If you’re a birding enthusiast, the British Isles also holds a special surprise in the range of birdlife that call this region home, here are a handful of the birds to look out for:
Save up to 25% off British Isles in 2022
From magical landscapes and iconic coastlines to sites brimming with history, the endlessly intriguing British Isles always offers something new to uncover.
Discover the rugged West Coast of Ireland and the wild isles of Scotland on small ship expeditions designed especially for birders, photographers and adventurers. You’ll have access to exclusive presentations from our Expert Hosts – birders and naturalists who will share their love of travel and the natural environment.
These birds are unmistakable, and a true trademark of Scotland. With their bright orange feet and colourful beak, as well as its black wings and white chest, puffins are an attraction for explorers discovering the Scottish isles.
The puffin’s compact body makes it a naturally gifted diver, but when it takes flight, this bird’s wings must work hard to stay airborne. With their distinct colouring, puffins are often referred to as the ‘clowns of the sea’, a moniker enforced by the puffin’s characteristic rolling walk. You can learn more about the puffin in our fact file here.
This gull-like bird glides through the air on stiff wings, maintained by shallow wingbeats as it flies low over the ocean. Related to the albatross, the Northern fulmar has grey and white plumage on the top and underside of its body, respectively.
Interestingly enough, the Northern Fulmar used to be relatively rare in the United Kingdom – about 100 years ago, there was only one colony of fulmar situated on St Kilda, according to the National Trust for Scotland. Fortunately, the population has since expanded, and you can spy these birds across the isles, particularly around Shetland.
Also known as bonxies, these great birds are considered the pirates of the sky. A powerful predator, the skua is known to attack other birds for their prey, not balking at the prospect of targeting large birds suck as gannets.
The skua’s plumage is a mix of light and darker brown tones, with some white flashes visible on its wings while in flight. A mid-sized bird, the skua comes in smaller than the great black-backed gull, and can be seen abundantly around Foula island.
While gannets can be found around the world in different variations, the largest concentration of northern gannets can be found in Scotland.
Britain’s largest seabird, the northern gannet has bright white plumage and a long neck that allows them to dive into the water at a blinding speed of around 95 km/h. Northern gannets are also discernable by their long tail, black colouring on their wingtips and yellow patches on their head.
These almost all-black birds are easily identifiable by its jet black plumage with striking white patches on the wings and bright red feet. This medium-sized water bird can usually be found either alone or in pairs, and tends to prefer shallower waters.
Black guillemots can often be spotted in the northern isles and the sea lochs of west Scotland, and will forage for food while swimming underwater. Its thin, straight bill is suited for its diet of fish and crustaceans.
Become a better birder from the world's best
A VENT tour guide since 1993, Andrew Whittaker is a true naturalist and loves sharing his intimate bird knowledge. Andy is well recognized for his passionate and intimate knowledge of bird vocalizations and taxonomy.
Join Andy on the Scotland, Jan Mayen & Svalbard expedition departing 5 June 22.
David Ascanio, a Venezuelan birder and naturalist, has spent 35 years guiding birding tours throughout his native country. David combines superb birding skills with an astonishing command of bird vocalizations.
Join David on the Ireland’s West Coast expedition departing 13 May 22.
A field leader in bird branding, Brian Gibbon’s recreational bird-seeking has taken him from Machu Picchu to the Himalayas. Brian leads birding trips in the United States, Central America, South Africa, and Europe.
Join Brian on the Wild Scotland expedition departing 26 May 22.