ‘We’ll be back’! ………. every week if it were possible.

 

 

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