An overlooked reserve boasting several Islay specialities
RmuchSPB SMAULL IS one of those reserves you don’t hear too about, but there is a hard track to take you on a lovely walk across the grasslands towards the reserve. It is situated in the north-west corner of Islay, with Loch Gorm just across from the council car park, where you can enjoy the wonderful sandy beach found at Saligo Bay. The reserve has a similar collection of breeding birds to Loch Gruinart, but without the hides and large wet flashes. The fields do contain some water, so waders are numerous, with Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing and Oystercatcher present. The sea is never too far away, encouraging Ringed Plovers, while management caters for Corn Crakes and Twite, with cropping to feed the latter and cover for the early Corn Crakes. To the north of the reserve are some rocky areas encouraging Golden Eagle to hunt the many rabbits. Peregrines are here, too, with Chough never too far away.
OTHER WILDLIFE Otters are found along the shore; with Bottlednosed Dolphins hunting the sea
Wheatears are common along the track, especially in autumn. Winter is the goose time of the year and we saw large numbers of Barnacle Geese with a handful of Greenland White-fronted Geese. Passage waders drop in, such as Golden Plover on the grassland and Greenland Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Dunlin on the beach. Some rarities recorded here include Grey Phalarope, Pectoral Sandpiper, Iceland Gull and even Ring-billed Gull, but the real gem was a Greenland Gyr Falcon seen by one of the local farmers while we were on the island.