Coll Bird Festival May 2017

Stay on Coll from £21 per person, per night…

New hostel accommodation on the Hebridean Isle of Coll.


Coll Bird Festival
12th/13th/14th May 2017

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 and through Gunna Sound offer an opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife and plant life.

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 walks to learn about key species, gives tips on spotting and recording birdlife, offers family activities in a natural environment and the option of seabird safaris to Lunga and Gunna.

Events and activities will take place over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, currently some times and details are still to be confirmed. New for 2017 will be the option to book on to a wildlife photography workshop and of making your visit a two instead of 3 day trip, arriving by fast-boat transfers from Oban to Coll on the Saturday morning, with the return journey on the Sunday evening.

In partnership with Coastal Connection we are delighted to be offering Seabird Safaris to Lunga and Gunna Sound on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of May. All trips are limited to 11 passengers and are conducted within the comfort and safety of vessels provided by Coastal Connection.

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.

A trip through Gunna sound provides the opportunity to see both Grey and Common Seals, the possibility of seeing Harbour Porpoise and a variety of seabirds.  Gunna Island lies between Coll and Tiree and is now an uninhabited island under private ownership.   Visitors can expect to see feeding seabirds including Shags, Arctic Terns, Little Terns, gulls and auks, with a fair chance of Black Guillemot, Great Skua and possibly Arctic Skua.

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.

Friday 12th May
Morning events:
10am & 11.30am – Walks around Totronald Bird Reserve led by Ben Jones RSPB

Afternoon events:
2pm & 3.30pm – Walks around Totronald Bird Reserve led by Ben Jones RSPB
2pm – 4pm – Photography Workshop* with David Palmar
7.30pm – Presentation Evening with guest speaker Professor Rhys Green, supporting  speakers John Bowler RSPB and David Palmar volunteer with SOC & RSPB

 Saturday 13th May
Morning events:
5am – Dawn Watch at Totronald RSPB Reserve led by Ben Jones RSPB
7am-   Boat from Oban to Coll with Coastal Connection
9.30 – 1.00pm Seabird Safari to Gunna led by John Bowler RSPB
10.00am – Family event, details TBC

Afternoon events:
1.00pm – 4.30pm Seabird Safari to Lunga led by David Andrews RSPB
2.00pm – Guided walk around Arinagour
8pm – Concert & Ceilidh with Eabhal

 Sunday 14th May
Morning events:

9.30 – 1.00pm Seabird Safari to Gunna led by John Bowler

 Afternoon events:
1.00pm – 4.30pm Seabird Safari to Lunga led by David Palmar
1.00pm – Beach clean and Bird Watching at Breachacha Beach
4.30pm—Boat back to Oban with Coastal Connection

* Photography workshop as planned is intended for beginners, if interested in a more advanced session please contact us.


Accommodation is available in the village of Arinagour at Coll Bunkhouse, our 5 star hostel, 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 – £45 per person; RSPB Guided Walks – £5 per person (£3 RSPB Members); Friday Evening Presentations – £5 per adult (£3 RSPB Members); under 16s free; Family event £2.00 per child; Beach Clean free event, refreshments provided.

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

Package rate: We have a package rate of £63 (£57 RSPB members).  This allows you 1 seabird safari boat trip to Lunga or Gunna, 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, will leave Oban early Saturday May 13th, and will return to Oban from Coll at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday May 14th. Contact Coll Bunkhouse to book your place on 01879 230217.

For those 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.

The Coll Bird Festival is brought to you in partnership with the RSPB, Coastal Connection and CalMac Ferries Ltd. We’re very grateful for the support of a 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 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB Scotland
Coastal Connection
CalMac Ferries Ltd