|One of the most fascinating aspects to the Islands of the Outer Hebrides is the way in which man and nature continue to cohabit and thrive. A holiday to these captivating and alluring islands presents the perfect opportunity to observe the way in which these beautiful creatures, of the sky, the sea and land exist in their natural and undisturbed environment.
For anyone with an interest in nature, ecology and preservation, rare wildlife, and in particular, bird watching, a trip to the islands that 'Sea Harris' specialises in, is a must.
The opportunity to visit and witness some of these magnificent and rare creatures and other such natural delights is one that cannot be missed, and will not easily be forgotten.
Harris and its surrounding islands are home to some of the most beautiful and diverse species of birds in the world. From the majestic golden eagle to the playful puffin, a vast range of birds can be found across these islands. The Shiant Islands and St Kilda are particularly renowned for their seabird colonies - Gannets, Fulmars, Shags, Cormorants, Great Skuas, Arctic Skuas, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Leach`s Petrels, Storm Petrels and perhaps the most famous occupants of all; Puffins 'the clowns of the sea'.
The bird colonies present on these islands are of tremendous environmental significance - for example, the colony of Gannets present on St Kilda is the largest in the world, it also has the UK`s largest population of Leach`s Petrels at 94% and plays host to the St.Kilda Wren, a rare and larger sub species of the mainland Wren. The puffin population on these islands also represents a very considerable percentage of the world total. There are approximately 300,000 breeding pairs in St Kilda and 200,000 in the Shiants.
The excursions offered by Sea Harris are a perfect means to watch all of these birds in action. They will be all around you, all it will take is an eager eye and a second to stop, forget everything else and enjoy something that is really quite magical.
As with the sky before it; just below the surface of the sea lies another remarkable world. As a result of being amongst the cleanest and pollutant free in the world, the waters of the Outer Hebrides are occupied by wonderful marine life and mammals. When crossing the passages of water between islands, it is often possible to see Basking Sharks, Minke Whales, Orca (Killer Whales), porpoises and friendly inquisitive Dolphins.
Resting slightly closer to the surface of the water, are some more intriguing creatures. The rare Sunfish has been spotted from the deck of the Enchanted Isle, Its name, 'sunfish', refers to the animal's habit of “sunbathing” at the surface of the water.
Grey Seals, Common Seals and Otters can be found in and around the water's edge, and can often be spotted when approaching or returning from these islands.
The islands themselves also have their own unique inhabitants, St Kilda has the Soay Sheep, Boreray Sheep and the St.Kilda field Mouse, Shiants the illusive and rare Black Rat and Taransay and Pabbay both have sizeable red deer populations. These animals are lesser known then their cousins of the sea and sky, but none the less make for interesting and exciting viewing. The Soay sheep in particular, are of great conservational interest, the Scottish National Trust has summer work parties involved in monitoring the breeding and survival patterns of these sheep. The origins of the Soay sheep are uncertain. The old Scandinavian name Sauda-ey means 'Island of sheep', so they were probably present on the island of Soay in Viking times (9th and 10th centuries AD).
With all this to see, a trip with Sea Harris is a must. There is a huge and diverse range of wildlife living in and around these coastal waters, a day excursion is the perfect way to combine the relaxing but exhilarating experience of a boat trip with observing some of the very best nature that has to offer.