Saturday, 10 June 2017

Balranald …

North Uist, Outer Hebrides, 13 to 27 May 2017

Balranald Nature Reserve incorporates the most westerly point of the island of North Uist, the Aird an Rùnair peninsula, looking out to the Monach Islands and the magnificent St Kilda archipelago. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar).

This beautiful Hebridean reserve comprises 658 hectares [1626 acres] of rocky headland, islands, sandy bays, dunes, grasslands, freshwater lochs, fen and the flower-rich species diverse machair. Machair is a rare, bio-diverse coastal grassland, unique to the north-western fringe of Europe. It is listed on Annex 1 of the EU Habitats Directive, and occurs over a total global area of just 19,000 ha, with 70% of this in western Scotland, mostly on the offshore islands, and the remainder in western Ireland. These habitats support internationally important populations of many wading and farmland bird species, notably the Corncrake Crex crex. They also protect a number of important plant species and a variety of other wildlife, including the rarest UK bumblebee, the Great Yellow Bumblebee Bombus distinguendus.

The unmanned RSPB visitor information centre explains the importance of traditional crofting agriculture for rare birds and other important wildlife. A few images from my recent visit above.

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