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Nature Reserves

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.