Noss National Nature Reserve - A Haven for Birds
The Noss National Nature Reserve is located on an island that is 313 hectares in size and is only accessible by ferry, and is open in the summer months. Visitors are advised to call the ferry service before planning their trip, as bad weather conditions often cause the ferry to close down operations. The island was once inhabited by humans, approximately 24 people, who used the island for the breeding of ponies. By the year 1939 everyone had deserted the island, and in 1955 it was declared to be a National Nature Reserve. The Noss National Nature Reserve was established for the protection and conservation of sea birds.
The island is home to thousands of birds, and its most popular suburb is the towering cliffs of Noup. The number of birds that have been recorded here are staggering, and on your four hour walk across the island, you will be able to view the different species from a variety of established view points, to avoid the birds being disturbed by human activity. The Noss Nature Reserve is home to approximately 45 000 guillemots in their black and white attire, over 8 000 gannets that ensure that the island doesn’t get too quiet, and other neighbors such as puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes, razorbills and herring gulls make up the rest of the island's population. Breeding pairs on the island were often traumatized by human egg hunters, which they don’t have to fear today. At present there are only two threats to their precious eggs and chicks, and that is the presence of bonxies and arctic skuas. The bonxies population on the island is about 400 pairs, whereas the arctic skuas are a great concern. Their population has plummeted from 44 breeding pairs to a mere two pairs, and the island conservationists are keeping a close eye on the remaining birds.
Due to the ideal fishing area surrounding the Noss Nature Reserve, the birds share their island with seals that are often seen frolicking in the waves or resting on the beaches. The island itself is covered in beautiful vegetation such as cotton grass, thrift, tormentil, roseroot, sea campion and heath spotted orchids that bring color and life to island. To be able to experience so many birds in one concentrated area is truly an unforgettable experience that should not be missed. Visitors are advised to wear comfortable shoes to easily navigate the rocky areas and warm clothing, as the weather on the island can be very unpredictable. Warders are available at the Noss Reserve visitors’ center to answer any queries or assist visitors, and there are restroom facilities within the center.