Mid Argyll

Add Estuary in the evening, Mid Argyll © Jim Dickson


Mid-Argyll is the central mainland area of the county, bounded by the A85 to the north, Loch Fyne to the east and West Loch Tarbert to the south. For bird recording purposes it includes the islands of Kerrera, Seil, Luing, Scarba and the Garvellachs. Much of the area is cloaked in commercial conifer forest but there are a few relict broadleaved woodland areas, dominated by oak and birch. Taynish NNR with its populations of characteristic birds such as Tree Pipit, Common Redstart and Wood Warbler is a classic example of the latter. The central part of Mid-Argyll has some open moorland areas, dotted with larger lochs and many small lochans. These hold breeding Red-throated Divers and a few pairs of Black-throated Divers as well as Little Grebes and Teal. Loch Awe is the largest of the freshwater lochs and has breeding Ospreys and divers in summer and small numbers of Tufted Ducks, Pochards and Common Goldeneyes in winter. Moine Mhor is almost unique as one of the last wild raised bogs in Britain. It is good for Common Stonechats and for Hen Harriers and wildfowl in winter. A wide variety of passage waders can be found at nearby Loch Crinan in spring and autumn. The west coast is broken by a series of moderate sized sea lochs. Some of these have small colonies of terns in summer, while Whooper Swans pass through in autumn and good numbers of sea ducks like Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser occur in winter. These lochs have also been hot spots for the rarer gulls in recent years. Off-shore islands like Scarba and the Garvellachs hold significant sea-bird colonies but are often rather inaccessible. Fortunately local operators run boat excursions from places like Craobh Haven and Seil which visit a good many of them.

  • Ordnance Survey Landranger Series Maps (1:50,000) numbers 49, 50, 55, 56 and 62
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer Series Maps (1:25,000) numbers 358, 359, 360, 376 and 377
Innisconnel Castle, Loch Awe © D & G Clark

Where to watch birds

Add Estuary (NR8093)

Habitat: Estuary and saltmarsh with extensive mud flats at low tide.

Birds of interest: Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Wigeon, (returning American Wigeon), Teal, Common Eider, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Little Grebe, Shag, Heronry, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Red Knot, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, White Wagtail, Twite.

Danna Island (NR6978)

Habitat: Island at end of Loch Sween connected to manland by causeway.

Birds of interest: CGreenland White-fronted Geese and Barnacle Geese in winter.

Kilchurn Castle (Loch Awe) (NN0016)

Habitat: North end of large freshwater loch.

Birds of interest: Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Osprey, Sand Martin.

Loch Awe (NM8804 – NN1327)

Habitat: Long narrow freshwater loch with conifer forest and oak woodland along the shores.

Birds of interest: Mute Swan, Greater Canada Goose, Mandarin Duck, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Osprey, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Common Redstart.

Loch Caolisport (NR7475)

Habitat: Large sea loch with sandy bays.

Birds of interest: Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Common Eider, Common Goldeneye, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Oystercatcher, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank.

Loch Crinan (NR7994)

Habitat: Open sea loch at mouth of Add Estuary.

Birds of interest: Greylag Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Northern Lapwing, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, gulls.

Loch Feochan (Head) (NM8724)

Habitat: Large enclosed sea loch.

Birds of interest: Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Common Sandpiper, gull roosts.

Loch Gilp (NR8685)

Habitat: Small open ended sea loch.

Birds of interest: Whooper Swan, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Common Eider, Common Goldeneye, Goosander, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Tern.

Loch na Cille (Loch Sween) (NR6980)

Habitat: Sea loch at the mouth of Loch Sween.

Birds of interest: Greenland White-fronted Goose, Barnacle Goose, Greylag Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Dunlin, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Stonechat, Raven.

Loch Nell (NM8927)

Habitat: Large freshwater loch.

Birds of interest: Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Common Coot, gulls.

Moine Mhor (National Nature Reserve) (NR8192)

Habitat: One of the last wild raised bogs in Britain.

Birds of interest: Greenland White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Common Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl, Sky Lark, Sand Martin, Tree Pipit, Whinchat, Common Stonechat, Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Eurasian Jay, Common Raven Reed Bunting.

Oban (incl. harbour) (NM8529)

Habitat: Harbour and Bay with shingle beach.

Birds of interest: Mute Swan, Mallard, Common Eider, Shag, Turnstone, Ring-billed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Razorbill, Common Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Common Swift, Rock Pipit.

Seil Island (NM7518)

Habitat: Island south of Oban connected to mainland by roadbridge. Sea cliffs on west coast, estuarine habitat to east and north.

Birds of interest: Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Greater Canada Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Common Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver, Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Shag, Grey Heron, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, gulls, Common Tern, Black Guillemot, Common Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Long-eared Owl, Sky Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, Whinchat, Common Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Common Raven, Linnet, Twite, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting

Taynish NNR (National Nature Reserve) (NR7384)

Habitat: Ancient oak woodland set in sea loch.

Birds of interest: Whooper Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Woodcock, Common Sandpiper, Common Cuckoo, Common Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Treecreeper, Common Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

Ulva Lagoons (Loch Sween) (NR7182)

Habitat: Salt water lagoons.

Birds of interest: Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greenland White-fronted Goose, Greater Canada Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Common Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Common Kestrel, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Common Stonechat, Common Raven, Reed Bunting.