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Geese make Islay a winter wildlife wonderland

Last modified: 18 December 2008

Feeding flock of barnacle geese, RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, Islay

Forty thousand barnacle geese winter on Islay

Image: Andy Hay

Whereas Islay has experienced a boost in summer tourism via the BBC's Springwatch programme, Islay in the winter belongs to geese.

The Island plays host to a spectacular influx of barnacle geese and white fronted geese, which sweep down across the Atlantic from their summer breeding grounds in Greenland to graze on Islay's fields.

The RSPB reserve of Loch Gruinart is a managed wetland that's particularly important for the geese, accomodating around 20 000 geese, out of Islay's total of around 50 000. 

The winter on Islay may not enjoy the long days of the summer, but the mesmerising spectacle of the geese taking off at dawn, and coming in to roost en Masse at Loch Gruinart at dusk, makes the island well worth a visit.

Plus of course the Hebridean welcome, perhaps with a drop of famous Islay whisky, is all the warmer on dark winter nights. 

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