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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 and family activities from Friday to Sunday. Boat trips to neighbouring Lunga offer an opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife and plant life. This year we also have photography workshops on offer with Philip Price of Loch Visions.

Coll Bird Festival is an opportunity for locals and visitors to learn more about the birdlife on and around Coll with a series of activities over 3 days. The event offers an insight into the work on the island’s bird reserve, provides guided walking throughout the island to learn about key species, gives tips on spotting and recording birdlife, offers family activities in a natural environment and the option of a seabird safari to 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 Friday morning, 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.

Friday 13th:
7.00am – Fast boat from Oban to Coll, arriving 9.00am
tbc – Walks around Totronald Bird Reserve with RSPB Warden, Ben Jones
9.30am – Seabird Safari to Lunga, led by tbc (returns at 1pm)
1.00pm – Seabird Safari to Lunga, led by tbc (returns at 4.30pm)
7.30pm – Presentation Evening with talks from RSPB Scotland, BTO Scotland and the SOC in An Cridhe

Saturday 14th:
tbc – Dawn Watch – Walk of Totronald RSPB Reserve led by tbc
9.00am – Seabird Safari to Lunga, led by tbc (returns at 12.30pm)
10.00am – Photography Workshop: Get to Know Your Camera (2 hours, £30, max 10 participants)
11.00am – Family Activity: Exploring Coll’s Wildlife led by Kat Jones, RSPB Scotland
1.00pm – Seabird Safari to Lunga, led by tbc (returns at 4.30pm)
2.00pm – Photography Workshop: Photographing Coll Wildlife (3 hours, £40, max of 6 participants)
7.00pm – Music Evening – Ceilidh and Disco Ceilidh

Sunday 15th:
7.30am – Photography Workshop: Photographing Coll Wildlife (3 hours, £40, max of 6 participants)
9.00am – Seabird Safari to Lunga, led by tbc (returns at 12.30pm)
1.00pm – Seabird Safari to Lunga, led by tbc (returns at 4.30pm)
1.00pm – Beach clean, BBQ and Bird Watching at Gortan Beach

The full programme for the weekend is available here: Full Programme 2016 final.

In partnership with Coastal Connection we are delighted to be offering Seabird Safaris to Lunga on Friday 13th, Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of May. All trips are limited to 11 passengers and are led by expert guides from the RSPB or SOC. Trips last 3.5 hours and allow for over 2 hours on Lunga to explore the island and view the huge colonies of seabirds.

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.

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 2016, we’re happy to be working with Philip Price from Loch Visions. Philip has 10 years experience in teaching wildlife photography throughout Argyll. When he is running workshops he does not take photographs so all his attention and experience is focused on you having a fantastic wildlife encounter and learning lots of great wildlife photography techniques.

Philip only runs workshops in Argyll and the Islands, and has done for his whole career, therefore you are getting an in depth and detailed knowledge of the area he will take you to and it’s wildlife. Philip will provide semi-pro cameras and lenses so you can get really amazing pictures even if you don’t have your own quality camera.

Full details of the workshops and booking information can be found here: Loch Visions Photography Workshops.

Accommodation at Coll Bunkhouse is limited to 16 beds so we’ve teamed up with the Hebridean Centre, close to the RSPB reserve, to offer further accommodation over the Bird Festival weekend. The Centre is home to Project Trust, an educational charity sending school leavers abroad on voluntary work. Light and spacious, the Centre has ten four-bed rooms and is available for £22 per person per night with the option of breakfast for a further £6.50. Access to the kitchen is provided to allow guests the option of being fully self-catered.

Set in the beautiful unspoilt landscape of Coll at the foot of Ben Hough beside a small loch, the Centre is just a short walk from the RSPB reserve and the beautiful sands of Hogh Bay. Guests staying at the Hebridean Centre for the bird festival will be offered transport to and from the start and finish points for events over the weekend. Please contact Coll Bunkhouse on 01879 230217 to enquire about accommodation at the Hebridean Centre and to arrange any transport needs.

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 – £40 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, BBQ and Ceilidh – FREE EVENT! Just bring your own food and drink.

For visitors booking accommodation at Coll Bunkhouse there is a discount of 10% on bookings of 3 nights or more.

For walks, talks, boat trips and the ceilidh – we have a package rate of £55 for everything. This allows you 1 seabird safari boat trip to Lunga, 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 Friday morning at approximately 7.00am, and will return to Oban from Coll at approximately 5.00pm 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 wildlife 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.

The Scottish Ornithologists’ Club
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB Scotland)
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO Scotland)
Coastal Connection