The Isle of Coll has a rich and fascinating birdlife that attracts visitors all year round. The Coll Bird Festival will introduce you to some of the key species of breeding and passage birds with guided walks, boat trips, speakers and family activities from Friday to Sunday.
For 2017 we have a guest speaker, Prof. Rhys Green, who is a leading expert in corncrake and has studied the Coll corncrake.Boat trips to the neighbouring islands of Gunna and Lunga offer an opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife and plant life.
We also have photography workshops available with David Palmar.
Coll Bird Festival is an opportunity for locals and visitors to learn more about the bird life on and around Coll with a series of activities over 3 days. The event offers an insight into the work on the island’s RSPB bird reserve, provides guided walking throughout the island to learn about key species, gives tips on spotting and recording bird life, offers family activities in a natural environment and the option of a seabird safari to Gunna and Lunga.
Events and activities will take place over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday and there is the option of fast-boat transfers from Oban to Coll on the Saturday morning for anyone who is unable to join the Festival on Friday, with the return journey on the Sunday evening. All boat trips and transfers are conducted within the comfort and safety of vessels provided by Coastal Connection, and cost £20 per person each way.
Friday 12th May:
10.00am & 11.30am: Walks around Totronald Reserve led by Ben Jones RSPB
2.00pm & 3.30pm: Walks around Totronald Reserve led by Ben Jones RSPB
2.00pm – 4.00pm: Photography Workshop* with David Palmar,
7.30pm: Presentation Evening with guest speaker Professor Rhys Green, supporting speakers John Bowler (RSPB) and David Palmar (volunteer with SOC & RSPB)
Saturday 13th May:
5.00am: Dawn Watch – Walk at Totronald Reserve led by Ben Jones RSPB
7.00am: Boat from Oban to Coll with Coastal Connection (arrives 9am)
9.30am – 1.00pm: Seabird Safari to Gunna, led by John Bowler RSPB
10.00am: Family event details TBC
1.00pm – 4.30pm: Seabird Safari to Lunga led by David Andrews RSPB
2.00pm: Guided walk around Arinagour led by John Bowler RSPB
8.00pm: Concert & Ceilidh with Eabhal
9.30am – 1.00pm: Seabird Safari to Gunna, led by John Bowler RSPB
1.00pm – 4.30pm: Seabird Safari to Lunga, led by David Palmar
1.00pm: Beach clean and Bird Watching at Breachacha
4.30pm: Boat back to Oban with Coastal Connection (be ready from 4.30pm but may leave a little later)
*Photography workshops are intended for beginners, please contact us if you would like a more advanced session:
In partnership with Coastal Connection we are delighted to be offering Seabird Safaris to Gunna and Lunga on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of May. All trips are limited to 11 passengers and are led by expert guides from the RSPB or volunteer with the SOC. Trips last 3.5 hours and allow for over 2 hours on Lunga or Gunna to explore the island and view the huge colonies of seabirds.
Gunna lies between Coll and Tiree and is now uninhabited. Visitors can expect to see feeding seabirds including Shags, Arctic Terns, Little Terns, gulls and auks, with a fair chance of Black Guillemot, Great Skua and possibly Arctic Skua. It is also likely that both Grey and Common Seals will be visible and there is a possibility of seeing Harbour Porpoise and Basking Sharks.
Lunga is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its abundant plant life. Many rare and endangered plants are native to the island. The flora includes Primroses, Birdsfoot Trefoil, orchids, Sea Campion, Thrift and Tormentil. Atlantic Grey seals inhabit the waters surrounding the island while birdlife includes Storm Petrels, Kittiwakes and Manx Shearwaters. Guillemot, Puffin, Corncrake and Razorbills breed on Lunga and on the Harp Rock, a sea stack separated by a narrow gut, which you can walk to on your visit. A trip through the Sound of Gunna provides the opportunity to see as variety of sea birds, stunning scenery and the possibility of seeing dolphins.
Most visitors take advantage of the puffin-therapy afforded by a trip to Lunga, where you can sit within a few feet of these iconic little sea-parrots and watch them interact. Lunga attracts over 2000 breeding pairs of puffins within a small area on a grassy plateau overlooking the sea, which makes for a fantastic spectacle.
Please note that guests on our boat trips should be comfortable with walking over rough terrain and prepared to access the vessel via a series of steps or a ladder, depending on tide conditions. Please contact us if you have any concerns over accessibility and we will be happy to help. You can view further information on the vessels we use for the trips here: Coastal Connection.
New for 2017, we’re happy to be working with David Palmar to provide a wildlife photography workshop, geared towards beginners, but please contact us if you are interested in a more advanced session.
Accommodation is available at Coll Bunkhouse, which has 16 beds available from £21pppn.
Further accommodation is available in the village of Arinagour at the Coll Hotel, Tigh na Mara Guest House and Dun Fraoch B&B. A full list of accommodation options on Coll, including self-catering properties, is available here: Visit Coll.
Costs for the events over the weekend are as follows:
Seabird Safaris – £45 per person
RSPB Guided Walks – £5 per person (£3 RSPB Members)
Friday Evening Presentations – £5 per adult (£3 RSPB Members), under 16s free
Beach Clean at Breachacha – FREE EVENT
Ceilidh & Concert with Eabhal – £10 per adult, £5 per child and £25 family ticket (2 adults, 2 children)
For visitors booking accommodation at Coll Bunkhouse there is a discount of 10% on bookings of 3 nights or more.
Package rate: we have a package rate of £63 (£57 for RSPB members). This allows you 1 seabird safari boat trip to Lunga or Gunna, 2 guided walks, the evening talks and the Saturday ceilidh.
To book, please call Coll Bunkhouse on 01879 230217. Payments can be made via card over the phone, by online bank transfer or by cheque.
For a handy guide to getting to Coll, look no further than the Coll page on the Caledonian MacBrayne website which offers advice on travelling to Coll by car or public transport: Calmac Info on Coll.
We can also offer a limited number of spaces on a fast-boat transfer from Oban, using Coastal Connection. The Redbay 11 metre cabined RIBs provide a safe, dry and comfortable environment in which to relax and take in the scenery and wildlife along the west coast. Transfers cost £20 one way and will leave Oban on the Saturday morning at approximately 7.00am, and will return to Oban from Coll at approximately 5.00pm (be ready at 4.30pm) on Sunday. Contact Coll Bunkhouse to book your place on 01879 230217.
For those of you arriving by public transport and/or without your own vehicles we will provide options for transport to/from events using local transport providers which will involve a small fee. Please contact us for further details.
Once again the Coll Bird Festival is brought to you in partnership with some of Scotland’s leading organisations. We’re very grateful for the support of the variety of people who help us to organise this event. Please use the links below to read more about the work of our partner organisations.