We are very lucky to live in such a wildlife-rich area, and we are used to seeing otters in front of the caravans, roe deer on the school run and buzzards on the way to the shop! It is lovely to be able to share some of these experiences with our guests.
Much of the wildlife can be seen from your window as Cuan Sound is seldom empty of life. We are lucky to have otters who are very active and are frequently seen by guests. Unlike otters that live in rivers, the local otters have their daily activities governed by the tides which is why they are not strictly nocturnal.
We are sometimes treated to a visit by a pod of bottlenose dolphins as they pass though Cuan Sound, just off shore. Porpoises also make an appearance but neither species is predictable, so keep an eye and ear on the Sound and you may get lucky!
Cuan Sound is also a great spot for watching seals. There is a local population that often hauls out on the skerries just South of us in the bay, and they pass through the Sound regularly. They are very nosy (and sometimes noisy!) and will often hang around in front of Sunnybrae or the ferry slipway to see what is going on.
Roe, Fallow and Red deer can all be found on Luing and our surrounding islands as they swim from one to the other.
Your window is also a good bird watching spot as there is a steady flow of birds coming in and out of the Sound on their way to the open sea to feed. Much of the year the species are mainly gulls, shags and cormorants but autumn sees rafts of juvenile razor bills and guillemots coming into the Sound. During more stormy conditions we also see gannets dive-bombing in the relatively sheltered waters of the Sound.
Much of the island is grazed, but there are areas of wet grassland, bog and native woodland as well. We see a variety of bird species from the more common garden species to those of grassland such as skylarks, and those of more wild terrain, including hen harriers. We also have a good range of waders, wildfowl and shore birds, plus the more sea-going species such as gannets and the occasional diver during winter months.
We are very lucky to also enjoy the occasional sighting of the golden and white tailed sea eagles that are in the area. Both species nest within a few miles of Luing and can be seen all year round if you are very lucky and keep looking. To improve your chances of seeing them we highly recommend either a trip on the wildlife watching boat Porpoise II or a day trip to Mull. We also regularly see sparrowhawks, peregrine falcons, kestrels and hen harriers on the island.
Being on an island means that there are certain species that you will never see ... including hedgehogs, rats, badgers, rabbits and snakes. But instead we have a very healthy population of hares Fallow and roe deer are also present on the island and tend to keep well hidden away in the more wooded sections of the island, but can still be seen from the road at dusk and dawn, if you are lucky.
With a range of habitats there are also a wide range of wild flowers to be seen on Luing through the summer, including the only recorded site for Greater Spearwort in Argyll. The orchids are particularly apparent as they are so visible from the roads on the island, and also in large patches on the site.
There is much in the area to interest keen wildlife enthusiasts, but if you are less confident, then the range of guide books available to borrow at Sunnybrae should help you identify your finds. There is a wide variety of day trips available in the area, including whale/dolphin watching, viewing breeding puffins on the Treshish Isles, and wildlife safaris on Mull. If you are interested in any of the trips in the area, please ask us when you book as some are only available at particular times of year.
So whether it is a sighting of otters or seals in the Sound in front of the holiday homes, peregrines and buzzards patrolling for prey, or spotting the fallow or roe deer on the island, many guests find that the wildlife is one of the highlights of their stay at Sunnybrae.
Firth of Lorn Marine Special Area of Conservation
Luing borders the eastern edge of the Firth of Lorn. Renowned for its powerful tidal currents, rugged coastline and scattering of islands the Firth shelters a rich diversity of marine life. There is a wide variety of boat trips available locally to explore the area, ranging from high speed RIB rides, to more leisurely hard boat cruises. If you would like to know a little more about this important marine area see the Firth of Lorn SAC website.
Ballachuan Hazel Wood (Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve)
Just across Cuan Sound from us on the south-east corner of Seil Island, the reserve includes 49 hectares of hazel wood, wet grassland and rocky shorelines. The wood has a rich ground flora and is an important site for lichens. Species of interest on the reserve include otter, badger and marsh fritillary. It is a rich site for breeding birds with a good cross section of summer migrants. It is best visited in the spring before the bracken grows up, and again in the autumn and winter.