Machair in Bloom - a botanical tour of the Outer Hebrides

17th - 22nd July 2021

BuglossRest Harrow

This new tour is a relaxed look at the great variety of plant life that can be found in the Outer Hebrides. We concentrate each day on identifying as many of the flowering planst as we can whilst also delving into other groups such as grasses and sedges and aquatic plants. We explore the machair and moorland areas where we can compare the different plant communities. In the acidic and anaerobic peatlands the variety is limited although it does hold some specially adapted species such as sundews and butterworts amongst others. The machair by contrast holds a greater variety of species that are connected with agriculture that are abundant in the islands as herbicides are not used to control them as in many other intense systems elsewhere. July is peak flowering time for many of the machair species and swathes of clovers, Corn Marigold and Wild Carrot dominate the landscape in certain areas. We'll take a look at the widespread species as well as seaking out the more restricted ones which includes the chance of picking up Thyme Broomrape, the diminutive Bog Orchid and the rare Irish Lady's Tresses, if we're lucky.

Irish Lady's Tresses Long-headed Poppy

The machair is also home to probably the largest colony of Great Yellow Bumblebees in the UK which is linked to the extensive flower rich areas found here. The islands also support an abundance of insects and we'll take a look at some of them whilst we're in the field including the stunning Six-spot Burnet moth and the Large Heath butterfly amongst others.

We are based in Benbecula from where we'll explore North and South Uist as well as taking day trips to Harris and Barra. Although we'll spend the majority of our time looking at the plantlife we're bound to come across various birds and the odd otter whilst out and about. The ferry crossings between Uist and Barra / Harris will also provide opportunities to see a few seabirds and White-tailed Eagle.

Marsh CinquefoilRound-leaved Sundew

Short list of species: Moonwort, Adder's-tongue, Rusty Back Fern, Celery-leaved Buttercup, Lesser Meadow-rue, Yellow Water-lily, Long-headed Poppy, Marsh St. John's-wort, Greater Sea-spurrey, Glasswort, Restharrow, Marsh Cinquefoil, Greater Sundew, Sea-holly, Scots Lovage, Parsley Water-dropwort, Wild Carrot, Bog Pimpernel, Field Gentian, Sea Bindweed, Marsh Lousewort, Thyme Broomrape, Water Lobelia, Bog Asphodel, Irish Lady's Tresses, Pyramidal Orchid, Hebridean Spotted Orchid and Bog Orchid. We'll also take a look at the grasses and sedges whilst we're exploring. The trip is focused on the plants of the Outer Hebrides although we'll also come across various moths and butterflies as well as birds such as eagles, Hen Harrier and a variety of waders and wildfowl. There's also a chance we'll spot otters and maybe even dolphins or basking shark from the ferry to Barra.

Dates: 17th - 22nd July 2021

Tour duration: 5 nights / 6 days on the islands.

Cost: £900 per person / £800 if sharing a room. Alternatively if you wish to find your own accommodation and provide your own evening meals then you can still join the trip for £385 (includes all travel and lunch).

Accommodation is provided in some of the best local guesthouses for 5 nights.

All meals are provided with evening meals taken in local hotels. If you have special dietry requirements please let us know when bookng.

Group size: 8 (maximum)

Booking: Please email: steveduffield70@gmail.com

Where to meet: The tour begins and ends in Uist. If you arrive by plane or as a foot passenger off the ferry we will be there to meet you and take you to your accommodation. If you arrive early and are already in the islands on the first day then you'll be picked up in the morning and we'll explore local habitats and wildlife whilst others arrive during the morning. On the last day we'll continue to search for wildlife until everyone has departed on their various flight / ferry connections.

Getting here: It is possible to reach the islands by both air and ferry. Loganair operate regular flights from Glasgow to Benbecula. Alternatively Calmac operate ferries between Uig, Skye - Lochmaddy, North Uist and from Mallaig - Lochboisdale, South Uist. Once on the islands I will be there to meet you and take you to your accommodation before we head into the field.