The Oa 2017

Wet? Often! Windy? Yes!... Spectacular? ALWAYS! Experience The Oa! The regular weekly guided walk introduces you to the fascinating world of RSPB The Oa, where we provide you with the opportunity to discover its rugged beauty and a chance to experience its rare wildlife. A walk along the cliff tops towards the American Monument enables us to show you our wonderful reserve; the panoramic views of Mull of Kintyre, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as seen by the historic look-out post on Dun Athad in the days of the Lairds of the Isles, all under the watchful eye of a pair of golden eagles. It provides a spectacular backdrop where you find out more about its history, archaeology and RSPB’s ‘Farming for Wildlife’ conservation methods. The unpredictable weather adds another dimension to this unique guided walk, sometimes requiring the guide to act more as shepherd than guide, always ensuring a safe and memorable experience. Typical in Nature, different times of year provide different opportunities to observe some of the exciting flora & fauna on The Oa. Cliff-dwelling sea birds, peregrine and hen harriers are often spotted as is one pair of golden eagles who have successfully fledged a chick 3 years in a row. The windy cliff tops are an ideal habitat for the aerobatic chough while the blanket bog and moorlands provide habitats for carnivorous plants, amphibians and even reptiles, represented by the occasional adder basking in the sun. In July we examine the boom/bust cycle of the rare marsh fritillary butterfly population. In autumn we look forward to flocks of twite and linnet (together with the attendant raptors!) and, together with the rest of Islay, anticipate the arrival of geese migrating from Greenland. Being a working farm, we undertake to provide nature with a home, and our farming activities are easily overlooked by all the natural activity. Our guided walks will provide an insight into how our farming methods are important for wildlife conservation. Joining us on the guided walk will enable you to understand how all these elements fit into place and, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that slowly reveal the picture, we will show you how each piece plays its part in contributing to the spectacle of RSPB The Oa. Every Tuesday (April to end October) we meet at the American Monument Carpark RSPB The Oa, 9.45am and the walk commences at 10.00am. It is 5km/3 miles and usually takes 2 ½ hours. Hot and cold drinks are available after the walk.